- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

REGION

Senate halts change in Tomb of Unknowns

An amendment to a House bill that would prevent the Army from replacing the marble sarcophagus at the Tomb of the Unknowns received unanimous approval from the Senate yesterday.

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, submitted the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last week after learning that the Army planned to make a decision by Sept. 30 on whether to replace the cracked marble.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, said last week that Mr. Webb and Mr. Akaka wanted to “slow down the process” so Congress could review the plans.

The amendment prevents the Army from making any further plans until it submits a report to Congress about repair and replacement options at the tomb in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Army performed a federally required review of such options, but was not required to notify Congress.

A spokesman for Mr. Akaka also said last week that the senator is aware that the Army notified the public about the plans but “very few people knew about it.”

An Army spokesman last week would not say whether the Army would suspend plans to replace the monument, but said if the bill passed, the Army would comply.

The bill is currently being debated in the House.

MARYLAND

BEL AIR

Woman found guilty of boy’s drug death

A Darlington woman was convicted of manslaughter yesterday for giving methadone to a 16-month-old boy.

Elaine Marie Butler, 54, showed no emotion when the verdict was read. After being handcuffed, she kissed her husband and was led from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies.

The Harford County jury deliberated for about two hours. Harford County Circuit Judge Stephen M. Waldron set sentencing for tomorrow.

In December 2004, Butler took a sippy cup containing methadone from a cupboard and gave it to Ashton Preston, thinking it was strawberry juice. Butler was told later that the cup contained methadone, which the boy’s mother, Kelley Jean Briggs, was using to treat an addiction to heroin.

Butler and Briggs, who were friends from church, did not call medical authorities and decided to observe the toddler. Butler said she never called emergency authorities because she thought the child spat out the liquid.

Ashton fell asleep and died from a methadone overdose. An autopsy showed 10 to 35 milligrams of methadone in his body. A child can safely be given 1 milligram to medical officials said.

Briggs pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter last year and was sentenced to five years in prison.

BALTIMORE

Bookkeeper gets 3 years for fraud

A bookkeeper who took more than $130,000 from his employers was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to nearly three years in prison.

Raheim Jackson, 34, of Silver Spring, stole from two health care providers and from Baltimore-based marketing company Rosen Group to pay for personal expenses, including the purchase of a Lexus, court documents show.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced Jackson to 33 months in prison for bank fraud, to be followed by five years of supervised release. He also must pay restitution of more than $92,000.

He could have received up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

ROCKVILLE

Man charged in mall fondling

A Bethesda man is charged with inappropriately touching several women at the Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Alexander Porter, 24, was charged with assault and sex offenses of inappropriately touching two teenage girls and two women at various stores in the mall between Aug. 21 and Aug. 23, Montgomery County police said.

Police said there may be more victims and asked anyone who had a similar experience at the mall to come forward.

TOWSON

ACLU sues police over public records

The ACLU sued the Maryland State Police, saying the agency is illegally withholding public documents related to racial profiling.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland filed the lawsuit yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court. The lawsuit stems from a request made earlier this year by the Maryland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The civil rights group was seeking documents related to a 1998 consent decree that directed state police to end race-based traffic stops.

The ACLU lawsuit says state police improperly withheld some of the documents and tried to charge an “exorbitant fee” for others.

OCEAN CITY

Council considers reviving air show

Ocean City’s Town Council voted to pursue a June waterfront air show.

John Sullivan, special events coordinator for the town, recommended the concept after last month’s cancellation of the annual October Fly-In.

Bryan Lilley and Mike McCabe presented details for an air show tentatively planned for the weekend of June 7 to town officials Tuesday. The show would include aerial demonstrations and exhibits on the ground.

Mr. Lilley and Mr. McCabe said they will need $50,000 from the town to get the show started, but it could be paid back if the event’s profits reach about $300,000.

Mr. Lilley said performances would be held Saturday and Sunday with a rehearsal Friday.

VIRGINIA

WILLIAMSBURG

College sirens work on second test

A second test of new sirens at the College of William & Mary was successful yesterday, two days after sirens designed to notify the campus of emergencies failed to sound.

The sirens sounded a 120-decibel alarm for one minute, beginning at 10:55 a.m., university spokesman Mike Connolly said.

The sirens are supposed to alert the campus to check for emergency notifications sent via e-mail, text message, cell phone, telephone and the school’s Web site.

On Monday, test notifications went out as planned, but two clusters of sirens that were supposed to blare at the same time didn’t work.

Technicians identified software and hardware problems that led to Monday’s failure of the new $200,000 system, school officials said.

William & Mary officials had discussed the messaging system for more than a year. The system was installed in July, three months after a gunman killed 32 persons and himself at Virginia Tech.

Many on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus complained that amid the chaos they didn’t know what was going on, when and where. That spurred other schools to look into emergency alert systems.

Last week, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond successfully tested its new emergency sirens. University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III said he wants to place sirens on campus.

BLACKSBURG

State to pay half of Va. Tech costs

Gov. Tim Kaine approved nearly half of the $2.9 million Virginia Tech requested from the state general fund to cover costs associated with the mass shootings on campus in April.

The university will be reimbursed $1.3 million from the general fund’s contingency reserve, spokeswoman Delacey Skinner said.

Most of the money — $755,000 — will go toward archiving computer and telephone voice-mail records for legal purposes, Miss Skinner said. The records were requested by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.

The governor reimbursed Tech $200,000 for counseling and liaison services that worked with families after a student gunman killed 32 persons and himself April 16. About $189,000 will cover the costs of a center set up on campus for police and the press, Miss Skinner said.

Among costs not covered were those for housing police, families and counselors; moving employees out of the classroom building where most of the shootings occurred; and overtime for transportation and maintenance workers, university spokesman Larry Hincker said.

President Charles W. Steger said the school is committed to spending about $8 million to recover from the shootings, including the cost of adding police and counselor positions.

CHESAPEAKE

Annoying messages result in $50 fine

A Virginia Beach man was fined last week after being found guilty of sending annoying text messages to an ex-girlfriend.

A Chesapeake judge fined Brian Query $50, plus $72 for court fees. The charge carried a maximum fine of $500. It is a misdemeanor to call another person’s telephone intending to annoy them.

In July, Mr. Query said he didn’t know which text got him in trouble, but he knew the complaint came from a former girlfriend. A charge against Mr. Query for profane language was dismissed, but he was fined $252 for failing to show up in court.

CULPEPER

Murder trial delayed for convicted killer

The trial of a man already on death row for the murder of a Richmond family and now facing a capital murder charge for the 2005 slaying of a Culpeper woman was delayed yesterday.

Ricky Jovan Gray, 30, was scheduled to go on trial Oct. 29 in connection to the killing of Sheryl Warner. But Culpeper County Circuit Judge John Cullen rescheduled the trial for Feb. 4 after Gray’s attorney, Jeffrey Everhart, asked for more time to prepare.

The defense recently received phone records they think indicate Gray couldn’t have been present when Miss Warner was killed, Mr. Everhart said. They want more time to review the records.

Miss Warner, 37, was found hanging by an electrical cord in her burning basement Dec. 18, 2005. She is the ninth person authorities think Gray killed during a rampage from November 2005 to January 2006.

Miss Warner was on the phone with her father shortly before she was killed when a man came to her door and asked to use her phone, family members said. When Miss Warner did not answer her father’s calls later that day, authorities went to her house and discovered her body.

Last year, Gray was sentenced to death for the 2006 New Year’s Day slaughter of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4.

WILLIAMSBURG

Ex-student charged in college break-ins

A former College of William & Mary student is charged in a string of break-ins at the school last year.

Curtis Perry White, 23, faces four counts of breaking and entering, one count of computer trespass, one count of computer fraud, one count of petty larceny and one count of unauthorized duplication of keys.

Mr. White, who attended William & Mary from September 2005 to April 2007, is charged in four separate incidents in March and April 2006, including break-ins at several campus buildings.

Mr. White, along with former student Crystal Davis and current student Jason Cutler, also are charged in connection with a February 2006 theft of $89,000 in property from a building at George Mason University in Fairfax. Mr. White is being held at the Fairfax County Jail.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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