- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006



Officer pleaded for life, court records show

A correctional officer pleaded for his life before being fatally shot in the head Jan. 26 at Washington County Hospital, court records show.

“I’m going to kill you,” inmate Brandon T. Morris, 20, told Officer Jeffery A. Wroten as he crouched over the officer, holding him down with his left hand and pointing Officer Wroten’s service revolver at his head, according to a bill of particulars filed yesterday in Washington County Circuit Court.

“Please don’t, please don’t,” Officer Wroten repeated, according to the documents.

After shooting Officer Wroten in the head, Morris carjacked a taxi outside the hospital, but was captured a short time later, the documents say.

Officer Wroten was guarding Morris, who was serving an eight-year sentence for assault, robbery and handgun convictions in Baltimore.

Morris, whose trial is scheduled to begin July 31, has pleaded not guilty to 36 counts, including first-degree murder.

State’s Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. has not yet said whether he will seek the death penalty. Under state law, prosecutors have until 30 days before the start of a trial to file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in a capital case.


Fire damages IHOP restaurant

A fire yesterday afternoon severely damaged the International House of Pancakes on St. Barnabas Road.

The fire in the A-frame building went to three alarms before firefighters could bring it under control. The fire burned a large hole in the roof and gutted the dining room.

Someone was working on the heating system when the fire started, but investigators said the cause hasn’t been determined.

The manager said employees at the restaurant will be sent to work at other IHOP locations while the Temple Hill store is rebuilt.


Schools honored for environmentalism

An interest in the environment has brought a Civic Star Award to Garrett County schools.

The schools’ Partners in Ecology and Restoration of Schoolyards program was chosen as the state winner for teaming with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory.

Students and members from the center worked together to establish natural habitats in five elementary schoolyards.

Garrett County schools were chosen because of their interest in increasing environmental education in their classrooms.


Man plans to appeal starvation conviction

An Elkton man found guilty last week of involuntary manslaughter in the starvation death of the woman who lived in his home said he will appeal the conviction.

John Dougherty also was found guilty of abuse or neglect for the death of Mary Kilrain, the mother of his three children.

Miss Kilrain suffered an aneurysm in 1999 and was discovered dead in their home last year. She weighed just 81 pounds, and an autopsy showed she died of starvation and dehydration.

Dougherty said he is con-cerned that the jury considered his demeanor in deciding his fate which, according to him, happened too hastily.

He said he is not an emotional person and has developed a thick skin since Miss Kilrain’s death.

Dougherty faces more than 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced in May.


Judge rejects claim for chief’s back pay

A judge has rejected a former Hancock police chief’s claim for back compensation.

Donald Gossage asked for $5,000, the maximum he could have asked for in Washington County District Court.

But Judge Oliver John Cejka Jr. denied the claim last week and dismissed the case.

Mr. Gossage, a 24-year veteran of the District’s Metropolitan Police Department, took over as Hancock’s police chief in 1996. But last March, the town dismissed him.

In a complaint, Mr. Gossage said that his contract ran through June 2005, and the town stopped paying him in February 2004.

He said the town owes him more than $3,700 in unpaid salary, which affects his retirement pay by $320 a year for life.

Mr. Gossage also says that the town owes him more than $6,000 in health benefits.


Jury still undecided in Abu Ghraib trial

Deliberations will resume today in the court-martial of an Army dog handler accused of using his black Belgian shepherd to terrify Abu Ghraib detainees for his amusement.

Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., faces the stiffest potential sentence of any soldier involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal. He is charged with 13 offenses and faces up to 24 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Jurors have deliberated 16 hours over two days. Deliber-ations resume at 8 a.m. today.

The government contends that Sgt. Smith, of the 523rd Military Police Detachment, Fort Riley, Kan., used his dog to intimidate five prisoners for fun.



Teacher gave pot to student, police say

A special-education teacher at Chantilly High School was arrested yesterday, accused of giving marijuana to a student.

Thomas Newlun, 53, was arrested at his home in Marshall by deputies from the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Newlun faces charges including marijuana distribution and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Mr. Newlun gave a small amount of marijuana to a 17-year-old student after class Friday, Fairfax County police said.

The boy then gave the drugs to a school security officer.

Mr. Newlun started working for the system in 1989, and except for being out one year, has been there since. He has been placed on administrative leave without pay, schools spokesman Paul Regnier said.


SUV crashesin to gas station

Police are investigating whether alcohol played a role in a fiery crash yesterday morning that heavily damaged a gas station when a sport utility vehicle crashed and caught the building on fire.

Fairfax County fire department spokesman Capt. Dan Schmidt said the SUV knocked over one of the pumps and went into the service station at Village Drive and North Shore Drive. Two other cars there also were damaged.

Police said the driver fled, but officers caught up with him. The man’s name was not released.

Capt. Schmidt said an automatic shutoff of the gasoline system helped prevent a larger explosion.


Visiting student found dead in UVa. dorm

Police are investigating the death of a Cornell University student found in a University of Virginia dorm room.

Matthew Pearlstone, 19, was visiting a friend over spring break who lived in Cauthen residence hall, where he was found dead in a bed Friday morning.

“We don’t know the cause of death,” campus police Sgt. Melissa Fielding said. “We don’t know anything at this point.”

Authorities said there was no evidence of foul play, and that Mr. Pearlstone’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Richmond for an autopsy.

Howard Pearlstone said his grandson was “partying” the night before he died.

“He went to sleep and never woke up,” he said. “The whole thing is beyond my comprehension.”

Matthew Pearlstone, a former marathon runner in high school in St. Louis, was a freshman at Cornell majoring in computer science and electrical engineering. He was a member of the Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Club, which competes in building underwater unmanned vehicles, said Simeon Moss, a spokesman for the New York university.


Teen held in slaying of his grandparents

An 18-year-old has been charged with killing his grandparents.

Talion Hawkins was arrested Sunday night and charged with capital murder, first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm to commit a felony in the deaths of Queenie Bright, 69, and Samuel Bright, 70, Chesapeake police said yesterday.

Officer Christina Golden, a police spokeswoman, said Mr. Hawkins had lived with his grandparents but had been asked to leave because of “ongoing problems.”

Officer Golden said the teenager returned to the home Thursday evening to try to persuade his grandparents to allow him to move back in.

An argument ensued, and the Brights were shot with a handgun, she said.

A son found the bodies when he arrived home from work Thursday night.

Mr. Hawkins is being held in the Chesapeake jail.


Teacher sentenced for touching girl, 16

A driving instructor got a six-month prison sentence yesterday for touching one of his young students.

George Herndon was convicted of indecent liberties and assault and battery.

Herndon ran the GLH Driving School in Leesburg.

Loudoun County authorities arrested him in January, two days after they said he touched the 16-year-old girl and suggested they engage in sex acts.

Herndon also was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and must register as a sex offender.


Hospital promises short wait in the ER

A hospital is promising emergency room patients they’ll be seen by a doctor in 30 minutes or less — or else receive an apology and free movie tickets.

Shortening emergency room waiting times is part of a hospitalwide initiative aimed at improving patient care, said Pam Hash, a registered nurse and administrative director of emergency services at the newly opened St. Francis Medical Center. The free movie tickets were the marketing department’s idea.

“One of the big dissatisfiers for patients is the wait time they spend in the emergency department,” Miss Hash said.

Other hospitals around the country have offered 30-minute guarantees to compete with rival hospitals. In response, some competitors have come back with promises of even shorter waiting periods — some as little as 15 minutes. If the wait times are exceeded, patients are compensated with everything from restaurant gift certificates to free medical care.

St. Francis opened in September.

There are exceptions to St. Francis’ 30-minute guarantee, such as when the emergency department has multiple critical-care patients or is so crowded that ambulances are being sent to other hospitals.

The average emergency room waiting time at St. Francis is only around 13 minutes, said Dr. Robert Weisberger, medical director of the emergency department. The 30-minute guarantee went into effect March 1, and the staff has failed to meet it only about a dozen times, he said.


Weapons, drugs found in raid on trailer

Weapons and drugs were found during a bust at a trailer near Lake Anna, Spotsylvania County authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies and the state police served a search warrant on the trailer. They found several items that could be used for making bombs, including fuse cords, gun powder and a charger, Sheriff Howard Smith said.

Investigators also found several weapons, including a .357-caliber Magnum and two sawed-off shotguns along with marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs.

James Robert Horne, who lives in the trailer, now faces numerous charges. The 41-year-old is in jail on no bond.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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