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    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 21, 2001


    Man gets life for killing estranged wife, her boyfriend

    TAMPA -- A Cuban immigrant will spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his estranged wife and the lover for whom she left him.

    It took jurors about seven hours to convict Elvis Serrano, 48, of the October 1999 slayings of Elvira Perez and her boyfriend, Jaime Ruano.

    Judge Chet Tharpe handed down a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    The shootings occurred at the Carlton Arms Apartments, where Serrano's wife of 18 years and teenage daughter were living with Ruano. Serrano showed up with a gun. He claimed he started shooting after Ruano boasted Serrano's wife was now his own.

    Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against Serrano. Harvey S. Hyman, one of Serrano's lawyers, said Serrano was prepared to plead guilty if prosecutors had offered a deal involving a shorter sentence than life.

    Davis will get pension along with new salary

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Police Chief Goliath Davis III will collect an annual police pension of $74,400 and an annual salary of $118,000 in his new role as one of the city's deputy mayors.

    Davis, 50, who will step aside in October after 28 years with the Police Department, is not the only one putting in time, getting a pension and signing on as a civilian employee to make even more money.

    A former assistant police chief and at least two other officers recently left the Police Department and now work for the city in some other capacity.

    First Deputy Mayor/City Administrator Tish Elston says provisions in the city code allow for public safety employees to be rehired.

    Davis will step down from his chief's post Oct. 5 after a nationwide search for a successor. On Monday, he officially assumes his economic development duties but will earn one salary, $118,000.

    School backers lose appeal in desegregation case

    The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an appeal by a group of activists who wanted a different outcome in the Pinellas County school desegregation case.

    U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday last summer declared Pinellas schools free of the vestiges of segregation and approved a settlement with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund that will maintain race ratios in schools through the 2006-2007 school year.

    St. Petersburg activists who wanted to open the Marcus Garvey Academy for struggling African-American students sought to intervene in the case, saying race ratios should end right away so they could open their school. Merryday denied that effort, so Tampa attorney Guy Burns appealed that ruling and the decision to approve the settlement.

    But the appellate court this week said the Marcus Garvey Academy had no standing to intervene.

    "I am not surprised with the result, but I am pleased," said Enrique Escarraz, local attorney for the Legal Defense Fund.

    Registered sex offender accused of drug possession

    PINELLAS PARK -- Police arrested a registered sex offender on drug charges after they found 21/2 pounds of marijuana in his home -- enough to roll more than 1,000 joints, authorities said Friday.

    Jay L. Snodgrass, 33, of 8808 56th Way N, Pinellas Park, was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a felony. He previously had been convicted of sexual battery, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Police started investigating Snodgrass three weeks ago after getting an anonymous tip that he was selling drugs out of his home. They arrested him Thursday night, and he bailed out of jail Friday.

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