Tate Band Students Named To State Nine Star Honor Band

April 16, 2014

Five Tate High School band students have been named to the Nine Star Honor Band for the state of Florida.

The Nine Star Honor Band is sponsored by the Florida Bandmaster’s Association for the second year. It is for rising 10th grade students who have shown great musical aptitude and ability, and come from the highest quality band programs in Florida.

The Tate students selected were: Mallory Parker, Madison Philley, Madison Rondeau, Katlin Sainata and Danae Smith.

They will travel to Alamonte Springs on July 9 and 10 to perform with other sophomores from around the state. Their clinician will be Dan Wooten, director of bands at Niceville High School and former member and assistant director of the Tate High School Showband of the South.

Pictured: Nine Star Honor Band members from Tate High School are (L-R) Mallory Parker, Madison Philley, Madison Rondeau, Danae Smith and Kaitlin Sainata. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Northview, Freeport Out Of District 3-1A Softball Tourney

April 16, 2014

The Northview Lady Chiefs and Freeport were knocked out of the District 3-1A Softball Tournament at Jay.

In game one Tuesday afternoon, Holmes County defeated the Northview Lady Chiefs 3-0. In game two, the Baker Lady Gators defeated Freeport 11-4. Kyndall Hall  and Danielle Steadham  were both 1-3 at bat for Northview. Mallory Ryan pitched a complete seven innings for the Lady Chiefs, allow three hits and striking out seven.

Wednesday, Chipley will play Holmes County, and at 7 p.m. the Jay Lady Royals will take on Baker. Winners will advance to the championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday in Jay.

Abortion Parental Notice Case Divides Appeals Court

April 16, 2014

The girl was 17 years old, a good student, headed toward college — and pregnant.

But her attempt to get an abortion without her parents finding out led to an appeals court issuing sharply divided opinions last week about how a key part of the state’s parental-notification law should be applied.

Florida voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that requires parents to be notified before their minor daughters can have abortions. But that amendment and subsequent laws created a process for minors to go to court to prevent the notification.

The process, known as a judicial bypass or waiver, was at the crux of the case involving a teen, identified in court documents as Jane Doe 13-A, seeking to have an abortion without her parents being told. A Leon County circuit judge ruled against the girl’s request, but a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal reversed that ruling in a 2-1 decision.

Appeals-court Judge T. Kent Wetherell, in an opinion released Friday, wrote that the girl was a high-school senior who earned A and B grades in advanced classes and had been accepted to colleges. He wrote that she feared she would be kicked out of the house by her deeply religious parents if they found out she was pregnant and planned to have an abortion.

“(As) a practical matter, the denial of a judicial waiver in this case would leave appellant (the minor) with two options: carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or notify her parents of her intent to have an abortion,” wrote Wetherell, who was part of a majority with Judge L. Clayton Roberts. “It is clear from appellant’s testimony that either of these options would irreparably harm the parent-child relationship and would disrupt, if not destroy, appellant’s plans for her future. On the other hand, if the petition is granted, the parent-child relationship may not be harmed at all because appellant’s parents may never find out about the pregnancy or the abortion and appellant will be able to attend college and make a better life for herself than she likely would have had otherwise.”

But appeals-court Judge Scott Makar wrote a 33-page dissent that said the appeals court should give deference to the lower-court ruling that would have led to the girl’s parents being notified. He also indicated that the case was the first time an appeals court had fully explored changes that lawmakers approved in 2011 to the judicial bypass law. Those changes included new legal standards that gave greater deference to the decisions made by circuit judges.

“The purpose of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act is to safeguard the constitutional rights of parents in the care and upbringing of their children by requiring their notification — not consent — before an abortion can be performed on their daughter while concurrently providing exceptions where the minor is clearly and conclusively shown to be sufficiently mature or that parental notification would not be in her best interest,” Makar wrote. “It is a balance of interests, but one presumptively struck in favor of parental notification.”

The issue of parental notification had long been controversial before voters approved the 2004 constitutional amendment. In most cases, courts rule in favor of minors who seek to use the judicial-bypass process. A footnote in Makar’s dissent said that 95 percent or more of minors’ petitions were approved from 2006 to 2011 and that the rate fell to 89 percent in 2012, after the legislative changes.

Though Friday’s opinions do not fully explain the chain of events in the case of Jane Doe 13-A, it appears that they were issued about five months after the case went to court.

Makar’s dissent said the girl sought the judicial waiver Nov. 5 and that a circuit judge ruled against her three days later. The next week, the girl filed an appeal, and a three-judge “emergency panel” was assigned to the case. By law, the panel had to make a decision within seven days.

While the opinions do not detail what happened after that point, the case caused sharp disagreements that went beyond the three-judge panel. Other documents released Friday show that a proposal for the full, 15-member appeals court to hear the broader issues in the case was defeated in a 9-6 vote.

“At stake here is not the minor child Doe’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy,” wrote Judge Ronald Swanson, who wanted the full court to consider the issues. “All would undoubtedly agree the abortion most probably has taken place and Doe was able to make that choice without requirement that her parents be informed of the decision. At this point, what is at stake is one of the foundational principles of judicial restraint: that an appellate court will not substitute its view of the facts for that of the trial court when the trial court enjoys the vantage point of observing the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses.”

But in the case of Jane Doe 13-A, Wetherell and Roberts took issue with the conclusions reached by the circuit court, such as whether the girl was mature enough to make the abortion decision. Wetherell wrote that appeals courts are not required to “rubber-stamp” the lower court decisions.”

by Jim Saunders,  The News Service of Florida

Ho-Hum Legislative Session Not Just About Governor’s Race

April 16, 2014

Tax breaks are in. Gambling? No dice. Lower tuition is OK, but alimony is a no-no.

Blame the GOP-dominated Legislature’s attempt to give Gov. Rick Scott a helping hand for what people are calling one of the most boring sessions in recent history.

But, while they are doing all they can to keep the governor in office, Republicans also have their eyes on a bigger prize — the presidential race two years from now.

“Absolutely it’s important. We want the governor re-elected but it’s clearly important for 2016. No question,” said Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican and former head of the Republican Party of Florida who is also chairman of Scott’s re-election effort.

Lawmakers recently put the kibosh on gambling legislation that was sure to split the Republican faithful. And, after Scott vetoed a similar effort last year, they opted to not even consider a prickly overhaul of the alimony system, putting the issue on hold for at least another year.

But they are angling to land on the incumbent Republican’s desk a cornucopia of items that appeal to Hispanics, gun owners, drivers, families footing the bill for university educations and anyone disgusted by revelations that sexual offenders let loose by the state preyed again on children.

The Legislature quickly passed a package of measures aimed at cracking down on child molesters, even after critics complained that the legislation fails to fully address the problem.

And lawmakers swiftly handed Scott one of his top priorities, a nearly $400 million rollback of vehicle registration fees increased during economic tough times in 2009, when Charlie Crist — Scott’s leading Democratic opponent — was governor.

With the May 2 end of the session fast approaching, the House and Senate are now wrangling over how to parcel out the remaining $100 million of the $500 million in election-year tax and fee cuts Scott made a top priority.

No election year on GOP turf would be complete without some National Rifle Association-backed legislation to pump up base voters. So Florida lawmakers are approving a suite of bills aimed at firing up gun owners. One measure would let gun owners who don’t have concealed-carry training pack heat during states of emergency. A “warning shot” proposal awaiting Scott’s signature would let people show guns and fire warning shots in self-defense.

Another gift to Scott — lower tuition for university students — is wrapped in a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition, a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford. The House has already passed the bill, and Senate sponsor Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, says he has the votes for Senate approval once it makes it to the floor. The measure is viewed as an olive branch to Hispanic voters whom Scott alienated in his first bid for governor when he campaigned on bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida. Scott further angered Hispanics when he vetoed a nearly universally-supported measure that would have let children of undocumented immigrants get temporary driver’s licenses.

“I think we’ve got a nice smooth session going on and that always helps. Everyone’s working together, the House, the Senate, the governor. I think it’s as much harmony here as I’ve seen during any session and that obviously should help him,” Latvala said.

Keeping the governor’s mansion, as well as the Florida House and Senate, in GOP hands is part of a longer-term strategy.

Florida, a critical swing state, helped President Obama get into the White House and stay there in the past two elections.

A Republican governor would help turn that around, Thrasher said.

“It makes a difference,” he said. “We’ve lost the last two elections in Florida. We need to win the next one in order to elect a Republican president.”

Thrasher said the 2016 election doesn’t put more pressure on Republicans to re-elect Scott, who remains unpopular, but “it clearly gives us some incentives to do that.”

Getting Scott re-elected could also help the GOP maintain a stronghold on legislative and congressional seats in 2016, especially in the state House, where about a dozen seats could now be up for grabs after new maps were drawn in 2012.

“It’s not just about the presidential. It’s about legislative. It’s about congressional. Anytime you have the governor in the mansion, that changes the dynamic for that party,” said lobbyist Nick Iarossi. “Where the Republicans have drastically outraised Democrats for the past decade, that could turn on a dime if Charlie Crist wins the governor’s mansion. That’s why everyone’s being cautious.”

But House Minority Leader Perry Thurston said Republicans are ignoring issues such as an expansion of Medicaid to lay the groundwork for the presidential race.

“For sure it’s positioning for 2016. They want it to appear that there are no problems here in Tallahassee, that everything’s moving along smoothly and they’ve got this $1.3 billion in surplus to try to camouflage to that effect. But there are a number of issues we’re not addressing. We need to address the issue of health care, which we believe is a crisis in this state. We need to fully vet the issue with DCF. They’re talking about new investigators but they’re not addressing the issue of the services. If you have more investigators, clearly there are going to be more cases and they’re going to need to place more children. They’re not addressing those placements and the services,” Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “The governor’s race clearly is being done to set up how Florida will be a Republican governor-led state at the time of the (2016) election.”

But Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who led Obama’s 2008 campaign effort in Florida and is advising Crist, said that it’s wrong-headed of Republicans to pin their presidential hopes on the governor’s race.

“I think it’s a very myopic view of the Tallahassee-centric world which doesn’t exist in the five blocks outside of Adams Street,” Schale said.

Obama won the Sunshine State twice with a Republican governor at the helm, Schale pointed out. And, Schale said, presidential elections are now so expensive and require such a large organization that, although a governor can help his or her party’s fund-raising efforts, state parties are relied on less and less to aid candidates.

“In a previous era you would have had to depend on party apparatus …because nobody could raise a billion dollars. But in this new world we live in, you don’t need a political apparatus in a presidential election. You don’t need it at all,” he said.

Obama won Florida by 3 percentage points in 2008, “arguably at the point at which our party was most inept,” Schale said.

“It may be materially important for some political leaders and some political consultants but it’s not in terms of the outcome of the election,” he said.

by Dara Kim, The News Service of Florida

Rep. Clay Ingram: Session Break

April 16, 2014

submitted by Rep. Clay Ingram

It’s great to be home this week for a much needed break from Session. We’ve accomplished a great deal of work so far for hard working Floridians.

Last week the House passed HB 697, a bill I sponsored that expands the list of Schedule 1 synthetic drugs. This bill will now go to the Senate for their approval. I will continue to work with Attorney General Pam Bondi on keeping these dangerous drugs away from our children.

Last week the House passed bills expanding educational choice in Florida and also forbidding the collection of certain personal student data that would have violated student privacy rights. The House also passed a bill that would create new penalties for people who harm an unborn baby while committing a crime. These common sense, conservative measures will make Florida an even better place to live.

The Legislature will be off this week as we celebrate Passover and Easter with our families. I look forward to this time to see family and friends before heading back to finish the final two weeks of Session.

Man Sentenced To 330 Years For Child Sex Abuse

April 16, 2014

A Santa Rosa County man was sentenced to 330 year is prison Tuesday for the sexual abuse of three young girls.

Circuit Judge John L. Miller handed down the 330 year sentence to Donzell Kevin Nuckles after his February conviction on 10 counts of sexual battery upon a child by a person in familial or custodial authority and two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation for crimes he committed against the girls when he and his family lived in Pace.

Between February 2011 and October 2012, Nuckles, 40, committed various sexual offenses against his three victims, who ranged in age from 12 to 17  years old at the time the crimes were committed. The abuse was reported to the Santa  Rosa County Sheriff’s Office in November 2012 and was investigated by Dectective Larry Tynes.

All three victims testified during the trial about the abuse they suffered.

As a result of the sexual abuse, one of the girls became pregnant and gave birth to  the defendant’s child. DNA evidence introduced at trial revealed that Nuckles was the  father of that child.

Wahoos Beat Biscuits 7-4

April 16, 2014

On a chilly night at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, the Wahoos defeated the Biscuits 7-4 in the second game of the series. The Wahoos (7-5) used a four-run inning in the third to break the game open. The Biscuits (6-6) mounted a comeback scoring three runs in the eighth inning, but eventually fell short.

RHP Daniel Corcino (1-2) started the contest for the Wahoos and went 6.0 innings, giving up just one R/ER and two hits. Corcino worked out of a first-inning bases loaded jam and gave up just one hit in his final 5.0 innings of work, at one point retiring 13 of 14 batters he faced. RHP Drew Hayes walked two, but shut down the Biscuits in the ninth on the way to earning his third save of the year.

The Wahoos exploded offensively; their four-run third inning was a season-high for runs scored in an inning. First baseman Steve Selsky led the way with a 3-for-5 game with two runs scored and an RBI. Bryan Anderson, Juan Silverio, Devin Lohman and Juan Duran all drove in runs Tuesday night for the Wahoos. Center fielder Bryson Smith had his second multi-hit game of the season going 3-for-5 with three singles.

RHP Dylan Floro (0-1) was chased from the mound after 4.1 innings; Floro gave up 11 hits and 7 R/ER while walking two and striking out four. LHP Braulio Lara had a successful night giving up no runs in 2.2 innings of work while striking out four.

Third baseman Richie Shaffer went 2-for-5 on the night with a triple and an RBI, but just missed out on a game-tying three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning. Designated hitter Curt Casali went 1-for-1 with a double and four walks.

The Wahoos scored at least five runs so use the promo code Wahoos and receive 50% off your entire order Wednesday at PapaJohns.com. The Wahoos will send RHP Robert Stephenson (1-0, 3.86) to the mound for the third game of the series on Wednesday where he’ll be opposed by RHP Jared Mortensen (1-0, 4.26).

by Tommy Thrall

Pictured: The Pensacola Blue Wahoos beat the Montgomery Biscuits 7-4 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium Tuesday. Photos by Michael Spooneybarger/ Pensacola Blue Wahoos for NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

by Tommy Thrall

Woman Sentenced To 24 Years In Prison For Toddler Drowning Death

April 15, 2014

An Escambia County woman was sentenced Monday to 24 years in prison in connection with the drowning death of her toddler in a neighbor’s small pond.

Jennifer Lynn Eiland, 32, was convicted last month by an Escambia County jury of negligent manslaughter and three counts of child neglect after her 14-month old, Alana Mae Eiland, was found unresponsive in her neighbor’s landscaping pond in August 2013 in the 10600 block of Betmark Road, just off 10 Mile Road.

The neighbor was alerted to the child by one of the child’s siblings. First responders attempted rescue efforts, but Alana Mae was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at a local hospital.

Neighbor Larry Kruger made the discovery in his front yard after one of Eiland’s children knocked on his door. The little girl’s body was under a small bridge the crosses the pond, which is less than two feet deep.

Investigators found “unsanitary living conditions” in the Betmark Road home where Eiland and her children were living at the time of the drowning, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The child’s father, a Merchant Marine, returned home from being at sea following the incident.

Eiland has had prior abuse allegations in Alabama. According to investigators, the children,whose ages range from three to eight,had been placed in foster care and were only returned to the care of their mother in the recent months before the drowning.

Pictured top and bottom: Larry Kruger (bottom photo) discovered the lifeless body of a nieghbor’s 14-month old girl in his landscaping pond in August 2013. File photos by Joe Douglass WEAR 3 for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Name Released In Monday Fatal Shooting

April 15, 2014

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has released the name of the victim in a fatal shooting in the Mayfair area of Escambia County Monday afternoon.

The victim was identified as 23-year old Dequarius Frederick Durrant. He was found deceased inside a car that had crashed into a home in the 100 block  Emerald Avenue about 2:30 p.m.

“The incident appears to have been drug related,”  the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said in a  news release.

Investigators said “person of interest” was questioned and released Monday night. The investigation into the incident is continuing.

Pictured: The scene on Emerald Avenue in Mayfair Monday afternoon following a fatal shooting. Photos by Jenise Fernandez, WEAR, for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

First Amendment Group Seeks Veto Of ‘Warning Shot’ Bill

April 15, 2014

The First Amendment Foundation on Monday asked Gov. Rick Scott to veto what has become known as the “warning shot” bill because of a provision that would allow records to be expunged.

The bill (HB 89), which has passed the House and Senate, has drawn widespread attention because it would allow people to show guns or fire warning shots in self-defense if they feel threatened. The bill also would allow criminal records to be expunged if people are found to have acted legally in self-defense and prosecutors do not pursue charges.

Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, wrote to Scott that the bill “has grave implications for public oversight of our judicial and criminal justice systems” and is contrary to the public interest.

“The expunction provision … not only limits public oversight, but potentially could serve as a tool for obscuring law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct, while also hindering the development of court precedence essential to understanding how and when the proposed use of force law applies,” Petersen wrote. But during debates on bill, lawmakers such as Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, defended the provision.

“If you’re innocent, that automatically should expunge your name, and you shouldn’t have to defend your name the rest of your life,” Dean said before the Senate approved the bill April 3.

by the News Service of Florida

(Disclosure: The News Service of Florida is a member of the First Amendment Foundation.)

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