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MAN CONVICTED IN FIRST-DEGREE MURDER CASE

NEW PORT RICHEY

A jury on Friday convicted Brian Fickes of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Hudson retiree Kim Cox. Circuit Judge William Webb sentenced Fickes, 48, to life in prison after jurors deliberated about three hours. Cox, 69, was shot three times in back of the head and neck and once in the forehead. Fickes testified, claiming the shooting was in self-defense. Fickes was staying at Cox's home in Country Club Estates. In late May 2011, several days went by that Cox's children and friends didn't hear from him. A Pasco sheriff's deputy went to the house and smelled something foul in the garage. He discovered Cox's decomposed body underneath piles of trash. Fickes had told neighbors Cox was on a fishing trip.

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Yacht running for School Board seat

Former county health director Marc Yacht has filed papers to run for Pasco County School Board District 5. The seat is held by Steve Luikart, who has hinted that he will seek re-election to a second term but has not announced his plans formally. Yacht, a physician who lives in Hudson, took over the county health department in 1987 as acting director and won the permanent job a year later. He retired in 2007. During his tenure, the county expanded dental and family health services and stressed preventative care. Yacht also has served on the Pasco-Hernando Early Learning Coalition. In 2008, he publicly considered a bid for schools superintendent, but did not run for the post. He said he was interested in making sure that public school funding is distributed appropriately.

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Motorcyclist killed after hitting truck

A motorcyclist was killed when he collided with a pickup truck and was thrown off his bike late Thursday in the west Pasco community of Elfers, authorities said. Juwan Alfred Thomas, 29, of Hudson was headed west on State Road 54 just before 7 p.m. on a 2007 Suzuki motorcycle, according to Florida Highway Patrol reports. As he approached the intersection of Virginia City Drive, a 2004 Nissan Frontier heading east tried to make a left turn in front of Thomas, authorities said. The bike collided with the right front fender of the truck, authorities said. Thomas was thrown off. He was taken to Trinity Hospital, where he died. The driver of the pickup, Robert Gallagher, 59, of New Port Richey, was treated at Trinity Hospital for minor injuries, officials said.

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Ridge manor

Woman charged after pulling gun

A 59-year-old woman faces assault charges after she pointed a gun at a group of people during a fight, authorities say. Tommie Cersosimo of Old Town was confronted by a next-door neighbor on the 34000 block of Sunridge Road about 5 p.m. Wednesday after Cersosimo and her sister drove across the man's yard, a Hernando Sheriff's Office report states. Cersosimo's other sister came out of the house and the group started arguing. Four other people came to the property line, and Cersosimo's sisters got into a fight with two of the women. Witnesses said Cersosimo drew a .357 Magnum handgun from her purse, fired a shot into the air, and then pointed the gun at the group and threatened to shoot them, the report states. Cersosimo told deputies she fired a single round into the ground to stop the fight but did not point the gun at anyone. She was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center and charged with five counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and released after posting $35,000 bail.

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