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$2 million bond set for Newlywed charged in wife's death, man's kidnapping

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Less than two weeks ago Felicia Fine, 22, married Charles Edwin Duke, 23.

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Wednesday night they argued at their home in Cedar Key.

It ended when he shot her several times, dumped her body at a hunting camp, and took their roommate hostage for more than six hours in a standoff with deputies and Florida Wildlife Commission officers, according to a Levy County Sheriff's Office press release.

On Friday, his bond was set at $2 million.

The case began when Crystal Fine called the Sheriff's Office at 8:37 p.m. Wednesday to report a text message she received from Justin White that said somebody was dead.

She could not provide White's location, but deputies learned that White's family had property near Carter's Corner, the intersection of County Road 345 and County Road 347.

During a search of the area, a man called the Sheriff's Office and said he had killed his wife, Felicia Duke, and her body was at the Peters hunting camp in Rosewood.

Duke said he was holding Justin White hostage at gun point and gave his location as an area off Northeast 128th Lane and County Road 337 — a popular site for mud bogging.

Duke also said he would not be taken alive. 

Deputies and Florida Wildlife Commission officers went to the location, and Sheriff Johnny Smith talked to Duke for over six hours trying to negotiate White's release and Duke's surrender. "It was a combination of things that I said to him, from me spending hours talking with him, explaining to him that its not the end of the world, sure there's going to be consequences to pay," Smith said. "I told him he needed to be rational about this and simply needed to let go of the guy that was with him."

Duke, who was parked in a truck in the middle of the wetlands area, told the sheriff that if officers attempted to approach him he would kill White and the officers.  Smith said Duke chose his location well i a dry spot where he could see anyone coming at him.

During talks, Duke finally agreed to release White if he could talk to his father.  His father was located in Archer and brought to the site, as talks continued with Duke. "I told him numerous times you need to let Justin go and he said as soon as I see my dad. And when we got his dad there and it took some time, I said I got your dad and I want you to keep your end of the deal up and he did."

After Duke was allowed to speak to his father - and after many tense moments - he surrendered to the Sheriff's Office.

He is charged with murder, kidnapping and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

The hostage situation comes one month after the Sheriff's Office disbanded its SWAT team due to budget cuts. The team had 10 specially trained and armed officers. The deputies were paid a $600 annual supplement for the extra qualification and duty. Smith told the Levy County Commission that the 5 percent budget cuts it imposed was forcing him to disband the unit.

Recently an officer attended training for an active response program that trains and provides equipment that allows them to respond more actively to such situations, although it is not at the same level as a SWAT team, according to one officer.