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This Hour: Latest Florida news, sports, business and entertainment

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Widow: Jury sent tobacco company a $23B message

NEW YORK (AP) - A Florida widow awarded $23.6 billion in the death of her chain-smoking husband says the massive verdict is a message to Big Tobacco.

Legal experts and industry analysts say the punitive damages - $23,623,718,906.62, to be precise - almost certainly will be significantly reduced on appeal, if not thrown out entirely. In another major tobacco trial, a $28 billion verdict in a 2002 case in Los Angeles turned into $28 million after appeals.

But Cynthia Robinson of Pensacola says the figure almost doesn't matter. Her husband started smoking at 13 and died of lung cancer at 36. She says R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has to own up to what happened to her husband. Legal experts say she probably won't see much of the money.

The tobacco company plans to appeal.


Media organizations want access to records

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida media organizations, including The Associated Press, are asking the state Supreme Court to make public documents used in the state's redistricting trial.

A circuit judge earlier this month ruled that Florida legislators illegally drew maps for Congress. Judge Terry Lewis based part of that ruling on evidence that was not made public.

The evidence included emails and documents taken from Republican political consultants. The consultants sued to block use of the documents. The state Supreme Court allowed Lewis to use the evidence if it was not discussed in open court.

The AP - along with most of the state's major newspapers, WFLA in Tampa, the First Amendment Foundation and the Florida Press Association - filed a motion on Monday asking to present legal briefs on the case to the state Supreme Court.


JetBlue pilot among 6 arrested in Boston drug bust

BOSTON (AP) - A JetBlue pilot is among six people arrested in an investigation of drug dealing in Boston.

Police say Maitland, Florida, resident John Manwaring and a woman with him were charged with heroin possession after Sunday's arrests in connection with drug dealing near the Boston Common public park. Two men were charged with dealing heroin. Another man was charged with cocaine possession. And another was charged with trespassing.

Manwaring and the others pleaded not guilty Monday. Manwaring was released on his own recognizance. He declined to speak with reporters afterward. He returns to court Aug. 13.

New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. says it has removed Manwaring from duty and will cooperate with authorities. JetBlue says it has a rigorous drug testing program and a no-tolerance policy.


Florida mom denied 'stand your ground' defense

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - A judge has denied a Jacksonville woman's request to use Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law as a defense for attempted murder charges that arose after she fired a gun at her husband.

In an order dated earlier this month, Duval County Circuit Court Judge James Daniel rejected 33-year-old Marissa Alexander's request to use the defense at her retrial.

Alexander was previously denied immunity under the state's self-defense law and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

However, that conviction was thrown out by an appeals court, which ruled the trial court mistakenly put the burden on Alexander to prove her husband abused her and that she acted in self-defense.

Alexander's new trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 1.


Health officials crack down on Medicaid marketing

MIAMI (AP) - State health officials are taking a cue from past problems and are banning health insurance companies from marketing their plans directly to Medicaid consumers as the state is rolling out a massive overhaul by transitioning millions into managed care.

Insurance companies are allowed to market to consumers under the contracts, but only if the state gives prior approval. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration isn't approving any marketing events at this time.

State health officials have approved insurers' billboards, radio, bus stop ads and brochures at doctor's offices, but marketing at events like health fairs or any interaction where insurers are talking directly with consumers is forbidden for now.

Marketing Medicaid HMO coverage door-to-door was prohibited in Florida in 1995 after regulators saw people were enrolling in plans they didn't understand.


St. Petersburg gets new police chief

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The police chief in Clearwater has been selected to head St. Petersburg's police force.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman told city leaders that he has selected Anthony Holloway to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of chief Chuck Harmon.

The mayor is expected to hold a news conference with Holloway on Tuesday.

The 52-year-old has been the police chief in Clearwater for the last four years.

The Clearwater department is about half the size of St. Petersburg's. Holloway became the city's first black captain before leaving in 2007 to lead the Somerville Police Department in Massachusetts. In 2010, he returned to Clearwater as chief. Since then, he has updated the agency's crime-tracking technology and required his officers to have more face-to-face contact with residents.


Man gets 100 years for fatal attempted robbery

(Information in the following story is from: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, )

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A South Florida man has been sentenced to 100 years in prison for killing a man and wounding a woman during an attempted home invasion robbery.

A Palm Beach County judge sentenced 33-year-old Fares Mustafa on Monday. He was previously convicted of second-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Authorities say Mustafa broke into a Jupiter home in June 2010 and fatally shot John Anderson. He then shot Anderson's girlfriend, Katie Coonrod, three times and left her for dead.

The Palm Beach Post reports that Mustafa was later arrested in South Carolina. He told police that a friend had set him up to rob Anderson, claiming the man had a stash of prescription drugs and up to $100,000 in the house.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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