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The Latest News Headlines

      It’s the beginning of snake season in Texas and authorities are warning people to watch out for the reptiles as they emerge from hibernation. >> Read more trending news The Laguna Vista Police Department posted the warning on its Facebook page after a close call between a giant rattler and a group of hikers on a local trail.  Police posted photos of the massive snake and another photo showing a fearless cat staring down a big rattler. Rattlesnakes emerge from hibernation in Texas in March or April, according to the police post. They favor temperatures that remain 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and are most active when temperatures reach 80 to 90 degrees.
  • When the federal courthouse doors opened in Downtown Jacksonville Monday morning, prospective jurors crowded around and quietly filed in. By 8:54 a.m., former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was sitting in a courtroom next to her attorney, with a small notepad and pens in front of her, waiting for the people who would decide her future to file in to be screened. While a court order indicated 39 prospective jurors had been summoned for the fraud trial, the instructions laid out Monday morning by Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt put the pool at 65 people. By the time the day was done, 21 of those prospective jurors had been excused. The number will be whittled down to twelve jurors and two alternates, and the court aims to have that done when everything wraps up Tuesday. Brown and two others are accused of collecting more than $800,000 in donations for a group they claimed was a non-profit - One Door For Education - and using the money for personal expenses instead, including travel, car repairs, and events hosted by or held in honor of Brown, who was in Congress at the time. Her two alleged co-conspirators - her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the head of One Door Carla Wiley- have both taken plea deals. Brown faces twenty-two charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns, and more. If convicted, she faces more than 350 years in prison. A jury must issue a unanimous verdict to convict. After the list of prospective jurors was passed out to the attorneys, there was a brief break so either side could sort through the information. Brown was actively engaged with her attorney James Smith III during this break, including pointing to different items on the papers that were handed out. Prospective jurors then filed in one-by-one, seated in the order of their randomly assigned number, to face the initial group questioning. For this jury selection process, Klindt told the courtroom he had studied high profile and high publicity cases from the Middle District of Florida and the 11th Circuit to determine the best practices. Even before the standard questions, he asked jurors about any familiarity with Brown, whether they’ve supported her in the past, whether they have any bias toward or against her, whether they know the witnesses who will be called, and similar areas. While there were only a few people who said they knew Brown or had any feelings about her, more than half of the pool- 39 people- had some level of personal knowledge about this case because of conversations, social media, or what they’ve consumed through the news. These questions were laid out in the group setting, with jurors raising their hands, but not providing much additional detail initially. Individual questioning then followed, where the court got a better idea of the range of knowledge about the case and, more importantly, whether that information has led the prospective jurors to form an opinion on guilt or innocence, and if that opinion could be set aside to consider only the evidence presented as trial and the instructions provided by the court. The court also probed deeper in to any “extreme hardship” that would prevent a juror from committing to this trial, with most of those relating to medical or financial issues. The extended questioning was done individually because Klindt specifically said he wanted to be careful that anything a prospective juror has to say will not influence others. In all, 45 prospective jurors in the 65 person pool were questioned through Monday, specifically about this case. 21 were excused “for cause”. The remaining 24, along with the 20 people who didn’t face questioning today will return Tuesday for the second phase of screening. That will involve the standard questioning, like personal information of the prospective jurors, whether they’ve served on a jury before and other areas. Before that second phase, though, Klindt has decided to add another ten or so prospective jurors to the pool. They’ll be individually questioned to start the day, and any remaining after that will join the group of 44 rolled over from today. In addition to strikes “for cause”, attorneys have a set number of “peremptory” strikes they can exercise when questioning is done. The attorneys for both sides have been allowed to ask questions of the prospective jurors as well, through the process so far. WOKV is inside the federal courthouse as these proceedings move forward. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.
  • A central Florida woman has been charged in the death of her 18-month-old daughter, accused of strangling the toddler with a string of Halloween lights last Nov.  >> Read more trending news Kristen DePasquale, 27, faces charges of premeditated murder and child abuse. The mother told police officers that she is innocent, and claims her 2-year-old son is responsible, according to CBS News. >> Related: Man threatens teens with gun over noisy car, punches them When officers arrived to DePasquale’s home in Oviedo they found her daughter unconscious on the living-room floor with “deep grooves” around her neck, CBS reported. Medical officials tried to perform CPR on the child, but attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. Police believe the weapon used on the infant was a string of pumpkin-shaped Halloween lights that were hanging on the sliding glass doors of the home.  >> Related: Woman bites nail salon manager, threatens customers with pen The medical examiner said that the marks on the toddler’s neck “was so deep it required more force than a 2 1/2-year-old boy could muster,” CBS reported. The examiner also concluded that the girl was strangled for four to six minutes. But DePasquale’s attorneys claim that the boy confessed to his mother before officers arrived and then to a child-welfare worker three days later. Prosecutors said they do not believe the boy’s confession is credible, according to CBS News.  DePasquale has no criminal history or record of child abuse with the Florida Department of Children and Families, media outlets reported. 
  • A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush said the 92-year-old will remain under observation at a Houston hospital for a few more days after he was admitted last week with a mild case of pneumonia. >> Read more trending news Bush was taken to Houston Methodist Hospital on April 14 with a persistent cough, spokesman James McGrath said. Doctors determined that the 41st president had pneumonia and successfully treated him. McGrath said in a statement Monday that Bush’s medical team hopes he will be released by the end of the week. McGrath said Friday that Bush would remain hospitalized over the weekend as a precaution. He and his wife, Barbara Bush, are scheduled to travel to Maine soon, and doctors want to “ensure (he has) a fully clean bill of health,” McGrath said. >> Related: George H.W. Bush gets a visit from son George W. Bush while in the hospital “President Bush feels terrific and is buoyed by regular visits from his family and phone calls with friends such as (former Vice  President) Dan Quayle,” he said. McGrath said on Wednesday that Bush “continues to gain strength.” “Mr. Bush had a good night’s rest and his spirits are high,” McGrath said. “Although he will not be discharged today, he is already looking forward to going home to Mrs. Bush, who has been constantly by his side.” The hospitalization is the second this year for Bush. He was hospitalized for two weeks in January with a case of bacterial pneumonia. His wife, Barbara Bush, was also briefly hospitalized with viral bronchitis.
  • Supermarket chain Albertsons is exploring a possible takeover of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, the Financial Times is reporting, citing unnamed sources. Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers about making a bid for Whole Foods, the Financial Times reported, citing a person close to the buyout firm. No formal bid has yet been made, according to two people briefed on the situation. >> Read more trending news Whole Foods’ shares jumped more than 4 percent in afternoon trading following the Financial Times’ report. The reported interest from Albertsons comes about two weeks after investment group Jana Partners revealed it had built a 9 percent stake in Whole Foods and raised the possibility of either a management shakeup or even a sale for the company. Whole Foods has a current market value of about $11 billion. Also, online retail giant Amazon last year considered making a takeover bid for Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc., but decided not to pursue a deal, Bloomberg news service reported last week. >> Related: Lawsuit claims Whole Foods managers fired for whistle-blowing A number of factors, including intensified competition, have hit the Austin-based Whole Foods hard, leading to struggles in recent quarters. A March report from a Barclays analyst, for instance, suggested Whole Foods had lost 14 million customers since 2015 - many of them to Kroger, which has stepped up its organic offerings. >> Related: Amazon considered bid to buy Whole Foods Founded in Austin in 1978, Whole Foods has 462 stores worldwide and 87,000 employees. In its fiscal first quarter, Whole Foods recorded record sales of $4.9 billion, but saw its net income decline and also lowered its earnings projections for the year.    
  • The 2011 'Art & Winefest' was a huge success with over $10,000  being raised for Wolfson Children's Hospital! The hundreds who attended enjoyed 33 wines from around the world, supplied by The Capital Grille and selected by their Master Sommelier, George Miliotes.  Nine restaurants supplied awesome food, plus there was gourmet cupcakes, designer cakes, and ice cream. The 2011 Wine List Check out the photo gallery! Special thanks to our primary sponsor, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Union Local 177! Also thanks to K B Home, Key Buick/GMC/Hyundai, and North Florida Sales who brought some really interesting craft beers,                              including Bold City Brewery's 'Killer Whale' , the top choice of the crowd! Thanks to these fine restaurants for coming to feed us and help the kids at Wolfson's: The Capital Grille III Forks Maggiano's The Corner Bistro Mitchell's Fish Market Gumbo Ya-Ya's Fionn MacCools Blue Bell Ice Cream The Cake Shop Crabcake Factory  
  • The Department of Defense has announced that a Jacksonville soldier has died in Afghanistan. 21 year-old Private First Class Gil I. Morales Del Valle died Wednesday in Wardak province, Afghanistan He and PFC Cody Baker, 19 of Holton, Kansas, were attacked by enemy forces with an improvised explosive device. Both were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Polk, LA. Funeral arrangements are pending. 
  • It's been a long road, but the Jacksonville City Council has unanimously voted to pass Mayor Lenny Curry's pension reform plan.   The bills include using a half-cent sales tax approved by voters back in the 2016 election to help pay down the $2.8 billion dollar pension debt.   But just moments after the plan was passed, some on the council were already talking about tweaks.   Councilman Danny Becton announced he's working on a bill that would make extra payments toward paying down the debt, comparing it to a 30-year mortgage.   'After a number of years, as your income grows, maybe you've gotten some promotions, that mortgage you took out many years ago, isn't as bad as it seemed that first day. Your like, 'Oh, I can pay more', and your accountant tells you that you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by putting a little bit more and making this a 15-year mortgage,' explains Becton.   Mayor Curry is set to sign the pension reform bills Tuesday, April 25, outside City Hall. He'll be joined by members of City Council, Sheriff Williams, union leaders, and business representatives.
  • A South Florida teen is being charged as an adult after deputies monitoring his social media pages arrested him this month on gun-related charges. >> Read more trending news  Joshua Troutman, 17, was transferred from juvenile custody to the Palm Beach County Jail on charges that include possession of a weapon, discharging a firearm in public and grand theft of a firearm. He also has multiple open cases in juvenile court, including charges of carrying a concealed weapon, grand theft and burglary. During his initial court appearance on Friday, Judge Caroline Caroline Shepherd ordered Troutman’s open juvenile cases be reviewed and set his bond on the adult charges at $50,000. He was also placed on in-house arrest with an electronic monitor and ordered to have possession of neither weapons nor devices that can access the internet. According to the arrest report, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s detective last month monitored postings by Troutman on social-media sites, including Facebook and Instagram. The detective noted that Troutman posted several pictures and videos with multiple firearms in his waist, hands and pockets. Troutman is currently classified as a juvenile delinquent and is not allowed to possess firearms, investigators said. Authorities say he has a history of burglary and resisting arrest with violence. He remains under supervision as a juvenile until his 19th birthday. “He is a danger to the community,” a prosecutor said in court Friday. Investigators say Troutman posted one video of himself firing shots from a small-caliber firearm into the ground in his backyard. After being taken into custody, he reportedly told deputies he stole a gun from a box stored in a shed at an unspecified residence in Boynton Beach. When asked about the fired shots seen on video, Troutman told deputies he was only shooting into the ground and did not hurt anyone, the report said.
  • Two people were shot Monday in a Dallas office tower, police said.  Police responded to the scene around 10:45 a.m. to help evacuate the building, according to The Dallas Morning News.  >> Read more trending news Multiple media groups are reporting that two people were shot. Police have not released information about suspects or victims.  A man walked into the building and shot another person, then himself, according to WFAA. The two people were shot on the seventh floor, according to KDFW. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

The Latest News Headlines

  •   It’s the beginning of snake season in Texas and authorities are warning people to watch out for the reptiles as they emerge from hibernation. >> Read more trending news The Laguna Vista Police Department posted the warning on its Facebook page after a close call between a giant rattler and a group of hikers on a local trail.  Police posted photos of the massive snake and another photo showing a fearless cat staring down a big rattler. Rattlesnakes emerge from hibernation in Texas in March or April, according to the police post. They favor temperatures that remain 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and are most active when temperatures reach 80 to 90 degrees.
  • When the federal courthouse doors opened in Downtown Jacksonville Monday morning, prospective jurors crowded around and quietly filed in. By 8:54 a.m., former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was sitting in a courtroom next to her attorney, with a small notepad and pens in front of her, waiting for the people who would decide her future to file in to be screened. While a court order indicated 39 prospective jurors had been summoned for the fraud trial, the instructions laid out Monday morning by Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt put the pool at 65 people. By the time the day was done, 21 of those prospective jurors had been excused. The number will be whittled down to twelve jurors and two alternates, and the court aims to have that done when everything wraps up Tuesday. Brown and two others are accused of collecting more than $800,000 in donations for a group they claimed was a non-profit - One Door For Education - and using the money for personal expenses instead, including travel, car repairs, and events hosted by or held in honor of Brown, who was in Congress at the time. Her two alleged co-conspirators - her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the head of One Door Carla Wiley- have both taken plea deals. Brown faces twenty-two charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns, and more. If convicted, she faces more than 350 years in prison. A jury must issue a unanimous verdict to convict. After the list of prospective jurors was passed out to the attorneys, there was a brief break so either side could sort through the information. Brown was actively engaged with her attorney James Smith III during this break, including pointing to different items on the papers that were handed out. Prospective jurors then filed in one-by-one, seated in the order of their randomly assigned number, to face the initial group questioning. For this jury selection process, Klindt told the courtroom he had studied high profile and high publicity cases from the Middle District of Florida and the 11th Circuit to determine the best practices. Even before the standard questions, he asked jurors about any familiarity with Brown, whether they’ve supported her in the past, whether they have any bias toward or against her, whether they know the witnesses who will be called, and similar areas. While there were only a few people who said they knew Brown or had any feelings about her, more than half of the pool- 39 people- had some level of personal knowledge about this case because of conversations, social media, or what they’ve consumed through the news. These questions were laid out in the group setting, with jurors raising their hands, but not providing much additional detail initially. Individual questioning then followed, where the court got a better idea of the range of knowledge about the case and, more importantly, whether that information has led the prospective jurors to form an opinion on guilt or innocence, and if that opinion could be set aside to consider only the evidence presented as trial and the instructions provided by the court. The court also probed deeper in to any “extreme hardship” that would prevent a juror from committing to this trial, with most of those relating to medical or financial issues. The extended questioning was done individually because Klindt specifically said he wanted to be careful that anything a prospective juror has to say will not influence others. In all, 45 prospective jurors in the 65 person pool were questioned through Monday, specifically about this case. 21 were excused “for cause”. The remaining 24, along with the 20 people who didn’t face questioning today will return Tuesday for the second phase of screening. That will involve the standard questioning, like personal information of the prospective jurors, whether they’ve served on a jury before and other areas. Before that second phase, though, Klindt has decided to add another ten or so prospective jurors to the pool. They’ll be individually questioned to start the day, and any remaining after that will join the group of 44 rolled over from today. In addition to strikes “for cause”, attorneys have a set number of “peremptory” strikes they can exercise when questioning is done. The attorneys for both sides have been allowed to ask questions of the prospective jurors as well, through the process so far. WOKV is inside the federal courthouse as these proceedings move forward. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.
  • A central Florida woman has been charged in the death of her 18-month-old daughter, accused of strangling the toddler with a string of Halloween lights last Nov.  >> Read more trending news Kristen DePasquale, 27, faces charges of premeditated murder and child abuse. The mother told police officers that she is innocent, and claims her 2-year-old son is responsible, according to CBS News. >> Related: Man threatens teens with gun over noisy car, punches them When officers arrived to DePasquale’s home in Oviedo they found her daughter unconscious on the living-room floor with “deep grooves” around her neck, CBS reported. Medical officials tried to perform CPR on the child, but attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. Police believe the weapon used on the infant was a string of pumpkin-shaped Halloween lights that were hanging on the sliding glass doors of the home.  >> Related: Woman bites nail salon manager, threatens customers with pen The medical examiner said that the marks on the toddler’s neck “was so deep it required more force than a 2 1/2-year-old boy could muster,” CBS reported. The examiner also concluded that the girl was strangled for four to six minutes. But DePasquale’s attorneys claim that the boy confessed to his mother before officers arrived and then to a child-welfare worker three days later. Prosecutors said they do not believe the boy’s confession is credible, according to CBS News.  DePasquale has no criminal history or record of child abuse with the Florida Department of Children and Families, media outlets reported. 
  • A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush said the 92-year-old will remain under observation at a Houston hospital for a few more days after he was admitted last week with a mild case of pneumonia. >> Read more trending news Bush was taken to Houston Methodist Hospital on April 14 with a persistent cough, spokesman James McGrath said. Doctors determined that the 41st president had pneumonia and successfully treated him. McGrath said in a statement Monday that Bush’s medical team hopes he will be released by the end of the week. McGrath said Friday that Bush would remain hospitalized over the weekend as a precaution. He and his wife, Barbara Bush, are scheduled to travel to Maine soon, and doctors want to “ensure (he has) a fully clean bill of health,” McGrath said. >> Related: George H.W. Bush gets a visit from son George W. Bush while in the hospital “President Bush feels terrific and is buoyed by regular visits from his family and phone calls with friends such as (former Vice  President) Dan Quayle,” he said. McGrath said on Wednesday that Bush “continues to gain strength.” “Mr. Bush had a good night’s rest and his spirits are high,” McGrath said. “Although he will not be discharged today, he is already looking forward to going home to Mrs. Bush, who has been constantly by his side.” The hospitalization is the second this year for Bush. He was hospitalized for two weeks in January with a case of bacterial pneumonia. His wife, Barbara Bush, was also briefly hospitalized with viral bronchitis.
  • Supermarket chain Albertsons is exploring a possible takeover of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, the Financial Times is reporting, citing unnamed sources. Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers about making a bid for Whole Foods, the Financial Times reported, citing a person close to the buyout firm. No formal bid has yet been made, according to two people briefed on the situation. >> Read more trending news Whole Foods’ shares jumped more than 4 percent in afternoon trading following the Financial Times’ report. The reported interest from Albertsons comes about two weeks after investment group Jana Partners revealed it had built a 9 percent stake in Whole Foods and raised the possibility of either a management shakeup or even a sale for the company. Whole Foods has a current market value of about $11 billion. Also, online retail giant Amazon last year considered making a takeover bid for Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc., but decided not to pursue a deal, Bloomberg news service reported last week. >> Related: Lawsuit claims Whole Foods managers fired for whistle-blowing A number of factors, including intensified competition, have hit the Austin-based Whole Foods hard, leading to struggles in recent quarters. A March report from a Barclays analyst, for instance, suggested Whole Foods had lost 14 million customers since 2015 - many of them to Kroger, which has stepped up its organic offerings. >> Related: Amazon considered bid to buy Whole Foods Founded in Austin in 1978, Whole Foods has 462 stores worldwide and 87,000 employees. In its fiscal first quarter, Whole Foods recorded record sales of $4.9 billion, but saw its net income decline and also lowered its earnings projections for the year.    

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