- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006

DISTRICT

Leopard’s escape shuts down zoo

The National Zoo was briefly locked down yesterday because a clouded leopard got out of its enclosure.

A zoo spokeswoman said the leopard was reported missing from its containment area at about 7:10 a.m.

It was located nearby within half an hour. It was recaptured by zoo personnel and returned to its indoor enclosure.

The zoo normally opens its gates about 5:30 a.m., and is considered a favorite location for joggers and walkers.

The leopard’s escape prompted a Code Green Alert which required that the zoo’s gates be locked, and that people on the grounds be taken inside nearby buildings.

The zoo reopened at about 8 a.m.

New lions debut at zoo today

Starting today, visitors to the National Zoo will see three new lions recently arrived from South Africa.

Three-year-old Nababiep, two-year-old Shera and one-year-old Luke came to the zoo at the end of October.

Since then, they’ve been settling in and getting to know Lusaka, the 15-year-old female who has lived at the zoo since 2003.

Nababiep and Shera, who are sisters, are each about 300 pounds. Luke is nearly 200 pounds and still growing.

The new lions are very healthy, and zoo officials hope they’ll breed in a few years. For now, the new lions and Lusaka will rotate their time in the yard.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

Researcher ordered to forfeit $300,000

A government researcher was ordered yesterday to forfeit $300,000 and perform 400 hours of community service for failing to disclose lucrative consulting work with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Pearson Sunderland III, a prominent Alzheimer’s specialist at the National Institutes of Health, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a misdemeanor conflict of interest charge.

Mr. Sunderland, of Chevy Chase, admitted he shared thousands of NIH human-tissue samples with Pfizer at the same time he was paid as a private consultant. Many samples are highly sought in Alzheimer’s research.

He also must serve two years’ probation.

VIRGINIA

ALEXANDRIA

Pair get prison for prostituting girl

A California pimp and one of his former prostitutes have been sentenced to prison for their role in bringing a teenage girl to Northern Virginia to engage in prostitution.

Erny Winston Wells, of Marina Del Ray, was sentenced yesterday in Alexandria federal court to 10 years in prison. Andrea Marie Castro, of Long Beach, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Both pleaded guilty in October to numerous charges, including transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution.

According to court documents, Wells recruited the 14-year-old girl into prostitution and advertised her availability on Internet sites. The girl was a runaway from the Los Angeles area.

Prosecutors said the girl had been prostituting for two days in June before the FBI and Alexandria police raided a hotel where she and Castro had been working.

Defense to challenge DNA in student’s death

The lawyer for a man charged with killing a University of Vermont student from Arlington plans to challenge the state’s DNA evidence.

David Sleigh plans to hire at least four specialists in a bid to undermine the reliability of the evidence that police say links Brian L. Rooney to the death of Michelle Gardner-Quinn.

Miss Gardner-Quinn, 21, was found dead Oct. 13, one week after she vanished while walking back to her university dormitory.

Mr. Rooney, 36, of Richmond, Vt., is charged with aggravated murder.

Prosecutors said Mr. Rooney killed Miss Gardner-Quinn while sexually assaulting her, and that semen found on her body matched his DNA. He is being held without bail.

No trial date has been set. If convicted, Mr. Rooney could face life in prison.

WYTHEVILLE

Fewer meth labs found this year

The number of labs discovered making methamphetamine in Virginia declined 70 percent between 2005 and 2006 but the amount of the drug seized rose 300 percent, state police reported yesterday.

Police found 79 meth labs in the state last year and 24 this year, Sgt. Michael Conroy said.

The reporting period was from October 2005 to October of this year.

The majority of the labs found this year were in southwest Virginia, Sgt. Conroy said.

Sgt. Conroy said police think the large decline in the number of labs was due to the state’s decision to remove ephedrine and pseudoephedrine — decongestants used in the manufacture of meth — from drugstore shelves.

Police are seizing more meth imported from large laboratories in Mexico, Sgt. Conroy said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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