- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MARYLAND

LA PLATA

2 motorcyclists killed in crashes

Authorities say two motorcyclists have died in separate accidents in Charles County.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office said a car crashed into a motorcycle in White Plains on Sunday, killing Anthony Trilli, 47, of Indian Head. Officials said the car had been stolen, and the five teenagers inside fled the scene.

In another incident the same day, Marc Gant, 47, of Fort Belvoir, failed to maneuver a curve and lost control in Bryans Road. He died in a hospital. Another motorcyclist in his group also lost control and crashed; she was in serious condition.

EASTON

Man, 20, charged in kidnappings

Easton police said David Batson, 20, of Easton, was arrested Thursday and faces 31 charges including assault, attempted kidnapping, armed robbery and reckless endangerment.

A string of attempted kidnappings began in April 2008.

The charges stem from five incidents involving a suspect with a similar description.

In some of the cases, police said Mr. Batson asked for directions, then displayed a gun, ordered the men into his car and some of the men were robbed. All five fled. In one case, police said the victim said he heard gunshots as he ran away.

In the most recent case last month, police said the victim was able to give them the license plate number of the car, which was registered to Mr. Batson.

BALTIMORE

3 life sentences in witness killing

A federal judge Monday sentenced Darron Goods, 25, of Baltimore, to three consecutive life sentences for killing a federal witness.

Goods was sentenced in the killing of witness John Dowery on Thanksgiving in 2006.

Melvin Gilbert and James Dinkins were sentenced to several life terms last month for Mr. Dowery’s murder and the murder of Shannon Jemmison. Dinkins was also convicted of the murder of Michael Bryant, and Mr. Dowery’s injury in a shooting in 2005.

All three were convicted of conspiracy to distribute drugs and related gun charges. Prosecutors said the three committed the murders to protect their Baltimore drug gang, Special, and to retaliate against and intimidate potential witnesses.

VIRGINIA

RICHMOND

Encephalitis found in second horse

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Monday that a 4-year-old miniature mare from Suffolk was euthanized July 28, four days after becoming ill. Tests conducted at a state lab later confirmed the mare had Eastern equine encephalitis.

The agency said the mare had not been vaccinated for the disease.

The first confirmed case of 2009 was a 2-year-old female draft cross from Chesapeake that also had not been vaccinated.

Agriculture officials are advising horse owners to vaccinate their animals every six to 12 months against the disease.

STAFFORD

Jail to change censoring of mail

A civil liberties group says officials at a Virginia jail have agreed to stop censoring letters containing religious material sent to inmates.

The Rutherford Institute challenged the Rappahannock Regional Jail’s policy last month after a woman complained that jail officials cut out sections of letters she sent to her son that contained Bible verses or religious material. She said the jail cited prohibitions on Internet material and religious material sent from home.

Rutherford said Monday that jail officials have agreed to amend their policy. The American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil liberties and religious groups also complained about the censorship.

HAMPTON

Bridge-tunnel panel holds first meeting

An independent panel met Monday to review the July 2 shutdown of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel that caused massive traffic backups.

The 11-member panel includes tunnel and emergency preparedness experts from Virginia, Maryland and New York. It was established by state highway officials to review the events leading up to the bridge-tunnel’s closure and recommend ways to avoid another shutdown.

Preliminary findings released last month by the Virginia Department of Transportation showed a 52-year-old water main burst and the problem went undetected for eight hours. Water pooled on the road surface and the department shut down the westbound tube.

RICHMOND

Historical status delays demolition

The Defense Supply Center has put the demolition of three buildings on hold until it receives notification that the project complies with the National Historic Preservation Act.

Installation Management Chief Raymond Hall said he expects the center to receive a programmatic agreement from the State Historic Preservation Office by October or the end of the year.

Jimmy Parrish with the center’s environmental management office said the agreement is to ensure that the project complies with the federal preservation law.

ONLEY

Prosecutor considers death penalty

A prosecutor in Honesdale, Pa., said he may seek the death penalty against a man who is the son of a Metropolitan Opera star and who stands accused of sexually assaulting and murdering a camp counselor 18 years ago.

Jeffrey Plishka, 46, of Onley on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, has been charged with the 1991 slaying of Laura Ronning, 24, near a Poconos waterfall in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Plishka, son of well-known opera singer Paul Plishka, is being held without bail. He was charged last month and says he’s innocent.

Wayne County District Attorney Michael Lehutsky is deciding whether to pursue the death penalty against Mr. Plishka.

Miss Ronning of St. Petersburg, Fla., was working at Camp Cayuga near Honesdale when she disappeared while on a hike. Police said she was sexually assaulted, then shot in the head.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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