- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006

DISTRICT

Lab director testifies on date-rape drug

The director of a leading French laboratory said yesterday that there were no significant traces of a common date-rape drug in hair samples from two women who have accused a former Naval Academy football player of drugging and sexually assaulting them.

“We can say with huge accuracy that there was no exposure” to gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, a common date-rape drug, said Pascal Kintz, testifying by speakerphone in the military version of a grand jury hearing for Midshipman Kenny Ray Morrison.

Midshipman Morrison, 24, of Kingwood, Texas, is charged with rape, distribution of a controlled substance, assault and conduct unbecoming an officer. He could face life in a military prison if convicted.

A military investigating officer presiding over yesterday’s Article 32 hearing at the Washington Navy Yard must decide whether to recommend Midshipman Morrison’s case for a general court-martial.

The hearing centered on the second round of testing by ChemTox, a leading French testing lab for GHB hair samples. The new test results contradict earlier findings of the government-requested test by ExperTox, a lab in Texas.

The previous findings of the date-rape drug were discredited at a Nov. 2 hearing after the government’s expert testified that the GHB found in the samples did not fall into the time frame of either the Feb. 4 or April 21 incidents. The hearing was reopened after new testing was requested.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

Shopping trip won for taxidermy shop

A Federalsburg woman won a $500 shopping spree at a taxidermy shop as the grand-prize winner in a state-sponsored contest aimed at helping small businesses hurt by a change in deer-checking rules, the Department of Natural Resources said yesterday.

Shawna Whitby also received a year’s free membership in the Maryland Sportsmen’s Association, the agency said.

Thirty-six others won free hunting licenses for the 2008-09 season.

The DNR and the conservation group Quail Unlimited created the contest to encourage hunters to visit businesses that previously served as game-checking stations.

Until last year, deer hunters reported their kills by taking the deer to designated sport shops and country stores. Now hunters must register kills online or through a toll-free telephone number.

Many of the mom-and-pop businesses that had served for decades as checking stations said the switch cost them sales because they no longer had hunters coming in to check game or people dropping by to see trophy bucks.

FREDERICK

Youths get jail time for vandalism spree

Two 18-year-olds have been sent to jail for 18 months for setting a fire that was part of a vandalism spree in which 40 vehicles were burned or ransacked in Middletown.

Brent Michael Crow and Cavon Ladd Wilcox also were ordered to pay more than $50,000 in restitution.

Frederick County sheriff’s deputies arrested the teens for vandalizing vehicles in the Middletown Volunteer Fire Company parking lot early in the morning of April 29.

On that night, three vehicles, including a loaned fire engine, were set on fire, and 37 others were broken into.

Both men pleaded guilty this week in Frederick County Circuit Court to one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree arson and two counts of reckless endangerment. Prosecutors dropped other charges in return for the guilty pleas.

Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. sentenced each to 10 years in prison but suspended all but 18 months, to be served in the county jail.

ANNAPOLIS

State approves funds for Washington letter

Maryland will spend $600,000 to buy George Washington’s handwritten resignation from the Continental Army.

State archivists said in February that they had acquired the speech to put in the State House in Annapolis, where the Revolutionary War hero and first U.S. president resigned his commission in 1783. On Tuesday, the state Board of Public Works approved the purchase, along with $150,000 for an accompanying letter written by a witness describing the event.

The speech is seen as a turning point in America’s formation because it established that the military should be subservient to civil authority.

The $750,000 granted by the Board of Public Works covers only half the cost; private donors will pay the rest. The current owner is a private citizen and hasn’t been identified by state officials.

PIKESVILLE

Pet cat found after bus mishap

Ali Streimer chose a good name for Athena, a little black cat with green eyes that made it back home after getting off a bus at the wrong stop.

Athena — who shares her name with the Greek goddess of wisdom and skill, among other things — found her way to her owner’s arms three weeks after being chased off the New York-bound bus.

Miss Streimer fell asleep while riding the bus Thanksgiving weekend from Pikesville, the Baltimore suburb where her parents live, back to New York, where she lives. Athena, meanwhile, managed to free herself from her carrying case, began strolling through the bus and was let off by the driver about 20 miles into the trip. The driver assumed the cat was a stowaway because passengers are not allowed to bring pets onto the bus, a rule Miss Streimer did not know about.

After three weeks of frantic searching, Athena was spotted near the bus stop where she and her owner first boarded the bus. Athena was “freaked,” family members said, and it took several hours for Miss Streimer and her father to catch her.

A trip to the vet confirmed Athena was in good health despite the three-week ordeal.

BALTIMORE

State coordinates gang-related data

Gang-Net, a new statewide database, will help law-enforcement agencies across Maryland share data on gang activities, the U.S. attorney’s office announced yesterday.

Gang-Net “will allow law enforcement officers to identify gang members and enable us to better understand and respond to gang problems,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said.

In addition to the database, overseen by the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Mr. Rosenstein also announced the award of $1.5 million in anti-gang grants to combat gangs and gang violence in local neighborhoods, communities and schools.

PRINCESS ANNE

Infant found at plant had been strangled

A baby boy found dead in a garbage can at a Somerset County tomato-packing business was strangled, authorities said.

Somerset County State’s Attorney Kristy Hickman told the Salisbury Daily Times that an autopsy revealed the boy was killed, then hidden in the trash.

“It was more than just leaving a baby in the bathroom,” Miss Hickman said.

The newborn’s body was found early Sunday in a trash can in the women’s bathroom at Custom Pak Inc., where his mother gave birth to him Saturday morning, police said. The baby’s mother, Florentine Morino Olivera, 24, is charged with second-degree murder.

Investigators said Miss Olivera went to work at Custom Pak at 7 a.m. Saturday and then left about 10:30 a.m., soon after giving birth. She returned to a Princess Anne home she shared with other workers, the Somerset Bureau of Investigation said.

About 12 hours later, Miss Olivera was taken by ambulance to Peninsula Regional Medical Center. The medical staff called police after learning that Miss Olivera had given birth and left the baby at Custom Pak.

Police went to Custom Pak at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and found the body of what appeared to be a full-term infant.

HAGERSTOWN

5-year-old charged with sexual assault

A 5-year-old boy sexually harassed a kindergarten classmate by pinching her buttocks, Washington County public school officials say.

The boy’s father, who received a written notice about the incident, said he is at a loss to explain to his son what sexual harassment means.

“He knows nothing about sex,” Charles Vallance told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail for a story published yesterday. “There’s no way to explain what he’s been written up for. He knows it as playing around. He doesn’t know it as anything sexual at all.”

But school system spokeswoman Carol Mowen said the pinching episode in a Lincolnshire Elementary School hallway Dec. 8 fits the Maryland Department of Education’s definition of sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and/or other inappropriate verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed toward others.”

Miss Mowen called the reprimand a learning opportunity.

“It’s important to understand a child may not realize that what he or she is doing may be considered sexual harassment, but if it fits under the definition, then it is, under the state’s guidelines,” she said. “If someone has been told this person does not want this type of touching, it doesn’t matter if it’s at work or at school.”

Miss Mowen said school officials consider the offender’s age and other circumstances in deciding what administrative action is warranted.

Twenty-eight Maryland kindergarten students were suspended during the 2005-06 school year for sex offenses, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual activity, according to state data. Fifteen of the suspensions were for sexual harassment.

VIRGINIA

WILLIAMSBURG

Cross to return to Wren Chapel

The great cross debate at the College of William & Mary is resolved — sort of.

President Gene Nichol announced yesterday that the 2-foot-high, century-old bronze cross removed from Wren Chapel in October will be returned to the chapel on Sundays.

He hoped to appease some of the more than 7,000 people who signed an online petition to return the cross.

The Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group with ties to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, even threatened a lawsuit.

Mr. Nichol originally ordered the cross removed to help non-Christians feel more welcome in Wren Chapel. The chapel is in the Wren Building, which is used for secular meetings, including schoolwide events.

Mr. Nichol said he doubts his solution will please everyone.

MARTINSVILLE

Plea deal upheld despite story change

A man who confessed to killing a shopkeeper, then recanted his testimony that he was hired by the woman’s husband and another man, will serve one year in prison.

A judge last week upheld a plea agreement for that sentence, rejecting a prosecutor’s argument that it should be thrown out because Billy Ray Manns recanted his story.

Manns, who is serving a 17-year sentence on separate felony convictions, was promised the reduction from a possible 20-year sentence on a conviction of conspiracy to commit capital murder in the slaying of Lisa Nicole Thomas.

The victim’s husband, Maverick Thomas, found her dead in her Martinsville dress shop in September 2000.

Manns had testified that Maverick Thomas and Nation of Islam minister Malvester Dixon paid him $10,000 to kill her. Based on the testimony, both were found guilty — Mr. Thomas of capital murder for hire and Mr. Dixon of conspiracy to commit capital murder — and were sent to prison.

Soon after the trials in 2005, however, Manns said he acted alone in shooting Mrs. Thomas. The verdicts were overturned and, in June, Mr. Dixon and Mr. Thomas were freed.

Martinsville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joan Ziglar argued in court last week that Manns violated his immunity agreement with her when he changed his story.

But Circuit Judge Carter Greer ruled that Miss Ziglar had not proved that Manns violated the agreement.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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