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    PANAMA CITY — Police were called to the Visual Arts Center last week after an incident between Visual Arts Center Attorney Joe Silva, a Panama City employee and a bride-to-be.

    The report states police will issue a trespassing warning against Silva if he appears at the VAC building in the future.

    “We don’t want him back in the building because we don’t want anyone to have this same type of confrontation with him,” Mayor Greg Brudnicki said Wednesday. “We all need to be professional.”


    Carla Branch, 32, who is scheduled to be married in October, was dropping off paperwork for her reservation of the VAC and meeting with a city employee Friday afternoon when Silva interrupted, according to a Panama City Police report.

    “Branch stated (Silva) began questioning the city official about his identity,” the report states.

    Silva then stated the documents Branch brought in belonged to the VAC because they included the organization’s logo. He then “snatched” the documents from the city official, Branch recalled in a Wednesday interview.

    “They belong to the Visual Arts Group and I’m taking them,” Silva said, according to the report.

    Branch said city officials requested that she file a report with Panama City Police, which she did after the incident. She added she has not changed her wedding plans because of the incident.

    “He was just rude,” Branch said Wednesday. “I believe there’s good people in Bay County. I unfortunately walked into a situation I shouldn’t have witnessed.”

    The News Herald attempted to contact Silva several times but he did not return calls Wednesday. Attempts to learn the identity of the city officials also were unsuccessful Wednesday.

    The city took over the VAC from the VAC board of directors on the grounds that there were no longer any duly elected board members. The city commission discussed the takeover at its meeting on Tuesday with Silva present. Brudnicki described Silva’s actions in the meeting as grandstanding.

    “If you’re going to act like a buffoon, you’ll get treated like one,” Brudnicki said of Silva.

    Brudnicki added that Silva’s behavior has changed recently.

    “In the beginning they were pretty compliant to what we had to do,” he said. “I don’t understand where this change is coming from.”

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    PARKER — A Panama City man has been accused of forcing his way into a Parker home before allegedly groping an 11-year-old child, according to Parker Police reports.

    Torrance Mondread Davis, 29, was arrested Wednesday on charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling with battery and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12.

    According to police reports, Davis forced entry into the victim’s home at about noon Thursday. Once inside, Davis allegedly used his hands to touch an 11-year-old child underneath her clothing. An adult family member discovered Davis within the residence and he was still there when officers arrived, police reported.

    There also was a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old child in the home when the incident occurred, according to Parker police. The two other children came to the aid of the 11-year-old while the offense was taking place, police reported.

    Davis is being held on a $30,000 bond.

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    DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — A 47-year-old man is in custody after he allegedly threatened to blow up his home while officers tried to take him into custody.

    Christopher J. Mars of DeFuniak Springs was wanted for sexual battery on an underage mentally handicapped person, according to the DeFuniak Springs Police Department.

    When officers went to his home on Nowling Drive about noon Thursday to take him into custody, he spat at them and said if they touched him he’d blow up the house, the police reported.

    Mars held what appeared to be a television remote control when he made the threat.

    He continued to resist officers before he eventually was subdued with a Taser and arrested, according to police.

    He was taken to Healthmark Regional Medical Center for evaluation before going to the Walton County Jail.

    Mars is charged with sexual battery, resisting arrest without violence, threatening to set off a destructive device and two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer.

    His bond was set at $1 million.

    Because of the threats, the Bay County Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad and the Walton County Sheriff's Office assisted at the scene.

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    The Bay County Sheriff’s Office seeks information on a woman suspected of using a stolen credit card.

    On Friday, a local woman reported her wallet was stolen and that she discovered someone had used her credit cards, BCSO reported. The purchases totaled more than $2,000 and were made at several Bay County businesses, police said.


    The suspect is described as a black female in her late 50s or early 60s of medium height and build with shoulder-length hair. Police reported she was last seen wearing a blue, short-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and a large, dark-colored purse.

    Anyone with information is asked to call the BCSO at (850) 747-4700 or CrimeStoppers at (850) 785-TIPS.

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    PANAMA CITY — A Springfield man accused of mistakenly shooting a 17-year-old during a plot to kill a different man has been found guilty of manslaughter.

    Javares Cameron, 19, was found guilty Thursday of manslaughter with a firearm and resisting arrest without violence in connection with the daylight slaying Curtis Hunt. Hunt was shot in the back of the head October 14, 2014, while sitting on a bench outside a home on Kraft Avenue.

    Stark differences arose in the stories of how Hunt came to be shot. However, at the end of Cameron’s  three-day murder trial jurors deliberated for about three hours before they determined he mistakenly shot Hunt while firing at 20-year-old Tyquan Anderson, a resident of the home.

    Cameron could face up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced July 6.

    Kwanis Hunt, mother of Curtis Hunt, said she was disappointed by the verdict.

    “I still don’t have peace of mind. It still doesn’t help,” she said as she teared up outside the Bay County Courthouse. “He took my son’s life and he’ll only do a little jail time.”

    Kwanis Hunt said she and her family will be at the sentencing hearing to plead for the maximum time in prison.

    Cameron faced life in prison if convicted for second-degree murder. But the prosecution seemed to have an uphill battle to prove the killing occurred because Cameron aimed to settle a grudge.

    Cameron told jurors he was attacked by an unknown man wearing all black while he was trying to sell some hats to Anderson. After wrestling a gun away from the unknown man, Cameron said he blindly fired the fatal shot in self-defense.

    However, prosecutors said Curtis Hunt died in a case of mistaken identity during a “targeted attack” intended to settle a score with Anderson.

    Prosecutor Bob Sombathy told jurors that while some of his witnesses, such as Anderson, had an interest in the outcome of the trial, other non-interested witnesses corroborated the essence of their statements.

    Sombathy told jurors that Anderson and Cameron had “bad blood” over a stolen pistol and had a couple confrontations in the days leading up to the alleged attempted hit on Anderson.

    About 45 minutes before the shooting, there was a one-minute phone call between Anderson and Cameron, but what was said was unclear.

    “That’s the way to make sure Anderson was at home,” Sombathy said. “This case is just as much about Anderson. He’s the one that should be dead.”

    Sombathy also tore into Cameron’s testimony and highlighted inconsistencies with the physical evidence.

    One striking detail occurred to medical responders treating Hunt. Even though an alleged skirmish involving guns occurred feet away from him, he didn’t turn around or pay it much attention.

    “As (the medical personnel) was pumping air into his lungs, they thought it was odd he would have in ear buds,” Sombathy said.

    And although Cameron claimed to be there to sell hats, police only found a single, dingy and bent New York Jets hat in the trunk of his car.

    Following a scramble to find Hunt’s killer, police pulled over Cameron over across town at Royal Arms Garden Apartments. Cameron ran away and discarded the pistol over a fence.

    Sombathy encouraged jurors to focus on Cameron’s actions when confronted by police.

    “What in the world would make somebody run and risk getting shot unless you did something really bad and needed to get away,” Sombathy said.

    In her closing arguments, defense attorney Kim Jewell said Cameron was summoned to Anderson’s home in order to rob Cameron of jewelry, and cited a text message questioning the whereabouts of Cameron about 45 minutes before the shooting.

    She said Anderson was checking on Cameron to further the robbery plot. Cameron thought he would sell some hats before going to work and ended up wrestling over a gun, Jewell said. After Anderson drew a gun on him, Cameron fired the gun he took from the unknown man in self-defense.

    “If you want to believe this beef was over a gun, wouldn’t that be an opportune time to rob someone who was not armed,” Jewell told jurors.

    She also pointed to the physical evidence to corroborate Cameron’s story. She claimed the trajectory of the bullet supported it, unlike faulty eyewitness testimony.

    Hunt “turned and looked. That’s the only way his head is turned in that direction,” Jewell said. “Curtis Hunt wasn’t supposed to die that day, but Javares Cameron wasn’t supposed to get robbed, either. Physical evidence like that can’t lie, it can’t be bent.”

    Kwanis Hunt disagreed.

    “If there’s a confrontation around him, he’s not just gone sit there,” she said. “He’s not like that.”

    By the end of his closing arguments, Sombathy also indicted the values of a generation. He said the shooting was a retaliatory hit intended for another target. The call for murder boiled down to a slight disrespect, something that would have ended in a fist fight years ago, Sombathy said.

    “Values have changed for certain people,” he said. “You disrespect someone, they go get guns. As crazy as that sounds, this is the world we live in.”

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    TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Florida gun owners who don't have a concealed weapons permit can now take their firearms with them while fleeing a hurricane.

    Not that it's been a big problem in Florida in the past. No one can cite an example of a gun owner being arrested while evacuating ahead of a hurricane, but lawmakers didn't want what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago happening here.

    New Orleans Police confiscated hundreds of guns from people's homes and from some evacuees. Three years later they agreed to return them to owners to settle a lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation.

    “We looked at the real life examples of what happened in Louisiana when people were trying to evacuate, some on foot, and they were stopped at bridges and certain checkpoints and their firearms were seized,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who sponsored the bill. “It took them many months to get them back, if they ever got them back, but they were just trying to comply with a lawful order to evacuate New Orleans.”

    But Katrina is exactly why Sen. Jeremy Ring opposed the bill.

    “Seeing the pictures of New Orleans and the pure chaos that was going on there, I think we'd be better off with less guns than more,” said Ring, a Democrat. “To have a riotous situation, I don't feel comfortable to have people running around with guns in a riotous situation.”

    And if what happened in Katrina was such a concern, he said he wondered why it took 10 years to pass a bill here.

    Under normal circumstances, Florida gun owners can be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison if they have their weapon on or about their person in public without a concealed weapons permit. Florida's new law makes an exception for people evacuating during a declared state of emergency. There is a 48-hour time limit for the exception, which the governor can extend.

    Brandes says he knows of no examples of people being charged for carrying a gun without a permit while fleeing a hurricane, but he's sure people have violated the law in the past.

    “I think many people are already doing this and they don't understand what they were doing in the past would have been a felony,” Brandes said. “They're just trying to flee their homes lawfully.”

    Unlike bills to allow guns in schools and state college campuses, there was little opposition to allowing unpermitted gun owners to evacuate with their weapons. In five committee stops, no one from the public spoke against the bill, which was supported by police chiefs, sheriffs and gun rights advocacy groups.

    “A lot of people would not leave their firearms behind to be destroyed in a hurricane or be stolen by looters,” said Marion Hammer, a former NRA president who now lobbies for the group and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida. “So when a law makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens, it needs to be fixed.”

    Brandes’ office had no records of emails or letters opposing the bill, and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, who sponsored the House version of the bill, only received two emails from people opposing it, including one who called it a “dangerously flawed bill.”

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    WESTVILLE — A first-grade student and a teacher’s aide from Bonifay Elementary School were bitten by a fox during a field trip Thursday.

    BES’s entire first grade class was at a park in Westville for the field trip. Around 11:30 a.m., an animal identified so far as a fox approached a student and bit him on the foot or leg. Teacher’s aide Jodi Richardson quickly intervened and was bitten multiple times while saving the student.

    Holmes County Superintendent Eddie Dixon said the remaining students were immediately put on busses and transported back to BES. Holmes County EMS transported Richardson and the student to Doctors Memorial Hospital in Bonifay for treatment.

    The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office is still working with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to find and trap the fox.

    “She was a real hero,” Dixon said of Richardson.

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    The Bay County Sheriff’s Office seeks the public’s help in identifying and finding a man suspected of using a stolen credit card.

    The suspect was captured on security cameras at a local Wal-Mart making purchases with the card, which went missing on April 24, police reported. The suspect is described as a white male in his early 30s, of medium height and build with brown hair, BCSO reported. He was last seen wearing a red T-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, flip-flops and had a dark-colored watch on his right wrist and a dark bracelet on his left wrist.

    Anyone with information is asked to call the BCSO at (850) 747-4700 or CrimeStoppers at (850) 785-TIPS.


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    TALLAHASSEE (AP) — A Florida man is still trying to get half of his ex-girlfriend's $1 million lottery prize, eight years after he says she took the winning ticket and left him. He says she reneged on a long-ago promise that they'd split any winnings if either of them hit it big.

    On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court agreed that if they were still romantically involved, any spoken agreement made years earlier was still valid.

    Now a jury will have to decide if a pact was ever made and if the couple was still an item when Lynn Poirier's lucky number was drawn.


    Howard Browning says he and Poirier agreed in 1993 to share any lottery money they might win. They loved playing the lottery, sometimes driving out of state to buy Powerball tickets when the jackpot grew big enough, since Florida didn't have the game at the time, according to his lawyer, Sean Sheppard.

    “They were a big lottery couple. That's what they did,” Sheppard said.

    Then on July 2, 2007, Browning and Poirier walked into a gas station convenience store 20 miles northeast of Orlando and separately bought $20 tickets for the raffle.

    Two days later, Poirier's number was drawn. She said nothing about winning and left the house she owned with no explanation, Sheppard said. About five weeks later, Poirier, then a 54-year-old special education teacher, went to the Florida Lottery headquarters and claimed the prize, saying she was going to use it to pay off her second mortgage and upgrade her collection of vintage cars.

    That confirmed what Browning suspected. The raffle tickets were numbered sequentially and when Browning checked his, he realized it was one number away from a $1 million winner.

    “He thought to himself ‘She must have won and she split,’” Sheppard said. “A while later she shows up in a brand new car and tells him to get out.”

    The couple had lived together since 1991.

    Poirier's lawyer, Mark Sessums, didn't return a call to his office, but he told the Supreme Court in December that the couple had broken up and Poirier was living with her mother when she bought the ticket.


    Sheppard said the couple dined out together just before buying the lottery tickets and there's no dispute that they were in the store at the same time. He even gave her the money to buy the ticket after stopping at an ATM, he said.

    The court was only ruling on the agreement, not whether Browning should get the money. A trial judge threw the case out before it could go to a jury, saying the agreement needed to be in writing if it were to continue beyond a year.

    The Supreme Court ruled the law the judge cited doesn't apply in this case. A new trial will be scheduled.

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    PARKER — Police Chief Dennes Hutto said cooperation with the La Brisa Inn already has led to a reduction in crime.

    Since the Parker City Council fined the inn $6,195 in April, there has been one drug arrest, for possession of paraphernalia. In that case, the inn let police know of the suspicious behavior.

    “So far, so good,” Hutto said.

    Hutto gave the City Council an update on the inn 30 days after the fine was issued, stating management had put up security cameras, had started a no rent list and put up a fence between the property and Under the Oaks Park. Hutto will give a second update at the 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting of the City Council.

    Hutto is hoping to schedule session to train housekeeping staff for both the La Brisa and Parker inns. He said the department has received more cooperation with Parker Inn, leading to a large bust May 22.

    La Brisa Inn has an incentive to comply with the police. The inn would owe another $2,250 if police find the business uncooperative.

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    PANAMA CITY — A June jury trial has been scheduled for a man accused of strangling two people before leading deputies on a chase and assaulting officers.

    Lyle Kirkpatrick, 41, of Southport, faces eight charges when his trial begins June 8 at 8:30 a.m.: two counts of reckless driving, battery, aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude, aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, tampering with or harassing a witness, and domestic battery by strangulation.

    Bay County Sheriff’s officers responded to Kirkpatrick’s home on Jan. 6. There were two domestic violence victims, according to a law enforcement affidavit. The first person tried to wake up Kirkpatrick while he was lying in bed. Kirkpatrick allegedly responded by kicking her twice in the stomach, and the first victim’s daughter pleaded with Kirkpatrick to stop.

    The victim stated Kirkpatrick turned to her and grabbed her by the throat, causing her to choke, authorities reported. He then allegedly dragged the victim into the kitchen and slammed her head into the sink. The same person tried to call for help, but Kirkpatick took the phone and smashed it, according to deputies. After breaking the phone, he allegedly punched the victim in the face, knocking her unconscious. The victim stated she later gained consciousness and called 911.

    When the first deputy arrived on scene, he noticed a Kia SUV with its lights off. Authorities said the driver, later identified as Kirkpatrick, slowed down to a stop 10 yards in front. The deputy exited his vehicle when the SUV accelerated and Kirkpatrick aimed at it his patrol car, according to the affidavit.

    Sheriff’s officer Jason Larson tried to conduct a traffic stop on Kirkpatrick, but he allegedly sped up to speed in excess of 100 miles per hour and turned off his headlights.

    “This was an obvious wanton disregard for the safety of the people in the area as there were other vehicles in the area who were having to move out of Kirkpatrick’s way to keep from being struck,” Larson said in the affidavit.

    Later, another BCSO officer said Kirkpatrick intentionally drove his SUV into the driver’s side of his patrol vehicle “with the intent to bodily harm,” a separate affidavit states.

    Kirkpatrick finally was stopped after Deputy Wade Boan used spike strips to intervene in the pursuit, BCSO reported.

    Kirkpatrick sought the appointment of public defender Jan. 7 and posted a $50,000 bond Jan. 14. Brantley Clark Jr. is the judge in the case.

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    ORLANDO (AP) — In an effort to curb cyberbullying, campus crime and suicide, the Orange County school district has started monitoring student messages on social media sites.

    The district has acquired new software that analyzes social media messages from its campuses, The Orlando Sentinel reports. The program also allows the district to search messages posted on various sites including Facebook and Twitter for key words that might indicate trouble.

    Chief Operations Officer Michael Eugene said the program is aimed at “prevention and early intervention.”

    School officials acknowledge the online snooping might raise privacy questions. But board member Linda Kobert said the district is taking advantage of “new tools to protect our children.”

    The district's security staff will monitor messages and worrisome posts will be referred to school administrators or police.

    Doug Tripp, senior director of safety and security, said all the messages are “open-source information” that are publicly available to anyone with the right tools.

    The program, which launched a few weeks ago, has already had one success story, Eugene said. He said the Snaptrends software found a student threatening “self-harm,” a discovery which led district staff to contact police and help the family get needed services.

    Orange administrators announced the effort in a Wednesday email to parents and staff, followed by a Thursday news release. They hoped the announcement would help prevent end-of-the-year pranks and spark discussion during the summer between parents and students about appropriate social-media use, Eugene said.

    The software, which costs about $14,000 a year, is in a “rollout phase” now and will be fully running at the start of the 2015-16 school year, Tripp said.

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  • 05/30/15--09:13: BCSO arrest log May 20-27
  • Information is provided by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on people arrested on charges May 20-27. 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.

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Charles Curtis Killingsworth, 37, Nashville, Tenn., grand theft, burglary

    Jerald Eugene Overturf, 55, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    William Floyd III Willoughby, 44, 635 Gulf View Drive, Panama City, selling methamphetamine

    Edward Kenneth Ross, 22, 6407 Sunset Ave., Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Randy Ralph (Bo Hollie) Holley, 39, grand theft

    Herbert Levonn Coleman, 23, 5920 Brighton Park Lane, Jacksonville, burglary

    Bobby Levon White, 36, 304 E. 18th St., Lynn Haven, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill

    Santana Cody Richard, 21, 4021 Easy St., Southport, grand theft

    Christopher Bonard Pitts, 35, 902 N. Tyndall Parkway, Callaway, kidnapping/false imprisonment

    Terry Lee Sly, 52, 1342 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Panama City, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability

    Brandon Ray Batson, 31, 116 Cherri Lane, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Kenny Doug Clayton Hardy, 38, 8933 Ruff Road, Youngstown, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    LoganEmmaus Thomas, 20, 903 Ross Lake Drive, Springfield, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill

    Joseph Angelo Yancy, 25, Billerica, Mass., possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Tanessa Lachey Murray, 21, 137 Transmitter Road, Springfield, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, delivering/distributing methamphetamine, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Thomas Mitchell Destifino, 36, 2523 Grant Ave., Panama City, possession of cocaine

    Quandarius  Hilliard, 18, Marbury, Ala., possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Sharon Denise Cobb, 43, 604 Satuma Ave., Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Dominique Jo Anthony Loud, 43, Albany, Ga., possession of cocaine

    Rodney Ralph Wogaman, 46, 612 Mckenzie Ave., Panama City, aggravated battery with use of a deadly weapon

    Hope Ann Hawk, 38, 9404 Kingswood Road, Southport, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Latasha Nicole Richard, 32, 5422 A Pinetree Ave., Panama City Beach, possession of cocaine

    Joseph Adam Iwaniszek, 45, 7776 Betty Louise., Panama City, possession of cocaine

    Anna Jade Nelson, 23, 1111 Minnesota Ave., Lynn Haven, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Timothy Allen Ruckman, 49, 5326 Sunwood Road, Panama City, sexual assault

    Windy Leigh (Bailey) Glasgow, 47, 240 South Arnold Road, Panama City Beach, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Joseph Louis Jr Bond, 54, 900 Harrison Ave., Panama City, possession of cocaine

    Defrevion Desean Duhart, 22, 1509 Fairland Ave., Panama City, possession of cocaine, possession of weapon of ammunition by felon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill

    James Russell Coleman, 39, 2627 Ann Ave., Panama City Beach, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Julian Patterson III Hardy, 37, 15414 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, aggravated assault

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Joshua Santana, 20, 1914 Frankford Ave., Panama City, burglary

    Alec Keenan Cooper, 19, Arlington, Tenn., aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability

    Christopher Lee Mcmullon, 26, 6331 Omoko St., Callaway, selling opium or derivative

    Marwuis Demound Minor, 27, 137 Kilburne Ave., Springfield, aggravated stalking

    Verleen Faye Anglin, 50, 4834 Pine Ave., Panama City, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability

    Danielle Renee Nummy, possession of controlled substance without prescription

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    A temporary lane closure is planned Wednesday for the southbound lanes of State 77 near Skunk Valley Road.

    The work is scheduled to last from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. to allow maintenance crews to repair a depression in the southbound outside lane.

    Bridge maintenance crews also are scheduled to clean and seal the bridge deck on the U.S. 90 Apalachicola River Bridge at the Gadsden/Jackson County line on Thursday-Saturday. Alternating lane closures are expected, according to Department of Transportation.

    All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or rescheduled in the event of inclement weather. Motorists are reminded to travel with care through the work zone.

    For more information, follow the Florida Department of Transportation District Three on Twitter (@myfdot_nwfl) or visit their Facebook at

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    WASHINGTON (AP) — Barring a last-minute deal in Congress, three post-Sept. 11 surveillance laws used against suspected spies and terrorists are set to expire late Sunday.

    Will that make Americans less secure?

    Absolutely, Obama administration officials say.

    Nonsense, counter civil liberties activists.

    Even if senators set to meet in an unusual Sunday session agree to advance a House-passed bill that extends the programs, one lawmaker says he will use his right to delay a final vote and let the powers lapse once midnight arrives.

    “We do not need to give up who we are to defeat” terrorists, said GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a 2016 presidential candidate. “There has to be another way,” he said Saturday in a statement and on Twitter, pledging to force the expiration of an “illegal spy program.”

    While there are compelling arguments on both sides, failure to pass legislation would mean new barriers for the government in domestic national security investigations, at a time when intelligence officials say the threat at home is growing.

    “If these provisions expire, counterterrorism investigators are going to have greater restrictions on them than ordinary law enforcement investigators,” said Nathan Sales, a Syracuse University law professor and former Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration.

    Until now, much of the debate has focused on the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ telephone calling records. This collection was authorized under one of the expiring provisions, Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Independent evaluations have cast doubt on that program’s importance, and even law enforcement officials say in private that losing this ability would not carry severe consequences.

    Yet the fight over those records has jeopardized other surveillance programs that have broad, bipartisan support and could fall victim to congressional gridlock.

    The FBI uses Section 215 to collect other business records tied to specific terrorism investigations. A separate section in the Patriot Act allows the FBI to eavesdrop, via wiretaps, on suspected terrorists or spies who discard phones to dodge surveillance. A third provision, targeting ‘lone wolf’ attackers, has never been used and thus may not be missed if it lapses.

    Government and law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have said in recent days that letting the wiretap and business records provisions expire would undercut the FBI’s ability to investigate terrorism and espionage.

    Lynch said it would mean “a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people.” Clapper said in a statement Friday that prompt passage by the Senate of the House bill “is the best way to minimize any possible disruption of our ability to protect the American people.”

    Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to accuse opponents of hijacking the debate for political reasons. “Terrorists like al-Qaida and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow, and we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

    Civil liberties activists say the pre-Sept. 11 law gives the FBI enough authority to do its job. To bolster their case, they cite a newly released and heavily blacked out report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that examined the FBI’s use up to 2009 of business record collection under Section 215.

    “The government has numerous other tools, including administrative and grand jury subpoenas, which would enable it to gather necessary information” in terrorism investigations, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.

    Section 215 allows the FBI to serve a secret order requiring a business to hand over records relevant to a terrorism or espionage investigation. The FBI uses the authority “fewer than 200 times a year,” Director James Comey said last week.

    The inspector general’s report said it was used in “investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with an authorized FBI investigation.”

    But from 2007 to 2009, the report said, none of that material had cracked a specific terrorism case.

    “The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders,” the report said.

    The report analyzed several cases, but most of the details are blacked out. In some cases, the FBI agent pronounced the 215 authority ‘useful’ or ‘effective,’ but the context and detail were censored.

    In 2011, Bob Litt, the general counsel for the director of national intelligence, testified before Congress that the business records provision was used to obtain information “essential” in the investigation of Khalid Aldawsari, a 20-year-old Saudi-born resident of Lubbock, Texas, who was sentenced to life in prison for plotting to bomb American targets in 2011.

    In another case, Litt said, “hotel records that we obtained under a business records order showed that over a number of years, a suspected spy had arranged lodging for other suspected intelligence officers.” Those records gave the FBI the information it needed to get a secret national security eavesdropping warrant, he said.

    Sunday’s Senate session became necessary after the chamber failed to act before leaving town early May 23 for a holiday break. The USA Freedom Act, which passed the House passed overwhelmingly, fell three votes short of the 60 needed to proceed in the Senate, and efforts to extend the current law also failed.

    If the USA Freedom Act were to become law, the business records provision and the roving wiretap authority would return immediately. The NSA would resume collecting American telephone records for a six-month period while shifting to a system of searching phone company records case by case.

    If no agreement is reached, all the provisions will expire.

    A third possibility is a temporary extension of current law while lawmakers work out a deal, but House members have expressed opposition.


    Surveillance at a glance: A look at the post-Sept. 11 surveillance provisions that, barring a last-minute deal in Congress, are set to expire late Sunday.

    - Section 215 of the Patriot Act: This has been used to authorize the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of domestic telephone records, although an appeals court ruled recently that the law could not fairly be read to support that program. The ruling was put on hold pending the debate on Congress. Section 215 is also used by the FBI about 200 times a year to obtain all manner of business records, including hotel bills, travel vouchers and Internet data relevant to a terrorism investigation. The FBI says that collection is extremely useful, though a recent Justice Department report said the bureau could not point to any terrorism cases cracked because of the program, as of 2009. If the program lapses, the FBI will have to go back to pre-Sept. 11 language that is much more restrictive.

    - Section 206 of the Patriot Act: This authorizes ‘roving wiretaps’ in national security cases. Commonly used in drug cases, such wiretaps allow the FBI to target a suspect rather than a device, to account for a suspect who discards phones to dodge surveillance. In the national security context, they are more often used in spy cases than terrorism ones, officials say. If this provision expires, the FBI would have to get a separate order for each communications device it wants to intercept.

    - Section 6001 of the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act: The ‘lone wolf’ provision has never been used. It is designed to allow the FBI to eavesdrop on a non-U.S. person who is not affiliated with any foreign power, including a terrorist group.


    Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.


    Follow Ken Dilanian on Twitter at

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — With about 10 months ahead before Spring Break 2016, both the Panama City Beach Police Department and Bay County Sheriff’s Office have indicated any violation of the new ordinance will result in arrest next year.

    “We will be aggressive in our enforcement of the new ordinances and the law,” said BCSO Maj. Tommy Ford. “We will enforce it with arrests, just like we did with the ID [requirement] on the beach.”

    Ford said new ordinances put in place prior to Spring Break this year led to hundreds of arrests of underage drinkers and those drinking on the beach without valid identification. Overall, more than 1,200 arrests were made during the Spring Break period, with BCSO spending about $350,000 on overtime for additional patrol.

    Although the Sheriff’s Office has not yet estimated the cost to enforce a beach drinking ban, Ford said the agency soon will begin the planning process to prepare for next Spring Break.

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — People who try to climb over high-rise balconies or throw objects off them could be facing jail time and a criminal record if an ordinance given its first approval is finalized.

    The ordinance came up for the first time at Tuesday’s Panama City Beach Council meeting, where council members approved it on the first of two readings. It was not initially among the new proposals the council was considering adopting to town down Spring Break next year.

    The ordinance amends the city’s disorderly conduct ordinance, adding wording that it is an offense if someone “climbs up, down or over a balcony, or attempts to jump from a balcony, or spits or throws any object to or from a balcony.”

    The ordinance is among a slew of new laws passed by the Beach Council to tone down next year’s Spring Break after a celebration this year that garnered negative nationwide media attention. The Beach Council on Tuesday approved another ordinance on the first of two required readings that would ban drinking on the sandy beach during the month of March, with the punishment being jail time.

    City Attorney Amy Myers said Friday violating the balcony-jumping ordinance is also a misdemeanor violation punishable by an arrest.

    “It is not a ticket,” she said. “There is no civil citation.”

    The punishment could be up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine, Myers said.

    She said the law was drafted so people could not only be charged but prosecuted in court.

    The problem with prosecuting balcony-jumping cases surfaced in June 2002. Dismissing a disorderly conduct charge against a Spring Break visitor, Circuit Judge Elijah Smiley said at the time that balcony climbing may be dangerous, but it is not a crime under state or local laws.

    If Panama City Beach wants to make balcony climbing illegal, it could simply pass a separate ordinance banning that activity, defense attorney Jonathan Dingus said in court at the time.

    The proposed balcony-jumping ordinance is supported by some in the hospitality industry, who have expressed opposition to other laws like the drinking ban, which they say could seriously reduce the number of spring breakers coming here.

    Julie Hilton, vice president of Hilton Inc. that owns several hotels on the Beach including the Holiday Inn Resort, urged the city to pass the new balcony-jumping law.

    “I just felt like we needed to do everything we can to encourage our students to be safe, and we need to make it clear that it is strictly prohibited to climb balconies because they are risking their lives,” she said.

    The new law could have led to charges for fraternity students who allegedly spit on veterans in April from a balcony at Laketown Wharf. But Myers said she did not have that incident in mind when she drafted the proposed law. “It was not even in my frame of reference,” she said.

    Linda Cope, founder of the Warrior Beach Retreat, said she supports the proposed new law making it a jail-time offense for spitting or throwing objects from a balcony.

    “I’m just very pleased with (Police Chief) Drew Whitman’s stand on this,” Cope said. “I was very impressed with him at the City Council meeting because the police are wanting to send out a message that they not going to put up with this.”

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — A domestic dispute at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach led to charges of false imprisonment for one man Saturday.

    Richard Enochs was arrested and charged after the Panama City Beach Police Department received reports of a domestic dispute in which Enochs had a female victim restrained inside a vehicle.

    Upon encountering police during a traffic stop, Enochs fled the scene and collided with a police patrol car.

    After police apprehended Enochs, the victim reported he forcibly restrained her in the vehicle and would not allow her to leave. Enochs was arrested on charges of false imprisonment and other traffic and domestic-related charges.

    According to police, the case is still under investigation and further charges are pending. 

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    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.

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    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.

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