Thursday, June 25, 2015

News Updates for June 2015

  1. "Panama City Beach Fun Fair" Ends Early

    WJHG-TV-Jun 22, 2015
    PANAMA CITY BEACH--- Driving down Thomas Drive, you may notice the "Panama City Beach Fun Fair" has come down. Thursday was the ...
  2. Story image for panama city beach from WJHG-TV

    Bay County rejects Panama City Beach scooter restrictions

    Washington Times-Jun 21, 2015
    PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - County commissioners in the Panama City Beach have voted down a plan to restrict scooter rental businesses in that ...
  3. Story image for panama city beach from WJHG-TV

    Loop Road Project Could Improve Traffic Flow in Panama City Beach

    WJHG-TV-Jun 18, 2015
    PANAMA CITY BEACH-- If you're sick of the congestion along Back Beach Road, you're not the only one. The good news is travel in Panama ...
    Bay County planners vote down scooters ban
    The News Herald-Jun 18, 2015
    Explore in depth (2 more articles)
  4. Story image for panama city beach from WUFT

    Panama City Beach Man Arrested In Connection To String Of Local ...

    WUFT-Jun 22, 2015
    Dwayne Bruce Officer, 43, of Panama City Beach was arrested after Bay County officials served a search warrant on his home and found the ...
  5. Story image for panama city beach from WKRG

    Paddleboarder Spots Shark at Panama City Beach

    WKRG-Jun 12, 2015
    10-year-old Ella Burgess was paddleboarding along Panama City Beach Thursday, when she spotted a shark heading straight toward her.
  6. Story image for panama city beach from WJHG-TV

    Panama City Beach Bans Alcohol On the Beach During Spring Break

    WJHG-TV-Jun 11, 2015
    PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Another Panama City Beach City Council meeting meant another heated discussion centered around spring break.
    Panama City Beach outlaws beach drinking in March
    Highly Cited-The News Herald-Jun 11, 2015
    Explore in depth (33 more articles)
  7. Story image for panama city beach from WJHG-TV

    Indian Motorcycles of Panama City Beach Gives Back

    WJHG-TV-Jun 13, 2015
    PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Indian Motorcycles has been around since 1901, but a new store was added to Panama City Beach just a few weeks ...
    Woman dies in Panama City Beach motorcycle crash
    The News Herald-Jun 15, 2015
    Explore in depth (7 more articles)
  8. Story image for panama city beach from WJHG-TV

    Panama City Beach Fun Fair

    WJHG-TV-May 27, 2015
    PANAMA CITY BEACH-- You may have noticed fair rides lighting up the night close to the Hathaway Bridge. They're here for the Panama City ...
  9. Story image for panama city beach from WJHG-TV

    John Curci Throws Hat In The Ring For Panama City Beach's ...

    WJHG-TV-May 27, 2015
    PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Several spring break ordinances unanimously passed their first reading at Tuesday night's Panama City Beach City ...
  10. Story image for panama city beach from WJHG-TV

    Christ in Youth Conference Returns to Panama City

    WJHG-TV-Jun 23, 2015
    PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Arnold High School's gym will be packed for the next couple weeks. The national fellowship group "Christ in Youth" or ...

Friday, June 12, 2015

LOCAL CRIME June 1, 2015 thru June 11, 2015)

Found a great little site:

  • 06/01/15--08:52: Man injured in Ultralight crash in St. Andrew Bay

  • PANAMA CITY BEACH — A man was taken to the hospital following an Ultralight aircraft crash Monday morning.
    Andy Redmond, 69, was rescued by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and The Coast Guard after the report of a crash in St. Andrew Bay at around 7:12 a.m., police reported.
    BCSO said Redmond is an experienced pilot and just received the aircraft on Sunday. Redmond was taken to a local hospital with injuries, BCSO said. His condition was not released.
    The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration is conducting the investigation into the crash.

  • 06/01/15--12:43: P.C. woman arrested after Walton chase in stolen vehicle

  • DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — A Panama City woman was arrested after leading authorities on a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office reported.
    Mahogny Ina Sharde Patrick, 23, was arrested and charged Monday after the incident that began at around 6 a.m., police reported. A WCSO deputy was dispatched to the pursuit of a vehicle traveling west on Highway 90, police reported. The vehicle, a Hertz rental car, was reported stolen by the Douglasville Police Department in Georgia and the deputy pursued when he spotted the black Buick with Tennessee tags, WCSO said.
    Patrick lost control of the vehicle and spun out just east of Rainbow Drive, according to police. She was placed under arrest and charged with fleeing and eluding, grand theft auto and driving while license suspended.
    The DeFuniak Springs Police Department said additional charges are pending.

    PANAMA CITY — A Youngstown man has been arrested for allegedly pushing the mother of his child from a moving car, according to arrest records.
    Sammy Joe Campbell, 24, was arrested Sunday at about 1:30 a.m. after a domestic altercation near the Wal-Mart on 23rd Street. Police reported Campbell struck the victim, who is the mother of his child, in the face several times in the store’s parking lot. Then, while driving east on 23rd Street, Campbell allegedly punched the victim out of the car, she told police.
    The victim sustained road rash to her stomach, hand and arms.
    Campbell was charged with aggravated domestic battery and is being held on a $17,500 bond.

    PANAMA CITY — Police are investigating a kidnapping in which a young woman was held at gunpoint as her captor attempted to force himself upon her, according to Panama City Police Department reports.
    Details were scarce regarding the incident, but PCPD did report responding to a kidnapping May 18 at about 11 a.m. near East 11th Street and Mercedes Avenue. A young woman told them she had been forced into a vehicle at gunpoint and that the gunman then attempted to force himself upon her, officers reported.
    PCPD issued a countywide alert with all pertinent information on the suspect, and the case was turned over to investigations. A description was not available in released police reports.
    However, a poster being circulated via social media describes the attacker as a 40- to 50-year-old black male, with a low fade haircut and light eyes. He drives a gold sedan, which could possibly be a Honda or Acura, with diamond design seats and a baby seat in the back, according to the poster. The distributors of the poster are asking anyone with information regarding the incident to call PCPD at 850-872-3112.

    PANAMA CITY — A man accused of contracting the abduction and assassinations of two local judges intends to use insanity as his defense against the charges, according to court documents.
    Joseph Russell Schmitt, 48, on Monday set a hearing date for later on in the week to discuss the appointment of an expert to examine him in anticipation of an insanity defense. Schmitt is accused of conspiring to murder two local judges and leaving a trail of violent crimes in his wake across the South, court records indicated.
    Under state law, forensic psychological records are confidential, but after Schmitt’s attorney filed a notice of intent to rely on an insanity defense, prosecutors responded with a request for a doctor to examine whether Schmitt was insane “at the time of the crime,” prosecutors wrote.
    Court records indicated Schmitt only intends to plead insanity to the two counts of solicitation to murder and two counts of solicitation to kidnap.
    Schmitt was wanted in Bay County on a series of charges, including allegedly attempting to arrange the murder of Circuit Judges Allen Register and Chris Patterson, from August 2013. While being wanted in Bay County, Schmitt allegedly beat and attempted to smother his 90-year-old mother in Texas and threatened authorities with explosives after his arrest in Louisiana. He then was transferred to St. Johns County to face cyberstalking charges before returning to Bay County to have a combined bond of $200,000 placed on his release.
    Schmitt allegedly had threatened to kill several people, including Register, of Bay County, and Patterson, of Washington County, according to Bay County Sheriff’s Office arrest records.
    During the course of discussions with an undercover BCSO officer, Schmitt was to provide a storage area to carry out the abduction, torture and murder of the judges, according to BCSO reports. An exact figure was not revealed, but the officer said a substantial amount of money was to change hands.
    BCSO also wanted Schmitt for allegedly making a false child abuse report to the Department of Children and Families.
    Schmitt will be back in court Friday to discuss the state’s motion for an expert examination. Including the solicitation to commit murder and kidnapping charges, Schmitt faces charges of aggravated stalking and making a false report of child abuse.
    Charges in Texas and Louisiana remain open against Schmitt for those incidents, officials reported.

    PANAMA CITY — All pending cases before a federal judge in Gainesville, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Panama City have been reassigned to alternate judges, according to federal court documents.
    Cases docketed for Judge John Richard Smoak Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, will be reassigned to other judges following an order Friday from chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers.
    Pending cases in the Gainesville division will be reassigned to Judge Mark E. Walker, a judge in the Pensacola division; and all pending cases filed in Tallahassee and Panama City to Judge Mark E. Walker and Judge Robert L. Hinkle, according to court documents.
    Officials within the U.S. District Court did not immediately return several requests for comment Monday. However, Smoak is an Article III federal judge, which means he is appointed by the president for life, during “good behavior.”
    Smoak joined the court in 2005 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.
    Born in Columbus, Georgia, Smoak graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, with his bachelor’s degree in 1965 and later graduated from the University of Florida College of Law with his Juris Doctor, J.D. degree in 1972.
    Smoak was a private practice attorney in the state of Florida from 1973 to 2005. Prior to that, he served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1970.
    On the recommendation of then-Sen. Mel Martinez, Smoak was nominated to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida on June 8, 2005, to a seat vacated by Clyde Vinson, as Vinson assumed senior status.
    Smoak ruled on significant free speech cases. In 2008 in Gillman v. Holmes County School District, Smoak ruled that students of public school have the right to wear gay pride T-shirts and pins. This ruling came after a Florida principal suspended many students for wearing such items. Smoak also ordered the school to notify, in writing, all high school and middle school students that they possessed this right.

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Police have arrested a Georgia woman who allegedly scattered alcohol containers and kept her 2-year-old in a hot car, according to arrest reports.
    Alexis Lynn Finney, 31, was arrested Sunday after residents noticed her and the child inside an SUV outside of an apartment at Sandy Dunes, 8011 Front Beach Road, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office reported.
    Officers reported she was intoxicated with her 2-year-old child in the back hatch of the parked SUV. The temperature was about 87 degrees at 3 p.m., and Finney claimed to be broken down, BCSO reported.
    Finney was not a resident of the apartments. Witnesses said they smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle and saw the child sweating profusely in the back of the car, officers said. Deputies found several open alcohol containers in the back hatch of the SUV and beside the driver’s seat, and noticed a strong odor of urine emanating from the SUV, according to the reports.
    Finney, of Bainbridge, Georgia, was charged with child neglect without great harm. She was being held Monday on a $5,000 bond.

    LYNN HAVEN — A teenager was arrested for robbery of a local Domino's, the Lynn Haven Police Department reported.
    Sheldon Quinn Carpentier, 16, was charged after an attempted robbery at the Lynn Haven Domino's, 1616 Ohio Avenue, at 11:38 p.m. on Sunday, police reported. Carpentier also was charged in connection with an armed robbery at the same location on May 21, police said.
    Domino's staff called police on Sunday and said Carpentier was outside the store wearing a mask covering his face and waving a gun. The caller said the suspect was a white male wearing the same clothing during the robbery on May 21, police said. Carpentier was unable to gain access due to the door being locked, which was a security precaution made after the first robbery, a Domino's official said.
    Carpentier fled the area on foot and was located while crossing 17th Street near Michigan Avenue, according to police. Clothing and a BB gun were retrieved from Carpentier’s backpack and he admitted to the robbery on May 21 and the attempted robbery on Sunday, according to police.

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — The Panama City Beach Police Department closed its investigation into alleged mistreatment of veterans by fraternity members during the annual Warrior Beach Retreat in April and announced there was no probable cause for an arrest in the matter, according to police reports.
    PCBPD released the 22-page investigative report on Tuesday into the incident reported at Laketown Wharf. A press release said investigators did establish some of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity members’ behavior was vulgar and inappropriate toward veterans.
    However, due to a lack of cooperation from the fraternity and a witness being unable to positively identify a suspect, PCBPD said it “could not sustain members of the fraternity singled out veterans as a group or establish if there was any criminal intent regarding their behavior.”
    Check back later for more on this story

    HILAND PARK — A toddler died on Tuesday at Cedar Grove Elementary after being left inside a car, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office reported.
    Police responded to a life-threatening medical call at 3:15 p.m. and discovered an unresponsive 18-month-old girl, BCSO reported. EMS arrived and the toddler was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
    The toddler’s mother, Jamie Buckley, a teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary, arrived at school Tuesday morning between 7 a.m. and 7:30 and forgot the toddler in the car, police reported. When she went to leave after school she found her child, Reagan Buckley, still in her car seat, BCSO reported,
    The body was turned over to the Bay County Medical Examiner’s Office and the investigation continues.
    Check back later for more on this story

    PANAMA CITY — A Fountain woman charged with the death of her boyfriend, a former deputy, has pleaded not guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter with a firearm, according to court documents.
    Cheryl Gay Hundley, 56, was arrested and charged with an open count of murder April 27 after an early morning shooting that left former Bay County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sam Walter Denham, 60, with a gunshot wound to the chest. Denham died from his wounds shortly after being rushed to a local hospital for treatment.
    Hundley later was charged with his death after investigators learned a domestic quarrel led to the shooting, BCSO reported, but the charge of manslaughter indicates the prosecution believes the killing was not malicious.
    Hundley, “by her own act, or culpable negligence,” killed Denham “under circumstances not constituting excusable homicide,” according to court documents filed by the prosecution.
    According to BCSO reports, officers arrived at 12406 Silver Lake Road at about 5:15 a.m. after Hundley called 911 to report she had just shot her boyfriend of 13 years. She immediately approached deputies, saying she “shot Sam,” officers reported.
    “What have I done?” officers quoted her as saying.
    Denham was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead about an hour later.
    Meanwhile in one of BCSO’s interview rooms, Hundley told investigators her side of the story. She and Denham had been going through issues, and he’d moved out to another piece of property the couple jointly owned.
    The night before the incident, Denham left his cellphone at their Silver Lake home and showed up early that morning in search of it, she told investigators.
    Denham confronted her about knowing the whereabouts of the phone, and she lied about not knowing, she said. He became irate, Hundley said, and started searching the home for the phone, which was under the mattress upon which she and a .38 special revolver laid.
    Denham began beating on the door at one point, and when Hundley opened it he pushed her and spit on her, she told investigators. Hundley pushed Denham back and he returned a push. That’s when she grabbed the revolver and leveled it on Denham and “advised him to leave,” according to BCSO reports.
    “At which time Sam raised his arms up in the air and told her to go ahead and shoot him,” officers reported.
    Denham began to approach once more as Hundley bore down and fired the fatal shot into his abdomen.
    Hundley admitted to intentionally hiding the phone and told investigators Denham did not say he would harm her during the incident and at no point possessed a weapon.
    Hundley is charge with manslaughter with a firearm. She is being held without bond.

    PANAMA CITY — A Bay County jury has convicted a 45-year-old Panama City man of raping a 14-year-old girl, according to the State Attorney’s Office.
    Assistant State Attorneys Alicia Carothers and Devin Collier convinced jurors that 45-year-old Carlos L. Beale had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl in May 2014, officials reported.
    Beale was found guilty of lewd or lascivious battery and attempted lewd or lascivious molestation. He faces up to 20 years in prison when Circuit Judge Elijah Smiley sentences him June 15.

  • 06/03/15--14:14: Two die in crash

  • CALLAWAY — A car crash on County 2297 killed the driver and passenger in the predawn hours Wednesday.
    Cara A. Sindt, 30, of Panama City, was identified as the driver of the 2004 Chevrolet Corvette and Scott D. Cooper, 47, Panama City Beach, was a passenger. The wreck was discovered by a passerby at 6:05 a.m., according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. Neither victim was taken to a hospital.
    The Florida Highway Patrol report states the vehicle was headed north on County 2297 when it failed to negotiate a left turn and entered the east shoulder. The car then began to rotate counter-clockwise, colliding with a mailbox, and then overturning. While the vehicle was rolling, it struck a wooden fence before coming to a stop on its roof.
    Sindt and Cooper were wearing seatbelts.

    PANAMA CITY — A 67-year-old man convicted on child sex charges in Florida has been sent back to southeast Louisiana to face charges he raped a girl there 30 years ago, the Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, sheriff's office said Wednesday.
    Investigators believe Joseph Gable Wood Sr. may have other victims along the Gulf Coast and as far away as Montana and Alaska, and want to hear from them, said Cmdr. Eric Becnel. Wood was being held in Bay County, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in February for lewd or lascivious battery on a 13-year-old girl.
    “Hopefully this will encourage other victims to come forward and find closure on a terrible chapter in their lives,” Becnel said in a phone interview from Belle Chasse, a New Orleans suburb.
    Becnel said a Louisiana woman in her 40s told investigators that Wood abused her from the time she was 5 years old until she was 14, threatening to kill her if she told anyone. She was interviewed after a relative went to deputies, he said.
    He said investigators have rape evidence, which he cannot discuss because the case is not yet in court.
    It was not clear Wednesday whether Wood has an attorney who could comment. The public defender’s office said he refused its service. District Attorney Charles Balley says he expects to learn Wood’s attorney’s name at a bond hearing Friday.
    Becnel said Wood was extradited last week from Florida, where a Bay County jury convicted him in January of molesting a 13-year-old girl. Wood was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor and ordered to register as a sexual predator once he got out of prison.
    Wood also has served time for fondling a 13-year-old family friend in 1992. He was convicted in 1993, won a reversal, pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to 4½ years with credit for time served, according to a news release from Sheriff Lonnie Greco.
    Becnel said Wood lived many places while working for a towboat company, including White Sulphur Springs, Montana; Sand Point Island, Alaska; Bogalusa, Port Sulphur, and Morgan City, Louisiana; Pascagoula and Lumberton, Mississippi; and in Florida, the Panama City area and Apalachicola, where Wood grew up.
    Becnel said the sheriff’s office has had a warrant for Wood’s arrest since March 2014, but he refused extradition. Deputies got a governor’s warrant to bring him back to Plaquemines Parish but held off on it until the Florida charges were resolved.

    PANAMA CITY — The majority of six people responsible for a methamphetamine ring that spanned from Atlanta to Panama City Beach have been sentenced in federal court for their roles, according to court documents.
    John Matthew Love, 36, and Bryant Anthony Kreis, 32, both of the Panama City area; and Carmen Theresa Silva, 40, of Atlanta, were sentenced Wednesday to spend several years in federal prison for conspiring in a methamphetamine ring, which transported several kilograms of narcotics into Panama City Beach.
    Mabrye Joseph Bettinger, 41, and Dusti Nicole Broxson, 26, both of the Panama City area, were sentenced previously. Anastacio Mendoza, 37, of Atlanta, has yet to be sentenced.
    Their arrests stemmed from September 2014, when law enforcement established surveillance on a black Chrysler 300 driving along State 20 in Ebro, headed for Panama City Beach. Officers tailed the car to an apartment, where Love stepped out the car and opened the trunk. He removed several bags and began walking toward a stairwell before DEA agents descended upon him, according to court records.
    DEA agents found a Kel-Tec 9 mm handgun in Love’s back pocket. In the bags, officers found five plastic containers filled with about 9 lbs of methamphetamine.
    From then on, Love cooperated with law enforcement.
    He told authorities that over the past few months, he ran roughly 4 kilograms of meth over 10 trips from Atlanta to Bay County, where he would distribute it to other individuals. Bettinger, Broxson and Kreis were mid-level people to whom he would often sell meth on the Beach, and Love organized meetings with them over the next few days. The three appeared at Love’s apartment with between $4,000 and $13,900 to purchase meth before DEA agents arrested them.
    Several days after his arrest, Love made a call to his meth connection in Atlanta, who is only named in court filings as “Carlos.” Carriers Mendoza and Silva were arrested in Dothan, Alabama, while bringing an additional 4.8 kilograms of methamphetamine, intended for Love. Silva’s jailhouse calls revealed she was concerned one of her phones contained several incriminating messages related to selling narcotics, including methamphetamine.
    Love was sentenced for his role in the conspiracy to nine years. Kreis and Silva were sentenced to four years and just under four years, respectively.
    Bettinger and Broxson were sentenced previously to almost eight years and almost 13 years, respectively. Mendoza is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 5 at 9:30 a.m.

    PANAMA CITY — One former prison guard will be defending himself at trial against charges he conspired in an orchestrated beating of an inmate.
    Christopher Blake Christmas, 32, was scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. However, as Judge Robert Hinkle questioned him about changing his not guilty plea, Christmas denied any prior knowledge of a group attack on an inmate but said he was accepting a plea deal in hopes of a lighter sentence.
    “I didn’t know they had plans to do anything other than escort the inmate,” Christmas told the court. “At no time did I hear (the captain) say he would yell [that] the inmate spit on him and that we were to jump on him, although I don’t doubt he said it, because he was that type of person.”
    Christmas was one of five Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) officers indicted on charges of violating 31-year-old Jeremiah Tatum’s rights to not suffer cruel or unusual punishment at the Northwest Florida Reception Center (NWFRC) in Washington County during an act of jailhouse retaliation.
    All but Christmas have pleaded guilty to the charges, with James Fletcher Perkins pleading guilty earlier Wednesday. William Francis Finch, Robert Lewis Miller and Dalton Edward Riley have admitted to accepting orders from former Capt. James Kirkland prior to slamming the inmate face-first to the ground and then falsifying reports of the incident. Kirkland has since died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
    Defense attorney Rachel Renee Seaton-Virga initially said in court Wednesday that with the four other men prepared to testify, Christmas was accepting a guilty plea to keep his family from suffering a longer hardship.
    “He’s the sole provider for his family and if convicted at trial he faces a substantially longer sentence,” she said. “He has elected to forgo a trial in hopes of a lighter sentence.”
    However, prosecutor Gayle Littleton said the evidence stacked against Christmas, including video from the prison beating, was the real reason he was accepting a guilty plea.
    “The government’s evidence against Christmas is very strong,” she said. “It is clear the captain yells and all of the officers take the inmate down, including Mr. Christmas. Then the captain says, ‘He spit on me.’ ”
    However, Christmas decided during the debate he will be going to trial.
    The arrests of the officers stemmed from an Aug. 5, 2014, incident, during which Tatum was left severely injured. Prosecutors claim Kirkland sought retaliation from a previous incident, where Tatum deflected pepper spray onto him. Kirkland then organized an incident in which Tatum was again sprayed, and Kirkland called in a five-man extradition team to escort Tatum to a decontamination shower, prosecutors allege. As the men equipped themselves for the extradition, Kirkland allegedly told the officers he would state that Tatum spit on him leading up to the beating “to teach him a lesson,” according to court records.
    Video from the prison showed Tatum being slammed face first to the concrete floor by Finch and Riley while Tatum’s hands were restrained behind his back and his ankles restrained. The three other officers then jumped on Tatum and pinned him to the ground, according to arrest records.
    Christmas said he didn’t hear the orders to attack Tatum and that he helped restrain his legs because “that’s my job,” he said.
    Hinkle encouraged Christmas to ask to take his case before a group of jurors to determine the facts in the case, but he also said precedent allowed him to accept a guilty plea from a person claiming innocence.
    “This is the stuff of which jury trials are made,” Hinkle said.
    Jury selection begins July 8. The four other officers face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

    SOUTHPORT — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information on a runaway teen believed to be in need of medical attention.
    BCSO reports Kaylee Maria Wynn, 16, was last seen May 15 at her home on Long Road in Southport. Her family and BCSO are concerned for her safety, saying only they believe she requires medical attention.
    Wynn is a white female, 5-foot-3, 120 pounds with a thin build and blue eyes. Her natural hair color is brown, but she often changes it and sometimes has multi-colored hair. She wears ear gauges and a nose ring.
    Anyone with information is asked to call the BCSO at (850) 747-4700 or CrimeStoppers at (850) 785-TIPS.

    HILAND PARK — Cedar Grove Elementary officials wiped away tears Wednesday as they recalled the death of a toddler found dead a day earlier in a heated vehicle at the school.
    Reagan Buckley, 2, was pronounced dead at the school Tuesday afternoon. Authorities said her mother, Jamie Buckley, left her in the car in the school parking lot while she was teaching classes.
    No charges have been filed in the case, but the Bay County Sheriff Office investigation continued Wednesday. The State Attorney’s Office is not currently involved in the case and will not be so until BCSO completes its investigation and turns over the case to the state attorney, spokesman David Angier said.
    Christy Williamson, a literacy coach at Cedar Grove, knew Jamie Buckley and said the mother is the educator every parent wants their child to have, someone who finds the good in her peers and students.
    “It’s somber,” Williamson said. “Teachers are grieving. They’re hurting. They’re hurting for Ms. Buckley. She’s an outstanding educator.”
    Williamson said the Buckley family worked on mowing grass and sprucing up the campus during a recent cleanup day at the school, and Jamie Buckley bragged on her children every day.
    “I’m proud to say I know her,” Williamson said.             
    Deputies reported Jamie Buckley arrived for work between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and forgot her daughter was in the vehicle. When Jamie Buckley left school for the day, she found the child still in her car seat, BCSO reported.
    Deputies found the child unresponsive when they arrived. Cedar Grove Principal Phillip Campbell said there were no witness reports given to the school about the child being in the car beforehand.
    Account set up: Friends of the Buckley family set up a GoFundMe account, where financial donations can be made during their grieving.
    “The Buckley family has suffered an unimaginable loss,” the account description says. “Prayers and financial support are needed to continue providing for them during this difficult time.”
    Campbell spoke Wednesday about the mood and fallout at the school.
    “We’ve experienced a tragic accident,” Campbell said. “We’ve had an outpouring of outside support, of prayers, from the community. We continue to be a very strong family here at Cedar Grove and that will help us get through this.”
    Counselors, school district staff members and Superintendent Bill Husfelt were at the school Wednesday for support, Campbell said, along with extra law enforcement. Counseling staff talked to students individually, with services available through the end of the school year.
    Kay Daniel, a social worker with the school district, was part of a team of the grief counselors. The team talked to students, teachers and staff, and part of the grief counseling for young students was letting children lead the conversation, Daniel said.
    Campbell said the school was keeping operations “as normal as possible,” with a planned awards ceremony still occurring. Parents were informed that events like a fifth-grade graduation and year-end celebrations still would happen, as well, Campbell said.
    “You want to keep as much normalcy and you want to get back to normalcy as fast as you can,” Campbell said. “That’s the best thing you can do in these situations. Stay busy. Stay focused. Remind them that life goes on.”
    Tuesday’s death marks the third time this year a child in the U.S. has died after being left in a vehicle, and all the cases occurred in Florida. According to, the average number of similar deaths each year is 38, or about one every nine days. Since 1991, more than 700 children have died after being left in hot vehicles. The high temperature at Tyndall Air Force Base on Tuesday was 82 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
    “The atmosphere and the windows of a car are relatively ‘transparent’ to the sun’s shortwave radiation and are warmed little,” said on how vehicle heating works. “However, this shortwave energy does heat objects that it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard, steering wheel or seat temperatures often are in the range of 180 to over 200 degrees.”
    Some safety tips from include never leaving your child alone in or around cars, keeping the vehicle locked at all times, making sure all children have left a vehicle after parking and using drive-through services when available.

    PANAMA CITY — A man was arrested and charged for possession of child pornography, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office reported.
    James M. Watford, 67, of Panama City, was arrested on Thursday and charged with two counts of possession of the sexual performance of a child, BCSO reported. The arrest came after BCSO and Homeland Security Investigations served a search warrant at his residence, 3515 West 19th Street #4, in December 2014, according to police.
    A computer was seized at the time and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Tallahassee for forensic analysis, BCSO reported. During an interview, Watford stated he viewed and kept images of child porn, according to police. Results of the forensic analysis yielded images of child porn on the computer, BCSO said.
    Watford was booked into Bay County Jail and awaits first appearance on Friday.

    CHIPLEY — Officials are advising restraint if the public spots a man wanted on 10 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on four different victims under 12-years old, according to a news release from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
    WCSO is currently seeking the whereabouts of 64-year-old William “Pete” Jackson McCullers. He is wanted by Washington County authorities on 10 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on four people under 12-years old, WCSO reported. In an alert released Thursday, officers stressed that the public “take no action on your own” if they have any information regarding the whereabouts of William McCullers.
    Instead, WCSO is encouraging people to immediately call the sheriff’s office or 911.
    “We just don’t want anybody trying to make a citizens arrest,” said Andrea Gainey, WCSO public information officer.
    Officers believe William McCullers is traveling in the company of his wife, Linda McCullers, both Washington County residents. However, William McCullers was spotted recently in the Houston County, Ala., area, WCSO reported.
    William McCullers is described as a white male, 5-foot-9-inches tall, 64-years-old with gray hair. The couple could be traveling in a 2002 silver Chrysler Town and Country van, tag number: 0102PE, or a green 1997 Ford F-150 truck, tag number: 6872HM.
    Anyone with information regarding William McCullers’ whereabouts is encouraged to contact WCSO’s lead investigator Capt. Mark Collins at (850) 638-6111.

    PANAMA CITY — Officials issued a “scam alert” Thursday involving a fictitious government grant, according to a Bay County Sheriff’s Office news release.
    Several complaints were filed Thursday with the BCSO from individuals who received cards via UPS from the National Media Group that claimed the recipient had just been awarded a government grant worth more than $20,000 dollars.
    Instructions on the card request the victim to call a 1-800 number to receive the grant money. The card also instructs the recipient to send money to cover processing the grant.
    “Do not send money to anyone requesting a fee to award grant money. Simply throw the card away and do not respond,” BCSO officials reported. “Such requests are scams.”
    BCSO encouraged anyone who has been victimized by a scam to report the incident to law enforcement.

    PANAMA CITY — Local Attorney C. Andrew Weddle has been named a 2015 Rising Star for the third consecutive year by Super Lawyers, a rating service of outstanding practicing lawyers from more than 70 practice areas.
    Weddle currently works at the Panama City and Miramar Beach offices of Harrison Sale McCloy, and has also been appointed to serve as a member of the 14th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission through 2018.
    Rising Star was launched to recognize high-performing attorneys in Florida under age 40 and less than 10 years experience practicing law.
    Weddle is a 2007 graduate of the Stetson University College of Law and obtained his undergraduate degree in Construction Management from the University of Florida. He is a past president of the Bay County Bar Association and a member of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the St. Andrews Bay American Inn of Court and the Florida Bar.

    PANAMA CITY — A man accused of contracting the abduction and assassinations of two local judges will be mentally evaluated in preparation to use insanity as his defense against the charges, according to court documents.
    Joseph Russell Schmitt, 48, was approved Friday for appointment of an expert to examine him in anticipation of an insanity defense. Schmitt is accused of attempting to contract the murder of two local judges and has charges related to stalking two previous girlfriends, court records stated.
    In Bay County, he will only be evaluated in connection to the two counts of solicitation to commit murder and two counts of solicitation to commit kidnapping, court records indicated. Schmitt faces charges of aggravated stalking and making a false report of child abuse.
    His next court date is scheduled for July.

    PANAMA CITY — A man who was 17 years old when he was convicted of killing a man over a botched steroid robbery plot will be arguing for a new sentence, according to court officials.
    Attorneys and Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet met Friday to discuss a possible date to discuss a new sentence for the now 37-year-old Thomas Robert McGill.
    McGill was sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole in 1996 for the shooting death of fellow football player Tory King during a plot to rob him of steroids. However, due to a Florida Supreme Court decision, McGill will be arguing for a lighter sentence since he was a minor at the time of the slaying, according to court documents.
    Jurors found McGill guilty of first-degree murder in April 1996. Prosecutors showed that while McGill was attempting to rob Kind of steroids at gunpoint, he ended up shooting him. King died from his injuries.
    McGill’s attorney claimed he was intoxicated on steroids at the time and attempting to get more from his fellow football player, who usually dealt them to him.
    McGill’s is among several other cases of juveniles serving life sentences that were retroactively entitled to sentence hearings in the wake of a decision by the Florida State Supreme Court.
    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 in an Alabama case that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole because, in part, their brains aren’t fully developed and there’s a better chance for reform than with adult offenders. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in Rebecca Falcon’s case that the U.S. Supreme Court decision should be applied retroactively.
    Falcon was a troubled 15-year-old high school student whose mother sent her from Leavenworth, Kansas, to Bay County to live with her grandparents. She got drunk and sneaked out of her grandparents’ house in November 1997 to meet up with 18-year-old Clifton Gilchrist. They flagged down a cab, forced the driver to go to a secluded area and then shot him in the head in an attempted robbery, according to court records.
    Falcon has since been repeatedly used as an example in the argument over whether child murderers should be locked away for life.
    McGill’s attorney is expected to argue the same in a resentencing hearing scheduled for Nov. 6.

    LYNN HAVEN — Travel Baldwin Road? Starting Monday, you may need to find a new route.
    A portion of the road will be closed for at least 45 days. During the roadwork, which is being done by Roberts and Roberts Inc., road closure and detour signage will be posted to direct westbound and eastbound traffic around the construction area via East Avenue, Mosley Drive and Minnesota Avenue.
    Traffic will be detoured from just east of Minnesota Avenue to just east of Syracuse Avenue to reconstruct the roadway and permanently repair roadway depressions.
    The few homes along the segment of Baldwin Road being repaired on the Syracuse Road side still will access their homes throughout the project, said Josie Cyr, engineering division manager for Bay County.
    Cyr said the roadwork is taking place on a heavily traveled section of Baldwin Road.
    “There are about 10,000 vehicles a day” that travel it, she said. “It’s busy pretty much all the time.”
    She said county officials understand the inconvenience to drivers.
    “We planned this during a period of time that is the least busy time for the roadway,” Cyr said. “School will be out.
    “We appreciate the public’s patience and understanding,” she said. “Anybody that has driven that segment understands what the problem is there. This is a permanent solution to the problem. It is bumpy. My kids call it ‘the roller-coaster ride.’ They tell me it’s pretty bad on a bus.”
    The segment of Baldwin Road on which the work will be performed is not being widened, but it is part of the overall road improvement project, Cyr said.
    “We’re reconstructing the roadway where those depressions are,” she said. “This is part of the overall project, which is a continuation of the four-laning of Baldwin between Harrison (Avenue) and Minnesota (Avenue). That part will be four-laned.”

    PANAMA CITY — One of four men charged in connection with the death of a man who was beaten lifeless in front of his son during a confrontation at a field party was sentenced to probation Friday.
    John L. Belosic, 18, was waived up to adult court after an October field party off Old Allanton Road led to the death of 48-year-old Jackie D. McClendon. Authorities reported a confrontation ensued after McClendon and two other men showed up to the party. Only Belosic and a group of younger men were charged as aggressors in the melee, according to court records.
    Belosic was sentenced to four years of probation Friday for fighting with McClendon’s son, while McClendon was beaten to death. Jay Green, 21, of Youngstown, and Chad Mercer II, 18, of Panama City, initially were charged with his death.
    According to official reports, several young people fled the Oct. 18 field party a few miles south of State 22 on Old Allanton Road after a fight broke out about 1 a.m. between some of the partiers and a group of three men who arrived uninvited on four-wheelers. As the Bay County Sheriff’s Officers responded to the scene, drivers flagged them down to say they “needed to hurry because it was bad down there,” officers reported.
    About 20 people were still around as McClendon lay on the ground, and his son lay over him with a bloodied face.
    A verbal exchange between the younger group and the older men had escalated into a fight moments earlier, witnesses told officers. Witnesses saw Green first punch the son, 27-year-old Danny Mayo Jr., in the face and then knock McClendon out with a punch, officers reported.
    One witness told officers Green said “that’s a one hitter quitter; I did that” after punching McClendon.
    As McClendon lay unconscious on the ground, Mercer kicked him in the head, officers said. McClendon stopped breathing after the kick, and Mercer was charged with manslaughter.
    Meanwhile, Belosic and Matthew Arthur Oberly, 18, further engaged in a fight with Mayo. Belosic brawled with Mayo, and Oberly struck him over the head with a beer bottle, causing permanent disfigurement, officers reported.
    Officers said Green and Mercer have confessed to the attack, but what transpired leading to the confrontation remains unclear. Mayo and Green are both Youngstown residents.
    Green’s charges have been reduced to aggravated battery and felony battery on another of the older men, 42-year-old Thomas Parker. Mercer also faces battery charges for allegedly attacking Parker.
    Both Belosic and Oberly have now pleaded no contest to charges stemming from the attack. Belosic was sentenced to four years of probation for felony battery. Oberly’s charges of battery and disorderly conduct were reduced to misdemeanors and he was sentenced in April to a year of probation.
    Both cases of Green and Mercer are pending. Mercer, who’s facing charges of manslaughter, was a student at Mosley High School at the time.

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Friday's acquittal of a former high-ranking BP executive charged with lying to investigators looking into the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill marked the latest setback for federal prosecutors pursuing criminal charges in the disaster.
    A federal jury took about two hours to find David Rainey not guilty of making false statements. Days before, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt had tossed out a related charge that Rainey obstructed a congressional investigation of the spill. Engelhardt told jurors before discharging them Friday that he agreed with their verdict.
    Rainey's acquittal came days after prosecutors asked a federal appeals court to reinstate the conviction of a former BP engineer, Kurt Mix.
    Mix, in 2013, had been acquitted on one criminal count but convicted on a charge that he knowingly deleted text messages about the spill. However, that victory for prosecutors was tossed out by a judge who said the verdict was tainted by a jury forewoman's remark — to an apparently deadlocked panel — about something she had heard outside the courtroom.
    The appeals court decision in the Mix case is pending.
    As for Rainey, he had been tasked, in the days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, with calculating the amount of oil gushing into the gulf.
    Prosecutors said he manipulated his calculations to match a far-too-low government estimate of the flow rate. He was charged with lying about having done so during an interview with federal investigators almost a year later.
    “We respect the jury's verdict,” said Leo Tsao, a prosecutor with a federal Deepwater Horizon task force.
    Environmental lawyer David Uhlmann said the government faced tough odds in the oil spill case.
    “Today's verdict demonstrates how difficult it is to prosecute individuals when the primary culprit is a corporate culture run amok,” Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor and former chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes section, said in an email.
    “In its case against David Rainey, the Justice Department also faced a significant evidentiary hurdle, which is that no one knows how much oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico during the Gulf oil spill,” Uhlmann added.
    Indeed, Rainey's attorneys built much of their defense on the inability of anyone, in the early days of the spill, to figure out how much oil was flowing. And, they argued, an estimate was largely irrelevant because an all-out effort was being made to cap the well, regardless of how much was spewing.
    “It was a fool's errand,” defense lawyer Reid Weingarten said of Rainey's task. “It was demanded by politicians and the press. And he reluctantly took up the cudgel and came up with his best response.”
    BP declined comment Friday. Rainey, whose defense was paid for by his former employer, smiled but declined to talk to reporters as he walked briskly out of the courtroom to hug family members.
    The government has had some successes. In November of 2012, federal authorities and the oil giant announced a settlement of criminal cases arising from the explosion, the resulting deaths of 11 rig workers, and the aftermath. The corporation agreed to plead guilty to charges including 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of a vessel's officers, one felony count of obstruction of Congress, and one misdemeanor count each under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Clean Water Act. Penalties totaled $4.5 billion.
    Trial is pending for BP well-site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, who have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the 11 deaths. They are charged with repeatedly disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blowout.
    The Deepwater Horizon explosion resulted in the nation's worst offshore oil spill — an 87-day underwater gusher. A federal judge overseeing civil litigation in the case acknowledged this year that estimates of how much oil was released vary widely, but he settled on a figure of about 3.19 million barrels — a rate of more than 36,000 barrels per day.
    Various early estimates were much lower. Rainey's trial focused on an early National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimate, days after the spill began, of about 5,000 barrels a day, and whether Rainey had “backed into” his own calculations to match that estimate.
    Associated Press reporter Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.

    Information is provided by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on people arrested on charges May 27 through June 3. Those arrested can contact The News Herald if charges are dropped or if they are acquitted. Addresses are those given by the defendant during arrest.
    Danielle Renee Nummy, 2906 Orlando Road, Springfield, possession of controlled substance without prescription
    TorranceMondread Davis, 25, 3742 E. 26th St., Panama City, burglary
    Mark Antoni Abruzzo, 39, 1820 Missouri Ave., Lynn Haven, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill
    Jennifer Rene Johnson, 41, 2004 Clay Ave., Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Ortelio Antolin Gutierrez, 40, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Michael Bryan Barfield, 37, 2975 Everly Road, Bonifay, grand theft
    Collin Louis Cassel, 20, 4909 McCall Lane, Panama City, grand theft
    Roman Eric Lawson Aaron, 18, 409 School Ave., Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Kade Nicholas Johnson, 18, Carencro, La., aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability
    William Cecil Culbreth, 29, 928 Grace Ave., Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Cindy Marie Lisenby, 28, 158 Heather Drive, Panama City Beach, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Joyce Dorothy Bradly, 24, 1224 Plantation Drive, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Alexander Blaine Balfantz, 19, Ponchatoula, La., possession of controlled substance without prescription
    Slathan Dain Schneider, 19, Marrero, La., possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    James Chadwick Mond, 23, 14708 Banks Drive, Sand Hills, possession of cocaine
    Sheila Renea White, 39, 716 E. Eighth St., Panama City, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability
    Linnette Lissette Catala, 24, 128 Kacy Lane, Calloway, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of cocaine
    Tammy Lee  Clark, 38, 3120 Minnesota Ave., Panama City, felony or domestic battery by strangulation
    Alexis Lynn Finney, 31, Bainbridge, Ga., abuse child without great bodily harm
    Ben Bennett Rippetoe, 32, 2121 W. 28th Court, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Lisa Marie Deese, 37, 300 25th St., Lynn Haven, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Alexander Loflin Redburn, 43, 2626 Redwood Drive, Panama City Beach, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Jennifer Ann Hartley, 21, 116 Linda Ave., Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Marrion William West, 37, 3115 Emerald Lane, Chipley, sexual assault
    George Howard Jr Polk, 52, 1323 Lincoln Drive, Panama City, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Douglas Brian Tucker, 29, 536 Dogwood Way, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Colleen Rene Honto, 42, 5204 Beach Drive, Panama City Beach, aggravated assault with use of a deadly weapon without the intent to kill
    Vincent Charles Barrile, 44, 8011 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, grand theft
    Marc Anthony Mills, 48, 902 N. Tyndall Parkway, Panama City, possession of weapon or ammunition by felon, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Stephen Lee Hinkle, 329 Newman Point Road, Southport, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
    Shane Michael (Allen) Rouse, 27, 908 Radcliff Ave., Panama City, burglary
    Marwan Isa Belion, 37, 3742 Pipeline Road, Panama City, possession of weapon or ammunition by felon

    PANAMA CITY — Most places “Maximus” goes he gets looks.
    A large, albino Great Dane, deaf and blind, he tends to stand out in the crowd. Other than his distinct features, Maximus is probably most recognizable from the attention he and numerous other Great Danes, that became known as the “Bay County 13,” received after being rescued from what authorities called a Youngstown “puppy mill.”
    Maximus, named for sharing mannerisms with a spirited horse in Disney’s movie “Tangled,” has settled down in a forever home back in Bay County.
    “He’s so well mannered, so well behaved,” said Dan Broadstreet, Maximus’ new owner, alongside his wife, LaDonna Broadstreet. “He’s really a social dog, and that is surprising because he has the scars to prove that he has been through hell.”
    The Broadstreets said after hearing of the “Bay County 13,” shortly after the death of their previous Great Dane, who also was disabled, they began the adoption process with the Northwest Florida Great Dane Rescue, where the dogs had been taken to recover.
    “He’s as good as a dog without disabilities,” LaDonna Broadstreet said. “You just have to have patience.”
    Maximus can’t go anywhere without garnering a comment of recognition from his January rescue. He was discovered at a 7010 Troy Road home in Youngstown. At the time, he was emaciated, weighing only about 50 lbs. Now, nearly a half-year later, the almost 2-year-old is at a little more than 100 lbs with a hefty appetite.
    People still recognize him from the disturbing images in the newspaper and on TV, the Broadstreets said.
    Although the group of Great Danes originally were known as the “Bay County 13,” charges later were amended. Lindsay R. Sanders, 33, owner of the dogs, was charged with 17 felony counts of animal cruelty following the raid on the Youngtown property, where officers found two dead puppies within the home and 15 malnourished Great Danes outside. Sanders’ and her husband, 38-year-old Mark Tyus, said they were honeymooning at the time of the mistreatment but officers said it would take much longer to subject the dogs to that amount of neglect, according to arrest reports.
    Sanders’ case in Bay County is pending. Tyus remains in custody at the Hillsborough County Jail on unrelated charges. Authorities said they expect to extradite him to Bay County to face animal cruelty charges once he is released from Hillsborough County.
    Needing homes: Despite Maximus’ storied past and local recognition, several other deaf and blind Great Danes in Northwest Florida Great Dane Rescue cannot find a permanent home.
    Many of what are called “lethal whites,” similarly disabled albino Great Danes, are put down at birth in puppy mills because they lack profitability. The Great Dane Rescue has had trouble finding people to adopt and keep blind and deaf dogs because of the additional effort that goes into their care and training.
    “It takes more patience, more work,” Dan Broadstreet said. “It takes someone willing to … be their eyes and ear, watching for trees holes in the ground and even parked cars.
    “We’ve had to learn in life not to move our furniture,” LaDonna Broadstreet said.
    Unlike dogs without disabilities, dogs with hearing or seeing difficulties depend much more on their caregivers to provide them stability and with a constant reassurance that the surrounding environment is safe and that they are nearby. In the Broadstreets’ history with disabled dogs, the desire manifests itself as an increased desire to nuzzle and be affectionate. That reward far outweighs all the additional efforts, LaDonna Broadstreet said.
    “At the end of the day, laying in bed all they want to do is cuddle and hug,” she added. “They’re such an appreciative dog because they know they’re with someone who will take care of them forever.”

    NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Suburban Indianapolis authorities say a Florida woman and her son are on the run after they failed to appear in court to face charges alleging that they plotted to kill a divorce attorney seeking money from the woman's boyfriend.
    Arrest warrants issued Friday in Hamilton Superior Court charge Renee Perillo, 51, of Panama City, and Richard Perillo, 21, of Laughlin, Nevada, with conspiracy to commit murder, theft, carrying a handgun without a license, possession of paraphernalia, criminal trespass and unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle.
    The two had been released on $20,000 bonds May 23 after being arrested on lesser charges outside the Noblesville home of attorney Rebecca Eimerman. Eimerman was pursuing unpaid settlement money from Perillo's boyfriend, Dr. Arnaldo Trabucco of Fort Mohave, Arizona, on behalf of his ex-wife, The Indianapolis Star reported.
    The Perillos were due in court Friday for their initial hearing. Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Buckingham had said his office needed more time following the May 22 arrest to investigate and charge the two in connection with the murder scheme.
    Police arrested the Perillos in the back of an SUV parked at Eimerman's home May 22 in Noblesville. Eimerman's husband got into the SUV, saw the two in the cargo area, got out, and called police, authorities said.
    The two were still in the SUV when police arrived and claimed to be homeless, according to an affidavit. In their possession was a syringe containing a lethal dose of a drug used in anesthesia called succinylcholine and a handgun registered to a Nevada man who said he sold it to Trabucco, the affidavit said.
    The Perillos also had several identification and credit cards belonging to Eimerman, who said she had left her wallet in the SUV, police said.
    After the two were booked in the Hamilton County Jail, Richard Perillo bragged to another inmate he had gone to Noblesville to kill a local attorney, the affidavit said.
    The Perillos were released after Trabucco paid their bonds, according to the affidavit.
    Police searched Renee Perillo's phone and found multiple Google searches of Eimerman and her home, the affidavit said. The phone contained photos of Eimerman's home and her SUV.
    Police found a car parked near Eimerman's home that looked like it was being lived in, the affidavit said. It was owned by a Florida management company and insured by Trabucco, and it had a stolen license plate, the affidavit said.
    A telephone listing in Trabucco's name wasn't in service Sunday, and he could not be reached for comment. A message seeking comment was left at Eimerman's law office. Online court records did not list attorneys for the Perillos.

    CALLAWAY — Callaway will have a boil water notice starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
    The effected area is 1408-1699 Gay Avenue, 5903-6101 Howard Road, Tina Avenue, Calvin Avenue and Bay Front Drive where the city is repairing a fire hydrant.
    The boil water notice will be in effect until a bacteriological survey shows the water is safe to drink. Water will be shut off until 1 p.m. on Tuesday in the affected areas.

    PANAMA CITY — A 21-year-old man discovered with a bounty of cash and cigarettes he acquired in an armed robbery has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to court documents.
    Jessie Floyd, of Panama City, was sentenced Monday for a March 2014 robbery of a Panama City gas station at knifepoint. Floyd represented himself during the trial of the case before jurors convicted him of robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, court records indicate.
    Circuit Judge Brantley Clark Jr. sentenced Jessie Floyd on Monday to 25 years in prison for an armed robbery of a Panama City Texaco.
    Assistant State Attorney Christine Smallwood took Floyd to trial May 13, where he was found guilty as charged of robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
    On March 10, 2014, Floyd robbed a clerk at knifepoint at the Texaco on 11th Street and Florida Avenue. According to police records, Floyd ordered the clerk to empty the cash register into a bag at knifepoint at about 6 a.m. that day. As she did, he grabbed several packs of cigarettes off the shelf and then fled the store on foot.
    She called police as he fled, relaying the course of his travel to a 911 operator.
    Floyd was found minutes after the robbery, within a few blocks of the Texaco, with the gloves and kitchen knife used in the robbery, as well as $486 stuffed in a black plastic bag and several packs of unopened cigarettes.
    Clark sentenced him to 25 years in prison for the robbery charge and five years in prison for the aggravated assault, but ordered the sentences to be served at the same time.

    PANAMA CITY — A culinary instructor at Gulf Coast State College has pleaded not guilty to charges he used stolen ice in sculptures he sold for profit, according to court documents.
    Billy James Redd, 53, was arrested May 22 on charges of grand theft, a felony. Redd, a culinary instructor at GCSC, is accused of using an ice machine owned by the college to make 12 ice sculptures he then sold for about $5,400, Bay County Sheriff’s officials reported.
    Redd, of Panama City Beach, was held on a $2,500 bond. He posted bond, has since pleaded not guilty and begun a pretrial release program. Redd is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges July 7.
    Gulf Coast officials did not return requests for comments Monday about Redd’s employment status with the college.

    PANAMA CITY — Bay County is beefing up its security at the County Commission meetings after a man who regularly lashes out at commissioners was charged with possession of a firearm while attending the recent Tyndall Air Show.
    A base officer charged Gary Beck on April 12 with possession of a firearm/dangerous weapon in a federal facility and issued a notice to appear in the U.S. District Court. Beck, of 2001 Beech St. in Panama City Beach, was found with a backpack containing a Charter 2000 Undercover .38 special snub-nosed revolver, a knife with a 4½-inch blade, and a 3-foot-long “Black Jack” with a lead weight attached, the citation states. The officer confiscated the weapons.
    Starting at its next commission meeting, the county will be searching the purses and bags of people going into the meetings and will use a wand to scan people going into the meetings for weapons, said Valerie Sale, a county spokeswoman. Sale said they will not be frisking people coming into the meetings, just scanning them for weapons with the metal-detecting wand.
    “I think it is important for people to know they may want to leave their bags in their car,” she said. “They can bring them in, but they are subject to being searched.”
    Sale also said the county is putting in a new, less bulky podium in which it’s easier for commissioners to see whether something is being concealed by the person speaking to them.
    Beck commonly vents his rage at the County Commission and Panama City Commission. He frequently has chastised county commissioners for not taking seriously his offer to provide an asteroid-zapping machine he invented, and he regularly lambastes commissioners for “violating his Constitutional rights.”
    Beck, who could not be reached for comment Monday, is scheduled to go before a federal judge Tuesday on the charges.
    On his Facebook page, he explains he has a legal permit to carry the gun and blames county officials for the incident at Tyndall. He writes that he now has to go in front of a judge “that is related more than likely to Bay County government, who has been trying to frame me and kill me since they stole $35 million from BP for my oil spill inventions.”
    “Now they are trying to frame me again because of the corruption I have exposed,” he wrote.
    Beck often speaks at the Panama City Commission meetings, as well.
    Mayor Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said the commission has decided Beck is so disruptive that he will have to submit his comments in writing instead of being able to speak out at future meetings.
    Security elsewhere: Panama City has no metal detector but does have two armed officers at every meeting, Brudnicki said. He said he’s not sure whether the city would follow suit with the county and start checking bags and purses for weapons.
    “We may have to do that,” Brudnicki said, adding that the issue should be brought up at the commission meeting.
    The potential threat of violence breaking out in a government chambers was highlighted in December 2010, when a disgruntled individual, Clay Allen Duke, fired four shots at six Bay District School board members but missed them all. Duke was then shot several times by a security guard and shortly afterward killed himself with a shot to the head.
    Despite that incident, the school district didn’t install metal detectors. A sheriff’s deputy does sit in on the meetings.
    “I remember the superintendent saying after that (shooting) happened that we’re not going to build a fortress because it is not going to do any good,” district spokeswoman Karen Tucker said. “People can find a way to do things. They now make plastic guns” that can get through detectors.
    The city of Lynn Haven is the only local municipality that makes people going into commission meetings go through a metal detector. Mayor Margo Anderson said residents don’t seem to mind.
    “I don’t think it’s been problematic. I think most residents feel OK about it,” she said.
    Lynn Haven City Manager Joel Schubert said the city not only has the metal detector but also an X-ray machine that looks for weapons. The machine was donated to the city as government surplus. Schubert said even though the machines are older models, they could detect a weapon.
    He said it doesn’t take an excessive amount of time to get into the meeting going through the machines. “We’ve not have one complaint,” he said.
    Parker Mayor Rich Musgrave said the city has an armed officer at its council meetings. He said several years ago someone had donated a metal detector and it was used a few times to screen people going into meetings, “but the council nixed it and took it out,” he said.
    Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond said the police chief sits in at the commission meetings. He said he’ll talk to the chief about whether more security is needed.
    “Normally, we also have a roving officer close by, whether in the hallway or a police car,” Hammond said.

  • 06/09/15--09:08: BCSO lieutenant honored

  • PANAMA CITY — The Bay County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that Lt. Koren Colbert was honored at the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence 2015 Bienniel Institute’s Trauma-Informed Advocacy Conference held last week in Orlando.
    Colbert was presented with the Vincent Mazzara Law Enforcement Leadership Award, which was created to recognize those individuals who have set the standard and dedicated themselves to pursue justice and healing for victims of domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault, BCSO officials reported.
    “I am very proud of Lt. Colbert and her tireless work in the area of domestic violence,” Sheriff Frank McKeithen said. “Demonstrating compassion for victims and working to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions are equally vital in reducing the incidents of domestic violence.”
    Colbert is the first recipient of this award and was chosen by Vince Mazzara himself prior to his death, BCSO reported.

    SNEADS — A woman died in a two-vehicle crash in Jackson County Tuesday morning, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
    Alisa Danielle Humphrey, 23, of Grand Ridge, was pronounced dead at the scene following the crash at 2:40 a.m. on Interstate 10, FHP reported. The driver of the second vehicle, Joe M. Harris, of Borger, Texas, had no injuries, according to the FHP.
    Harris traveled east on I-10 in a 2011 Peterbilt Truck and stopped in the outside emergency lane east of the eastbound scales entrance driveway, FHP reported. Humphrey traveled eastbound in a 2008 Kia Optima on I-10 in the outside lane, according to the report.
    Harris moved eastbound and attempted to merge into traffic while in the path of Humphrey, FHP reported. Humphrey did not have an opportunity to avoid a collision and she struck the left, rear portion of the truck, according to the FHP.
    The investigation is ongoing and FHP noted in the report that charges are pending.

    PANAMA CITY — The third man to be arrested in connection with what authorities called a Spring Break “gang rape” has been arraigned on the charges against him after testifying he has known the victim since grade school, according to court records.
    George Davon Kennedy Jr., 21, was not present in court Tuesday, waiving his right to hear the principal to sexual battery charge against him in person. However, court records partly revealed the actions of Kennedy, and the victim, leading up to the incident.
    Kennedy, a student of Middle Tennessee University, was one of three men arrested in connection with a Spring Break sexual battery on a crowded beach in broad daylight in March. A video of the incident surfaced during an investigation into a Troy, Ala., shooting, which led to their arrests. The video depicted four men assisting or participating in digitally penetrating a young, incapacitated woman on the beach.
    During a first appearance to argue for a bond reduction, Kennedy testified he knew the victim, whose identity has not been released, since the fifth grade, and the two had been dating at the time of the incident. They’d spent the night at the home of Kennedy’s mother in Atlanta before driving to a hotel room in Panama City Beach that they had rented together, Kennedy said.
    Even after the incident, the couple stayed at the hotel together for two more days before driving back to again stay the night with Kennedy’s mother, he said.
    Kennedy’s attorney asked if she displayed any fear of him or complained about his behavior during the days that followed the incident.
    “No, sir,” he replied, under oath, to both.
    Kennedy admitted to witnessing the incident during the hearing but later said he looks forward to vigorously defending himself against the charge. Kennedy could not be reached by phone for comment Tuesday.
    The judge refused his request for a $10,000 bond, instead setting it at $75,000; Kennedy posted the bond the following day. He also was ordered to not have any contact with the victim and could face up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted as charged.
    The Bay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kennedy on April 14, reporting the victim wanted to press charges against those involved in the attack despite her familiarity with Kennedy. The two other men arrested in connection with the incident were not acquaintances, BCSO reported.
    Delonté Martistee, a 22-year-old senior from Bainbridge, Ga., and Ryan Calhoun, a 23-year-old sophomore from Mobile, Ala., were arrested in Alabama on April 9 in connection with the incident. Both men, students at Troy University, have been charged with sexual battery by multiple perpetrators.
    Calhoun and Kennedy have pleaded not guilty.
    One more suspect in the video remains unidentified and at large. BCSO said they continue actively searching for him.

    PANAMA CITY — A substitute teacher in Bay County has been arrested on a warrant from Miami-Dade County, according to Panama City police.
    Mike Jones, safety and security officer for Bay District Schools, told officers that Gerald Bernard Curry, aka Gerald Anderson, was wanted for grand theft and battery.
    Curry was picked up and taken to the Bay County Jail to wait to be returned to Miami-Dade, police reported.

    SOUTHPORT — Two juveniles were arrested in connection with a burglary at Southport Elementary School, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office reported.
    The male juveniles were both charged with grand theft, burglary and criminal mischief, police reported. One of the boys said he stole tools and fire extinguishers from the school along with two other juveniles, according to the BCSO.
    Deputies responded to the school at 5:52 a.m. on Wednesday after administration called in a burglary. A janitorial supply closet and storage room was broken into, with several fire extinguishers stolen, police said. It also appeared the extinguishers were sprayed on walls and floors in the school and a large plastic bin filled with tools also was missing, police reported,
    Soon after, a call from a citizen on Nassau Street near the school alerted authorities to several discarded fire extinguishers, police said. Deputies responded and learned of a group of juveniles living nearby, the BCSO reported.
    Deputies went to the residence and observed a skateboard and bike covered in fire extinguisher “dust” and a plastic bin of tools, police said. Deputies spoke with a parent at the residence and two juveniles living in the home, when one stated he had been at the school with two other boys and participated in the burglary, according to police.
    The BCSO said the investigation is ongoing.

    PANAMA CITY — Fire crews battled an early morning house fire Wednesday, according to a Panama City Fire Department press release. No one was injured in the blaze.
    Alarms sounded for fire crews at about 1 a.m. to respond to 705 Cactus Ave. About 25 percent of the single-story home was engulfed in flames when the firefighters arrived, PCFD reported. The fire was under control in about 20 minutes, officials said.
    The home was left uninhabitable and the contents were a total loss, PCFD reported. Residents of the home were uninjured and are being assisted by the American Red Cross, officials reported.
    PCFD determined the fire was accidental, reminded the public to use caution when disposing of smoking materials and to check the operation of their smoke detectors regularly.

    CHIPLEY — A Florida Department of Corrections officer is being hailed a hero after pulling an woman from a burning home.
    Rexann Duran, an officer employed with Jackson Correctional Institute in Marianna, was on the way to watch her daughter graduate from Pre-K in Washington County when she noticed a house fire on Cope Road. What Duran did in the next few minutes saved a life.
    “Something told me to check the house,” said Duren, who immediately made a U-turn and was able to locate an elderly woman inside the burning home.
    Duren pulled the woman to safety and waited for emergency responders to arrive.
    “There is no doubt Officer Duren’s action saved this woman’s life,” said Warden Felicia Barnes of Jackson C.I. “This speaks to the caliber of men and women who work within our department, and we are proud to call her one of our own.”
    Duren is a 16-year veteran of the Florida Department of Corrections.

    PANAMA CITY — A man who impregnated a juvenile, mentally-disabled family member during a forced sexual act has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to court documents.
    Andres Pena, 48, was sentenced Wednesday after pleading no contest to a charge of sexual battery by a familial or custodial authority. Pena was sentenced under the Jessica Lunsford Act and sentenced to the maximum prison time of 25 years, court documents stated.
    Prosecutors intended to use statements the child, a 17-year-old at the time with the mental development of a 15-year-old, told her mother and a Children’s Advocacy Center agent in the trial of Pena. During their taped interview, the girl said in September 2014 that Pena confronted her in their home one day and forced himself upon her, according to court documents filed by the prosecution.
    Afterward, Pena told her not to tell anyone. He said the would go to jail if she did, the girl told investigators. However, the victim did tell her mother about the incident in the days that followed.
    As an investigation began, the victim’s mother administered two pregnancy tests on the victim. Both came back positive, court records stated.
    Pena received the maximum confinement of 25 years in prison Wednesday for the charge of sexual battery by a familial or custodial authority. Pena, of Panama City, also will permanently carry the label of a sex offender.

    PANAMA CITY — A judge has set a trial date for a twice-released sex offender for a sexual battery case authorities said stems back 20 years, according to court documents.
    Horace Monroe Wood, 45, appeared in court Wednesday to set what his attorney called a “firm” court date for a sexual battery charge stemming from an alleged incident with a juvenile in 1995. Months earlier, prosecutors dropped three cases of alleged sexual acts of children under 12 against Wood. He pleaded no contest to the fourth case and was released on probation as a sex offender until authorities again arrested him in January for the alleged 1995 sexual battery.
    Wood pushed back his June trial date during Wednesday’s hearing to July 27. Defense attorney Matthew Meredith said some witnesses that could testify on Wood’s behalf had yet to be located. However, they would be going before a jury regardless of whether the witnesses could be reached by the July court date, he said.
    Wood previously had been released the day he was supposed to go to trial at the end of October, although he was accused of sexual battery by four underage victims. He pleaded no contest to one count of lewd and lascivious molestation while the other three charges were dropped.
    Following Wood’s release, Sheriff Frank McKeithen criticized the handling of the case, stating Wood had “not been held accountable.” Wood later complained that authorities, under McKeithen’s direction, excessively monitored his activities during his release.
    According to the prosecution’s notes on the case, the incidents took place as far back as 2006 on girls as young as 3 years old. The time lapse since the incident and the ages of the alleged victims both conspired to result in deficient memories among the girls. Several of their accounts conflicted with one another when pressed on details, which would be used at trial, according to the prosecutor Matt Pavese.
    Attorneys reached a deal, and Wood was released with three years probation. Prosecutors also received a lifelong designation on Wood as a sex offender.
    Eight days later, probation officers caught Wood without his court-required electronic monitoring device and apprehended him outside a Youngstown motel. Fensom ruled the nearly two hours Wood spent without the monitoring device was not a “substantial violation” of his probation and he was again released on probation.
    A few hours later, however, Wood was rearrested and charged with a sexual battery after authorities filed a complaint from an alleged incident in 1995.
    Wood appeared in court Wednesday to set a jury trial on July 27 against the sexual battery charge.

    TALLAHASSEE — Two Franklin County prison guards have been arrested and now face federal charges in the wake of an alleged assault on an inmate, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
    William J. Ray, 40, and Corry B. Fletcher, 43, were arrested Wednesday morning and arraigned in federal court later in the day on charges they conspired to violate the civil rights of a Franklin Correctional Institution inmate, officials reported. A July trial date was set during the arraignment.
    A federal grand jury returned an indictment, unsealed Wednesday, charging that correctional officers Ray and Perkins conspired to violate the civil rights of a state inmate and deprived the inmate of constitutional rights at the state prison. Fletcher was additionally charged with obstruction of justice.
    The indictment alleges that, in July 2014, while acting as state correctional officers at the Franklin Correctional Institution, Ray and Fletcher conspired to intimidate a state prison inmate in the free exercise and enjoyment of the constitutional right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by correctional officers.
    The indictment further charges that Ray and Fletcher physically assaulted an inmate at the Franklin Correctional Institution without justification and caused the inmate bodily injury. The indictment finally charges that, in April of this year, Fletcher obstructed justice by intentionally misleading FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents through false statements.
    Florida Department of Corrections officials reported they assisted in facilitating the arrests.
    “The Department has zero tolerance for misconduct of any kind and will continue to employ every available resource to investigate any violations of Department policy and procedure. The DOC will remain engaged in this investigation to assist the DOJ,” Secretary Julie Jones wrote in an email. “They will be held accountable and will face serious consequences.”
    Ray, of Carrabelle, and Fletcher, of Bristol, were scheduled for trial July 13 in Tallahassee.

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — An unidentified person was rushed to the hospital Wednesday evening following a crash at sea, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.
    Details of the crash were scarce as of press time. The condition of the one person in EMS care also was unavailable.
    Coast Guard officials reported the crash between a boat and a single-person watercraft happened at about 5:40 p.m. in the waters of Grand Lagoon off the coast of St. Andrews State Park. Coast Guard officers transported the driver of the personal watercraft to an awaiting ground unit of EMS personnel, who then began administering CPR en route to a local hospital. CPR efforts continued up to arrival at the hospital. The patient’s condition upon arrival was unavailable, officials reported.
    No further information was available Wednesday night. Details of this incident will be reported as they are made available.

    MARIANNA — Authorities in Jackson County are searching for a man wanted in connection with a sexual battery on a minor involving multiple perpetrators, according to Jackson County Sheriff’s officials.
    JCSO is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Orinthid Jabbor Hayes Jr., who goes by the street name “O.J.” or “Juice.” Officials said he is from the Marianna area but has no permanent address, according to a news release. His co-defendant, Elliott Lashard Batson, was arrested Monday morning and lodged in the Jackson County Correctional Facility on the same charges.
    Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts, officials are asking that you contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at 850-482-9648 or CrimeStoppers at 526-5000.

    TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Two groups sued the state of Florida on Thursday seeking to stop a 24-hour waiting period for abortions from taking effect, arguing that it imposes an unnecessary burden on women seeking to end their pregnancies.
    The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed the suit one day after Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law. They argue that the law, which is to take effect July 1, violates the right to privacy guaranteed in the state constitution by interfering with their right to undergo the procedure.
    “For many women, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to schedule an appointment on two consecutive days due to work and/or school schedules, child-care availability, and the need to secure transportation to and from a provider,” the suit says.
    Plaintiffs listed in the case are Bread and Roses Women's Health Center in Gainesville and Medical Students for Choice, a Philadelphia-based group that advocates for abortion training for medical students.
    The suit argues that most women seeking abortions have low incomes, adding the loss of salary or travel costs for what will be at least a two-day process are particularly harmful to them.
    The law has exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic abuse or human trafficking if women present their doctors with a police report, restraining order or similar documentation backing their claim. But the lawsuit said requiring documentation in those cases is meaningless because the majority of victims don't report those crimes. The creation of a two-day process also increases the chances that a woman's abuser will discover the pregnancy and force her to not have the abortion.
    Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, who sponsored the bill signed by Scott, noted that 26 other states already have waiting periods for abortions and that six states have identical language as Florida. She said the laws in five of those six states were challenged and upheld.
    “I am confident precedent will be respected, and I look forward to seeing this effort to protect life and a women's health become the law of Florida,” Sullivan, R-Eustis, said in the emailed statement.
    Scott's office didn't immediately comment on the lawsuit.
    “This legislation was created just to put needless financial, professional and personal obstacles between Florida women and their right protected by the Florida constitution to seek an abortion if they so choose,” said Nancy Abudu, legal director of ACLU of Florida.

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — A University of Florida investigation has found evidence that members of UF fraternity Zeta Beta Tau behaved badly in Panama City Beach during Spring Break, but found nothing to indicate their behavior was intentionally aimed at disabled veterans at the same resort.
    From interviews with more than 60 students, veterans and their spouses, hotel workers and guests, UF officials gathered a picture of Zeta Beta Tau students getting drunk, playing loud music into the early morning hours and other unruly behavior typical of Spring Break.
    By their own admission, one student grabbed an American flag while intoxicated but returned it after a veteran yelled at him. Another popped open a bottle of champagne that might have accidentally spilled over the balcony onto guests below.
    Veterans said they were blocked from entering elevators and bumped while walking down hallways with their service dogs.
    The university has charged the fraternity with three counts of violating the student conduct code: causing harm or potential harm to others, obscenity, and public intoxication.
    Officials met with fraternity members and their representatives Tuesday to explain the charges, their options and the procedure that follows.
    “It was a very pleasant, collegial, open and sort of explanatory conversation where UF laid out the charges, the procedure, options and evidence and acted in very good faith,” said Lee Teichner, a partner with the Holland & Knight law firm in Miami.
    Teichner, a UF alumnus whose son is a ZBT member, represents about 80 parents of UF ZBT members. He said the fraternity is weighing its options.
    “Based on my review of the report, I do not see conduct on the part of the UF ZBT students that meets the charges levied against them,” Teichner said.
    The fraternity has until Friday to decide if it will accept or dispute responsibility for the charges. If it chooses to dispute the charges, ZBT can request a panel or administrative hearing, UF officials said.
    “The result of the conduct process decides what happens to the organization moving forward,” said Janine Sikes, assistant vice president for media relations at UF.
    The fraternity has already been placed on probation twice, most recently for a hazing incident last fall involving sleep deprivation. ZBT likely will be suspended if found responsible, Sikes said.
    “If they are found not responsible, then from UF’s perspective, they would be eligible to reopen,” she said.
    The investigation was launched after allegations appeared on social media that ZBT fraternity members from UF and Emory University chapters insulted and harassed a group of disabled warriors at Lakewood Wharf in Panama City Beach the weekend of April 17.
    About 600 students from UF and Emory were holding their spring formals the same weekend that 60 disabled veterans with their families and caregivers were attending the biannual Warrior Beach Retreat.
    About 4,000 people were at the resort that weekend.
    Facebook posts by the wives of two veterans alleging mistreatment by fraternity members went viral and sparked a national media storm. UF President Kent Fuchs also received emails urging an investigation into what was termed the “disrespectful and disgusting” behavior of the students.
    UF immediately suspended the chapter pending the outcome of its own investigation.
    Fuchs sent a letter to Linda Cope, head of the Warriors Beach Retreat to apologize for the alleged behavior, and Vice President David Kratzer, a retired general, said he was disgusted by the reports of how students allegedly treated the vets.
    The National Headquarters of ZBT suspended both chapters and expelled three students from the UF chapter.
    Within a week, UF and the national headquarters of ZBT agreed to close the UF chapter and evict the students from its house on Fraternity Row during final exams following dozens of death threats and anti-Semitic comments directed at the fraternity.
    UF officials said they made the decision after university police in consultation with the FBI determined a safety risk to fraternity members, the Greek community and the university community as a whole.
    UF and ZBT conducted independent investigations while the Panama City Beach Police Department conducted a criminal complaint into allegations of petit theft, simple battery, criminal mischief and launching a deadly missile.
    Panama City Beach police last week decided not to file charges after finding no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, although it concluded that students had committed “vulgar acts of moral disrepute.”
    PCBPD Capt. Robert Clarkson wrote that police did establish vulgar and inappropriate conduct by the fraternity members toward the veterans, but couldn’t identify members involved because of lack of cooperation.
    In the police report, Cope said veterans told her that fraternity members had yelled at them, spat on them, tore flags off their cars and threw beer bottles at them.
    Many of the veterans she named as witnesses either did not see the alleged acts or didn’t want to press charges, police said.
    One veteran told police he saw “college-aged white males” throw a champagne bottle at veterans from a 19th floor balcony, but backed off after he agreed he couldn’t positively identify them from that distance.
    The 147-page UF report was released to fraternity members Monday. The report includes summaries of interviews conducted by student affairs staff with more than 40 students, a dozen veterans and their spouses, a summary of the ZBT chapter’s internal investigation, the PCBP investigative report, and a deposition from the resort’s property manager.
    Hotel workers received complaints of students pulling flags off veterans’ cars, throwing marshmallows, pushing a veteran out of an elevator, and using racial slurs.
    Students admitted during interviews with UF officials that they were drinking alcohol on the beach and in hotel rooms, and that they had gotten a number of noise complaints Friday night.
    Several said they were not aware a veterans’ group was even at the hotel until they got an email from the spring formal organizers. Others said that any mistreatment of veterans, like throwing beer bottles off balconies, must have been by their Emory brothers.
    One student admitted to vomiting on his balcony. Another student said he saw a student start to urinate off a balcony for a second, but then stopped.
    Another admitted he grabbed a flag while intoxicated but put it back after several older guests yelled at him. Veterans said he was trying to ride the flag like a pony.
    One student said he went to the balcony to open a champagne bottle to make Mimosas. “The cork popped and some champagne may have fallen over,” he told investigators.
    Students also admitted to playing a drinking game in which they would chug beer, put their forehead on a baseball bat, spin around and then try to hit the empty beer can with the bat.
    One veteran said several students blocked him from getting into an elevator and bullied him and his wife. Another veteran and spouse claim they were shoulder-bumped in the hall.
    They also reported trash — fast food wrappers, bottle caps and a used tampon — thrown from balconies. One witnessed a young woman vomiting on a walkway and another person vomiting on a balcony above her. The spouse of one veteran said she felt something wet hit her from above and thought it might have been beer or urine.
    One veteran saw beer bottles being dropped or passed between balconies, but none fell to the ground.
    One veteran who claimed on television that a student spit on him and his service dog declined to talk to UF officials.
    But many of the veterans couldn’t identify whether the students were from UF or even associated with a fraternity.
    “There was never any evidence that it was us,” said Brett Musser, a chapter alumnus who finished his master’s degree in finance this year and attended the spring formal. “There were thousands of other people at Laketown Wharf.”
    Musser also said what the UF students admitted to was “nothing egregious or out of the ordinary in a spring formal trip.”
    Musser and Teichner said they felt the national headquarters threw their brothers under the bus because of the intense national media pressure.
    “Everyone was just dumbfounded,” Musser said. “They went on a trip to PC Beach with their dates, came back and a week later the whole chapter is shut down.”
    Teichner said he hopes that Cope and others who accused the UF fraternity of mistreating vets will apologize.
    “The investigation by both the PCB police and UF now confirms that there was no evidence of any intended disrespect or harmful or offensive conduct toward any veteran there that weekend,” Teichner said. “I’m hoping that … those who made such accusations will stand up with same fervor and apologize.”
    The University of Florida has charged the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity with the following:
    • Violation of Student Conduct Code/4(a) Causing Physical or Other Harm to any Person/4a1 — Conduct causing physical injury or endangering another’s health or safety, which includes, but is not limited to, acts of physical violence, assault, and relationship or domestic violence
    • Violation of Student Conduct Code/4(d) Obscene Behavior — Conduct or behavior that the student knows or should know is reasonably likely to be considered obscene under the standards of the local community. Such behavior includes but is not limited to public exposure of one’s own sexual organs and voyeurism, including but not limited to video voyeurism
    • Violation of Student Conduct Code/4(i) Alcohol Beverages Violations/4i2 Public Intoxication — Appearing at a university activity or on the university campus in a state of intoxication.
    Zeta Beta Tau has until Friday to accept responsibility or dispute the charges.

    PANAMA CITY — One woman has been arrested while police search for another woman accused of robbing a local store and abandoning her 16-year-old daughter in the parking lot, according to Panama City Police Department reports.
    Jimmie Selisa Davis, 37, was arrested Wednesday after officers responded to the Target at 2340 State 77, at about 1:50 p.m. to a report of a woman fleeing from the parking lot in a car after stealing a bag from inside the store. Davis was arrested shortly after on charges of principal to robbery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly driving the getaway car after police found in the parking lot the daughter of a woman identified as Crystal Flowers, according to PCPD reports.
    Flowers, who police said was inside the store, had not yet been arrested Thursday, court records indicated.
    One Target security guard momentarily hindered the woman’s escape by confronting her, authorities reported.
    “The subject attempted to run, pushed into me and said, ‘I have AIDS,’ and bit me,” said Matthew Imel, assets protection officer.
    The woman then fled in a Nissan Altima, of which Imel caught sight of the license plate number.
    Target employees noticed the woman and her 16-year-old daughter when they entered the store. They walked around awhile before the woman selected a bag and put it on her shoulder. Security watched as they then passed all points of sale without an indication of intending to pay, police reported.
    After confronting security, the woman ran outside and jumped into a car that rushed from the scene, leaving behind the 16-year-old in the parking lot, PCPD reported.
    Davis, Flowers and the child were trespassed from the property after police interviewed the minor. Davis was arrested a few hours later while Flowers could face charges of simple assault, strong-arm robbery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to police reports.
    The child was turned over to the Department of Children and Families.