- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Squad car grounding angers union leaders

Police union officials aren’t happy with D.C. police for the recent grounding of 20 police cars because the department could not properly track the vehicles’ gasoline usage.

Union leaders said the grounding jeopardized public safety in large parts of Northeast and Northwest because some officers had to double up in vehicles and others had to walk beats rather than respond to calls.

Police said the vehicles were ordered out of service because officials could not locate the electronic gas “keys” that track gas use and allow officers to fill up at a department pump. About half the missing keys have since been returned.

Assistant Chief Brian Jordan said the grounding of cars did not affect police response times and was a good way to retrieve missing gas keys. He said officers had plenty of other cars to use on patrol.


O’Malley plans Clarksburg visit

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and his running mate, Delegate Anthony G. Brown, plan to tour Clarksburg today before hosting a town hall meeting in Germantown on suburban sprawl and congestion.

Clarksburg, where residents uncovered hundreds of building violations in the summer, lies in the northern part of Montgomery County, where Mr. O’Malley’s rival for the Democratic nomination for governor — County Executive Douglas M. Duncan — presides.

O’Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said Mr. Duncan is to blame for the Clarksburg scandal.

“To the extent that Doug Duncan’s policies and cozy relationship with developers have resulted in out-of-control development and sprawl, then certainly he is responsible,” Mr. Abbruzzese said.

Duncan campaign manager Scott Arceneaux noted the symbolism of Mr. O’Malley’s visit.

“We welcome the fact that Mr. O’Malley has finally realized that this is an election and not a coronation,” Mr. Arceneaux said. “We welcome the chance to talk about our substance versus their style.”


Early-voting foes turn in petitions

Opponents of early voting say they are well on their way to derailing the practice in this fall’s elections. They turned in thousands of petition signatures yesterday to bring the matter to voters before it can take effect.

Marylanders for Fair Elections turned in more than 20,000 signatures on each of two voting measures. One law sets up early voting, and another sets polling places for early voting. Opponents need 52,000 total signatures by June 30.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, and the Democrat-controlled legislature have been battling over the early-voting question for more than a year.

The early-voting laws would allow voters to cast ballots from Tuesday through Saturday in the week before the primary and general elections. Also, voters who go to the wrong polling places on Election Day would be able to vote using a provisional ballot that will be checked against voter registra-tion rolls before being counted.


Judge dismisses suit in fire deaths

A Circuit Court judge dismissed a $14 million lawsuit against city and state officials filed by the relatives of a family of seven killed when a vengeful drug dealer set fire to their house.

The suit filed in February 2005 said city officials encouraged Angela and Carnell Dawson to report illegal drug activities through the city’s “Believe” campaign, but did not do enough to protect them from retribution. The suit also said state officials were negligent.

The Dawsons and their five children were killed in 2002 by a drug dealer after being harassed and assaulted and after narrowly escaping an arson attempt two weeks earlier.

Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock dismissed the suit, saying that none of the defendants’ actions or inactions constitutes “extreme and out-rageous acts” as defined by law.

Judge Murdock wrote, “If any one person’s action was extreme, outrageous and perpetrated with reckless disregard of potential distress, it was Darnell Brooks’ act of setting the Dawson home ablaze.”

Brooks pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in 2004. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.


Driver charged in crash into store

Police have announced charges against a man whose car crashed into the Hecht’s department store in Friendship Heights on Tuesday.

Police said Mitchell Coleman, 21, of Riverdale, is hospitalized in stable condition. He is charged with reckless driving and speeding. Police said he refused to sign any of the traffic tickets, receiving an additional citation.

Police say Mr. Coleman was speeding on Military Road Northwest when he lost control of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo and hit a median strip at Western Avenue. The car crossed Wisconsin Avenue, flipped and hit a wall next to the Friendship Heights Metro escalator, then burst into flames as it crashed into the Hecht’s store.

The store was closed Tuesday but reopened yesterday. One escalator at the Friendship Heights Metro station was closed.


Teen given probation in deaths of 4 bears

A 17-year-old boy who illegally shot a female black bear and left her three cubs to die of exposure pleaded yesterday to an admission of delinquency.

Sgt. Ken Turner, with the Department of Natural Resources police, said the plea by a juvenile is the equivalent of a guilty plea by an adult. The boy was sentenced to two years of supervised probation.

The state Department of Natural Resources said the teenager shot the bear in the head in its den in January at point-blank range while hunting rabbits at the state-owned Woodmont Hunting Club property near Hancock.

The sentence also includes 100 hours of community service and a $500 restitution payment to the state’s bear management program.


Future prosecutions of snipers not clear

John Allen Muhammad is expected to return to Virginia’s death row soon after he is sentenced today for his second Washington-area sniper conviction, but it is not clear whether he will face prosecution in other states.

Muhammad was found guilty of six October 2002 shootings by a Montgomery County jury Tuesday and could be sentenced of life in prison without the possibility of parole for each murder. Montgomery County prosecutors said the second trial was insurance in case his Virginia death sentence and conviction for a sniper shooting in Manassas is ever overturned.

But several other states and jurisdictions still have charges pending against Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo. They include Louisiana, Alabama, the District and Prince George’s County.

A decision to send the pair to other states will be made by Virginia, which sent them to Maryland under an agreement that they be sent back.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, said the two convictions may have fulfilled the desire for legal insurance.



Death penalty sought in 1993 stabbing

Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a suspect in the 1993 stabbing death of a Fairfax County woman.

Prosecutors said Thomas Hager killed five other persons and ordered the death of a seventh person since 1992.

Lonnie Barnett Jr. and Arlington Johnson Jr. are serving life sentences after pleading guilty in the attack on Barbara White, 19, a single mother who lived in the Mount Vernon area.

Both men admitted stabbing Miss White repeatedly in her bathtub, while her 13-month-old daughter was elsewhere in the apartment with a fourth suspect.

The men said that they were working for Mr. Hager, a crack cocaine dealer, and that he also stabbed Miss White repeatedly.


Man pleads guilty in daughter’s death

A man charged with killing his infant daughter last year pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Andre Madison was charged with murder and felony child neglect in the death of 10-month-old Kyiah Taylor-Madison. She was found strapped to her car seat in her baby sitter’s back yard in September.

Madison told police at the time that after dropping off his wife at work, he drove home, waited awhile, then drove to the baby sitter’s house. He said he then removed the baby in the car seat and tossed both over the fence into the back yard.

A Henrico County grand jury indicted Madison on a murder charge in March.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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