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First Coast Connect

8/9/2017: Joshua Phillips Re-sentencing; Family Nutrition Program; Deanna Tham; 'Avenue Q'

Today on “First Coast Connect,” we discussed the Joshua Phillips re-sentencing hearings with Larry Hannan, writer for Injustice Today with Harvard University’s Fair Punishment Project(01:15) Phillips was convicted in the high-profile murder of 8-year-old Maddie Clifton in 1998. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Nutrition Program Managers Ashley Johnson and Denise Cox talked about their new initiative and a call for volunteers (24:58). We met new Assistant Conductor with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Deanna Tham (34:05), and Toni D’Amico with the Amelia Community Theatre told us about their upcoming production of “Avenue Q” (41:36).   

Joshua Phillips Re-sentencing

The re-sentencing hearing for Joshua Phillips is going on this week at the Duval County Courthouse. In 1998, Phillips admitted to killing his 8-year-old neighbor, Maddie Clifton, and hiding her body under his bed for a week. He was 14 at the time. Phillips was tried and convicted as an adult and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the U.S Supreme Court has since ruled such sentences are unconstitutional for minors.That has lead to hundreds of resentencing hearings around the country, including Phillips’. Now 33, he has been described as a “model prisoner,” but prosecutors say because his crime was so horrific he should never be allowed to get out of prison. The case has again spurred debate on how minors who commit terrible crimes should be punished.     

Family Nutrition Program

A statewide effort focused on fighting both obesity and food insecurity, Florida’s Family Nutrition program is run through University of Florida.The idea is to focus on behavior changes to promote a healthy lifestyle and bring better access to healthier foods in so-called “food deserts” where access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited.  

Jacksonville Symphony’s Deanna Tham

In a profession dominated by men, Assistant Conductor Tham says she doesn’t see herself as a role model as much as someone who just works very hard at her craft. She is also the principal conductor for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra, which will be going on the road for the first time next summer to perform in Los Angeles. The Jacksonville Symphony’s latest season begins Sept. 16. Individual tickets go on sale Monday.

‘Avenue Q’

“Avenue Q,” which has been described as “Sesame Street on Acid,” is one of the longest-running Broadway musicals in history. It tells the story of a bright-eyed college graduate named Princeton and his adventures struggling to succeed in New York City. It’s a unique presentation involving puppets interacting with human characters. A warning: While there are puppets, it is an R-rated play NOT suitable for kids. It opens at the Amelia Community TheaterThursday and runs through Aug. 26.          

Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.