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Tampa Bay briefs

By Times staff and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 18, 2001

Bicyclist killed in collision with car

Bicyclist killed in collision with car

ST. PETERSBURG -- Terry Keels heard the crash.

She thought it was two cars that had collided until she looked out her front window and saw a body lying on the road. Nearby was a mangled, purple 10-speed bicycle.

"It sounded like metal against metal," Keels, 36, said.

An unidentified bicyclist was killed about 3 p.m. Saturday after he was struck by a white Cadillac Eldorado, police said.

Witnesses say he was pedaling south on 43rd Street and attempted to cross Fifth Avenue S.

"He came across the road right into traffic," said Larry McConnon of Gulfport.

McConnon, 41, said he was driving about a half block behind the Cadillac when he saw the bicyclist dart into the road. He said the driver of the Cadillac swerved left, but it was too late.

"He hit the pavement and that was it," McConnon said.

As police questioned the driver and his passenger, a group of young people gathered at the scene. They said none of them saw the accident, but they hoped it wasn't someone they knew.

Keels said she sees a lot of car accidents on the stretch of Fifth Avenue S between 37th Street and 49th Street. "This by far is the worst," she said. "My son is never riding his bicycle again."

Woman's death at home investigated

ST. PETERSBURG -- Police are investigating the suspicious death of a woman in her home at 2101 Queensboro Ave. S.

The woman, who was in her 40s, was found by her roommate about 6:30 p.m. She had suffered traumatic injuries, and detectives were trying to determine whether she was killed or fell and hurt herself. The woman had a history of seizures, police said.

Murder charge may be upgraded

SARASOTA -- Prosecutors may upgrade a murder charge against a German citizen accused of killing his ex-wife after an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show.

Assistant State Attorney Charlie Roberts told a judge Friday he may charge Ralf Panitz with first-degree murder.

Panitz, 41, now faces a second-degree murder charge in the July 24 beating death of Nancy Campbell-Panitz.

The 52-year-old Campbell-Panitz was found strangled and beaten to death in her Sarasota home hours after the Springer show featuring Panitz, his current wife, Eleanor Panitz, and Campbell-Panitz aired.

In the segment, called Secret Mistresses Confronted, Campbell-Panitz expected to reconcile, but producers expected on-camera fighting, according to investigative reports.

Roberts did not elaborate on why prosecutors now feel they have enough evidence to warrant the more serious charge.

Roberts indicated he will not seek the death penalty at Panitz's May 7 trial. The charge is punishable by life in prison.

Investigators believe a key piece of evidence is a bloody shoe print that stamped a grid pattern and the letter "S" near Campbell-Panitz's bloody body.

Lead defense attorney is Geoffrey Fieger, who won a $25-million judgment in a murder case involving the Jenny Jones Show.

Man dies when car smashes into tree

TAMPA -- A man driving west on Trapnell Road in eastern Hillsborough County died early Saturday morning when his car struck a tree.

Gerald Daniels, 45, of 7026 Honeysuckle Drive lost control of his 1990 Buick just west of Smith Ryals Road, sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder said.

The car left the road and struck the tree.

Daniels died at the scene.

Golf cart runs over woman, killing her

ODESSA -- A woman died after she was knocked down and run over by a golf cart Friday night in the back yard of her home.

Donna Wilson, 76, of 19609 Michigan Ave. was found by a relative about 8 p.m. with the golf cart resting on top of her.

She had last been seen riding in the cart about 5:30 p.m., said Lt. Rod Reder of the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.

Her death has been ruled accidental.

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