Opening arguments begin in trial of sheriff

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BRISTOL, Fla. (AP) - Opening arguments are scheduled to start in the trial of a former Panhandle sheriff accused of official misconduct and falsifying public records.

Prosecutors on Tuesday are expected to tell jurors that Nick Finch intervened in a case where one of his deputies arrested a resident for carrying a pistol without a concealed weapons permit. They contend Finch altered or destroyed records connected to the case.

Finch was elected Liberty County sheriff in November 2012. Gov. Rick Scott suspended him this past June.

Finch's attorneys will assert that the sheriff let the man go because he is a believer in 2nd Amendment gun rights.

The case has attracted attention among some conservative media outlets and gun rights activists. It has also divided this small rural county just west of Tallahassee.