Soldier from North Florida dies in explosion in Iraq

By wire services
Published April 9, 2005

CRAWFORDVILLE - Army Sgt. Javier J. Garcia, 25, of Crawfordville, was killed in Iraq Tuesday, the Pentagon said.

Garcia died after an explosive detonated near his patrol. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division.

The division's 19,000 troops deployed to Iraq in January for the its second tour of duty since the March 2003 invasion.

Crawfordville is in Wakulla County south of Tallahassee.

Woman burned girl with iron 16 times, police say

PALATKA - A woman burned her boyfriend's 5-year-old daughter 16 times with a clothes iron, and the father didn't seek treatment for her injuries for four days, police said.

Leon Clark, 20, was arrested Thursday and charged with child neglect. His girlfriend, Kasha McCloud, 20, was charged with aggravated child abuse.

The child had 16 iron-patterned burns on her legs and left arm and it is likely she will carry scars the rest of her life, said police Sgt. Scott Reinhold, who called it "the worst child abuse case I've seen."

McCloud was alone with the girl when she was burned on March 18 at Clark's apartment, Reinhold said. Clark did not report the incident and waited four days to take his daughter to an emergency room, police said.

The state Department of Children and Families placed the girl in protective custody.

Palatka is 60 miles south of Jacksonville.

Fishing boat capsizes; one dead, one missing

DESTIN - One body was recovered Friday and a second Georgia fisherman was still missing a day after their boat capsized in high seas in the Gulf of Mexico about 3 miles out from this Florida Panhandle city.

A Coast Guard helicopter found the body of Julian Lee Jr., 50, of Fayetteville, Ga., 8 miles south-southeast of Destin. Dennis Herring, 46, of Riverdale, Ga., was still missing.

Their 27-foot boat, My Girl Too, transmitted a distress signal at 4:22 p.m. Thursday after departing from Destin. The partly submerged, empty vessel was located just over an hour later.

Troopers target speeders in construction zones

TALLAHASSEE - The state is launching a yearlong campaign to make construction zones safer on major Florida highways.

Troopers will dress as construction workers to catch speeders. Fines are doubled for motorists speeding in work zones.

State records show 104 people died in more than 2,500 accidents in highway work zones two years ago, compared with just 30 such deaths in 1999.

Nine out of 10 people killed in work zone accidents are motorists and pedestrians, officials say.

Judge faces JQC inquiry for jailing 11 for mistake

SANFORD - For ordering jail for 11 traffic defendants who mistakenly went to the wrong courtroom, a Seminole County judge faces charges from the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The JQC issued a notice this week accusing Judge John Sloop of being unfit to serve. Sloop, 56, has 20 days to respond. Possible punishment ranges from a fine to removal.

"Not to be mean, but he deserves it," said Irving Merced, 20, of Sanford, one of the defendants jailed. "A judge like that shouldn't be allowed in the courtroom."

In the Dec. 3 mixup, the defendants were directed by summonses and court staff to the wrong courtroom, next door to Sloop's. Sloop issued arrest warrants for them and refused to withdraw the warrants when they appeared and tried to explain. The defendants were handcuffed, taken to jail and held about eight hours.

Another judge ordered their release, the chief circuit judge forced Sloop to give up all his criminal cases, and the arrests were expunged from the defendants' records.

"I made a mistake," Sloop said afterward. "At the time this came to my attention, I should have ordered their release."

Suit says teacher made ill 5-year-old unclog toilet

BONITA SPRINGS - After a girl got sick in the restroom of her kindergarten class, the teacher made her put on rubber gloves and remove a clog from the toilet, according to a lawsuit filed by the girl's mother.

Lori Januska sued Bonita Springs Charter School this week, saying her daughter, Heather, 5, clogged the toilet Sept. 22 and her teacher made her remove it as the class watched.

The suit said the teacher's action "directly resulted in severe emotional distress, pain and suffering and mental distress" for the girl, who has a gastrointestinal condition.

Mark Levinsen, senior vice president of administration and human resources for Charter Schools USA, investigated the original complaint and said the teacher was disciplined.