- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

DISTRICT

Supreme Count denies stay for ‘D.C. Madam’

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday denied a request to halt the criminal case against the woman accused of running a prostitution ring in the District.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, of Vallejo, Calif., is accused in federal court of racketeering by running a prostitution ring that netted more than $2 million over 13 years, beginning in 1993. She maintains that her escort service, Pamela Martin and Associates, was legitimate.

Miss Palfrey’s civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, filed papers last week with the Supreme Court asking for an emergency stay of the racketeering case. He argued that it was unfair to proceed against Miss Palfrey while her assets remain seized in a civil forfeiture case because she lacks the means to hire an attorney of her choice.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. denied the application yesterday. No explanation was given.

Building Museum gets funds to go ‘greener’

The National Building Museum received financial help to become more environmentally friendly.

The Home Depot Foundation is donating $600,000 to the museum as its “sustainability partner.” The money will support the museum’s educational programs to raise awareness about environmentally sound building practices and development.

Some of the grant money is also being used to “green” the museum’s operation. The museum will increase its use of sustainable materials in exhibits.

REGION

Economist warns of $14 million houses

For people who think the Washington area is expensive and congested now — wait till they see what’s coming.

In 50 years, the average home in the Washington area will cost $14 million, and the lack of affordable housing will make traffic even worse, according to one economist’s forecast.

The $14 million average home price would be almost 12 times the projected average household income in 2057, said Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. Currently, houses cost 3 times the average regional household income, Mr. Fuller said yesterday at a forum on the region’s future.

Meanwhile, Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, said the region is growing into a region that will eventually stretch from Baltimore to Richmond.

Yesterday’s panel was sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

MARYLAND

FREDERICK

Boy, 17, pleads guilty to assaults at school

A 17-year-old Frederick boy was convicted yesterday of sexually assaulting three girls in the halls and a bathroom of Tuscarora High School.

Prosecutors dropped charges that defendant Michael T. Smith raped a fourth girl twice inside the school, citing insufficient evidence.

Under a plea bargain announced in Frederick County Circuit Court, Smith will be committed to a residential facility for juvenile sex offenders until he completes treatment or turns 21. Smith, who has been in jail since his arrest Oct. 25, will avoid a potential 20-year prison term if he complies with the treatment program and the terms of a five-year probationary period that starts after his release.

Judge John H. Tisdale said the treatment program is “not intended to be an easy way out.” He described it as “significant, meaningful, sex-offender treatment that would not be available in the adult court.”

Smith pleaded guilty as an adult to attempted second-degree rape and admitted his involvement as a juvenile in a fourth-degree sex offense. He was convicted as a juvenile of another count of fourth-degree sex offense after entering an Alford plea in which he didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged the state had enough evidence to convict him.

The lesser offenses involved 15-year-old girls who were grabbed and groped in hallways during the 2005-06 school year, Assistant State’s Attorney Lindell K. Angel said. Neither of them reported the incidents until after a 16-year-old victim, at the urging of a friend, told police that Smith had tried to rape her in a girls bathroom in October, Mr. Angel said.

Smith said many young people do not seem to regard unwanted sexual contact as a serious offense, an attitude he blamed partly on steamy popular culture. “Look at television programs like ‘Desperate Housewives,’ where the mothers are sleeping with everybody in the neighborhood,” he said.

FORESTVILLE

2 die, 15 injured in Beltway crash

A seven-car crash on the Capital Beltway about 7 last night closed the highway in both directions near Ritchie Marlboro Road.

Two persons were dead and 15 injured — including two Prince George’s County police officers, Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said. Several of the injured were trapped in their vehicles.

Police said an officer tried to get into position to stop a speeding motorcycle on the Inner Loop. The motorcycle rider swerved in front of a car and sped away, causing the officer’s cruiser to hit the car. The car rolled down an embankment onto the Outer Loop, where five other cars crashed into each other.

“This is a tough scene,” police Chief Melvin C. High said.

One of the police officers was an off-duty investigator who was flown to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The other also was hospitalized, but his injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions as both loops remained closed approaching midnight.

Starting at 10 a.m. today, accident-reconstruction teams are expected to close lanes on both loops as they continued their investigation.

ANNAPOLIS

O’Malley to replace state police chief

Gov. Martin O’Malley will replace Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Thomas Hutchins, appointed by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the superintendent said yesterday.

Two officials close to the O’Malley administration said the governor’s selection is Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence Sheridan. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the change had not been announced.

A press conference is scheduled today at state police headquarters in Pikesville. The governor declined to confirm the change.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, named Col. Hutchins to the post in 2003.

Col. Hutchins, 61, said Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, told him yesterday morning about the decision.

“I’ve always known you serve at the governor’s pleasure, and that’s the way it is,” Col. Hutchins said.

Chief Sheridan spent 30 years with the Maryland State Police from 1965 to 1995. He served in the National Guard from 1966 to 1972.

SALISBURY

Man gets 10 years for punching officer

A man who punched a police officer several times in the face has received the maximum sentence.

Phillip Bryant, 40, was sentenced Tuesday in Wicomico County Circuit Court to 10 years in prison.

Officer Savage suffered injuries to his ear and may not return to active duty.

BALTIMORE

School closes early for chigger infestation

An infestation of chiggers forced a school to close early yesterday, and it will remain closed today.

A school system spokeswoman said Violetville Elementary-Middle School is infested with chiggers — tiny red mites whose bites can cause severe itching.

Schools spokeswoman Vanessa Pyatt said the problem was discovered Friday. Crews were sent in over the weekend to exterminate the chiggers, but they did not get them all.

The school is expected to reopen tomorrow.

FORESTVILLE

One dead, one injured in large condo fire

One man was found dead after a large fire at a condominium complex early yesterday morning.

Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said the 43-year-old man was found in a terrace-level apartment. Firefighters realized he was missing after they used a building roster to make contact with all other residents.

A firefighter suffered serious burns to his respiratory tract because of a problem with his air equipment, Mr. Brady said.

Firefighters were called to the Holly Hill Condominiums just after midnight.

About 80 people were left homeless by the fire.

The cause is still being investigated.

OCEAN CITY

Motel fight sends man to hospital

Police said a 24-year-old Pennsylvania man was in stable condition after he was slashed during a fight that erupted when he and a friend broke into a motel room.

It happened about 3:45 a.m. Monday at the Spinnaker Motel on 18th Street.

Stephen Smith, of Kutztown, Pa., and Justin Wiker, 24, of Northampton, Pa., argued with other guests at the motel. They then climbed over balconies to break into the other men’s room, where a fight broke out and Mr. Smith was slashed on his side.

Other guests broke up the fight, and Mr. Smith was flown to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

Mr. Wiker was charged with third-degree burglary and second-degree assault. Police said similar charges are pending against Mr. Smith.

Police said no charges were filed against the other men.

GREENSBORO

Boy with skateboard hit grandma, police say

A 13-year-old boy who did not want to go to school beat his grandmother with a skateboard, sending her to the hospital, police said.

The 46-year-old woman was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore on Tuesday morning after the argument with her grandson, whose name was not released because of his age. She was listed in serious condition.

The boy was charged with second-degree assault. Greensboro Police Chief Jeff Jackson said the boy has been in trouble with the law more than a dozen times since 2003. He also was charged with assaulting his sister Monday.

The teen was being held by the Department of Juvenile Services.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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