Friday, July 23, 2010

Manatee man found guilty of killing woman

BRADENTON — A jury found a Manatee man guilty Friday night of shooting a 22-year-old woman in the head and dumping her body off a rural East Manatee road.

A judge sentenced Jose Luis Marrero, 34, to life in prison for first-degree murder and robbery after a jury found him guilty on both counts after four hours of deliberation.

Marrero shot Lauren Whitney Lichon, of Sarasota, in the chest in her car, and as she got out of the vehicle with one gunshot wound, he fired into her head, killing her. A mosquito control worker found Lichon’s body off Rye Wilderness Road on Feb. 5, 2009.

Marrero showed no emotion as he learned his fate, while his family and the Lichon family wept at the verdict.

Lichon’s brother, Eric, said his sister was beloved by many.

“She was much loved and justice was served,” he said.

Read more in Saturday’s edition of the Herald.
-- Robert Napper

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Study: Florida No. 3 in drive-by shootings

Florida had the third-highest number of drive-by shootings during a six-month period in 2008, according to a recently reduced study.

The survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, which was based on news accounts of drive-by shootings from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2008, found there were 48 drive-by shootings in Florida in which someone was killed or injured. Only California (148) and Texas (60) had more.

In the Florida cases,  10 people were killed and and 42 were injured. The report did not break down the numbers by county or municipality.

Nationally, during the study period there were a total of 733 drive-by shootings, leaving 154 people dead and 631 people injured.

The study authors said they did Google searches to identify cases, so it is likely that the number of shootings was underreported. Still, the authors said theirs is the "most comprehensive analysis of its type."

You can read the report here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reports: Bandits make off with copper from A/C units in south Manatee


MANATEE — Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies are investigating a series of copper thefts from residences in the southern part of the county Saturday morning, according to incident reports.

There were eight reports of stolen copper parts taken from air-conditioning units from homes in the following locations: 7100 block of 24th Court East, and 2200 through 2300 blocks of 72nd Avenue East.

Deputies believe the copper was taken between just after midnight and 4:30 a.m.

Thieves often steal copper to redeem it for cash at scrap metal yards, authorities say. As a result the air-conditioning units are often damaged and require replacement.

Anyone with any information about the thefts can contact the sheriff’s office at 747-3011 or remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers at (866)634-TIPS (8477).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A few headlines from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office

With a little luck, a lot of witness cooperation and victim not afraid to get wet, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office overnight and this morning was busy catching criminal suspects in the act of committing suspected crimes.

Here are the stories:
Sheriff: Manatee homeowner, burglar tumble into pool during struggle

 2 arrested after Parrish residents report break-in try

 Sheriff’s K-9 bites fleeing Manatee teen

Vandals strike at least 40 mailboxes in Palmetto

PALMETTO — Vandals were busy over a two-week period, knocking down or damaging at least 40 free-standing mailboxes in the Palmetto Mobile Home Park, in the 1200 block of Eighth Avenue West.

The hooligans first struck July 1, destroying 14 mailboxes, then followed that with more attacks last Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, according to Palmetto Police Department reports.

“The kids use some of our streets to cut through to 10th Street,” said Bill Bowling, a longtime resident of the park. “We can’t control those accesses because they’re public streets.”

According to Gary Sawtelle, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, there is a federal criminal statute that provides for imprisonment and fines for willful destruction of mailboxes.

Lt. Scott Tyler said the department was investigating the incidents and asked that anyone with information to contact the Palmetto Police Department at 723-4587.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Manatee woman struck, killed in pedestrian accident

MANATEE — A Manatee woman walking on a dark roadway was struck and killed by a car in a crash early Sunday morning, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

Troopers say at 2:20 a.m. Sunday, the 19-year-old woman walked in front of a two-door Mitsubishi while trying to cross 301 Boulevard, west of Ninth Street East. The car’s right front fender hit the woman and she later died at Manatee Memorial Hospital of injuries suffered in the collision.

The FHP report said the woman, who has not yet been identified, was wearing dark clothing and the 21-year-old driver did not see her. No charges will be filed, deputies said.

-- Robert Napper

Friday, July 2, 2010

FHP will be out in full force this weekend

The Florida Highway Patrol will have maximum presence on the state's roadways this July 4th holiday weekend, Friday morning through midnight July 5.

The dates coincide with Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a statewide traffic enforcement initiative that focuses on speeding, seat-belt and driving-under-the-influence violations. The campaign is part of a national program aimed at reducing the number of traffic crashes on interstate highways during holiday weekends.

“This initiative is part of a series of special enforcement efforts that help ensure the safety and well-being of motorists on Florida’s roadways,” said Colonel John Czernis, FHP director. “Our troopers will take appropriate enforcement action on those drivers who put themselves and others in danger. We want everyone to have a safe traveling experience in our state as they enjoy the holiday weekend.”

All uniformed FHP personnel, including those normally assigned to administrative duties, will patrol interstates and other major roadways during the four-day holiday period.

Read more in Saturday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.