- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006


Man found guilty of beating ‘Grandma’

The man accused of beating and robbing an 84-year-old vendor known as “Grandma” near George Washington University was found guilty yesterday in D.C. Superior Court.

James A. Dorsey, 47, was convicted of aggravated assault while armed and armed robbery of a senior citizen in the May 3, 2005, attack. He showed little expression after the verdict was read.

The beating was captured on videotape by a surveillance camera mounted near the loading dock of the victim’s apartment building. The images were shown repeatedly on local television, prompting tips from the public.

Each charge carries a maximum of 30 years. Dorsey will be sentenced in July.

The jury reached its decision after six days of deliberation. On Wednesday, jurors sent a note to the judge indicating the deliberations had stalled because one juror refused to participate.

The tape shows Vasiliki Fotopoulos being punched and kicked as she attempts to pull her cart of umbrellas, T-shirts and souvenirs up a ramp.

Mrs. Fotopoulos suffered injuries to her nose, eyes and head. She has since recovered and continues to sell her wares near the Foggy Bottom Metro station.

Mrs. Fotopoulos described the assault during the trial, speaking in Greek with the help of a court interpreter. She said she was beaten repeatedly over the head and eventually “couldn’t take it anymore.” By the end of it, she said she could no longer move.

Panel votes to cut Smithsonian funding

The House Appropriations Committee voted to cut the Smithsonian Institution’s budget because of its opposition to a deal with Showtime Networks that could limit access to museum archives for other filmmakers.

Committee members voted Wednesday to take $15 million out of the Smithsonian’s proposed 2007 budget because of the Showtime deal, and a subcommittee cut an additional $5 million for the same reason last week.

“This has to be a huge wake-up call to the Smithsonian,” Rep. Zach Wamp, Tennessee Republican, said of the budget cuts.

Some committee members argued the cuts went too far.

“It is like using an ax when you need a scalpel,” said Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat. “The people who are going to get hurt are the visitors.”

The Smithsonian’s deal with Showtime would create a new cable-television outlet called Smithsonian on Demand that would have first rights to documentaries that rely heavily on the Smithsonian’s specialists and collections. The Smithsonian has refused to release financial terms of the contract.

The panel also moved to impose a salary cap for Smithsonian executives, citing the “exceptionally high” pay of its top museum and business officials. Under the measure, no salary at the museum complex should be higher than the $400,000 paid to President Bush.

The Smithsonian’s Secretary Lawrence Small received a base salary of $573,832 last year, according to records the committee released. Mr. Small’s compensation includes a housing allowance and bonus on top of salary. In 2003, his total compensation was $813,000, according to public records.

Immigrant supporters endorse Mall rally

D.C.-area pro-immigration leaders yesterday endorsed Wednesday’s immigrant “March on Washington” to held at 4 p.m. on the Mall.

The rally to call for a path to citizenship for the nation’s estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens will be the latest in a string of nationwide events this spring and a boycott of work, school and commerce held earlier this month.

Lobbyists will begin meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday with senators, followed by the rally that organizers expect will draw hundreds of thousands of immigrants and illegal aliens to the District. The rally originally was scheduled for next Friday.

Leaders also pledged to begin an aggressive voter-registration campaign this spring to register at least 1 million naturalized citizens by the November elections.



Meetings with PSC violated state law

Closed meetings between members of the Public Service Commission and the governor’s staff violated Maryland’s open-meetings laws, a state board ruled yesterday.

The Open Meetings Law Compliance Board said a March meeting between four commissioners of the utility-regulating board and members of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s staff should have been held in public.

A lawyer for the PSC had argued in written statements that the meeting wasn’t planned and that no public business was conducted, the Annapolis Capital reported. But the compliance board rejected that reasoning in a five-page ruling yesterday.

Because the compliance board is advisory, the commissioners face no sanction.

A spokeswoman for the PSC said the commission is disappointed with the decision.


Older painting found under 1500s work

X-ray technicians performing a checkup on a 16th-century Italian painting depicting the preparation of Jesus’ body following the Crucifixion got a bonus — they discovered the image of a Renaissance man hidden underneath.

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, which owns the painting, asked Washington County Hospital to X-ray the artwork to determine its condition.

The X-rays showed a detailed image of a man dressed in late Renaissance clothing with his hands clasped at his waist.

Museum curator Mary L. Pixley called the finding a “jackpot.”

It wasn’t unusual for artists to paint over earlier works rather than waste canvas, Miss Pixley said.

“I am just in an utter state of happiness right now,” said Miss Pixley, who plans to research the family of artist Gerolamo Bassano in hopes of identifying the man in the painting.

Bassano lived from 1566 to 1621 and belonged to a well-known family of artists.

Museum Director Joseph Ruzicka said Bassano’s piece would have been made for a Catholic home to use in private devotion.


Judge reverses course, allows DNA evidence

The judge who last week threw out key DNA in a murder case has changed her mind and will allow some of the evidence to be admitted.

The reversal means prosecutors will be able to go forward with the trial of Terry Jones, 24.

The earlier decision threatened to leave them with little solid evidence, and Mr. Jones’ possible release. The judge threw out the evidence last Friday, saying prosecutors had failed to meet a deadline to deliver a document about crime-lab procedures to the defense.

Mr. Jones is on trial for the March 2004 killing of 15-year-old Antiona Mills. Her beaten and strangle body was found naked, wrapped in a sheet, on Talbot Road in Northwest Baltimore.

Authorities said DNA found on the belt that bound her ankles was matched to Mr. Jones.

A second defendant, Eric Barksdale, faces a separate trial.


Toddler falls from window

A toddler fell out of an open apartment window yesterday in the 3300 block of Weeping Willow Court.

Fire and rescue officials said the 2-year-old apparently fell about 21/2 stories from a window at about noon.

The child was rushed to Children’s Hospital in the District. The hospital wouldn’t release the child’s condition.

Police were talking the child’s mother.


Arlington chase ends with shots in D.C.

A police chase in Arlington late Wednesday ended with police shooting a suspect who fled to the District.

Police identified the suspect as Dale Morehouse, 43, of no fixed address.

Arlington County police said an officer was attempting to arrest the felony suspect just before midnight Wednesday.

Mr. Morehouse took off toward the District, and D.C. police joined the chase.

Police stopped the vehicle in the 3400 block of 10th Street Northeast. At that point, Mr. Morehouse tried to run over a D.C. police officer, Arlington police spokesman Matt Martin said.

An Arlington officer fired two shots, hitting Mr. Morehouse once in the chest. Police arrested him a short time later.

Mr. Morehouse was taken to a hospital with injuries described as not life-threatening.

He now faces additional felony charges from the incident.



96 dogs and cats lead to neglect charges

A woman who had 96 dogs and cats in her home faces 10 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect and cruelty.

Prosecutor Susan Walton said Francine Cochran, 41, could get as much as a year in jail for each of the cruelty charges. She also could be fined if convicted of not having updated rabies shots and city licenses for the animals.

An animal-control officer who was searching for a lost pet found 58 dogs and 38 cats in Mrs. Cochran’s house, where her husband and 12-year-old son also lived.

The city condemned the house for sanitary reasons, and all but 10 of the animals were taken to a shelter.

Dr. Brandon Wichman examined the animals at the shelter and said most of the dogs had to be euthanized. Some had lost as much as 90 percent of their fur and had 3-inch-long toenails.


Guard’s tuition fund tapped out

The Virginia National Guard’s tuition assistance fund is empty.

Capt. Jeremy Serafin said 300 soldiers and airmen who applied for help with summer college costs will get letters telling them the money is not available.

Capt. Serafin, the Guard’s education-services officer in Blackstone, said the Guard’s 1,228 members have used up the nearly $2.5 million that was in the fund.

The program awards Guardsmen grants of up to $6,000 a year for college expenses.

There may still be hope for those 300 Guardsmen whose applications were returned. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine pledged this week to find the money to replenish the fund.


Tuition, fees to rise 9 percent at VMI

Virginia Military Institute will raise in-state tuition and fees nearly 9 percent for the coming academic year.

Cadets from Virginia will pay $7,609 for tuition and fees this fall, up $621 from the current year. Out-of-state tuition and fees will rise nearly 6 percent, from $21,188 to $22,418. Room and board, which is mandatory for all students, will rise nearly 5 percent to $5,930.

The revenue increase is expected to raise nearly $878,000, part of a $4.9 million increase that will help boost salaries and wages, add five full-time positions and cover the rising cost of health insurance and energy, VMI spokesman Lt. Col. Stewart D. MacInnis said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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