- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2008

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

Transgender rights vote blocked

Maryland’s highest court blocked a referendum that would have allowed Montgomery County residents to vote on a transgender rights law.

Tuesday’s ruling reverses a lower court’s decision that would have allowed residents to vote in November on whether to keep or overturn the anti-discrimination measure.

The law was passed last year, but it was put on hold after opponents collected signatures to force a referendum.

Equality Maryland, a gay and transgender rights group, challenged the petition effort. But a circuit court ruled in July that the referendum could go forward.

In a brief order issued Tuesday, however, the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and halted the referendum. The court’s full opinion was to be filed later.

FREDERICK

No arrests seen in football fight

School officials are trying to determine who was involved in the fight that broke out during a high school football game in Frederick County on Friday.

The fight began during the third quarter of the game between Frederick and Tuscarora high schools, at Tuscarora.

Some people in the crowd became unruly and refused orders to stop fighting, the county sheriff’s office said. Deputies and school officials cleared the stadium to restore order. The game was completed with only essential personnel remaining.

A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said no arrests are expected. However, the county school system said students found to be involved would face disciplinary action.

EASTON

Witness list grows in fake trooper case

Six more women have come forward with information since the arrest last month of an Easton man on charges he impersonated a state trooper and sexually assaulted a prostitute, according to the Salisbury Police Department.

Charles Kilmon, 59, is charged with impersonating a police officer, second-degree assault and fourth-degree sex offense. The allegations surfaced during interviews with prostitutes as police probed the death of Audrey Jurewicz. The Salisbury woman’s body was found July 28. Salisbury police have said Mr. Kilmon is not a suspect in her death.

Talbot County prosecutors last year dropped charges against Mr. Kilmon in connection to a theft from an elderly woman. The victim and a witness are now deceased.

VIRGINIA

RICHMOND

Delegate to resign to become lobbyist

Delegate Terrie Suit, Virginia Beach Republican, is leaving the House of Delegates after nine years to join a major regional lobbying firm.

Mrs. Suit, elected in 1999, announced her departure this fall from the General Assembly in an e-mail to her 81st District constituents.

She will become director of government relations for Williams Mullen, a major law, lobbying and public affairs firm. Williams Mullen has offices in Virginia and North Carolina and one in Britain.

Mrs. Suit, 43, is chairman of the House General Laws Committee. She has been married for 19 years to a former Marine and Navy SEAL.

That connection influenced some of her best-known legislative initiatives, including a bill to guarantee in-state tuition for dependents of active-duty military families.

RICHMOND

Smoking rates drop among students

The ranks of Virginia high school and middle school students who smoke have dropped significantly, state officials said.

Figures show about 15.5 percent of high school students and 4.6 percent of middle school students were identified as current smokers in the 2007-2008 school year.

That’s compared with about 22 percent of high school students and 7.5 percent of middle school students in 2005. In 2001, the percentage was about 29 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

The numbers are taken from a survey of 2,600 Virginia students. It identifies a current smoker as someone who has smoked at least one cigarette in the past month.

Officials with the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation that funds a statewide youth-smoking prevention program say the results are promising.

RICHMOND

Panel eyes broader death penalty law

Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission will decide by December whether to support legislation expanding capital punishment to those who kill a firefighter or emergency responder while performing their duties.

Since 1976, Virginia has expanded its capital murder laws to include 15 circumstances that could result in the death penalty, including murder in the commission of a rape, robbery or various other crimes. Killing an on-duty law enforcement officer has been a death penalty qualifier since 1977.

Virginia is second only to Texas in the number of inmates put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

Opponents argued at the commission’s meeting Tuesday that Virginia should be finding ways to eliminate the death penalty rather than expand it.

RICHMOND

Woman convicted in student killing

A Richmond woman has been convicted of robbing and killing a Virginia Commonwealth University student in March.

Zsabriela Williams, 20, entered an Alford plea Tuesday on one count of murder, meaning she didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict her in the slaying of Tyler Binsted, 19, of Mount Jackson. She also pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and three of using a firearm in a felony.

Williams and Howard R. Scott III, 17, of Richmond, each face three life terms when they are sentenced on Nov. 17. Scott previously entered Alford pleas to six charges.

Mr. Binsted and his girlfriend were robbed March 27 in Byrd Park and ordered to climb into the trunk of a car. Williams shot Mr. Binstead in the back when he tried to walk away, prosecutors say.

FAIRFAX

Budget gap prompts hiring, travel curbs

Fairfax County officials want to slash expenses to help close a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

County supervisors on Monday directed County Executive Anthony Griffin to limit all travel and contracting expenses, stall the replacement of county vehicles and avoid hiring new staff.

The steps are aimed at narrowing a projected $430 million budget shortfall, officials said.

The shortfall is caused largely by the slumping housing market and affects the county government and school system.

Mr. Griffin is scheduled to report to the county board on Sept. 22 how the different measures could be implemented.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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