Jury sentences Peter Avsenew to death for fatal shooting of Wilton Manors couple

A jury sentenced Peter Avsenew to death Thursday for killing a couple in Wilton Manors in 2010. 

Avsenew showed no reaction to the decision, as the victims’ families nodded their heads in approval. 

He later flicked off the victims’ families before they left the courthouse. 

“In my heart of hearts, I knew that he was making that gesture to us, and then he admitted that he made the gesture to our family,” one of the victim’s sisters, Marci Craig, said. 

“After what happened in that courtroom just now, I’m happy that he’s being put to the death penalty,” Missy Badget, whose brother was also murdered, said.  

Jurors spent Thursday morning hearing closing arguments from the state and the accused, who decided to represent himself. 

Avsenew’s remarks to the jury were brief. 

He told the jurors he has no regrets in life, he’s proud of every decision he’s made in his life and that no one knows what really happened that night.

“My job here is simple. I don’t have to prove anything to you as clearly the state’s proven. All I have to do is be here and behave,” Avsenew said. “It’s up to you to decide life or death based on the information provided to you throughout this entire trial.

“I have no regrets in my life and I am proud of the decisions I’ve made. No one really knows what happened that day. Everyone can speculate what ifs and maybes until they’re blue in the face, which they’ll never really know.”

Prosecutors ended their closing presentation by showing the jury photos from the scene and the gunshot wounds on the victims. 

Before Avsenew spoke to the jury, the judge in the case asked one final time whether he wanted an attorney, which he once again declined. 

Steven Adams and Kevin Powell were shot dead inside their Wilton Manors home in 2010.

Police said the couple took Avsenew in after answering a suggestive post on Craigslist.

Prosecutors said he killed the couple and stole their money, belongings and a car.     

The defense argued that Avsenew found the couple dead and he didn’t call 911 because he’d been working for them as an escort.

The state said there was no proof to back up the claim. 

If jurors had decided to spare Avsenew’s life, he would have been sentenced to life in prison. 

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Florida bill cracks down on leaving children alone in cars

Some lawmakers are looking to make big changes concerning leaving children in cars.

A new bill making its way through the Florida legislature, aims to make it illegal to leave a child alone in a car, even for just for a moment.

Current Florida law says you can leave a child alone in a car for up to 15 minutes. That’s anyone under the age of 6. Under the new bill, parents could be charged with a misdemeanor if they leave their child alone for any length of time.
 
If passed, parents could face a second-degree misdemeanor. The proposed bill would not only give police officers the right to remove your child if they are left behind for just a few minutes. Officers could turn them over to the Department of Children and Families if they can’t find the parents. 
 
Danielle Kessenger with Safe Kids Northeast Florida said in a 10 minute time frame, the inside of your car can rise 20 degrees on a 72 degree day.
 
“People really should think about- is that the car is not a babysitter. The car is not a playground. The car is a means of getting from here to there. We should really use it as such and be cautious,” said Kessenger.
 
The bill also calls for a third-degree felony if the child is badly hurt. If this were to pass, it would take effect this October. 

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Surveillance video released of thieves who burglarized firefighters’ vehicles

Surveillance video released Thursday shows the thieves who burglarized numerous vehicles that belong to Fort Lauderdale firefighters, authorities said.

The video shows the men, dressed in black, walking outside a fire station last month.

Authorities said two city fire stations and one county fire station were targeted sometime between the night of Dec. 2 and the morning of Dec. 3.

Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said 17 vehicles were burglarized inside the gated fire station at 3400 SW Fourth Ave.

BSO crime scene detectives collected evidence from the vehicles and inventoried items that were stolen.

Coleman-Wright said six guns were stolen from outside two of the fire stations. 

A man was taken into custody for questioning last month days after the burglaries, but no arrests have been made. 

Anyone with information about the burglaries is asked to call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

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GOP congressman declines to challenge Dem senator in North Dakota

Rep. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, announced Thursday he will not challenge sitting Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in the Senate race this fall.

During an interview with KFYR radio, Cramer said he and his family decided the best decision was for him to just run again for his House seat. The move is seen as a blow to Republicans who hope to pick up the seat in the traditionally deep red state.

“We’ve decided that the best thing for our family and me and really for North Dakota…is to seek re-election to the House of Representatives,” Cramer said, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Cramer’s announcement comes after Cramer told CNN last week that President Donald Trump was urging him to run for Senate.

“Certainly, the President urged me to run. He’s encouraged me to run. He has for a sometime,” Cramer told CNN this week.

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Dynamic Family Martial Arts owner accused of repeatedly throwing boy on floor

The owner of Dynamic Family Martial Arts in Davie walked out of jail Wednesday night, as he faced a child abuse charge over an incident at his business last week, authorities said.

According to an arrest report, Richard Hartman, 65, became enraged Jan. 3 after an 8-year-old boy punched a wall in frustration for losing a game.

Police said the business was acting as a day care camp that day for children who were out of school on winter break.

“We’re told that this young man played a game, lost the game, got frustrated and upset, and apparently punched a hole in the wall,” Davie police Sgt. Mark Leone said.  

After the boy punched the wall, Hartman grabbed the boy and threw him to the floor, the arrest report stated.

Police said he then picked up the boy, dragged him into his office and violently threw him into a chair.

At that point, the boy began to cry and another child began to record the incident on his cellphone, authorities said.

Hartman can be heard in the video screaming at the child, “Stop that crying!” as he is seen shaking the boy.

The boy who was recording the incident was afraid that Hartman was going to see him so he put his phone down after that point, detectives said.

Police said Hartman snatched the victim from the chair and threw him to the floor a few more times before allowing the boy to go back with the other children. 

Photos taken after the incident show bruising to the boy’s forearm and knee. 

“It is disturbing,” Leone said. “Especially with young children, you have to have a little more of a calm demeanor.”

Police said Hartman invoked his Miranda rights and declined to speak with a detective. He was arrested at his home Wednesday and taken to the Broward County Jail. 

Hartman’s neighbors said they were shocked at the news of his arrest.

“I’m just surprised because he seemed like a really nice guy,” Shawn Downs said. “He just seemed like — especially with kids, because there’s always kids there. It’s like a kids karate place, so…

“Especially hearing the yelling — that’s crazy. I’ve never heard his voice like that.” 

Anyone who has children who have attended any function at Dynamic Family Martial Arts at 12930 State Road 8 and who may have had a similar incident occur is asked to call the Davie Police Department at 954-693-8200.

 

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3 residential burglaries reported within one week in Fort Lauderdale

Three residential burglaries were reported last week in Fort Lauderdale, authorities said.

The first burglary was reported at 3:14 p.m. Jan. 3 at a home in the 3000 block of Northeast 51st Street, the second burglary was reported about 2:45 p.m. Jan. 4 at a home in the 2900 block of Northeast 44th Street and the third burglary was reported at 3:35 p.m. Jan. 6 at a home in the 2500 block of Northeast 40th Street.

Detective Tracy Figone said in a news release Thursday that in each incident the burglars broke into the home by distracting the homeowner and then stealing the victim’s valuables.

Figone said detectives have discovered several similarities in each burglary, which lead them to believe that the same people are responsible for the three burglaries.

Anyone with information about the identity of the burglars is asked to call Detective Tracy Muvdi at 954-828-5704 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

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