Judge won't lift Fla. Keys gay marriage stay
MIAMI (AP) - A Florida Keys judge who ruled earlier that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional has denied a request to permit gay couples to marry in Monroe County over a pending state appeal.
Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia denied a motion Monday asking to lift an automatic stay triggered by the appeal. The judge ruled last week that the ban on same-sex marriage added to the state constitution by Florida voters in 2008 is discriminatory and violates gay people's right to equal treatment under the law.
Garcia ruled marriage licenses could be issued in Monroe County beginning Tuesday. That was blocked by an automatic stay triggered when Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi filed notice of the state's appeal.
Lawsuits challenging Florida's gay marriage ban also are pending in Miami-Dade County and Tallahassee federal court.
FSU addresses campus safety amid federal probe
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida State University is hiring a Title IX director and two sexual violence prevention coordinators before the fall term starts in five weeks.
Interim President Garnett Stokes tells the Tallahassee Democrat that the university is not waiting for a federal investigation to conclude before addressing campus safety and sexual assaults.
Stokes says the university has formed several committees to assess its response to sexual violence complaints and is preparing to make changes.
Florida State is one of 55 colleges and universities being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights for possible Title IX violations.
Federal officials also have questioned whether Florida State adequately investigated allegations that Heisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston sexually assaulted another student. After Tallahassee police and prosecutors investigated, Winston was not charged.
SunRail takes initial steps to extend to airport
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Department of Transportation has begun the process to eventually extend central Florida's new commuter train to Orlando International Airport.
Officials representing SunRail said Monday during a presentation to members of the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission that an initial request to enter project development was submitted last month to the Federal Transit Administration.
The proposed Phase 3 calls for a 5.5-mile extension of SunRail, using 3.5 miles of existing city-owned track and 2 miles of new track within airport property. It would connect with a planned $214 million intermodal center at OIA which the Federal Aviation Administration has approved a request to construct.
A key part of the project would link OIA with the private All Aboard Florida rail line that plans to run from Miami to Orlando.
Panhandle homicide suspect captured in Alabama
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - Florida Panhandle authorities say a man wanted in connection with three homicides has been captured in Alabama.
The Bay County Sheriff's Office tells The News Herald that Derrick Ray Thompson was taken into custody without incident early Tuesday in Troy, Alabama, on a warrant for the slaying of nightclub owner Allen Johnson.
Authorities say Thompson also was wanted for questioning in the deaths of a Milton couple.
The sheriff's office has scheduled a Tuesday afternoon news conference to release more details about Thompson's arrest.
Authorities issued a nationwide alert for Thompson and Johnson's truck after Johnson's body was discovered Monday in his Lynn Haven home. Santa Rosa County authorities say the bodies of the Milton couple were discovered Sunday in their home.
Airman killed in NC will be buried in Pensacola
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - An airman who died after being run over by a government vehicle during an Air Force training exercise will be buried in Florida's Panhandle.
A funeral will be held Friday morning at a Pensacola church for Senior Airman Timothy J. Wright. The service will be followed by a burial at Barrancas National Cemetery.
David Wright tells the Pensacola News Journal that the public is welcome to mourn the 30-year-old airman.
Officials at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, say several unit members who witnessed the accident last week attempted to revive Wright before emergency personnel arrived. The incident remains under investigation.
Wright was assigned to Pope's 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as an aeromedical evacuation technician. He previously served as an aerospace medical service technician at Travis Air Force Base, California.
Unilever will close Florida ice cream factory
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) - Consumer-goods giant Unilever is closing an ice cream factory in the Tampa Bay area and laying off roughly 210 people.
Unilever spokeswoman Jaime Stein tells the Tampa Bay Times that the company plans to shift its ice cream production to plants in Tennessee and Missouri.
The Pinellas Park plant will close between September and the end of the year. Stein says employees were notified about the closure two weeks ago.
The 55,000-square-foot factory produces Klondike, Good Humor and Popsicle frozen treats.
Unilever's ice cream sales stumbled in the U.S. last year, which the company blamed in a January report on "high levels of low-priced competition." CEO Paul Polman told a conference that the company's ice cream portfolio was the "main culprit" to blame for curbing Unilever's profitability.
2 swimmers drown in central Florida rip currents
MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) - Central Florida authorities are warning ocean swimmers to beware of rip currents after the deaths of two people over the weekend.
Brevard County Sheriff's Deputy Maria Fernez says Darrius Rodwell of Mims drowned Saturday and Jose Sanchez of Texas drowned Sunday. Sanchez's hometown was not released.
Brevard County Ocean Rescue Assistant Chief Eisen Witcher tells Florida Today that lifeguards rescued 19 people from the rip currents over the weekend.
Forecasters warned that rip current conditions will continue for the next several days.
Witcher urges swimmers at central Florida beaches to stay near lifeguards.
Police: Boy killed in crash, did not fall from car
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Tampa police say a 4-year-old boy initially believed to have fallen from a vehicle instead was the victim of a crash.
Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Tuesday that surveillance video from two cameras does not show how the child ended up in the road outside his apartment complex Sunday.
McElroy says that based on the boy's injuries, physical evidence at the scene, the surveillance footage and witness statements, it appears that the child was a victim of a hit-and-run or traffic crash.
Investigators have been searching for a dark green or black Ford Expedition. McElroy says it's possible that the driver did not realize the child had been hit.
A witness reported seeing the child fall from the vehicle, but police later said the videos made them question that information.
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