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    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001


    Gaime murder trial to be in August

    DADE CITY -- Kristina Gaime, the Land O'Lakes mother accused of killing her son nearly two years ago, on Thursday saw her case set for trial this summer.

    Gaime, 36, is charged with murder and attempted murder. She is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 20.

    Gaime was arrested in May 1999 and charged with the death of her son, Mathew Rotell, 6, the month before. She also is charged with trying to kill her other son, Adam Rotell, now 9.

    Investigators say Gaime drugged the boys and put them in the family's minivan, then directed the exhaust into the cabin with the three of them inside.

    Adam and Gaime survived. Mathew died.

    Gaime's attorney, Bob Nutter, told Circuit Judge Maynard Swanson he still had 30 to 35 depositions to conduct before trial. He left the courthouse without commenting to reporters.

    Convicted murderer offers no defense

    DADE CITY -- Convicted of a murder he swears he did not commit, Michael Peter Fitzpatrick on Thursday refused to beg a jury to spare his life.

    With the same jury that convicted him prepared to hear reasons why he should or should not be executed, Fitzpatrick ordered his attorney to present no defense.

    Appointed defense attorney Bill Eble spoke just 20 words to the jury.

    "Mr. Fitzpatrick has authorized me only to thank you all for giving six days of your life for this case," Eble said.

    The jury returned to the courtroom after less than an hour of deliberation. By a vote of 10-2, they recommended Fitzpatrick be put to death.

    Circuit Judge Maynard Swanson said he will announce today when he will hold a sentencing hearing. The judge is not bound to the jury's recommendation but said he must give it great weight. Fitzpatrick, 38, was convicted last week of raping and murdering Laura Lynn Romines, 28.

    One suspect sought in four bank robberies

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Investigators think one man is responsible for four recent bank robberies in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Tampa and Brandon.

    The unidentified gunman has made his getaways in a gray or silver early-1990s Ford Taurus with an apparently stolen license tag that reads U41ANW or something similar to that, said the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

    Detectives think the man robbed a Bank of America on N Dale Mabry Highway in north Tampa on Feb. 15; a SouthTrust bank on Kings Avenue in Brandon on Feb. 28; a First National Bank at 11030 49th St. N in Pinellas Park on March 13; and a United Bank in St. Petersburg on March 30.

    The robber typically walks in, puts a satchel on the teller counter, shows a handgun concealed in his waistband, takes money and walks out.

    He is described as a black-haired Hispanic man, 30-40 years old, about 5 feet 9 and 170-200 pounds, sometimes clean shaven or with a stubbly beard. He typically wears a button-down shirt or jacket over a T-shirt, blue jeans, sunglasses, a light-colored baseball cap and dark tennis shoes, authorities said.

    Investigators had focused on a particular suspect earlier, but that didn't pan out.

    Anyone with information was asked to call Pinellas sheriff's Detective C.B. Wright at (727) 582-6224 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.

    Big Lotto ticket sold in Seminole

    SEMINOLE -- Okay, so who has it?

    Who is the lucky soul sitting on a lottery ticket worth 3-million big ones?

    The giddy employees at the Cumberland Farms convenience store at 5401 Seminole Blvd. were trying to figure it out Thursday, after Florida Lottery officials confirmed the winning ticket from Wednesday night's Lotto jackpot was sold there.

    "You'd think we won it ourselves," said the store's assistant manager, Linda Davis. "We're so excited."

    Store workers had no clue they had sold the winning ticket until they got a call from a customer who heard the ticket was sold in Seminole.

    As customers trickled to the store throughout the day, many rushed back home to check their tickets.

    As of Thursday afternoon, the winner was still unknown to the store's 12 employees.

    "We've asked them all, but so far, it's still a mystery," said Davis.

    The store has about 700 regular customers, workers said.

    Just in case you haven't checked your ticket, the winning numbers were: 15, 30, 37, 38, 45, 47.

    "The numbers don't look familiar to me," said store manager Donna Jackson. "My gut feeling is it was a quick pick. We are just dying to know who it is."

    The Cumberland Farms, open about 13 years, has never sold a winning Florida Lotto ticket. There are 600 businesses in Pinellas County that sell Florida Lottery tickets, state officials said.

    The store was abuzz with activity Thursday as Florida Lottery officials posted a 3-by-5 sign in the front window that read: "Lotto Winning Ticket Sold Here." Employees were given small buttons noting that they work in the store that sold a winning ticket.

    Davis summed up the emotions of her co-workers.

    "This is the coolest thing," she said.

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