Around the state
By Times staff and wire reports
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001
Capitol Police commander suspended for two weeks
TALLAHASSEE -- Col. Terry Meek, the officer in charge of the Capitol Police who patrol state office buildings, was suspended for two weeks without pay Monday by Cynthia Henderson, secretary of the Department of Management Services.
The action was taken because Meek allegedly discussed taking action against a sergeant who testified against him in a federal lawsuit. No action was actually pursued, Henderson noted.
Henderson's actions came as a result of an investigation sparked by complaints from the sergeant. Meek and Maj. Robert G. Tippett, the second in command at the agency, have filed suit against Henderson alleging that the investigation was illegally handled by her inspectors.
Witness was real killer, say condemned man's lawyers
SANFORD -- Attorneys for death row inmate Gregory Mills asked a judge Monday to prevent his execution, claiming that the star witness at his trial actually was the murderer of a homeowner killed during a burglary.
Mills' attorneys also argued that he was denied due process more than a decade ago when the trial judge signed off on an order drafted by the State Attorney's Office denying his appeal motion claiming he had inadequate legal counsel.
Seminole Circuit Judge O.H. Eaton Jr. said he would rule today or issue a temporary stay of execution pending a decision.
Mills is scheduled to die at 6 p.m. Wednesday for the murder of 73-year-old James Wright during a home burglary. Mills' accomplice, Vincent Ashley, got immunity from prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against Mills.
After finding Mills guilty of first-degree murder at the 1979 trial, jurors recommended life in prison. The trial judge, however, sentenced Mills to death.
At Monday's hearing, Mills' attorneys questioned prison inmate John Anderson, who claims Ashley told him on two occasions after the trial that he, not Mills, shot Wright.
Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Nunnelley attacked Anderson's credibility.
School bus overturns; 18 students and driver injured
ENGLEWOOD -- Eighteen students and one adult were hurt when a school bus overturned Monday after being hit by a car.
At least two students were thrown from the bus as it rolled over and came to rest upright, witnesses said. A helicopter transported an unidentified 16-year-old male to a Tampa Bay area hospital; his condition was listed as fair Monday evening. The other students were taken to local hospitals, some with broken bones, most with cuts and bruises. Officials had not released their names or conditions.
Officials said a rental car driven by Craig R. Dick, 42, crossed a median and clipped the rear of the bus. Dick was treated and released at Englewood Community Hospital.
The bus driver, Joan Minton, 52, was taken to Venice Hospital, where she was still being examined late Monday. Students say she worked quickly to evacuate the bus after the accident.
Wildfire forces temporary evacuation of homes
CHIPLEY -- A 250-acre wildfire south of this Panhandle community forced the temporary evacuation Monday of about 40 homes, state fire officials said.
Stan Risk, duty officer for the Florida Division of Forestry, said the fire was near State Road 77, about 18 miles south of Chipley in Washington County.
The evacuees were allowed to return to their homes at 4:30 p.m., said Roger Hagan, emergency management director for Washington County.
Kelly Drew, a dispatcher at the Washington County Sheriff's Office, said a mobile home was destroyed Sunday night by the fire.
Also Monday, crews monitored a 150-acre brush fire in Polk County that temporarily closed a road.
Flames came within 5 feet of a driveway at a mobile home park and threatened up to 40 houses Sunday, said Mark Hebb, Forestry Division district manager. Residents were not asked to leave.
Smoke at one point Sunday forced officials to close U.S. 17-92 north of Davenport. The road was reopened Sunday evening.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times state desk
From the state wire