- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 9, 2006



Delegate charged over asset handling

The state prosecutor filed criminal charges yesterday against Delegate Clarence Davis, saying he failed to pass campaign committee financial assets through the hands of a campaign treasurer as required by law.

The charge, a misdemeanor, is the result of a referral from the state election board that Mr. Davis had not filed timely campaign financial reports.

Mr. Davis, Baltimore Democrat, is not seeking re-election. Failure to comply with the law carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Mr. Davis did not immediately respond to a message left on his telephone answering machine seeking a response to the charges.

The office of State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh also announced that David H. Nevins, a Constellation Energy Group vice president, was fined $2,000 for exceeding the $10,000 limit on campaign contributions an individual can make during a four-year election cycle.

Mr. Nevins made donations to statewide, legislative and local candidates, and to both Democrats and Republicans, the state campaign finance database shows.

The prosecutor also filed a civil citation against Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr., Prince George’s County Democrat. The citation claims that Mr. Giannetti distributed campaign material without a treasurer’s authority line.

Violation of that section of the law carries a fine up to $5,000.

Court upholds verdict from jury with alien

The state Court of Special Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of a Columbia man despite the fact that one of the jurors who convicted him was not a U.S. citizen.

The Howard County Circuit Court jury convicted Marcus D. Owens, 35, in 2004 of second-degree murder and child abuse in the beating death of his 2-year-old stepson at their home.

Afterward, a juror from Nigeria who is a legal resident of the United States expressed concern that he was not an American citizen.

He said that he missed references to citizenship on a juror questionnaire and learned of the requirement on the night of the verdict.

Maryland law states that jurors must be eligible to vote, which requires U.S. citizenship.

Owens asked for a retrial, but was denied by Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure, who wrote that there was “no evidence” to suggest that the Nigerian juror denied Owens a fair trial.

Maryland’s second-highest court agreed Thursday, saying that the juror’s questionnaire response was unintentional and that Owens was not prejudiced by the action.

Court of Special Appeals Judge Ellen L. Hollander wrote that Judge Leasure’s decision was “well reasoned.”

Police charged Owens after receiving a July 30, 2003, call from Howard County General Hospital doctors, who reported that the child’s death appeared suspicious.

A doctor who testified in Owens’ trial said that the child’s “massive injuries” were akin to “someone that fell off a building.”

Owens was the only adult near the child in the hours before his death, police said.

Owens was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Tempers flare in comptroller’s race

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer yesterday accused his chief rival for the Democratic nomination — Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens — of basing her campaign to unseat him on age discrimination.

In a letter to Mrs. Owens, Mr. Schaefer, 84, said that he has taken umbrage at her comments that talking to him about running for his job resembled telling a grandfather it was time to give up the car keys.

He has since responded with a flurry of gibes, calling Mrs. Owens, 62, “little prissy miss” and saying that she dresses like Mother Hubbard.

Mrs. Owens’ campaign declined to comment on the letter.

About a dozen Schaefer supporters gathered in Baltimore’s Fells Point to distribute copies of his letter. Mr. Schaefer didn’t attend.

Meanwhile, Delegate Peter V.R. Franchot of Montgomery County, who also is seeking the Democratic nomination for comptroller, said it’s time for his two primary opponents to stop trading insults and talk about the issues.

Mr. Franchot said that he is the only true Democrat in the race and that Mrs. Owens and Mr. Schaefer are too close to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican seeking re-election.


Police charge teen with murder

Baltimore County police have arrested a 16-year-old wanted in connection with a July murder.

Franklin Leroy Smith is charged with first-degree murder as an adult in the shooting death of Warren Porter, 24.

Mr. Porter was shot July 26 at an apartment and died the next day.

Mr. Porter had just been released from jail the day before he was shot.

Police said they learned that Mr. Porter had robbed the Smith youth before going to jail and that the youth told friends he would get his revenge when Mr. Porter was released.

Franklin was arrested without incident and is being held without bail at Baltimore County Detention Center.



Kaine seeks disaster aid for localities

Twenty-five localities in Virginia need federal disaster declarations entitling them to government aid for damage from Tropical Storm Ernesto, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said in a letter to President Bush.

Virginia incurred an estimated $104 million in damage from the storms that began Aug. 29, Mr. Kaine wrote in his letter yesterday to the White House.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, has asked Mr. Bush to extend federal individual assistance to residents in Accomack, Gloucester, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland and Richmond counties and the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson and Richmond.

He has sought help for local governments covering the costs of cleanup, repair and recovery in the same localities plus Caroline, Charles City, Dinwiddie, Essex, Isle of Wight, James City, King William, New Kent, Northampton, Southampton, Surry, Sussex, Westmoreland and York counties.


Marijuana worth $670,000 recovered

A tip led Culpeper County police to a bust that uncovered $670,000 in marijuana.

Culpeper County Sheriff H. Lee Hart said it was a joint operation between his office and the Blue Ridge Narcotics Task Force.

It took place in the Mitchells area of Culpeper County.

Sheriff Hart said the tip came from a hunter, but did not provide a name. Police said the plants were between four and 12 feet high and were about ready for harvesting.

Police are not clear on whether the marijuana was intended for local distribution or was headed elsewhere.

No one has been arrested. An investigation is continuing.


Settlement reached in boulder death

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against a coal mining company that was responsible for dislodging a half-ton boulder that rolled into a house and fatally crushed a toddler.

Wise County Circuit Judge Tammy S. McElyea’s handwritten notes said that the parents of Jeremy Kyle Davidson received $3 million to compensate for his death, the Roanoke Times reported yesterday.

The judge last month ordered the settlement agreement sealed in the suit against A&G; Coal Corp. and eight of its employees.

The lawsuit by Dennis and Cindy Davidson had sought $26.5 million from the company in the Aug. 20, 2004, death of the 3-year-old as he slept in his bed.

His 7-year-old brother and parents were not injured when the 1,000-pound boulder tumbled 650 feet and crashed through the family’s house.

Authorities decided last year not to pursue criminal charges against A&G; Coal.

A hearing is pending in A&G;’s appeal of a $15,000 fine it was assessed by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) for gross negligence related to the incident.

The company contends the fine, which was the maximum allowed at the time, is too steep.

A tougher law passed by the General Assembly after the boy’s death allows an assessment of $210,000 for a similar case.

DMME spokesman Mike Abbott said Thursday that he didn’t know when the hearing on the company’s appeal will be scheduled.

Passed in the 2005 session of the General Assembly, the tougher mining safety law also requires that mining companies develop plans to protect people in any area that may be affected by falling, sliding or other uncontrolled movement of material.


9/11 memorial rises in Shenandoah Valley

Mark Cline, a self-described entertainer known for his elaborate roadside sculptures, got serious with his latest project.

Mr. Cline took two 40-foot storage containers, painted them white, and adorned them with yellow ribbon and American flags to represent the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

With the help of volunteers Thursday, he set them up on a hill overlooking Buena Vista.

The display will remain there three months.

Mr. Cline said that he didn’t want anyone to mistake this effort for a “publicity stunt.”

The city of Buena Vista will use the display as a backdrop for a memorial service Monday, the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Mr. Cline, 45, makes whimsical fiberglass figures at his Enchanted Castle Studios in Natural Bridge.

Two years ago, he created a foam replica of Stonehenge in Natural Bridge and called it Foamhenge.

Students from Southern Virginia University sanded and painted the towers.

A Boy Scout troop donated the American flags, and a crew from Dominion Virginia Power installed cables to anchor the two towers to the ground.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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