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    Around the state

    Compiled from Times wires

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 20, 2001


    Driver in fatal crash is 15

    FORT MYERS -- A 15-year-old who doesn't have a driver's license or learner's permit collided with another car while driving the family minivan, killing her mother and injuring four children.

    Teen driver Loida Gonzalez, of Lehigh Acres west of Fort Myers, was treated at a hospital and released after the Sunday crash. Her mother, Griselda Gonzalez, 41, who was riding in the front seat of the 1993 Mercury Villager, died in a hospital.

    "We don't know why she was driving," said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Randy Head about Loida Gonzalez. "But she wasn't supposed to be."

    Loida Gonzalez's sisters, Shiela, 6, and Carolyn, 3, and her cousins, Sasha Rios, 5, and Janet Rios, 6, each suffered broken bones.

    Head said none of the girls, who were riding in back seats, were wearing seat belts.

    Troopers say Gonzalez drove through a stop sign into the path of a 1990 Ford driven by Christopher Brown, 21, also of Lehigh Acres. Brown suffered minor injuries.

    Slain boys' mother awaits charges

    ST. AUGUSTINE -- Prosecutors Monday were trying to decide what charges to press against a mother in the fatal shootings of her 4-year-old twin sons.

    Leslie Ormandy Demeniuk, 31, who is in the process of seeking a divorce, was arrested Saturday on police charges of murder after the killings in her father's condominium in a gated seaside community in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach.

    She was being held without bail on a suicide watch at the St. Johns County Jail. She appeared Sunday before County Judge Patti Christensen, who appointed the Public Defender's Office to represent her.

    Maureen Christine, division chief of the St. Augustine State Attorney's Office, said Monday that a grand jury will likely be called in the case.

    Demeniuk's two sons, James Richard Demeniuk and John Thomas Demeniuk were found dead Saturday from gunshot wounds to the head fired by a handgun. Sheriff Neil Perry said Demeniuk's boyfriend arrived at the condo, found the boys dead and called the Sheriff's Office. His name wasn't made public.

    Perry said Demeniuk had a blood alcohol level over .30. By comparison, someone with a level of .08 or higher is legally presumed too impaired to drive. Perry said Demeniuk told officials that she also took prescription drugs.

    The sheriff said no motive for the shootings is known.

    Leslie Demeniuk and the twins were living with her father, John Ewing, while she sought a divorce from the twins' father, Thomas Demeniuk, who is in the Navy.

    Ewing declined to comment to reporters. "We just want to get over it," he said.

    Miami mayor can see wife again

    MIAMI -- A judge lifted an order Monday that had required Mayor Joe Carollo to stay away from his wife in the month and a half since he allegedly threw a tea canister that hit her on the head.

    Miami-Dade County Judge Carroll Kelly lifted the order at Maria Ledon Carollo's request, over the objection of the State Attorney's Office.

    Kelly asked Mrs. Carollo if she was afraid of any violence from the mayor, and she said no.

    "It will give my family and I a chance to get together and resolve our problems," Mrs. Carollo said after the hearing.

    The mayor is charged with misdemeanor simple battery for allegedly throwing a cardboard tea canister at his wife, raising a lump on her head.

    The mayor's attorney, Ben Kuehne, was pleased that the order was lifted. "This will allow the mayor and Mrs. Carollo and the children to work together for themselves and try to resolve their marital problems," he said.

    Mrs. Carollo, who filed for divorce in November, refused to say whether she will allow her husband to move back home.

    Interviewed by police after the incident Feb. 7, she said she and the mayor got testy with each other during a discussion on how to make tea, and the mayor threw the cardboard canister at her. A police photo showed redness on her left temple.

    Joe Carollo's trial is to begin May 3.

    For poisoning boss, 20 years

    PEMBROKE PINES -- A former Wal-Mart employee was sentenced to 20 years in prison for putting rat poison in her boss' soda.

    Femesha Foster, 33, a former technician who worked for optometrist Mark Caruso at the Pembroke Pines Wal-Mart, was caught on a surveillance videotape putting the poison in his can of Dr Pepper in January.

    Caruso returned to his desk and took just one swallow from the can. He later told police it didn't taste right. He soon felt ill and drove himself to a hospital, where he was treated for poisoning and released.

    Prosecutor Ed Walsh said Foster stole several thousand dollars from her boss. Her attorney said Foster, when she realized that he suspected her of theft, just wanted to make him sick enough that he would go home.

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