- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2012

Defense lawyers aim for manslaughter at Huguely murder trial; D.C. fire department spokesman put on leave over racism accusations; McDonnell’s agenda takes hit in Virginia Senate; Va. considers special assembly session; Alexandria paramedic injured in fall from overpass; D.C. workers won’t be prosecuted in fraud case; O'Malley, Franchot spar again.

Former University of Virginialacrosse player George W. Huguely V “had no intent to kill” his onetime girlfriend, his defense attorney said Wednesday, urging jurors to consider manslaughter charges instead of murder in the first day of the high-profile trial. Mr. Huguely, 24, has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree murder, stemming from the May 3, 2010, killing of 22-year-old fellow lacrosse player Yeardley Love. The trial, in Charlottesville, is expedited to last two weeks. Love’s mother and sister testified yesterday, following opening statements, reports Meredith Somers of The Washington Times.

A D.C. fire department spokesman has been placed on administrative leave for online comments that characterized a protest by firefighters against department leadership as “racist.” Spokesman Lon Walls was put on leave with pay to allow tensions within the department to “cool off,” said a spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray. Mr. Walls acknowledged making comments on his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts. One post referred to roughly 100 firefighters walking out on a speech by Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe as the “most blatant, ignorant and racist public display of disrespect I have ever seen,” reports Andrea Noble of The Times.

Virginia legislators said Wednesday they may return to Richmond for a special session later this year to deal with tax-credit bills or the health benefits exchange — or both. Sen. Walter Stosch, Henrico Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has sent many of this year’s tax-credit bills to a tax reform commission that could make recommendations to legislators during a special session this summer, reports The Washington Post.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell‘s 2012 transportation agenda suffered a setback Wednesday when several of his top priorities were stripped from a Senate omnibus bill, which also includes a measure to index the state’s gasoline tax to inflation, according to The Times.

An Alexandria paramedic was injured critically Wednesday evening in a fall from an overpass on Interstate 395 while responding to a vehicle fire, authorities said. The Arlington County and Alexandria fire departments were called to an overpass in the HOV lanes in Shirlington after a report of a vehicle fire shortly before 6:30 p.m., an Arlington police spokesman told The Washington Post.

Prosecutors are unlikely to pursue current or former D.C. employees who collected less than $20,000 in unemployment benefits while on the city’s payroll, meaning most of the 130 workers under investigation will probably avoid criminal sanctions, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan tells the Washington Examiner.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley lashed out Wednesday at Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, a fellow Democrat, for criticizing his proposal to raise the state’s gas tax, calling Mr. Franchot the party’s own “version of Mitt Romney.” The attack drew a sharp response from Mr. Franchot, who quipped that he was “sorry” if he was getting in the way of Mr. O'Malley’s “presidential efforts.” The testy exchange amounted to a new high-water mark in growing tension between Mr. O'Malley and other prominent state Democrats who have begun to position themselves for a possible run at the governorship to succeed Mr. O'Malley in 2014, reports The Washington Post.