Wilson Sayre

Reporter

Wilson Sayre was born and bred in Raleigh, N.C., home of the only real barbecue in the country (we're talking East here). She graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she studied Philosophy.

Sayre took a year off school to live in a Zen monastery in Japan and quickly realized that a life of public radio would be a bit more forgiving. Upon returning to the States, she helped launch a news program at UNC’s college-radio station, WXYC. Through error and error, she taught herself how to make radio stories.

She worked with NPR member station WUNC in Chapel Hill, interning for The Story with Dick Gordon. Then she went on to help to run WUNC's Youth Radio Institute, teaching at-risk teenagers how to make radio.

Sayre likes to keep chickens, pickle okra and make sound collages.

Sayre initially came down to WLRN in 2013 for a reporting fellowship. After that, she decided she couldn't leave. She's continued her a mission to get more Miamians to wear overalls and say y'all.

Ways to Connect

Department of Corrections

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a new pathway to sentence someone to death Monday. These changes came nearly two months after the U.S. Supreme Court took issue with Florida’s old system for handing down the sentence in the Hurst v. Florida case.

The basis for the decision was that in Florida the jury only recommended the death penalty. The judge  made the final decision. The high court found that that system violated the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. A question the court left unanswered was whether a non-unanimous jury recommendation was also constitutionally problematic.

Florida Department of Corrections

The stark room that plays host to Florida's most severe punishment and the theater from which onlookers watch may be back in business soon.

The state Senate Thursday passed a bill finalizing procedures for sentencing someone to death in Florida. The bill, on its way to the governor’s desk, does not require a unanimous jury in handing down that sentence. Despite early signs that the Legislature might consider requiring a unanimous jury, the final language only requires 10 of 12 jurors to agree to sentence someone to death.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Deandre Benjamin was hanging out with friends in the courtyard of an apartment building in Overtown, Miami. Around 6 p.m. someone in a black car drove up and sprayed the area with bullets.

Benjamin was 17 at the time. His friend Julian Bryant—“Juju”—was also shot. Juju was standing right next to Benjamin and later died. Juju was 17.

Deandre Benjamin, who goes by his artist name Jus Dre, spoke about what happened the night of the shooting.

    

An edited excerpt of the conversation with Benjamin:

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

By now, their stump speeches are refined: They’ve got the jokes down, the stats memorized, and the crowds hyped. But as Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rounded out their Super Tuesday in Florida—which did not hold its primary that day—it was clear that Florida was a powerful state, not just in the general election, but also in the primary to be held on March 15.

Florida Dept. of Corrections

The death penalty might soon be back in Florida.

Legislation that sets up new guidelines on how to hand down that sentence passed a final Senate committee Thursday. Florida had to rewrite these procedures after the U.S. Supreme Court struck them down earlier this year.

Last week the Florida House passed a bill that requires 10 of 12 jurors to agree to the death sentence, but until Thursday's committee meeting, the Senate version would have required a unanimous jury.

Doug Smith / Florida Department of Corrections

  The death penalty might be back in Florida soon as new rules on how defendants are given the sentence eek closer to becoming law.

A state Senate committee will hear the legislation along with new amendments that would bring the Senate and House bills in line with each other. But the mother of a murder victim hopes the Legislature will consider making it harder for juries to impose the death penalty.

In July of 2013, 20-year-old Shelby Farah was working alone in a MetroPCS store when James Rhodes walked in and shot her.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Right now, almost a million people in Florida don’t qualify for Medicaid because they make too much money or don’t have any dependents. But they also make too little money to get help buying health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The resulting space between the two programs is often called the Medicaid coverage gap.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Once again Miami-Dade County is asking - how many homeless kids are living here?

Last year there were 112 counted young homeless people living in Miami-Dade County. “Counted,” being the operant term, because it’s tough to get an accurate number of those under the age of 24 who are homeless through self-reporting, for the most part.

Many are living with friends or distant relatives - what’s called “doubled up” - and don’t necessarily consider themselves homeless, according to social workers who work with this population.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Sherice Bennett is a caretaker.

She takes care of her sister who has cerebral palsy. She had two sons, two dogs and she still has the tank that used to house her turtle and fish.

It’s a role she happily fills on top of the other roles she’s taken on over the years: call center coordinator, caterer, accounts payable, executive secretary and, when that failed, school bus and truck driver.

Doug Smith / Florida Department of Corrections

Update 1/8/2016: Oscar Bolin was declared dead at 10:16 p.m. His execution was delayed four hours while the U.S. Supreme Court considered his appeal to stay the execution. They ultimately denied the appeal. Bolin made no final statement before he was executed.

The 23rd person is scheduled to be put to death during  Gov. Rick Scott’s administration Thursday evening.

Scott has overseen the most executions of any  governor in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Creative Commons via Flickr
Prayitno (https://flic.kr/p/ehWoY6)

Last year was a record breaking year for Miami International Airport.

The airport saw its busiest year ever in 2015 when the 44 millionth passengers walked into the airport.

“You know, that’s the size of some South American countries in one year,” says Greg Chin, communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. “So we’re really proud of what happened,  and to grow by almost 10 percent was really amazing for us.”

Creative Commons via Flickr
Dale (https://flic.kr/p/fML4tK)

It will come as no surprise to anyone with a window that it has been raining a lot more than usual this time of year in South Florida. That has a lot to do with El Nino, which has affected weather patterns across the globe.

The result is lots of rainwater in Lake Okeechobee,  where water levels have been higher than usual. In response, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been draining a larger than normal volume of water from the lake, where the water level usually falls naturally during the dry season, which runs November through May.

The reason this matters is twofold.

Sammy Mack

This is the time of year that we at WLRN like to think back and remember the stories that we found especially entertaining – the kinds of stories that put Florida on the map through such twitter accounts as @_FloridaMan, @_Flor1daWoman and, of course, Seth Meyers’ Late Night Show Game “Fake or Florida?

Joan-Ellen Deck

For the rest of this year, we're bringing you holiday scenes from South Florida homes during the holidays. The snippets of international culture are little homages to our hometowns' diverse ways of celebrating the end of another year and all the holidays that heralds.

As I write this, there are just two shopping days left before Christmas. That is plenty of time to grab armfuls of Publix-brand eggnog, if that happens to be the tradition in your house.

The New Tropic, Monica McGivern / via Facebook

"Best of 2015" lists have been circulating everywhere – best albums, worst movies and top headlines.

We at WLRN have been doing our fair share of that, but we also know that sometimes the most important things in people's lives are not the stuff of headlines – birthdays, new jobs or a big move.

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