Death penalty panel seeks public comment

Published February 9, 2007

TAMPA - The Governor's Commission on Administration of Lethal Injection will take comments from the public this afternoon.

The commission was formed after the Dec. 13 execution of Angel Diaz took twice as long as normal. An autopsy showed needles either dislodged or tore through Diaz's veins, spraying chemicals into his flesh, which caused footlong burns.

The commission was formed to review the state's lethal injection procedures, then provide recommendations to the governor by March 1.

The commission will hear public comment from 1 to 3 p.m. today at the Florida Bar office, which is located in the Tampa International Airport Marriott. Speakers will be limited to five minutes and must speak about lethal injection procedures, not the death penalty in general.

Manatees arrive in near-record numbers

Cool weather has brought a near-record number of manatees into Citrus County waters in recent days.

An aerial survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday turned up 424, just shy of last year's record of 438. This week's total included 263 manatees in Kings Bay, including 35 calves.


TARGET'S ON THE WAY: The worst-kept secret in Citrus County is out: Target is planning to build a 132,000-square-foot store at the southwest corner of County Road 486 and County Road 491. County staffers are still hammering out the development agreement with the North Carolina company that plans to develop the retail center that will include Target. The County Commission will have the final say.


790 students absent from Pinellas school

CLEARWATER - More than 19 percent of Plumb Elementary School's nearly 790 students were absent Thursday, stricken with various upper respiratory ailments, said Pinellas County schools spokeswoman Andrea Zahn.

Officials do not suspect a flu outbreak, she said. The county Health Department has not investigated, Zahn said, but the school health service has been in close contact with the department and determined there is no serious public health risk.


Lawyers still arguing over Couey trial issues

INVERNESS - Just days before John Couey's trial begins in Miami, attorneys are still wrangling about whether jurors can hear about incriminating statements the 48-year-old Homosassa man made to jail guards during the past year.

An emergency hearing Thursday was postponed until today.

Couey is accused of abducting, raping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in 2005. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday.