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RSS Full Text Feed of Crime-public_Safety for Mobile.
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    GRACEVILLE — The death of a Graceville Correctional Facility prisoner is under investigation after what authorities are calling an “inmate on inmate altercation,” officials confirmed Tuesday.

    Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) have taken over investigations into the incident. So far, limited details have been released; it is believed, however, that the death occurred during an “inmate on inmate altercation,” according to officials in the FDLE communications department.

    DOC officials reported the victim of the altercation was 51-year-old John H. Anderson, who was serving a life sentence. The name or names of others involved in the incident had not been released Tuesday afternoon, and no charges had been filed as of Tuesday evening in Jackson County in connection with the incident.

    Graceville Correctional Warden Mark Henry declined to discuss details surrounding the incident.

    “This is an ongoing investigation,” he said, “and FDLE has taken the lead.”

    According to FDLE officials, the department’s investigators and crime scene analysts responded to Graceville Correctional on Sunday at about 1:30 p.m. to investigate an inmate death at the facility. The death was a result of an inmate-on inmate-altercation, and the investigation remained active Tuesday, officials reported.

    No further details were released Tuesday.

    Graceville Correctional Facility is a private prison. The Florida Department of Management Services monitors and regulates most day-to-day matters involving employees hired to run the prison. Since the incident involves a criminal investigation, FDLE has taken the lead with assistance of DOC’s inspector general, according to Natalee Singleton, Communications Director for the Department of Management Services.

    Henderson was in prison facing a life sentence for charges from 1998 in Alachua County. He was convicted of two counts of armed robbery with a gun, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carjacking with a deadly weapon, according to DOC records.


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    PANAMA CITY — A victim of a Craigslist advertisement turned armed robbery said he was certain the charges against two Panama City men fit the crime of attempting to kill a person.

    Patrick Tipton, one the robbery victims, said he wasn’t traumatized by the experience; he was more angered by the way events unfolded.

    “The thing that gets me is someone coming up from behind and hitting you,” he said, “but they should be charged with attempted murder. I saw it in their eyes. They were killers.”

    Three other people have been arrested in connection with what investigators said was an orchestrated, broad-daylight robbery of two unsuspecting people who were expecting to retrieve a sectional couch advertised on Craigslist. Most recently, police arrested the men they believe carried out the robbery: Detonio “Black Boy” Dixon, 26, and Keith “K-dog” McCray, 23. The men face several charges, including armed robbery and attempted felony murder, the Panama City Police Department reported.

    PCPD responded to 716 W. 13th St. at about 3:30 p.m. Friday for a call about an armed robbery. Officers said Dixon and McCray laid in wait behind the corner of a building after the two victims had paid $800 for the couch and began loading it onto a truck.

    Tipton said he’d bent over to pick up the last piece of the couch when he felt the butt of a pistol come down on his head. He fell to the ground and two men armed with pistols — one also with a baseball bat, the other with a machete — encircled him and his female friend he’d offered to help pick up the couch, he said.

    “But when he hit me, it must’ve jarred the trigger mechanism, so it couldn’t fire,” Tipton said. “Both times he pointed it at me the clip kept falling out.”

    Police reported McCray pulled the trigger twice, but the gun did not discharge. Both men demanded money and cellphones from the victims. McCray ordered Dixon to shoot Tipton while he searched the female victim’s pockets and bra for money, police reported.

    Tipton said he threw the little money in his pockets on the ground at their feet, but the female victim already had given all her money up for the couch. He said while one man searched the truck for other property, he was trying to divert the other’s attention long enough to gain an advantage.

    “I wanted to get the gun away from him and get them away from her,” Tipton said.

    All the while, Tipton saw five other residents in the area come outside to find out what was going on. No one rendered help, though, he said.

    Three other people have been arrested in connection with the incident, police said. PCPD reported the arrests of Heather Mae Bytell, 25, and Kayla Marie Crowder, 25, for allegedly planning the sale of the couch. The two women also enlisted the two men to carry out the robbery, police said.

    In addition, the two women were charged with dealing in stolen property, since the couch itself had been reported stolen.

    Ivory De’Andre Broxton, 25, also was charged with accessory after the fact to armed robbery, police reported.

    Dixon is being held on a $175,000 bond in the Bay County Jail. McCray is being held without bond for the numerous charges against him.

    Tipton said he suffered a concussion and received several staples to his head injury. He’s also had to miss work following the incident, he said.


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    PANAMA CITY — A local man has been arrested for allegedly hitting his 4-year-old son in the forehead with the brush part of a broom, according to arrest records.

    Angel O. Santos, 30, was arrested Monday after a domestic dispute at the family’s Chaucer Cirle home, according to Bay County Sheriff’s Office reports. Officers said Santos was in an argument with the child’s mother over a cell phone when he began punching holes in the wall of the home. The 4-year-old allegedly told Santos he “was a punk” for abusing his mother, BCSO reported.

    Santos then allegedly hit the child in the head with the brush end of a broom. The force of the broom caused a “clear raised red mark” on the child’s forhead, officers reported.

    Deputies arrested Santos on a charge of cruelty toward a child and aggravated abuse. His bond was set at $50,000.


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    PANAMA CITY — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office is urging everyone to be diligent and check activity on credit card accounts, according to a news release.

    BCSO is working another case of the fraudulent use of credit card information after a complaint was made by a local woman who discovered her card had been used to make over $400 in purchases without her knowledge.

    On June 23, the victim realized that although she still had her credit card in her possession, the information on it had been encoded on to a counterfeit card and used to make purchases in Bay County.

    --- VIDEO: SUSPECTS ON FILM»»

    Video of these transactions revealed the suspects are two males, one Hispanic and the other black. The men are below average height, medium build, in their late 20’s or early 30’s.

    Anyone with information about these suspects is asked to contact the Bay County Sheriff’s Office at 747-4700 or Crime Stoppers at 785-TIPS.


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    PANAMA CITY — Police have arrested three women over the past few days in connection with prostitution stings, according to arrest records.

    Since Monday, PCPD officers have arrested three women in Panama City for recurring solicitation for prostitution charges, PCPD reported.

    Michelle Andrea Ayotte, 52, of Panama City; Amy Patricia Hammett, 49, of Panama City; and Linda Marie Sobolewski, 50, of Louisiana, were arrested in connection with the sting. Each arrest was part of a PCPD undercover sting where they allegedly offered sexual favors in exchange for money, officers reported. A prostitution charge is a misdemeanor.


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    PANAMA CITY — Hiding drugs in your pants won’t make them disappear, as one Georgia woman has learned, according to a Bay County Sheriff’s Office news release.

    Amanda Upchurch, 35, and Donald Wachsmann, 56, were arrested Tuesday on numerous drug-related charges following a traffic stop in which officers discovered significant amounts of illegal narcotics and money in their pants and a Dodge Ram the two occupied, BCSO reported. Upchurch faced additional charges after officers allegedly discovered she had not only hidden contraband in her pants.

    K-9 officers allegedly detected the presence of narcotics during the traffic stop at about 2 p.m. near 18th Street and Isabella Avenue.

    When asked to exit the vehicle, Upchurch, the passenger in the truck, allegedly shoved a pink pouch down her pants. When asked about it, she responded in a vulgar, graphic manner and refused to turn the item over, BCSO reported. After a lengthy discussion, a female officer retrieved the pouch, which held ICE methamphetamine, about $300, marijuana and prescription pills, officials said.

    A search of the vehicle also allegedly yielded 3 ounces of crystal methamphetamine,14 various prescription pills, a small quantity of marijuana and a syringe among other paraphernalia, BCSO reported.

    The duo allegedly were headed back to Georgia from Bay County, officials said. Wachsmann told investigators he drove to Bay County with Upchurch to sell methamphetamine. Combined they had more than $13,000 on them and in the car, investigators reported.

    Both were charged with trafficking in more than 14 grams of methamphetamine, possession of an opium derivative with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of prescription pills, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    Upchurch additionally was charged with introduction of contraband into Bay County Jail, tampering with evidence and giving the false name of “Ashley Roebuck” to law enforcement. While being booked, officers also discovered Upchurch had inserted a glass pipe containing methamphetamine residue into a bodily cavity, officers reported.

    Upchurch, of Ellison, Georgia, has a history with Panama City law enforcement, court records show. She was sentenced to more than a year in prison after violating her probation in 2012 connected with a drug charge, and, according to court records, she stole clothes from a T.J. Maxx and was then pulled over. During the stop, she attempted to hide 11 Soma (carisoprodol) pills from the officers by sitting on them.

    Her combined bond from Tuesday’s arrest was set at $106,000, court records indicated. Wachsmann, of Marietta, Georgia, did not have a criminal history in Bay County. His combined bond was set at $93,500.


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    PANAMA CITY — A dog and three cats died in an afternoon duplex fire before emergency crews could pull the animals from the suffocating smoke.

    Panama City Fire Department (PCFD) responded at about 1 p.m. Wednesday to a call of thick smoke emitting from a duplex at 209 W. 12th St. The resident said he left a pot cooking on the stove before absent-mindedly leaving for work. A neighbor called PCFD before the thick plumes of smoke emitting from next door turned into an all-out blaze.

    However, a brindle bulldog named Sunday and three cats, Nubby, Bunny and Stash, perished in the fire due to smoke inhalation.

    --- PHOTOS: MORE FROM THE SCENE»»

    “It’s all my fault,” said a shaken and visibly upset Michael Tweedy, resident of the home. “I put a pot of boiling chicken on the stove, forgot it was there and went in to work. This is awful.”

    Neighbor Mattie Hoffman said she smelled smoke moments earlier and thought her air conditioning had caught fire. She couldn’t find the source of the smell before stepping outside to see smoke seeping from the next-door unit. She called PCFD and Tweedy and sought shelter outside to await fire crews to enter the unit, she said.

    “I don’t know what I’m going to do now,” Hoffman said. “What I’m wearing is what I got. Everything I own is in there.”

    Hoffman said she had relatives to stay with if the home was uninhabitable.


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    CHIPLEY — The Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) is seeking a suspect in connection with the theft of an all-terrain vehicle valued at about $14,000

    WCSO reported the ATV was taken from the Crystal Village area in Washington County some time between Sunday at 11 p.m. and Monday at 3 p.m. The suspect or suspects would have required a trailer to transport the ATV. The keys were not taken during the theft, WCSO reported.

    Anyone with information about this theft is asked to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 850-638-TIPS (8477).


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    MEXICO BEACH — The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is hosting a public information meeting July 9 concerning the replacement of the 36th Street Bayou Bridge in Mexico Beach.

    The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. (CDT) at the Mexico Beach Civic Center, 105 N. 31st St in Mexico Beach. The intent of the project is to replace the low level bridge with a new structure. The bridge will be closed during construction, but traffic will be maintained along a detour route, according to an FDOT news release. Construction is anticipated to begin in winter 2017.

    The meeting will be conducted in an open-house format with no formal presentation scheduled. FDOT representatives will be available to explain the proposed improvements, answer questions and receive comments.

    For more information, follow the Florida Department of Transportation District Three on Twitter (@myfdot_nwfl) or visit the department’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/MyFDOTNWFL.


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    CHIPLEY — The Florida Department of Transportation is suspending construction projects on all major roadways across Northwest Florida through Sunday.

    Although no closures are scheduled, existing state highway work zones will remain in effect, according to the agency, and motorists should use caution while traveling through work zones.

    As the holiday weekend kicks off, FDOT is encouraging drivers to take extra caution by allowing extra travel time, buckling up and never drinking and driving. Drivers should also prepare for unscheduled closures due to accidents and other unforeseen events.

    For more information on highway conditions, travelers can access Florida’s 511 service by dialing from cell phones and landlines and online at www.FL511.com.For more information, follow the Florida Department of Transportation District Three on Twitter @myfdot_nwfl or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MyFDOTNWFL.


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    PANAMA CITY — A local man has been arrested after authorities said he slammed his pregnant girlfriend to the ground and began to strangle her, according to police reports.

    Xavier Anthlen Anderson, 27, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of aggravated battery on his pregnant girlfriend nearly two months ago. The girlfriend was 6-months pregnant with his child at the time, the Panama City Police Department reported.

    Police said that on May 11 at their Comet Avenue apartment Anderson struck his girlfriend by “violently throwing” her to the ground during an argument in their bedroom. He then allegedly began choking her with both hands before the girlfriend pleaded with him to let go. As she then tried to escape the room, Anderson again began choking her, this time with a forearm chokehold, PCPD reported.

    Police said the two lived together and Anderson was aware of the pregnancy. His bond has been set at $25,000.


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    PANAMA CITY — With fireworks shows and Fourth of July events throughout Bay County this holiday weekend, some areas are advising caution and patience during traffic congestion and closures.

    Many of the firework displays will take place on the beaches of Panama City Beach, Mexico Beach and Grand Lagoon, with traffic congestion in those areas peaking before and after the festivities. However, in Panama City and Lynn Haven, officials were alerting the public of road closures and detours for Fourth of July festivities.

    The Panama City Police Department announced road closures for the “Salute to Freedom” celebrations in downtown and on the Panama City Marina on Saturday.

    --- MORE: FOURTH OF JULY EVENTS»»

    Parking on the Panama City Marina will be limited, and no vehicular traffic will be allowed there from 3 p.m. Friday till 4 a.m. Sunday, according to PCPD. The boat ramp on the marina will close at midnight Saturday and reopen about 10 p.m. that day.

    Limited public parking will be allowed in the lot north of the Civic Center. Other street closures will be required leading up to the fireworks show Saturday night, and motorists should expect traffic delays after the event, PCPD reported.

    Beach Drive from west of Harrison to the intersection with West Sixth Street and Beach Drive east of Harrison to Cherry Street will be closed to vehicular traffic at about 6 p.m. Saturday. The areas will reopen to vehicular traffic sometime after the fireworks.

    Motorists in Panama City traveling east and west crossing Grace, Jenks and Harrison avenues should expect delays due to the heavy flow of traffic from those leaving the downtown area after the fireworks Saturday night.

    Lynn Haven will host a “Patriotic & Proud” firework show at A.L. Kinsaul Park, 1160 W. Fifth St., but officials did not announce any road closures for the firework display. Detours will be along State 77 for the Fourth of July parades.

    Southbound traffic on State 77 will come off the Bailey Bridge and be diverted onto East Third Street and travel to Illinois Avenue, and then head south to 14th Street and west back to State 77, and northbound will travel the same route in the reverse manner. Lighted message boards will be positioned to advise motorists of a detour and Lynn Haven police officers will be stationed along the detour route to assist.

    --- MORE: FOURTH OF JULY EVENTS»»

    “There will be heavy pedestrian traffic around the activities at Sheffield Park but no other road closures,” said LHPD Maj. Matthew E. Riemer.

    Holiday traffic: These streets will be affected by Fourth of July events:

    • Back Beach Road (U.S. 98) and Front Beach Road in the area around Pier Park in Panama City Beach will experience high volumes of traffic all weekend, but especially before and after live events.
    • Beach Drive from Cherry Street to West Sixth Street in downtown Panama City will close at about 6 p.m. Saturday.
    • Motorists in Panama City traveling east and west crossing Grace, Jenks and Harrison avenues should expect delays Saturday night due to the heavy flow of traffic leaving the downtown area after the fireworks.
    • Portions of State 77 in Lynn Haven will be detoured for parades and heavy pedestrian traffic is expected near Sheffield Park on Saturday.

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    PANAMA CITY — A taxi driver who abducted two Spring Break visitors and attempted to force himself upon them has been sentenced to two years in prison and could face deportation for the crimes.

    Edgar Eduardo Lopez-Jaramillo, 23, appeared Thursday with a translator for a change of plea hearing. Through the translator, he said he understood that accepting a plea of no contest to two counts of felony battery could lead to his deportation.

    Jaramillo had been in jail since his arrest on charges of kidnapping and sexual battery stemming from two incidents in March 2014 involving spring breakers. He pleaded Thursday to two counts of felony battery and was sentenced to two years in prison.

    Jaramillo was operating a taxi van in the area of Thomas Drive and Joan Avenue about 1:30 a.m. March 17 when he called to tell his boss at CK Taxi Cabs he was sick and needed to go home, according to Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigative reports.

    About that time, a woman flagged down a taxi outside Club La Vela at 8813 Thomas Drive and asked to be taken to her hotel. The driver began to head in the wrong direction and told the woman it was to avoid traffic.

    The woman offered all the money in her wallet for him to stop and drop her off, she told investigators, but the driver refused. He began touching her leg and her neck before he pulled onto Upas Drive, where she was able to jump out of the van, she said.

    The driver forced her back into the van before stripping away her shorts and underwear. He then placed his hand between her legs and said, “You know you want this. You’ve wanted this all night,” the woman told investigators.

    The driver again slowed, the woman grabbed her shorts and shoes and fled the area calling for help.

    The victim described the taxi, the driver and the music playing in the van to authorities the following day. BCSO found the woman’s underwear on the roadside near Upas Drive, and found hair from the victim on the passenger seat and passenger door of the van operated by Jaramillo.

    Investigators were struck by the similarity of an incident from a week earlier being worked by Panama City Beach Police. A victim reported she’d been picked up by a taxi van as she was trying to return to her condominium. The driver began to make sexually suggestive comments and pulled off into a secluded area. The victim repeatedly told the driver “no” as he removed her top and began to grope her, police reported.

    At some point, the driver began traveling toward the victim’s condo but again pulled over and forced his hand down her pants, according to investigative reports. The victim later identified a photo of Jaramillo as the driver.

    During an interview with investigators, Jaramillo admitted he had sexual contact with the woman, but he said it was consensual.

    Jaramillo tried to have the women’s testimony omitted from the state’s case, but that request was denied.

    The prison sentence of Jaramillo, a West Palm Beach resident, could be cut short since he could be subjected to deportation for the crimes. His taxi license also was revoked.


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    PARKER — A Parker man was arrested and faces several charges after allegedly strangling a woman.

    Aaron Michael Krep, 43, found the female victim by placing an ad on Craigslist, according to a Parker Police Department news release. Kreps forced the female to perform on sex act on him and subsequently was charged with sexual battery, felony battery and battery by strangulation, police reported.

    The victim was treated at a local hospital. Kreps was taken to the Bay County Jail.


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  • 07/03/15--17:29: BCSO-PCPD operation nets 10
  • PANAMA CITY — Ten people were arrested on multiple charges following a joint investigation over the past two days by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Warrants Division and Special Investigations Division and the Panama City Police Department.

    Five people were arrested Wednesday night and five Thursday night as law enforcement worked to located and arrest fugitives with narcotics violations in Bay County, according to a BCSO news release. Fifteen felony charges and six misdemeanors were reported.

    Arrested were:

    • David Lenard Howard, 36, on charges of possession of cocaine, tampering with evidence, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as misdemeanor charges.

    • Richard Minthorne. 42, on charges of violation of probation for felony driving with license suspended or revoked, possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence.

    • Jessica Hardie, 27, on charges of violation of probation for felony retail theft, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

    • Guillermo Hernandez-Perez, 34, on charges of possession of synthetic marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    • Shane George, 23, on charges of violation of community control for two counts of transmission of child pornography

    • Kim Adams, 50, on charges of violation of probation for possession of methamphetamine and retail theft.

    • Keneen Gary, 24, on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and grand theft of a firearm, as well as a misdemeanor charge.

    • Marlon Pierce. 20, on charges of violation of probation for possession of marijuana more than 20 grams.

    • Passion Williams, 32, on charges of violation of probation for sale of cocaine and felon in possession of a weapon.

    • Jordan Sparkman, 26, on a charge of grand theft.


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  • 07/04/15--09:52: BCSO arrest log June 24-30
  • Information is provided by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on people arrested on charges June 24-30. 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»»

    Kathryn Ann Springer, 49, 655 Malaga Place, Panama City Beach, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill

    Timothy Earl Young, 30, 3834 Bunyon Drive, Chipley, grand theft

    Nicholas Christopher Ginas, 21, 6411 Causeway Drive, Panama City, felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation

    David Raymond Smith, 38, Marianna, Ga., vehicle theft

    Crystal Lynn (Custer) Pridgen, 30, 2636 Lori Ave., Panama City Beach, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Guy Alfred IV Lear, 33, 709 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Fred Lee Jr Caldwell, 38, 13200 White Western Springs Road, Panama City, burglary

    Robert Earl Baker, 25, 1601 W. 22nd St., Panama City, possession of cocaine

    Joel Kevin Gray, 31, 148 N. Charlene Drive, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, aggravated assault with use of a deadly weapon without the intent to kill, possession of weapon or ammunition or other by felon

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Jesse Eugene Burdette, 23, 2109 Hinson Ave., Panama City Beach, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Warren Dwight Cash, 52, P.O Box 615 Panama City, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of synthetic narcotics with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Justin Chad Forsythe, 25, Vienna, Ga., possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Audry Ellen Gough, 30, 22237 Inlet Beach Circle, Panama City Beach, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of opium or derivative with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Jakkare Kemel Wiley, 38, 123 Claire Ave., Springfield, grand theft, aggravated battery with use of a deadly weapon

    Gerald Thomas Boswell, 49, 612 N. Carryville Road, Bonifay, grand theft

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Stephen Douglas Harrison, 30, 9036 Brook Stone Drive, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, neglect child without great bodily harm

    Michael Douglas Sisk, 49, 8003 Beach Drive, Panama City Beach, felony domestic battery or domestic battery by strangulation

    Justin Harold Mills, 29, 16821 Eastwood Drive, Fountain, felony or domestic battery by strangulation

    Faith Joyce Bergh, 19, 130 A Larry Drive, Panama City, aggravated battery with use of a deadly weapon

    Cinnamon  Diaz, 45, Marietta, Ga., grand theft

    Douglas Wesley Clark, 27, Dothan, Ala., grand theft

    Mark Bradley Bell, 28, 9437 N. Silver Lake Road, Fountain, burglary

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    William Floyd III Willoughby, 44, 17325b Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, burglary

    Barbara Yvonne Latorre, 33, 1012 W. 11th Court, Panama City, grand theft

    AltonJohn McClendon, 28, 6201 Cherry St., Callaway, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of cocaine

    Justin Harold Mills, 29, 16821 Eastwood Drive, Fountain, felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation

    Faith Joyce Bergh, 19, 130 A Larry Drive, Panama City, aggravated battery with use of a deadly weapon

    Angel Omar Santos, 25, 2532 Chaucer Circle, Panama City, cruelty toward child – aggravated abuse


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    PANAMA CITY — The trial of a prison guard accused of helping in a brutal, group attack on an inmate is scheduled to begin Tuesday, according to court records.

    Christopher Blake Christmas, 32, 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. Prosecutors said the attack was an act of jailhouse retaliation. Christmas has denied hearing an order to jump Tatum after his commanding officer claimed Tatum had spit on him.

    Jury selection begins Tuesday morning at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Panama City.

    Every other officer involved has pleaded guilty to their role in the attack. When it came Christmas’ time to change his plea at a June hearing, he changed his mind in court and decided to proceed to trial. He said he had only considered pleading guilty because he sought a lighter sentence.

    “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 told the court.

    Dates for the other officers to be sentenced were pushed back in light of Christmas’ decision, and the length of their sentences could depend partly on their testimony in the trial.

    James Fletcher Perkins, 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.

    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 Finch and Riley slamming Tatum face-first into the concrete floor while Tatum’s hands and ankles were 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.


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    MARIANNA — A Marianna man was bound and beaten by robbers in his own home at midnight on Saturday.

    Mike Murphy, 63, told Jackson County Sheriff’s Officers that two male subjects forcibly entered his residence on Fleetwood Lane demanding money. Murphy was later struck in the back of the head by a blunt object, had his fingers stomped and then his hands tied together, police reported. The suspects were unable to retrieve any money and left on foot, according to police.

    Murphy was transported to Jackson Hospital to receive medical treatment. An early description of the subjects was two black males, one with an afro and the other with short dreadlocks, driving a gold late-model Toyota Camry.


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — A man has been arrested on charges of stealing more than $20,000 in fishing equipment and attempting to sell the merchandise online, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

    Adam Kessler Barnes, 36, of Panama City Beach was charged in connection with multiple burglaries in Bay Point and the PCB area. The first reports of missing equipment were made in April, with other burglaries in May and June, including from two storage sheds in Bay Point, police said. One burglary outside of Bay Point resulted in the theft of almost $20,000 in fishing gear, according to the BCSO.

    Investigators discovered the gear advertised for sale on Craigslist in posts listed from Gulfport, Miss. Deputies set up a sting operation and arranged a purchase for one of the advertised fishing rods. After confirming the rod was one of those reported stolen, deputies obtained a search warrant for Barnes’ home.

    Barnes returned to PCB from Gulfport on June 13, at which time BCSO executed the search warrant. Barnes was charged with four counts of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and two counts of grand theft. Additional charges are possible.

    Most of the stolen items were recovered and returned to owners. However, deputies said they believe Barnes might have committed other burglaries, as about 40 items were not matched to reported thefts.

    Anyone missing fishing gear who has not reported a theft can contact Investigator Robbie Claytor at 850-248-2116. BCSO said the remaining unclaimed items are “very unique” and will require descriptive details from callers to retrieve.


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    JACOB CITY — A man was shot and killed after an altercation at a Jackson County hangout spot early Monday morning, Jackson County Sheriff’s officials said.

    Calvin Lee Rhynes, 36, of Houston County, Ala., was shot in the upper torso at about 2 a.m. outside of a spot commonly referred to as “Shags” near Jacob City. He was transported to a hospital in Dothan, Ala., where he died from his injuries.

    The shooting suspect, George Beachum Jr., 29, of Washington County was arrested without incident at 6 p.m. on Monday, police reported. Beachum, who was apprehended in Altha, was booked into the Jackson County Correctional Facility and charged with murder and armed robbery.

    Jackson County sheriff’s officers arrived at the scene at 2:20 a.m. Sheriff Lou Roberts said there were multiple witnesses to the shooting, and multiple shots were fired from a handgun. He said it is likely the victim knew the assailant. Investigators have yet to retrieve the weapon.

    “I don’t know what provoked it,” Roberts said. “It happened fairly quick. It maybe wasn’t a physical confrontation. We haven’t gotten that clarified.”

    Shags has been the site of crimes in the past. Roberts described it as a place where people play pool.

    “Over the years, we have had a number of individuals injured or killed,” Roberts said. “You have a murder every now and then.”

    Those with information on the case can call the JCSO at 850-482-9648 or Crime Stoppers at 850-576-5000.


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    PANAMA CITY — Javares Cameron, convicted of manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Curtis Hunt, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday afternoon.

    The 19-year-old, who shot Hunt in the back of the head in broad daylight Oct. 14, 2014, will serve 25 years in prison followed by five years of probation.

    Before he was sentenced Cameron apologized to Hunt’s mother, Kwanis Hunt.

    “I know that it’s too soon to ask for forgiveness, but I’d just like you to know that honestly I’m sorry,” he said.

    Cameron told Hunt that he “never had any problems” with her son and that he was sorry things happened the way they did that day. Before sentencing, Cameron said he still had plans for the future and hoped to contribute to society.

    Cameron’s mother, Melissa Dunklin also apologized to Hunt during the sentencing, saying she blamed herself and she “obviously failed as a mother.”

    “Ms. Hunt, I’m so sorry and I feel responsible. I feel just as responsible as Javares because I didn’t raise him this way,” Dunklin said. “We raised him to respect life.”

    Hunt was emotional when she addressed the court about her son.

    “He never hurt nobody. He was a joyful person. He loved everybody,” she said.

    To Cameron, she said that right now she did not forgive him.

    “I don’t know what your intentions were, but I’m gonna pray for you,” Hunt said.

    Cameron’s attorney, Kim Jewell, lobbied for an easier sentencing because of Cameron’s lack of trouble with law enforcement before moving to Bay County, calling him bright and intelligent.

    “I think he went in a wrong direction,” she said.

    Prosecutor Bob Sombathy painted a more sinister picture, saying that Cameron shot a person in the back of the head and should serve the full sentence.

    “He then did everything he could to avoid getting caught,” Sombathy said.

    Along with 25 years in prison Cameron was also ordered to complete 500 community service hours and pay $5000 in restitution and $1,077 in other costs.

    At the request of both mothers, Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet agreed to recommend a faith-based facility for Cameron’s incarceration.


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    ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — FBI agents and Indiana State Police raided the home of Subway restaurant spokesman Jared Fogle on Tuesday, removing electronics from the property and searching the house with a police dog, two months after the then-executive director of Fogle’s foundation was arrested on child pornography charges.

    FBI Special agent Wendy Osborne said the agency was conducting an investigation in Zionsville, an affluent Indianapolis suburb, but wouldn’t say whether it involved Fogle or describe the nature of the investigation.

    Subway said in a statement that it is “very concerned” about the raid, which it believes “is related to a prior investigation” of a former employee of the Jared Foundation, an organization founded by Fogle to raise awareness about childhood obesity. Subway did not immediately say whether that employee was former foundation executive director Russell Taylor.

    Federal prosecutors in May filed a criminal complaint charging Taylor, 43, with seven counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Fogle issued a statement after the charges were filed saying he was shocked by the allegations and was severing all ties with Taylor.

    Fogle left his house just after noon Tuesday with his attorney, wearing a rain jacket with the hood up, and declined comment. The Indianapolis Star had earlier photographed Fogle stepping out of a police evidence van parked outside his home.

    Fogle, 37, became the Subway restaurant chain’s pitchman after shedding 245 pounds more than 15 years ago, in part by regularly eating Subway sandwiches. Subway began featuring Fogle in commercials soon after, and his story was instrumental in giving the sandwich chain an image as a healthy place to eat.

    During a search of Taylor’s home this spring, federal investigators say they discovered a cache of sexually explicit photos and videos Taylor allegedly produced by secretly filming minor children at the home. They said they also allegedly found more than 400 videos of child pornography on computers and storage media recovered from Taylor’s home office in his Indianapolis residence.

    Taylor’s attorney, Brad Banks, said Tuesday his client was briefly hospitalized after the allegations surfaced but is now in federal custody. Sheriff’s officials have said Taylor tried to take his own life in jail.

    “The only thing I can say is that I’m aware that there’s an ongoing investigation,” Banks said.

    Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Indianapolis, said prosecutors “are moving forward” with the case against Taylor. He declined to comment on Tuesday’s raid at Fogle’s home.

    Neighbors said Fogle and his wife entertained frequently and would say hello but that they didn’t see the couple outside a lot.

    Jacob Schrader, 19, who lives across from Fogle’s house, said the pitchman seems “like a pretty private guy” and that he’d only seen him about a dozen times in the last five or six years.

    “He’s like an endangered species or something like that,” Schrader said.

    Subway, which is based in Milford, Connecticut, and is privately held, has struggled in recent years. Last year, industry tracker Technomic said average sales for Subway stores in the U.S. declined 3 percent from the previous year. The company has about 44,000 locations around the world.

    Associated Press writers Candace Choi in New York and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this story.


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    BRADENTON (AP) — A man convicted of having sex on a Florida beach in front of families was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Monday.

    Jose Caballero, 40, and Elissa Alvarez, 21, were convicted in May of two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior in a case that drew international attention for the couple's brazen act. They were videotaped having sex on a Manatee County beach last summer in broad daylight. Witnesses testified that a 3-year-old girl saw them.

    Caballero told jurors that he and Alvarez were not having sex and that witnesses were mistaken. Jurors listened to graphic testimony from witnesses and saw a video of Alvarez moving on top of Caballero in a sexual manner in the middle of the day while others watched.

    --- MORE NEWS OF THE WEIRD»»

    “We are grateful that the state has offered 2 1/2 years,” said Ronald Kurpiers, defense attorney for Caballero.

    He said Caballero planned to appeal his case. Alvarez, who was recently sentenced to time served, filed an appeal in her case in June.

    Prosecutors say they were tougher on Caballero because he previously served eight years for cocaine trafficking. Both must now register as sex offenders. The Bradenton Herald reports the jury found them guilty after deliberating only 15 minutes. The couple had faced 15 years in prison.

    “If you think about 2:30 in the afternoon on a crowded beach. It takes a certain type of person to do that in front of children a few feet away,” said Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca.

    Prosecutors said it was important that the community knew what wouldn't be tolerated on public beaches.


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    BOSTON (AP) — The FBI is hoping to locate 240 more victims of a man convicted of using online threats to extort pornographic images from teenage girls.

    In November, Lucas Michael Chansler was sentenced to 105 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of producing child pornography.

    Prosecutors say Chansler, formerly of St. Johns, Florida, communicated with hundreds of teen girls in 26 states, three Canadian provinces and the United Kingdom. Authorities have identified 109 victims but believe there are about 240 more.

    On Tuesday, the FBI asked for the public's help in identifying additional victims. The agency released a list of screen names he used, including CaptainObvious, sk8er4life2021 and VictorHugo.

    Chansler, now 31, would target girls through social networking sites and pretend to be an acquaintance, friend or admirer, according to the FBI. Once he gained their trust, he would persuade the girls to expose themselves or engage in sexually explicit conduct on video chats he secretly recorded. He then threatened to put the images online or send them to the girls’ parents unless they agreed to provide more graphic images.

    The FBI identified Chansler after the parents of one of the girls came forward. He was indicted in 2010.

    Chansler told authorities he targeted girls who ranged in age from 13 to 18 because adults were “too smart” to fall for his scheme.

    Peter Kowenhoven, an assistant special agent in charge in the FBI's Boston office, said the victims were spread around the country, including four from Massachusetts.

    “With the expansion of the Internet, online profiles, social media and the ability to anonymize somebody, sextortion has really escalated in the United States and around the world,” Kowenhoven said. “Because the Internet is global and cuts across state lines, the victims can be found anywhere.”

    Because Chansler used many aliases online, many of the victims might not know he has been convicted and is in prison, Kowenhoven said. He said the FBI hopes to identify additional victims to raise awareness about the problem of sextortion.

    “Maybe they can help others to get the word out there to report it when you're a victim,” he said.

    “They're very afraid. They don't want to ruin their reputation. They don't want to embarrass their family and friends. By getting this out, we can try to help the victims.”

    Chansler's lawyer, Alan Rosner, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.


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    PANAMA CITY — Officials have received another complaint involving the theft and fraudulent use of credit card information, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. This time, the victim was in another state but the card was used in Bay County.

    A man in Pennsylvania discovered last Wednesday that his credit card information had been used to conduct multiple transactions without his consent. The purchases were made on June 30 in Bay County and totaled more than $1,500. The victim was still in possession of his credit card, so investigators believe the information was stolen off the card and used on a counterfeit card, BCSO reported.

    The suspect was captured on security video and is described as a black male of medium height and build. He appears to be in his late 20’s and wearing a white tee shirt with a design on the front, tan shorts, white shoes, and carrying a white towel he uses to constantly wipe sweat from his face, BCSO said.


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    PANAMA CITY — Authorities have arrested a local man on charges that he sent a threatening email to numerous individuals, including one general email to the Bay County Courthouse, according to Bay County Sheriff’s officials.

    The email contained a message that the individuals who received it were “scheduled to die” that day. Photos were attached, including one of a knife lying across the suspect’s driver’s license and one of the suspect himself, BCSO reported.

    Investigators identified the suspect as 57-year-old Anthony Brian Whittington. A warrant was issued for Whittington, a transient. Additional investigation prompted investigators to issue an Officer Safety Bulletin to law enforcement at the BCSO and the PCPD advising caution when dealing with Whittington.

    Information was developed on Tuesday that located Whittington at a restaurant on Highway 77 and he was arrested without incident that morning.


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — An Arkansas man has been arrested after allegedly exposing himself to beachgoing children before attacking an offended parent and then fighting with police and emergency workers, according to Panama City Beach Police reports.

    Police responded July 1 at about 9:30 p.m. to an area of the beach behind the Sunbird Condominiums, 9850 Thomas Drive. Numerous witnesses said Charles David Earwood, 40, unzipped his pants and exposed himself to children on the beach before allegedly pouring his alcoholic beverage onto one offended mother and then strangling her for no apparent reason, PCBPD reported.

    When officers arrived, Earwood was soaking wet and appeared intoxicated, police reported. He also had blood coming from his nose and mouth where the offended parent had struck him in the face after she allegedly had been grabbed by the throat. One officer attempted to stop Earwood to speak with him, but police reported that Earwood ignored him and walked swiftly toward the street.

    --- DOCUMENT: READ THE INCIDENT REPORT»»

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Police and fire crews corralled Earwood after he fought the officers and began spitting blood at them, police reported.

    “I repeatedly told him to stop,” one officer reported, “but he continued to alternate between spitting blood towards me and spewing blood out of his nose towards me, yelling and cursing at me the entire time. …”

    Earwood also repeatedly told the officer to perform a sexual act, according to the report. --- DOCUMENT: READ THE INCIDENT REPORT»»

    Officers reported Earwood continued to resist after he was placed under arrest. After arriving at the hospital to be treated for his injuries, Earwood allegedly began screaming at medical staff and attempting to spit blood in their faces. One attendant was bitten in the hand trying to muzzle Earwood, police said.

    Earwood was charged with indecent exposure, battery, resisting arrest with violence and battery on medical personnel. He later was transported to the Bay County Jail and his combined bond set at $27,500.


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    PANAMA CITY — Prosecutors are now weighing whether a mother accused of leaving her 2-year-old child in a hot car will face charges in connection with the fatal incident, according to officials.

    Jamie Buckley is not currently charged in connection with the death of her 2-year-old child. Authorities confirmed Tuesday that BCSO officers have turned over their investigative files to the State Attorney’s Office to determine whether charges are appropriate.

    The mother and teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary saw a welling of community support after she found her 2-year-old daughter, Reagan Buckley, lifeless inside her car June 2. Authorities said Jamie Buckley left her in the car in the school parking lot while she was teaching classes. The child remained in the vehicle after she arrived for work between 7 and 7:30 a.m., according to Bay County Sheriff’s Office reports.

    When Jamie Buckley left school for the day at about 3:15 p.m., she found the child still in her car seat, BCSO reported. Deputies found her unresponsive after they arrived, and Reagan Buckley was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

    Although school staff and community members demonstrated an outpouring of support for the Buckley family following the incident, BCSO has been conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Reagan Buckley’s death. Their findings have recently been turned over to prosecutors to determine whether those circumstances could result in criminal charges, officials reported.

    Neither BCSO nor the SAO would discuss ongoing investigations with the public. No charges against Jamie Buckley have been filed in Bay County’s courthouse as of Tuesday.

    News of Reagan Buckley’s death spread to national news outlets. Nearly 200 people donated more than $10,000 for funeral expenses in the month that followed, according to a gofundme web page.

    “The outpouring of love and support these past few days has been amazing,” curators of the site wrote. “We live in a gracious, spiritual community who truly know and appreciate the power of our Lord. Through him the Buckley family will continue. Your thoughts, prayers and support are appreciated. Continue to pray for strength and understanding for this precious family.”


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    PANAMA CITY — A local man convicted of raping a mentally disabled woman has been sentenced to life in prison, according to court documents.

    Gary Lynn Sprouse Jr., 48, was sentenced to life in prison after a one-day jury trial in which prosecutors demonstrated he raped a woman with Down syndrome in her home in October 2014. Prosecutors argued for a life sentence Monday, arguing Sprouse was a habitual violent criminal, before a Bay County judge allowed an enhancement to his punishment, court records indicated.

    Sprouse was arrested after Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators responded to the emergency room of a local hospital where the victim and her family gave statements indicating Sprouse attacked her while he was visiting the family’s home.

    Sprouse emerged from a bathroom of the home after an unusually long time and then left, according to BCSO reports. The victim later came out of the bathroom complaining of pain, and she told her family Sprouse attacked her. The victim, a mentally handicapped woman, had physical signs consistent with her allegations.

    Sprouse faced at least 30 years in prison for the incident, but Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet sentenced him to life in prison after prosecutors filed for an enhanced sentence.

    Sprouse has a felony history in Bay County stemming back to 1987. Since that time, he has been found guilty of several counts of aggravated battery, grand theft auto, resisting arrest with violence and numerous traffic felonies, including DUI and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, according to court records.

    Sprouse was sentenced Monday to life in prison for the most recent charges of sexual battery on an intellectual disabled person and lewd or lascivious battery upon a disabled adult.


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    PANAMA CITY — Charges have been upgraded to second-degree murder for a local man accused of beating his girlfriend to death, according to court records.

    Justin L. Davis, 28, faced a charge of manslaughter in connection with the August 2014 death of his live-in girlfriend, 31-year-old Jessica Brandy Huey. After a state hospital deemed him competent to stand trial, however, prosecutors filed new charges of second-degree murder against Davis, arguing he was of a “depraved mind” at the time of Huey’s death, court records indicated.

    According to amended information prosecutors filed in June, Davis allegedly killed Huey on Aug. 19 by striking her on the face and head. Officials reported those blows broke Huey’s neck, but Davis did not call for medical attention. The series of events “exhibited a depraved mind without regard for human life,” although the alleged actions were not premeditated, the prosecution argued.

    --- MORE CRIME COVERAGE»»

    The case will continue toward trial despite Davis having been previously deemed incompetent to stand trial. The state hospital that issued the competency ruling reversed itself, and the prosecution is continuing to build its case against Davis.

    Police responded to the home of Davis at 600 E. Eighth Court the morning after the alleged attack. Responding officers and EMS personnel discovered Huey already dead at about 8:45 a.m. when they arrived, according to a Panama City Police news release.

    Davis and his mother and grandmother had been living in the home until his girlfriend moved in about a month before the incident, according to neighbors’ accounts. Many had seen the couple walking together through the neighborhood the day before.

    Police later arrested Davis after witness statements indicated a domestic violence incident led to Huey’s death, the Panama City Police news release stated. Officials reported Davis was arguing with Huey when it escalated into violence. During the fighting, Huey’s neck snapped and she died, officials said.

    Davis was still present at the residence and was taken to the police department for questioning.

    If convicted of second-degree murder, Davis could face a life sentence. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 15 years.


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    PANAMA CITY — A man who was arrested in connection with the accidental shooting death of his 6-year-old daughter will not face criminal charges, officials announced Wednesday.

    Prosecutors said they will not pursue criminal charges against 29-year-old Evan Hernandez of Panama City for the shooting death of his daughter, Isabella Votta.

    Hernandez was in his apartment “practicing form in front of a mirror” with a loaded handgun on May 3 when it accidentally discharged. The bullet went through the mirror and a wall and struck his daughter in another room.

    --- DOCUMENT: READ THE FINDINGS AND EXPLANATION OF NO CHARGES»»

    However, the circumstances of the incident did not meet the legal threshold for the state to pursue charges, prosecutor Bob Sombathy wrote in his review of the case.

    “I am of the opinion that these facts do not meet the legal threshold necessary to sustain a manslaughter charge,” Sombathy wrote. “The facts show that this was an accidental shooting which led to the tragic death of Isabella. Although accidental, the father of a young child will have to live with the tragic results of his actions forever.”

    Sombathy said in his report that culpable negligence also was ruled out. Hernandez had no animosity toward his daughter, had no criminal history, was extremely remorseful following the incident and, most importantly, he attempted to ensure the handgun was not loaded, according to Sombathy.

    “Hernandez unloaded the magazine on the weapon believing the weapon was made safe, forgetting there was a single bullet in the chamber,” he wrote. “If there was evidence he intentionally fired the weapon, the result of this review would likely be very different.”

    The shooting occurred about 10:30 a.m. at Andrews Place Apartments at 1914 Frankford Ave.

    PCPD officers arrived after they received a 911 call that a child had been shot.

    Neighbors said they heard the scuffling of what sounded like children’s feet overhead from their apartment moments before they heard a single gunshot. A short time later, they said they heard Hernandez wailing from his third-floor balcony as emergency crews were called.

    Votta was taken to Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Health System, where she died, police said.

    “It appears the shooting was accidental,” PCPD said in a news release after the incident.

    In a court document filed after the shooting pertaining to emergency custody of Votta’s surviving brother, Hernandez said he was “practicing form” when the gun discharged.

    The bullet went through the mirror and into another room before fatally injuring the 6-year-old, court documents indicated.

    Hernandez and Cynthia Votta, Isabella’s mother, had been engaged in a heated custody battle for her and her brother since 2011.

    --- DOCUMENT: READ THE FINDINGS AND EXPLANATION OF NO CHARGES»»

    In a court document filed after the shooting regarding emergency custody of their son, Cynthia Votta said that she believed Hernandez was extremely careless with the life of their daughter. She told investigators, however, she did not believe the shooting was on purpose, Sombathy reported.

    The court found that since Hernandez was not being charged in a criminal investigation, the younger son would remain in his custody, according to court documents.

    “The facts of the case are tragic,” he wrote. “All the evidence in this case suggests the firing of the gun was accidental. Isabella was not even in the same room when her father trigger tested the gun. Mr. Hernandez immediately sought help after he checked on his daughter, and he showed extreme remorse and guilt that one would expect from such a tragic event.”


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    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A water district has sued Tom Selleck, claiming the star of the crime shows “Magnum, P.I.” and “Blue Bloods” stole truckloads of water from a public hydrant and took it to his ranch in drought-stricken California.

    The Calleguas Municipal Water District in Ventura County claims a tanker truck filled up at a hydrant more than a dozen times and hauled water to a 60-acre ranch owned by Selleck in Westlake Village.

    The Los Angeles Times says Selleck grows avocados at the ranch.

    The district also says it spent nearly $22,000 to hire a private investigator to document the alleged thefts that date back two years.

    The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department also investigated and was unable to establish that a crime occurred, Capt. John Reilly said.

    Representatives for Selleck did not return phone messages and emails seeking comment Wednesday. The lawsuit also names his wife, Jillie Selleck.

    The lawsuit was submitted to Ventura County Superior Court on Tuesday.

    California communities have been ordered to cut water use compared with 2013 levels due to the relentless, four-year drought. The area where Selleck has his land is under mandatory cutbacks as high as 36 percent.

    The district claims it sent Selleck cease-and-desist letters aimed at halting the unlawful water deliveries, but the truck was spotted as recently as March filling up at the hydrant on four days and delivering water to the ranch.

    The suit does not specify how much water was taken.

    In addition to legal fees and investigative costs, the water district is seeking an injunction barring Selleck and his contractors or employees from taking water from the district.


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    Police said Wednesday they were investigating video that appears to show Ariana Grande licking doughnuts at a shop in Southern California. Earlier, Grande apologized for saying “I hate America” in the same video.

    Police in Lake Elsinore, where the doughnut shop is located, said they and Riverside County public health officials were investigating the leaked video, which appeared to show the 22-year-old singer and a man with her “maliciously lick” the doughnuts.

    Mayra Solis, 22, a cashier on duty at Wolfee Donuts when Grande went into the store, said the singer didn't purchase any of the doughnuts she licked.

    “She was really rude,” Solis told The Associated Press.

    Earlier Wednesday, Grande said in a statement to the AP that she's a proud American.

    “I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I've always made it clear that I love my country. What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the doughnuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words,” the statement read.

    In the video posted Tuesday by TMZ, Grande says “What ... is that? I hate Americans. I hate America” when a tray of doughnuts appears in front of her.

    Grande said she chose to express herself as she did because she leads a healthy lifestyle and is upset with “how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences.”

    “The fact that the United States has one of the highest child obesity rates in the world frustrates me. We need to do more to educate ourselves and our children about the dangers of overeating and the poison that we put into our bodies,” she said. “However I should have known better in how I expressed myself; and with my new responsibility to others as a public figure I will strive to be better.”

    Asked about the police investigation, Grande's representatives said she would not have further comment.

    Dottie Ellis-Merki, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, said the agency was investigating why the doughnuts were left out unprotected and exposed to the public, in violation of state food laws. She said investigators found no further issues at the shop on Wednesday.

    “During the investigation, the manager did state they normally don't leave donuts out like was shown in the video,” Ellis-Merki said in an email to the AP. “The employee went to the back to retrieve freshly made donuts by request of the customer and left the trays out while getting other trays.”

    Grande also announced Wednesday that she would not perform at the MLB All-Star Concert on Saturday. She said it had nothing to do with the leaked video.

    “As for why I cannot be at the MLB show, I have had emergency oral surgery and due to recovery I cannot attend the show,” she said. “That being said let me once again apologize if I have offended anyone with my poor choice of words.”

    Fekadu reported from New York and Armario from Los Angeles.


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    PANAMA CITY — A man involved in a waffle house brawl has pleaded no contest to charges related to battery on an officer, according to court records.

    Corey Leeser, 34, was sentenced to four years of probation following an altercation with a Bay County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant at the Waffle House at 7000 Thomas Drive. He was initially arrested in March on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence and depriving an officer of means to communicate.

    Leeser was screaming at witnesses when the officer arrived. He then became physical when the officer began to escort him out of the restaurant. At one point, he pinned the officer against a wall in foyer, elbowed him in the side and tried to tear away the officer’s radio.

    Leeser then ran from the foyer to be arrested by other BCSO officers nearby.


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    BLOUNTSTOWN — A Youngstown woman sought on 17 felony charges of animal cruelty and a hit-and-run accident has connections with what Calhoun County Sheriff Office (CCSO) officials suspect is a statewide theft ring, officials confirmed Thursday.

    What initially was reported as a couple of suspicious people at an unoccupied house on County 167 in west Calhoun County has unfolded into a much larger, multi-agency investigation into a tri-state theft ring, officials said. Two people have been arrested so far in connection with a set of stolen guns found on the property, and the remaining suspects at large could be armed and dangerous, according to Calhoun County Sheriff Glenn Kimbrell.

    “I think they will be,” he said, “but it’s an ongoing investigation and far-reaching. This stretches from here all the way to Atlanta, Ga.”

    Investigators were back on scene Thursday morning looking over the site where two people hastily abandoned the home and a truck at about 5:30 p.m. Monday when CCSO deputies approached. Authorities had been alerted to the home moments earlier by someone reporting suspicious activity.

    “Both of the individuals fled when they saw our guys, so that was a pretty good indication they shouldn’t have been there,” Kimbrell said.

    After a foot chase across county lines led to the arrest of 28-year-old Delana Pearson, CCSO was joined in their investigation by law enforcement from Bay and Jackson counties. Officers discovered 12 firearms on the property and a gun safe, which holds 40 firearms, only halfway to capacity. Investigators traced the safe back to a theft in Enterprise, Ala. The next day, a second person, Brett Creamer, was arrested in connection with the stolen guns.

    Where the remaining weapons could be or how many people might be involved remains a mystery to law enforcement.

    “We don’t have a definite number at this point,” Kimbrell said. “If I were to guess, I’d say probably at least six people.”

    BCSO declined to comment on their involvement in the investigation.

    One of those sought for questioning in connection with the theft ring is 33-year-old Lindsay Sanders. She was arrested in February and later charged with 17 felony animal cruelty charges after BCSO discovered what they called a Great Dane “puppy mill” at her Youngstown home. Several dead or emaciated dogs were found on the property, and investigators discovered Tuesday that Sanders has ties to the truck found on the Calhoun County property.

    CCSO officials confirmed the truck was registered to 38-year-old Mark Tyus, Sanders’ husband. Tyus, however, is in custody at Washington County’s jail for allegedly violating his probation on a felony battery charge.

    Family members of Sanders said investigators approached them Tuesday to inquire as to her whereabouts for questioning, but they haven’t been able to contact her recently.

    Troubles have been mounting for Sanders. She’s also being sought by law enforcement and bail bondsmen after failing to appear in court for a hit-and-run case, which occurred after she posted a $17,000 bond on the felony animal cruelty charges. Now authorities are seeking her and several others in connection with a theft ring that might possess an unknown number of firearms.

    Sanders’ family expressed concern for her safety or others who might encounter her.

    “We have done all we can to help get her arrested,” the unidentified family member said. “… She needs to be stopped before something terrible happens to her or someone else.”


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  • 07/10/15--08:58: BCSO K9 dies
  • PANAMA CITY — A Bay County Sheriff’s Office K9 officer died after a long-lived life due to age-related causes, officials announced Thursday.

    BCSO K9 Argos was a Belgian Malinois purchased in 2002 from a facility in the United States, but he was born in Europe. Argos’ handler was Deputy Jeff Duggins, BCSO reported.

    Argos was known for his boundless energy and desire to work. He served as a dual purpose K9, meaning not only did he do the usual K9 work of chasing down bad guys to bite and hold them for his partner to arrest, but Argos was trained in narcotics detection work as well.

    Although Argos remained a vital and active K9 years longer than most dogs. In 2013, Duggins noticed he was getting a little slower and felt it was time for Argos to retire. He went home to live with Duggins’ family.

    Argos was put down Thursday due to respiratory problems. He was 15½ years old.


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Police have arrested three people on drug-related charges during traffic stops, officials announced Friday.

    Lane A. Connors, 30, and Calvin Thomas Jones, 35, were arrested and charged early Friday after police allegedly found 3.5 grams of methamphetamine and three alprazolam pill on Connors, the Panama City Beach Police Department reported. Police also allegedly found five methadone pills on Jones, police reported.

    Connors was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance.

    Murr’s arrest came later in a similar traffic stop. Police allegedly found 16 grams of methamphetamine, 41 methadone pills, one Xanax and one clonazepam, police reported.

    He was charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of methadone with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance.


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    PANAMA CITY — Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials are planning for an unprecedented investment in Bay County roadways in the coming years.

    FDOT officials provided an update on several major projects at the Bay County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly First Friday meeting, the most substantial being the 23rd Street flyover project.

    The design portion is now complete for the three-year flyover project, which is slated for completion in fall 2018. During construction, FDOT plans to maintain all existing travel lanes by way of a temporary road.

    “This is an exciting time for transportation in the state of Florida,” said Jared Perdue, a design engineer for the FDOT’s Panhandle district, citing a $9.9 billion budget for the agency under Gov. Rick Scott’s “Keep Florida Working” budget.

    “It’s pretty amazing, and what’s really exciting is the Panhandle is getting to realize the benefits of all that funding,” Perdue said. “You have some major, major transportation projects in the area.”

    The flyover project alone carries a $68 million construction cost.

    “Obviously, the intent here is to fly over the railroad, fly over 23rd Street and fly over Collegiate Drive and the port entrance, so as to alleviate the congestion there,” Perdue said. “It’s going to be an awesome project once it gets going.”

    Another major project in the pipeline for Bay County is the State 390 widening project, which will take the roadway from two lanes to six between 23rd Street in Panama City and State 77 in Lynn Haven. Additionally, the project would make the corridor pedestrian-friendly by adding 6-foot sidewalks on each side of the roadway, as well as designated bike lanes and roadway lighting.

    “This is tremendous to me because State 390 is not a friendly place for pedestrians now,” said Perdue, who described the project as “very expensive, but very needed.”

    The project will be conducted in three segments, with the first two spanning from 23rd Street to Jenks Avenue and carrying a construction cost of about $30 million. Work will begin on the first two segments in August 2017 with completion anticipated in fall 2019.

    The third section of the project, a $22 million construction project from Jenks Avenue to State 77, is slated to begin in April 2018 and wrap up sometime in 2020.

    Perdue also made note of a project in the works to expand State 388, the only access road to the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in West Bay, from two to four lanes, with plans to eventially widen to six lanes in the future.


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    PANAMA CITY — A Fountain man accused of plotting to bind and torture his girlfriend until death has been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, according to court documents.

    Paul Thomas Carhart, 64, was found incompetent to proceed with a trial on charges related to an incident in which officials said he attempted to kill his girlfriend. Circuit Judge Brantley Clark ruled on the decision at May’s end, but intermittent meetings still are scheduled because the court reserved that the ruling could be reversed, court documents indicated.

    The medical cause for Carhart’s mental issues remains unclear.

    Carhart claimed during an interview that jail doctors performed impromptu brain surgery on him against his will following his arrest. He said they removed a portion of his frontal lobe. However, federal law protects the confidentiality of medical records.

    Carhart’s defense attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

    Bay County Jail Warden Rick Anglin said no surgeries of any kind are performed at the jail.

    “We don’t even have an operating room,” he said.

    Carhart is scheduled to appear in court again July 28 on charges of attempted felony murder and false imprisonment.

    Carhart initially was arrested in September while attempting to leave a Greenbriar Drive home. A small group of people in the neighborhood were pointing frantically at his car and calling out for the officers to prevent Carhart’s escape, according to Bay Copunty Sheriff’s Office reports.

    When deputies spoke with Carhart, he stated he intended to kill his girlfriend, Nancy Helms, and had fantasized about it for months, BCSO reported. Investigators said he planned first to mutilate and torture her using various tools in front of a mirror so she would be forced to watch.

    Helms said she had told Carhart he would have to move out of her home, and he went into a rage, according to investigators. For nearly four hours Helms struggled against Carhart, attempting to escape to a neighbor’s home, she reportedly told authorities. She had been beaten and strangled and her head slammed on the concrete, she said.

    Carhart allegedly also tried to duct tape her hands and told authorities he intended to torture Helms before a bathroom mirror so she could watch her demise, BCSO said.

    EMS arrived and began to administer aid to Helms in a neighbor’s home. She appeared to be in severe pain and going in and out of consciousness from having been struck several times in the face, BCSO reported.

    BCSO deputies were able to stop Carhart and put him in a patrol car, where he told them he had hurt his girlfriend, the officers reported.

    Carhart was charged with attempted felony murder and false imprisonment. He remains in custody on a combined $150,000 bond.


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    PANAMA CITY — The mother of a 6-year-old girl shot by her father said state prosecutors’ decision to not press charges in the fatal incident was a failure of justice.

    However, prosecutors maintained the shooting was accidental and did not meet the legal threshold to levy charges.

    More than two months ago, a gunshot rang out from an apartment in the Andrews Place Apartment complex at 1914 Frankford Avenue, leaving 6-year-old Izabella Votta dead. Her father, 30-year-old Evan Hernandez, had pulled the trigger in an attempted “dry fire” test from his bedroom when the bullet traveled through the wall and struck his daughter in the head, according to investigation records.

    --- MORE: NO CHARGES FOR FATHER»»

    --- DOCUMENT: READ THE FINDINGS AND EXPLANATION OF NO CHARGES»»

    Most recently, the State Attorney’s Office announced charges would not be filed against Hernandez. Cynthia Votta, mother of Izabella, said the decision seemed like a miscarriage of justice.

    “Justice is not served,” Votta said. “My daughter lost her life out of her father’s carelessness and he still has more rights than anyone else.”

    Prosecutor Bob Sombathy, who investigated circumstances surrounding the shooting and declined to file charges, said the state’s decision not to prosecute relied on evidence that supported the claim that Hernandez accidentally discharged the gun.

    “It comes down to whether it was an accident or not,” Sombathy said. Hernandez “thought he unloaded the gun before he pulled the trigger, and there was no evidence to counteract that.”

    Hernandez, despite multiple attempts Thursday and Friday, could not be reached for a comment, but he did speak on the record with police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

    In a Panama City Police Department interview room, officers removed the cuffs from Hernandez’s hands before breaking the news his daughter was dead.

    “Don’t tell me that, please, no,” Hernandez said, sobbing. “God help me. … I’ll never forgive myself for it; I’ll never forgive myself for it.”

    Hernandez then details for the officers the events leading up to the shooting. He and his two children were preparing to go to his parents’ Fountain home to practice firing the gun. The children were dressing in the living room while Hernandez went back into his room, he said.

    “I gave Izabella her clothes and put them on the floor where she was standing,” Hernandez told investigators. “She was standing to change clothes. I went into my bedroom and I was raising the gun to the mirror. And I pulled the trigger. The gun went off.”

    Hernandez dropped the gun and ran into the living room to find Isabella bleeding from the head and her brother only feet away. He immediately ran for help from a neighboring law enforcement officer, but Isabella would be pronounced dead a short time later.

    “She was my everything. She was my angel,” Hernandez told the officers. “And I took her life. I don’t want to be here. … I want to go to jail, please.”

    Votta said despite Hernandez’s remorse, she thought charges would have been necessary.

    --- MORE: NO CHARGES FOR FATHER»»

    --- DOCUMENT: READ THE FINDINGS AND EXPLANATION OF NO CHARGES»»

    “My mind is blown as to how it’s not negligence or child abuse or anything,” Votta said. “If it would have been anybody else in this world, they would have been charged. It just goes to show that not all the same rules apply to everybody in Bay County.”

    Sombathy countered that a homicide is excusable if all evidence points to the incident being an accident. He also pointed out that Votta agreed Hernandez would not have intentionally shot their daughter.

    “It is tragic,” Sombathy added. “If there was any evidence that this was on purpose, this case would be much different.”


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  • 07/11/15--08:36: BCSO arrest log July 1-7
  • Information is provided by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on people arrested on charges July 1-7. 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»»

    Kelly Zimbro Kish, 38, 5878 N. Lamp Post Drive, Beverly Hills, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Melody Ann Andrews, 30, 12515 Silver Lake Road, Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Jeremie Wayne Ulsh, 29, 3908 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach, possession of weapon or ammunition by felon

    Jaston Jamil Ghant, 27, 1503 E. Ninth Court, Panama City, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Ericka Jennifer Snerling, 20, 1707 Hamilton Ave., Panama City, neglect child without great bodily harm

    Aaron Michael Kreps, 40, 5664 E. Highway 98, Parker, felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation, sexual assault

    Lisa Jane Bernal, 43, 619 Marvin Ave., Port St. Joe, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Jose Antonio Lorenzana-Hart, 43, 7433 Campflowers Road, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Christina Hope Baker, 35, 812 Dolphin Drive, Panama City Beach, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Michael Andrew McClard, 45, 6020 Beach Drive, Panama City Beach, felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation

    Aj  Zolicoffer, 32, 5304 Robert Holmes Drive, Parker, felony battery

    Deborah Renee Parrish, 49, 2807 E First Court, Panama City, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill

    Chris Miles Williams, 65, 4106 W. 21st Place, Panama City, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill

    Courtney Takiah Shea, 23, 8907 Crooked Creek Drive, Panama City Beach, possession of cocaine, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Richard  Whitehurst, 23, 3325 W. 23rd St., Panama City, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Jon Michael Hayse, 49, 141 Gwyn Drive, Panama City Beach, aggravated battery with use of a deadly weapon

    Amber Leigh Mikles, 37, 1133 Beck Ave., Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Misty Dawn Alderidge, 27, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Sean Thomas Terry, 21, 123 Moss Ave., Vernon, burglary

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Thomas Jennings Mayer, 25, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Miguel A Pascual-Perez, 35, 3700 21st Place, Panama City, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability

    Eddie  Washington, 60, Stone Mountain, Ga., possession of cocaine

    Andres Sandoval Sanchez, 49, Millbrook, Ala., battery

    Loren Lee Elliot, 55, 287 Helen Ave., Springfield, burglary

    Chalette D Shawn Burress, 39, 905 W. 26th St., Lynn Haven, possession of cocaine

    Nathan William Brown, 33, 12327 Hwy 77, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Destin Skylar Williams, 25, 105 Charles Claude, Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Chase Randall Odom, 21, Bessemer, Ala., possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Michael Paul Oleksy, 60, 115 N. Hwy 22a, Panama City, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability

    Kenneth Casey Fox Spurlock, 25, 406 W. 26th St., Lynn Haven, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability

    Stephanie Virginia Laster, 41, 6812 Jessa Road, Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription

    Megan Elissa Cherry, 26, 2900 Airport Road, Panama City, possession of controlled substance

    --- MUGSHOTS»»

    Christopher Alan Conkle, 37, 2119 W. 28th Court, Panama City, abuse child without great bodily harm

    Clarence Dan Bearden, 68, Clanton, Ala., sexual battery

    Christopher William Mccall, 20, 1113 Connecticut Ave., Lynn Haven, burglary

    Jacob Miles Cassell, 33, Columbus, Texas, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver

    Brandon Demar Robinson, 26, 510 Maine Ave., Panama City, abuse child without great bodily harm

    Michael Jon Higbee, 41, 307 Lantana St., Panama City, burglary


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    PANAMA CITY — A local man has been arrested after allegedly pinning his former girlfriend to ground and threatening to cut off her arm with a butcher’s knife, according to arrest records.

    Jonathan Mixon, 28, was arrested Thursday on charges of felony battery and false imprisonment after an argument with his former girlfriend allegedly escalated into violence and threats, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office reported.

    Officers reported Mixon became angry at the former girlfriend at about noon at his residence after the two had a discussion over custody and the fact she had a new boyfriend. He then allegedly grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head against the wall before placing his hands around her throat, BCSO reported.

    Mixon also allegedly pinned the woman’s body on the ground with the weight of his body and restrained her hands above her head while armed with a butcher’s knife. All the while he made threats of bodily harm, officers said.

    “How about I cut your arm off so you can bleed out slowly,” officers quoted Mixon as saying. He also threatened to cut off her fingers, BCSO added.

    Mixon was arrested after the former girlfriend was able to get free. He is being held on a combined $40,000 bond.


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    DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer was arrested Sunday in Florida after shoving a boy to the ground and punching him, authorities said.

    The Walton County Sheriff's Office said the dispute arose after Kromer and his son confronted three boys about their use of beach chairs while fishing near their home. In a statement, the sheriff's office said Kromer grabbed the boys' fishing pole and threw it in the water before assaulting one boy.

    "The victim stated Kromer also told him if he reported him to the police he would kill his family," the sheriff's office said.

    Kromer, 48, was taken into custody just before 2 a.m. Sunday and released on bond about an hour later, jail records show.

    He is charged with battery that caused bodily harm, but the sheriff's office said it was still investigating and additional charges are possible. The sheriff's office did not release the names or ages of the boys who were involved in the incident.

    In a written statement, the Bills said, "We are aware of the report and in the process of gathering the facts."

    Kromer joined the team in January after being fired from the Chicago Bears. 


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    TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators might consider tweaking the state’s sex-offender law after the prosecution of a couple seen having a midday romp on the beach, radio talk-show caller “Matt from Fort Walton Beach” said on the air Tuesday.

    “I think we may look at those instances where you don’t have someone who is harmed by the offense, as much as harmed by the viewing of the offense, and perhaps treat those differently,” said the caller, better known as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

    Gaetz, a tough on crime Panhandle Republican, called the morning show on SiriusXM Radio channel POTUS, which in this case stands for “Politics of the United States.”

    The radio topic of the hour was a 2½-year sentence given Monday to Jose Caballero, 40, the man involved in an amorous seaside encounter in Manatee County that drew international headlines. Caballero and Elissa Alvarez, 21, were found guilty in May on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior. The 2014 incident at Bradenton Beach was videotaped, and a second-hand account was given during the trial that a 3-year-old girl was among those who witnessed the sandy coupling.

    Caballero and Alvarez are now members of Florida’s list of sexual offenders and predators. Caballero received additional jail time because he previously served eight years in prison for cocaine trafficking.

    On the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website, Alvarez’ crime is listed as “lewd or lascivious exhibition, victim under 16, offender 18 or older.”

    Gaetz had called POTUS to defend the state’s sexual-offender law, which was strengthened a year ago while he chaired the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, a fact he noted on air.

    “We seem to attract our fair share of crazies in the Sunshine State, and we want to protect our citizens,” Gaetz said while on the air. “That’s why we’re the only state in America that has a 50-year mandatory prison sentence for anyone who rapes a child under the age of 12.”

    Gaetz clarified Wednesday that he’s not in favor of scaling back the recent changes to the sex-offender law, which focused on violent sexual predators. But, he said, based upon talks with some colleagues, an analysis might be sought to determine if reforms are needed regarding how people get put on the sex-offender list or if the state needs to “encourage different prosecutorial conduct.”

    Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca, who initially sought 15 years for Caballero, said the sentence holds Caballero accountable for the publicly seen sexual act as well as for his past actions.

    “If you think about 2:30 in the afternoon on a crowded beach,” Dafonseca told reporters after the sentencing. “It takes a certain type of person to do that in front of children a few feet away.”

    Rep. Katie Edwards, a Plantation Democrat who discussed the Manatee County case with Gaetz during this spring’s legislative session, said Wednesday that there may be better ways to deal with people such as Caballero and Alvarez.

    “I think the average Floridians says, ‘We don’t want people having sex in public places,’ ” Edwards said. “But it’s the imposition of the sex-offender’s status, and especially the jail time. I think that there are better ways to deal with it, and that is something we should take up as a policy measure.”

    Gaetz, on the air, noted that Florida’s sex-offender law was toughened after the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported in 2013 that nearly 600 sexual predators had been released only to be convicted of new sex offenses —including more than 460 child molestations, 121 rapes and 14 murders.

    “Certainly that 2½-year sentence seems a bit punitive given the nature of that offense,” Gaetz told radio host Michael Smerconish. “But in Florida, I think an important context for your listeners is that we’ve had a series of very tragic outcomes.”

    Gaetz’ father, Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, declared several times the 2014 legislation would make the state “scorched earth” for sexually violent predators.


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    PANAMA CITY — Resident Crystal McCauley has posted signs around Lake Caroline, warning against stealing ducks and geese.

    “The ducks and geese are being closely monitored by 24-hour surveillance. Anyone observed attempting to remove ducks or geese from the area will be turned over the authorities for prosecution,” the sign reads.

    McCauley believes someone, possibly a trapper working for a livestock company, sneaking up to the ducks late at night, enveloping them in a net and taking them away. Her evidence is that the Peking ducks, white ducks with orange bills, have been depleted to zero and the muscovy ducks, featuring a red bumpy hood around their bills, have had their numbers dropped to about five.

    McCauley has lived around the lake for several years and said the population dip could not be caused by a natural predator, although she has observed a small alligator and snapping turtles in the lake.

    However, she has not seen a thief.

    “It’s been all of a sudden,” she said.

    The signs are a bluff; there are no cameras, or at least that was the case. McCauley has already reached out to authorities and has been told there is nothing they can do. However, residents can still maintain property rights if they do observe ducks being taken from their property.

    “I know people are reading them,” McCauley said. “They are a last ditch effort.”

    On Friday, she said she is investigating getting cameras, and talking with her neighbors to try to catch duck thieves on private property

    Florida Fish and Wildlife rules, posted on its website, state that a private property owner, as much of the area around the lake is private property according to City Manager Jeff Brown, can hire a trapper to catch nuisance birds – which can include animals that cause an annoyance under or upon a building or cause, or are about to cause, property damage.

    Native waterfall, wood ducks for example, are protected by the FWC. Muscovy ducks are listed as a nuisance species because of their tendency to repopulate very quickly. The FWC maintains a list including contact information for 73 different wildlife trappers that work in Bay County on its website.

    FWC Northwest Office Public Informaion officer Bekah Nelson said the FWC has not removed ducks from the lake or hired trappers to do so.

    McCauley plans to reach out to the Panama City Council to find out if there can be anything to be done to restrict people from taking ducks. There are other residents around Lake Caroline concerned about the declining duck population. Neighbor Sonja Davies, who has lived at Lake Caroline since 1986, was ready to feed the ducks on Tuesday.

    “Everybody loves them,” Davies said.

    Panama City Leisure Services Director Keith Baker said he has not received nuisance complaints at Lake Caroline but at other locations the city has hired trappers to remove ducks and place them in a different locations because of overpopulation.

    “I don’t know who would steal ducks,” Brown said.

    Panama City Commissioner Mike Nichols said the city might run into jurisdictional problems if it pursued an ordinance about waterfowl trapping. He added that he does not think there is a problem at Lake Caroline.

    “They’re not our ducks; they’re wild animals,” Nichols said. “I don’t think we as a city could govern that.”


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    PARKER — Narcotics officers have raided what they say could be the county’s main front for crack cocaine manufacturing after a two-week-long investigation, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday.

    Three men were arrested during the bust at a Parker home, and investigators also guns, more than $80,000 in drugs and about $53,000 in cash, BCSO reported.

    BCSO officials said the town house at 145 Cheri Lane in Parker seemed to be used solely for crack production. The downfall of the operation could be the collapse of the main source for crack in the county, according to BCSO Capt. Faith Bell.

    “I hope we have severed the head of the snake,” said Bell, who specializes in drug-related investigations. “With all the other addictive drugs on the streets of Bay County, the last thing we need is crack to make a comeback.”

    The BCSO Special Investigations narcotics unit, with the assistance of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), had ratcheted up their investigation into the home over the past couple of weeks before obtaining a search warrant Friday night, according to a news release. About two months before then, however, officers began getting tips about a resurgence of crack cocaine in the area, Bell said.

    “We started hearing a lot about crack, and at this point any amount is a lot,” she said. “Ten or 20 years ago, it would’ve been normal for those tips. For us to get any tips, we knew someone was manufacturing crack in Bay County.”

    Investigators narrowed their sights on the residence rented to Julian Parker, 41, and Julius Gary, 49. When officers raided the home, they found nearly a kilo of cocaine, scales, quality packaging materials, two handguns and about $53,000 in cash. Other than some kitchenware for cooking the cocaine down to crack, no signs — like beds or couches — demonstrated the home was lived in.

    Jermaine Hicks, 31, of 310 N. Cleveland Ave., also was arrested at the home.

    Parker was charged with trafficking in cocaine, manufacture of cocaine and possession of a firearm by a felon; Gary was charged with trafficking in cocaine; and Hicks was charged with possession of marijuana less than 20 grams, BCSO reported.

    Crack was a bane to law enforcement in Bay County beginning in the mid -1980s, Bell said. Up until recently, when cheaper narcotics like methamphetamine and prescription pills came into prevalence, crack was the frontrunner of dangerous drugs and was readily available throughout Florida.

    Crack was abundant enough in the beginning that producers cooked up “pancake”-sized portions. But as time passed, dealers found that moving product was easier in “cookie”-sized potions, similar to the finished products found at the Cheri Lane home.

    Bell said the types of pots used at the home also demonstrated two distinct regional styles of crack production. One set of measuring cups appeared to be stylistically from east of Bay County, while a set of camp cups were notoriously associated with the Albany, Georgia, area, she said.

    Officials said they expect more arrests to come as a result of Friday’s raid.


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    DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — A chance stop to pick up supplies for a new family pet led to a Chipley police officer and his wife saving the life of an infant.

    Officer Tyler Brannon and his wife, Amanda, had just returned from picking up a puppy and stopped at the Tractor Supply store in DeFuniak Springs around 2:30 p.m. Saturday to purchase dog food and a collar. The couple was making their way toward the store entrance when they heard an alarming noise.

    “We immediately looked at each other when we heard the sound,” Officer Brannon said. “At first, it sort of sounded like a screaming cat, and I thought, ‘I hope that’s not a baby,’ because I couldn’t hearing any vehicles running. We began looking in vehicles, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from.”

    Soon, Amanda Brannon made an unsettling discovery.

    “My wife looked in a van and immediately started crying,” Officer Brannon said.

    Inside the van, which had the windows rolled up, the Brannons found a baby girl strapped into her seat.

    “Luckily, the door was unlocked; otherwise, I would have busted a window,” he said. “She was soaked as though I had pulled her out of a swimming pool and was showing signs of dehydration.”

    The couple called 911, and emergency responders arrived, who quickly discovered a baby sitter had left the child in a van for about 10 to 15 minutes.

    “Even after EMS and law enforcement got here, the baby sitter still hadn’t walked out of the store,” Officer Brannon said. “Another 10 minutes in that van, and it could have been fatal.”

    With temperatures in the 90s and the heat index hovering around 106, the National Weather Service had issued a heat advisory earlier Saturday.

    The infant, who police said was about 10 months old, was transported to an area hospital for evaluation but later released to her mother, according to DeFuniak Springs Police. No charges were filed against the baby sitter because police determined she and a friend accidentally left the baby behind when they went shopping, DeFuniak Police reported.

    The Brannons, who have a 7-month-old daughter, say they simply can’t understand how such conditions can be ignored.

    “I was really just angry,” Officer Brannon said. “I don’t understand how anyone can forget a child. I’m just glad we found her.”

    The Brannons said they are naming their new puppy in the baby’s honor.

    Northwest Florida Daily News Writer Tom McLaughlin contributed to this report.


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    MARIANNA — Officers now have two large bags of high-grade marijuana and 300 imitation prescription pills in their possession and one man in custody after a traffic stop, according to a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office news release.

    JCSO reported officers were conducting a traffic stop on a gold Mercury car Monday for an equipment violation. Casey Andrew Speers, of Alford, was inside the car allegedly along with two large bags of high-grade marijuana, scales, bags, pipes and 300 imitation imitation prescription pills, JCSO reported.

    Officials said several items associated with the packaging and distribution of narcotics were located in the car, which lead to search for the concealed bags of marijuana. They also allegedly found the 300 white, oblong pills in a bag and packaged as prescription pain pills, officers said.

    Speers faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of an imitation controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.


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    NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A $5 million bond has been set for a man accused of plotting with his mother to kill a suburban Indianapolis divorce attorney seeking money from the mother's boyfriend.

    The Indianapolis Star reports 21-year-old Richard Perillo of California appeared by video Monday for an initial court hearing in Noblesville. He and his mother, 51-year-old Renee Perillo of Florida, are accused planning to kill Noblesville lawyer Rebecca Eimerman.

    The two were released in May on $20,000 after being arrested on lesser charges outside Eimerman's home. Authorities say they didn't appear at a June court hearing and were on the lam for weeks. Richard Perillo was arrested in San Diego, and his mother was taken into custody in Montana.

    Richard Perillo said he planned to return to Indiana after visiting his father in California.


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    PANAMA CITY — A local man has been arrested on several charges, including child abuse, after allegedly crashing his car with a 3-year-old girl inside during a police pursuit, according to a Panama City Police Department news release.

    Jonathan Clifford Griggs, 34, was arrested Tuesday at about 11:15 p.m. after a foot chase led police to a home where he’d fled following the crash, police reported. He now faces seven counts of child abuse, one count of child neglect, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, aggravated fleeing and eluding, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a crash, as well as numerous civil traffic violations.

    Officers initially attempted to make a traffic stop on a vehicle in the Millville area when it fled and a pursuit ensued. At the corner of Sixth Street and Kraft Avenue, the driver — identified as Griggs — crashed his car into a semi-tractor trailer, causing extensive, disabling damage to the vehicle, PCPD reported.

    Griggs also had his 3-year-old child in the car with him, possibly unsecured in the front seat, police said. He then allegedly took the child from the vehicle and fled on foot, running and carrying the child. Witnesses told officers he fell on the child in the street several times while running toward the Springfield city limits, police reported.

    Witnesses chased Griggs until he entered a yard with several young children. He allegedly turned and threatened to shoot the witnesses as he threw the child over a chain-link fence, officers said. He then entered the residence where several children were present and forced them inside, police reported.

    The adult occupants of the home did not know him or consent to his entry, and they allowed PCPD officers and Springfield Police officers into the home, where they apprehended Griggs, PCPD reported..

    Officers say they seized a large amount of currency and some marijuana from Griggs at that time and also found marijuana packaged for sale in his totaled vehicle, along with loose currency strewn about, police said.

    EMS responded to ascertain the welfare of the child involved in the crash. She later was turned over to DCF.

    PCPD said the investigation continues. Anyone having information on the case is urged to call the Panama City Police Department at 850-872-3100, or they can report their tips anonymously to CrimeStoppers at 850-785-TIPS (8477).