- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003


Fire chief saysresponse not delayed

The District's fire chief said a mix-up regarding information from a 911 call did not hinder firefighters' ability to reach a fire in Dupont Circle.

During the mayor's press briefing yesterday, acting Fire Chief Adrian Thompson said his department responded to the call within three minutes, but didn't find a fire.

"We were initially directed to the wrong location at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Hilliard Street only a block away from the blaze," Chief Thompson said.

After being redirected by residents, firefighters arrived at the right location in one minute. The chief said there was no delay in response time. Chief Thompson said the caller must have been confused about the fire's location when "thick black smoke" traveled past his window.

Two young men were injured in yesterday morning's fire at 1617 21st St. NW. One was burned over his entire body. The other was hurt after jumping out a window to escape the flames. Two firefighters had minor injuries.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams said steps are under way to streamline emergency communication services with the goal of a unified call center. Some people had complained about being placed on hold calling 911. The mayor said during these times of budget crunches, he cannot promise that every agency will be fully staffed and fully equipped, but he said the city is moving to try to prevent problems in the future.



Park dedicatedwhere 1,500 blacks buried

City officials and community leaders have dedicated a long-forgotten black cemetery as a memorial park.

Yesterday's ceremony coincided with the birthday of Martin Luther King.

The one-block parcel once was a cemetery where as many as 1,500 black residents were buried in the late 1800s and early 1900s. About 1950, the city acquired the lot from a burial society called the Laboring Sons of Frederick City. The site became a playground and the remains were not removed.

In 1999, a neighbor learned of the property's history and called it to the city's attention.

The playground equipment has been removed. Plans call for walkways, benches and a granite monument that will bear the names of 117 persons known to have been buried there.


Woman rescuedfrom burning home

Firefighters rescued an unconscious woman from her burning home late yesterday morning.

Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said neighbors saw smoke coming from a house at 13400 Doncaster Lane and called for help. They told firefighters that the couple who live there probably were home.

Firefighters found a woman unconscious on the first floor, brought her out, resuscitated her, then had her flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. She had smoke inhalation, some minor burns and other problems.

Firefighters searched repeatedly for the husband but he was running errands and came home to find his house ablaze.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Mr. Piringer said there is nothing suspicious. He also said there was significant damage.


Compromise reachedon mountaintop windmills

Bird lovers, the Department of Natural Resources and a wind-energy developer have agreed on conditions the company must meet to obtain approval to put 25 electricity-generating windmills atop Big Savage Mountain in Allegany County.

The agreement negotiated during a public hearing Tuesday includes a $20,000 contribution by U.S. Wind Force toward a bird-migration study to be conducted at the site after the project is built.

The agreement also cuts in half the number of bird and bat deaths in a 24-hour period that would trigger a partial shutdown of the wind turbines.

The deal requires approval by the Maryland Public Service Commission, which held the hearing on the Pennsylvania-based company's application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.

D. Daniel Boone, a Bowie-based conservation biologist who contends such projects could kill large numbers of migrating birds, said he was satisfied with the agreement but was still worried about how wind turbines will change the Western Maryland landscape.

"It's really about the wildness of this area," he said. "We should consider where we're headed."


Tax collectionsproduce a surplus

Ocean City officials have collected more tax revenue than expected and are now wrestling with how to spend the surplus, officials said.

Department heads are urging the town to spend some of the money on long-neglected capital improvement projects, including road repairs. Officials representing the downtown area said they want to see their neighborhood revitalized.

Officials also said money is also needed for a planned new midtown firehouse and renovations to other firehouses.

If the projects are approved, the town will spend more than $10 million in the next two years.



Powell convicted againof capital murder

A killer who boasted of his crime in a letter to a prosecutor was again convicted of capital murder yesterday for the attempted rape and stabbing of a teenage girl in 1999.

A Prince William County Circuit Court jury returned its verdict after hearing two days of testimony against Paul Warner Powell, 24. A sentencing hearing began after the verdict was announced and will continue today.

Powell was first convicted in 2000 but had the verdict overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court, which ruled he could not be executed because prosecutors lacked evidence that Powell tried to either rape or rob Stacie Reed, 16, of Manassas.

While awaiting trial on first-degree murder in that case, Powell wrote a hate-filled letter to Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert. Mistakenly thinking he could not face the death penalty a second time, Powell described how he tried to rape the girl, then killed her when she would not comply.

The letter allowed Mr. Ebert to indict him again on capital murder charges.

Stacie Reed's younger sister, Kristie, now 18, testified Tuesday that she came home from school to find her sister had been stabbed through the heart. Miss Reed said she was confronted by Powell, who forced her to the basement, demanded she take her clothes off, then raped her and repeatedly stabbed her. Several slash wounds were visible on her neck as she testified.

Powell is already serving three life terms for his convictions on attempted murder, rape and abduction charges in the attack on Kristie Reed.


Parents clearedof giving teens alcohol

Divorced parents who hosted a party for their 16-year-old daughter in August were cleared of charges that they served alcohol to some of their teenage guests.

Roanoke County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Joseph Bounds acquitted Timothy Coleman and Cindy Shropshire of charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Judge Bounds said Tuesday that the disputed evidence made it impossible for him to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some of the teens told police that Mr. Coleman offered the guests beer and Mrs. Shropshire served mixed drinks. Mr. Coleman denied the charge and Mrs. Shropshire said she made margaritas with nonalcoholic mix and soda.


Soldier faces chargesof burning his son

A soldier has been charged in federal court with burning his son with a hair dryer at Fort Eustis.

Marcus Lewis, 24, was arrested Monday and charged in a three-count indictment. He is scheduled to appear today in U.S. District Court. The indictment states he repeatedly pressed and held a hot hair dryer to the skin of his son, Marcus Lewis Jr., on Jan. 2 at a home on the Newport News Army base.

The boy's age was unavailable, but court records state he is younger than 16. There were no details about the extent of his injuries.

He is being held in a local jail pending his court appearance.

Public affairs officer Cindy Your said he was court-martialed by the Army 18 months ago, but is appealing that ruling. He is married to another soldier.


Home admits mistakebefore patient's death

A nursing home acknowledged that one of its residents died within a day of being given her roommate's medicine by mistake.

In August 2001, a nurse at Brandon Oaks gave Marie Ayers, 82, at least a dozen pills meant for her roommate. The doctor whom the nursing home called for help said to watch her and also to have her take her own pills. She had not shown any immediate effects from the drug error, the doctor was told. But 16½ hours later, she died.

A Roanoke Circuit Court jury this week began hearing a lawsuit filed against the nursing home and Dr. Bharat Patel. John Ayers, the victim's son, is seeking $1.6 million in damages.

Brandon Oaks said it gave Mrs. Ayers the wrong drugs and failed to adequately monitor her afterward, but neither lapse caused her death. The doctor contends that he responded adequately to the facts he received from the home.

Had Mrs. Ayers died within four to six hours of the medication error, the wrongful medication would have been a possible cause, said Walt Peake, the nursing home's attorney. But because she survived more than 16 hours, she must have died for other reasons, Mr. Peake said, adding that she had numerous health problems.

No autopsy was done.


Stoplight technologymisses Mennonite buggies

Technology intended to move traffic along did not account for the horse-drawn buggies driven by Old Order Mennonites.

The buggies do not always trip a stoplight's magnetic sensor at one intersection in town, causing traffic to back up.

When buggies line up at a red light, police frequently must direct them and cars through the intersection.

"It's been an invitation for a traffic accident," Dayton Police Chief Buddy Farris said. "We've been very lucky."

Officials in the town of 900 residents near Harrisonburg said the situation is occurring more often, and the town council has asked the Virginia Department of Transportation to change the triggering mechanism to one that uses a camera recognition system, like the other intersections in town.

VDOT has agreed to make the change, but cannot do so for several months because of its cost between $5,000 and $10,000.


Law school marksanniversary of killings

Appalachian School of Law prepared quiet observances to mark today's first anniversary of a gunman's shooting rampage that left two faculty members and a student dead.

Students and administrators said the low-key plans reflect life that has largely returned to normal at the small school tucked in the mountains.

"The rhythms of academia have returned," school President Lucas F. Ellsworth said. "There has been healing, but I don't think anyone will ever say there will be total healing."

The Jan. 16, 2002, shootings came one day after school officials told Peter Odighizuwa, 43, they were flunking him. Dean L. Anthony Sutin and professor Thomas Blackwell were shot in their offices with a .380-caliber pistol. Police said Mr. Odighizuwa then opened fire on a crowd, wounding three students and killing another, Angela Dales, 33.

Mr. Odighizuwa was subdued by students on the school's front lawn.

In August, he was found incompetent to stand trial after a courtroom rant in which he blamed the FBI, CIA and Vice President Richard B. Cheney for his problems. He has been hospitalized for treatment in an effort to make him competent for trial.

Students and staffers at the 300-student school planned a candlelight service last evening and a private service at 10 a.m. today.

The memorial services, Mr. Ellsworth said, will give new students a sense of the loss the campus felt a year ago.

That loss, he said, has made the faculty and staff more committed than ever to fulfill the school's mission to supply lawyers to help people in the impoverished central Appalachian region.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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