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Local
West Cardinal getting new turn lane at U.S. 19

Drivers heading north on U.S. 19 in Homosassa will at long last get a right-turn lane by West Cardinal Street.

But right now, that intersection is a mess.

Work there has been ongoing for months but has intensified recently. That area is expected to get busier with the February opening of a Suncoast Parkway interchange 3 miles from the intersection.

The Cardinal intersection is part of the overall 6.8-mile project that will repave U.S. 19 from the Hernando County line to West Green Acres, according to Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) spokesman John McShaffrey.

Left-turn lanes will be constructed at various median openings along that stretch, McShaffrey said.

Also, a new 10-foot wide multi-use trail will be built on the east side of U.S. 19 and a 5-foot wide sidewalk on the west side.

Crews are now finishing work on a box culvert at the intersection allowing water to flow under U.S. 19 without impeding traffic flow.

“At some point during the project, they will pave over the top of the box culvert area to build a portion of the shared-use (multi-purpose) path that will run the entire length of the project,” McShaffrey said.

“There will also be some roadway widening in that area to add a northbound U.S. 19 right-turn lane from near the Walmart driveway north to Cardinal Street,” he added.

The overall $20-million project started in January 2021 but got delayed when the original project contractor (D.A.B. Constructors) filed for bankruptcy. St. Augustine-based Watson Civil Construction picked up the contract.

The work is tentatively scheduled to be completed in early 2023.


Local
'New fuel': WTC student wins first at SkillsUSA

“Fearless is to fear less.” Those are the words written personally by Withlacoochee Technical College professional culinary arts student Patricia Stratton in a scholarship essay detailing her life story.

Stratton recently competed in both the district and regional level SkillsUSA competitions, placing first in culinary arts at both. This means that on April 18-22, she is going to the state level to compete against 14 other individuals from around Florida with possibility to move onto nationals.

For the postsecondary culinary competition, the contestants are given a packet of information that includes recipes, knife skills, cooking techniques, etc. They are given ten minutes to look it over in the beginning and then handed a basket with all the ingredients and told to start. The main goal is to show off their skills while also completing everything within the required time frame.

According to the SkillsUSA Individual Contestant Scores sheet, they are judged on 12 main skill areas, including safety/sanitation, vegetable cuts, meat fabrication, presentation and even a written test.

Stratton, 49, confessed she felt the urge to quit in the middle of the competition after she thought she had messed up the meat fabrication portion.

mattbeck / Matthew Beck Chronicle photo editor 

Withlacoochee Technical College post-secondary culinary arts student Kevin Crupi, right, works with Patricia Stratton, Friday, April 14, at the Inverness technical college. The two are preparing enchiladas for the lunch crowd.

“It was so overwhelming. I pictured myself walking out, quitting, and that’s when I decided to see it not as a competition anymore. I was just there to complete that packet and complete what I went there for, nothing else. So when I went to the awards ceremony and they announced I had won first place, I was like there’s no way!” Stratton described. “It was an awesome experience.”

Now graduating with honors from WTC’s culinary arts program in May, she also graduated with honors from the welding program in December 2021 and is registered to start the cosmetology program in August. “I have an opportunity to experience all of them and I totally want to. I love learning,” said Stratton, brimming with excitement.

In a recent scholarship essay that she was willing to share detailing her journey to where she is now, she wrote a story of great loss, struggles and strength. After nearly a lifetime of drug addiction and a father and son who each tragically took their own lives, she managed to claw her way back from rock bottom and went back to school.

The night her son died, just weeks after getting clean, changed her in ways she didn’t know were possible. “Either this would put me back into addiction from which I would not recover this time, or I was going to use this experience as a new fuel,” she wrote.

“I don’t allow my son’s death to be in any way negative. It’s my greatest strength,” she added further.

When asked about her future plans, she responded, “Plans? I don’t know. There’s so many things that I can do now. I just want to learn so much because I missed so much of school, so much time that you can’t get back. This is me getting my time back.”

Withlacoochee Technical College had several other students place in their field at the regional competition who will also be moving onto state: Frederick Merkle, first place for electrical construction wiring; David Vinson, second place for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration; and J Matthew Self, second place in automotive service technology.

There are also students who are moving on to the state level whose field did not have a regional competition: Thaxton Fitts, industrial motor control; Amy Lutes, cosmetology; Kirin Maharaj, cosmetology; and Kristen Spinella, cosmetology.

The SkillsUSA Championships are career competitions to showcase the best career and technical students in the country.

For more information on SkillsUSA, visit skillsusa.org.


Crime_and_courts
Judge sentences last defendant for role in infant's meth-toxicity death

A judge sentenced the last of four defendants who killed an infant girl and threatened two other minors with methamphetamine poisoning inside their Inverness home.

Citrus County Circuit Court Judge Richard Howard on Tuesday, April 19, ordered 46-year-old Tammy Marie Allison to serve 15 years in state prison for the March 2020 aggravated manslaughter of 2-month-old Aliyah Courtney.

Citrus County Sheriff's Office 

Allison

Howard also sentenced Allison to a consecutive prison term of three years for running a drug house off of Live Oak Lane, and for neglecting the 3-year-old and 5-year-old who also lived there.

Once she’s released from her 18 years of imprisonment, which will include credit for time already served, Allison must spend two years under house arrest, Howard ruled.

Allison’s punishment is the same one Howard gave Stephanie Pearl Carroll, Kevin Christopher Courtney and Steven Troy Gibson for their similar roles in the crime.

Hernando County Jail 

Carroll

Carroll and Courtney – who is Allison’s son – lived in Allison’s home with their daughter, Aliyah, and Carroll’s two other children, ages 3 and 5. Gibson, Allison’s then-boyfriend, also lived there.

In March 2020, the group smoked meth on a regular basis inside the house and in proximity to Carroll’s three children, leading to Aliyah’s death on March 13.

Citrus County Sheriff's Office 

Courtney

Medical examiners found traces of meth in the baby’s heart blood, liver and eye fluids.

Asphyxiation was also a reported as contributing cause of death because of how Aliyah was discovered lying asleep. Carroll told investigators she found her daughter in bed, face down, with a pillow partially covering her head.

“I’m so sorry, and I never meant for any of this to happen,” Allison told Howard on Tuesday. “I have failed my granddaughter, and I have failed my son.”

Citrus County Sheriff's Office 

Gibson

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office authorities arrested Carroll, Courtney, Allison and Gibson in September 2020.

A jury on Jan. 6 found Gibson guilty of manslaughter, maintaining a nuisance dwelling and three lesser charges of culpable negligence. Howard sentenced 54-year-old Gibson Feb. 21.

In exchange for a prison sentence of up to 20 years, Carroll and Courtney, both 27, pleaded no contest Jan. 24, 2022, to their respective charges before they were sentenced March 8. Allison made a similar plea Feb. 21.

Allison’s attorney, Charles Vaughn, argued for Howard to give his client a sentence “as low as the court can go,” claiming Allison wasn’t as culpable as the others who were charged, particularly Carroll.

“They all had their part in it,” Vaughn said, “but not everybody had the same part.”

Vaughn also called clinical psychologist Dr. Harry Krop as a witness to testify about his evaluation of Allison.

Krop said Allison suffered from sexual and physical abuse dating back to when she was 8 years old, and she started using narcotics in her 20s to self-medicate.

At 15, Krop said, Allison had her first of five children, each with different men who would control and harm Allison, increasing her reliance on drugs. Krop said Allison would also take the blame for crimes either her son, Courtney, or her significant others committed.

“She’s had a pretty dysfunctional and tumultuous life as far as picking bad partners, making bad choices,” the psychologist said, “and then becoming dependent on them.”

Allison told Krop and Howard she was sober around the time of Aliyah’s death, contrary to what she told Detective Jonathan Richey, the lead sheriff’s office investigator.

“This defendant has violated every part of the definition of a grandparent,” Richey told Howard, “As the grandmother to the victims in this case, she has failed.”

Assistant State Attorney Blake Shore told Howard that Allison is just as responsible for Aliyah’s death because, like her codefendants, she knew the environment was dangerous but did nothing to bring the children to safety.

“Instead of actually doing something to protect these children, like they should’ve done,” the prosecutor said, “they decided to sit in (Allison’s) room and smoke methamphetamine in the pipe that her and Steven Gibson provided, endangering the kids.”

Shore also pointed out that Allison told investigators she and others, including her son, were using meth inside the house before knowing anyone was or going to be charged with a crime, meaning she didn’t make an effort to cover for anyone.

Howard said after studying Krop’s report on Allison, he came to the conclusion Allison is “a lifelong drug addict,” who chose narcotics over Aliyah and her young siblings.

“It’s either my drugs or my kids, and I’m going with the drugs,” the judge told Allison. “You have a dead baby who’s never going to get older.. ... she’s going to stay in the ground and rot, and that’s totally unacceptable.”


Crime_and_courts
Prosecutors clear CCSO deputy in shooting of man charged with brother's murder

Prosecutors vindicated a Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputy for shooting and injuring an Inverness man who had allegedly shot and killed his brother in front of a home-security camera before taking a woman hostage inside her home.

Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney William Gladson informed Sheriff Mike Prendergast in a Monday, April 18, memo his office deemed Deputy Daniel Elias was justified in his Jan. 14 shooting of 29-year-old Daniel Arthur Redman.

“Accordingly,” Gladson wrote in his letter, obtained Tuesday, “this office will take no further action in the matter.”

Gladson’s decision was based off his office’s review of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation into Elias’ use of force during his and other deputies’ pursuit of Redman for the alleged fatal shooting his 19-year-old brother, Brenden Redman.

According to FDLE and State Attorney reports, Elias fired one round at Daniel Redman from his agency-issued AR-style rifle while Redman was reaching for a suspected firearm inside an RV on the corner of East Beck Street and North Corbin Avenue in Inverness.

Citrus County Sheriff's Office 

REDMAN

Redman had broken into the mobile home, struck its homeowner, 42-year-old Sherry Potulsky, and used Potulsky as a human shield when confronted by deputies.

“Deputy Elias acted reasonably under the circumstances,” the State Attorney’s report states, “and therefore his actions were justified.”

Elias’ rifle round struck Redman’s neck and became lodged in his spine, paralyzing him.

A Citrus County grand jury indicted Redman Feb. 4 on charges of premeditated murder involving a firearm, kidnapping, burglary of a motor home involving a battery, shooting at an occupied dwelling, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

Authorities took Redman into custody from the Ocala Regional Medical Center, and Redman appeared to his first court hearing lying on a stretcher. Redman had to go back into Florida Department of Corrections custody for violating the terms of his supervised release.

Redman’s due back in court May 4 for a status hearing on his case.

According to FDLE and State Attorney findings, Redman was visiting with Brenden Redman at their grandmother’s home on the 3800 block of East Dawson Drive.

Redman went to the house five days after he was released from state prison on a three-year sentence for the May 2019 aggravated battery of his grandmother’s boyfriend at the same address.

Redman’s criminal history, which dates back to 2010, has landed him in prison three separate times.

During the evening of Jan. 14, according to investigative reports, Daniel Redman’s brother and grandmother talked about calling authorities to Baker Act Redman because of his unusual behavior throughout the day from what they believed was from drug use.

In response, Redman took his brother’s and grandmother’s cellphones, prompting Brenden Redman to arm himself with a firearm his grandmother’s boyfriend bought after Daniel Redman attacked him in 2019.

Brenden Redman then left the house, and a neighbor’s doorbell camera later captured him frantically approaching the front door unarmed.

While Brenden Redman was knocking on the neighbor’s door, Daniel Redman came up from behind and, from about three feet away, fired multiple gunshots, striking his brother, according to reports.

Daniel Redman then walks away, leaving an injured Brenden Redman to continue banging on the neighbor’s door.

“After a short amount of time,” the State Attorney’s report states, “Brenden Redman’s screams and knocking grow faint, and he fell by the door.”

Daniel Redman returned to the shooting scene, still armed with a gun, and tried to enter the neighbor’s house while his brother was softly telling him to stop, saying, “Daniel, no.”

Daniel Redman ran away after he wasn’t able to access the house.

Sheriff’s office deputies responded to the shooting after it was called into 911 at around 9:11 p.m. Arriving deputies found Brenden Redman suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

“Brenden was able to tell them that he was shot by his brother,” the State Attorney report states, before he died from his injuries on the way to a hospital.

Deputies Anthony Amato, David Flores and Elias used Amato’s K9 to track Daniel Redman, leading them to two homeowners who said Redman tried to break into their houses.

Deputies and their K9 track then took them to Potulsky’s RV, where authorities found the home’s door had been pried open.

Flores, who was equipped with a ballistic shield and sidearm, and Elias, a SWAT team member who was armed with a SIG Sauer 516 rifle, entered the house to clear it of threats, according to reports.

When they entered a back bedroom, the two deputies found Redman clutching a wounded Potulsky in a chokehold and using her as a shield, according to reports.

With their respective firearms trained on Redman, Flores and Elias gave numerous commands for Redman to let Potulsky go and put his hands up. Redman eventually released his captive, who escaped to a bathroom.

Redman put his hands up but wouldn’t answer Flores and Elias when the deputies asked where his gun was. Instead, Redman kept glancing at a blanket on the floor.

“Redman lowered his hands and moved towards the blanket once but put them back up after being told to do so,” the State Attorney’s report states. “Deputy Elias told Redman that if he moved towards the blanket again he would be shot.”

According to statements from Elias and Flores to FDLE investigators, Redman made another move toward the blanket and put his hand underneath it, prompting Elias to fire.

Deputies rendered first aid to Redman before he was hospitalized in critical condition. No other injuries were reported.

“Deputy Elias expressed a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm to either himself or Deputy Flores at the time he shot Daniel Redman,” the State Attorney’s report states. “I recommend the Office of the State Attorney take no action regarding the shooting by Deputy Elias other than then continued prosecution of Daniel Redman.”


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