Around the Region - Jan. 31


Published: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 12:05 a.m.

POLICE BEAT

Murder suspect accepts plea deal

A Waldo man scheduled to go to trial Monday for a 2007 murder accepted a plea deal on Thursday.

Gregory Bruce Dove, 21, of Waldo, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder for the shooting death of Carl Arrington, 35, as well as attempted first-degree murder

Acting Circuit Court Judge David Reiman sentenced Dove to 25 years in prison and noted that Dove must serve a minimum of 20 years under current Florida laws covering the use of guns while committing crimes.

Arrington's wife told deputies that an intruder wearing a black bandana shot at the couple inside their Newberry home on July 10, 2007. Spencer Mann, spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, said the motive for the crime appeared to be robbery.

Carl Arrington's brother, Michael Arrington, 42, of Newberry, originally was charged in the case, but charges were dropped against him as the investigation continued.

— Karen Voyles

Putnam murderer sentenced to life

A Putnam County man has been sentenced to life in prison for his part in the murder of a disabled Melrose man.

In a plea deal, Toby Lee Lowry, 23, of Putnam County, was sentenced to three life sentences Friday morning after pleading guilty to murder, burglary and robbery in the slaying of James Thomas Stewart, 66.

Stewart, who had physical disabilities that included being hard of hearing, was robbed of his pickup truck and cash and murdered the evening of April 25, 2008. An autopsy showed he died of suffocation, but also that he had been beaten and stabbed. Prosecutors said he was apparently targeted because of his physical limitations, which would have made him easier to overpower than many other adults.

Now that Lowry has been sentenced, he is expected to testify against his teenage co-defendant — his former girlfriend, Morgan Amanda Leppert, 16.

During Lowry's sentencing on Friday morning, 7th Judicial Circuit Assistant State Attorney Chris France said Stewart's relatives did not speak, but Lowry told the court, "For what it's worth, I'm truly sorry for what I did."

— Karen Voyles

COMMUNITY

Students offered scholarship

Local college students interested in a $1,200 scholarship through the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections can submit an application to Alachua County Supervisor Pam Carpenter by March 20.

The association will award three $1,200 scholarships to full-time students attending an accredited Florida university or college.

Applicants must be a junior or senior and be majoring in political science, public or business administration major or journalism/mass communications.

Applicants must demonstrate financial need and furnish a financial statement that shows their own contribution to their educational expenses.

Also needed are two current letters of recommendation.

Applicants must submit a résumé of their high school and/or college activities and their community service activities, maintain at least a "C" average for the previous year, be a U.S. citizen and a resident of Florida for two years preceding the academic year for which the application is made, and be a registered voter.

Applications are available online at VoteAlachua.com. Applications must be submitted to the supervisor of the county in which the applicant is registered to vote.

Alachua County applications will be reviewed and one finalist will be forwarded to the association to represent Alachua County.

— Cindy Swirko

School celebrates center completion

Williams Elementary School marks the completion of renovation work on the school's media center with a ceremony today.

School Board member Barbara Sharpe and members of the school's PTA, who lobbied the school district to fund the project, will attend. The ceremony is at 11 a.m. and a school carnival will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Williams Elementary is at 1245 SE 7th Ave.

— Staff report

Publix offering weather radio help

Have you got a weather radio somewhere around the house that is not being used because you're not sure how to program it?

If so, help will be available today at Gainesville area Publix stores.

Alachua County Emergency Management is encouraging residents to bring their weather radios to an area Publix store this morning for free programming help.

Local ham radio operators from the Gainesville Amateur Radio Society and the Gator Amateur Radio Club will be at the stores from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. programming weather radios at no cost.

The event is being held now to help prepare residents for the most active tornado season in Florida, which runs from February through April.

In a news release about the weather radio event, county emergency management officials said violent tornadoes "are just as likely to occur after midnight as they are in the afternoon. This unique feature makes these tornadoes more dangerous, because most people are asleep after midnight and cannot receive weather warnings relayed by commercial radio or television stations."

Having a weather radio programmed to emit a loud tone during a tornado warning is one way to ensure you will receive tornado information overnight.

— Karen Voyles

hhgregg to honor Circuit gift cards

Electronics retailer hhgregg has announced it will accept gift cards and service warranties issued by Circuit City, which announced in January it would close all its stores.

hhgregg will accept Circuit City gift cards through April 1, according to a press release. The gift cards can account for up to 20 percent of the overall price of an hhgregg purchase.

The retailer will also help arrange service for items purchased at Circuit City, as long as those items are under factory warranty and customers can show proof of purchase.

Circuit City does not sponsor or endorse the promotions, according to the release.

To arrange a service appointment, customers can call hhgregg's customer service line at 800-284-7344.

The retailer has locations in Florida and 10 other states, with stores both in Gainesville and Ocala.

— Travis Pillow

WEATHER

Freeze watch for area continues

The chilly blast with freezing overnight temperatures for all of North Florida is not behind us yet.

The National Weather Service office in Jacksonville has issued a freeze warning until 9 a.m. today and a freeze watch tonight through Sunday morning for Alachua, Marion and all other North Florida counties.

Forecasters said a cold high pressure system covering the region brought the sub- freezing temperatures.

Three to five hours of temperatures below 32 degrees were expected before 9 a.m. today with an overnight low likely in the mid-20s.

A light freeze event is forecast for tonight, with the mercury dipping to the upper 20s before dawn on Sunday.

A heavy frost is also expected Sunday morning.

— Karen Voyles

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