5 Things to Know in Florida for March 19

Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.

MAN GETS LIFE FOR KILLING 2 VICTIMS NEAR PANHANDLE TRAIL

An Alabama man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing two people near a scenic Florida Panhandle trail. A Leon County judge sentenced 32-year-old Joseph Oakes on Wednesday after he pleaded no contest to the murders. Prosecutors had previously wanted the death penalty. Oakes’ girlfriend — 43-year-old Jennifer Ellis — faces two counts of being an accessory after the fact of capital felony for helping to clean the crime scene.

FEDERAL OFFICIALS TO INVESTIGATE MOLESTATION CASE

Federal civil rights officials are investigating the Pinellas County School District for its handling of a January molestation case involving a 12-year-old girl with a hearing disability. A lawyer for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights wrote to the girl’s parents last week, informing them investigators will look at three areas where John Hopkins Middle School administrators might have violated federal law regarding sexual discrimination and disability harassment in schools.

COMMITTEE OPPOSES SELLING WHISKEY ON GROCERY STORE AISLES

A Florida Senate committee’s action casts doubt on whether Floridians will be able to buy whiskey in the same grocery store aisles as beer and wine. The Regulated Industries Committee amended a bill Wednesday that would have allowed retailers to combine their liquor and grocery sales in the same store. The bill now allows only a connecting door between a grocery store and its affiliated liquor store.

POLICE OFFICER SHOOTS ARMED MAN IN TALLAHASSEE

A Tallahassee police office fatally shot a man who was brandishing a handgun in a park. Police were called to the Lake Ella park around 6:55 p.m. Wednesday. The first officer to arrive approached the man who was walking in the street. Police say an altercation took place and the officer shot the man. Emergency crews tried to revive him, but the man died at the scene. Authorities say a handgun belonging to the man was recovered by the department’s Violent Crimes and Forensics Unit.

FAMILY SURVIVES HOUSE FIRE, DIES IN CAR CRASH

Four members of a Miami-Dade County family killed in a traffic crash had recently survived a house fire. CBS 4 reports 39-year-old Carolina Ortiz and her three children — ages 17, 16 and 14 — died early Tuesday when their car hit a trailer that had become dislodged and was then hit by another truck. The family was living in South Bay near Lake Okeechobee since a fire destroyed their home in September. A friend told the television station Ortiz had been driving her children to school in Miami-Dade County every morning.

 

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