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News at noon: The trial of John Jonchuck gets underway with jury selection; USF picks four finalists for its next president; and more

Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published Mar. 18, 2019

Here are the top five latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.

The trial of John Jonchuck gets underway with jury selection

The murder trial of John Jonchuck got underway today at 9 a.m. with jury selection. Jonchuck, now 29, is charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 8, 2015 killing of his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe. Jonchuck is accused of dropping her from the Dick Misener Bridge near the Sunshine Skyway, 62 feet into Tampa Bay. If convicted, Jonchuck will be handed an automatic lifetime prison sentence, as prosecutors stopped seeking the death penalty last summer. Each day, our trial coverage team will live blog events straight from the courtroom. Visit tampabay.com/jonchuck to read up on the incident, the fallout and all the pretrial coverage. And that's where you'll find the link to each day's live blog.

USF picks four finalists for the university's president

After a five-month search for the University of South Florida's new president, four finalists have been picked to be interviewed for the job this week. A search committee tasked with recommending applicants to the board of trustees, which will select the president Friday, chose from a list of 33 applicants Monday morning at USF Tampa. Here are the finalists.

Audit: 31,000 building permits can't be accounted for in Pasco

Pasco County couldn't account for more than 30,000 commercial building permits issued over a 15-month period, failed to collect required transportation fees on some projects and cut another by nearly $59,000 even though the developer didn't meet the standard for a discount. The findings are contained in an audit by the office of Pasco Clerk & Comptroller Paul S. O'Neil of how the county assesses and collects its mobility fees -- charges on new construction to pay for transportation upgrades. With no public comment, Pasco commissioners voted to accept the audit March 12 as part of their consent agenda in which more than 50 items were approved in a single vote.

Let's revisit Florida's bizarre lost theme parks from before the Disney era

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. While we can still relish living in a state that's home to a number of ever-expanding theme parks, there's a lot of fun to be had looking back at the abandoned tourist traps of Florida's past. Here are some of the most memorable.

Where's the March Madness in the Women's Final Four?

While the NCAA men's basketball tournament is known for its madness, the women's tournament is much more mundane. You might not want to use a Sharpie to fill out the brackets that are released tonight, but you should expect plenty of chalk. Over the last 20 tournaments, none of the Women's Final Four participants have been seeded lower than seventh. But 48 of the 80 semifinalists were No. 1 seeds. Compare those figures to the men, where only 32 Final Four teams have been at the top of their bracket and nine teams seeded eighth or lower won their region.

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