- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2006

BALTIMORE — A cabdriver was fatally stabbed by two teenagers late Saturday in Northwest Baltimore, police said, pushing the city’s 2005 homicide total to 269 — a slight drop from the 2004 total of 276.

Yesterday morning, two women were slain in different parts of the city, said Detective Donny Moses, a police spokesman.

An off-duty officer heard the unlicensed driver yelling for help and saw two persons attacking the man in the 2300 block of Ashburton Street about 10:45 p.m., Detective Moses said.

The officer tailed the attackers on foot while contacting police dispatchers on his cell phone, and the suspects were stopped and arrested.

Darryl Powell, 18, and Edward Holmes, 17, each have been charged with first-degree murder, Detective Moses said.

The unidentified victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 11:40 p.m.

Investigators determined that the man had been driving the two teens when an argument broke out, Detective Moses said.

About a mile away and less than three hours later, Stephanie Mills, 21, became the city’s first homicide victim this year.

She was fatally shot while trying to break up an argument at a New Year’s party in Northwest Baltimore, Detective Moses said.

A 36-year-old man also was shot and wounded in the incident, and police were searching for the shooter, thought to be the boyfriend of another woman at the party.

Shortly before 10 a.m. yesterday, a woman, thought to be in her 40s, was slain in downtown’s west side, Detective Moses said.

Witnesses told police that the woman was arguing with a man, who slashed her throat and fled. Police had no suspects.

More than 300 people were killed each year in Baltimore during the 1990s, but the number dropped to 261 in 2000, the first full year in office for Mayor Martin O’Malley, who was elected on a pledge to reduce violent crime.

Homicides dropped to 253 in 2002, but rose again in 2003 and 2004 amid unstable leadership at police headquarters.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat who is running for governor this year, has had four police commissioners during his tenure.

The department currently is led by Leonard Hamm, who took over after Kevin Clark was fired in November 2004.

Mr. O’Malley has not come close to his goal of reducing the number of killings to 175 a year.

His Democratic primary opponent, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, attacked the mayor’s leadership, saying Baltimore remains “the most dangerous big city in America.”

But Mr. O’Malley said he is confident the city is on the right track. “I volunteered to do a very, very difficult job for a people that really wanted to reduce violent crime and drug addiction,” Mr. O’Malley said. “We’ve made nation-leading progress in attacking a big, big problem.”

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