Area judge will help with review of death penalty


Published: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Area Circuit Judge Stan Morris will serve as a member of a commission assigned last month to evaluate the state's execution process following the prolonged execution of Angel Nieves Diaz, the Florida Supreme Court announced.

Diaz, 55, was executed by lethal injection Dec. 13 for the 1979 murder of a Miami topless club manager. But his death took twice as long as usual and required a second dose of lethal chemicals. Dr. William Hamilton , the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Diaz, later said the intravenous needles used during the execution pierced through veins in both of the man's arms, causing the chemicals to be injected into his flesh instead of the bloodstream.

The commission is supposed to submit a preliminary report and recommendations to the governor by Feb. 1 and a final report on March 1.

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis named Morris as his appointee to the commission.

Fatal crashes decline

The number of people killed on Florida roads during the Christmas and New Year holidays dropped to less than half the number who died during the same time frame the year before.

Thirteen people died in eight crashes during the Christmas holiday, according to preliminary figures from the Florida Highway Patrol. Fifteen were killed in 14 accidents over the New Year holiday from Saturday through Monday.

Last year 69 people were killed in traffic accidents in the state over the two holiday periods.

Footing the bill

In recent weeks, the holiday shopping season and the release of some much-anticipated gaming consoles meant Alachua County sheriff's deputies had to keep a closer eye on some area stores.

But the Sheriff's Office has no plans to seek payment for any extra work associated with long lines of shoppers outside the stores. There were crowds but no major problems or costs generated from monitoring the long lines, said spokesman Sgt. Steve Maynard.

Not true in Boston, where Mayor Thomas Menino had said he planned to bill Sony Corp. after a crowd rushed a shopping center to get the new PlayStation 3 when it was released in November, The Associated Press reported. The chaos required 12 police cruisers to halt the riot.

And the winner is

High Springs Police Sgt. Gordon Fulwood received top honors from the city when he was named its employee of the year last month.

Fulwood, 39, has been with the agency since 1995 and serves as the department's detective. Recently he was involved in the investigation of a High Springs man convicted last year of multiple sex-related crimes including sexual battery and voyeurism. The case launched a multi-state investigation into online child abuse.

"I kind of look at it as more of a department award," Fulwood said. "I think it's really indicative of all the hard work of the people in the police department."

Maynard said some area stores have avoided problems with crowds by contacting officers before an anticipated sale or product release and letting customers know early the quantity of that must-have gift they will have in stock.

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