- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

DISTRICT

Homeless man dies of cold in NW park

A homeless man apparently died of exposure to the cold Monday night when the temperature dropped below 30 degrees, authorities said.

The 74-year-old man was found unconscious in a park at 19th and E streets Northwest, near the State Department. He had no blanket and his body temperature was 84 degrees. He died at a hospital.

D.C. fire department officials said it is thought to be the first such death of the season.

MARYLAND

LAUREL

Mother, toddler fatally shot in home

A woman and her 9-month-old daughter were found fatally shot yesterday in their home, Prince George’s County police said.

People outside the house in the 13700 block of Engleman Drive reported hearing shots about 12:15 p.m., said Cpl. Debbi Carlson, a county police spokeswoman.

Police arrived to find Lisa Laverne Brown, 22, and her child dead from gunshot wounds.

There was no sign of forced entry, and police said it is possible the crime was not a random act.

Police did not release a potential motive or the names of any possible suspects.

ANNAPOLIS

Mother, child suffer smoke inhalation in fire

A mother and her baby suffered smoke inhalation yesterday in a fire at an apartment building.

Firefighters used ladders to rescue people trapped in the two-story, garden-style apartment building as the fire went to three alarms, said Capt. W. Ed Hadaway Jr. of the Annapolis fire department.

Sixteen units at the Admiral Farragut Apartments were either destroyed or heavily damaged.

The injured mother and her one-month-old baby were flown to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

About 75 firefighters from the city, Anne Arundel County and the Naval Academy had the blaze under control within an hour.

BALTIMORE

Ex-officer sentenced for inmate’s death

A city judge yesterday sentenced a former correctional officer to 20 years in prison for the murder last year of an inmate at Baltimore’s Central Booking facility.

Dameon Christopher Woods, 34, was convicted in October on a charge known as second-degree murder, depraved heart, which is distinguished from second-degree murder in that it is not intentional and requires an extreme disregard for human life.

Woods was one of three correctional officers charged with the beating and stomping death of Raymond Smoot, 51, in May 2005.

One was acquitted, and charges against the other were dismissed.

In all, eight correctional officers were fired after the fatal beating, and the incident focused public attention on conditions at the troubled facility.

FROSTBURG

Professor charged in child-porn case

A longtime Frostburg State University foreign-languages professor has been charged with possessing child pornog-raphy after police said officials found prohibited images on a computer he had turned over to a school shop for repairs.

MacGregor O’Brien, 57, of Frostburg, faces 13 counts of possessing child porn, according to court documents.

A trial is set for March 13 in Allegany County District Court.

Neither Mr. O’Brien nor his attorney immediately returned telephone calls yesterday from the Associated Press.

Mr. O’Brien was arrested Saturday and released Monday after posting $30,000 bail, court records show.

In accordance with University System of Maryland policies, he has been suspended with pay and barred from campus pending resolution of the case, school spokeswoman Elizabeth Medcalf said.

Police said state and local investigators seized several computers and a large number of compact discs, many containing child pornography, during searches of Mr. O’Brien’s office and home, the Cumberland Times-News reported yesterday.

Mr. O’Brien, a native of Peru, joined the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at Frostburg State in 1978 after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a doctorate from the University of Missouri.

In 2002, he won a Frostburg State Faculty Achievement Award for his contributions to multiculturalism and international studies, including a study-abroad program in Ecuador. He served as a translator and interpreter for local community agencies and owns homes in Frostburg and Rio de Janeiro, according to school documents.

Woman convicted of insurance fraud

An Annapolis woman has been found guilty in West Virginia of insurance fraud after soliciting a man to burn down her property and collecting on the policy.

Deborah K. Wildberger was found guilty of asking Michael Hovermale to burn down a Morgan County residence he was renting from her in 1999.

Wildberger was found guilty Dec. 7 on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretenses.

Three persons came forward saying Hovermale had bragged about burning the property down.

Earlier this year, Wildberger collected nearly $72,000 from State Farm Insurance. This was before Hovermale pleaded guilty to conspiracy and felony arson and testified against Wildberger at trial.

Sentencing is set for Feb. 22. Wildberger faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $30,000 in fines, plus restitution.

VIRGINIA

RICHMOND

Kaine to push for teacher raises

Budget amendments Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will offer the General Assembly on Friday will include funding for a 3 percent teacher pay raise and pilot programs to make pre-kindergarten schooling more available.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, announced yesterday that he will include $64 million as the state’s share of the teachers’ raise, but the additional pay wouldn’t kick in until next December.

Teachers get a 4 percent pay raise in the budget lawmakers belatedly enacted in June, but they could not agree on Mr. Kaine’s bid to boost teacher compensation by an additional 3 percent in the fiscal year that starts in July.

Also in the amendments Mr. Kaine will propose for the back end of the two-year budget will be $4.6 million to expand pre-K pilot projects through public-private partnerships, part of the Start Strong early-childhood education initiative.

Mr. Kaine will ask for an additional $2.9 million to explore a voluntary ratings system that would help parents rank instruction programs for young children.

Other school-related budget proposals include $4.1 million to enroll every eligible first- and second-grade student in instruction designed to improve their reading skills, and $3.9 million to expand a middle school algebra tutorial project from the present seventh and eighth grades to also include sixth grade.

NORFOLK

Virginia rocket launch delayed until Friday

The first attempt to launch a rocket from the Mid-Atlantic region’s commercial spaceport has been delayed until at least Friday while teams continue working on a glitch in the software for the Air Force satellite that is the main payload, officials said yesterday.

The launch window has been extended from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22, with the launch time from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. each day, said Keith Koehler, spokesman for NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, where the spaceport’s launch pad is located.

The problem with the software for the TacSat-2 satellite surfaced Sunday night, forcing Monday’s scheduled launch to be scrubbed.

“We’re continuing to develop a fix for the software situation,” Michael P. Kleiman, an Air Force spokesman, said yesterday by phone.

The software would have tilted solar panels on the satellite at a 45-degree angle instead of having them face directly into the sun, so the satellite’s batteries would not charge properly in orbit. That would leave the satellite without enough power to run its systems and conduct experiments.

Teams also were checking out another problem discovered during routine preflight tests on a ground-based TacSat-2 simulator at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., Mr. Kleiman said. A computer on the simulator began rebooting itself unexpectedly, raising concern that could happen on the satellite.

The 69-foot Minotaur I rocket remained on the launch pad.

GLASGOW

Forest fire grows to 1,000 acres

Two fires joined yesterday to create a 1,000-acre forest fire, closing a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, officials said.

The fire is in a remote section of the George Washington National Forest near Peavine Mountain primarily accessible by dirt roads. Firefighters have had to navigate steep, rocky terrain to fight it.

No homes are threatened and no injuries were reported.

The fire has grown from about 10 small fires that ultimately developed into two, each encompassing hundreds of acres.

The area is often used by hunters, said Gary Roakes, Amherst County public safety director.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Donna Wilson said the affected acreage is expected to increase.

“When it’s totally in the black, it will be like 1,800 acres” burned, she said.

Investigators have determined the blaze was set by one or more people, but they do not know if it was an accident or arson.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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