Law and public safety

Two men arrested on charges related to running a human sex trafficking business in a Gainesville group home

Two men were arrested Tuesday and accused of running a human sex trafficking business in a Gainesville group home. The arrests happened at a Gate gas station on 3001 NW 13th Street at 4 p.m. The suspects' identities were confirmed as 20-year-old Kevarius Nyrtell King and 25-year-old Justin Terrel Hoyt. The victim was living in the Safe Hands Group Home, a housing service partnered with homeless shelters and co-owned by King since a little less than a year ago. The two men forced the victim into multiple sexual acts, sometimes without her consent, with dozens of men in the group home. Police were able to report the crime as the victim had told the staff at the Tower Road Branch Library that she was a victim of human trafficking and to alert the authorities. Through a search warrant of the group home, police were able to confirm the identities of King and Hoyt and later arrest and charge them with human sex trafficking. King and Hoyt are currently booked in the Alachua County Jail, each with release bonds set at $250,000.

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Prosecutors drop charges against teen accused in high school bomb threat

Alachua Courthouse, Courthouse

Prosecutors in Gainesville have dropped a highly publicized felony criminal case against a teenager they accused of sending a bomb threat to his high school last year. They said they could not determine who was at the keyboard of the laptop used to send the threatening message. The case involved 17-year-old Reginald Javon Copeland Jr., who was among several students accused of sending multiple bomb threats over a week’s time to Eastside High last year. The decision to drop the case against the teen came last week in Alachua County Circuit Court, nearly a year after Copeland was initially arrested.

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Alachua County makes history with approval of equitable criminal sentencing technology

Alachua County made the joint-effort of state attorney Brian Kramer and public defender Stacy Scott a historic reality: Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit will become Florida’s first judicial circuit to integrate equitable sentencing software as an official part of its case management system and plea-bargaining process. Roughly 95% of cases are settled in plea negotiations. Known as the Equity in Sentencing Analysis System (ESAS), this fairly new software provides legal practitioners with a searchable database of statewide sentencing data from the Florida Department of Corrections going back to 1998.

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Cape Coral residents deal with limited food and water supplies after Hurricane Ian devastated the area

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Those impacted by Hurricane Ian on the Gulf Coast were hit hard by flooding and other storm damage, now they’re also facing the prospect of dwindling food and water supplies. The Lee County government announced Saturday that they have opened 8 Points of Distribution (PODS) where residents …

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Lifelines after landfall: Southwest Florida grapples with Hurricane Ian’s impact

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Gulf of Mexico swallowed driftwood, stray shoes, split skim boards and the last vestige of Crystal Edge’s mother’s memory in the days following Hurricane Ian’s devastation. The 28-year-old sailboat – a family heirloom – remained trapped below piled debris at a marina under the Fort …

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How to help Florida disaster victims

Hurricane Ian has left thousands of Florida residents struggling with basic needs, and many organizations are making donation and volunteer opportunities available to the public. Gov. Ron DeSantis encourages the public to make monetary donations to enable relief organizations to do their work. Within the last 24 hours, people have donated more than $2 million to Florida hurricane relief efforts. The Category 4 hurricane shifted its course to the east before making landfall just after 3 p.m. Wednesday, catching residents off guard. Many people who could not evacuate are experiencing flooding and infrastructure failure.

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Florida National Guard aids in Hurricane Ian response

The Florida National Guard is among several federal and state agencies aiding in response efforts after Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Florida’s western coast late Wednesday afternoon. The Florida National Guard announced Wednesday that it has 4,611 Guardsmen activated and ready to help with search and rescue operations, route clearance, aviation and law enforcement support and communication and humanitarian support, including distributing food and water to those in need.

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