The Voice of the Gem City

News June 30, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Attorneys are trying to keep any St. Johns County jury from seeing crime scene or autopsy photos in an upcoming first-degree murder trial involving two teenagers. The body of Tristyn Bailey, 13, was found Mother’s Day 2021, and Aiden Fucci, then 14, was arrested for her murder. She was stabbed 104 times, according to an autopsy report. Attorneys also don’t want the jury told of Fucci’s first-degree murder indictment and don’t want TV cameras in court during jury selection. The fourth motion filed seeks to have the Bailey family admonished against emotional outbursts in the courtroom. Fucci will next be in court Aug. 31. His trial is set for November.

A billboard has gone up in San Mateo telling people: “Show love for all. Remove Putnam County’s Confederate monument.” It’s paid for by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit based in Montgomery, Ala. Social media posts from Putnam Alliance for Equity and Justice said its members as well as #TakeEmDown and concerned Putnam residents have been coordinating with organizations such as the Law Center “to make Putnam County a more equitable place for all residents.” The statue in question is in front of the Putnam County Courthouse. The Putnam County Commission voted in 2020 to look at relocating the statue if Putnam Alliance could raise $200,000 for the move within three months. The commission specified advocates couldn’t accept funds from out-of-county organizations. Putnam Alliance failed to raise the money. The billboard, near the junction of State Road 100 and U.S. 17 South, went up this week.

Putnam County is not the only place seeing people trying to remove history. Reportedly a complaint to librarians at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has led to the removal of a bust of Abraham Lincoln and a bronze plaque of his 1863 Gettysburg address, part of an exhibit in place since 2013. Cornell has one of the five known handwritten copies by Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Lincoln’s speech, made several months after the Battle of Gettysburg, includes the passage: “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom[8]—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers say one woman died in a boating mishap on Lake Geneva near Melrose Tuesday. The woman, identified as Elizabeth Spisak, 57, of Keystone Heights, was a passenger in a Gheenoe boat that was being test driven by Paul Kolomitz, 68, of Melrose. The 12-foot canoe with motor made a sudden dip and the two went overboard, according to the report.

Some people are calling southwest St. Johns County plus Putnam County “the new frontier.” During a recent broadcast on Channel 12 in Jacksonville several people made the reference as they talked of how St. Augustine people are looking for cheaper places to live. That’s put Hastings, Flagler Estates and Putnam on their radar. No wonder. Median price of a single-family home in St. Johns County in May was $598,000 plus. Northeast Florida Association of Realtors reports median price in Putnam during the same period was nearly $238,000.

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