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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


Family awarded $4-million in Air Force cadet's death

MIAMI -- The parents of an Air Force cadet killed in the 1997 crash of his propeller-driven T-3A Firefly were awarded $4-million in damages Thursday.

A jury ordered British manufacturer Slingsby Aviation Ltd. to pay that amount to Terri and Hank Weber of Miami. Slingsby said it will appeal.

The Webers' son, Pace Weber, a 20-year-old cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., was killed on a training flight.

The Webers' suit cited the model's record of 294 fuel vapor lock-ups and 66 engine failures and blamed a defective fuel pump for the plane's fall.

"We're ecstatic," said Robert Parks, their attorney. "We proved that the plane was defective."

Slingsby lawyer John Murray said, "This is a verdict that was a product of undue sympathy." The Air Force Academy spent $35-million under a 1993 contract for a fleet of 113 T-3A's and planned a $6.2-million fix after the deaths of three cadets and their instructors. The plane was scrapped last year.

NAACP may sue Lake City over Confederate symbol

LAKE CITY -- The Columbia County chapter of the NAACP, planning a protest during a Civil War festival Saturday, is threatening to sue Lake City over a Confederate battle flag in the city logo.

The 13-member board of the local NAACP chapter voted Tuesday to seek permission from their national office to sue the city.

The organization says it will protest the logo Saturday at the Olustee Battle Festival Parade in downtown Lake City.

Glenel Bowden, president of the county's NAACP branch, said the organization will not protest at a battle re-enactment by the Blue-Grey Army in Olustee, because, "It's not about the Battle of Olustee, not about the Blue-Grey Army. It's about the city of Lake City."

High court orders retrial for man on death row

TALLAHASSEE -- The state Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the murder conviction of a man on death row for 16 years and ordered a new trial. Jerry Rogers, 51, was condemned for the fatal shooting 19 years ago of David Smith, an assistant manager at a grocery store.

Rogers, who represented himself at trial, maintained his innocence from the beginning.

In Thursday's ruling, the Supreme Court agreed that the state withheld important evidence about another suspect, information that would have been helpful to Rogers.

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