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Lakeland man dies from spider bite

LAKELAND, Florida (AP) - Central Florida authorities are reporting a rare death from a spider bite.

Polk County Medical Examiner Stephen Nelson tells The Ledger that Ronald Reese of Lakeland died Feb. 16 from complications of a spider bite.

Reese's father says the 62-year-old had been bitten in August by a brown recluse spider. H.K. William Reese says required lengthy hospital stays and numerous procedures for six months after the bite.

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Tampa Prep boys advance to 3A state title game

Lakeland, FL -- The Tampa Prep boys basketball team, advanced to Wednesday's 3A state championship game, with a 64-49 win over Shorecrest.

Sophomore Juwan Durham led the Terrapins with 25 points, 17 rebounds, and 5 blocks.  Michael Fridella added 21 for the Terps' cause.

Tampa Prep is trying to make it 2 straight state championships.  They play Sagemont HS from Weston, at 4:30pm Wednesday, for the 3A state championship.

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.

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. 

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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. 

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.