- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

DISTRICT

Dozens injured as car strikes crowd

At least seven persons were in critical condition last night and many more were injured after a speeding station wagon plowed into a crowd attending a street festival on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast.

The accident occurred about 8 p.m.

D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said that about 35 people were taken to hospitals, the Associated Press reported.

WTOP-103.5 FM radio reported that a woman driving a gray station wagon was being chased by police.

Mr. Etter said that D.C. authorities think the woman was traveling about 70 mph when she drove into the crowd at Unifest. He also said the woman fled the scene but was caught about a block away from the accident.

Police identified the woman as Tanya Bell, 35, of Oxon Hill.

Renovation closes Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre, the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, will be mostly off-limits for visitors for the next year and a half while it undergoes renovations.

The theater in Northwest is to get an $8.5 million upgrade. The improvements include the theater’s first elevator, new restrooms and renovations to the heating, air conditioning, lighting and sound systems, the National Park Service said.

An exception to the closure will be the Ford’s Theatre Society’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” It will go on as usual from late November through December, said Hannah Olanoff, a spokeswoman for the society.

Other than that, the society has cleared its calendar for the coming season, Miss Olanoff said. It usually puts on four shows during the September-to-June season.

The 144-year-old theater last underwent restoration in the 1960s, Park Service spokesman Bill Line said. The current repairs are being done in part to improve access for the disabled.

Petersen House, the home across the street where Lincoln died, will still be open to tourists.

The Park Service hopes to reopen the theater in November 2008. About 1 million people visit each year.

John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, shot Lincoln in the back of the head the evening of April 14, 1865, as the president and first lady sat in a private box watching the comedy “Our American Cousin.” Lincoln was carried to the Petersen house, where he died the next morning.

REGION

Sniper embellished Arizona murder tale

Convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo told detectives that he and John Allen Muhammad stalked a Tucson, Ariz., man for days, even talking to him at a supermarket, before shooting him on a golf course in 2002.

Malvo also said Muhammad received $25,000 for killing Jerry R. Taylor, 60, according to transcripts of his confession released Friday by the Tucson Police Department.

But investigators could not confirm Malvo’s claim that it was a hired killing, said Rick Unklesbay, chief trial counsel for the Pima County Attorney’s Office.

“That was one of the issues where I had problems with Malvo’s credibility — that some of his statements didn’t stand up to the evidence,” Mr. Unklesbay told the Arizona Daily Star.

Malvo, 22, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his confession in the Tucson case. He admitted to police last year he shot and killed Mr. Taylor while he practiced chip shots at a Tucson golf course on March 19, 2002.

Discrepancies in Malvo’s story contributed to a decision not to prosecute Muhammad for Taylor’s killing, Mr. Unklesbay said.

“He’s embellishing it to the point that we’d never be able to use his statements in court against another person,” Mr. Unklesbay said, adding that he has no doubt that Malvo committed the murder.

Tucson Police Capt. Bill Richards said it appeared Malvo believed what he was telling investigators. He said it was possible Muhammad told him he’d been hired to kill Mr. Taylor to justify killing an innocent man.

Malvo told detectives that Muhammad had a picture of Taylor and that they had his home address. But Mr. Unklesbay said the picture described by Malvo didn’t exist, according to Mr. Taylor’s family.

Mr. Taylor’s daughter, Cheryll Witz, sent Malvo a letter last year asking for his confession, and after his admission she said she was ready to forgive him.

On Friday, Mrs. Witz said listening to a recording of Malvo’s confession changed her mind.

He spoke in a monotone and showed no remorse, she said. As for Muhammad having been hired to commit the murder, she couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to hurt her father, she said.

MARYLAND

JESSUP

Two inmates stabbed in post-brawl fight

Less than 24 hours after a brawl broke out in the exercise yard of a prison in Baltimore, two inmates stabbed each other with homemade knives at the Jessup Correctional Institution yesterday.

Maj. Priscilla Doggett with the Division of Correction said the latest incident happened around noon, when the inmates were returning to their cells from lunch.

One inmate attacked another with a makeshift knife. The other inmate also had a homemade knife and defended himself. Both received stab wounds to the upper torso and were taken by ambulance to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Maj. Doggett said their injuries were not life-threatening.

Maj. Doggett said investigators were working to determine what caused Friday’s melee at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore. They’re looking into the possibility that it was gang-related. Eighteen persons were hospitalized after that brawl.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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