- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006



Mother gets 5 years for trying to kill baby

A Hagerstown woman with a history of mental illness was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for attempted second-degree murder after leaving her newborn son in an alley more than seven months ago.

But the child’s father said after the sentencing that justice would have been better served had authorities focused on getting Kelly E. Ruck, whom he described as his fiancee, treatment for her problems.

“I still care for her,” Scott Rohrbaugh said. “I would like to see her get help. I’d like to see her home. I’d like to see her reunited eventually with me and her son.”

Ruck was convicted last month after entering an Alford plea in which she didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged the state had enough evidence for a jury to find her guilty. Her attorney, Gordon A. Lynn, presented evidence that Ruck had a dissociative disorder at the time of the incident and could not have formed the intent to kill her baby.

Police said Ruck gave birth to the child at about 6 a.m. Sept. 17 after repeatedly denying that she was pregnant. A neighbor found the infant about 3 hours later beneath two chunks of lumber under a parked trailer. The child survived and is in foster care.

The judge sentenced Ruck to 20 years, but suspended all but five, to be followed by three years of probation.

Mr. Rohrbaugh told the Associated Press that he hopes to gain custody of his son.

“I feel like I’m being treated with same charges she is,” he said, taking issue with the Department of Social Services’ handling of the case. “It took seven months to get quality time with my son, if you can call it quality time. He was given no chance to bond with me.”


Beach replenishment delayed until July

A beach replenishment project will be delayed until the middle of the summer tourist season, the Army Corps of Engineers has decided.

Project Manager Scott Johnson told the Salisbury Daily Times that the replenishment won’t begin until after July 4. City leaders had thought the project, in which sand is dredged onto the eroding beach, would begin earlier.

City Engineer Terry McGean said the scheduled 800,000 cubic yards of sand will replenish the beach from near the end of the boardwalk to the town’s northern border.

The previous replenishment of Ocean City’s beach was in 2002.


Boy in wheelchair wins invention contest

A fifth-grader who uses a wheelchair won an invention contest for coming up with a lunch tray that balances on a wheelchair.

Mason Kegley, 10, who cannot use his right leg because of an infection, came up with the idea after spilling hot chili in his lap during lunch at Holly Hall Elementary School. A teacher encouraged him to enter an invention contest of the By Kids For Kids company, and Mason won tickets to a Baltimore Orioles game.

“I designed a tray that fits on a wheelchair so kids can push their chair through the lunch line without having to balance their lunch tray in one hand,” he told the Cecil Whig.

The recognition gave the boy a bright spot in what otherwise has been a very difficult year, his mother said.

“We’re so proud of him,” Lisa Kegley said. “Now we’re hoping we can find someone who can actually make the tray he designed.”


Prisoner’s death may be homicide

Prison officials are investigating the apparent homicide of a 34-year-old inmate who was found dead in his cell at the Maryland House of Corrections in Jessup on Friday.

The inmate, who was serving a 10-year sentence for fraud and larceny, was alone in a cell in a segregated tier of the institution when a guard found him about 10:35 p.m., said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Although guards could see no wounds, later examination of the inmate’s body revealed two “puncture wounds,” Maj. Doggett said.

Authorities withheld the inmate’s identity, citing their ongoing investigation.


KKK rally foes plan united activities

With a Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled for next month at the Antietam National Battlefield, those opposed to the KKK are planning events of their own.

Both the rally and the alternative events are planned for June 10.

The Rev. Malcolm Stranathan, pastor of the Salem United Methodist Church in Keedysville, said dozens of groups and individuals are coming together in opposition to the KKK rally. Plans call for an ecumenical worship service, followed by community displays and activities in Taylor Park in Keedysville celebrating the area’s diversity.



Godspeed crew learns the ropes

Passengers on the Jamestown-Scotland ferry yesterday caught a glimpse of the 17th century as they crossed the James River near Williamsburg.

A new replica of one of three ships that brought the settlers to Jamestown in 1607 was out for one of several training sessions so paid crew members and volunteers could practice handling lines and hoisting sails.

The three-masted Godspeed is to depart the state-run Jamestown Settlement museum next week for an 80-day voyage to six East Coast ports.

The voyage kicks off the Jamestown 2007 commemoration — an 18-month series of events marking the 400th anniversary of America’s first permanent English settlement. In all, 30 volunteers will be involved in the trip.

Eric Speth is the Godspeed’s captain. He said many of the volunteers were on board for the first time yesterday but were able to learn the ropes right away.


Parents found guilty in fatal dog attack

The parents of a 2-year-old boy fatally mauled by the family’s dogs pleaded guilty yesterday to involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.

Circuit Judge Carl Eason Jr. dropped the second-degree murder charges as part of the plea agreement with James Jonathan Martin, 30, and Heather Frango, 25. Each faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.

Both were charged after Jonathan Martin was bitten on the face, arms and legs by the two dogs in the family’s Whaleyville home in October.

A police investigation concluded that Jonathan was downstairs alone with the dogs, including the female’s puppies, when the attack occurred Oct. 3. His parents were upstairs, investigators said.


Council member calls for poet laureate

A member of the City Council wants the city of 130,000 to have its own poet laureate.

Council member Ludwig Gaines said the poet laureate’s duties would include appearing at public events, writing inspirational words after tragedies and stirring interest in poetry.

Mr. Gaines said he doesn’t know many cities of Alexandria’s size that have poets laureate, but noted that Denver (population of 560,000) and Sacramento, Calif., (population of 1.6 million) have one each.

City Manager James K. Hartmann supports Mr. Gaines’ proposal. The council is expected to vote on the measure after a public hearing Saturday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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