- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2006



Kaine again delays killer’s execution

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine yesterday delayed the execution of a triple killer amid claims the condemned man is mentally retarded and insane.

Percy Walton, 28, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Friday for the 1996 murders of three neighbors in Danville.

It was the second time the governor has temporarily halted Walton’s execution. In June, Mr. Kaine issued a six-month delay to allow for an independent evaluation of Walton’s mental condition and competence.

The results of those evaluations prompted the governor to delay Walton’s execution until June 10, 2008, for “continued observation” of Walton’s mental state, Mr. Kaine said.

“I am compelled to conclude that Walton is severely mentally impaired and meets the Supreme Court’s definition of mental incompetence,” Mr. Kaine said. “At the same time, it is within the realm of possibility — though unlikely — that Walton’s mental impairment is not permanent. Accordingly, a commutation of his sentence is not appropriate at this time.”

Walton’s attorney, Nash Bilisoly, said Mr. Kaine’s decision was tantamount to clemency, because he thinks there is little chance Walton’s mental condition will improve.

Walton pleaded guilty in 1997 to the murders of Jessie and Elizabeth Kendrick, a couple in their 80s, and Archie Moore, 33. The victims were robbed and shot in the head; Mr. Moore’s body was found stuffed in a closet, his corpse doused in cologne. It was a crime that Walton’s own attorneys characterized as brutal, senseless and bizarre.

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell expressed dismay with the Democratic governor’s decision.

“Multiple judges in multiple court proceedings have found that Percy Walton is competent, is not mentally retarded, and legally permitted to be executed,” said Mr. McDonnell, a Republican. “Walton’s judgment of execution for the brutal murders he committed in Danville should be carried out, without any further delay. The courts have spoken repeatedly, and justice must be served.”



SUV hits gas meter, sparks explosion

An out-of-control sport utility vehicle hit a gas meter outside an apartment building yesterday morning, igniting an explosion and subsequent fire that damaged about 10 units in the Rollins Park complex, authorities said.

The driver suffered a seizure before her BMW slammed into the building of town-house-style apartments about 9:15 a.m., said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County fire department.

“She made a bull’s-eye on the gas meter,” Mr. Piringer said.

A 37-year-old woman suffered serious injuries and was taken to a hospital, he said. The driver also was taken to a hospital but was expected to be treated and released.

The powerful blast leveled portions of the building’s facade. Flames fed by a combination of natural gas from the dislodged meter and gasoline from the damaged vehicle quickly spread to other units.

Most of the residents of the 18-unit building were at work or at school when the incident occurred. The few minutes between the accident and the explosion gave time for those at home to escape.

“We started knocking on doors trying to get the people to come out,” said Douglas Lopez, a maintenance worker at a nearby apartment complex.

Wind gusts up to 25 mph prompted firefighters who arrived first to request more personnel and equipment. More than 125 firefighters were called to the scene.

Six of the 18 units in the building had major blast or fire damage and four others had smoke and water damage.


Driver’s bail reduced in fatal hit-and-run

A woman charged in the hit-and-run accident that killed a 3-year-old boy told a Baltimore County judge yesterday that she is so upset by what happened that she hasn’t eaten or slept since the accident Friday afternoon.

Judge Philip W. Tirabassi reduced bail from $2 million to $250,0000 for Lazara Arellano De Hogue, 40, a Towson resident and mother of two who is a permanent resident from Mexico.

Miss Arellano De Hogue is accused of slamming her Dodge Ram into 3-year-old Elijah Cozart and his grandmother, Majorie Thomas, 55, as Miss Thomas pushed the boy in a stroller across a busy Towson street, police said.

The stroller became trapped in the undercarriage of the truck, but Miss Arellano De Hogue did not stop until the boy fell to the pavement on a side street closer to her apartment, police said. She got out and removed the stroller, then drove home.

Elijah died at a hospital. Miss Thomas was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Witnesses helped police find the truck and identify Miss Arellano De Hogue. She was arrested and interviewed with the help of a Spanish-speaking interpreter. She was charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Police said other charges may be pending.

The judge ordered that she be placed on home detention if she is released on bail and that she surrender her passport.


‘Wig lady’ indicted for bank fraud

A woman charged with impersonating bank patrons by donning a variety of wigs to defraud banks was indicted yesterday on federal charges, the U.S. attorney’s office announced.

Carol Silva, 54, of Boston, was indicted on charges of bank fraud and aggravated identify theft.

The four-count indictment says Miss Silva and others pickpocketed credit cards, checks, driver’s licenses and Social Security cards from March to July 17 in the Washington area. She used the stolen information to take money from victims’ bank accounts by impersonating them, sometimes using wigs, glasses and other accessories, authorities said.

Miss Silva faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted of bank fraud and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence received, if convicted of aggravated identity theft.


Burning matches grounds flight

An American Airline flight that left Washington yesterday morning bound for Dallas-Fort Worth was diverted to Nashville, Tenn., after passengers reported smelling burning matches.

Airport officials had 99 passengers and five crew members disembark after the plane landed about 6:40 a.m., Nashville Airport Authority spokeswoman Lynne Lowrance said.

The plane, which left from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, was searched and luggage was screened.

Matches were found in the seat of one passenger, who was questioned by the FBI. The matches were safety matches allowed in carry-on luggage under Transportation Security Administration rules.

“It turned out she was trying to conceal body odor,” Miss Lowrance said.

The woman, who was not identified, was released without being charged, but was not allowed back on an American Airlines flight.

The remaining passengers were screened, and the plane resumed its flight about 10:30 a.m.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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