Around the state
Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 6, 2001
Fire ant victim's family sues home
SARASOTA -- The family of a woman stung more than 1,600 times by fire ants in her nursing home bed has filed a lawsuit against the home, charging it with negligence and causing her death.
The lawsuit against Quality Health Care Center in North Port does not seek specific damages. It names the nursing home and the home's assistant director of nursing, Jean Norman, as defendants.
Mary Gay, 87, died last May after being attacked by fire ants that chewed through a wall and swarmed Gay's bed. State regulators have faulted the nursing home for not providing proper care for the stings, and for failing to follow a doctor's orders.
Officials who answered the telephone at the nursing home Monday declined comment, and the family's attorney did not immediately return calls.
Sarasota company in high court case
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether people who say a privately operated federal prison violated their rights can sue the company in federal court.
The court said it will hear arguments by the Correctional Services Corp. of Sarasota that such lawsuits are not allowed.
John E. Malesko was sent to a halfway house in the New York City borough of Manhattan in early 1994 to complete a federal prison sentence for securities fraud. The halfway house was operated for the federal Bureau of Prisons by Correctional Services.
Malesko said he had a heart problem and usually was allowed to use an elevator. But he said a guard refused to let him use the elevator one day, and that while walking upstairs he suffered a heart attack, fell and injured himself. He also said prison officials failed to provide the heart pills he needed.
Malesko sued Correctional Services, seeking $4-million in damages. A federal court threw out the lawsuit, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it last October.
Spring break murder case nears jury
DAYTONA BEACH -- The defense rested its case Monday in the trial of three brothers accused of murdering two Maryland spring breakers.
Earlier, the prosecution completed its case and a judge refused to throw out the charges against the brothers. Circuit Judge Shawn L. Briese agreed with prosecutors that there is enough evidence to let the jurors decide whether Christopher, Jonathan and Joshua Trull are guilty of first-degree murder for the 1998 slayings of Kevans Hall II, 23, and Matthew Wichita, 21, of Columbia, Md.
The brothers could face the death penalty if convicted.
A third Maryland visitor, Seth Qubeck, 21, was seriously injured during the two-minute fight at the New Smyrna Beach hotel where the trio were staying during spring break.
Witnesses have testified that Joshua Trull was fuming about a fight he had just had with Hall, Wichita and Qubeck and vowed revenge. Nine people, including the three Trulls, participated in the April 16, 1998 brawl, prosecutors say.
Defendant in ecstasy case jumps bond
MIAMI -- A man arrested last month on charges of distributing the illegal drug ecstasy has bonded out of jail and is on the run, federal officials said Monday.
Luis Cuba was arrested along with Roberto Ocon after federal agents seized 300,000 Ecstasy tablets worth an estimated $6-million from Ocon's apartment.
Ocon remains in jail without bail.
"Mr. Cuba did admit that all of the Ecstasy found did in fact belong to him," said Drug Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Pam Brown. "He had a bond hearing and got out. He is now a fugitive."
The pair, both of Miami, were arrested after a tip Feb. 14 led agents to Ocon. Agents were told Ocon had a large amount of Ecstasy in his apartment, Brown said. After Ocon gave consent to search, they found three duffel bags in a bedroom closet containing about 300,000 tablets of the synthetic drug.
Ocon told the DEA agents the Ecstasy belonged to Cuba. Agents then got permission from Cuba to search his apartment, where they found a small amount of the drug and arrested Cuba.
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From the Times state desk
From the state wire