After about four hours of deliberating, the jurors decided Marco Antonio Parilla, Jr. would be sentenced to life in prison for killing Tarpon Springs officer Charles Kondek. But when the court clerk read the verdict in court, he announced Parilla had been sentenced to death! Of course the Kondek family was elated and the courtroom erupted in cheers. But realizing the mistake, the jurors were horrified. After noticing the error, Pinellas Circuit judge Joseph Bulone instructed the jurors to fill out a new form. This time, it read life in prison. It's unclear what exactly led to the error. Most jurors did not return a reporter's calls or declined to comment. For Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett and defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand, this is the first time they've seen a wrong sentence announced in a capital case. The jury's decision wasn't what the Kondek family hoped for. Shortly after the verdict, Kondek's widow, Teresa, said the mishap "devastated" her family. Parilla shot and killed Kondek, a 17-year veteran, while he was responding to a noise complaint on Dec. 21, 2014. (TampaBay.com)
You Won't Believe Who's Getting Fan Mail
This will turn your stomach. Nikolas Cruz - the Parkland shooter - is getting stacks of fan mail, including love letters and lewd photos, mostly from women. In one sent from Texas, the writer identifies herself as an 18-year-old high school senior before sharing her breast size. "Your eyes are beautiful and the freckles on your face make you so handsome," she writes. A letter sent by a woman in Chicago was accompanied by nine photos. One showed cleavage, another showed a bikini-clad woman eating a Popsicle. Other letters provide words of encouragement, offers of friendship, or money to be added to Cruz's commissary account, hovering around $800. Howard Finkelstein, Broward County's public defender said, "I've never seen this many letters to a defendant." As Cruz remains on suicide watch, he has yet to receive any mail, which is screened by jail officials. Finkelstein says, "We read a few religious ones to him that extended wishes for his soul and to come to God, but we have not and will not read him the fan letters or share the photos of scantily clad teenage girls." It's that "perverted" mail that "scares" Finkelstein, and a case out of central Florida might explain why: According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, a 13-year-old boy who idolized and collected photos of Cruz admitted Saturday that he wanted to be "the next school shooter" and "kill a lot of kids," per the New York Post. The teen was arrested on suspicion of felony aggravated stalking. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
In Florida, Pregnancy and Bad Chinese Food Are Apparently the Same
In Pensacola, Florida, 29-year-old Crystal Gail Amerson woke up around 4 a.m. Sunday with stomach pains that had her running back and forth between the bathroom and bedroom for more than an hour. She thought it was bad Chinese food she had the night before. Nope. Turns out she was actually 37 weeks pregnant and was on the verge of giving birth to her second son. Oliver James was born at 6:59 a.m. and Amerson says, "The stomach pains were just excruciating and I could hardly move. I think it was about 6:30 (a.m.) when (the ambulance) got there. ... It escalated so quickly that I was having contractions and we figured out kind of what was going on because at first we really didn't know what was going on." So how is this possible? Amerson had already been through one pregnancy but said she was never the type to feel a lot of the symptoms typically aligned with pregnancy, such as morning sickness. She also said she didn't notice much weight gain. Dr. Julie DeCesare, an obstetrician-gynecologist with Sacred Heart Hospital, said it is possible for a woman to learn of her pregnancy just hours before going into labor, but in her 20 years of practice, she's only witnessed it three times. Amerson said the EMT who helped deliver Oliver had never delivered a baby solo before, so there were a lot of firsts that morning. As for the Chinese food, Great China on West Nine Mile Road won't be receiving a negative Yelp review. It was a false alarm, Great China, you're good. (Pensacola News Journal)
Damn Trumpet Players
A viola player in Britain has won an unusual legal case against the Royal Opera House - one seen as groundbreaking in the music industry. Chris Goldscheider says he got blasted so loudly by the brass section during a 2012 rehearsal that it permanently wrecked his hearing and ended his music career. Well this week, Britain's High Court of Justice agreed the 45-year-old suffered "acoustic shock" during the rehearsal of Wagner's Die Walkure and is entitled to damages. Goldscheider is asking for about $1 million in lost wages; the court will decide the amount later. "This is the first time that the court has explored the music industry's legal obligations towards the hearing of musicians, and the first time that acoustic shock has been recognized as a compensatable condition by the court," says Goldscheider's attorney. That particular piece by Wagner is notoriously loud, and Goldscheider had the misfortune of sitting directly in front of the brass section. At one point, the volume reached more than 130 decibels, the equivalent of a jet engine a mere 100 feet away. Goldscheider had been wearing orchestra-supplied ear plugs, but he says they weren't enough to protect him from the booming trumpets, horns, and trombones, with the principal trumpet singled out as the main villain. He quit the music business for good in 2014 and says he had to move his family to the country to avoid city noises. (BBC)
Stupidity Reaches New High... in Florida - Of Course!
In Defuniak Springs, Florida, 24-year-old Aaron Keith Clark learned real quick that taunting deputies while on your four-wheeler with a beer in your hand is a really bad idea. Deputies had attempted a traffic stop on three four wheelers for driving on a county maintained road. Two of the four wheelers stopped while a third fled from the scene. That was Mr. Clark who later returned to the traffic stop and began taunting the deputy and driving in circles in the middle of the road shouting "Come and get me!" The four-wheeler accelerated rapidly toward the front of a patrol car and swerved around it. Clark was also seen holding a beer can in his left hand and yelling as he went by. Ultimately, deputies arrested Clark at his residence and he was taken into custody. He told deputies he did not remember the incident due to being intoxicated. He also apologized. He's charged with fleeing and attempting to elude and reckless driving. (Walton County Sheriff's Office)
For the First Time Since Fisher
For the first time in almost 50 years, an American could be crowned world chess champion. Not since Bobby Fischer nabbed the title in 1972 has a US-born player even made it to the final table of the world tournament. But Fabiano Caruana just secured his seat. After three weeks of play in Berlin, the US grandmaster, ranked third in the world, rose above seven top players to win the Candidates Tournament, meaning he'll face Norway's Magnus Carlsen in London in November. Caruana's victory looked shaky after a loss to Russia's Sergey Karjakin, who beat him in the 2016 tournament and went on to lose to Carlsen. But the 25-year-old rallied in a final, six-hour match to take home $118,000 in winnings. The Miami-born Caruana says, "I am absolutely thrilled." He started playing chess at an after-school program at age five after his family moved to Brooklyn. For a time the youngest grandmaster in US history, Caruana went on to join the US chess team, which he rejoined in 2015 after a move to Italy. ChessGames.com predicts Caruana's chance of stealing Carlsen's title is about 30%. Still, "Fabiano is the single most dangerous challenger that Magnus could face," said four-time US chess champion Yasser Seirawan. "It will be a tough fight but I'll come well-prepared," said Caruana. (Guardian)
What the What?
In Pulaski County, Kentucky, deputies say 36-year-old Kenneth Gill went to a home on Holiness Church Road in the Tateville community and stood in the road spinning nunchucks. According to an arrest citation, Gill tried to get a 15-year-old boy to "come down into the road and fight him." Gill then stepped onto the property, saying he was the owner and had a right to because he was a Kentucky State Trooper, before leaving the area. After a lengthy search, deputies say a neighbor found Gill under a porch. While being arrested, Gill told deputies that he was an FBI agent, and had to be forced into a patrol car. He's been charged with impersonating a peace officer, resisting arrest, carrying a concealed weapon, disorderly conduct (2nd degree), wanton endangerment (2nd degree), terroristic threatening (3rd degree) and criminal trespassing (3rd degree). Da-yum! (WKYT News)