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Medical examiners' stats indicate deadliest drugs

By Wire services
Published October 31, 2003

TALLAHASSEE - Florida medical examiners found alcohol, tranquilizers and cocaine more often than other drugs during autopsies in the first half of the year, a report issued Thursday said.

Of 87,000 people who died in Florida between January and July, drugs were found in the bodies of 3,253, the report said. The drugs weren't always the cause of death.

Alcohol was found in more than half the 3,253 cases. Tranquilizers were found in more than 800 cases, cocaine in nearly 800.

Cocaine was the biggest killer, causing 252 deaths. But heroin, which claimed 124 lives, was the most lethal drug - nine times in 10, when it was found in the body it was also the cause of death.

The painkiller methadone killed 174 people. Tranquilizers killed 165. Oxycodone, another painkiller, killed 136. Alcohol killed 129.

Teen jailed during appeal of manslaughter verdict

BRADENTON - A teen convicted in the beating death of a classmate will live in prison during his appeal because he was caught with alcohol and marijuana.

James Acosta, 19, had been out of jail on $100,000 bail pending appeal of his February conviction for manslaughter in the beating death of 16-year-old James Brier. He is facing a nine-year prison sentence.

Acosta was charged at a University of South Florida football game on Oct. 18 - the two-year anniversary of Brier's death - with misdemeanor counts of underage possession of alcohol and possession of marijuana.

He also violated the terms of his probation by attending the game in Tampa. He was not allowed to leave Manatee or Sarasota counties except to attend college classes and church.

At a hearing Wednesday, Circuit Judge Charles Williams ordered Acosta jailed.

FDLE agents seize records in Glades County offices

MOORE HAVEN - Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents seized records Thursday in an investigation of the Glades County building department, taking information on building permits, construction plans and contractors.

The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation helped serve subpoenas to County Manager Cliff Miller and county building director Jim Weeks.

Miller said state officials only told him about one complaint against the department, regarding Weeks' licensing status as a certified building official in Florida. Miller said he provided proof of Weeks' valid license.

Weeks could not be reached for comment, his office said.

Recluse's body found year after he dies at home

JENSEN BEACH - The body of a recluse was found inside his house, apparently a year after he died.

John Joseph Nicklas was last seen in September 2002 as he headed to a doctor's appointment. His body was found Tuesday by Matthew King, who had bought the mobile home next door.

King said he found his neighbor's door ajar, stuck his head inside and yelled. He then found Nicklas' mummified body on a bedroom floor.

"I just ran out of there and called police," King, 26, said.

Investigators said Nicklas, who would have been 86 years old Nov. 30, appeared to have died a year or more ago of natural causes, although he had seen a cancer specialist and had been in and out of the hospital. Nicklas kept his windows covered, didn't have a phone and rarely received visitors.

"Absolutely nobody checked on him," Capt. Ed Kirkpatrick of the Martin County Sheriff's Office said. "Nobody really cared. We found a family tree with all the names scratched off."

Mother fatally shoots 8-year-old daughter, self

ORLANDO - A mother shot her 8-year-old daughter, then turned the gun on herself, authorities said.

Eric Moniz, 37, found his wife, Jill Moniz, also 37, and their daughter in the family minivan in the garage when he got home from work Wednesday, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

Investigators said they found notes in the home but would not reveal the contents.

[Last modified October 31, 2003, 04:28:07]

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