Pittbull owner aquitted of felony charges

Published January 11, 2007

The pit bull owner featured in a Times story called "Kennel Trash" in July was convicted Tuesday of 80 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Polk County jurors, however, acquitted Hewitt A. Grant II of Nichols of 43 counts of felony animal cruelty and one count of possessing equipment for baiting or fighting. Grant's sentencing is scheduled for later this month. Many of the 139 dogs confiscated from his property last January had to be euthanized. "The jury didn't think he was into the dogfighting, and they didn't think he intentionally hurt the dogs," said Julia Williamson, Grant's attorney. "I'm very satisfied with the verdict. Hewitt is very disappointed." To read the "Kennel Trash" story and an interview with Grant, visit links.tampabay.com.

Disappearing act not so amazing to judge

A Key West escape artist whose Halloween sunset dive off Mallory Square prompted a two-day search now gets to watch his money disappear. A judge on Tuesday ordered Michael Patrick, a.k.a. "Patrick the Escape Artist," to pay $60,000 to the Coast Guard, the city's fire and police departments and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their search. Police found him the next day at a house planning a "big ta-da," as the Miami Herald wrote. The fine is on top of the 60 days he spent in jail. He's also banned from the pier's popular Sunset Celebration.

Web site takes step up

St. Petersburg's government access cable TV channel is nicknamed "Your Government in the Sun." Until last weekend, its Web site could've been called "Your Government in the Cave." But after almost four years with an outdated scheme that was difficult to navigate, stpete.org has a new look. The site has a rotating "Top Stories" feature and a series of drop-down menus and a search bar to ease navigating city government. Fine tuning continues.

State's teachers rank No. 2

Florida is gaining ground on North Carolina in the number of National Board Certified teachers. More than 1,500 teachers across the state achieved National Board Certification in 2006, ranking Florida second in the nation. But Florida showed a 9 percent increase from 2005 in the number of teachers certified, compared to a 7 percent increase in North Carolina. Hillsborough was sixth in the nation, and Pinellas ranked 14th. About 55,000 teachers across the country are board certified, the highest credential in the profession.


- The St. Petersburg Wal-Mart Supercenter where two groups exchanged gunfire on Tuesday afternoon is at 3501 34th St. S. A story Wednesday had an incorrect address. - Pinellas County will pay two St. Petersburg men who were victims of excessive force at the hands of the Sheriff's Office $100,000. A story Wednesday had an incorrect dollar figure provided by county leaders.