- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006


City collecting more child support

D.C. officials said they are doing a better job of collecting child support.

During fiscal 2005, the city collected more than $62 million from parents, a 9 percent increase from 2004.

D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti said collections of overdue payments jumped more than 14 percent, or nearly six times the agency’s goal.

More than 80,000 children depend upon the Child Support Services Division.

A two-week amnesty program in the summer allowed 1,600 parents to catch up on their payments and avoid serious sanctions.

Nearly $500,000 has been collected in recent years under threat of driver’s license revocations.

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles revoked nearly 1,000 licenses last year because of child-support issues.

Authorities probe two fatal fires

A fire yesterday morning killed a person in a house in the 5100 block of Fulton Street Northwest, the second deadly fire in the city in three days.

The victim of yesterday’s fire was so badly burned that authorities could not tell whether the person was a man or a woman.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but damage was estimated at $250,000.

Meanwhile, investigators determined that smoking in bed started a Saturday night fire that killed Bonnie Dickens, 73.

Her charred body was found inside her home in the 1300 block of Otis Place Northwest.

Damage to that house was estimated at $80,000.

Firefighters were in both neighborhoods yesterday, handing out free smoke alarms. Any D.C. resident can get one by stopping at a firehouse or calling 202/727-1614.



County to appeal $3.7 million verdict

Prince George’s County yesterday filed a motion asking a judge for a new trial and reduction in the $3.7 million in damages awarded to the family of a Howard University student fatally shot by a county officer in 2000.

A county jury last month awarded the money to the family of Prince Jones, who was killed by an undercover county officer who had followed him to a Northern Virginia neighborhood after confusing him for a suspect in a gun case.

In a statement released yesterday by County Executive Jack B. Johnson’s office, the county said that it had hoped to settle the case with the family but that its offer was rejected.

Mr. Johnson, a Democrat, decided to file the motion for a new trial and lower damages “to protect the financial interest of the county.”


Man gets 38 years for killing informer

A federal judge yesterday sentenced a District Heights man to 38 years in prison for the 2003 murder of a federal informer.

James Allen Irby III, 29, was convicted of second-degree murder in November for the death of Terrence Deadwyler.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Deadwyler had told federal authorities about an illegal gun that Irby possessed. Mr. Deadwyler was shot three times and stabbed 174 times, and his apartment was set on fire.

U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow also ordered Irby to pay $4,745 for Mr. Deadwyler’s funeral costs.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Irby, but the jury did not return a first-degree murder conviction necessary for him to be eligible for a death sentence.


CSX settles tunnel fire case

CSX Transportation Inc. will pay Baltimore $2 million for costs incurred in a 2001 train derailment and tunnel fire that paralyzed the city for days.

No fault was assigned to either the city or CSX under the settlement finalized yesterday.

Baltimore sued the rail company to recover cleanup costs estimated to be as high as $12 million.

The city contended that the derailed cars and fire caused a water main in the tunnel to burst, spilling thousands of gallons of water.

CSX argued that poor city maintenance led to a broken water main that caused the derailment.

The damage shut down the city for days; games at nearby Oriole Park at Camden Yards were postponed; businesses lost millions of dollars; and the city had to pay overtime for emergency crews and cleanup.

The case was scheduled to go to trial March 13.



Senate passes smoking ban

The state Senate yesterday narrowly approved legislation to prohibit indoor smoking in most public places, including restaurants.

The vote was 21-18. The bill now will go to the House.

Sen. J. Brandon Bell II, Roanoke Republican, said the bill is intended to protect Virginians from the health dangers of secondhand smoke.

Opponents argued that the state should not tell businesses how to operate.

Mr. Bell’s bill originally would have given local governments the option of banning smoking in restaurants. The restaurant industry and some senators objected to allowing a patchwork of smoking restrictions, and the bill was defeated last week.

The Senate reconsidered that vote, allowing Mr. Bell to amend the bill to ban smoking at restaurants statewide.


Boy fatally shot in hunting accident

A 7-year-old Stafford County boy died Sunday after being shot in the head in a hunting accident a day earlier, authorities said yesterday.

A hunter was loading his 12-gauge shotgun in the back of a sport utility vehicle when it went off, striking Luke Howard Wyatt, who was outside the vehicle, Stafford Sheriff Charles Jett told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Luke and his father were part of a group preparing to go goose hunting near the boy’s Mountain View home Saturday morning, Sheriff Jett said.


House OKs ending ‘triggerman rule’

The House of Delegates yesterday passed a bill that would eliminate Virginia’s “triggerman rule,” which limits capital charges to the killer rather than those who organize or plan the crime.

The legislation is sponsored by Delegate C. Todd Gilbert, Shenandoah Republican, who said the bill would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for those who conspire to commit murder but don’t pull the trigger.

The triggerman rule became an issue in the trial of sniper John Allen Muhammad.

Defense attorneys argued that the rule should eliminate a potential death penalty for Muhammad because his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, was the triggerman.

The state Supreme Court upheld Muhammad’s death sentence.

The final House vote was 83-16. The bill now moves to the Senate.


Connolly wants to cut car, property taxes

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly proposed yesterday that the county repeal its automobile decal tax.

In his State of the County address, Mr. Connolly, a Democrat, asked his fellow board members to eliminate both the county’s vehicle windshield decal and the tax residents pay for it.

The decal demonstrates that the owner has paid the personal-property tax on the vehicle. It is $25 for cars, trucks and vans; $18 for motorcycles; and $23 for taxicabs.

If Mr. Connolly’s measure is adopted, Fairfax County would be the first jurisdiction in Virginia to repeal the tax.

Mr. Connolly also proposed cutting the county’s real estate tax rate below the current $1 per $100 of assessed value.


Indictment amended in Behl’s killing

The prosecutor in the case of an ex-convict charged with killing Virginia Commonwealth University student Taylor Marie Behl, 17, agreed yesterday to amend the indictment.

Mathews County Common-wealth’s Attorney Jack Gill agreed to change the language of the murder indictment against Benjamin Fawley, 38, charging him with second-degree murder.

Defense attorneys argued that, as originally worded, the indictment was flawed because it offered multiple options to how Miss Behl died. The original indictment charged Fawley with first-degree murder while committing another felony, such as rape, sodomy or abduction.

Miss Behl disappeared from Richmond on Sept. 5. Her remains were found a month later in a shallow ravine in rural Mathews County.

Fawley’s trial is scheduled to begin May 30.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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