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City State: Morning Roundup

- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2011

A Republican candidate for the Virginia Senate has ties to a group with a trail of accusations that it sent unsolicited and anonymous text messages at the eleventh hour of political campaigns — messages similar to those Virginia Democrats say they have intercepted in recent days and suspect are illegal, reports The Washington Times' David Sherfinski.

An immigrant in the U.S. illegally who is accused of killing a nun in a drunken-driving accident will stand trial Monday in Prince William County. Carlos Martinelly-Montano is expected to plead guilty to five of six charges he faces in the fatal accident. His lawyer says he will not plead guilty to felony murder. Sister Denise Mosier, a 66-year-old nun, was killed in a collision in Prince William County when police said an intoxicated Mr. Martinelly-Montano crossed the center line and hit the car Mosier was riding in head-on. Mr. Martinelly-Montano twice had been convicted of drunken driving and was awaiting a deportation hearing at the time of the accident, according to WJLA-TV.

Numerous labels apply to D.C. lawyer David W. Wilmot: lobbyist, power broker, even land banker — for his long-standing financial stake in undeveloped New Jersey Avenue property in Northwest that his client Wal-Mart is developing along with his business partners in the Bennett Group. But another label also may apply: parking mogul. Though he is associated most commonly with gliding large-scale developments to approval in the halls of power, it is Mr. Wilmot's interest in parking lots and garages that makes him an equity partner in such deals, and that has captured the attention of city officials who say they are investigating whether he is in violation of D.C. business licensing laws, reports The Times' Jeffrey Anderson.

Maryland Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola will formally announce Tuesday that he is running for Congress, but an Internet-savvy observer could have discovered his candidacy weeks ago. Mr. Garagiola, Montgomery Democrat, has said coyly for weeks that he is considering a challenge to Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, but he may have made his intentions perfectly clear Sept. 26 when he registered the Web domain name garagiolaforcongress.com, according to The Times.

D.C. Council member David A. Catania is involved in an effort he hopes will help him and other city officials move beyond fruitlessly "talking to ourselves for decades" about taxation without representation, the quest for statehood or another route to full voting rights in Congress. Mr. Catania and fellow Council member Michael A. Brown, at-large independents, are handpicking state legislatures that will support D.C. statehood through resolutions in their chambers, starting with D.C.-friendly contacts in New England, according to The Times.

Maryland drivers will be paying more to use the state's bridges and tunnels starting Tuesday. Drivers will pay $4 instead of $2.50 to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, $4 instead of $3 to cross the Harry W. Nice Bridge and $3 instead of $2 to cross the Baltimore Harbor via the Fort McHenry Tunnel, Baltimore Harbor Tunnel or Francis Scott Key Bridge — among other increases. The toll increases are expected to raise $90 million in their first year and will pay for patching up Maryland's aging infrastructure, state officials say, according to the Washington Examiner.

The trial of a woman charged with killing a co-worker inside a Maryland yoga clothing shop resumes today. Brittany Norwood is charged with first-degree murder in the March 11 death of Jayna Murray inside the Lululemon Athletica shop in Bethesda. Two employees at the adjacent Apple store testified Friday that they heard yelling and screaming coming from inside the Lululemon store on the night of the killing. Ms. Norwood's lawyer admits his client killed Murray but said it happened during a fight and wasn't premeditated. Prosecutors say they plan to seek a sentence of life without parole if Ms. Norwood is convicted of first-degree murder, according to the Associated Press.

A congressional committee has concluded that Sulaimon Brown appeared to receive money from people with ties to a campaign aide of Mayor Vincent C. Gray's but that there is no direct evidence that he was promised a city job in return for disparaging then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in last year's election campaign. An investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform did not find "independent facts to corroborate" Mr. Brown's claim that "he was promised a job" but said there is "circumstantial evidence that may support Brown's" claim of such a promise, according to its report of the former mayoral candidate's claims. A copy of the report, which is scheduled to be released Monday, was obtained by The Washington Post.

A loitering bill proposed last week in Montgomery County is facing some of the same criticisms as the proposed youth curfew it is intended to replace — that it would violate civil liberties and that it is unnecessary. Unlike the curfew, the bill punishes behavior, not assembly, which is constitutionally protected, said the sponsor of the bill, Councilman Phil Andrews, who is a Democrat. The bill would prohibit "loitering or prowling," defined as being in a public place "in a manner not usual for law-abiding persons under circumstances that warrant a justifiable and reasonable alarm. But critics worry that police will have too much discretion in deciding who is loitering or prowling, according to the Examiner.

Jurors in the bribery trial of Maryland state Sen. Ulysses Currie are expected to get the case this week. Testimony in the five-week trial has included some of Maryland's leading politicians taking the stand to testify in support of Mr. Currie's character, including former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, U.S. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer and Rep. Elijah Cummings. Mr. Currie is charged with using his former position as chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to benefit the Shoppers Food Warehouse supermarket chain. The company paid Mr. Currie more than $245,000 from 2003 to 2007. Prosecutors have focused on the fact that Mr. Currie never disclosed the payments on his financial disclosure forms, according to the Associated Press.

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