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Latest from John Engel

    The Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial District have announced the first-ever murder charge for a drug dealer whose product led to an overdose death.  Trumaine “Lucky” Muller faces a first-degree murder charge for selling the fentanyl that led to the death of 18-year-old Ariell Brundige. Brundige was with Muller and two other men in Nov. 2016 when she overdosed.  The two other men, Tyler Hamilton and Christopher Williams, are facing manslaughter charges.  “The message for ‘Mr. Unlucky’ and the ‘unlucky two,’ who are associated with him… get the hell out of Clay County,” Sheriff Darryl Daniels said during an announcement on Tuesday.  Daniels says the Clay County Sheriff’s Office will continue to pursue homicide charges against drug dealers, noting that they are currently working to get there in several cases right now. 
  • A Jacksonville woman has been charged for a crash that resulted in the death of another driver nearly a year ago.  Lara Dana Lark, 21, is accused of crossing the center line while driving westbound on State Road 105 on May 29, 2016, and colliding head-on with Derrick Jones. Jones was forced off the road and into a nearby marsh, and was pronounced dead at the scene.  Lark is charged with DUI manslaughter and is being held on $75,003 bond.
  • Voters in Duval County approved a referendum in November allowing 2,000 slot machines at a pari-mutuel facility in Arlington, but a Florida Supreme Court ruling has put the plan on hold.  The court unanimously ruled against allowing slot machines at a racetrack in Gadsden County, where voters also approved gambling expansion. The ruling means slot machines will continue to only be allowed in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.  In the Nov. 2016 election, 54 percent of Duval voters approved the referendum to allow slot machines at the bestbet location on Monument Rd. in Arlington.  A representative of bestbet, Brian Hughes, issued the following statement to News 104.5 WOKV on the Florida Supreme Court decision: “The men and women of bestbet are disappointed with the ruling but there’s a lot of information here to consider, so we are still reviewing the details. Something it clearly demonstrates is that the legislature still has an opportunity to respect the will of the people at the local level. In Duval, an overwhelming majority voted to create jobs and fuel economic development by supporting additional gaming entertainment options locally.”  WOKV also reached out to City Councilman Aaron Bowman, who has been a big supporter of the idea of bringing slots to Jacksonville. Bowman says he’s a little surprised and certainly disappointed by the ruling, as slots were expected to bring jobs and more tourists. As for the future of slots in Jacksonville, Bowman believes it’ll be up to the state legislature. “To me, this was a local issue and I thought that the public supported it in the referendum and I still think it’s a local issue, but the [state] Supreme Court has said no, so now I think it goes up to the state level,” says Bowman. Eight Florida counties voted in favor of slot machine expansion. The Florida Senate passed a bill to allow slot machines in those counties, though the House chose not to move forward.  
  • Authorities have identified a body found on Vilano Beach as a swimmer who went missing days earlier.  Skyler Christian Taylor, 20, was pulled offshore by rough waters on Sunday. A body was found by runners in the 3300 block of A1A North on Wednesday morning, a couple of miles from where Taylor went missing.  
  • Parking is extremely limited at THE PLAYERS this year, so you’ll likely have to find some other options if you plan to head out to TPC Sawgrass this week. Parking passes must be obtained online, in advance, and are already sold out for Thursday, May 12. Shuttles will pickup from three downtown Jacksonville hotels from Wed.-Sun. of tournament week.  Pickup times: Hyatt Regency Jacksonville• 7:45 a.m.• 9:50 a.m.• 10:45 a.m.• 12:50 p.m. Hogan Street side of the Jacksonville Landing• 8 a.m.• 9:30 a.m.• 11 a.m.• 12:30 p.m. Riverplace Blvd. outside of the DoubleTree Riverfront• 8:20 a.m.• 9:15 a.m.• 11:20 a.m.• 12:15 p.m. Return times: Shuttles will leave TPC Sawgrass for the hotels on Wed.-Sat. at 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, shuttles will return to hotels at 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • A Jacksonville told FBI agents that he enjoyed the “thrill of the hunt” while being arrested for distributing child pornography over the internet.  Jason Neiheisel, 27, was arrested at his home on May 4 and now faces up to 20 years in prison. Neiheisel also told agents that he had been downloading child porn for “a while.”  Agents downloaded several videos of children being sexually abused from a computer at Neiheisel’s home. 
  • Florida lawmakers ended their annual legislative session this week without passing a law to implement medical marijuana, to the dismay of one of the cause’s most vocal champions.  Floridians resoundingly approved Florida Amendment 2 in the November election, with 71 percent of voters backing the constitutional change. But the legislature flopped in its first attempt at developing a law to implement the amendment.  “I’m disappointed, so I assume that my fellow Floridians are disappointed,” Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) told WOKV. “It certainly wasn’t from a lack of effort and fully expect and anticipate that the legislature, ultimately, will act to implement the amendment.” Since Florida lawmakers were unable to send a bill to the governor’s desk, regulations established by the Florida Department of Health will remain in place until a law is established. The Florida House and Senate plans for implementation differed in the number of dispensary locations that would be permitted under state law. Bradley estimates that 90 percent of the two bills – which individually passed in the originating chamber – was the same.   “We almost got there, but we just couldn’t bridge the gap on the last issues of the business models that will be used to deliver this medicine to the people of the state of Florida,” Bradley said. Among the agreed upon items, is the outlawing of medical cannabis for smoking – which Bradley says both chambers and Gov. Rick Scott support. Orlando attorney John Morgan threatened to sue if the legislature went forward with a plan that banned smoking of medical marijuana.  Bradley is confident a deal to implement medical marijuana will be worked out by the end of the next legislative session, or potentially during a special session.  The amendment was enacted on Jan.3 and must be implemented by October. 
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in response to the opioid epidemic, opening millions of dollars in federal funding for treatment and other services. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is taking its own step by equipping deputies with the drug Narcan, a nasal spray which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.  Since the drug is administered with a single nasal pump, deputies don’t need medical certification.  A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office says the Narcan kits are paid for out of its budget, and cost less than $10,000 for around 200 kits.
  • Police have released surveillance video footage from inside a Westside Popeyes restaurant where an employee was shot by an angry customer. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is working to identify the customer involved, who they say was upset with his order Wednesday night and shot an employee working at the Edgewood location. The suspect was seen leaving the restaurant in a dark colored pickup.  If you have any information, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers.
  • An 8-year-old boy is dead after being found unresponsive at a home in the Wesconnett neighborhood early this morning. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to the home on Painted Pony Drive near Naval Air Station Jacksonville around 5:15 a.m.  The boy was found with head injuries and rushed to UF Health Jacksonville where he was pronounced dead.  JSO says they are investigating this as an undetermined death. A preliminary investigation found something fell on the boy’s head.  Investigators say there was an entertainment system with an old style TV on it. “We do not know if it was just unstable or someone was attempting to climb on it, we do not know at this time”, said Sgt. Steve Rudlaff.  It’s unclear at this time if the child was sleeping.  There was a sibling in the bedroom and investigators are waiting to talk with him. JSO would not confirm who lives in the home.   The Department of Children and Families is also responding to the home to investigate.
  • John Engel

    Afternoon Anchor, Producer

    John Engel is the Afternoon Anchor and Producer at WOKV and has been with the news team since Aug. 2015. Originally from Southern California, John moved to Boise, Idaho with his family and attended Boise State University. He started working in sports media and still has a love for watching, and debating about, sports.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • The box says “It's amazing what she knows,” but security experts say the My Friend Cayla doll also makes it easy for strangers to know your child. The doll uses Bluetooth technology to connect to a device with no PIN or password required.  >> Read more trending news “On a scale of one to 10 this doll was definitely one to hack,” Ken Munro with Pentest Partners, who discovered the vulnerability in 2015, said. “I don't think anybody takes this seriously enough. What bothers me is we're expecting parents to become computer security experts and that's not realistic.” Privacy groups are taking action. Last December the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington filed a complaint with the FTC about Genesis toys, the maker of My Friend Cayla and the robot I-Que. The complaint cites ease of access and how the app recordings were sent to a third party software company, Nuance Communications, without making it clear to parents.  RELATED: Germany bans talking doll due to security concerns The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or C.O.P.P.A, sets strict guidelines on how parents must be notified about information collected on their children.  “The parent has to actually know what is going on and then say, ‘Yes, I agree.’ The box cannot already be checked. It cannot be just hidden somewhere in the terms of service. It's supposed to be a moment where the parent realizes what's going on and says, ‘Yes, I'm OK with that,’” Munro said. RELATED: Do some toys threaten your child’s privacy? Even if parents are notified, understanding how the information is stored is key.  'It's going to the cloud. That's the basic thing for so many of our devices,' said Munro. Child user profiles and recordings collected by some other companies have also been compromised. In 2015, V-Tech Toys was hacked exposing over six million child profiles. Plus, security researchers recently discovered that people could access voice recordings of Spiral Toys Cloudpets. Munro said that the best way to make sure your children's privacy is secure is to not give out their information in the first place.  “It's really more of a problem of how we as Americans view our privacy, and we keep giving more and more information out,” Munro said. “Eventually, we're not going to have any more privacy if we don't stop.” The FTC would not comment on their investigation of complaints against Genesis Toys and Nuance. 
  • While the calendar says we are days away from the month of June, Republicans in Congress are already feeling pressure over their legislative agenda for 2017, as time is already growing short for GOP efforts to overhaul the Obama health law, which also puts a time squeeze on other major initiatives on Capitol Hill. There are no votes scheduled this week in the Congress; the Senate returns to legislative session on June 5, while the House is back in Washington, D.C. on June 6. Here’s some of what faces Republicans in the Congress: 1. Everything keys off of the GOP health care bill. Because the GOP is trying to use the expedited “budget reconciliation” process, which allows them to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, nothing involved with next year’s budget – or with tax reform – can move until health care is settled. GOP Senators have been meeting regularly in recent weeks to decide what to do on health care – but they don’t have a deal as yet, and no one is quiet sure when they might have a vote. “We’re a long ways from that,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND) told reporters this week. “Damned if I know,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said about when a deal might be reached. Writing their own bill takes time. Senate laying groundwork for own health care replacement bill — Rusty Arrison (@RustyArrisonXVJ) May 26, 2017 2. Why do you keep saying there isn’t much time? Two things are at work here – the Congressional calendar, and the limits on the “budget reconciliation” process. The authorization to use reconciliation for a health care bill expires on September 30 – the end of the 2017 Fiscal Year. So, the GOP has four months to figure out a bill, and get it approved and sent to the President. But, lawmakers won’t be here much of that four month period. In fact, between now and the end of the fiscal year – there are 43 scheduled legislative work days in the House, which mirrors the Senate schedule. That’s 43 legislative days in session spread out over 18 weeks. You could always get extra time by scrapping the August recess, or working some weekends. 3. The budget is way behind schedule – more than usual. This past week, President Trump delivered his 2018 budget to the Congress. Normally that is done in February. The House and Senate only started having hearings on spending bills this past week. Lawmakers were supposed to approve the blueprint known as the “budget resolution” by April 15. As of now, that plan doesn’t even exist. Congress is supposed to pass all spending bills by October 1, the start of the new fiscal year, but that has not happened since 1996. With the schedule still showing five weeks off during the summer, there is no way that lawmakers are going to meet that spending deadline, which will pave the way for stop gap budgets, and then most likely a year-end omnibus spending deal. Sound familiar? @TheDCVince the congress cannot walk and crew gum at the same time. They haven't begun the FY18 budget.We will get more CRs and then omnibus — Bulldog 6 (@MC22554) May 24, 2017 4. Tax reform still hasn’t taken shape. Despite the Sunday tweet by President Trump about his tax plans, it was obvious in budget hearings last week involving Secretary of Treasury Stephen Mnuchin that a Trump tax plan is not ready to be rolled out any time soon. Remember – all we have right now is a one page document with some bullet points. Even if the White House put out the details this next week, Republicans couldn’t take it up under budget reconciliation rules until they get finished with health care legislation. And, as stated above, the GOP does not seem to be near a deal. Senate Republicans probably cannot let June go by without some kind of agreement on health care. The massive TAX CUTS/REFORM that I have submitted is moving along in the process very well, actually ahead of schedule. Big benefits to all! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2017 5. You can’t pass bills when you aren’t in DC. Whenever I point out how the Congress is going to be home for an extended break, I always hear from people who say, “If they’re not in DC, they can’t screw things up.” Yes, that’s true. On the other hand, it’s also true that when they aren’t working on Capitol Hill, they can’t pass any bills to fix things, either. And for Republicans right now, if you aren’t at work on the floors of the House and Senate, you aren’t passing any of President Trump’s agenda. Those Republican lawmakers having town hall meetings this week will get a lot of attention. If Republicans in the House and Senate were doing their job, Pres Trump could be returning home to sign laws for taxes, health care, etc. — Pat (@Pat170017001) May 26, 2017 It’s not even the end of May. But time is already running short for Republicans in 2017.
  •   An investigation is underway into the tragic death of a Navy SEAL in a parachuting accident Sunday during a demonstration for Fleet Week in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. >> Read more trending news The SEAL, part of the Navy’s elite skydiving team, the Leap Frogs, plunged to his death in the river when his chute failed to open, according to a Navy spokesperson. The SEAL was immediately rescued from the water, but later pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center, the Navy said in a statement. The parachutist was not identified pending notification of his family. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, and I ask for all your prayers for the Navy SEAL community who lost a true patriot today,” Navy Rear Adm. Jack Scorby said, according to The Associated Press.  The Leap Frogs have numerous performances scheduled throughout the rest of the year, according to their website.
  • It started as attempted retail theft and only escalated from there.   A St. Augustine woman is facing a felony charge, after an incident at a Jacksonville department store.   According to the arrest report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, employees at the Kohl's on Old St. Augustine Road spotted April Felder, 29, load up her cart with merchandise and then walk out of the store with that cart, without making any attempt to pay.   When store security confronted her in the parking lot, Felder allegedly ditched the cart, containing not only the stolen goods, but her young child as well.   Felder faces a felony charge of child neglect, after being arrested about a block away from the store.
  • President Donald Trump marked his first Memorial Day in office with a somber service at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. >> Read more trending news The president first participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before addressing a crowd of family members of the fallen gathered there to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. In his speech, the president recognized the Gold Star families at the service. 'To every Gold Star family: God is with you, and your loved ones are with him.' Trump said.  'I believe that God has a special place in heaven for those who laid down their lives so that others may live free.' Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, who was also at the service, visited Section 60, where the military members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 are buried chatting and shaking hands with the families of the fallen. The president took to Twitter this morning, posting several tweets about Memorial Day.  “Today we remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving,” he wrote early Monday before heading over to Arlington for the somber remembrance ceremony. “Honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to America. Home of the free, because of the brave,” he tweeted even earlier Monday morning. >> Related: Trump approval rating hits new low in poll Also Monday, Pence and his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence, helped kick off a bike race in Washington for Project Hero, a veterans and first responders group, according to CNN.  

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