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LOOPHOLE FOR SEX OFFENDERS COULD CLOSE

NEW PORT RICHEY

The City Council took the first step Tuesday night toward requiring out-of-state sex offenders to register if they move to New Port Richey. The proposed ordinance, which comes back for a final vote June 7, would close a loophole that allows people who committed sex crimes in other states not to register when they come to Florida. Council members declined to increase the buffer that prevents sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools and parks in the city limits, however. The city's buffer is already more than the 1,000-foot state buffer. Increasing it beyond 2,500 feet would essentially bar any sex offenders from living in the city, council member Bob Langford said. "That's the point, isn't it?" responded Tom Harris, a resident who has pushed for strengthening the restrictions on sex offenders.

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Juror dismissed for discussing case

Testimony continued Wednesday in the first-degree murder case against Bryan Gregory Heater. He is accused of fatally shooting Kellie Zorka, 27, in a February 2008 melee outside Diamonds Gentlemen's Club in New Port Richey. Circuit Judge Michael Andrews nearly declared a mistrial Wednesday morning after one juror acknowledged talking to three other jurors about some aspects of the case. She was dismissed, and the other three told the judge they had not formed any opinions about the case. The trial is expected to conclude today. Heater, 31, faces life in prison if convicted.

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