tampabay.com

Florida briefly

By TIMES WIRES
Published August 30, 2006


UCF president Hitt has second heart procedure

ORLANDO - University of Central Florida president John Hitt returned to work Tuesday, four days after undergoing his second heart procedure in three months.

Hitt, 65, was hospitalized Friday after suffering minor chest pains.

Doctors removed a blood clot in one of his coronary arteries and inserted two stainless steel mesh tubes, called stents, to improve blood flow.

Three stents were inserted in June after Hitt suffered a heart attack while riding his bicycle.

Hitt, who just signed a new three-year contract with UCF, said he is recovering well and has no plans to scale back work.

"I've got a lot of things I want to accomplish yet at UCF," he said. "I'm delighted that I'm as able now, as I was before the heart attack, to continue that agenda."

Two suspected gill netters arrested for second time

BRADENTON - For the second time in less than five months, two fishermen are facing charges from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Michael Eric Cook, 35, and Trevor Flathman, 20, allegedly were caught retrieving a 360-yard gill net in Palma Sola Bay, an act that was banned more than 10 years ago.

Gill netting is a prohibited in state waters. Held down by weights, a gill net entangles fish as they swim the waters. If a big enough fish runs into the net, it gets caught.

When Cook, a commercial fisherman, and Flathman brought in the net, it contained 350 mullet, seven snook, two undersized red drum, two black drum and one sheepshead, according to a Manatee County Sheriff's Office affidavit.

All along, two FWC officers were watching. When the officers attempted to stop Cook and Flathman, the men fled.

When they stopped, one officer, Louis S. Hinds IV, jumped aboard the boat, as Officer Grant E. Burton grabbed Flathman, who was swimming away, according to the affidavit.

Cook and Flathman face charges of using a gill net in state waters, failure to transit the gill net to federal waters, unmarked gill net, possession of snook out of season (season opens Sept. 1), snook taken by illegal method, undersized red drum (12 inches and 14 inches) and resisting without violence.

Man gets life in prison for death of 2-year-old girl

SARASOTA - A man was sentenced Monday to life in prison without possibility of parole for beating and strangling his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in 2004.

A jury had found Joseph Zeigler, 20, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Alexis Vazquez.

Zeigler was dating the girl's mother, Melissa Marshall, at the time, and she had left the sleeping toddler in his care so she could go pick up a friend.

Medical professionals testified that the girl was beaten, bitten and strangled.

Jurors didn't get to hear Zeigler's statement to police, in which he admitted "losing it" and shaking the toddler. A judge ruled that the statement wasn't given voluntarily.

Suspect's confusion about his name leads to arrest

DAYTONA BEACH - A suspect in the robbery of a Virginia bank 10 months ago was apprehended here after his girlfriend figured out he wasn't using his real name.

Benjamin Eugene Butler, 49, arrived here in October, the day after a bank in Portsmouth, Va., was robbed, police said. He had been working at a local bar as a maintenance man and occasional bouncer.

Police said Butler's girlfriend became suspicious because he said his name was Andy, but in conversations with her he occasionally referred to a brother named Andy.

"One day when he was at work, she searched his things and found his true identity," said Daytona Beach police Lt. Jesse Godfrey.

The woman relayed her suspicions to a Holly Hill police sergeant, who called Daytona Beach police after determining Butler was wanted for armed robbery.

Panhandle refuge of many Katrina victims celebrates

MILTON - Del and Penny Crawford have opened their home to more than 100 people displaced from the New Orleans area since Hurricane Katrina. This week, they celebrated the anniversary of the storm by planting a lemon tree, symbolizing the new roots many of them have put down.

About 15 Katrina survivors joined the Crawfords in their celebration.

"We were at about 75 people," Penny Crawford said. "Now, we have about 15."

The Crawfords began opening their home just days after the storm last year after finding three evacuees sleeping in a car at a rest stop on Interstate 10 near Milton. They invited them back to their home for a shower, a clean bed and a warm meal.