News Update for 06/27/24

A jury has delivered a majority vote recommending death for Zephen Xaver, who admitted to killing five women in a Sebring SunTrust bank in 2019. After 3 hours of deliberation, the vote for the death penalty was 9-3. That number is enough to recommend death under a new Florida law that only requires eight jurors to vote to recommend execution. The judge will have the final say but is required to give strong consideration to the jury’s wishes.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of its therapy dog Trey, who recently passed away from cancer. Trey had been with HCSO for six-and-a-half years and had been on hundreds of deployments as a therapy dog, including being with the families of the five women shot and killed by Zephen Xaver at a Sebring SunTrust Bank in 2019. While not technically the agency’s first therapy dog, Trey started it all when volunteer Chaplain Allen Altvater brought Trey as a puppy to the HCSO offices after Deputy William Gentry was killed in the line of duty in 2018.

Legoland Florida Resort in Winter Haven has a new display to honor the Florida Panthers, who defeated the Edmonton Oilers on Monday to earn their first Stanley Cup. Legoland’s Master Model Builders constructed a replica of the entire hockey team and placed it into Miniland USA, the section of the theme park that holds a variety of models built from Lego bricks. The builders used more than 4,000 Lego pieces to create 29 hockey players, 20 Florida Panthers fans, 18 dance team members and six actual panthers, Legoland said in a news release. The release also said the display took more than 20 hours to build.

118 Haitian migrants have landed in Key West, Florida in an old boat. Adam Hoffner with U-S Border Patrol Miami Sector says the vessel was not equipped to hold so many people. The migrants, children to older adults, are now in Border Patrol custody where they will be processed for removal proceedings. This marks the first major migrant landing since President Biden clamped down on asylum earlier this month. adults,

A man is facing charges for a child’s hot car death in Manatee County. Ellenton’s Markise Outing was arrested Tuesday. Deputies say the 24-year-old left his girlfriend’s six-year-old daughter alone in a hot car for hours last month while he was at work. Investigators estimate the temperature in the car reached 115 degrees. Outing is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.

One local Marine wants to use her experience to help Florida Republicans navigate the upcoming battlefield of the 2024 Presidential Election. Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper is currently campaigning to become the Polk County State Committeewoman for the Florida Republican Party. As a Marine Veteran, she served her Country in the military for more than 20 years on Active Duty and in the Reserves. Gates-Skipper was the First Woman in the Marines to perform Joint Service Exercises with men and women, the First to serve aboard a Warship, and the First to serve in Combat Operations in Desert Storm. She also served as the Florida Veterans State Director and National Surrogate for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and on the Trump Advisory Board for the National Veterans/Military Families in 2024.

A University of South Florida football player is dead following a crash in the Midwest earlier this week. Police in Carver County, Minnesota say 20-year-old Teigan Martin was involved in a rollover crash in Hollywood Township on Monday morning. Authorities say the driver was traveling at a high speed before his car ended up in a ditch. Martin joined the Bulls as a tight end last year. The university released a statement, extending their thoughts and prayers to Martin’s loved ones.

A man is drawing praise for rescuing a family of seven from a rip current in Sarasota County. The county announced yesterday that off-duty Fire Department Lifeguard Mariano Martinez rescued seven swimmers in distress on Saturday. The rip current had carried them more than 200 yards into the Gulf. Martinez was at Lido Beach when he got an alert on the Pulse Point app. The county says he grabbed a rescue tube, swam to the group, secured one with the tube, helped two more to shore and returned for the first swimmer. He wound up making multiple trips using bodyboards to bring them back to shore safely.

A new airline is coming to Palm Beach International Airport later this year. Officials made the announcement yesterday, saying Porter Airlines will join the PBI family starting on November 14th. The carrier will take passengers on daily roundtrip flights from South Florida to Canada’s busiest airport located in Ontario. Porter says it is more than doubling its services to Florida this winter to keep up with strong demand.

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