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State briefs

News of note from around the state.

By TIMES WIRES
Published January 20, 2007


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SARASOTA

BODY FOUND IN CREEK NEAR I-75 WAS WOMAN'S

An autopsy determined Friday that a bound and gagged body found in a creek near Interstate 75 was that of a white or Hispanic woman, 5 feet 7, between 20 and 40 years old.

The body was found Thursday by workers inspecting a bridge.

The autopsy found the cause of death was "homicidal violence" and indicated the body had been in the creek one to two weeks.

The fully clothed woman wore size 8 Faded Glory denim jeans with rhinestones on the pockets and a gold necklace.

SANFORD

Autistic students must testify in abuse case

Five severely autistic teenagers must testify in the case of a teacher charged with abusing them, a judge ruled.

Circuit Judge Clayton Simmons ruled at a pretrial hearing Thursday in the case of Kathleen Garrett, 50, a 26-year veteran of Seminole County public schools arrested in November 2004 and accused of inflicting sometimes brutal physical abuse on the students, ranging in age from 12 to 15, when they misbehaved. She taught a class at South Seminole Middle School in Casselberry.

Trial is to begin next week.

Assistant State Attorney Donna Goerner argued against having the mentally challenged students testify. But defense attorney Thomas Egan said it is vital for jurors to see the kind of students Garrett supervised.

TALLAHASSEE

Rep. Feeney to help Romney campaign

U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney will help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign by serving as a liaison to fiscal conservatives and organizations promoting fiscal responsibility.

Feeney, of suburban Orlando, was Florida House speaker before his election to Congress in 2002. He is strongly antitax and co-founded Washington Waste Watchers, which battles waste in government spending. He is on the House Financial Services and Judiciary committees.

Romney has enlisted several Floridians to help his White House bid, including former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, former House Speaker Allan Bense and some of former Gov. Jeb Bush's political team.

[Last modified January 20, 2007, 06:11:02]


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