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    Around the state

    Compiled from Times wires
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 26, 2002


    Boys' trial as adults spurs advocacy group

    PENSACOLA -- Opponents of prosecuting children as adults have formed a national advocacy group in response to the trial of two Florida Panhandle boys convicted of killing their father.

    "When we start prosecuting our children as adults people know that something is wrong with that," said the Rev. Thomas Masters, president of Under Our Wings. "Now the problem is, how do you fix it? That's what we want to present."

    Masters, pastor of the New Macedonia Baptist Church in Rivera Beach, became an advocate on the issue when a member of his congregation, 13-year-old Nathaniel Brazill, was prosecuted as an adult for fatally shooting a Lake Worth teacher in 2000. Brazill was sentenced when he was 14 to 28 years in prison for second-degree murder.

    The catalyst for the new organization, however, was the Pensacola trial three weeks ago of Alex and Derek King. They were 12 and 13 when their father, Terry King, 40, was beaten to death with an aluminum baseball bat on Nov. 26.

    The brothers were convicted of arson and second-degree murder without a weapon. Their sentencing is set for December.

    Simpson contests ticket for wake in manatee zone

    MIAMI -- O.J. Simpson pleaded innocent to a charge that he sped through a manatee zone in a boat, his attorney said Wednesday.

    Simpson was driving a 30-foot power boat near Miami's downtown area when he was stopped by Officer Jason Lundy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission July 4. Lundy issued the 55-year-old former football star a ticket for creating a wake in a manatee zone.

    Lundy said Simpson's ex-girlfriend, Christie Prody, was also on the boat.

    Simpson attorney Yale Galanter said he pleaded innocent rather than pay the $65 fine because he disputes the officer's account.

    "My own boat creates a wake when it's at idle speed," Galanter said.

    Error in adoption report costs state millions

    TALLAHASSEE -- Florida may have lost millions of dollars in federal funds by underreporting the number of foster children adopted.

    The Department of Children and Families still hopes to get the money by filing a supplemental report, said spokesman Tim Bottcher.

    The number of children placed with adoptive families has increased every year since 1998, according to DCF. But last year the agency switched to a new computerized method of reporting statistics and that transition caused the error, said Mike Watkins, DCF's director of family safety.

    States that increase the number of children adopted from foster care qualify for annual "bonuses": $4,000 for each child and $6,000 if that child has special needs.

    Florida earned about $120,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for fiscal 2000-01. Two years before that, it earned $2.6-million. This year, Florida was one of 27 states that received no bonus.

    Watkins said the number of children adopted actually increased to 2,386 last fiscal year, which ended in June, compared with 2,008 the year before.

    Body found in canal identified as DCF runaway

    NAPLES -- A 17-year-old runaway who was reported missing in April while under the care of the Department of Children and Families in Broward County was identified as a homicide victim found in a canal last month.

    Marissa Karp was identified through her fingerprints, the Collier County Sheriff's Office said.

    Collier sheriff's spokeswoman Tina Osceola said the investigation was still active, and she would not release a cause of death.

    The Sheriff's Office said Karp's body was found Aug. 19 in a canal a west of the Broward-Collier line.

    Karp had been under DCF care since October 2001, when she was placed in a juvenile intervention program, said Mary Allegretti, deputy district administrator for District 10.

    Allegretti said Karp ran away from a shelter in January. DCF got a pickup order, and she was returned March 31 and placed briefly with a nonrelative. A caseworker was trying to find another home for Marissa on April 17, when she left the office and wasn't seen again.

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