Around the region – Jan. 20

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:22 p.m.


Woman robs store in Dixie County

A gun-wielding, masked woman held up a convenience store in Dixie County on Tuesday night.

The woman walked into the Trading Post on Northeast State Road 349 around 9 p.m. armed with a semi-automatic handgun, according to the Dixie County Sheriff's Office.

She left after the clerk handed her an undisclosed amount of cash.

The clerk told deputies the woman may have left in an SUV.

Investigators said the woman was wearing gloves and what appeared to be a loose-fitting, hooded, gray sweatshirt and gloves.

She was described as having a thin to medium build and was about 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call sheriff's investigators at 498-1245.

— Karen Voyles

FHP trying to ID man hit, killed while on bike

The Florida Highway Patrol is asking for help identifying a bicyclist who died after being hit by a car outside Williston on Tuesday.

According to FHP, the Hispanic man was riding a Raleigh brand bicycle north on U.S. 441 about four miles north of Williston. He was ejected from the bike after it was hit by the right front of a 2006 Nissan sedan, according to FHP Trooper David Roberts.

The Nissan driver, Marvin Gunn, 26, of Levy County, was not injured, Roberts said.

The crash happened about about 5:45 p.m. and the bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene, according to FHP.

Trooper said the bike rider was known in and around Levy County as Asencion Beltran. He was about 51 years old, approximately 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 160 pounds, according to FHP.

Anyone with more information about the man, including where he may have been living, is asked to call FHP at 800-387-1290.

— Karen Voyles

Woman turns up missing overnight

A search is under way for a woman who disappeared from her daughter's home in the middle of the night.

According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, Juliann Spates, who also is known as Juliann Cannon, left the home in the 6900 block of West University Avenue in the middle of the night while other family members were asleep.

Relatives told deputies that Spates has some medical problems and is unable to care for herself.

They also said Spates has said that she was considering going to Palatka.

Spates, 51, was likely wearing a gray jacket and a black wig when she left and apparently did not take any additional clothing or her medications with her.

According to her relatives, Spates often goes to the RTS bus station in downtown Gainesville as well as to shopping centers on Newberry and Tower roads.

Anyone with information about Spates is asked to call detectives at 367-4180.

— Karen Voyles


Plan for wildlife area gets public hearing

A proposed 10-year plan for the Andrews Wildlife Management Area in Levy County is now ready for public comments and questions.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will hold a public hearing on the plan Jan. 27 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Fanning Springs city office, 17651 NW 90th Court in Fanning Springs.

The meeting will begin with a presentation by FWC staff and will be followed by a public question-and-answer session.

Those interested in previewing the draft plan should contact the FWC's Conservation Acquisition and Planning group by calling David Alden at 850-487-9588 or Larame Ferry at 850-487-9102.

Requests also can be sent to Ferry's e-mail at

— Karen Voyles

Hearing will be held on GPD, ACSO unification

Alachua County residents with something to say about a proposal to hold a referendum on unifying the Gainesville Police Department and Alachua County Sheriff's Office will get their chance later this month.

But they must sign up for the opportunity to speak up.

The Alachua County legislative delegation will hold a hearing Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Thomas Center.

Lawmakers want to hear from the public and talk about a proposed bill that would "establish a commission to determine the merits of having a local referendum on the unification."

Anyone who wants to talk to the delegation must contact Michelle Sherfield at or 955-3083.

— Karen Voyles


Man who fought gay adoption ban adopts

MIAMI — A homosexual Miami man has officially adopted two brothers in a case that overturned Florida's three-decade ban on gay adoptions.

Martin Gill and his partner were the boys' foster parents for six years. Gill officially adopted the two boys Wednesday.

Gill and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state, calling the ban unconstitutional. The 3rd District Court of Appeal agreed in a ruling last year. The state decided not to appeal.

Gill said he is thrilled they are "officially a family in the eyes of the law."

The prohibition was enacted in 1977 and court records indicate it's the only law of its kind in the United States.

The Department of Children and Families changed its forms so adoptive parents aren't asked if they're homosexuals.

— The Associated Press

Judge temporarily seals ex Fla. GOP chair's book

ORLANDO — A judge has agreed to temporarily seal a book manuscript by the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, who has been charged with funneling party money into his personal accounts.

Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge Marc Lubet ordered the writings temporarily sealed on Wednesday.

Jim Greer was arrested last year on six felonies, including theft, organized fraud and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently awaiting trial.

Greer had asked the judge to stop prosecutors from using the document, which was found on one of several computers agents confiscated from his home when he was arrested.

Agents say the manuscript pertains to Greer's knowledge of former Gov. Charlie Crist and the right-wing conservative domination of the Republican Party.

— The Associated Press

Private school bus overturns in north Fla.

JACKSONVILLE — Authorities say a private school bus with kids aboard overturned this morning in north Florida.

Authorities on Wednesday say a boy and the female driver were taken to hospitals for injuries. They were not severe.

The boy was talking when authorities arrived and all the others were out of the bus.

Authorities say the bus skidded on the wet road.

— The Associated Press

Woman pleads insanity in school lockdown

FORT LAUDERDALE — A Florida woman accused of making threats that triggered a November lockdown of all Broward County schools is planning an insanity defense.

Court papers filed Tuesday indicate that 48-year-old Ellisa Martinez suffered brain injury in a 1997 car accident and has had neurological problems since. Her attorney says Martinez was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of her acts.

The FBI says Martinez sent conservative talk show host Joyce Kaufman e-mails Nov. 10 warning something big was going to happen, possibly at a school. The e-mail also mentioned gun rights and the Second Amendment.

Martinez pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

— The Associated Press

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