News Cast 11/23

News Cast for November 23rd:

Man gets life in prison

James Hodges was sentenced for the murder of Paul Murphy.

Deputies allege it was over $5,000 Hodges owed for marijuana.

Murphy was shot to death in May, 2019, and his body was inside a vehicle found in Taylor Creek north of town.

The victims widow Cherish Murphy, said she can’t forgive Hodges for what he did.

“You can’t change this.  You can never turn back time.  You can never bring back my husband or the father to my six mourning children that you knew.”

She said she will make it her life’s mission to keep Hodges behind barss.

“This is not over for me until you leave prison in a body bag.”

Prosecutor Ashley Albright pushed for the sentences to be consecutive.  He points out Florida law can always change and Hodges could one day get out of jail now.

“I asked for consecutive but the judge declined to do that.  The legislature can always change the law.  Right now the law says life in prison is life without parole.  That could change next week.  I always ask for consecutive so they would face the sentence on all three crimes.  If you run them concurrent, like the judge did, its like he didn’t commit the other two crimes.”

Hodges had also been convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and tampering with evidence.

Albright said cell phone records showed where Hodges was the entire time of this murder.

They also found his DNA on the shoe of the victim.

Frank DeCarlo took the oath of office and David Hazellief was named chairman of the Okeechobee County Commission at their organizational meeting Tuesday.

Terry Burroughs said he decided to step aside after many years in the position.

“I think these chairman positions should be rotated consistently.  New ideas bring new opportunities to the county.  In order to bring us through the 21st century I will nominate Commissioner Hazellief for the chair.”

Burroughs will serve as Vice Chairman.

DeCarlo said he was excited to get on board and get to work.

“It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m honored.  I hope I can do half as good a job as commissioners have done in the past.  I’ve got a lot to learn.  I will try to pay attention, research everything, and make the best decisions I can for this town.”

The Florida Highway Patrol began a safe holiday travel campaign this week urging motorists to slow down, check their tires, know their routes, buckle up and not be distracted.

Trooper Kenneth Watson notes rural roads are often dark, full of curves and wildlife and can be dangerous.

He noted it is important to obey the speed limits, even when passing.

45 people died in fatal crashes in Florida over the 2021 Thanksgiving Holiday. 

Watson said they want to avoid a repeat.

“I certainly hope not.  We are going to do everything in our power to make sure people are driving safely.”

He noted troopers are also citing more ATVs and Side by Sides on the roads than ever before.

He said most crashes are caused by drivers simply not paying enough attention and driving too fast.

“People are losing their patience.  They want to get to their destination quickly, they are multi tasking behind the wheel and there is a lack of empathy out there for fellow motorists.”

The FHP expected high volumes of traffic through the holiday period and plenty of pass through traffic in communities as motorists head to large cities like Miami, Tampa and Orlando.