Local News Headlines 8-18-22

The wheels of justice are starting to move for the accused January 2019 Sun Trust bank shooter. Circuit Judge Peter Estrada Monday set a target of early next year to begin the trial of Zephen Xaver with a January date possible, pending clearance by the Chief Judge for the Circuit. Estrada gave attorney a date of November 4 for what he termed “any and all” motions in the case, and ordered all depositions in the case be done by December 1. Xaver has pled not guilty, but his Public Defender hasn’t clarified whether an insanity defense will be part of the defense, nor has he told the court the name of the death-penalty certified assisting attorney he has lined up.

For the first time in 14 years, your property tax rate in Highlands County is going down. And by quite a bit. The County Commission this week agreed that an 8.10 mil rate in the County’s tax rate will get them by, down from 8.55 last year and the lowest in eight years. Now, don’t get TOO excited – if you’ve been reassessed upward you won’t get that 6% cut in your tax bill -but the increase will be quite a bit less.

Okay, you complained about the speed limit on the new Panther Parkway being too low – you get half a loaf. Speed limits on the parts of northern half of the Parkway as you head toward and away from College Drive have been increased to 55 miles an hour. Watch your speed, though – around Manatee Drive remains at 45, and it’s still 35 approaching the Memorial Drive roundabout.

A Miami man accused of 105 counts of credit card counterfeiting and fraud charges in Highlands County Circuit Court got a real bargain Monday. 36 years old Roilan Valdes Moreira pled down to a single felony and was given three years’ probation after his attorney assured the court that Moreira had attained his Commercial Drivers’ License and would not violate his probation. Moreira and an accomplice who’s being held in Miami were caught with five credit card skimmers and a bunch of gift cards back in May of last year after they allegedly got scared away from a gas pump at the Sebring Mobile station when the tampering alarm went off.