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Medical marijuana debate packs Polk State College

Winter Haven, Florida -- The Polk State College auditorium filled up fast. People on both sides of the issue took their seats to hear the pros and cons of medical marijuana in an open forum debate. But at least one person argued against it -- Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

"This is a wolf in sheep's clothing, tugging on the heartstrings of the good people of Florida," said Judd.

The sheriff didn't venutre into the science of pot, only his concerns about the amendment's wording and what he calls its true intent.

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Teen's shooting death sparks gang concerns

Lakeland, Florida -- Two 16-year-olds have been arrested in the murder of 17-year-old Damarco Powell of Lakeland. Assistant Police Chief Larry Giddens says Powell's murder and the arrests are part of a larger gang problem.

"Everybody loses here. There's no winner," notes the Lakeland Police Department's interim police chief.

Giddens says the gang violence across the country and in Lakeland is terribly sad. 

Pastor says he'll try to burn Qurans again

Bartow, Florida -- Controversial pastor Terry Jones says he plans another Quran burning in Polk County on September 11th, despite being in trouble with the law after his last attempt.

10 News caught up with Jones in Bartow at a court hearing Tuesday.

The judge in the hearing gave Jones' lawyers more time to work out a deal with prosecutors.

Jones told 10 News he's willing to accept a small sentence for what happened in Polk County last September 11th, so he can concentrate on coming back to Polk County this next September 11th to finish what he started.

Victim's family asks hit-and-run driver to turn himself in

Lakeland, Florida -- A man was killed while riding his bike overnight Friday. His body was found in a ditch along Reynolds Road near Lisa Lane in Lakeland. A memorial has been set up at the scene. 

Eric Pope's sister and his family say they are too upset to go there, but they did make crosses and gathered flowers. They had someone else place them at the memorial. 

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Lakeland runaway's death deemed a homicide

Lakeland, Florida -- Lakeland Police have identified the body found on Atline Road Saturday morning as a runaway.

Around 4:51 a.m. on February 22, the Lakeland Police Department responded to the 1300 block of Atline Road in reference to a body found in wooded area east of the railroad tracks.

The responding officer located a deceased black male, later identified as 17-year-old Demarco Powell, a runaway who was reported missing by his mother to the Lakeland Police just an hour earlier. 

This investigation is now classified as a homicide.

Polk detectives arrest 9 men in undercover sting

Polk County, Florida -- After receiving complaints about indecent activities at Saddle Creek Park, detectives arrested nine men for soliciting lewd acts during an undercover operation.

On Friday, February 21, Polk County Sheriff's undercover detectives conducted a Vice initiative at Saddle Creek Park in Lakeland. A total of nine men, ranging in ages from 48 to 76, were arrested for soliciting lewd acts.

Sheriff Grady Judd had this to say about the undercover operation:

Police looking for hit-and-run suspect in Lakeland

Lakeland, Florida -- Polk County Sheriff's Traffic deputies are asking for the public's help in finding out who hit and killed a Lakeland bicyclist.

Around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 22, 32-year-old Eric Pope was riding his bicycle north on the east edge of Reynolds Road near Lisa Lane when he was struck from behind by an unknown vehicle. Pope was thrown approximately 100 feet, and then landed in a ditch where he died on scene.