Around the region for Sept. 29, 2012


Published: Friday, September 28, 2012 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 28, 2012 at 6:26 p.m.

POLICE BEAT

Hit-and-run accident kills Suwannee man

A Suwannee County man was killed Wednesday night in a hit-and-run accident that occurred when he was walking on a road to talk to a tow-truck driver that was pulling his vehicle out of the mud, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Dead is Steve Wayne Mathis, 52, of Wellborn, FHP reported in a news release.

The accident occurred about 9:55 p.m. on Suwannee County Road 137 north of 200th Street.

Mathis was walking southwesterly into the northbound lane of CR 137 to talk to the tow-truck driver when he was hit by a white car of unknown make or model. The driver did not stop, FHP reported.

Mathis died at the scene. Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call FHP.

— Cindy Swirko

Newberry man charged with child sex battery

A Newberry man was arrested Thursday on allegations he sexually battered a 2-year-old girl, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Charlie G. Curry, 18, of 327 NW 269th Terrace, was charged with one count of sexual assault of a person under the age of 12, according to his arrest report.

Curry is an acquaintance of the victim’s mother and is accused of committing the act on Sept. 12, the report states. Curry told officers he had been drinking and fell asleep at the house. He later went into the bedroom where the girl was sleeping with her 4-year-old brother and committed a sexual act on her, the report states.

The boy witnessed the act, according to the report.

— Cindy Swirko

Area robbery suspect arrested in Ocala

A man suspected in a robbery at a Gainesville hotel was arrested Thursday afternoon in Ocala, reported Deputy U.S. Marshal Bryon Carroll.

Apprehended by members of the Marshal’s Regional Fugitive Task Force was Joshua Wilson, 22, Carroll reported in a news release.

A warrant was issued on Tuesday for Wilson’s arrest in connection with the Sunday robbery of a man at the Knights Inn at 2820 NW 13th St. The victim was pistol-whipped during the robbery, Carroll reported.

The Gainesville Police Department and Alachua County Sheriff’s Office received information that Wilson was possibly at a house in Ocala. Officers later saw him going into the house. With assistance from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, officers surrounded the house and ordered Wilson to come out. He complied and was arrested.

— Cindy Swirko

STATE

Remains of Florida man missing in WWII identified

MARIANNA — Authorities have identified the remains of a Florida Panhandle man declared missing in action in World War II.

The Department of Defense said Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Samuel Lunday of Marianna was going to be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Officials said Lunday and four other U.S. servicemen lost radio contact as their aircraft flew from China to India in April 1943. As the U.S. fought Japan, Army Air Forces cargo planes based in India ferried supplies over the Himalayas to American bases in China.

Officials said an American discovered the wreckage of Lunday’s plane in 2003 while hiking near Chabua, India. Lunday’s remains were identified when DNA evidence matched samples from Lunday’s nephews. According to the Defense Department, more than 73,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from World War II.

— The Associated Press

Car of missing Walmart worker found in pond

ORMOND BEACH — The car belonging to a missing Walmart worker has been found in a retention pond in Ormond Beach.

Authorities weren’t able to identify a body found inside the car Thursday afternoon. An autopsy was planned Friday.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the pond is not far from 79-year-old Rose Bruce’s apartment.

Bruce went missing after her shift ended at 10 p.m. Monday. Daughter-in-law Cathy Ryan also works at Walmart and says Bruce was supposed to return to pick her up about 11 p.m. When Bruce didn’t show up, Ryan eventually walked home. She found the door unlocked and the apartment filled with smoke from dinner burning in the oven. Authorities don’t believe foul play was involved.

— The Associated Press

Teen charged with killing brother back in court

JACKSONVILLE — Lawyers for a Jacksonville teen charged with first-degree murder are trying to get the charge dismissed.

Cristian Fernandez, who was 12 when he was arrested and charged with killing his 2-year-old half-brother, was in court Friday. Judge Mallory Cooper heard from Fernandez’s lawyers and from prosecutors and said she is considering the motion. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 8.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that it’s unconstitutional for juvenile offenders to get mandatory life sentences without parole — which is currently the only sentence available for juvenile offenders if convicted in Florida.

Prosecutors said that the old Florida law that called for a 25-year-to-life sentence could apply.

Because of that, Fernandez’s defense attorneys say they can’t advise their client what kind of sentence he could face.

— The Associated Press

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