Pence courts evangelical Latino voters in Florida
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence tried to solidify support from Latino evangelicals during a central Florida campaign stop. During Thursday's event at Nacion de Fe, a church in the Orlando area, Pence said he and President Donald Trump deserve reelection because of a strong economy, a robust military and their record on religious liberty. Evangelicals in attendance said they are enthusiastic about the Trump-Pence ticket for a second term because of the candidates' views on abortion and religion. Even attracting a small slice of evangelical Latinos could help Trump win Florida again. He won the state by 1.2 percentage points in 2016.
Florida high court sides with governor on felon voter rights
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court is siding with Gov. Ron DeSantis in a legal dispute over restoring voting rights to felons with unpaid fines. The court says in an advisory opinion that only felons who have fully completed their sentences can regain access to the ballot box under the voter approved ballot measure known as Amendment 4. According to the court, a completed sentence means all outstanding financial obligations must have also been satisfied. The opinion released Thursday has no immediate legal consequence but could influence ongoing legal action. Voter rights groups have sued the state in federal court, but a trial isn't expected until spring.
Therapist charged with killing family faced fraud probe
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A physical therapist charged with killing his wife, three children and dog in a home near Walt Disney World was being investigated for health care fraud in Connecticut. Documents unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Connecticut show Anthony Todt was being investigated by federal agents for submitting fraudulent claims for physical therapy. According to agents, the allegations involved Todt and his Colchester, Connecticut-base clinics submitting claims to Medicaid and private insurers for physical therapy services that weren't given to patients. Todt was charged Wednesday with the deaths of his wife, Megan, and their three children ranging in ages from 4 to 13.
Florida seeks to bar insurers from accessing DNA test data
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The popularity of home DNA testing kits is prompting concern among some Florida lawmakers about privacy concerns. A proposal that would bar insurance companies from discriminating against people with certain genetic markers is advancing through the Florida House. While federal law already prevents health insurers from accessing a patient's genetic code, the Florida proposal would bar life insurers from denying policies based on genetic testing. On Thursday, a state House committee unanimously endorsed the proposal to prevent insurers from denying policies or setting premiums based on the genetic markers that might be discovered through the DNA kits.
RIGHT WHALES-INJURED CALF
Wounded baby whale gets antibiotic shot to improve grim odds
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Scientists have given an antibiotic shot to a badly injured baby whale off the coast of Florida, hoping to improve what they say are grim odds for the endangered sea animal. Barb Zoodsma of the National Marine Fisheries Service said Thursday a boat crewed by experts injected the right whale calf in waters off Fernandina Beach using a syringe fired from an air gun. The young whale has severe cuts, likely caused by a boat propeller, on top of its head and to its mouth. An aerial survey team first spotted the wounded whale and its mother off the coast of Georgia last week. The boat crew that injected the whale calf Wednesday included veterinarian Hendrik Nollens. He said odds are still against the baby whale surviving.
SMUGGLING CHINESE MIGRANTS
Feds: Smugglers ferry Chinese migrants to Florida in yachts
MIAMI (AP) — Federal prosecutors say authorities have thwarted two separate attempts by smugglers to bring Chinese migrants illegally into the U.S. through Florida aboard yachts. The Miami Herald first reported that three men are facing human smuggling charges in federal courts in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. They are accused of ferrying 26 Chinese migrants from the Bahamas in two unrelated cases where authorities confiscated more than $300,000. In the most recent detention, the Coast Guard caught 51-year-old Rocco Oppedisano operating a yacht with 14 Chinese passengers and one Bahamian. The Italian man appeared before a judge Wednesday and is scheduled for arraignment next week.
NURSING HOME DEATHS
Woman released decades after Michigan nursing home deaths
WALKER, Mich. (AP) — A woman who spent 30 years in prison for the deaths of residents at a Michigan nursing home has been released on parole. Relatives of victims had sued to keep Catherine Wood locked up, but a judge in October said he wouldn't block the parole board's decision. Five people were suffocated at the Alpine Manor Nursing Home in Walker, Michigan, in the late 1980s. Wood cooperated with investigators and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy. She had been housed at a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, to separate her from a co-defendant, Gwendolyn Graham. Graham is serving a life sentence.
Florida bill would take new look at drug crime sentencing
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida could ease penalties for possessing small amounts of drugs and eliminate some mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers in certain circumstances. The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would take a new approach to drug sentencing. The bill would give judges more discretion in sentencing all but the worst drug dealers. People possessing small amounts of any drug other than fentanyl would face no more than 12 months in county jail. Judges would no longer be bound to mandatory minimum sentences for people selling smaller amounts of drugs.
DAY CARE WORKER ARRESTED
Report: Day care teacher arrested after breaking boy's leg
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a day care teacher in Florida forcefully picked up a crying 3-year-old boy in her care, carried him across the room dropped him on the floor and broke his leg. Boca Raton police said in an arrest report the incident happened last week after rain cut short playtime and the child was angry that he had to come inside. The 24-year-old teacher was fired Friday for lying about the child's injury. When the day care owner saw the classroom video on Sunday, she contacted authorities. The teacher was arrested Tuesday on an aggravated child abuse charge.
TEENS ARRESTED-SNAPCHAT VIDEO
Deputies: Teens forced boy to strip, held him at gunpoint