NOW Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park The NEWS OPEN 2009-05-14¢  from ponds at a New Port...

NOW Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park The NEWS OPEN 2009-05-14¢  from ponds at a New Port Richey golf
NOW Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park The NEWS OPEN 2009-05-14¢  from ponds at a New Port Richey golf
NOW Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park The NEWS OPEN 2009-05-14¢  from ponds at a New Port Richey golf
NOW Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park The NEWS OPEN 2009-05-14¢  from ponds at a New Port Richey golf
NOW Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park The NEWS OPEN 2009-05-14¢  from ponds at a New Port Richey golf
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Transcript of NOW Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park The NEWS OPEN 2009-05-14¢  from ponds at a New Port...

  • Lutz/Odessa/Keystone/Citrus Park

    Your Family’s Favorite Newspaper For 44 Years February 21, 2007 The NEWSThe NEWS

    Azbill gets 12 years prison, never to drive

    Shawn Burke, Devyn’s mother, (middle) leans on Chad Burroughs’ shoulder as Devyn’s boyfriend’s mother, Jackie Johnson, leans on Shawn’s shoulder Thursday during Micah Azbill’s sentencing.More photos by Keith Carson, page 20.

    Micah Azbill reads a statement to the family and friends of 16-year-old Devyn Burke, who he killed in a hit-and-run crash on US 41 last March.Azbill was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison and three years probation. Staff photo by Keith Carson.

    Lutz man retrieving golf balls jabs 7-foot gator in the eyes By David Fishel Special to The News

    LUTZ—A day at work retrieving balls from ponds at a New Port Richey golf course turned into a close call for Vernon Messier of Lutz.

    Messier was hired Feb. 14 by the Timber Greens Country Club to retrieve balls from retention ponds on the course.A seven-foot alligator lurking in a pond on the fifth hole thought Messier looked like lunch.

    Golfers playing the hole about 10:15

    Lutz dancer Regan Cassels Regan Cassels, of Lutz, bebops with her grandfather Tracy Johnson, of Temple Terrace Feb.11 during the Valentine’s Father Daughter Dance at the Lightfoot Center. Staff photo by Keith Carson.

    Victim Devyn Burke’s mom: ‘I can sleep tonight’ By Debbie Carson Staff Writer

    The family of 16-year-old Devyn Marie Burke can finally sleep soundly now that the man who left the Northdale girl to die on US 41 is firmly behind bars for at least nine years.

    Micah Steven Azbill, now-31, was sen- tenced to spend the next 12 years in the state penitentiary and will never again be al- lowed to have a Florida driver’s license.He will also serve three years under community control after his release and perform 200 hours of community service.

    He could have been sentenced to a maxi- mum of 15 years in prison or to a minimum of 22 months. Based on state law, Azbill would be required to serve at least 85 per- cent of his 12-year sentence – about 10 years – and get credit for the 11 months he has spent in the Hillsborough County jail – put- ting his prison time closer to nine years.He could be 40 when he’s out of prison. His daughter,now 8,could be 17 by then.

    “You struck a human being in a horrible crash,” Judge Emmett Lamar Battles said

    See AZBILL, page 20 Woman killed when car explodes in Carrollwood Compiled by Debbie Carson Staff Writer

    A woman was killed Saturday night when a van struck her car, causing it to ex- plode,authorities said.

    The woman was driving north on Hutchinson Road in Carrollwood near Pennington Road when she lost control of her 1988 Ford Crown Victoria and went into oncoming traffic.

    That’s when a Dodge van collided with the car, causing the vehicle to erupt into flames, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

    Neither driver was identified by press time.Two passengers in the van were trans- ported to an area hospital for treatment.

    2 nabbed, 1 wanted in Sam’s Club $263,000 diamond heist By Debbie Carson Staff Writer

    Authorities are still searching for the $263,000 diamond necklace stolen from the Northdale area Sam’s Club after arresting two men and identifying a third suspect.

    The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested Steven L.Lyles,20,of North Tampa, and 24-year-old Douglas Guzman Jr., of Miami, on Feb. 16. Both men face one charge each of first degree grand theft.

    Authorities also issued a warrant for the arrest of a third suspect,20-year-old Derrick James Denson. His address is unknown at this time.

    Authorities have not been able to find the 82-carat diamond and platinum neck- lace,but are continuing the search.

    The three men are suspected of entering the Sam’s Club on N. Dale Mabry Highway the evening of Jan.23.

    Two of the men were caught on security cameras smashing the glass case with a hammer and grabbing the necklace. The

    Marvin Cirks Jr. was always willing to help By Debbie Carson Staff Writer

    A freak accident took the life of a 45- year-old man who never met a stranger.The father of three and a proud “Poppie,”Marvin Cirks Jr.,was laid to rest on Feb.15.

    “He was always willing to help,”Marvin Sr., said of his son.“He didn’t have any ene- mies.”

    Marvin Jr.died on Feb.10, after a tool he was working with caught him in the neck.

    He was using a disk grinder to remove bolts on a truck he was working on, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.The disk on the grinder somehow shattered into sev- eral pieces.One struck his neck.

    See SAM’S CLUB, page 34See GATOR GOLF, page 34 See CIRKS, page 34

    North Tampa Leaguerettes get $10,000 from county for tractor lost to arson By Debbie Carson Staff Writer

    Members of the North Tampa Leaguerettes received a welcome surprise earlier this month when the Board of County Commissioners approved nearly

    $10,000 in aid for the group.

    At the prompting of Commissioner Brian Blair, an advo- cate for children and sports, the commis- sion approved

    donating a badly needed tractor and about $500 worth of other equipment to help re- place items lost and damaged in an arson that occurred last year.

    The only catch is that the Leaguerettes must come up with insurance for the SandPro tractor,valued at more than $9,000.

    “It’s awesome,”said Ronda Moon,a mem- ber of the league.“It’s all coming together.”

    Blair told his fellow board members that the tractor is a safety necessity.

    “We rake our fields before every game,” Blair said of the baseball team he manages. “It’s a safety issue because balls bounce up off of rocks and hardened clay.And it’s very,

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    Tom Watson wins in Lutz Despite the cold weather, Tom Watson’s golf game was hot at the Outback Steakhouse 2007 Pro Am, held at the TPC Tampa Bay in Lutz.More Tammy Sue Struble photos, page 2.

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  • while handing down his sentence. “You knew you had struck her.You were not only aware of this but made a conscious decision to leave the scene.This court is convinced you are a danger, sir.”

    Why the Land O’Lakes floor installer left a girl dead or dying on a Lutz highway was never completely answered by Azbill. The man who authorities said should not have been driving had 21 citations since 1993.

    “I’m legal. I had no reason to run,”Azbill testified before his sentence.

    * * * How did Devyn Burke and Micah Azbill

    cross paths that night? While the question did not come up dur-

    ing the sentencing hearing, legal documents released last year indicate that Devyn had left her boyfriend’s home in Lutz on foot shortly before 10 p.m.and began walking.

    While no one can be certain of where she was headed, some have speculated that Devyn was heading to a fishing hole on the far side of US 41 where she used to go to think. Others thought she had been trying to catch up with her boyfriend Ricky Johnson and his friend Wesley Morin after they left to go to the nearby Hess gas sta- tion.

    Azbill told officers that he was on his way home after dropping a friend off from work. He was driving with a restricted li- cense that allowed him to drive to and from work.

    His night driving became the focus of the assistant state attorney during the sen- tencing hearing.

    * * * His sentence ended six hours of lengthy

    and tearful testimony from scientific and law enforcement experts and several family

    members and friends. The sentence also ended a nearly year-

    long chapter for the Burke and Azbill families after Micah Azbill struck and killed Devyn Burke as she tried to cross US 41 near Dennison Road on March 17,2006 – St. Patrick’s Day.

    “I think I will sleep tonight,”said Devyn’s grieving mother,Shawn Burke of Northdale, outside the courtroom after Judge Battles sentenced Azbill.

    “It’s more than I thought he was going to get,”Burke said of his sentence.“I’m happy.”

    Not long before the sentence came down,Burke’s emotions were different.

    * * * Shawn Burke was one of seven people

    who took the stand and spoke on behalf of Devyn, pleading with the judge for justice for Devyn.

    “I don’t want to become angry,” Burke

    told the judge with a shaky voice, “but I can’t help it.”

    She showed Judge Battles a framed pic- ture of her with Devyn.

    “This is one of m