Florida Marine killed in second month in Iraq

Published October 27, 2006

Florida Marine killed in second month in Iraq

A Marine from here died Wednesday of wounds suffered during combat operations in Iraq's Anbar province, the Defense Department said Thursday. Pfc. Daniel B. Chaires, 20, joined the Marines in September 2005 and was deployed to Iraq last month. He was a rifleman assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force out of Hawaii.

Wiccans rebuffed on sales tax issue

A Wiccan group's challenge of a state sales tax exemption for Bibles and other religious items faltered when the Florida Supreme Court decided to let a lower appellate decision stand. The high court had agreed to take the case and heard oral arguments in June. But on Thursday it let stand a 1st District Court of Appeal ruling that the Wiccans don't have standing to challenge the law because they are not harmed by it. The Wiccan Religious Cooperative of Florida argued that the tax exemption aids religious organizations in violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause that prohibits state-sponsored religion. That's not so, the state argued, because certain nonreligious publications get the same tax break. The Wiccans, who follow an earth-based belief system, once qualified for the sales tax exemption but lost it because they did not own a place of worship as state regulations require.

Sentence in Ybor bar brawl upheld

Florida's high court Thursday upheld Terry P. Sanders' conviction of attempted second-degree murder while discharging a firearm and inflicting great bodily harm for wounding a bouncer at Club Turbulence in Tampa's Ybor City in 2002. Sanders was charged with attempted first-degree murder, but convicted by a jury of the lesser offense. Yet the judge still sentenced him to life in prison, same as he could have gotten on the original charge. Sanders challenged that result. But the justices ruled that defendants' penalties for lesser included offenses can be just as severe as the crimes they were charged with. That is because of Florida's "10-20-Life" law that allows enhanced sentences regardless of the underlying crime if it involves the use of a firearm.

Rapist gets five life prison sentences

A man charged with a string of sexual assaults got five consecutive life prison sentences with no chance of parole Thursday for raping an 11-year-old girl. Reynaldo E. Rapalo, 35, was charged with seven rapes occurring in 2002 and 2003, but has only been tried so far for the June 2003 attack on the girl. Prosecutor Joshua Weintraub said Rapalo stalked the girl as she came home from school and repeatedly raped her in her and her mother's apartment. The Honduran was living in Miami on an expired visa.

Vehicle of interest in turnpike killings

St. Lucie County officials are seeking a 1999 red Dodge conversion van in connection with the killings of four people Oct. 13 along Florida's Turnpike. The vehicle is registered to Michael James Naujalis of Lake Worth, with a license tag number of F438NZ, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. Officials would not go into more detail. The couple and two children were found shot to death.