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Florida briefly

By Wire services
Published August 23, 2006


Jacksonville soldier killed by bomb in Afghanistan

JACKSONVILLE - A soldier was killed when the vehicle she was riding in struck a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, her family said.

Army Spc. Wakkuna Jackson, 21, of Jacksonville, a medic, was in a convoy moving medical supplies to a new post when she was killed, said her parents, Sherman and Teresita Jackson. The soldier's sister, Shenka Jackson, said the Army notified the family Saturday.

"I am going to miss her friendly attitude and her love for people," said Teresita Jackson.

Spc. Jackson graduated in 2003 from Stanton Preparatory School, where she was in the marching band, Spanish club and National Honor Society. She joined the Army in 2004 to save money to go to college and become a doctor, said her father, who served 20 years in the Navy.

She was serving with a support battalion with the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y.

Lionel Tate brain scan shows no abnormalities

FORT LAUDERDALE - A court-ordered brain scan showed no abnormalities that might explain the problems of a teenager who was once the youngest person in modern U.S. history sentenced to life in prison.

An MRI performed on Lionel Tate, 19, showed nothing abnormal, said his attorney, Jim Lewis.

Tate is serving a 30-year sentence for violating probation for the 1999 killing of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick, a family friend who died after being severely beaten by Tate, then 12.

Lewis had hoped the brain scan would produce a medical explanation for Tate's actions, so he could argue for a reduced prison sentence.

Tate's life sentence for the girl's death was thrown out in 2004 and a plea deal gave him probation. Probation was revoked after his arrest for allegedly robbing a pizza delivery man at gunpoint in May 2005. Trial in that case is scheduled for Oct. 23.

School board to fight to remove books on Cuba

MIAMI - The Miami-Dade County School Board voted Tuesday to press ahead with its effort to remove a children's book on life in Cuba from its libraries.

The board voted 5-2 to appeal a federal judge's temporary order barring the district from removing the book, along with 23 others in the series.

The district sought to remove Vamos a Cuba (A Visit to Cuba), after a parent complained that it did not accurately depict the reality of life under Cuba's communist government. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued to keep the books on the shelf. In July U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold ruled in favor of the ACLU in an extensive preliminary injunction, saying efforts to remove the books "goes to the heart of the First Amendment issue."

Probationers, sex offenders alert jail search program

TALLAHASSEE - A computerized inmate locator system is being put to new use by notifying state prison and law enforcement agencies whenever a probationer or previously convicted sex offender is booked into a county jail.

JusticeXchange is particularly helpful in identifying absconders - those who have failed to keep authorities informed of their whereabouts - if they get arrested again, officials said Tuesday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement in recent weeks downloaded the names and other details on almost 39,000 people convicted of sex crimes and about 200,000 individuals who are on probation or parole into the computer system launched last year to keep track of all inmates housed at participating county jails.

"This new feature will help the entire criminal justice system keep better tabs on convicted sex offenders," FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in a statement Tuesday.

Corrections Secretary James McDonough said the program will help make communities safer.

Abortion doctor appeals suspension of license

ORLANDO - A doctor suspended for allegedly performing two abortions improperly filed an appeal Tuesday defending the procedures and accusing the state of trying to embarrass him.

The Florida Department of Health entered an emergency suspension against Dr. James Pendergraft Aug. 10, accusing him of inappropriately conducting two third-trimester abortions in 2004 and 2005 and prescribing drugs without authorization.

In an appeal filed in Tallahassee, Pendergraft's lawyers question why the "emergency" license suspension was necessary based on those two old incidents.

The appeal says the suspension essentially closed two Orlando clinics Pendergraft owns and others in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Ocala where he is medical director, "despite the presence of other licensed and qualified practitioners at the facilities."

"The emergency order ... far exceeds the 'action necessary to protect the public interest under the emergency procedure,' " it states.

Two freight trains collide in Dania Beach; no injuries

DANIA BEACH - Two freight trains collided Tuesday, derailing about 30 cars, but no injuries were reported, authorities said.

The trains, primarily carrying building supplies were moving slowly when they collided on tracks near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said. Florida East Coast Railway owns the trains and the tracks.

"We're thankful that there weren't any injuries. We're still exploring the cause of it," Florida East Coast Railway vice president Brad Lehan said.


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