- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006


Homicide total nears 21-year low

The District is on pace to have its lowest annual homicide toll in 21 years.

So far this year, there have been 159 killings, nearly 18 percent fewer than last year.

The total number of homicides for 2005 was 196, down from 479 in 1991. This year’s total is expected to be the lowest since 1985, when there were 147 killings.



Warrant issued in officer’s shooting

Baltimore County police are seeking a third suspect in the attempted robbery of a grocery store that ended with a police officer’s shooting.

Police say they have an arrest warrant for Andrew Cawthorne, 32, in the Dec. 14 attempted robbery of a Super Fresh grocery store in the 8900 block of Bel Air Road.

One suspect was arrested minutes after the robbery on a nearby street in the Silver Springs Station area. A police officer shot and killed the second suspect, who shot Officer David Garner in the arm and abdomen. Officer Garner, a 16-year veteran, was released from the hospital yesterday.

The investigation is continuing but police say Cawthorne may also have participated in other robberies.


20 dealers arrested in two-day drug bust

Twenty Cumberland residents were arrested during a two-day, multiagency narcotics investigation this week.

The Cumberland Times-News said the drug dealers were arrested after a yearlong investigation into the distribution of methamphetamines.

Police told the Times-News that they discovered crystal meth, crack cocaine, morphine, marijuana, prescription pills and drug paraphernalia when the arrests were made.

Maryland State Police, Allegany County sheriff’s deputies, Garrett County narcotics investigators and Cumberland police officers participated in the arrests.


Police: Woman faked ID for inmate sex

A 29-year-old woman forged documents and assumed the identity of an Annapolis lawyer, apparently for the sole purpose of having sex with an inmate in a Baltimore prison, police said.

“It was an elaborate scheme,” said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the prison system. “I’m not aware of something like this ever occurring before.”

Police charged Tiffany Gwen Weaver of Reisterstown with seven counts, including forgery, fraud and false use of government identification. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

On Nov. 13, a woman appeared at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center, claiming to be an attorney for inmate Jason Moody, charging documents filed in Baltimore District Court say. She had a Maryland State Bar Association security identification pass with photo, identifying her as Amanda Sprehn of the Annapolis law firm Hyatt, Peters & Weber. She also gave jail officials a business card with Miss Sprehn’s name.

Once alone with Moody, the court documents say, the two began engaging in sexual intercourse. Corrections officials assigned to monitor such visits for safety and security cut the visit short.

The real Amanda Sprehn told the Baltimore Examiner that she was on leave when her firm received a letter banning her from the jail.

“I was out on maternity leave,” she said. “They informed me they received a letter saying I had been caught having sex with an inmate — which was a real laugh.

“I haven’t a clue how she got onto my identity,” Mrs. Sprehn said, adding that she has never represented Miss Weaver. “I certainly feel like a victim. My reputation is at stake. There were already rumors circulating about me in Annapolis. My colleagues had to squash the rumors.”

Prison investigators met with Mrs. Sprehn’s firm and realized the business card and security pass were fakes.


$5 million approved for aquatic animal care

The Board of Public Works has approved $5 million to help fund an aquatic animal care and education center on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River.

The board approved the state economic development investment to assist the center, which is a project of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2008.

The money will help pay for land, infrastructure, a new animal-care facility and an environmental conservation area. A fishing pier, walking trail and marsh boardwalks are also planned.


Snowboarder jailed in death of woman

A Crownsville teenager was sentenced to a year in jail, with half of that suspended, for a snowboarding crash in Wyoming that killed a skier from Massachusetts.

Greg Doda, 18, was sentenced this week, about five months after he pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

Doda was snowboarding at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in February 2004 when he careened into Heather Donahue, 29, of Shrewsbury, Mass. Authorities determined that Doda probably was going more than 45 mph when he ran into Mrs. Donahue, who had stopped to wait for her husband.

Mrs. Donahue died from head injuries.



Officer hit by car during speed check

An Arlington County police officer was injured yesterday morning when she was struck by a car near the Pentagon.

Arlington County police said the officer was conducting radar traffic-enforcement operations on Route 110 near Washington Boulevard about 9 a.m. when she was hit by a vehicle. She was taken to George Washington University Medical Center with serious injuries.

Arlington police have not identified the officer, who normally is assigned to the county’s motorcycle police unit. She was working out of a patrol car yesterday.


Extra officers patrol for drunken drivers

Alexandria police will have more officers on patrol tonight and tomorrow as part of a crackdown on drunken and impaired drivers.

Alexandria Police Chief David P. Baker said officers will begin their DWI crackdown about 8 tonight and continue their patrols through the early-morning hours tomorrow.

Under Virginia law, the maximum penalty for a first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Convicted drivers also face driver’s license suspensions of up to a year. Virginia also allows for mandatory jail sentences based upon blood alcohol levels.


Homeless man pleads to setting church afire

A deaf, homeless man pleaded guilty this week to accidentally burning down a church he had broken into to cook himself dinner.

Jason Scott Santos, 25, faces up to 20 years in prison.

He was charged with breaking and entering with the intent to commit burglary. But his attorney, Mike Hallahan, said his client didn’t intend to steal anything when he broke into Charlottesville Church of Christ on May 4.

Prosecutors said Santos broke in through a window, grabbed some burgers from a kitchen refrigerator and turned on the stove to cook them. He left a dish towel near the stove, then went upstairs to watch TV in another room. That’s when the fire started.

Prosecutors said Santos left the building and watched from across the street as the church burned.

There was $1.5 million in damage to the church.


Schools chief leaving troubled system early

Lloyd Hamlin, superintendent of Petersburg’s academically troubled public schools, is leaving his post two months after a chief academic officer was appointed by the state.

Mr. Hamlin, superintendent since October 2003, announced his departure Wednesday night at a School Board meeting. He will leave six months before his contract expires.

In October, the state Department of Education took the unprecedented step of appointing an academic officer because the schools have persistently failed to meet academic benchmarks. The officer, Dorothea M. Shannon, retired in June as superintendent of neighboring Prince George County schools.

Two city schools face penalties for failing to make progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which seeks to have all children, regardless of race, poverty or disability, proficient in reading and math by 2014 and requires schools to show annual progress in test scores. Four schools this year failed to gain state accreditation because of low scores on Standards of Learning exams.

Under an agreement between the Petersburg schools and the state, the division must aim to improve student performance and have three schools fully accredited after the 2007-08 school year and all schools accredited by 2009-10.

Administrators also must provide biweekly progress reports to the Petersburg School Board and the Department of Education and quarterly reports to the state Board of Education.

State education officials have stressed that Miss Shannon’s appointment did not signal a state takeover of Petersburg’s schools but rather a partnership.

Edwin Betts, a career educator, will serve as interim superintendent while the school board seeks a new superintendent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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