Daystarter: Full coverage of the first day of the Jonchuck trial; meet the four people who could be USF’s next president; Steven Stamkos becomes the Lightning’s all-time leading scorer

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published March 19
Updated March 19

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• Expect a cloudy, cool and wet morning with temps in the mid-50s, according to the National Weather Service. It’ll warm up to the mid-60s. But it’s also going to be a wet day; expect a 60 to 70 percent of rain earlier in the morning, and that will fall to 30 to 40 percent by the afternoon.

• It costs money to produce quality journalism. Please support the Tampa Bay Times by buying a digital subscription to Florida’s best newspaper and its redesigned website tampabay.com.

• For the top things to do today in Tampa Bay, you can indulge in a free day to watch PGA golfers practice for the Valspar Championship, the Gasparilla film fest opens and you can drink a margarita-inspired cocktail (or three).

• In 2015, John Jonchuck drove onto the Dick Misener Bridge and, as a police officer watched, dropped his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, 62 feet into the cold waters of Tampa Bay below. His day in court is finally here. Follow the Tampa Bay Times for full coverage of the Jonchuck trial.

Here’s the latest developments:

DAY 1: On the first day of the John Jonchuck trial, questions focus on insanity and notoriety

DAY 2: The Trial of John Jonchuck Day 2: Jury selection continues.

LIVE BLOG: Get a recap of what happened as jury selection started.

WATCH: Check out the live freed from the courtroom at tampabay.com.

READ: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck by Pulitzer-prize winner Lane DeGregory

THE FOCUS: The trial of John Jonchuck comes down to one question: Evil or insane?

FULL COVERAGE: Why is the Times covering the Jonchuck trial gavel-to-gavel? Senior Deputy Editor Amy Hollyfield explains why.

GOT QUESTIONS? Follow the Times coverage at tampabay.com/jonchuck and share your questions in the comments. We’ll answer as we go.

• This week the University of South Florida could gain its first new president in nearly two decades. Megan Reeves reports that four finalists have been picked to be interviewed for the job this week.

• Sandy Freedman was the second woman elected to Tampa City Council and the first to become council chair. In 1986, she became Tampa’s first female mayor. But Freedman, 75, was greatly dismayed a few weeks ago when she learned there soon would be no women on Tampa’s City Council, one of the area’s most progressive government bodies. That hasn’t happened since 1971. Anastasia Dawson explains why: Yolie Capin, the only woman currently with a seat, is term-limited, and none of the women on the primary ballot advanced to next month’s runoffs.

• The Tampa mayor’s race is headed down the stretch. Click here for full coverage of the race and follow Tampa city hall reporter Charlie Frago on Twitter for the latest developments.

• Florida’s geography puts it at an extreme risk for the effects of sea level rise compared to most U.S. cities, and the Tampa Bay region is particularly vulnerable. Elizabeth Djinis writes that St. Petersburg and Tampa are within the top 25 cities most susceptible to coastal flooding, due in part to sea level rise in the next 30 years.

• The Florida Legislature is in session. The Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau has the latest coverage from the state capital at the The Buzz.

• The ban on smokable medical marijuana was repealed by the Florida Legislature and quietly signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday. Samantha Gross explains what the new law also does: establishes a research consortium, allows products like bongs and rolling papers to be purchased and requires a second opinion from a board-certified pediatrician for non-terminal patients under age 18.

• Florida House leadership has unveiled another proposal aimed at enacting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ goal of widely expanding school choice programs: This time, it would open the door for a broader influx of charter schools into the state’s poorest communities. Jeffrey Solochek explains that a bill from the PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee, filed late Friday, would allow the establishment of “Hope” charter schools in “opportunity zones” — created as part of President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law aimed at boosting investment in economically struggling areas.

Democrats in Congress are asking the FBI to investigate former Florida massage parlor owner Li “Cindy” Yang after the Miami Herald and others reported on Yang’s access to President Donald Trump and work to get Chinese business executives access to political fundraisers.

• A commissioner compares a tax fight to civil rights, a journalist awaits his fate, and on Gasparilla groping allegations, nothing but crickets. When the citizens of Hillsborough County did what their elected officials couldn’t manage — voting to tax themselves to improve transportation from sidewalks to highways — anti-tax county commissioner Stacy White sued.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

• The Times online Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

• In case you missed it, the new Broadway season at the Straz Center has been announced and it includes Tony winners Mean Girls, SpongeBob, Aladdin and four revivals.

• Catch up on recent concert announcements here , including ‘80s favorites Adam Ant and Pat Benatar and a 4/20 bash to remember.

• Stop carving that oak stump into a mustache comb for just one second. There’s a comedy show coming to Tampa you’re going to want to hear about. Nick Offerman, the Parks and Recreation star who turned his man-of-the-woods elan into a cottage industry encompassing books, a Netflix special and a woodworking empire, is coming to the Straz Center in Tampa.

How did the Sunshine State use to attract tourists? Circus animals, water ski shows and a half-mile replica of the Great Wall of China. Before a certain mouse took over Orlando, Florida was already home to a slew of delightfully bizarre tourist attractions. You could meet menacing pirates and hoop skirt-clad Southern Belles. Or visit the circus every day. Or watch an 80-year-old man break a world record as he waterskied barefoot in a banana-yellow jumpsuit.

• Another restaurant overseen by celebrity chef Fabio Viviani offers delicious Spanish tapas, an inviting rooftop bar and a lively atmosphere on Franklin Street. Downtown Tampa diners have a new gem to consider. Mole y Abuela has opened its doors in the former location of Fly Bar in the North Franklin Historic District. The bustling new restaurant is owned by Nocturnal Hospitality Group, the same outfit that runs Osteria and the Franklin Manor a few blocks down the street.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.

• Lightning captain and center Steven Stamkos is now the leading scorer in franchise history. Stamkos scored his 384th goal on Monday night, surpassing Vinny Lecavalier. Diana C. Nearhos writes that Stamkos’ 384th goal is reminiscent of the very first goal he scored for Tampa Bay back in 2008.

• The Mississippi State women’s coach Vic Schaefer has presided over the revival of his own son, as well as Bulldogs hoops.

• For the latest on the Lightning’s quest for the Stanley Cup, click here throughout the season and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• Spring training is here. Plan your spring training trips by using the Times’ handy 2019 spring training guide for Grapefruit League schedules, maps and daily planners.

• Get the latest Rays’ spring training news from Marc Topkin and follow him throughout baseball season on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays .

• The NCAA women’s college basketball bracket is set, and three of the five Florida schools that made it into the field of 64 area heading to the Portland Region. Bob Putnam breaks down the field as the countdown to the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four at Tampa’s Amalie Arena in April begins.

• The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and Thomas Bassinger takes a look at what the early mock drafts are saying the Bucs will do with the fifth overall pick. The draft is April 25.

Kevin Kiermaier, Mike Zunino among those taking an interest in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Kiermaier used the ball to help promote the Tampa Bay Sports Commission’s Dribble to Work today, a Twitter campaign to build momentum towards Monday’s release of the women’s bracket.

• The Bucs have a new head coach and the NFL draft is just weeks away. Keep up with the latest offseason changes by following the Times’ Bucs page which is just a click away at tampabay.com. For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.

• Get the latest sports news, reaction and analysis from Times sportswriter Rick Stroud and the rest of the crew on the Bucs, Bulls, Lightning, Gators, ‘Noles and Rays via our Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast.

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