|Mermaids in Orlando © Orlando Sentinel|
On the positive side, Orlando's hosting the Mer-Palooza Mermaid Convention. No matter how I try to prevent it or at least ignore it, Florida madness abounds, sometimes funny, often not. So, grab your coffee and let's check the headlines.
No Good Deed…
Hallandale Beach, FL. You may have heard about the heroic lifeguard, Tomas Lopez, who saved a life and lost his job. His Orlando employer, Jeff Ellis and Associates, fired him for saving a man outside the area he was paid to oversee. When six fellow guards said they'd do the same thing, Ellis fired them too. After bad publicity, Ellis tentatively offered Lopez his minimum wage job back, which he declined.
You can save a life, but you can't save a company without soul.
Which Way the Wind Blows
Miami, FL In what's called 'mob seduction', an Eastern European criminal ring imported women from former Soviet Bloc countries, making them collude in fleecing men at the notorious Club Tangia. Victims included a weatherman, taken to the tune of $43,712.25.
The memory forecast is dull to partly cloudy.
Amateur Detective (for Real)
Summerfield, FL I wish I could say this is a light-hearted story– it isn't– but it's one of possible vindication. In 2008, Rodney Stanger murdered his long-time girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison. Her sister, Bonnie Kiernan, finally arrived a few months ago to clean out her sister's things… and believes she uncovered evidence Stanger kidnapped and killed a teen lifeguard twelve years earlier. Now the pros have arrived and among other things, opened a safety deposit box Ms Kiernan uncovered.
Losing a family member is a horrid event, but I hope Bonnie's investigative work helps others.
Shoot First / Stand Your Ground Law
Sanford, FL SleuthSayers was one of the first sites to report on the Trayvon Martin case, in particular detailing Florida's senseless Stand Your Ground law. George Zimmerman's attorney will appear at a preliminary hearing, seeking to have charges dismissed, arguing Florida law is clearly on their side. After allegedly lying about finances, Zimmerman and his lawyer purportedly plowed through support and defense funds, some apparently raised via neo-Nazi groups, and is now asking the public to pay for his defense.
To recap, the Shoot First / Stand Your Ground law, reviled by police and prosecutors, supplants the castle doctrine, which meant you have a right to defend your home and your person. But the new law sets a far lower, more aggressive standard, which results in approximately a hundred acquittals and dismissals a year, triple what it was. This law allows people to get away with murder by claiming (like Zimmerman) they were afraid.
We mentioned previous incidents including an unprosecuted case of a double homicide of two unarmed men. Since then, Floridians continue happily shooting one another. Read on.
Sanford, FL A woman in Sanford– the town where Trayvon was shot– invoked the Stand Your Ground law when she killed her husband. She eventually admitted she self-inflicted a knife wound. Her hearing is being conducted by the same judge assigned to the George Zimmerman case.
Cape Coral, FL A man reportedly shot an unarmed door-to-door salesman, once in the torso and then in the back of the head. Invoking the Stand Your Ground law, he told officers, "I was in fear."
Port St. Joe, FL When a Florida Panhandle man knocked on the door of another to complain about racial epithets, the resident shot the complainant in the face, then sat down to dinner. He seemed surprised by all the fuss.
Bithlo, FL Robert Pascale and Michael Garay weren't able to invoke the new law due to a couple of technicalities. First, they claimed their fear was for neighborhood children. Second, they killed the wrong man, thinking he was a sex offender. Pascale doesn't feel remorseful, apparently believing God is on his side.
Pulling Deadly Strings
Largo, FL The owner of a children's entertainment business called Puppets Plus was arrested, apparently hungry for children… literally. It may have been a close call, but crime students might remember Albert Fish who had a taste for children. It's been suggested Fish became the inspiration for Hannibal Lector.
Setting the Bar Code Low
Lauderhill, FL A mother had a nice little eBay business that pulled in more than $30,000 a month. The only problem is that she's accused of effectively stealing the products from Target and WalMart by switching UPC labels.
And you thought those greeters weren't paying attention.
Tit for Tat
Fort McCoy, FL Police tried to stop a speeding Ford pickup that accelerated, precipitating a high-speed chase. It turns out the speeder was a half-naked teaching assistant on the wedded side of married.
Despite an annoyed husband, boyfriend, and employer, she still managed to update her Facebook status saying it ain't so. (Oops, wedding anniversary next month)
The Internet Cloud
West Palm Beach, FL And now, a peaceful wrap-up more suitable for a pleasant Sunday. Here's a 'fire rainbow' over Florida, not a true rainbow, but an iridescent cloud.