It’s Thursday, April 28th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - A Miami man who spent more than 30 years in prison after he was given a life sentence for a 1990 homicide is now a free man after prosecutors said he was wrongfully convicted.
A Miami-Dade judge on Wednesday vacated the conviction and life sentence for Thomas Raynard James, 55, based on a motion filed by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office. James and his family appeared at a news conference with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle shortly before the court hearing. It's a case that NBC 6 has been investigating. Defense attorney Natlie Figgers said there was no DNA or other physical evidence tying James to the case and the murder weapon was never found. Figgers said James, who goes by Jay, was convicted based on witnesses picking his photo from a line-up for the 1990 murder of Francis McKinnon in Coral Gables.
No. 2 - The judge overseeing the death penalty trial of the Parkland school shooter reversed her decision from Monday re-starting the entire process, saying it was premature.
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Instead, after hearing argument Wednesday afternoon, she said she will try to have 11 jurors both sides say she mistakenly dismissed three weeks ago brought back to the courthouse and questioned. If she had failed to do that, the defense argued, the judge must end the death penalty trial and sentence him to 34 consecutive life sentences. The state on Monday persuaded Judge Elizabeth Scherer to dismiss 243 potential jurors and re-start the process this week, meaning the selection process began anew on Monday of this week.
No. 3 - President Joe Biden will request Congress fund a new supplemental aid package for Ukraine during remarks from the White House Thursday morning, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The extra funding is intended to last for the next five months, through the end of the fiscal year, the sources said. Administration officials earlier described the amount of the request as “massive” but would not provide a specific dollar amount. Some details were still not finalized, the officials said. The amount — coming after more than $3 billion in military aid has already been given from the U.S. to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion — is intended to fund U.S. military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine through Sept. 30, the officials said. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
No. 4 - Broward County's emergency call center is greatly understaffed and the sheriff told county commissioners his agency does not have the money to fill the empty positions.
In addition, Sheriff Gregory Tony said Tuesday that he is also having a difficult time retaining other dispatchers who can make more money elsewhere. “We’re going to continue to lose these people,” he warned. “This will always be a problem here whether we want to admit it or not.” Some Broward County Commissioners told the sheriff to fix the issues immediately. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Marissa Bagg.
No. 5 - Will they vote or kick the can down the road? The Miami City Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday on the Miami Freedom Park issue, but there’s a strong possibility the commissioners will try to alter the deal with Inter Miami CF to their liking, and hold off on approving it until they get what they want from the Major League Soccer club.
Inter Miami wants to turn the Melreese Public Golf Course into more than a soccer stadium. The project includes a hotel, office space, shopping, plus a 58-acre public park. Managing owner and CEO Jorge Mas told NBC 6 on Monday those other components are needed to make the project worthwhile to the city and to the club, which is footing the entire bill without using taxpayer funds. Daniel Alfonso, a former Miami City Manager, left the city in 2017, at a time when he was involved with negotiating with the Beckham group on potential stadium sites. Alfonso does not like one major aspect of the current plan: the 99-year lease to Inter Miami, granted without competitive bidding. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Ari Odzer.
No. 6 - A Miami man who created the Surfside memorial wall is turning his attention to the war in Ukraine.
Leo Soto went to Ukraine and created a "wall of hope" for victims and their families. He first went to Warsaw, Poland, where he created a wall of hope there, too. It took him 14 hours to then get into Ukraine. Soto had created the "wall of hope" in Surfside after the tragic condo building collapse that killed 98 people. He created the Wall of Hope Foundation and is now spreading his message of hope in war-torn Ukraine. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Claudia DoCampo.