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RSS Full Text Feed of Crime-public_Safety for Mobile.

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    PANAMA CITY — Two men were indicted Friday on first-degree murder charges in separate slayings in Bay County, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

    A grand jury indicted David Clanton, 33, in the strangling death of his father-in-law Arthur Moore, 69, of Youngstown on Sept. 8. He is charged with first-degree murder.

    Damon Washington, 21, also was indicted on a first-degree murder charge, as well as being a principal in the robbery and shooting of Christopher Purswell on March 1.

    Both cases will be reviewed by a panel of senior prosecutors to determine if the state will seek the death penalty against one or both of the men.

    The Bay County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Moore’s disappearance after his wife Lottie Moore reported her husband missing.

    But the investigators got a tip when deputies talked to a man from Minnesota who said he’d had a conversation in which David Clanton jokingly described choking his father-in-law to death in his bed and burying his body in the woods. They re-interviewed Clanton, and he confessed to killing Moore at Lottie Moore’s request and led investigators to the body, authorities reported.

    Lottie Moore and Mary Clanton, who is Arthur Moore’s daughter, were charged with accessory after the fact to murder. All four lived on Stauber Road, off Campflowers Road.

    In the second case, Purswell was shot to death after he was lured to East Eighth Street at Helen Avenue, near Rutherford High School, in Springfield for a drug transaction. Authorities said at the time of the arrest that  Washington briefly rode with Purswell and directed him to the site of the trap.

     Four others also were arrested in connection with the case on various charges.


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  • 12/06/13--19:01: PCB man dies after crash
  • WEST BAY -- A 72-year-old Panama City Beach man died Friday from injuries sustained in a car crash Tuesday.

    The Florida Highway Patrol identified the victim as Charles Howard Campbell.

    Tuesday at about 10 a.m., Campbell was driving a 2010 Toyota Yaris in heavy rain northbound on State 79 north of West Bay. The right front of the car hit an unknown object, FHP said. After impact, the car slid and came to final rest facing in a northerly direction in a ditch.

    Campbellwas taken to a local hospital, where he died Friday.

    The driver was unable to provide any information about the object he collided with, so it remains unknown, FHP said.

    The driver was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol was not a factor in the crash, FHP said.


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH -- A pedestrian was sent to the hospital for injuries after being struck by a driver who was texting while driving, a Panama City Beach Police news release stated.

    The pedestrian’s name, age and condition had not been released by police Saturday. The pedestrian was taken to Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Health System, the release stated.

    Shortly after midnight Friday, Nicholas Kilcoyne was driving eastbound on U.S. 98 and hit a male pedestrian crossing the street northbound, a police news release stated.

    Kilcoyne returned to the scene after making a U-turn a few blocks away from the crash and admitted to texting while driving. He was issued a citation for texting while driving, the release stated.

    Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.


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    FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man is facing child neglect charges after allegedly leaving an infant in a locked car outside a Fort Myers strip club.

    Police arrested 21-year-old Andrew Sosa after they found the infant in the back seat of a Kia Optima in the parking lot of the Lookers strip club. A bystander had flagged down an officer, who smashed a window to get the child out.

    NBC2 in Fort Myers reports that the 4-month old girl was sweating and covered in vomit. She was taken to a local children's hospital and treated for mild dehydration and is expected to recover.

    Police say the infant was left alone for more than three hours while Sosa was inside the strip club. A judge set the suspect's bond on Saturday at $100,000


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    CALLAWAY — One man was shot multiple times and another man is in jail following an argument over a shattered beer bottle Friday night, a Bay County Sheriff’s Office news release said Saturday.

    The victim was shot in the jaw, arm and pelvis with a handgun, the news release stated. He is in critical condition at a local hospital. BCSO declined to release the victim’s name Saturday, saying it was not available.

    Arrested was Torie Lee Michael Robinson, BCSO said.

    Police believe the victim had been in a car with two friends when he dropped a beer bottle onto a driveway in the 5200 block of Lee Drive. Two bystanders saw it and demanded the victim pick up the bottle, which had shattered in an area “that children often played,” the release stated.

    The man began picking up the pieces of glass, however, the two parties continued to argue. The victim then punched one of the men, the release stated.

    Robinson, one of the two bystanders, took out a handgun and fired four times, hitting the victim three times.

    The incident happened just before 8 p.m. Friday.

    Robinson turned himself in to law enforcement overnight and was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

    This is not Robinson’s first arrest. He was arrested twice in 2010, once for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and another time for carrying a concealed weapon. He had been previously charged with cocaine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was found guilty on the drug and concealed weapon charges, and pleaded no contest to aggravated assault, according to court records.


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH -- A 60-year-old man was arrested after showing children his genitals while wearing a thong in front of his home Saturday, a Bay County Sheriff’s Office news release stated.

    Paul Francis Nett was taken to jail and charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition after a mother told officers she saw Nett wearing “only a thong” standing on a trailer in front of his home at 105 Dana Way, off  Wildwood Road.

    According to the release, children, including a child of the mother who reported the incident, had been walking home when they saw Nett pull his thong aside and expose his genitals.

    He was taken Bay County Jail.


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    FREEPORT -- A 4-year-old boy went into surgery at a local hospital after being accidentally shot with a BB gun by his 14-year-old cousin, a news release from Walton County Sheriff’s Office said.

    Police responded to a home on South Bay Grove Drive at about 3:30 p.m. A 4-year-old boy had been shot by his cousin with a Daisy Roger .177 caliber BB gun.

    Catherine Rodriguez, Walton County spokeswoman, said the 14-year-old pumped the BB gun not seeing that the 4-year-old was standing 6 to 8 feet away. The boy was shot in the chest.

    The shooting was an accident, Rodriguez said, and the cousin was “upset” at what had happened.

    The condition of the child was not released as of Saturday night. The teenager was not arrested.


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    NICEVILLE — Former Bay High School boys basketball coach Rob Williams died in a boating accident near the Mid-Bay Bridge in Choctawhatchee Bay, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Stan Kirkland confirmed on Saturday.

    Williams was among three people killed in the accident, which occurred between Thursday night and Friday morning, Kirkland said. The body of Taylor M. Evanoff, 18, was found Friday about a mile south of Dana Point. Williams’ body was found around noon Saturday near the wreck site, about a half-mile from Legendary Marine in Destin. A third body, a female, was found in Joe’s Bayou near sundown Saturday, but Kirkland said authorities were waiting to notify her family before releasing her name.

    Williams, 47, was the registered owner of the boat and a Niceville resident. He is survived by four children.

    He was born in Port St. Joe and a graduate of Wewahitchka High School and Gulf Coast Community College. He made his mark as a head coach at Bay High School over five seasons, where he amassed a 110-45 record with regional appearances in each season. The Tornadoes reached the pinnacle under Williams with the school’s first state Final Four berth in 2003.

    Williams left Bay in 2004 and also coached at Lowndes and Lanier County high schools in Georgia. He was an assistant coach at Chipola College and head coach at Alabama Southern for one season. He was to be hired at Mosley in 2007, but instead took a position at Lanier County a month after a verbal agreement to take over the Dolphins’ program.

    Rutherford boys basketball coach Rhondie Ross said he met Williams when they were teammates on the men’s basketball team at Gulf Coast in 1989.

    When Ross moved back to Bay County in 2001, he joined Williams’ coaching staff at Bay. He remained an assistant at Bay until taking over the head coaching position at Rutherford and building a highly successful program there during the past decade.

    “We were friends, we talked quite a bit,” Ross said Saturday. “Recently he came over and watched us when we played in a classic at Fort Walton Beach on the Monday and Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving. He came to both of my games.

    “The day after Thanksgiving we watched game film, then went out to Gulf Coast and watched tournament games out there.”

    Ross said that Williams, who had been out of coaching for a few years and was in private business, told him that he lived vicariously through him.

    “He still had the coaching bug,” Ross said. “He’d give me pointers and I’d bounce things off of him.

    “He had a tremendous impact on me. He taught me a lot about defense, game planning and strategy. He was a tireless worker and showed me a work ethic.”

    Ross said that Gary Speights, currently a teacher at Mowat, was a mentor to Williams dating to when Speights was a teacher and head basketball coach at Wewahitchka in the early 1980s.

    “One of the greatest things was that he wound up coaching my son at Bay High, that was really neat,” Speights said.

    “He had a vision that he told me he would play college basketball one day, which he did. He said one day he would be a coach like me, and he did. He wanted to put (his players) in position to go to the next level. That was his goal.”

    Speights said that he hadn’t spoken with Williams in about three weeks, although he did put in a call to Williams on Friday, not knowing about the accident.

    “He was doing pretty good for a young man from Wewahitchka, Florida,” Speights said. “His goal was to put his family in position to be successful. He loved his kids very much.”

    Speights said he didn’t receive confirmation of Williams’ death until late Saturday afternoon.

    “It felt like losing a son, losing a loved one,” Speights said. “He coached my son … that he came under his tutelage was very special. I knew he was taken care of, taught the right things. I knew he was going to be disciplined. Do it the right way.”

    Port St. Joe head basketball coach Derek Kurnitsky said Williams had a major influence on his career. The two first met, he said, during the mid-1990s at Florida State University.

    As Kurnitsky recalled, Williams was returning to school in his late 20s, and they were managers together on head coach Pat Kennedy’s men’s basketball staff.

    “We knew each other very well,” Kurnitsky said. “He got me the job at St. Joe. When the job came open I knew he was at Bay High. Even though he played at Wewa he was a St. Joe guy. He got me hooked up. He got my foot in the door.”

    Kurnitsky said he last saw Williams in a chance meeting during the summer when Kurnitsky’s daughter was in the hospital with a staph infection and Williams was there to visit his grandfather.

    “He was a heckuva basketball coach, a great teacher of the game,” Kurnitsky said. “We played Sneads tonight … He’s the reason I’m in St. Joe. It’s just surreal.”

    PHOTO GALLERY


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  • 12/08/13--14:09: Man killed in wreck
  • GREENWOOD -- A Greenwood man was killed Sunday morning when his car hit a tree.

    According to the Florida Highway Patrool, Kenneth Ray Davis, 79, was traveling west on Nubbin Ridge Road in Jackson County at or near the posted speed limit at about 7:10 a.m. when his 2001 Buick LeSabre drifted to the left and onto the south shoulder of the road. The vehicle rotated clockwise, causing Davis to lose control of the vehicle. The vehicle’s right side collided with a large oak tree, trapping Davis.

    Davis was pronounced dead at the scene by Jackson County EMS.

    The driver was wearing a sealtbelt and the accident was not alcohol related, FHP said.


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    DESTIN — The boating accident that claimed three lives — including that of a former Bay High basketball coach — remains under investigation.

    Rob Williams, 47, of Niceville, Taylor M. Evanoff, 18, of Niceville, and Jamilia Beltz, 21, whose address was not available, were killed when Rob Williams' boat hit a piling under the Mid-Bay Bridge about a half-mile north  of Legendary Marine. A search team discovered a damaged piling under the bridge and evidence of a boat accident, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Stan Kirkland.

    There were apparently no witnesses to the incident, he said.

    Kirkland said a marine salvage company will remove the wreckage sometime early this week, which may lead to more answers about what happened.

    “You can learn some details by looking at the motor,” Kirkland said. “There are computers on the motor. At this time, it appears that no one heard or saw what happened so we'll have to look at the boat.”

    Williams was Bay High School boys basketball coach for five seasons, with regional appearances in each season and the school’s first state Final Four berth in 2003. Williams left Bay in 2004. He was born in Port St. Joe and a graduate of Wewahitchka High School and Gulf Coast Community College.

    Beltz’ identity was not initially released. Her body was discovered in Joe's Bayou Saturday evening.

    Evanoff'’s body was pulled from Choctawhatchee Bay about a mile south of Dana Point on Friday afternoon. Williams' body was found Saturday morning near the wreckage.

    Investigators discovered that the three were dropped off at Legendary Marine late Thursday by a taxi, which officials believe is shortly before the wreck occurred.


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    CRESTVIEW — A Baker woman charged with animal cruelty failed to show up in court Tuesday morning for her scheduled plea entry before circuit court Judge Jim Ward.

    Crestview police arrested Alyssa Lyon Pack, 20, Nov. 15 and charged her with animal cruelty. She was arrested without incident and was transported to Okaloosa County Jail, police said. She was released on $500 bail.

    Kimberley Blackman, supervisor of the circuit court criminal division, said a person typically would be charged with failure to appear under such circumstances. Ward issued a warrant for her arrest, but then rescinded it, she said.

    Pack's court date was then rescheduled to Dec. 23.

    In a video posted on Facebook, a woman alleged to be Pack confronts three geese in Crestview's Twin Hills Park, antagonizing them, kicking them and bragging about it afterward.

    "I'll beat you so hard you won't even know it," the woman says in the video while jumping back and forth in front of the animals before, it appears, she kicks one of the geese in the head.

    Update (3:07 p.m.): A spokesperson with Judge Ward's office says she can't divulge what information was received, but that information led Ward to rescind the bench warrant and reset Pack's court date.
    We can confirm that Ward has assigned her a public defender, his assistant said.


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    PANAMA CITY — Deputies are investigating the death of a transient inmate at the Bay County Jail.

    David Cross, 52, was alone in a cell when he was found dead Saturday morning in a sleeping position, Warden Rick Anglin said. There is no indication of foul play.

    “It appears he just died of natural causes,” Anglin said Tuesday.

    Deputies with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Division are looking into the cause of Cross’ death. The Medical Examiner’s Office has conducted an autopsy but has not released a potential cause of death. The case is pending results of a toxicology screen.

    Anglin said surveillance video footage shows Cross entering the cell where he was alone Friday night after a meal and closing the door behind him. No one else went in or out of the cell until the following morning.

    Cross had been booked into the jail seven times in the past two years, mostly for alcohol-related law violations, Anglin said.


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    BONIFAY -- The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s assistance is locating 16-year-old Aili Renee Luna.

    The teen got on her school bus Monday morning to attend Holmes County High School, but did not go to school and has not returned home.

    She later contacted a friend but has not returned home.

    She is 5 feet, 2 inches tall, 130 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Anyone with any information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact a local law enforcement agency or call the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office at 850-547-4421. 


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    PORT ST. JOE — A white man who claimed he shot his black neighbor in self-defense was sentenced to 28 years in prison for second-degree murder.

    Judge John Fishel sentenced Walt Butler, 61, to a minimum mandatory 28 years during a sentencing hearing Thursday; Butler will not be eligible for a reduced sentence.

    “I’ve put quite a bit of thought and consideration into the sentence,” said Circuit Judge John Fishel.

    Prosecutor Bob Sombathy had asked Fishel to put Butler in prison for the rest of his life for shooting his neighbor, Everitt Gant, in the head with a .22-caliber rifle. Gant had gone to Butler’s door to confront him about using racial epithets within earshot of  black children in their Port St. Joe neighborhood.

    Gant was alive and sitting in a chair on Butler’s porch when first responders arrived at the rural residence in July 2012, and he was able to walk with assistance to the ambulance. But the gunshot wound caused his brain to swell and he died six weeks. He was 32.

    Witnesses testified during a pretrial hearing that Butler had been drinking heavily that day. His friends said they knew of Butler’s racists beliefs, but the jury didn’t find Butler targeted Gant because of his race.

    After shooting Gant, Butler barricaded himself in his home and finished eating his dinner. When he was arrested, Butler told Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent that he didn’t know what he was in trouble for because he “only shot a (racial epithet).”

    Butler claimed he shot Gant in self-defense, though he didn’t seek immunity under the Stand Your Groud law. Witnesses testified at his November trial that there were no words, threats or warnings exchanged between the men before Butler opened fire. Sombathy said Butler shot Gant down as if he were a dog.

    Before his sentence was read Thursday, Butler asked to address the court and apologized to the Gant family. Butler said that he, too, had lost a son and knew how hard it was.

    “I liked Everett a lot,” Butler said. “I want to make it perfectly clear that I didn’t intentionally kill the boy.”

    Sombathy spoke on behalf of Gant’s father, who opted not to attend the sentencing. According to Sombathy, Everett told his father that Butler had racist sensibilities, but that he planned to win him over with kindness.

    Butlerwill be credited with the 501 days he already spent in the Gulf County Jail. Sims requested Butler be kept as close to Gulf County as possible due to the proximity of family.

    Sims said that he plans to file a notice of appeal for the sentence within 30 days.

    The Star’s Wes Locher  contributed to this report.


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    LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — A state Department of Children and Families investigator has been charged with two counts of sexual battery, police said Thursday.

    Twenty-seven-year-old Jason Conrad Montgomery visited the home of a child he was assigned to on Sept. 5, according to the Lakeland Police Department.

    While at the residence, he allegedly asked the children in the house to leave and told their mother she “needed” to have sex with him.

    The woman initially resisted, but Montgomery allegedly told her, “Well then I am going to be forced to do what I have to do.”

    Police said the victim felt helpless due to Montgomery’s position with DCF and that he proceeded to sexually batter her.

    A few weeks later, police said Montgomery called the victim and urged her to return home so that he could speak with her in reference to information he had received from police. When the woman arrived home, Montgomery reportedly told her, “You owe me for getting you out of trouble.”

    Montgomery then sexually battered the woman again, police said.

    Lakeland police interviewed Montgomery and said he denied having any sexual or personal interaction with the victim. However, DNA evidence found at the victim’s residence matched Montgomery’s DNA profile, investigators said.

    Police said the victim was still fearful of Montgomery when she spoke with police.

    “The victim was visibly upset and repeatedly stated that she was still afraid that the defendant was going to take her children from her,” the affidavit states.

    Carrie Hoeppner, a DCF spokeswoman, said Montgomery was the subject of an unrelated internal investigation and removed from client contact in September. He was kept on administrative duties and offered DCF his resignation and two weeks’ notice last week.

    Hoeppner said Montgomery’s resignation was made effective immediately after


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH -- The Florida Highway Patrol will put approximately 25 troopers on Back Beach Road near the intersection with Nautilus Drive to conduct sobriety checks tonight.

    The roadside safety checkpoint begins at 7 p.m. and continues through midnight. During that time, vehicles will be stopped to check for impaired drivers. Drivers suspected of impairment will be sobriety tested on site.

    Lt. Rick Warden described the checks as a “limited intrusion,” meaning that troopers will check for impairment and a valid driver’s license, but they won’t concern themselves with things like equipment violations. The FHP conducts these operations this time of year because of the increase in traffic due to holiday visitors, Warden said.

    “It’s the time where people do visit and travel,” Warden said.

    The checkpoints have been successful in getting impaired drivers off the road, an FHP news release says. The public can use *FHP (*347) if they come into contact with a driver they believe is impaired.


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    DESTIN — The wreckage from last week’s fatal boat crash at the Mid-Bay Bridge was lifted from Choctawhatchee Bay on Friday afternoon, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

    But there are no new details about the accident that killed 47-year-old Robert Williams, 18-year-old Taylor Evanoff and 21-year-old Jamilia Beltz, all of Niceville.

    The FWC and Coast Guard used a crane on a barge to lift the 336 Cobalt boat from near the bridge. The job took one to two hours.

    The salvage team initially tried to take it to Legendary Marine in Destin, but had to switch locations because the tide was too low, FWC investigator Sulin Schafer said.

    The boat eventually will be taken to a secure location in Panama City while the accident investigation continues, Schafer said.

    There was damage to the front of the boat consistent with a crash, she said. Officials believe the boat rammed a piling of the bridge either late Dec. 5 or early Dec. 6.

    Investigators will try to reconstruct the crash with the evidence, she said.

    “As far as trying to figure out the way that it hit and the dynamics of it, that is going to take some work,” Schafer said.

    Officials believe a taxi dropped Williams, Evanoff and Beltz off at Legendary Marine before the accident. No details have been released on when they launched the boat from the marina.

    Williams was Bay High School boys basketball coach for five seasons, with regional appearances in each season and the school’s first state Final Four berth in 2003. Williams left Bay in 2004. He was born in Port St. Joe and a graduate of Wewahitchka High School and Gulf Coast Community College.


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    PANAMA CITY — A Callaway man pleaded no contest this week in a deal with prosecutors that will put him behind bars for four years for raping a child more than 40 years ago.

    Jackson Youngblood, 71, was arrested in February after a woman told investigators with the sheriff’s office he had forced her to do sex acts on him throughout her childhood. He entered a plea to a count of sexual battery on a child under 12 and trespassing in an occupied structure.

    Judge Michael Overstreet sentenced Youngblood to four years in prison for the rape charge and time served for the misdemeanor trespassing charge. Youngblood could’ve faced life in prison for the rape charge if he had been convicted at trial, which was scheduled to begin Dec. 16.

    Youngblood’s felony charges in this case dated back to the early 1970s, when he used to take the victim to a real estate office and force her to perform oral sex on him. If the victim, who was about 7 when the abuse began, refused Youngblood he would choke her until she complied, she told authorities.

    Sheriff Frank McKeithen already was familiar with Youngblood when he went to his home in February to question him about the victim’s allegations and found him naked from the waist down, drunk and looking at pornography with the front door open. The sheriff became familiar with Youngblood when he was investigating the disappearance and slaying of a young woman named Vivian Edwards in 1983.

    McKeithen said in an interview earlier this year that Youngblood was one of the best suspects in the Edwards case, but there was never enough evidence to arrest anyone.

    McKeithen said he wanted to make a charge against Youngblood, who he suspected of masturbating in front open windows before McKeithen arrived, and after talking with Youngblood’s neighbors he had probable cause to arrest Youngblood on several felonies. Several neighbors complained about Youngblood, who had lived in the trailer park less than a week. Neighbors said they’d watched Youngblood attempt to break in to one home, and an 11-year-old girl identified Youngblood as the man who had entered the bathroom while she was in the shower the night before.

    By entering the plea, Youngblood resolved all of his outstanding charges.

    Additional conditions of Overstreet’s sentence require Youngblood to register as a sexual offender. He will receive credit for the time he spent in the Bay County Jail since February.


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    BAYOU GEORGE -- Deputies arrested an Altha man after a lengthy pursuit through rural Bay County Friday afternoon, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

    Joseph D. Spence, 36, was booked into the Bay County Jail Friday after leading deputies on a chase that involved collisions with patrol cars and ended in a crash on Deep Springs Road.

    Officers with the Lynn Haven Police Department had issued a BOLO (be on the lookout) for a small red pickup truck pulling a trailer that was reported stolen. A deputy spotted a vehicle matching the description in Southport on State 77 and got behind it before the truck sped off.

    Deputies chased the truck to County 388, and other deputies deployed spike strips near Blue Springs Road in an attempt to disable the vehicle, but the truck went around the device through the ditch and the chase continued northbound on Blue Springs Road to State 20.

    Three deputies pursued the truck over dirt roads near State 20. The truck and a patrol car sideswiped each other at one point.

    The trailer detached from the truck and overturned on Deep Springs Road. Shortly after that a deputy successfully performed a maneuver designed to end chases by causing the suspect vehicle to wreck and Spence was arrested.

    No deputies were injured during the chase, and Spence was cleared by medics after the crash. He was arrested and charged with fleeing and attempting to elude police and felony habitual driving with license suspended.

    Spence has been incarcerated several times over the past decade for similar charges.


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    FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A southwest Florida community is rallying around a 72-year-old man this holiday season after authorities say a teenager kicked him to the ground while her friend videotaped the incident on her phone.

    A 15-year-old high school basketball player and several teammates were walking through a neighborhood last month when they spotted Robert Lerberg pulling weeds in his yard. Authorities say the teen ran up behind him, kicked Lerberg to the ground and then erupted into laughter. One of the students videoed it, according to Lee County Sheriff's officials.

    Authorities said the teen also allegedly knocked on another door that same day and slapped an 89-year-old victim in the face. She faces two charges of felony battery on a person 65 years old or older. The Associated Press is not naming the suspect because she is a minor. The suspect said she was only imitating similar acts she's seen online, deputies said.

    "That was one of the worst things done to me in my life," Lerberg said. "All I could say was, 'Very funny, thanks a lot.' "

    The incident sparked outrage in the community, and prompted supporters to create a Facebook page titled "Fort Myers Supports Robert Lerberg." The sheriff even held a news conference to speak out against the brazen unkindness.

    Several members of the basketball team and Cypress Lake High School principal and athletic director stopped by Lerberg's home Saturday to apologize and lend their support.

    Lerberg told The News-Press (http://tinyurl.com/lk8t8q4) they all hugged and cried.

    "That meant a lot to me."

    Lerberg said he hasn't talked to the suspect.

    "By the time you are 15, you should know the difference between right and wrong," he said. "After, she was laughing."

    Authorities are investigating a similar incident that occurred around the same time in the same neighborhood to see if they're connected. A 47-year-old woman said she was out walking when a group of people approached her, threw something at her and hit her in the back, according to a sheriff's office report. The victim said the incident was also recorded.


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