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Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast
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Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast

Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast
Photo Credit: Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. (Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast

Almost a dozen men sentenced to death because of crimes committed on the First Coast have had those penalties upheld by the Florida Supreme Court.

The Court denied appeals relating to sentences for 30 cases in the past three days- including nine from Duval, one from Clay, and one from St. Johns- following their latest ruling that continues to refine Florida’s death penalty sentencing process. 

This all started in early 2016, when the US Supreme Court ruled Florida’s death penalty sentencing scheme unconstitutional through the Hurst case. At the time, the ruling was based on the fact that juries recommended a sentence, but were only advisory, and the judge issued the final decision. The state legislature passed a new law to address that, but then the Florida Supreme Court struck that down, saying a unanimous jury must now be required in order to impose the death penalty. 

That ruling, which came in October 2016, left open the question of what would happen with inmates on death row who had been sent there by a non-unanimous vote. That became more clear at the end of 2016. 

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in December 2016 that any death penalty imposed by a non-unanimous jury that became final before the 2002 Supreme Court case known as Ring would stand, because it was based on the understanding of the law at the time. In Ring, the High Court ruled Arizona’s death penalty sentencing scheme was unconstitutional, and while Florida’s law was discussed, there was nothing explicitly ordered for the state at the time. In the Hurst ruling, the Supreme Court determined Ring did, in fact, apply to Florida- hence the creation of that case as the dividing line. Subsequently, as appeals have been coming before the state’s high court, non-unanimous death sentences imposed and finalized after Ring have been sent for a new sentencing phase, while those pre-Ring have stood. 

The latest wrinkle that led the Florida Supreme Court to put pending appeals on hold was Hitchcock. In this case, the defendant argued that Hurst meant his non-unanimous death sentence was unconstitutional under both Florida and the US Constitution, even though it was finalized in 2000. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in August 2017 that they had consistently upheld the standard they had put in place, and as such, the defendant was not entitled to a new sentencing phase. 

With Hitchcock settled, in the last three days alone the Florida Supreme Court has denied appeals from 30 death row inmates. Eleven of those inmates are from the First Coast. 

Clay County 

Donald Bradley- sentenced to death for the 1995 murder of Jack Jones. He was also convicted of burglary in connection to this crime. The wife of Jones propositioned Bradley to intimidate and assault him but make it look like a home invasion, in response to an affair Jones was having with a teen girl. Bradley got two brothers- Brian and Patrick McWhite- to help, telling them it would be an assault. Bradley’s assault with a “war stick” and gun left Jones with injuries he ultimately died from. The brothers and Jones’ wife, Linda, were arrested as well. The jury recommended death for Bradley 10-2. 

St. Johns County 

John Marquard- sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Stacy Willets. He was also convicted of armed robbery in connection to this crime. Marquard, Willets, and Mike Abshire drove from North Carolina to Florida, where they were all planning to move. The two men had talked about killing Willet for her car and money before leaving North Carolina, and while stopped in South Carolina, Marquard said he was going to kill her. In St. Augustine, the men lured Willet into the woods by telling her she was invited to a party, and ultimately Marquard stabbed her and pushed her face into a puddle until she stopped breathing. The two then tried to sever her head from her body. Abshire was also convicted and was sentenced to life. The jury recommended death for Marquard by 12-0 

Duval County 

Pressley Alston- sentenced to death for the 1995 murder of James Lee Coon. He was convicted of other crimes in connection to this, including robbery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and more. Coon was last seen after visiting his grandmother at a Jacksonville hospital. Alston and his half-brother, Dee Ellison, were both arrested, and Alston confessed, saying they had planned a robbery a few days prior, but couldn’t find anyone to rob. A day later, they saw Coon, got in his car, took his watch and cash, and then fatally shot him. The jury recommended death for Alston 9-3. 

Marvin Jones- sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of Monique Stow. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Ezra Stow in connection to this crime. Jones bought a used car from Ezra Stow and wrote a check for the vehicle and repairs, knowing it would bounce. Stow’s daughter, Monique, called Jones to arrange payment, and Jones agreed to come by to give the money. Instead, he fatally shot Monique while she was in the restroom, and shot Stow when he reached for his own gun. The jury recommended death for Jones by 9-3. 

Jason Stephens- sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of 3-year-old Robert Sparrow III. He was also convicted of kidnapping, several counts of armed robbery, and other charges in connection to this crime. Stephens and several accomplices, including Horace Cummings and others who were never apprehended, broke in to the home of a man to steal money and marijuana. The toddler and many other people were in the home at the time, and they were held hostage by Stephens and his accomplices. When they left, Stephens took the toddler as “insurance” and left him in a car in a sunny area. He was found dead hours later. The medical examiner testified the toddler died from asphyxiation, but could not rule out hyperthermia. The jury recommended death for Stephens by 9-3. 

Ronald Clark Jr.- sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Ronald Willis. He was also convicted of armed robbery in connection to this crime. Clark and another man, John Hatch, were hitchhiking, when Willis pulled over to pick them up. Clark ordered Willis to pull over, and then fatally shot Willis. The men dumped the victim’s body in a ditch, used his stolen car to drive around doing things through the night, and then retrieved the body, weighted it, and dumped it in the water off the Nassau County Sound Bridge. Hatch was caught in Nassau County and Clark was caught in South Carolina. The jury recommended death for Clark by 11-1. 

Etheria Jackson- sentenced to death for the 1985 murder of Linton Moody. Moody and his brother owned a furniture shop, and he had gone to Jackson’s home to get a payment for a washing machine from Jackson’s live-in girlfriend. Jackson assaulted Moody, had his girlfriend take Moody’s wallet and keys, choked him unconscious, hit him, and stabbed him multiple times. Jackson and his girlfriend hid the body in carpet and put that in the victim’s vehicle. Some of the stolen money was used to buy cocaine. The jury recommended death for Jackson by 7-5. 

Gregory Kokal- sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of Jeffrey Russell. Kokal and William O’Kelly picked up Russell, who was hitchhiking, and drove to a Jacksonville Beach park where they beat Russell with a pool cue and robbed him. Russell was then fatally shot. The jury recommended death for Kokal by 12-0. 

William Sweet- sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of 13-year-old Felicia Bryant. Sweet was also convicted of attempted murder and armed burglary in connection to this crime. Sweet is one of three men who had robbed and physically accosted a woman in her apartment, and the other two men had been identified. The victim asked a neighbor if her two daughters- including Felicia- could stay with her, and the neighbor agreed. The other daughter heard a loud kick overnight. She later saw someone pulling on the screen in the living room, and ultimately, they all saw Sweet outside. They alerted the girls’ mother, who came over, but as they all attempted to leave, Sweet forced his way in and opened fire, hitting the initial victim and Felicia. The jury recommended death for Sweet by 10-2. 

Steven Taylor- sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Alice Vest. Taylor was also convicted of burglary and sexual battery in connection to this crime. Vest’s body was found in her bedroom, and the phone line to her home had been severed. She had been sexually assault, stabbed about 20 times with a knife and scissors, strangled, and hit with a metal bar and candlestick, among other things. Taylor and Gerald Murray were arrested for the crime, which Taylor said was a burglary gone badly. The jury recommended death for Taylor by 10-2. 

William Thomas- sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Rachel Thomas, his wife. Thomas was also convicted of burglary and kidnapping in connection to this crime. Thomas planned to kidnap and kill his wife to avoid paying his portion of their impending divorce settlement. He beat her and tied her up and took her from the scene by vehicle, and she was never seen again. A friend of Thomas, Douglas Schraud, was involved in the kidnapping and was convicted. Thomas also received a life sentence for the murder of his mother, Elsie Thomas, with the motive to keep her from talking to police about his wife’s murder. The jury recommended death for Thomas by 11-1.

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  • Two women are dead, including a 2016 candidate for a Delaware State Senate seat, in a Pennsylvania murder-suicide that investigators said was sparked by one woman’s affair with the other’s husband.  Radnor Township police officials reported Tuesday that Jennair Gerardot, 47, of Wilmington, Delaware, broke into the rental home of 33-year-old Meredith Sullivan Chapman on Monday and waited for Chapman to return home from work at Villanova University, where she was recently named an assistant vice president.  According to the Villanovan, the university’s newspaper, Chapman started her new job a week before she was killed. She lived in the house where she died about the same length of time.  “Couldn’t be more excited...,” she wrote online Monday, about two hours before she was killed. “Just a week on the job and I’m already feeling the love from #NovaNation.” When Chapman arrived home Monday evening, Gerardot shot her once in the head before turning the gun on herself. Gerardot also died of a single gunshot wound to the head, Radnor Township Deputy Chief Christopher Flanagan said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.  >> Read more trending news A Taurus Tracker .357 Magnum revolver was found at the crime scene, with two of its seven rounds missing.  Investigators believe Gerardot took a train from Delaware to Chapman’s home – while wearing a wig and clothing later found discarded in a bag at the scene -- and broke in through the front door, cleaning up the glass so her target would not notice anything wrong when she came home.  “It’s not a love triangle. You had a man who was married that was having an affair with this other woman,” Radnor Township Police Superintendent William Colarulo said during the news conference.  “The wife knew about it. And this was a calculated, planned attack,” Colarulo said. “She broke into the house. She was lying in wait, and she shot her as soon as she walked in, and then she shot herself.  “There were emails and text messages indicating what she planned to do. Detectives are still sorting that out.” Flanagan said Tuesday that officers were called to Chapman’s home just after 7 p.m. Monday after receiving a 911 call reporting two people down and blood inside the residence. They were met in the driveway by Gerardot’s husband, Mark Gerardot, who said he believed his wife might be inside the house.  The officers went inside the home and found both women dead in the kitchen. Flanagan said that Mark Gerardot, 49, told police officers that he and his wife were having domestic problems that also involved Chapman. Investigators said he had been led to believe that Chapman would be meeting him nearby for dinner.  The Courier-Express in DuBois, Pennsylvania, reported that Mark Gerardot was waiting for Chapman to show up when he began receiving disturbing text messages from his wife. He went to Chapman’s home because of those messages and found the bodies.  See the entire Radnor Township police news conference, streamed live Tuesday by the News Journal in Wilmington, below.  Chapman’s neighbor, Melissa DeJoseph, told the Inquirer she saw the victim drive up between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and, with a bag over her shoulder, walk toward the door. A few seconds later, she heard sharp noises from inside the house. “In my head, I was, like, ‘Is that a gunshot? No, it can’t be a gunshot,’” DeJoseph told the Inquirer.  Other neighbors also reported hearing the gunshots.  Chapman was married to Luke Chapman, a former Newark city councilman, but they were no longer living together, the Inquirer reported. Luke Chapman announced earlier this year that he would not run for a fourth term in office.  Prior to her position at Villanova, Meredith Chapman served as senior director of marketing for the University of Delaware, where she also got her college degree. She also taught at the university as an adjunct professor.  She worked on several political campaigns, as well as on Capitol Hill, where she collaborated with former Vice President Joe Biden when he was a Delaware state senator, according to her Facebook page. She served as communications manager for then-U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in 2007 and 2008, the News Journal reported.  Chapman ran unsuccessfully for a Delaware State Senate seat in 2016, losing the election to opponent Dave Sokola. Sokola expressed shock at the news of Chapman’s slaying. “Kathy and I are stunned by the news about Meredith and I’m deeply, deeply saddened to learn that such a promising young woman’s life has been cut so short,” Sokola wrote on Facebook. “I’ve always respected my opponents and Meredith was certainly no exception. She was sharp, hard-working and motivated by a sincere desire to serve her community. She was bound for great things and it’s tragic for that light to go out so soon. “I’ve also had the privilege to work with her husband, Luke, over the years, and he especially is in our hearts today. We wish him strength, peace, and privacy in what we know is an incredibly difficult and painful time.' Like Sokola, Chapman’s friends expressed shock on social media.  “I’m absolutely floored,” Richard Wisk wrote. “Meredith, RIP, you will be missed tremendously.” Colleen Auer-Smith described Chapman as a bright light and a “ray of sunshine.” “Why of all people? I don’t understand,” Auer-Smith wrote.  A family spokesperson described Chapman as a “beacon of light” to all who knew her in a statement obtained by the News Journal. “She loved her family fiercely, was a compassionate friend and among the most talented and innovative professionals in her field,” the statement read. “Her death was sudden and tragic, but will not define who she was to the thousands of people who loved her. Her family is devastated, heartbroken and requests privacy and respect as they grieve.” Mark Gerardot worked as a creative director at the University of Delaware until earlier this month, when he left that position. Before her move to Villanova University, Chapman was his supervisor, the News Journal reported.  He and his wife also previously ran their own marketing and design company, the Inquirer reported.  Jennair Gerardot also spent five years as marketing manager for a South Carolina-based marketing company, Circor Instrumentation, before leaving that job in December.  According to a post she wrote on the NextDoor neighborhood app in February, she left her position at Circor because of her husband’s new job at the University of Delaware.  The Inquirer, which tracked down Gerardot’s post, reported that she went on NextDoor pleading for help with her marriage. “I just transferred to Delaware in December for my husband’s new job, and he’s telling me he wants a divorce,” she wrote, according to the newspaper. “I don’t know anyone and am completely clueless to the area.” She asked for a recommendation for a reputable, successful and driven divorce lawyer.  Gerardot returned to NextDoor in March.  “Please recommend an EXCELLENT marriage counselor for couple on the brink of divorce,” she wrote.  The Inquirer reported that the posts did not make clear whether the couple ever sought counseling. 
  • Over two weeks after being the subject of an FBI raid, President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer filed notice in a California federal court on Wednesday that he would exercise his right against self-incrimination, and refuse to answer questions about a lawsuit linked to a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who has claimed she had a past affair with Mr. Trump. “Based upon the advice of counsel, I will assert my 5th amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” Cohen said in a court declaration. The legal battle centers on the $130,000 payment – which Daniels said amounted to ‘hush money’ – to keep her quiet before the 2016 election, money which Cohen has publicly acknowledged that he paid. In his court filing on Wednesday, Cohen made clear “the FBI seized various electronic devices and documents in my possession, which contain information relating to the $130,000 payment.” Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, immediately seized upon the decision by Cohen, labeling it a ‘stunning development.’ This is a stunning development. Never before in our nation’s history has the attorney for the sitting President invoked the 5th Amend in connection with issues surrounding the President. It is esp. stunning seeing as MC served as the “fixer” for Mr. Trump for over 10 yrs. #basta — Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 25, 2018 Meanwhile, the President seemed to be ready to personally get involved in Cohen’s legal battle over the evidence seized in the FBI raids, which involved information and electronic devices in his home, office and hotel room in New York. In a letter sent to Federal Judge Kimba Wood in New York, lawyers for Mr. Trump wrote, “our client will make himself available, as needed, to aid in our privilege review on his behalf.” It’s not clear what documents the government has seized from Cohen which would involve the President, what subjects they might cover, and how it is related to any investigation of Cohen. Judge Wood set a Thursday midday hearing to get an update from the FBI on what exactly was seized in the April 9 raids, and what has been duplicated and shared with Cohen and his lawyers. For now, those documents are in the hands of a special FBI team, which is not linked to the investigation of Cohen; the judge has suggested she might appoint a “special master” to oversee the handling of that evidence.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars “State of the Franchise” was packed with new information about the fan experience, stadium, Downtown development and more. 1. New season, new look- The Jags have unveiled their new uniforms, which are designed to honor tradition. The two-tone helmets are gone, in favor of a shine-finished traditional look, and the numbering is more simple and modern. The uniforms also have features, like increased ventilation around sweat areas, which are aimed at giving the team a competitive advantage.  GALLERY: New uniforms for the Jacksonville Jaguars For the first time, the team has teal pants- and teal will now be the “Color Rush” uniform, instead of the gold ones the Jags have been using in prior years. Teal is also the alternate uniform, and expected to be worn several times over the season.  2. Cheaper concession options- Concession “classics” will now be only $5 at the stadium. These include hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, fries, and soft drinks. Fans will also still be allowed to bring in food, in accordance with the team’s policy and the NFL’s clear bag rule.  3. Your dog can now cheer for the cats- Among the changes inside of the stadium, the Jags are building a dog daycare/park in partnership with Pet Paradise. This will be on the South End Zone fan deck, will have a water feature, and will only be open on gamedays. Dogs will be pre-screened to ensure they are up to date on shots and have the right temperament for this environment. Fans will be able to see the action inside of the park, but only trained staff will be in with the dogs themselves.  4. Expect a crowd- Tarps will NOT be back at EverBank Field, meaning there are about 3,500 additional tickets being sold every game. There are also a handful of new premium seating options the team rolled out, which they say have already been snatched up. The Jags are also projecting their highest season ticket renewal rate and new season ticket sales, since they started tracking that in 2004.  5. Honoring the military- The team emphasized that veterans and members of the military are not only important to the City of Jacksonville, but to the Jags themselves. The Jags have the highest concentration of veterans in market, compared to other NFL markets. To celebrate that, the North End Zone fan deck is being rebranded in partnership with the veteran-owned business Grunt Style. In addition to creating a competition area for fans and a “hometown pride” area, this is also where the team will celebrate a veteran of the game and veteran business owner of the game, and ring the fourth quarter bell.  6. London will keep calling- The Jags are proud of being the team that has played the most London games of any other in the NFL. They said that game is valuable strategically and in terms of revenue, and they will work on protecting their position. Meanwhile, the UK fan club continues to grow, now standing at more than 86,000 members.  The Jags play the Eagles in London on October 28th at 9:30AM.  7. TIAA Bank going beyond the stadium- We got our first look at the new signage we’ll see at the stadium, as EverBank Field becomes “TIAA Bank Field” before the next football season, but TIAA Bank also announced a pledge to help the community.  The Jaguars and EverBank- which is becoming TIAA Bank- are launching the One Team. One Home. Initiative. They’re partnering to contribute $1 million in the next five years to help build and repair homes in Northeast Florida. This will be a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity affiliates, as well as volunteers and Jags players. EverBank is also pledging additional money to build and repair 100 homes in Florida where TIAA has an existing presence.  8. Lynyrd Skynyrd planning a big homecoming- The band will bring their farewell tour to EverBank Field on September 2nd. They’ll be joined by Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, and others, in a day-long event that also includes food trucks and games.  9. Sports Complex development- The team is still negotiating a redevelopment of the Jacksonville Shipyards, but they’re now expanding on that by pitching a $2.5 billion redevelopment in the Sports Complex. The first step is expected to be Lot J- which could see three mixed-use buildings and a “live arena”. To compensate for the loss in parking, a 3,000 space parking garage would go up where there’s currently a retention pond.  The team says this would be a public/private partnership, but they don’t have an estimate yet on what they would ask for from the City.  GALLERY:Shipyards redevelopment If the Hart Bridge ramps are taken down- which is something the City is currently pursuing- the Jags and their partner The Cornish Companies would seek to continue developing, with a high-end hotel, convention center, upgraded marina and more along the River.  10. A big schedule faces the team in 2018- Technically, this came out after the State of the Franchise, but in the spirit of all this Jags news, it’s also worth mentioning that the team’s schedule is out! Let us know what you think of the announcements on Facebook:
  • It’s a big day for Jaguars fans with Thursday’s kick-off of the NFL Draft from Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium. The Jags enter the draft with seven picks, including the 29th overall selection. A big first-round party will be held in Jacksonville for fans who want to celebrate any new additions to the team. In what the team is calling the largest draft party on the First Coast, fans will be flocking to Daily’s Place and the Dream Finder’s Home Flex Field Thursday night from 6:30 to 11:30 pm. Fans will be able to celebrate with team members beginning at 6:30, with fans’ first chance to see the team’s new uniforms up close to follow at 7:15. TV coverage of the first round of the NFL Draft will appear on video boards in both the amphitheater bowl and flex field. The free event will feature player autograph opportunities and special draft day merchandise and concessions for all guests.  Registration is required. Parking will be free on a first-come, first-served basis in Lots C, E, G, M, W, Y, Maxwell House and Tailgaters. You’ll be able to get in at Gates 1 and 4. Keep in mind there will be multiple events in Downtown Jacksonville on Thursday night, so Gator Bowl Blvd. will be closed between A. Phillip Randolph and Talleyrand Ave beginning at 4:30 pm.
  • An Ohio teen has been charged with aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of his 11-year-old brother, an act that police officials said was premeditated.  Streetsboro Police Department officials said that officers and city fire medics responded just after 9:30 p.m. Monday to the boys’ home, where they found the 11-year-old with a single gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died.  “The victim’s 13-year-old brother was taken into custody in what appears to be a premeditated shooting,” police officials said in a statement.  Police and Streetsboro school officials identified the victim as Caleb Lishing. The older brother has been identified as Elijah Lishing, a student at Bio-Med Science Academy in Rootstown.  News 5 in Cleveland reported that the Elijah Lishing fled the scene on foot, but was found nearby. He was arrested and booked into the Portage County Juvenile Detention Center.  The boys’ were with a babysitter when the shooting took place. News 5 reported that the sitter frantically called 911 to get help. “Something terrible has happened,” the woman said in the call, which the news station obtained. “I’m babysitting two kids. There’s blood everywhere.” The caller told police that Caleb Lishing went to bed around 8:30 p.m. and his brother, a short time later. When she heard a ‘pop,” she ran into the younger boy’s bedroom. “The other boy came out and said, ‘What was that?’ and I ran in here,” the babysitter said.  Caleb Lishing had a hole in his neck and the room smelled of gunpowder, News 5 reported.  “He’s got blood just pouring out of his mouth,” the caller said. “I don’t think he’s breathing.” The babysitter did CPR on the victim until paramedics arrived. The Record-Courier in Kent reported that the woman screamed for Elijah Lishing, but he didn’t respond. “He’s 11 years old and I don’t know where his brother went,” the woman said of Caleb Lishing. “I heard a pop and there’s blood in his chest.” >> Read more trending news Elijah Lishing is accused of shooting his brother with a .357 Magnum stolen from his grandfather’s home. The Record-Courier reported that the teen had to break into a locked gun cabinet to get the weapon.  He is accused of taking apart part of the cabinet when he couldn’t find the key, which the grandfather kept at a different home, the newspaper reported.  Monday’s shooting isn’t the first time police were called to the Lishing home. Police reports indicate that officers were called to the house four days before the homicide after Elijah Lishing’s stepmother reported that he was being “unruly.”  The teen, who expressed thoughts of harming himself, was taken to a behavioral health center for evaluation, News 5 reported. It was unclear what treatment he may have received.  The boys’ parents were out of the country at the time of the shooting, but were on their way home after being contacted by investigators, the Record-Courier said.  Caleb Lishing’s slaying is the first homicide in Streetsboro in nearly 20 years.  “It doesn’t happen here,” Lt. Patricia Wain, a police department spokeswoman, told News 5. “It’s traumatizing. A lot of our officers here have kids that age, so to have to walk into that and see that and take that call, it’s very difficult.” A statement from Streetsboro City Schools administrators said that the school community was “shocked and saddened” by the death of Caleb Lishing, who was in the fifth grade.   “Caleb was a well-liked student by his peers and teachers, and (he) loved coming to school each day,” the statement said. “He was a gentle soul who loved to read and talk to the adults around him.” More than 20 grief counselors were on hand Tuesday to talk with students, faculty, staff members and parents about the loss. The counselors were also offering advice on how to recognize warning signs of potential trouble in children.  Children who are depressed may complain of feeling sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent or caregiver or worry excessively that a parent may die,” officials said on the district website. “Older children may sulk, get into trouble, be negative or grouchy or feel misunderstood. Youth are more likely to respond to treatment if they receive it early in the course of their illness.” Police officials asked for respect and kindness toward the family in a statement on the department’s Facebook page.  “We ask that you keep the family in your thoughts during this difficult time,” the police statement said. “While we respect that everyone may have strong feelings about the incident, we request that you keep your comments positive with respect to the family and our community as they grieve their loss.” Elijah Lishing was due in juvenile court for an initial appearance Wednesday afternoon. A judge issued a gag order in the case to protect the teen’s identity, but the ruling was handed down after police had already released his name and details of the case, the Record-Courier said. 

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