WUFT News

Nov. 17, 2014: Afternoon News In 90

By on November 17th, 2014 | Last updated: November 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Taylor Trache produced this update. 

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Nov. 17, 2014: Morning News in 90

By and on November 17th, 2014 | Last updated: November 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

Danielle Prinz produced this update. 

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UAA Confirms Florida’s Will Muschamp Fired After Four Seasons

By on November 16th, 2014 | Last updated: November 17, 2014 at 11:12 am

Muschamp has been chomped.

After a home loss to South Carolina Saturday, Jeremy Foley – the University of Florida’s Athletic Director – announced Sunday that head coach Will Muschamp will step down at the end of the season, according to a release on Gatorzone.com.

The Gators’ 23-20 overtime loss to the Gamecocks, their fourth consecutive loss in The Swamp, was the final straw.

“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be,” Foley said. “I’ve always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis.”

The 11-win season in 2012 showed promise for the Gators, but after last season’s 4-8 record, Muschamp needed forward momentum to come back from the disappointing season. Although the unexpected win against Georgia was Muschamp’s first in four years, the losses against Alabama, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina eventually outweighed it.

“I appreciate the opportunity that has been offered to me and my family by Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida,” said Muschamp. “I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn’t win enough games – that is the bottom line. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done, and it is my responsibility to get it done.”

Florida’s loss started with Gators kicker Frankie Velez’s blocked kick, which then led to a blocked punt and a South Carolina touchdown–tying the game with only 12 seconds left.

The Gators completed a field goal in overtime, but it wasn’t enough. After driving 25 yards in seven plays, the Gamecocks quarterback ran the ball in for a winning touchdown.

“When you get two blocked kicks with 3:30 to go in the game, it will cost you the football game,’’ Muschamp said. “I don’t know what else to say other than that. I’m very disappointed to lose that football game.”

As the season comes to a close with the Gators playing Eastern Kentucky at home on Nov. 22 and FSU in Tallahassee on Nov. 29, Foley will begin the search for a new coach.

“I will be forever grateful to Will and his staff for their unwavering commitment to the University of Florida and the mission of our athletic program,” Foley said. “He will be missed by everyone in our athletic department – from the people that worked in his office to the people that painted the fields. Will knew everyone and they knew him and everyone in the building loved working with him. Will is as fine a man as you will ever meet, and I will always cherish our relationship with him and his family.”

Muschamp’s football career started when he was a walk-on at Georgia in the early 1990s, which led to a graduate assistant position at Auburn in 1995. He was a defensive coordinator for the LSU Tigers, Miami Dolphins, Auburn Tigers and Texas Longhorns before accepting his first head coaching position with the Gators in 2011.

When signing with Florida, Muschamp agreed to 5 years – 2011 through 2015 – for $13,752,000 with an optional sixth year in 2016 to total $16,502,400. Upon termination by the University Athletic Association without cause, his contract states Muschamp is entitled to a $2 million payout for each year not fulfilled.

After taking over the program from Urban Meyer in 2011, Muschamp’s record was 7-6, winning about 53 percent of the games. He went on to coach the Gators to a 24-17 victory over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl.

In 2012, the Gators were tied at the No. 1 ranking with Georgia for the SEC East after a 11-2 season. Muschamp was named SEC Co-Coach of the Year along with Kevin Sumlin from Texas A&M – this was the first Coach of the Year honor for UF since Spurrier in 1996, according to Gatorzone.com.

The third year of Muschamp’s coaching marked the decline of Florida’s football program. During the 2013 season, Florida went 4-8, winning only 33 percent of the games, with a disappointing loss to Georgia Southern at home.

This season, Muschamp won his first game against Georgia, but after the loss to South Carolina, the Gators are 5-4 and have dropped to 4-4 in the SEC. Florida has lost six of the last eight home games dating back to last season.

Upon entering the game Saturday, the Gators’ potential for a division title was still alive, but Florida’s loss to the Gamecocks in overtime destroyed the possibility.

Muschamp finished 27-20 at UF, including 17-15 in the SEC.

“I have no bitter feelings, but this is a business, and I wish we would have produced better results on the field,” Muschamp said. “We have a great group of players and a staff that is committed to this University and this football program. They have handled themselves with class, and I expect them to continue to do so. As I’ve said many times, life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond.”

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South Carolina Defeats Florida In OT

By on November 16th, 2014 | Last updated: November 16, 2014 at 7:23 pm
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Reports Indicate Florida Football Coach Muschamp Out at End of Season

By on November 16th, 2014 | Last updated: November 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

ESPN 850 WRUF has also confirmed media reports that head football Coach Will Muschamp will be leaving his post at the end of this season. No official word on when the University Athletic Association will make an announcement. Follow along on this developing story.

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Nov. 14, 2014: Afternoon News in 90

By on November 14th, 2014 | Last updated: November 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Melissa Walpole produced this update. 

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From Gainesville with Love and Jacmel Haiti

By on November 14th, 2014 | Last updated: November 16, 2014 at 1:36 pm

In the backyard of a large dollhouse, neighbors could hear chanting, drums and screams. If they looked outside their windows they would see the spiritual markings of an ancient culture chalked with Gold Medal Flour.

In the student-ridden part of downtown Gainesville at 301 NW 3rd St., on the corner of Third Street and Third Avenue, a group of 12 Haitian artists performed a traditional Voodoo ritual on Wednesday. This was just one of the events the Haitian visitors put on for what has come to be known as Haiti Week.

From Gainesville with Love (FGWL) is a part of the Sister City Program that connects Jacmel, Haiti and Gainesville, Florida. Jacmel was once the capital of the french colonial empire, which is one of Haiti’s only tourist cities and has been called Haiti’s cultural capital.

David Ames reintroduced the program after the catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 and has acted as director for the last four years. The partnership was formed to educate the two cities about each other by bringing artists and volunteers from Gainesville to Jacmel and Jacmel to Gainesville.

“We wanted to find a small city that had a good cultural scene with arts or music and a similar demographic to Gainesville,” Ames said.

Ames was surprised to find that Gainesville had an existing relationship with Jacmel since 1987. In the beginning years the program flourished. Due to political turmoil between the two countries, the program had become defunct. This is now the fourth trip to Gainesville for the Haitian visitors since 2010 and the artist collective of Fosaj has invaded Ames’ home. Fosaj, stands for Fanal Otantik Sant D’A Jakmel and is a not-for-profit art center in Jacmel, whose mission is to empower people through community arts, education and environmental programs.

“This time around has been very different,” Ames said. “I am not acting so much as a director but as a facilitator. Everyone is coming together to put on each of the events.”

They arrived in the United States on Oct. 27 at Miami International Airport and flew into Gainesville on Oct 28. Their goal was to produce traditional Voodoo rituals through live mural paintings and music produced by Medusa Studios.

During their stay, they visited numerous schools, including Oakridge International School and P.K. Yonge Research Developmental School, where they painted with students and played music. They held performances and art shows at venues like The Jam, 1982 and the local farmers’ market. They also created a live mural painting at the Civic Media Center. On their last day, they held a traditional Voodoo ceremony in the backyard of Ames’s home.

Another goal of the exchange is to sell the work of the Jacmel artists. The leader of Fosaj artist collective in Jacmel is led by Luckner Candio (Prince Luc).

“We don’t have the abilities to explore different cultures as much as others do,” Prince Luc said. “We are able to come here and sell our work so we can learn and continue to collaborate.”

FGWL continues to be involved in community projects in congruence with other not-for-profits, such as the Barrels of Hope earthbag build, in which the group helped build and train contractors to build low-cost, durable housing solutions.

Brad Bulifant, co-founder of FGWL, played back up drums for the Fosaj collective as they recorded a song at Medusa Studios in Gainesville on Nov. 5.

“Ideally the goal for some of this stuff is preserving the traditional while making some of this accessible to Americans or Haitians,” Bulifant said in reference to the songs they had recorded. “Some of this stuff is a great way to cross pollinate the musical styles that we love into a song we can play together.”

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Chadwick Banks Executed By Lethal Injection For Double-Murder

By on November 14th, 2014 | Last updated: November 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm
Undated arrest photo of Chadwick Banks.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Undated arrest photo of Chadwick Banks.

In 1992, Chadwick Banks was convicted of raping and murdering his 10-year-old stepdaughter Melody Cooper. Banks was also convicted in the killing of his wife and Melody’s mother Cassandra Banks, who was sleeping at the time of her murder. He was sentenced to death.

Twenty-two years later, on Thursday evening, the state of Florida carried out the sentence. Banks, 43, was pronounced dead at 7:27 p.m. by lethal injection. He chose not to take a sedative, according to officials.

In his final words, Banks apologized to the people who were hurt by his actions.

“Year after year, I have tried to come up with a reasonable answer for my actions, but how could such acts be reasonable?” he said.

Cassandra Banks’ mother and Melody’s grandmother, Annette Black, acknowledged Banks’ apology and said she hopes this will influence others to think about the consequences before committing such crimes.

Cassandra Banks's sister, Gail Black, holds up pictures of Cassandra and her daughter, Melody, to be remembered.

Whitney Lavaux/WUFT News

Cassandra Banks' sister, Gail Black, holds up pictures of Cassandra and her daughter Melody to be remembered.

“It’s a pain that cannot be erased,” Black said. “Almost any decision a person makes can be reversed…but once you take a precious life, nothing can ever bring that life back again.”

The execution was originally scheduled for 6 p.m., but a last minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay resulted in a later start. The appeal argued that Florida’s method of lethal injection classifies as cruel and unusual punishment and that Banks’ post-conviction legal representation was inadequate. It was denied.

The last meal Banks ate consisted of fried fish, homemade french fries, hush puppies, old-fashioned dinner rolls, homemade banana pudding, red velvet cake, butter pecan ice cream and a glass of ice water.

Seth Penalver considers Banks a personal friend. Penalver and Banks played basketball and football, worked out and laughed during their time in prison together. Penalver spent 18 years in prison, six on death row, before being exonerated.

“There is no doubt as to his [guilt] … but it still doesn’t make it right,” Penalver said. “Who are we to pick and choose to take somebody’s life?”

Protestors gather outside of the prison to demonstrate their opposition to the death penalty.

Whitney Lavaux / WUFT News

Protestors gather outside of the Florida State Prison to demonstrate their opposition to the death penalty.

Death penalty protestors gathered outside of the Florida State Prison to light candles and sing songs in support of Banks. Banks wrote a letter to the group to be read at the gathering. In it, he thanked them for their love and support and said, “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today I’m alright.”

Mark Elliott, executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, was among the protestors.

“It’s just revenge killings,” he said. “There’s no need to kill someone who’s going to be in prison and never get out anyway.”

Banks is the 20th inmate to be executed under Gov. Rick Scott. This is the largest number of executions to occur during a governor’s single term in office.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, in the 1972 case of Furman v. Georgia the U.S. Supreme Court held that the death penalty was unconstitutional. As a result of this decision, the sentences of 95 men and one woman on Florida’s Death Row were commuted to life in prison.

But the Court overturned its ruling and reinstated capital punishment in the 1976 case of Gregg v. Georgia. Eighty-nine people have been put to death in Florida since executions resumed in the state in 1979.

Turosia Bright, a friend and coworker of Cassandra Banks, was also present outside of the prison to show her support for Cassandra.

Friends of the victims wait outside of the Florida State Prison for news on the execution of Chadwick Banks.

Whitney Lavaux/WUFT News

Friends of the victims wait outside of the Florida State Prison for news on the execution of Chadwick Banks.

“We are here in support of the sentence being carried out in the manner that we wish that it be carried out,” Bright said. “It doesn’t give resolve to the situation, but it gives a bit of closure.”

On Sept. 24, 1992, Bright was supervising a shift that Cassandra was supposed to be working, but Cassandra never showed up. When she didn’t come into work, Bright went to the house to knock on her door. Later that day, Bright learned that Cassandra and Melody’s bodies had been found.

“He took two precious lives, very innocent lives, lives that could have been very prosperous, in a most defaming manner, cruel manner,” Bright said.

Fourteen people visited Banks on the day of his death, including his parents, nine siblings, a friend and his spiritual advisor. However, none of his family witnessed the execution.

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Nov. 14, 2014: Morning News in 90

By and on November 14th, 2014 | Last updated: November 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

Jose Zozaya produced this update.

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In The News: Man Steals Chainsaw in Pants, School Board to Keep Satanists Out, Frein Receives Terrorism Charges, Baseball MVPs From Same City

By on November 14th, 2014 | Last updated: November 14, 2014 at 10:48 am
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