Three School Lockdown Due To Homicide Investigation

August 22, 2014

Three schools — Pine Forest High, West Florida High and Woodham Middle — were place on lockdown Thursday afternoon as deputies arrested on person of interest in a murder investigation and unsuccessfully chased another.

Reginald Beasley, 25, is a person of interest in the death of Tyler Evans, whose body was found Wednesday off Gulf Beach Highway. As of late Thursday night, had only been charged with fleeing and eluding and driving without a license, according to jail records.

Beasley and a second person, known to authorities only by his street name of “Tre-Tre”, fled as deputies performed a traffic stop in Ensley, prompting the school lockdowns.

Anyone with information about the incident or the individual known as “Tre-Tre’” should contact Escambia County Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP

Evans’ body was found in the area of Weller Avenue and Brandfield Drive Wednesday. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office says the murder was not a random act.

Man Gets Life For 2011 Burning, Beating Death

August 22, 2014

An Escambia County man was sentenced Thursday to spend the rest of his life behind bars for a 2011 murder.

Sergio Dupree Moorer was sentenced by Circuit Judge Gary Bergosh to life in state prison without possibility of parole for the murder of John Hall.

Moorer was convicted by  an Escambia County Jury of first degree murder on August 11, 2014, with the jury recommending the life sentence.

Moorer beat John Hall and then poured gasoline on him and forced him to drink gasoline.  Hall was then set on fire, dieing as the result of the combination of blunt force trauma and thermal burns. His body was found in a  wooded area near the Marcus Pointe Apartments.

Preseason Volleyball Tournament At Northview

August 22, 2014

Five schools took part in a volleyball preseason classic Thursday at Northview High School with Laurel Hill taking first place.

Play included  seniors from Northview, Laurel Hill, Central, Jay and Pensacola Christian Academy high schools in a dual court format.

For more photos, click here.

Scores were as follows:

PCA vs Central
22-25, 26-24, 15-11

NHS vs Laurel Hill
11-25, 24-26

Jay vs PCA
25-16, 24-26, 15-9

Laurel hill vs Central
24-16, 17-25, 15-8

Laurel Hill vs Jay
26-24, 25-17

The Chiefs will begin their regular season on the road at Holmes County on August 28, with their first home game set for September 2 against Baldwin County High School.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

United Way Celebrates $10.2 Million Impact, Work Of Community Partners

August 22, 2014

Thursday afternoon,  more than 250 United Way supporters and friends joined United Way of Escambia County at First Baptist Church of Pensacola to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and the many community partners who helped make it possible. The meeting featured a keynote address from The Rev. LuTimothy May.

United Way of Escambia County thanked special partners for a successful year in which $3.2 million in funds were leveraged by United Way to grow an $8.7 million impact.

Additionally,with  $1.55 million in matching dollars secured by non-profit partners,  United Way donors and volunteers were responsible for a $10.2 million impact on the community. A strong steam of volunteer board members lead by Gary Sammons, expressed their gratitude to the 2,980 generous United Way volunteers who donated 33,714 hours in volunteer service to Escambia County.

Chair Gary Sammons and Chair Elect David Peaden were honored to recognize the stellar contributions of following individuals and organizations:

RAYELL IRISH, COLOR A BRIGHTER WORLD: MaryAnn Bickerstaff, Arc Gateway Pearl Nelson Center

UNITED WAY PARTNER AGENCY OF THE YEAR: Manna Food Pantries

BUSINESS PARTNER OF THE YEAR: Cat Country 98.7

UNITED WAY SERVICE AWARD: Yvette McLellan, City of Pensacola
DISTINGUISHED COMMUNITY SERVICE: Bob McLaughlin

VOLUNTEER GROUP OF THE YEAR: New Beginnings Recovery Home

VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (VITA) VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR: Bill and Grace Bedford

DAY OF CARING VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Wayne Thomley, Cerex Advanced Fabrics

Pictured top: Thursday’s annual United Way of Escambia County meeting at the First Baptist Church of Pensacola. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Gay Marriage Ban

August 22, 2014

When Democratic political operative Christian Ulvert started his career nearly a decade ago, he was in the closet.

Since then, Ulvert — now the Florida Democratic Party’s political director — has come out in the open about his homosexuality, married his partner Carlos Andrade and seen his career skyrocket.

But it was U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling Thursday striking down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage that Ulvert said validated his personal journey.

“It’s a judge recognizing my marriage to my husband in a state where I was born and raised. And it means that a law that discriminated against couples like me and Carlos is unconstitutional,” said Ulvert, who married Andrade last year in Washington, D.C.

Ulvert — who said his journey has morphed his sexuality from a political liability “to pride, joy and positive acceptance”—
and his partner are among nine sets of same-sex couples in two combined federal lawsuits challenging the state’s ban on gay marriage. Hinkle’s ruling is the latest in a string of court victories for same-sex couples and LGBT advocates in Florida but the first statewide ruling. Although gay couples won’t be tying the knot in Florida any time soon because the judge placed a hold on his ruling, Hinkle’s opinion is considered historic in a state where voters just six years ago placed a prohibition against gay marriage in the state constitution.

“The institution of marriage survived when bans on interracial marriage were struck down, and the institution will survive when bans on same-sex marriage are struck down. Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts. Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage. Tolerating views with which one disagrees is a hallmark of civilized society,” Hinkle wrote in a 33-page decision.

The lawsuit accuses the Florida prohibition on same-sex marriage of allowing disparate treatment, including in benefits extended to couples such as retirement plans and health insurance. The plaintiffs include Arlene Goldberg who married Carol Goldwasser in New York in 2011 and had been with her mate for 47 years. Goldberg sued because she could not receive Social Security survivor benefits after Goldwasser died earlier this year. Hinkle also ruled Thursday that Goldberg should be listed on her spouse’s death certificate.

While advocates are celebrating the Tallahassee federal judge’s decision, couples across the country like Ulvert and his partner are biding their time until the U.S. Supreme Court, which paved the way for Hinkle’s ruling, renders a final decision on gay marriage.

In the meantime, Hinkle ruled that the ban interferes with couples’ rights to due process and equal protection and likened the prohibition against same-sex unions to laws that prevented blacks and whites from marrying nearly 50 years ago. The U.S. Supreme Court, Hinkle wrote, has “sometimes listed marriage as the very paradigm of a fundamental right.”

Hinkle rejected arguments that same-sex marriages should be banned because gay couples cannot procreate, saying that individuals who are medically unable to have children can marry in Florida and their marriages, if performed elsewhere, are recognized in the state.

“The undeniable truth is that the Florida ban on same-sex marriage stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice,” Hinkle wrote.

Hinkle’s ruling comes after four similar state-court rulings in Florida since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision last year in the United States v. Windsor case that overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Courts in 19 other states have since struck down restrictions on same-sex marriages in lawsuits sparked by the Supreme Court decision.

Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger, who drafted and pushed the 2008 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, said Thursday he was surprised by Hinkle’s ruling because, in the Windsor decision, the Supreme Court had deferred in part to states to make decisions about gay marriage.

“People ask me, are you on the wrong side of history? To me, this issue will never be on the wrong side of history because it’s rooted in the human experience. A little boy who longs to have a father in the inner city — that will never be on the wrong side of history. The little girl who has two dads and doesn’t have a mom and she wants someone to guide her through the changes that a woman’s body goes through — that’s never going to be on the wrong side of history. And the beauty of how a man and woman come together and life is born and the next generation springs from that, that’s never going to be on the wrong side of history,” Stemberger said.

Like judges in the other Florida cases, Hinkle issued a stay of his ruling pending appeals. A spokesman for Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has represented the state in all of the cases, said her office is reviewing Hinkle’s ruling.

Stemberger, however, said he remains hopeful.

“I’m done being discouraged. I’m done being happy when we win and sad when we lose. I just want to be faithful doing what I think is the right thing in the end,” Stemberger said. “I can’t control history. All I can do is use the influence that I have for the right thing.”

by Dara Kim, The News Service of Florida

Pensacola Takes Series Final 7-6 Over Jacksonville

August 22, 2014

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (24-36, 55-75) took the series finale, 7-6, over the Jacksonville Suns (35-25, 71-59) at the Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville. With the victory, the Wahoos went 10-20 in 2014 against the Suns.

The Blue Wahoos got on the board early with a two-out RBI single from Travis Mattair in the top of the first. The Suns responded with three first inning runs off Wahoos’ starter Michael Lorenzen. The Wahoos did one better in the next half inning, scoring four runs in the top of the second. Yorman Rodriguez continued his stellar series with a two-RBI double. He came home on a Kyle Waldrop single and Mattair gave the Wahoos a 5-1 lead on an RBI groundout.

Lorenzen helped his own cause with a two-out RBI single as the Wahoos stretched their lead to three runs in the third inning. Lorenzen gave up 3 R/2ER and lasted 3.0 innings. The Suns chipped away at the lead in the fifth off RHP Drew Hayes, who allowed 2 R/ER on three hits over 2.0 innings. Again, the Wahoos responded as Rodriguez notched his third RBI of the night on a sacrifice fly.

The Suns cut the lead to just one run in the seventh and it was RHP Shane Dyer who came in to close out the game in the bottom of the ninth. Dyer induced a game ending double play off the bat of Viosergy Rosa to finish off the Suns. It was Dyer’s 18th save of the season, which is a new Blue Wahoos’ team record. Trevor Bell previously held the record with 17 saves in 2013.

Hayes ended up with the win for the Wahoos and Suns’ starter Trevor Williams fell for the first time in 2014.

The Blue Wahoos return to Pensacola Bayfront Stadium on Friday for their final home series of the season. RHP Daniel Corcino (10-11, 4.13) is set to start the series opener for the Wahoos. RHP Mike Colla (7-12, 4.60) gets the nod for the Montgomery Biscuits.

by Joey Truncale

About 2,500 Cast Ballots, Early Voting Ends Saturday

August 21, 2014

Early voting is underway for the 2014 Primary Election in Escambia County. As of Wednesday night, 2,489 ballots have been cast.

Early voting is available each day through Saturday, August 23 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Molino Community Center, 6450 Highway 95A North
  • Escambia County Extension Office, 3740 Stefani Road
  • Genealogy Branch Library,  5740 N. 9th Avenue
  • Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds, 6655 W. Mobile Highway
  • Southwest Branch Library, 12248 Gulf Beach Highway
  • West Florida Public Library, 239 N. Spring Street
  • Supervisor of Elections Main Office, 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor

Early voters cast paper ballots through digital scanners and may choose any one of the seven sites – three more than the 2012 Primary Election.

Florida Prisons Chief Launches Reform Efforts

August 21, 2014

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews is proposing a handful of prison reforms in the aftermath of reports about a mentally ill inmate who died after being placed in a scalding-hot shower.

“Stories report we have fallen short in specific instances with regard to facility leadership, safety, security, training and services for mentally ill inmates. We’re fixing the problems that have been identified and as we identify new issues, we will fix those too. Our department should be held to the highest standards, and I have zero tolerance for anything less,” said Crews, who announced the changes Wednesday morning at Everglades Correctional Institution.

For mentally ill inmates, the department will expand crisis-intervention training for prison guards, create two re-entry centers and explore a pilot case-management system. Crews is also handing over 82 open investigations into prison deaths — all the result of non-natural causes — to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The secretary also pledged to put “releasable information” regarding inmate deaths, including cases that are still under investigation, online within the next 30 days. The department also will clarify its disciplinary procedures for guards who break the law.

Crews and the agency have been under fire since a series of stories this summer by The Miami Herald revealed details about the 2012 death of inmate Darren Rainey at  the Dade Correctional Institution.

“As we reviewed case files and penalties for improper acts, it became clear to me that we have not been applying a uniform standard by which to hold ourselves accountable. The lack of consistent consequences for the same crime had the potential for undermining the culture of professionalism that is necessary for running institutions with integrity,” Crews said.

Suns OutSlug The Wahoos

August 21, 2014

The Jacksonville Suns scored eight runs over the first four innings to knock Blue Wahoos starter Robert Stephenson (L, 6-9) from the game on their way to a 10-6 win on Wednesday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

The Blue Wahoos had the bats going again with two more home runs after blasting a team-record five on Tuesday night. Yorman Rodriguez had the first with a two-run homer in the second. Travis Mattair matched his 2013 home run total with his 13th round-tripper in the fifth.

Kyle Waldrop had a nice night offensively with an RBI double in the first inning for Pensacola’s first run. He added a single later in the game for a 2-for-5 night. Pensacola also got some production from catcher Yovan Gonzalez. He collected his first hit since joining the Wahoos with a single in the second inning. He later doubled and scored in the eighth inning as part of a 2-for-4 night.

Stephenson struggled on the mound in his start. The hard throwing right-hander was charged with 8 R/7 ER on six hits over 4.0 innings. He walked two and struck out five. He ended up with the loss. Pensacola knocked around Jacksonville’s starter Justin Nicolino (W, 12-4). He allowed 5 R/ER on nine hits over 5.0 innings with just three strikeouts. It was the first time he had allowed as many as five earned runs since Pensacola scored five against him on May 19. Despite his struggles, the Suns lefty still picked up the win.

With the win, Jacksonville will hold on to a share of the lead in the South Division and they lock up the series win.

Pensacola will try to end the season series with the Suns on a high note Thursday night. RHP Michael Lorenzen (4-6, 3.01) will start for the Blue Wahoos against an unannounced starter for Jacksonville. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. CT from Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

by Tommy Thrall

Man Gets Jail Time For Stealing Makeup, Drug Possession

August 20, 2014

A Century man has been sentenced to jail for stealing a large quantity of makeup from a Walmart and for drug possession.

Eric James Grimes, age 23 of Highway 168, was convicted of possession of  crack cocaine with the intent to sell, manufacture or deliver,  methamphetamine possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver, and grand theft.  He was sentenced to 90 days in the county jail.

In late April, a deputy in the Casino Beach parking lot stopped to assist Grimes, who seemed to be lost. Grimes told the deputy he’d lost his yellow Nissan truck, and began to act nervously, according to an arrest report, telling the deputy that he had an outstanding grand theft warrant for his arrest.

As he was taken into custody, deputies reported that  they located plastic bags of crack cocaine and a sandwich bag containing a “significant” quantity of methamphetamine on Grimes’ person.

The  grand theft warrant stemmed from a March 5 incident at Walmart on Mobile Highway. Grimes was positively identified from a photo lineup as the man a store loss prevention officer said he observed in the cosmetics department taking large quantities of expensive cosmetics, concealing them in his jacket and exiting the store.

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