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Around the state

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 24, 2001

Man who followed "queen" not fit for trial, judge rules

FORT MYERS -- A man accused of following a self-proclaimed "daughter of God" into a crime spree isn't mentally fit to stand trial, a judge ruled.

Lawrence Ansaroff, 20, will be hospitalized until he is able to participate in his own defense, Circuit Judge Thomas Reese ordered Thursday.

Ansaroff was one of three "manservants" of Richell Denise Bradshaw, who called herself Queen Shahmia.

Bradshaw was convicted of ordering her followers to rob gas stations and convenience stores to support a lavish lifestyle. She is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Paul S. Kling, a doctor who examined Ansaroff, said he was manic and delusional. Ansaroff's defense attorney said his client won't talk to him because the attorney won't proclaim Bradshaw's connection to God.

Another of the three "manservants" arrested, Anthony Menendez, also faces trial, but the Public Defender's Office has asked that he be evaluated too.

The third man arrested in the robberies, Ismael Castilleja, pleaded no-contest to the charges and testified against Bradshaw. He is serving a two-year sentence.

Former trooper guilty of fleeing, lying to police

LANTANA -- A former Florida Highway Patrol trooper was found guilty of leading police on a chase and filing a false statement and report to police.

Wayne Titus, 39, was also convicted Thursday of official misconduct, a third-degree felony, and soliciting for someone else to file a false statement, a misdemeanor. He was found not guilty of having sex with a prostitute.

Titus was accused of lying to police on July 20 when they radioed and asked him where he was. Authorities said the lie led St. Lucie County sheriff's deputies to think that a patrol car they saw at a location different from the one Titus gave was stolen.

When deputies signaled the car, which was Titus' vehicle, the trooper fled. Deputies chased him for about 10 miles at high speed before he stopped. Deputies said they found a known prostitute with Titus. Titus allegedly told her to lie about the encounter by saying she was reporting a crime.

Titus could receive up to 15 years in prison on the felony fleeing charge.

44 new judges are needed, high court tells Legislature

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida needs 44 more trial judges, the state Supreme Court said Friday in its annual certification to the Legislature.

"Full funding of the requests certified in this opinion is absolutely essential if Florida's courts are to fulfill their constitutional mandate to resolve cases in a fair, impartial and timely manner," Chief Justice Charles Wells wrote.

Last year, the high court certified the need for 43 new trial judges. State lawmakers, however, did not provide the money to create any of those positions.

Florida has 493 circuit judgeships and 269 county judgeships. The Supreme Court this year asked for 30 new circuit judgeships and 14 new county judgeships.

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