- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

MARYLAND

HAGERSTOWN

Woman found guilty of dumping newborn

A Hagerstown woman was convicted yesterday of attempted second-degree murder for leaving her newborn son in an alley, hidden beneath two blocks of wood under a parked trailer.

The boy survived, but Kelly E. Ruck, 26, could be sent to prison for three to eight years under a deal announced in Washington County Circuit Court. Judge W. Kennedy Boone III set sentencing for May 15.

Ruck, who worked as a cook, has a history of mental illness, defense attorney Gordon A. Lynn said. He said after the hearing that a psychiatrist will testify at her sentencing that Ruck had a dissociative dis-order at the time of the incident and could not have formed the intent to kill her baby.

Ruck entered an Alford plea to the attempted-murder charge and was found guilty by Judge Boone. Under an Alford plea, a person doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence for a conviction.

In return for Ruck’s plea, the state dropped other charges, including attempted first-degree murder. Prosecutors also agreed to seek no more than the three- to eight-year prison sentence recommended by state sentencing guidelines for defendants who, like Ruck, have no prior criminal record. Attempted second-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

State’s Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. said that whether Ruck had pleaded guilty or taken the Alford plea, “you still get to the same bottom line — it’s a conviction.”

According to a statement of facts presented by the state, Ruck gave birth at about 6 a.m. Sept. 17 after repeatedly denying that she was pregnant. A neighbor found the infant about 3 hours later. The newborn was suffering from hypothermia but survived and is now in foster care, Mr. Strong said.

The baby’s father, Scott Rohrbaugh, declined to comment after the proceeding.

HAGERSTOWN

Burning ban lifted in remaining counties

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) yesterday lifted a statewide ban on open-air burning in all remaining counties after a weekend of often heavy rain.

Twelve counties — Allegany, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Kent, Queen Anne, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester — remained under the restriction. It was instituted in all counties but Garrett on March 31 lifted in regions as rains reduced the fire risk.

For the year, precipitation statewide remains below normal, but the DNR said projected wildfire conditions have improved.

The heavy rain did have its complications. It raised rivers and streams to hazardous levels, prompting a DNR advisory to stay out of the Upper Potomac River and its tributaries through Wednesday.

FREDERICK

Boys at group home charged with car theft

Two teenage residents of a group home stole a staff member’s car and drove it about 45 miles on Interstate 70 before crashing into another vehicle during a police chase that exceeded 120 mph, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said yesterday.

The unidentified Baltimore boys, ages 17 and 14, were caught after a foot chase Sunday afternoon near Monrovia, Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said. After hospital treatment for minor injuries, they were charged as juveniles with various offenses and sent to separate Department of Juvenile Service facilities pending further proceedings.

The occupants of the other car, Michael R. Acker, 34, and Maria C. Acker, 35, both of Brunswick, also were treated at Frederick Memorial Hospital and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Cpl. Bailey said the 17-year-old drove the 2004 Nissan Maxima after stealing it from Oak Hill House, a residential treatment center in Clear Spring. Oak Hill serves youths 14 to 18 who have been abused, abandoned, neglected or adjudicated for nonviolent offenses, according to the Web site of the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities.

He was charged with theft of a motor vehicle, failure to remain at the scene of a personal-injury accident, speeding, reckless driving and driving without a license, among other charges, Cpl. Bailey said.

The younger boy was charged with theft of a motor vehicle and fleeing on foot.

VIRGINIA

RICHMOND

Pit bull owner gets 10-day jail sentence

A man whose pit bull attacked six persons in a Richmond park has been sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Rodney Douglas was found guilty of seven offenses stemming from last month’s attack. His pit bull, named Killer, was euthanized by the animal control office two weeks ago.

Mr. Douglas was arrested last week after failing to appear for a previous court hearing in General District Court on the charges against him. He was sentenced to jail Friday by General District Court Judge Phillip Hairston on a failure to appear charge.

Mr. Douglas pleaded guilty and was fined a total of $375 for having no license, breeders permit, rabies vaccination, dog tag or leash for the pit bull.

Earlier this month, Mr. Douglas was indicted on three counts of assault. He appeared yesterday in Circuit Court and was appointed a defense lawyer on those charges.

HANOVER

Man pleads guilty in plot to kill cop

A Montross man pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of felony obstruction of justice in a murder-for-hire plot against a Hanover County deputy sheriff and another man.

Garnett Clayton Horner III appeared in Hanover County Circuit Court on charges of solicitation to commit capital murder of a police officer and a witness. The charges were reduced as part of a plea bargain.

Horner, 50, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced May 9.

Authorities said Horner approached a defendant in a drug case in November with an offer to kill the arresting officer and a witness who would testify against him. The scheme was never carried out.

Horner accepted $2,100 as an initial installment for the killings, authorities said. The transaction was secretly recorded by Hanover authorities and the Virginia State Police, who learned of the plot from the associate.

Horner is being held without bond at the Pamunkey Regional Jail.

LEXINGTON

Boy, 16, missing in fast-running river

Divers and a state police helicopter were helping in the search for a 16-year-old boy missing in the Maury River.

Police said Charles Volpe and a friend went into the river Sunday afternoon into current that was stronger than expected. The water washed them over the dam. The friend surfaced, but Charles disappeared.

CAPE CHARLES

Body found in Bay caught in gill net

A body was spotted yesterday morning caught in a gill net in the Chesapeake Bay.

A Virginia Marine Resources Commission spokesman said people on a fishing boat saw the body west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Virginia Marine Police recovered the decomposed body and took it to shore. It is now with the state medical examiner’s office in Norfolk.

SUFFOLK

Woman killed by car while helping dog

A Norfolk woman was hit and killed by a car after stopping along a dark road to help an injured dog.

Chrystal Ann Lloyd stopped along U.S. 58 on Saturday night after spotting a dog on the pavement. The animal had been hit by a car and was in the left lane.

Police said a motorist saw Miss Lloyd’s car on the right side of the road and moved to the left to avoid it. But he ended up striking Miss Lloyd, who died at the scene. The dog did not survive.

No charges will be filed against the driver.

RICHMOND

Cleanup will take time at derailment site

Rail operator CSX said it could take at least a week to clean up after a train derailment dumped coal in Shockoe Bottom over the weekend.

Eleven freight cars carrying coal derailed Saturday morning near the city’s flood wall, and the rail bridge it was on collapsed. CSX said it is not clear whether the bridge collapsed first or if the derailment caused the damage to the bridge.

Crews spent much of the weekend trying to remove coal and right the freight cars.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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