Area Politician Free, but for How Long?

Former Florida Senate President W.D. Childers has been released from jail.

Childers served 49 days of a 60-day jail sentence for breaking Florida's open-government "sunshine" law while serving as an Escambia County commissioner.

The 71-year-old Pensacola Republican was the first person to serve jail time for violating the sunshine law's open-meetings section. He also has been sentenced to three and a half years in state prison for bribery but will remain free pending an appeal.

Childers once lived at West Bay in Bay County, and at one time was the dean of the Florida Senate.

His release came five days after police found the body of the state's key witness in Childers' bribery case in a crawl space under a house.

Authorities are awaiting toxicology tests to determine how Willie Junior died, but Pensacola police say there were no obvious signs of foul play. Junior was also a former Escambia commissioner.


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