JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A white software developer is about to go on trial in Florida in the death of a black teenager — in a case that raises comparisons to the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of 47-year-old Michael Dunn.
Police say Dunn fatally shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis in 2012 outside a Jacksonville convenience store after arguing over loud music that Davis and his friends were playing from their SUV.
Dunn says he fired multiple shots into the SUV after the teens threatened him and one raised a shotgun. Dunn was arrested the next day.
Zimmerman, a Hispanic, was acquitted of second-degree murder last year in the death of Martin, a 17-year-old black teen.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Christmastime manger scenes in public spaces have often been the subject of legal fights in the U.S.
But the American Civil Liberties Union says the creche scene installed by the Florida Nativity Scene Committee at the Capitol in Tallahassee is legal - because it is privately funded, not government sponsored.
Still, the ACLU says that by allowing the exhibit, which depicts the birth of Jesus, the state will now have to allow anyone to use the premises of the Capitol to express messages.
Later this week, the Freedom From Religion Foundation will put up a banner at the Capitol stating opposition to religion in government.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida Lottery officials say a winning Mega Money ticket worth $1.3 million remains unclaimed.
The ticket expires Dec. 15, which is 180 days after it was purchased. The numbers for the June 18 drawing were 10-28-34-43 and the Megaball was 19.
Records show the ticket was purchased at a Miami store, Davis Grocery. Lottery officials are encouraging players who may have gone to that store to go back and check their old tickets.
APOPKA, Fla. (AP) - Officials say George Zimmerman has been arrested in Florida.
A Seminole County Sheriff's Office statement says Zimmerman was arrested Monday afternoon after deputies responded to a disturbance call at a house in Apopka, about 15 miles northwest of Orlando. Zimmerman will be transported and booked into jail.
The statement provided few other details, and it was not immediately known what charges he faced.
Monday's arrest was just the latest legal trouble for the former neighborhood watch volunteer, who was acquitted earlier this year of all charges in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman and his estranged wife were involved in a domestic dispute in September. Police said no charges were filed against either of them because of a lack of evidence.
That dispute took place just days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers.
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad told supporters on a Key West beach that they should never ever give up.
Nyad made the comment Monday shortly after she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage.
Nyad looked dazed and sunburned and her lips were swollen. She arrived at the beach just before 2 p.m. EDT, about 53 hours after she began her swim in Havana on Saturday.
She is being taken by ambulance to a hospital.
As she approached the beach, spectators surrounded her in the water, taking pictures and cheering her on.
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Gregg Matthews fancies himself a lumbering Star Wars character of sorts as he treks along a popular Florida beach. He wears stout hiking sandals on the squishy sand and uses ski poles for balance as he shoulders a 40-pound backpack, a blue-orb with 15 cameras extending over his head.
"It attracts a lot of attention," Matthews laughed about all of his gear, while trodding along Panama City Beach.
Matthews and his trekking partner, Chris Officer, are contracted through Visit Florida, the state's tourism agency, to gather images for Google Maps. All told, they have already walked more than 200 miles of Florida beachfront, each logging up to 7.5 miles a day with the camera orb. Each camera on the orb takes a shot every 2.5 seconds as they walk.
Their quest: to create panoramic views to place online of every Florida beach — similar to the internet giant's Street View — which has taken photos of everything from ordinary homes and businesses to world-famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State building.
Visit Florida has partnered with Google in the effort to map all 825 miles of Florida's beaches. And for good reason: tourism is Florida's top industry, accounting for 91.4 million visitors last year and $71.8 billion in spending that employed more than 1 million in the state.
The project began in late July when Matthews and Officer began walking from the Alabama-Florida border. After mapping Florida Panhandle beaches, they will hopscotch over to Florida's Atlantic coast and move south. Eventually, another camera team will take over, curling past Miami's South Beach and other hotspots aiming to finish the project sometime in November.
Google has a similar project with mappers trekking the trails of the Grand Canyon. But the Florida project is the first large-scale beach mapping project.
The mapping teams were contracted through Visit Florida. Agency spokeswoman Kathy Torian said the project is entirely funded with public money and Visit Florida budgeted $126,000 for a private contractor to oversee the production of images to be sent to Google.
The mappers are paid a straight fee of $27 per mile, but no expenses, she said, with the walkers covering all of their own transportation and accommodations. The only money Google will pay is $1,000 at the end to buy images from the state, she said.
For Matthews, $27 a mile is worth it. And he's even shed 15 pounds in the first three weeks alone.
"It is enough to cover expenses but mostly it is fun and probably cheaper than a gym for me," Matthews told inquisitive sunbathers as he passed them on his Panama City Beach walk.
The project could be a boon for beach towns around Florida in their competition to draw tourists from other states and countries.
Susan Estler, vice president of marketing for the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Google's beach view will let potential visitors see the clear turquoise waters and gleaming white sand — an enticement to any and all to check out the scene in person.
"Certainly Panama City Beach is known for its beautiful beaches and having that available with Google is just the perfect way of presenting the beach," she said.
But Matthews said it is the people who will never set foot on a Florida beach that he thinks about the most when he is out walking.
"I enjoyed most the desolate stretches of unpopulated islands where literally all I heard for hours was waves and birds," he said. "This is a way to bring those experiences to people who for whatever reason — health, money, whatever — will never be able to get here."
Matthews and Officer have seen dolphins frolicking, sea turtles, sting rays, even alligators. On a remote bird-sanctuary beach, a shore bird even dive-bombed the Google cameras.
Already, the duo has trekked past thousands of vacationers splashing in warm Gulf waters or relaxing on powdery white beaches in such destinations as Pensacola, Destin and Panama City. "I've had a couple of people offer me a beer. Unfortunately, I don't take it because I'm kind of in the middle of a workout," Officer said.
The men trade off carrying the camera pack — usually, one will take the morning shift and the other the afternoon. Their heft includes a battery pack that provides up to six hours of power for the cameras.
Pictures, once taken, are uploaded to camera hard drives. When the photos are eventually posted — probably next spring — online viewers will be able to see panoramic images from any spot the teams walked.
"It is pretty ground breaking. It is really cool to know that our work is going to contribute to people being able to see different beaches all over the world," Officer said.
The two will finish mapping the Panhandle soon and then map about 100 miles along the east coast until they hand off duties to another two-person team.
For Matthews, the toughest part of the job has been the blisters on his feet. He began by walking barefoot, but switched to hiking sandals and neoprene socks after the blisters set in. Officer has walked barefoot the entire time.
Using the special socks and converted ski poles to balance the load, Matthews stays fairly comfortable during his daily five-to-seven-mile beach walks.
Though both are tanned — not burned — they wear hats and protective gear against the blistering sun.
"You look hot in all that," a young girl splashing in the surf told Matthews as he walked past on Panama City Beach.
"Yes, that's why I get in the water a lot. It helps," he responded.
The finished beach maps will include views of some small barrier islands, accessible only by boat, and glimpses of breathtaking mansions tucked away on exclusive stretches of beach. But the maps will not include some sections of military-owned beaches in the Panhandle that authorities restricted because of security concerns.
Matthews said he has heard other concerns from beach-goers worried about having their bikini-clad bodies captured on the beach views on Google maps — Street View once caught a Miami woman standing naked in her front yard.
But Matthews said any faces will be too blurry to recognize.
MIAMI (AP) - Two men accused in South Florida of providing thousands of dollars and fighter recruits to terrorist organizations overseas have pleaded not guilty to a 15-count federal indictment.
A judge on Tuesday also ordered 30-year-old Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed and 25-year-old Mohamed Hussein Said held without bail. Both men are charged with conspiracy and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida and two affiliated terrorist organizations in Syria and East Africa.
Prosecutors say an FBI undercover agent posing as a terror financing middleman used Internet chat rooms to build cases against the men. They were both arrested in Saudi Arabia earlier this month and flown to the U.S. to face the charges.
The indictment says Mohammed sent thousands of dollars in wire transfers intended to support the terror groups.
LABELLE, Fla. (AP) - Health officials in Florida say a 12-year-old boy is fighting a rare and deadly infection that is attacking his brain.
Family members told media outlets that Zachary Reyna of Southwest Florida was infected with Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic single-celled living amoeba that is commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. State health officials say it can cause a rare brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal.
Victims typically are exposed to the bug while swimming or doing water sports in warm ponds, lakes and rivers during the hot summer months, mostly in the South.
Family members said the boy was infected while knee boarding with friends in a ditch near his family's LaBelle house on Aug. 3. He is being treated in the intensive care unit at Miami Children's Hospital.
CLERMONT, Fla. (AP) — A sinkhole cracked the foundation in a villa housing vacationers at a central Florida resort near Disney World on Sunday, causing the building to slowly sink and prompting the evacuation of the hotel, authorities said.
Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. James Vachon told WESH in Orlando the incident at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont caused structural damage and firefighters and sheriff's deputies were working the scene together. No injuries were reported.
Witnesses told The Associated Press they could hear a cracking sound as the villa sank. A large crack was visible at the building's base.
Luis Perez, who was staying at a villa near the sinking one, said he was in his room when the lights went off around 11:30 p.m. He said he was on his way to the front desk to report the outage when he saw firefighters and police outside.
"I started walking toward where they were at and you could see the building leaning and you could see a big crack at the base of the building," said Perez, 54, of Berona, N.J.
He called the other vacationers in his group and had them come outside. Eventually, he said, authorities evacuated his villa and a third one as well.
Summer Bay Resort is about 10 miles west of Disney World.