Around the Region for July 1

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 12:14 a.m.

Area man arrested in carjacking case

Alachua County Sheriff's deputies arrested a Gainesville man for carjacking, alleging he threatened another man with a knife and then took his vehicle over the weekend.

Austin Marino, 21, was being held at the Alachua County jail Monday afternoon on a $150,000 bond.

A motorist contacted officers shortly after midnight Sunday to report he had been threatened outside an apartment complex in the 4000 block of SW 20th Avenue. The man said he ran from his car after another man approached his vehicle and jabbed at him with a knife.

Deputies later located the vehicle and arrested Marino, who the victim had recognized during the carjacking, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Steve Maynard.

Marino was identified as a friend of the ex-boyfriend of a woman the motorist was seeing, officers reported.

The carjacking occurred while the motorist was waiting for the woman, who was dropping off her dog at the apartment.

Maynard said officers still are investigating the incident.

- Lise Fisher

Archer man accused of threatening woman

An Archer man was being held on $100,000 bond Monday after reportedly threatening to kill a woman and swinging a homemade scythe at her.

Timothy Breeden, 30, was charged with attempted murder for the incident late Saturday night outside his home at 13525 SW 143rd St.

According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the incident began when Margaret Bryant and two other people drove up to Breeden's house at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday. One of the people with Bryant apparently went into the house to pick something up. After waiting several minutes, someone honked a car horn. The noise drew Breeden from inside the house and he walked into the yard carrying the scythe, witnesses told deputies.

Breeden and Bryant apparently knew each other because Breeden had apparently been dating Bryant's daughter, but the couple had recently broken up. Deputies were not certain what impact the couple's split may have had on the incident.

By some accounts, Breeden swore at Bryant and threatened her before swinging the scythe by the wooden handle.

Breeden was arrested at his home a short time later.

- Karen Voyles

Suwannee accident leaves one man dead

A nearly head-on collision in Suwannee County early Monday left one man dead and another with minor injuries.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the crash happened at 6:35 a.m. on County Road 136 about a mile south of State Road 247.

FHP investigators determined Donald Robert Davis Jr., 29, of Branford, was driving his 1997 Cadillac north on CR 137 while Joshua Franklin Votano, 28, was driving his 1993 Ford south on the two-lane, paved highway.

According to FHP Corp. B. Simmons, evidence available at the scene indicated that Davis crossed over the center line and then the left front fender of his Cadillac hit the left front fender of Votano's Ford.

The Cadillac came to a stop facing southwest on the east shoulder of the road. Votano was ejected from the driver's window of the Ford, which came to a stop on the west shoulder of the highway. Votano was later pronounced dead of his injuries. Davis was treated for minor injuries. Neither man was wearing a seat belt.

Simmons noted that charges in the wreck were pending further investigation, including the results of blood-alcohol tests on both drivers.

- Karen Voyles

Lake City man arrested in liquor store robbery

A Lake City man is accused of holding up a Columbia County liquor store last week.

Officers arrested Donald Jared Gibson, 24, for robbing the store off of County Road 242 at about 9 p.m. Thursday, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office reported.

The suspect entered the store while the clerk was in the restroom, according to officers. The employee returned to find an armed man in the store. The pair struggled and the robber fired one shot from the weapon. The clerk then gave up fighting with the robber and turned over an undisclosed amount of money.

Lake City Police Sgt. Keith Heston later made a traffic stop of a car matching the description of the robber's getaway vehicle on Montana Street. The car's occupant fled, leaving behind the stolen cash and an ID card with Gibson's name on it.

During another traffic stop early Friday, Columbia County Sheriff's Deputy Will Porter spotted Gibson in a car on U.S. 41 and CR 252, the Sheriff's Office reported. The suspect fled but was later located using a dog from the Baker Correctional Institution in a wooded area behind a home on CR 131.

Gibson is facing charges including aggravated assault, discharging a firearm in public, displaying a firearm while committing an offense, and fleeing and eluding law enforcement.

- Lise Fisher

Hearings set for utility rate increases

The Florida Public Service Commission will conduct customer service hearings Wednesday for customers of Aqua Utilities Florida, Inc. which has applied for an increase in rates.

Aqua is a water and wastewater utility providing service to 82 systems in Alachua, Brevard, DeSoto, Highlands, Lake, Lee, Marion, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia and Washington counties.

The hearings are intended to be a time for customers to comment on the proposed increases as well as any quality-of-service issues regarding Aqua. The hearings will be held Wednesday at:

10 a.m. in the Alachua County Board of Commissioners Board Room on the second floor at 12 SE 1st St. in Gainesville.

6 p.m. in the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Room at 4049 Reid St. in Palatka.

The commission's mission is to ensure that Florida's consumers receive their utilities in a safe, affordable, and reliable manner. To accomplish that goal, the commission regulates rates, has competitive market oversight, and monitors utility providers for safety, reliability and service.

For more information about the commission or the hearings, go to

- Karen Voyles

Man faces felony charge over laser

SARASOTA - A Sarasota County man, Bruce Donath, faces a felony charge after he shined a laser beam at a sheriff's helicopter and temporarily blinded the pilot.

According to an arrest report, the pilot was 1,000 feet in the air late Friday and looking for a robbery suspect when the beam disabled his night vision goggles..

- The Associated Press

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