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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001


    Bush declines to grant dog clemency

    Gov. Jeb Bush will not grant clemency to Beethoven, the Great Dane who has been on doggy death row in Pinellas County for the past five years.

    The dog's lawyers had appealed to Bush in January, hoping the governor would set aside the sentence handed down after Beethoven bit a 4-year-old Palm Harbor girl in September 1995.

    But in a Feb. 8 letter, assistant general counsel Gregory M. Munson states that Bush has no authority to intervene in the case.

    "Governor Bush realizes the strong feelings this case has generated," Munson writes. "He respects the constitutional limitations on his authority, however, and cannot intervene in this dispute." Robert Merkle, one of Beethoven's lawyers, called the decision "nonsense" and said he hoped Bush would reconsider.

    In the meantime, Merkle has filed a petition with the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

    Husband pleads guilty to killing wife

    TAMPA -- Edgar Miranda pleaded guilty Monday to killing his second wife, Sol Silva Miranda, the founder of a center to teach learning-disabled children in Tampa.

    Prosecutors allowed Miranda, 56, to plead guilty to second-degree murder instead of the original charge of first-degree murder, which carried a life sentence.

    Circuit Judge Cynthia Holloway sentenced Miranda to 25 years in prison, which would make him 81 when his sentence is complete.

    Miranda shot his wife of 13 years after an argument in January 2000 at the Hoffman Academy, a learning center she started for children with attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity.

    Miranda fled the academy after shooting his wife and called a family member from a pay phone at Florida and Waters avenues, where authorities arrested him.

    Teen sex case suspect arrested in Texas

    TAMPA -- A man wanted on charges that he had sex with a 13-year-old runaway and advertised her for prostitution via the Internet was caught in Wichita Falls, Texas, officials in Hillsborough County announced Monday.

    Shawn Robert Martin, 24, was arrested over the weekend by an assortment of Texas law officers as he stepped off a bus in Wichita Falls, about 80 miles northwest of Dallas on the Oklahoma border.

    Martin was charged with 26 counts related to the possession and production of child pornography, four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, procuring someone for prostitution and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

    Two other men have already been arrested in connection with the case. Adonius Bailey, 23, of 12310 Ajay Court in Tampa is accused of having sex with the girl and offering her to another man for $500. Tampa attorney David Russell Stahl, 58, of 10203 Tarpon Springs Road in Odessa, was arrested Feb. 8 and charged with lewd and lascivious acts on a child.

    Corporal finds post too notorious

    TAMPA -- His post at the Hillsborough County Courthouse allowed sheriff's Cpl. Mike Sheehan to socialize with judges and vacation with his boss.

    But all the scrutiny that came with Sheehan's handling of the job apparently got to be too much.

    Facing an internal affairs investigation and the spotlight of media coverage, Sheehan asked Sheriff Cal Henderson on Friday to be moved out of the courthouse. "He said he was tired of all of the publicity and the air of going into work in a state of nervousness," Henderson said Monday."

    Sheehan started Monday at the District 1 station near the University of South Florida, where he will work on patrol and supervise a squad when his sergeant is off duty. Sheehan still faces an internal affairs investigation into his work raising funds for Henderson's 2000 re-election campaign.

    Chemical exposure leads to chaos at landfill

    Victor Norka showed up for work Monday morning at the Citrus County landfill and went about his usual task of disposing hazardous wastes.

    He found a 5-gallon cooler. The cooler was unlabeled. He didn't know what it contained, but he dumped the contents in a drum filled with a cocktail of other wastes.

    That set off a chain of events that sent 21 people, including Norka, to the hospital, forced the closure of the county landfill and sent the emergency room at Oak Hill Hospital into "disaster" mode.

    Almost everyone who came into contact with Norka -- six landfill workers, five emergency room workers, eight people who were either relatives or patients in Oak Hill's emergency room and a firefighter -- were treated for symptoms of chemical exposure.

    Several were stripped naked and hosed down for decontamination -- some of them twice.

    For three hours, Oak Hill diverted its trauma traffic while its staff worked to mop, dust and air out the emergency room that began to smell of the chemical.

    The landfill, off U.S. 98 just south of the Citrus County line, had to be shut down for the day while a hazardous materials team examined the concoction Norka encountered. By the day's end, authorities still had not figured out what the substance was.

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