- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006



Pet owner charged with animal cruelty

A Harford County woman who owns two homes where dozens of dogs and cats were found living in filth last week was charged Monday with 118 counts of animal cruelty.

Donna Lee Bell, 59, of Whiteford, complained of chest pains Friday after deputies with search warrants arrived at one of the two homes where she kept the animals. She was taken to a hospital.

She was released from the hospital Sunday night, and police tracked her down at her ex-husband’s house in Essex.

More than 40 of the animals at the homes were dead. The rest were in varying conditions of health.

Each count of animal cruelty carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.


650 pounds of pot seized; four charged

Anne Arundel County police arrested four men after seizing more than 650 pounds of marijuana and other drugs last week in Glen Burnie. It was one of the largest seizures in county history; the drugs had a street value of more than $10 million.

Police executed warrants after watching suspects carry several large duffel bags at one of the addresses.

Derek Honeycutt and Jason Bibeault, both of Glen Burnie, were charged under “kingpin” drug laws. Alvin Burruss of Reisterstown and Alfred Anderson of Glen Burnie face lesser drug charges.


Search by flashlight gets man in trouble

Dave Twigg said he was driving home late one night in April when the lid on a trash can in the back of his truck blew off. So he stopped and, using a bright flashlight, began to search for it.

He found the lid, but not before Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Police showed up. He was given a notice of violation for spotlighting without a weapon and driving without a license. The violation carries no penalty.

“Who goes spotlighting by themselves? Once you see [a person doesn’t] have a gun, it’s not hunting,” Mr. Twigg told the Frederick News-Post. He has filed a complaint with the DNR.

Spokesman Sgt. Ken Turner told the News-Post the matter is under investigation as a personnel issue.

Mr. Twigg said that after finding the lid, he was driving home April 30 about 10 p.m. when an unmarked white sport utility vehicle pulled up behind him with emergency lights flashing.

He said he wasn’t certain the driver was a police officer so he continued driving about 500 yards to his lighted driveway.

At that point, he said, the DNR officer jumped out of his vehicle with his gun drawn, handcuffed Mr. Twigg and searched his vehicle. Mr. Twigg said he was handcuffed for about an hour in his driveway before receiving the violation notice.


Mother, 17, charged in newborn’s death

A 17-year-old girl has been charged as an adult with second-degree murder in the death of her newborn son, who was left in a trash can to die, Anne Arundel County prosecutors announced yesterday.

A grand jury indicted Megan R. Patria on Friday on the murder charge and on charges of manslaughter and child abuse resulting in death. The indictment was unsealed Monday after Miss Patria turned herself in.

If convicted of all charges, she faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.

Miss Patria gave birth Dec. 3 or 4, apparently after hiding her pregnancy for months, county police said.

Her mother, Sharon Patria, confronted her Dec. 4 with the suspicion that she had been pregnant. The teenager acknowledged that she had given birth that weekend and put the baby in a trash can outside their Arnold home, police said. The girl’s mother found the body and called police.

Anyone 14 or older charged with murder in Maryland automatically is charged as an adult. Miss Patria’s attorney, Howard L. Cardin, said he would ask a judge to transfer the case to juvenile court.

Mr. Cardin said that Miss Patria cooperated with police and that she needs counseling or other help, not a prison sentence.

“My expectation was that the circumstances would show there is no criminal responsi-bility on her,” Mr. Cardin said.


Strippers sue police over forced show

Three male strippers have sued the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department for $5 million because, they say, officers wrongly arrested them, took their money and forced them to strip.

The police stopped the men’s sport utility vehicle for a speeding violation near the Fort McHenry Tunnel on March 4

The three men said they were traveling from a job in Philadelphia to the District for another performance. They said officers confiscated $10,000 they had earned in tips.

Their attorney said that after the men were arrested and charged with drug possession, officers made them strip and pose for full-body pictures. Those charges were later dropped, Baltimore prosecutors said.

A department spokeswoman said that officials just learned of the accusations and that the internal affairs unit will investigate.


Tape found on neck of dead inmate

An inmate found dead in his cell had two puncture wounds and tape loosely wrapped around his neck, state prison officials said.

The inmate was identified yesterday as Willie Williams Jr., 34, of Baltimore. Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a Division of Correction spokeswoman, said a guard found Williams’ body Friday night at the Maryland House of Correction. The death is being investigated as a homicide.

At the time of his death, Williams was living apart from the general prison population.

Williams was serving a 10-year sentence for credit card fraud. He was convicted in 2000 in Carroll County Circuit Court of credit card theft, theft of more than $300, second-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property.


Sifrit can request hearing for new trial

A man convicted in the killing and dismemberment of a Virginia couple four years ago in Ocean City has been granted a hearing on his request for a new trial by the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Benjamin Sifrit and his wife, Erika, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., were convicted in separate trials of luring Martha M. “Genie” Crutchley and Joshua E. Ford back to their condo and shooting the pair in a bathroom in May 2002. Their dismembered bodies were found in a Delaware landfill nine days later.

Benjamin Sifrit was sentenced in Montgomery County to 35 years in prison for second-degree murder, first-degree assault and being an accessory after the fact in Miss Crutchley’s murder. Erika Sifrit was sentenced in Frederick County to life plus 20 years. Both trials were moved from the Eastern Shore because of pre-trial publicity.

Benjamin Sifrit requested the new trial, saying his legal counsel was ineffective, failed to investigate his case and failed to file to have his sentence reconsidered, WTOP Radio reported.

Maryland’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, upheld both convictions.

The hearing in Benjamin Sifrit’s request is set for June 29.



Man kills co-workers, shoots self

A man fatally shot two co-workers at a medical-supply business yesterday, then shot himself in the head as police closed in, investigators said. He later died.

Police said Brewer Hoover Jr., 65, of Harrisonburg, killed Gary Gibson, 54, of Harrisonburg, and Bonnie Gump, 54, of Grottoes, in what was described as a “work-related incident.”

“We’re still in the thick of the investigation,” Lt. Kurt Boshart of the Harrisonburg police said.

A police SWAT team responded after the man enter-ed the American HomePatient at about 8 a.m. and barricaded himself in the building. Police brought in a hostage negotiation team but closed in with their weapons drawn when the gunman ended communica-tions, Lt. Boshart said.

Two other employees thought to have been inside the business escaped unharmed, Lt. Boshart said.


Trust fund established for wounded officer

A trust fund has been set up for the Fairfax County police officer who was wounded in last week’s shooting at the Sully District station.

Police said yesterday that Officer Michael E. Garbarino, 53, remains in critical condition but is showing signs of improvement.

Checks to the trust fund should be made payable to Garbarino Family Trust Fund, care of Fairfax County Federal Credit Union, 4201 Members Way Fairfax, VA 22030.

Police said that this is the only official trust fund for the Garbarino family and that there will be no solicitations by telephone.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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