News Cast for September 18th:

Today will be a busy day in the Okeechobee County Courtrooms as two local men charged with murder and three young locals charged with violating the Florida Anti-Tampering Act for Food and Battery on a law enforcement officer, will be appearing before county judges to answer for their crimes. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says attorneys for 17 year old Molly Spearow, 18 year old Alex Armstrong and 17 year old Logan Pope presented written pleas of not guilty in court on behalf of their clients last June on charges of violating the Florida Anti-Tampering Act for Food and Battery on a law enforcement officer when surveillance camera footage at the Highway 55 restaurant caught the three juveniles spitting into the deputies’ food.  All three were released from their jobs and later arrested by Okeechobee Police. Albright says prosecutors chose to charge the juveniles as adults not just because of the seriousness of the crimes under the law, but also because of the ages of the three juveniles at the time of the incident. Albright says there’s a possibility Armstrong might change his plea by next week. Also appearing in court today will be 34 year old Kevin Franklin Hughes, charged with first degree murder in the death of his wife last spring and 36 year old James Wade Hodges, also charged with murder one in the death of 43 year old Paul Murphy of Jupiter in May. All are expected to be in court sometime after nine o’clock.

232 years ago yesterday, the United States Constitution was signed. To that end, at their last meeting, the Okeechobee County Commissioners declared September 17 thru the 23rd as Constitution Week in Okeechobee County. The Okeechobee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution were on hand for this proclamation and one of the members, Letta Jordan, says she’s proud that the county is recognizing the importance of the US Constitution and the fact it’s the oldest document for our government that’s still being used today. Jordan says people, specifically schoolchildren, need to know more about it and understand it and by law, it has to be taught in schools and it’s not being taught as often as it should be. Jordan says she and her fellow Daughters of the American Revolution are trying to help change that in county schools. Jordan says it’s not being taught in schools as often as it should be because schools flat out don’t have the time to do it because of other items in their curriculums that need to be taught to students.

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for an Okeechobee man Friday morning. Police stopped a Ford Escape SUV, driven by 26 year old Michael Anthony Thomas, on the six hundred block of Route 15S a little after eight o’clock for speeding in a school zone. Police say Thomas refused to give his name and date of birth to them and he tried reaching into a bag on the passenger seat. When he was told not to do that, he refused and police grabbed his left wrist, trying to place him in handcuffs. Thomas resisted and he was pulled out of his vehicle and placed in a patrol car. A K-9 unit was brought in to search the vehicle and they found an electronic cigarette which had cannabis in it and some other electronic cigarettes which also had marijuana in them. Thomas was arrested and charged with possession of cannabis, drug paraphernalia and resisting a law officer. He was booked into county jail and later released after posting a $35 hundred dollar bond.

A single vehicle accident in Glades County earlier this month resulted in two Lehigh Acres men getting seriously injured and resulted in an Alva-area man being arrested for drunk driving in the incident. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 26 year old Jonathan Clarke Busbin was driving a Toyota Tundra pickup truck north on Country Road 731 approaching a left curve on Walter Greer Road in Moore Haven a little before three o’clock on the afternoon of September 7th. Busbin failed to negotiate the curve properly, causing him to enter a grass shoulder and collide with a fence and then a tree. FHP officers say Busbin, who was not injured, was driving under the influence of alcohol. His two passengers, 27 year old TJ Albertelli and 27 year old John Knight, were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Busbin was arrested and charged with two counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury and property damage. The accident remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

29 year old James Thomas Gainer Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of burglary and grand theft. He’s being held without bond.

33 year old Kevin Richard Harrison of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

41 year old John Francis Nettle Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of drunk driving and driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

22 year old Raymond Lloyd Herndon Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for obstruction. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

52 year old Eliseo Samano Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid license after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $1250 dollar bond.

25 year old Gabriel Lee Chapman of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his ex-girlfriend and criminal mischief during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

25 year old Joseph Dwayne Cox of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

37 year old Shawn Thomas Eckenwiler of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

62 year old Corveda Smith of Okeechobee was arrested on a local warrant for grand theft. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.