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By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001
BROOKSVILLE -- Officials are unconcerned about a ransom note left at the Hernando County Jail. The note -- which demands $65-million or the anonymous writer says he or she will hurt the mother of Hernando County Jail Warden Kevin Watson -- was left in the jail's in-house mailbox where inmates put complaints, a sheriff's report said. The note was made from clippings of letters that were glued onto paper. Watson said the writer probably was a bored inmate who had access to newspapers and toothpaste.
BROOKSVILLE -- A man pleaded guilty to child abuse charges Wednesday in exchange for four years of probation. Gary A. Hawkins, 32, of 27171 Townsend Blvd. in northeast Hernando County, was arrested in November after he told deputies he "lost his cool" and severely beat his 8-year-old son because he had misbehaved. Circuit Judge Richard Tombrink withheld a formal finding of guilt in the case but ruled that Hawkins must complete a case plan and may not see his child unsupervised unless he gets prior approval, court records state.