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March 2013 Archives

Employee, two co-owners charged with synthetic marijuana sales

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office recently mailed updated information to convenience stores throughout the area related to bans on synthetic drugs. At least one store blatantly ignored the letter and the new laws and was fined and warned. One of the co-owners and a store worker were arrested early in March for drug offenses. However, the store continued to sell the illegal substance, a possible felony. A register worker offered synthetic marijuana to an undercover officer who stopped by the store two days later. Later tests revealed cannabinoids, an illegal substance, in the product. The officer reported seeing a sign that carried an anti-drug message.

Twelve former college students charged with manslaughter

A dozen former college band members at Florida A&M University were recently charged with manslaughter following the 2011 hazing death of another 26-year-old band member. These charges have been added onto original charges of felony hazing that 10 of these individuals face. Two people who were involved face manslaughter charges as well but have not been arrested. The criminal charge of manslaughter could mean a maximum prison term of 15 years for these young men, and the prosecution does not need to prove who actually administered the fatal blows to the victim but only that the defendants took part in the hazing. The victim allegedly suffered a brutal beating during a hazing ritual that occurred after a football game with a rival team. He collapsed and later died while on a bus at a hotel. Law enforcement personnel indicated that he sustained bruises all over his upper torso and succumbed to internal bleeding. Witnesses reported that he was throwing up just before emergency personnel arrived at the scene to administer intervention, of which he did not respond.

Two St. George men face drug charges

Two 37-year-old St. George men have been recently charged in Tampa County with possession of marijuana and conspiracy with a third man to distribute the substance, in violation of federal law. The indictment was until recently sealed. In addition to the identities of the suspects, officials revealed that the conspiracy allegedly included at least 100 kilograms of marijuana. Both defendants appeared in Washington County federal court on March 4 and pleaded not guilty to the drug charges. The U.S. Attorney asked that bail for one of the suspects be set at $130,000. Instead, the judge allowed the accused to be released in exchange for a promise to pay $50,000, cosigned by an unidentified third party. The other defendants requested a bail hearing, and they will remain in custody pending the hearing. The U.S. Attorney requested that they be escorted by federal marshals to Florida to stand trial.

Murder charge against robber for accomplice's death

An attempted robbery of a Florida gas station turned deadly when the store clerk shot and killed one of the accomplices. The surviving accomplice, a 19-year-old man, faces murder charges for the death of his 23-year-old partner even though he did not pull the trigger that killed him. Florida law holds a robber liable for the death of an accomplice during the commission or attempted commission of certain crimes no matter who actually committed the fatal act.On the night of the attempted robbery, a homeless man witnessed the two men donning masks outside of an Exxom Mart gas station in Hollywood. The homeless man entered the store to warn the clerk who was able to arm himself in self-defense. According to investigators, the clerk killed the 23-year-old accomplice by gunshot while the 19-year-old fled from the scene, but was later captured.

After nearly 7 years, Safety Harbor man accused of murder

In May 2006, a Safety Harbor resident and his ex-wife vacationed on a Mediterranean cruise. They took an excursion together to Messina, Italy on May 25th. Two days later, the ex-wife's body was found off the coast of Paola. The ex-husband has since remarried. The man, 55 years old, now faces a criminal charge of murder for financial gain.The accused and the deceased were married from 1995 to 2001. Following their divorce, reports indicate they lived together intermittently up to the time of the cruise. After the incident, the accused told detectives that his companion was suicidal. The man was the last person to see his ex-wife alive. Police allege that he strangled his companion and threw her body overboard.

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