The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida on November 19, 1987 · 93
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The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida · 93

Tampa, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 19, 1987
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UtPD Serving Florida's crossroads and north Florida i Marion Ocala , i Ounnsllon Thursday, November 19, 1987 A section of The Tampa Tribune KM Attorney wanted in 1967 case By PAUL HANSON Tribune Staff Writer OCALA A former attorney awaiting retrial on a first-degree murder charge in Marion County is wanted by authorities in South Carolina in connection with the 1967 death of his wife. Ray Taylor was convicted in 1980 of first-degree murder and aggravated battery in Marion County but those convictions were overturned in August by a state appellate court. Taylor is scheduled for a new trial Jan. 11 on those charges. On Wednesday, the 5th Circuit State Attorney's Office received a letter from the Beaufort County, S.C., Sheriff's Office asking that Taylor be held for possible prosecution in that state. Attached to the letter were copies of a 1980 arrest warrant issued in South Carolina against Taylor. The warrant charges that Taylor drowned his wife, Merrilee Taylor, on Aug. 14, 1967. The Taylors had been married about 1 y2 months when the woman died. Taylor claimed at the time that she fell through a hole in a pier at Harbour Island, in Beaufort County, S.C., according to investigative records. The state of South Carolina wants to extradite Taylor to face charges there, according to the letter, which was signed by Lt. Robert Huston of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. In Marion County, Taylor was charged in the Jan. 8, 1977, slaying of Walter Scott, who was shot to death on U.S. 27, about 17 miles west of Ocala. Taylor was convicted of that murder on Oct. 9, 1980, and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. Taylor was an attorney practicing in the area when Scott was killed and moved to Dayton, Tenn., shortly after Scott's death. He was a prosecutor there when he was arrested three years later and charged with first-degree murder. In overturning Taylor's convictions, the 5th District Court of Appeal ruled that Taylor had not received a fair trial because jurors were not sequestered while deliberating their verdict in that case. Jurors in that trial deliberated about 11 hours, beginning on a Tuesday night and returned their verdict the following Thursday morning. Circuit Judge Wallace E. Sturgis denied a defense request to sequester the jurors during those deliberations. At the time of that conviction, the sequestering of jurors during deliberations was up to the judge's discretion. Since then, Florida courts have ruled that jurors in capital cases must be sequestered whenever the defense makes such a request. Taylor, who has repeatedly said he is innocent of the charges, acted as his own attorney in filing the appeal that got his conviction over-See ATTORNEY, Page 2 Ocala man offered city manager post By VALERI OLIVER Tribune Staff Writer CRYSTAL RIVER Dennis L. Finch, Ocala's assistant engineer, was selected as the Crystal River City Council's choice for their new city manager in a 3-2 vote Tuesday night. But Finch said Wednesday morning he may wait a day or two before deciding whether to accept the job. "I don't know," Finch, 34, said when told Wednesday he had been selected. "I guess that's good news." City officials have been trying to end an almost three-month search for a replacement for John Kelly, who resigned in August. Finch said he did not intend to make an immediate decision on whether to accept the job. He said he needed to know more about the council members themselves before agreeing to accept the job. "I don't plan to just go there for three months and leave," he said. Council members voting in favor of Finch's hiring were Earnest 01-sen, Helen Spivey and Robert Holmes. All three had said Finch was among their top two favorites for the post. Councilman Raddie Jones and Council President Mar-jorie Copeland each voted against Finch's hiring for the $32,500-a-year job. The selection was made after seven candidates were interviewed . ' ' f ' - 4'"".. - - . , ' ' , . ' , "' , ' A 1-.,. , V Verdict returned Penny M. Hoffman cries as the jury delivers the verdict in her manslaughter trial Wednesday afternoon at the Marion County Courthouse. Hoffman, the mother of an 11- HRS revokes child care center's license after charges of abuse A UPI Report CRESTVIEW A state agency decided Wednesday to revoke the license of a child care center and try to shut down the facility in the wake of charges that children were caged in playpens and fed crumbs from the floor. "I have just signed and sent a letter of revocation of the license," said Chuck Bates, assistant district administrator for the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services in Pensacola. "In addition to that, we will be seeking a temporary injunction for immediate closure of the center." Lucy Josephine Anderson, 48, who operates Anderson's Child Care Center, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with one count of during a special meeting. "He does have the engineering background that we were looking for," Holmes said of Finch. Said Spivey, "I just feel he's right. This is what we need." Both Jones and Copeland selected other candidates as their favorites. Neither expressed negative feelings about Finch's hiring. Finch has been an assistant engineer for Ocala since May 1978. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in civil engineering, and is now pursuing a master's degree in political science, specifically public administration. During his interview Tuesday, Finch told the council he believed Crystal River's greatest challenge is to control growth. "That's why I applied for the job. I feel a lot of my engineering experience will help in these problems," he said. Council members have expressed concern over a 1,500-unit housing development to be located just outside the city limits. At a Nov. 24 meeting, the council will draft a resolution expressing those concerns about Betz Farm. Finch indicated he favored orderly growth but also understands the political implications of making tough choices. "Florida has to control growth. We can't just let it run rampant or See FINCH, Page 2 Tribune photograph by KYLE DANACEAU month-old boy who drowned in a mop bucket last summer, was convicted of misdemeanor criminal negligence. See story, FLORIDA section. aggravated child abuse, said Crest-view police Sgt. Travis Gillihan. Anderson was released on $5,000 bond about an hour after her arrest. The center temporarily lost its license in 1985, but Bates said he was not familiar with the details. Newspaper reports at the time said HRS cited background checks on people associated with the facility. Anderson runs the 15-year-old center from her home. It has been operating under a provisional license issued by HRS and currently has an enrollment of 16 children. Bates said the revocation results from alleged abuse incidents involving "sanitation and safety, nutritional practices, access to child care facilities and child discipline." He said it involved a number of chil Sliding into shape . . ' i Karl Bailey of Ocala demonstrates as he does some push-ups on a slide at works nearby, says the slide provides a that slides aren't just for kids anymore Tuscawilla Park in Ocala. Bailey, who good workout. dren who were at the center around Nov. 11-13, and on prior dates. The Fort Walton Beach Playground Daily News reported Wednesday that employee Debbie Underwood wrote in an affidavit that a boy was cut on the chin when his head was pushed on the floor. She said another boy "eats crumbs off the floor and drinks soured milk." The newspaper said former employee Lisa Willis wrote in an affidavit that children who cried a lot were "put under a playpen on hardwood floor with heat vents turned off." Willis wrote that she swept a pile of crumbs that was saved in a pie pan and fed to a boy. She also said she saw the owner slam the heads of three children against the wood floor. I v .t - n -- .x. - ' j Sewsige plaint still ffadimg roadblocks By JOSEPH KAYS Tribune Staff Writer OCALA City officials are encouraged about prospects for a proposed sewage treatment plant after a recent meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' district engineer in Florida, but intervention from Washington and the lifting of a federal injunction are still needed to advance the project. Col. Robert Herndon told city officials Friday that the corps will not oppose the city's attempts to have a federal injunction lifted so that it can discharge treated sewage onto about 1,000 acres of land originally intended for use as the Cross Florida Barge Canal, said City Manager Scotty Andrews. But the corps still maintains that it cannot grant an easement across the land until a management plan ordered by Congress as part of the law removing authorization for the barge canal is completed, possibly as late as 1991, Andrews said. "The corps is interpreting this law to say that unless and until the management plan is done, it does not have the authority to grant easements," said Mike Troy, legislative director for U.S. Rep. Kenneth EPA says good riddance to radon By JIM TWITTY Tribune Staff Writer INVERNESS The Environmental Protection Agency is paying for studies in Marion, Alachua and Polk counties to determine the best ways to rid houses of deadly radon gas. The studies will cost an estimated $500,000. The studies are being made at the request of the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services to help develop procedures for decontaminating older buildings, state radiation control director Lyle Jerrett said. The information could also be helpful in modifying building codes to make new structures radon-proof, he added. The EPA agreed to fund the studies, Jerrett said, on condition the state pass on its findings to county and city governments working to reduce the health hazards in their communities. The first study is already under way in Polk County, and the Marion and Alachua study is expected to start by the first of next year. Jerrett said it may be several years before all the data from the studies is analyzed. But, he added, "We are going to solve the problem." "Buddy" MacKay, D-Ocala. "I don't think that's accurate," Troy said. Troy said the law clearly authorizes the corps to come up with a process for granting easements across barge canal lands, but he added that the corps already has the authority to grant such easements under other laws. "The fact that it is included as part of the management plan does not exclude the corps from granting the easements under the present law," he said. Troy also criticized the corps for allowing implementation of the management plan to hold up the granting of. easements. He noted that the plan, which was to have been completed by the beginning of this month, has not yet been started. "It's as though the corps is citing it's own procrastination as reason for not granting the easements," Troy said. "Congress said this summer that the study should occur in the routine course of business for the corps." Councilman Mike Finn told the city council Tuesday night that MacKay has suggested the law See SEWAGE, Page 2 Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that occurs when radium decays. Lengthy exposure in large enough doses has been shown to cause lung cancer. Health officials say daily exposure to 4 picocuries per liter of air, the maximum concentration deemed safe by the EPA, is roughly equivalent to smoking one-half pack ' of cigarettes a day. Jerrett said the three counties in different parts of the state and with different geology were chosen for the studies because they : were among the counties with the highest residential concentrations of radon in previous statewide tests. About 30 houses in the three counties that have shown elevated radon levels in previous testing, and continue to have high readings, will be inspected to find out how the gas is getting inside. Once the pathways are identified, private contractors will experiment with different ways to reduce concentrations to acceptable levels. All structural improvements and any mitigating devices installed by the contractors will be left in place at no cost to the home owner when the study ends. The EPA has farmed out the See STUDIES, Page 2 .v. i i -ttj Tribune photograph by KYLE DANACEAU

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