Local News

Tuesday Morning Headlines – Mark Jacobs


A mixup is blamed for letting a suspect in a deadly crash out of jail.  Hunter Black is back behind bars in Escambia County for the crash that killed Antoinette McCoy and her 15-year-old brother, Sean Banks this weekend.  The 24-year-old Black was originally released on bond on Sunday, but prosecutor Bill Eddins said yesterday Black should not have been given bond.  Eddins blamed the release on miscommunication, and Black is now being held without bond. Eddins says that his office has now filed a motion to upgrade Black’s original two counts of DUI manslaughter to two counts of vehicular homicide.


Balloons with the numbers 40, 53 and 28 were on the fence outside Tate High School on Monday. Those were the jersey numbers worn by 15-year old sophomore Sean Banks in basketball, football and baseball. Banks and his older sister Antoinette Marie McCoy, 22, were killed early Saturday morning in a suspected DUI crash on East Kingsfield Road. The number 53 football jersey at Tate has been retired and will never be worn again. A GoFundMe account for the Banks family has been established, according to the Tate Quarterback Club. The funds will help with funeral expenses and time off work for the parents.


There will be a somber feeling around a high school basketball game in Escambia County tonight.  Tate High School will play its first game since center Sean Banks was killed in a car crash this weekend, along with his sister.  The two will be remembered in a pregame ceremony.  Meanwhile, the prosecutor yesterday filed a motion to charge the driver arrested for the crash with vehicular homicide.   


Three of the first members of the “Century Six” are behind bars, and new members have been named. The “Century Six” is a new fugitive listing from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office focusing on those that live in the North Escambia area.  The new program is modeled after the countywide “Dirty Dozen” program.


A Century woman is facing felony charges after allegedly taking a swing at her daughter with a baseball bat. 44-year old Kimberly Renee Harwell is in jail with bond set at $20,000. An Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrest report says Harwell was apparently dating the father of one of her daughter’s children, leading to an argument between the two. Harwell allegedly hit her adult daughter in the face with a metal bat. When Harwell was booked into the Escambia County Jail, corrections officers reported finding her in possession a plastic bag containing a substance that test positive for meth.


Governor Ron DeSantis says he will “very soon” announce changes in how the state is carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.  The GOP governor says many voters believe the state has been “foot dragging” in implementing the amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters in 2016. The new governor and his lieutenants have indicated DeSantis intends to abandon an appeal of a court decision that said a ban on smoking medical marijuana violates the constitutional amendment. Former Governor Rick Scott’s administration appealed the decision to the 1st District Court of Appeal, which heard arguments in the case on the same day DeSantis was sworn into office.


A ceremony marking the demolition of the former Escambia County Central Booking and Detention Facility will take place later tomorrow. The program will include the history of the building and future plans for the site. A moment of silence will be held for the approximately 600 inmates and staff who were in the building when an explosion killed two and injured 184 others in April 2014. The ceremony is at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Video Visitation Center outside the facility’s east gate.


A Republican lawmaker wants to eliminate the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission meets every 20 years and can place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. Representative Brad Drake filed a proposed constitutional amendment and a related bill that would repeal the commission which will be considered during the legislative session starting March 5. If approved by lawmakers, the proposal would go on the 20-20 ballot since it requires changing the state Constitution. The proposal comes after the commission last year placed seven amendments on the November ballot, with all ultimately passing. The commission drew controversy and legal challenges, in part, because it lumped together seemingly unrelated issues into single ballot proposals. The commission is next scheduled to meet in 2037 and 2038.


A mechanical problem Friday with a seized drug plane being used to shuttle Gov. Ron DeSantis throughout the state has revived talk of new or improved air transportation for the governor and, maybe, members of the Florida Cabinet. New Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and House Speaker Jose Oliva raised the possibility of discussing air-transport issues Friday, shortly after a twin-engine King Air carrying DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and four members of DeSantis’ staff was forced to make an emergency landing in St. Petersburg while flying from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has provided little information about the seized King Air.


Nearly 80 roads will be resurfaced or paved throughout Santa Rosa County by the end of 2019, as the county’s public works department completes its fiscal year. Commissioners approved the $2.7 million road improvements project last year. Of that, $1.2 million is coming from the county’s Local Option Sales Tax fund, which started in 2017 and gave the county about $7 million per fiscal year for the next five years to spend on various infrastructure improvements and other needs. The remaining $1.5 million is coming from gas tax funds. The county plans to priotize the worst roads for paving first. Stephen Furman, the county’s Public Works Director, said department is “on track” to paving all 76 roads on its list.

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