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Lawmakers seek to end Florida's key role in shark fin trade

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — While Florida gains notoriety as the epicenter of the shark trade in the United States, lawmakers there have advanced legislation that would ban the possession of shark fins. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Monday endorsed that proposal, as well as another bill that would stiffen penalties against hunters who kill black bears. The committee voted to join other states in outlawing the sale and possession of shark fins, a prized delicacy in some cultures. Earlier Monday, U.S. wildlife officials highlighted Florida's role in the trade, announcing the seizure in Miami of 18 boxes containing 1,400 pounds of shark fins.


Attorney: Mar-a-Lago checkpoint crasher is mentally ill

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A defense attorney for the Connecticut opera singer who drew gunfire while driving through checkpoints outside President Donald Trump's Florida home says she is mentally ill. The attorney for Hannah Roemhild told a Palm Beach County judge Monday that she had stopped taking her medication, causing Friday's wild car chase. Roemhild will be examined by a psychologist and will remain jailed pending a future hearing. She is charged with aggravated assault. Authorities say she drove her rented SUV at Secret Service agents and sheriff's deputies at the checkpoints. She was being chased by a highway patrol trooper who thought she was drunk.


Teen football player identified as victim in funeral slaying

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A teenager killed in a shooting after his grandfather's funeral has been identified as a high school football player. Police said Monday that 15-year-old Terrance Jackson was the second victim in Saturday's shooting in Riviera Beach, Florida. Jackson played defensive end at Deerfield Beach High School. His coach says the teen canceled weekend college visits to attend the funeral. Forty-seven-year-old Royce Freeman also died at the scene. A woman received injuries that were not considered life threatening. Police say the shooting erupted outside a church during a fight between family members.  No arrests have been made, but police said detectives have leads.


Officials find missing kayaker in Florida Everglades

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Virginia man who went missing while kayaking in the Florida Everglades has been found alive. The Collier County Sheriff's Office says a helicopter crew spotted 67-year-old Mark Miele on Monday and led a marine unit to his location. He was being treated Monday afternoon at a Naples hospital. Officials say Miele embarked on a solo kayaking trip in Everglades National Park on Jan. 22 and was due back Jan. 29. He never returned, but National Park Service rangers found a bag containing his wallet and phone Sunday, giving rescuers an area to target their search.


1,400 pounds of shark fins seized at Miami port

MIAMI (AP) — Wildlife officials say they have seized 1,400 pounds of shark fins at a Miami port. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that the shipment of dried fins was believed to have originated in South America and was likely bound for Asia. It arrived in Miami in 18 boxes. Officials estimate its commercial value to be between $700,000 and $1 million. Conservation groups say tens of millions of sharks are killed each year by smugglers who cut the fins from live animals. They are often turned into shark fin soup, considered a Chinese delicacy.


Baby boy dies days after crash on Florida's Turnpike

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a 4-month-old boy has died, days after the car he was riding in was involved in a crash on Florida's Turnpike. Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes says Nolan Panette was in a car seat in the back of his grandparents' car on Friday morning. Their car slowed down because of traffic and another vehicle struck it. When troopers arrived at the crash scene, they immediately began CPR on the boy. Paramedics took him to the hospital, where he later died. Troopers are continuing to investigate the crash. The grandparents and the other driver suffered minor injuries.


Judge orders 1987 sex abuse case ready for July retrial

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A judge ordered that a former New York police detective accused of sexually assaulting a girl at his vacation home in Vermont be ready for a retrial in July in a long-delayed case. Leonard Forte was charged with felony sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl in Vermont in 1987. He was convicted in 1988 but a judge ordered a new trial saying the prosecutor had been too emotional. The case was delayed after Forte, who now lives in LaBelle, Florida, said a terminal illness prevented him from traveling. The July 1 date ordered by the judge Wednesday is tentative and will be discussed at a hearing April 1.


Report: Census hasn't tested tasks to catch false answers

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — There are only six weeks to go until most U.S. residents start filling out the 2020 Census questionnaire. But an Inspector General’s report says the Census Bureau hasn’t tested a new process designed to help catch false answers. The Inspector General's report was released last week. It reviewed a test-run in Rhode Island of the once-a-decade head count. The Census Bureau had planned to test the quality of the data collected by sending out census takers to homes where respondents gave suspicious answers. But the budget kept the bureau from testing the new plan in Rhode Island.


Liberal watchdog group hires Amnesty director as new CEO

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The executive director of Amnesty International USA will take over as chief executive of the liberal watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center. Margaret Huang will begin work in April at the Alabama-based nonprofit organization, which announced her hiring Monday. The law center is best known for monitoring hate groups and suing extremists including the Ku Klux Klan. It's now trying to steady itself after months of turmoil that included the firing of its founder. The organization says it has 350 employees in offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and the District of Columbia.


Florida man killed in sledding accident at N.C. ski resort

SUGAR MOUNTAIN, N.C. (AP) — A Florida man has been killed in a sledding accident at a North Carolina ski resort. The Charlotte Observer reports that John Joseph Nevins IV, of Titusville, Florida, died Friday at Sugar Mountain Resort. Sugar Mountain Police Chief David Henson said the cause of death was blunt force trauma. Kimberley Jochl, the resort's marketing director, said the incident happened about an hour after the ski slopes closed Friday night. She said sledding is prohibited on the resort's slopes. Jochl said Nevins went down Sugar Mountain's Big Birch and Lower Flying Mile slopes at high speed while riding a plastic disk. He was found unconscious next to a snowmaking machine.