- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006


Norovirus hits Catholic University

Officials at Catholic University yesterday said that the cause of a gastrointestinal illness that has hit dozens of students in the past three days is norovirus, a highly contagious but rarely serious virus.

University officials said more than 60 students had varying degrees of illness and experienced vomiting and diarrhea that lasted six to 12 hours.

Victor Nakas, a spokesman for the school in Northeast, said most of the students were treated at the campus student-health center and only those who felt sick after hours went to emergency rooms.

Because it is finals week at Catholic, campus officials sent out e-mails saying that sick students should get in touch with their professors for makeup exams.

Federal health officials say norovirus spreads through contaminated food or liquids, contaminated surfaces or direct contact with someone who is infected. It usually runs its course in 24 to 48 hours and rarely produces complications.



Construction worker dies in fall from roof

A construction worker died yesterday after falling off the roof of a building and plummeting six or seven stories onto a concrete deck, authorities said.

Sergio Alfredo Moscoso, 20, of Catonsville, was one of two day laborers hired for a roofing project at a residential building site on Tuckerman Road, Montgomery County police said. Investigators said the fall appeared to be an accident.

Mr. Moscoso, who was wearing a safety harness, was attempting to secure it to a roof anchor when he slipped on the plywood decking. A police department spokeswoman said the decking was wet from heavy dew and early morning fog.

Mr. Moscoso fell about 51 feet. He was pronounced dead at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Police have not found any evidence of foul play.


Judge frees man convicted in 1967

A judge has freed a 59-year-old man convicted in a robbery and murder 39 years ago in South Baltimore.

Circuit Judge Gale Rasin on Wednesday threw out Walter Lomax’s life sentence, then resentenced him to time served in the December 1967 slaying of convenience-store manager Robert Brewer, 56.

The slaying happened during a wave of robberies and racial tension in the city. His attorneys said Lomax could not have committed the murder because his right arm was in a cast at the time. At his trial, five white witnesses identified him as the killer, though none said anything about a cast and no police officers testified.

Judge Rasin said there was a significant likelihood that Lomax would be acquitted if he were on trial today.


$5.3 million given for nursing school

Salisbury University yesterday announced its largest gift from an individual — a $5.3 million bequest from a local socialite to the university’s nursing school.

Lucy Tull of Salisbury, 95, who died in June, was not a nurse nor an alumna of the school but was interested in the medical field.

“Lucy Tull understood the importance of skilled nurses and other health care professionals to the Eastern Shore’s quality of life,” university President Janet Dudley-Eshbach said.

Most of the bequest — $4.8 million — will be used for scholarships for students from Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties. The remaining $500,000 will go to faculty development and supplies.

Salisbury University is home to the only nursing school on the Eastern Shore.


Orioles employee admits stealing items

A Baltimore Orioles worker whose job was to run errands at the ballpark has admitted stealing hundreds of team memorabilia and auctioning them on EBay.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Tuesday ordered Jeremy B. Fefel, 23, to pay $5,000 restitution to the team and perform 50 hours of community service. If he does as ordered, he would be given probation before judgment and placed on three years probation, the judge ordered.

Mr. Fefel, who was classified a “baserunner” with the team, pleaded guilty to stealing a list of items more than two pages long.

Many of the items taken were media guides for the Orioles and other teams from the 1960s and 1970s.

Other items that were swiped included a baseball bat used by Brian Roberts; 17 used Orioles game jerseys; three Sammy Sosa bobblehead dolls, each worth $3; two game jackets, worth $60 each; two fleece shirts, worth $45 each; and a framed picture of Orioles Opening Day in 1992 with an accompanying game ticket, worth $100. Also taken were numerous Orioles autograph cards worth about $1,000.

Mr. Fefel said he is to perform his community service with the city’s Department of Public Works in a solid waste and recycling facility.

“I’ve been a lifelong Orioles fan. … I took advantage of the whole situation,” he said. “It was a stupid decision, and I let it get the best of me. I could never apologize enough for it.”



Student diagnosed with whooping cough

A student at Hickory High School has been diagnosed with whooping cough, or pertussis, school officials said.

The schools sent home letters about the student on Tuesday.

A schools spokesman said the student has recovered, but parents were advised to watch their children for symptoms.

The first symptoms are similar to a cold: Runny nose, slight fever, coughing and sneezing. Within two weeks, a dry cough evolves into spells that end in a high-pitched whooping sound when the person takes a breath.

Most children are vaccinated for whooping cough when they are infants. But officials have realized in recent years that the vaccine’s effectiveness wears off in their teens.

That led to the law that this year began requiring sixth-graders in Virginia to have a shot called the T-dap, which provides a boost in protection against the whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.

About 360 whooping cough cases were reported in Virginia last year — compared with 106 cases in 1996.


Woman gets 46 years for hit-and-run death

A woman who has killed two persons while driving drunk will spend 46 years in prison for the hit-and-run death of a Richmond man.

Kelly Payne, 34, was sentenced Wednesday for the hit-and-run crash in March that killed a man who was walking along a Richmond street. Payne was convicted in October of four counts, including felony murder, in the death of Ashokkumar Patel.

The judge imposed the sentence recommended by a jury that heard about Payne’s record — 21 offenses including six drunken-driving charges and the vehicular homicide of a 13-year-old girl in Tennessee. She served prison time for that death.

The prosecutor said Payne has repeatedly quit counseling or alcohol-treatment programs and resumed drinking.


Suspension extended for art teacher

A high school art teacher suspended for moonlighting as a self-proclaimed “butt-printing artist” will not be allowed back into his classroom until at least next month.

Stephen Murmer was told Friday that he was being placed on paid administrative leave for five days from his job at Monacan High School after Chesterfield County school officials became agitated over his unique brand of artwork.

Yesterday, he informed the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia that school administrators have extended his paid suspension through Jan. 9, when the School Board is scheduled to meet.

Outside of class and in disguise, Mr. Murmer creates floral and abstract art by slathering paint on his posterior and pressing it against canvas in the manner of a stamp.

“Our hope, obviously, is this all sort of calms down, the controversy sort of subsides and he’s back at his job in early January,” said ACLU Executive Director Kent Willis, who is helping advise Mr. Murmer of his constitutional rights.

Mr. Murmer has been instructed by school officials not to talk to reporters, Mr. Willis said.

An after-hours message left for Chesterfield County schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow was not returned. Earlier this week, she said teachers were expected to set an example for students through their personal conduct.

The ACLU contends Mr. Murmer has a constitutional right to engage in private, legal activities — including painting with his posterior — on his own time.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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