News

FCN asks judge to undo motions in Dunn case

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In a motion filed in Circuit Court Tuesday, lawyers for First Coast News and The Florida Times-Union asked Judge Russell Healey to reverse several previous decisions restricting public records in the Michael Dunn case.

The motion could have far-reaching implications, since it asks the judge to "unseal all sealed documents in the record," which would include witness names. That may lead to the release of the many hours of recorded phone conversations that defendant Dunn has made while in jail, because witness names are part of the reason prosecutors have said they need to redact the tapes.

Amelia Island residents: 'Bring back the peacocks'

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Peacocks have been a part of the Amelia Island landscape for the past fifty years.

"It is commonplace to walk out and see peacocks walking around the neighborhood," said Pam Bell.

Bell, a photographer, said yes the birds can be noisy at times and yes they may leave a mess in the area, but they are part of the community.

Several years ago, the county placed peacock crossing signs on Scott Road, an area where they gather.

"What has happened here is a whole population of birds," said Wade Bell, "have been wiped out."

No one has ever claimed ownership, not the county, not the community.

Recently, a couple of property owners, annoyed by the birds, hired a private trapper to catch and remove the peacocks.

Nick Hartley is trapper and owner of 'Krit R Done.'

"We were reluctant to take the job," he said.

Now he has become the target of complaints and criticism.

Resident not happy about JEA pole location

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For decades, Stockton Street residents have enjoyed sidewalks that are at least four feet wide and made of special cut stones.

Last month things changed, much to their chagrin.

"I don't like it," said Freddie Demmons.

Demmons said in December, he received a knock from a JEA representative.

"They said 'the lights will be off about an hour.' That was it," he said.

When they left the neighborhood, he was stunned by what he saw.

"They placed the new electric poles in the middle of the sidewalk," said Demmons, "I don't like it."

The affected area is in Councilman Warren Jones' district.

"I was surprised," said Jones.

The JEA, improving its infrastructure, moved the electric poles from the curb to what is almost the center of the sidewalk.

"It is disruptive to the neighborhood and it is certainly unattractive," said Jones.

Former officer in court on child porn charges

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Corrections Officer Leon Brooks Sr. was arraigned in Federal Court Thursday on charges of possession of child pornography.

Dressed in a striped polo, with his court-ordered ankle bracelet emitting a frequent low-battery beep, Brooks pleaded not guilty to all four counts against him.

Brooks, 39, waived a full reading of the indictment -- which contains graphic language describing the videos he is accused of possessing -- but Assistant U.S. Attorney Diidri Robinson detailed his potential punishment. If convicted of all four counts against him, Brooks faces 75 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.

Gator Bowl special treat for some military families

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Gator Bowl outing brought together 55 children and spouses of deceased military servicemen.

The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation helped bring the families together for the game.  The organization based in Jacksonville Beach has a primary mission of assisting children get a college education when their mother or father was killed while on active duty.

Jessica Blake along with her children Tommy and Lily made the trip from Omaha, Nebraska. The family once lived in Jacksonville until 2005.  That's when Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Blake was killed near NAS Jacksonville when his Navy jet crashed.

"It meant a lot. We both went to Nebraska. We are big Husker fans...I enjoyed my time here in Jacksonville," said Blake when asked about the chance to see her team in bowl action.

Business owners look forward to Gator Bowl boost

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Small business owners in and around the Jacksonville Landing anticipate a sales boost thanks to the 2014 Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.

In downtown Jacksonville, you'll find Phyllis Brooks and her team. She owns Gator Dog, LLC. She is excited about the Gator Bowl.

"Meeting people, of course, making money," she said Tuesday morning. "And just hanging out."

They've only been in business about five months, but they'll be open on New Year's Day in a spot near Independent Drive.

They usually make $100-$200 a day. But on game day, Brooks anticipates a 100 percent increase in sales.

"Hopefully around $1,000 or two," she said.

Brooks said she hopes the rain holds off and said there is a key to hot dog stand success.

City pension talks violated state Sunshine Laws

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A landmark court ruling today found that the city of Jacksonville violated state Sunshine Laws during talks about how to reform police and firefighter pensions.

Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace ruled that a month-long secret mediation that occurred earlier this year among city officials, union leaders and representatives of the Police and Fire Pension Fund ought to have been open to the public.

The judge's order also requires that future negotiations on pension fund matters occur in the open, as required by collective bargaining rules.