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Briefly

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2007

DISTRICT

Judge won't review lost-pants verdict

A judge who ruled in favor of a dry cleaner that was sued for $54 million over a missing pair of pants yesterday denied a request to reconsider the verdict, ruling that the plaintiff failed to present "any new argument" in the case.

Roy L. Pearson argued last week that D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff failed to address his legal claims when she ruled that the business owners did not violate the city's consumer protection law by failing to live up to his expectations of a "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store.

"The plaintiff's motion for reconsideration reargues matters that already were presented in his pretrial statement, his trial brief, and his arguments at trial," Judge Bartnoff wrote.

Mr. Pearson, an administrative law judge, still can take the matter to the D.C. Court of Appeals. Defense attorney Chris Manning said he expects Mr. Pearson to appeal the ruling as well as any favorable ruling on the family's motion to recover attorney fees.

The case, which drew international attention, began in 2005 when Mr. Pearson took several suits for alterations to Custom Cleaners.

A pair of pants from one suit was missing when he went back two days later. A week later, the store owners said the pants had been found, but Mr. Pearson said they weren't his and filed a lawsuit.

Mr. Pearson originally sought $67 million in his lawsuit, which was based on a strict interpretation of the city's consumer protection law. The lawsuit also included damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney fees for representing himself.

Capitol workers settle whistleblower case

Ten U.S. Capitol steamfitters have settled a whistleblower retaliation case against the Architect of the Capitol.

The workers complained of asbestos exposure in the tunnels where they worked. They said the Architect of the Capitol retaliated by describing them as troublemakers to members of Congress, threatening their jobs and cutting off supplies they needed to work in an environment where temperatures can exceed 130 degrees.

The amount of money involved and other terms of the settlement were not revealed, but attorney David J. Marshall called the out-of-court settlement a "big victory for federal workers."

Architect of the Capitol spokeswoman Eva Malecki said that although details will remain confidential, "each settlement resolves the reprisal and other claims to the parties' mutual satisfaction."

The 10 workers were responsible for maintaining the plumbing that provides steam and chilled water to Congress, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and other federal buildings, and they work for the Architect of the Capitol.

The majority of the workers have retired, resigned or moved to other assignments.

VIRGINIA

CENTREVILLE

Metal grinder sparked garage explosion

A house explosion Sunday was caused when a spark from a metal grinder ignited materials that may have been part of an illegal fireworks-manufacturing operation, authorities said yesterday.

Investigators seized 500 pounds of chemicals, powders and fertilizer that the occupant of the home said he used to make large pyrotechnic displays, said Capt. Chris Schaff, a spokesman for the Fairfax County fire department. About 200 pounds of finished fireworks also were found.

"The material in the home was in line with what he told us he was trying to do," Capt. Schaff said, noting that no one could be licensed to make such materials in a home.

Officials finished identifying and cataloging the materials yesterday, and charges had not been filed.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initially said Sunday's explosion might have been caused by a man trying to make fireworks. Yesterday, Capt. Schaff said the metal grinding was not connected to fireworks production, though the material that was ignited could be.

No one was hurt in the explosion or in the subsequent fire, which spread to the home, authorities said. The fire, which erupted before 1 p.m., was not put out until about 5:30 p.m.

NORFOLK

Death sentence set in officer's killing

A judge yesterday imposed the death penalty for a man who killed a Norfolk police officer in October 2005.

Thomas Porter, 31, was convicted of capital murder in March after he admitted shooting Officer Stanley Reaves three times in the head. A jury in Arlington, where the trial was moved because of the attention it received in the Hampton Roads area, recommended the death penalty.

Norfolk Circuit Judge Chuck Griffith announced the sentence in a courtroom crowded with Officer Reaves' friends, family and colleagues. Porter's execution date, which likely will be delayed by appeals, is set for Feb. 4.

Porter testified that he shot Officer Reaves because he feared for his life during an altercation with the officer. Prosecutors said Porter shot the officer because he knew he had an outstanding warrant and was committing a crime by carrying a gun.

Officer Reaves died instantly, and police later identified Porter in the shooting. He was arrested six days later in White Plains, N.Y.

ASHLAND

Grad gives $2.6 million to Randolph-Macon

A Richmond lawyer has donated $2.6 million to Randolph-Macon College, earmarking the bulk of it for scholarships and for the athletic department, school officials said yesterday.

Everette G. "Buddy" Allen, 66, a 1962 Randolph-Macon graduate, said that the scholarship assistance he received contributed to his success, and that he and his wife, Ann, wanted to offer Richmond-area students the same opportunities.

College officials said $1.25 million will be used to establish a scholarship fund with preference given to Richmond city public school students, students participating in a college-preparation and mentoring program, and students transferring from Richmond's J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College.

"We are grateful for what [Randolph-Macon] did for me many years ago, and we hope to give many more local students, particularly Richmond students who may not have the resources to attend a private college, the chance to discover Randolph-Macon and its top-notch liberal arts curriculum," said Mr. Allen, a partner with LeClair Ryan, a Richmond firm.

The remaining $1 million of his gift will create an athletic endowment fund to support the school's Division III sports programs.

MARYLAND

COLUMBIA

Mall sex assaults may be linked

Howard County police said they think a man who "upskirted" a teenage girl while she was shopping with her mother at Columbia Mall may be the same suspect wanted in an earlier assault.

Police said yesterday that the 16-year-old and her mother reported the upskirting incident last month. It happened in the parking lot.

Police said they have video footage that shows a man following the woman and her daughter and reaching under the teenager's skirt. The video shows the man carrying a camera under a jacket or a bag.

Police also are investigating a May report at the same mall where a woman was grabbed by a man. After the man reached under her skirt, police said, she hit him and he fled.

ANNAPOLIS

Teen stole money for mother's drugs

A Severn teenager is going to prison for robbing people to support his mother's drug habit.

Jamar Isaac, 18, will serve 18 months for stealing more than $60,000 from a dozen people. The robberies happened in Severn, Glen Burnie and Brooklyn Park.

Isaac pleaded guilty to eight crimes last week.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Dunty said this case is unusual because Isaac was stealing so Angela Eagleton, 49, who has an extensive criminal history, could continue her drug use.

Anne Arundel County state's attorney spokeswoman Kristin Riggin said Eagleton just got out of prison for similar crimes.

Prosecutors said Isaac still owes his victims about $63,000.

Police found nearly $10,000 in drugs and $14,000 in cash when they raided his home. They also found guns and a bulletproof vest.

BALTIMORE

Two men charged in Marine's death

Two men were indicted yesterday in the fatal stabbing of a Marine last month, Baltimore city prosecutors said.

Maurice Crosby, 19, and Eric Ammenhauser, 21, are charged with first-degree murder in the June 10 death of Michael Simms, 19.

Mr. Simms was trying to break up a fight between his friends when he was stabbed.

TOWSON

Fencing coach accused of sex with minor

Baltimore County police charged a Timonium fencing coach with having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

Alan Arrowsmith, 32, is charged with sex abuse of a minor. He was hired as an instructor at Baltimore Fencing Center last July and began coaching the girl. She told police that they had consensual sex at his house, in his car and in the men's locker room at the fencing center.

The girl's parents discovered the relationship in March and ordered her not to have contact with him. The police investigation began in May when they received a tip about the relationship.

Police ask others who may have had a relationship with Mr. Arrowsmith to contact detectives.

SALISBURY

Teen charged as adult after cruiser rammed

A 15-year-old was charged as an adult after he tried to ram his car into a patrol car driven by a Wicomico County sheriff's deputy, police said.

Brennan Waters, 15, was pulled over on Route 13 at Dover Street for a headlight violation early Sunday, state police said. When the trooper approached the vehicle, police said, the teenager sped away.

Minutes later, police said, the teen tried to ram the patrol car at Barclay Street and Railroad Avenue. When the car stopped, police said, the Waters youth and four other men or boys tried to get away on foot. The passengers escaped.

Troopers said the Waters youth dropped a stolen, loaded handgun during the chase. A search of the vehicle turned up two additional loaded handguns, one of which also was stolen.

Police said the car matches the description of a vehicle involved in a robbery Saturday night.

BALTIMORE

Two charged in death of man in burning car

Two Baltimore men were indicted yesterday in the death of a man whose body was found in the trunk of a burning car.

Michael Martin and Robert Speake are charged with first-degree murder and other offenses in the death last month of Phillip Airey.

Mr. Airey's body was found in a burning car on Route 295 in Linthicum. Authorities said he was beaten and stabbed before the car was set on fire.

From wire dispatches and staff reports