Lightning strike catches house on fire; no one hurt

By Times Staff
Published June 20, 2006

TAMPA - Lightning set a house on fire Monday evening at 4414 W Sevilla St. off of S Manhattan Ave. Firefighters responded to the home after a neighbor reported seeing smoke from the roof.

Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Bill Wade said investigators believe a lightning storm between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. left part of the house smoldering until it expanded into a full house fire near 6:30 p.m.

It was under control within 20 minutes. The fire caused about $20,000 damage, Wade said. No one was hurt.

Man gets life sentence for shooting bystander

LARGO - A St. Petersburg man was sentenced to life in prison Monday for shooting to death an innocent bystander three years ago.

Deontae Thomas, 24, was convicted earlier this month of the April 2003 shooting death of Cynthia Bethune. Thomas fired a high-powered rifle at a car he believed was driven by an associate of a drug dealer he had killed the day before.

A stray bullet hit Bethune, a mother of four who was walking home from a store with a loaf of bread. Thomas also was convicted of attempted murder for shooting at police officers who pursued him after the shooting.

Judge Richard Luce followed a jury's recommendation that Thomas receive life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty. He also is serving a life term for killing the drug dealer, Bernard Johnson, from whom he had stolen $95,000.

The driver of the car Thomas was in, Alton Hall, was convicted of murder and attempted murder and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 25. A third man in the car, James Gilley has not yet gone to trial.