- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007



Student sentenced in fatal house fire

A University of Maryland student who admitted setting a fatal fire in College Park was sentenced Friday to 37 years in prison.

Daniel Murray, 21, pleaded guilty in November to felony murder, reckless endangerment and destruction of property in the 2005 fire that killed fellow student Michael Scrocca, 22, a senior.

Relatives and friends of Mr. Scrocca testified at the sentencing hearing they were devastated by his death. Prosecutors played recordings of Murray trying to persuade fellow detainees at the Prince George’s County detention center to have their girlfriends testify they had seen someone else set the fire. Murray reportedly was harassed by a partier at the house where the fire occurred. He returned hours later and started the fire.

Circuit Court Judge Thomas Smith said he was troubled that about a half-dozen of Murray’s friends and acquaintances knew for about a year but said nothing about his actions.


Behavior not criminal, Naval Academy says

Naval Academy officials say a preliminary investigation into accusations of lewd behavior and heavy drinking on a Caribbean cruise found eight to 10 midshipmen demonstrated “immature” but not criminal behavior.

The investigation determined that 37 midshipmen were on the Carnival cruise ship Glory during the Academy’s spring break earlier in March. Academy officials say the investigation is continuing.



Slavery reconciliation monument unveiled

Officials yesterday unveiled the city’s slavery reconciliation monument.

The unveiling completed a decade-long effort linking Richmond with two other slavery hubs — Liverpool, England, and Benin, West Africa — that are making amends for their part in slavery.

Matching statues have been placed in all three cities: Liverpool, where empty slave ships set sail; Benin, where slaves were captured; and Richmond, where slaves were taken.

The monument is a collection of benches, a fountain and a 1-ton sculpture of two hugging figures.

The inscription states: “Acknowledge and forgive the past. Embrace the present. Shape a future of reconciliation and justice.”

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat who spoke at the memorial, said Virginia was not an innocent bystander in the matter of slavery.


Presbyterian seminary names new president

The Rev. Brian K. Blount, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, has been named president of Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education.

Mr. Blount, 50, succeeds the Rev. Louis B. Weeks, who will retire June 30 after 13 years as president of the Richmond seminary.

A Smithfield native, Mr. Blount served as pastor of Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church, in Newport News, from 1982 to 1988. For the past 15 years, he has taught the New Testament to students preparing for ministry at the seminary in Princeton, N.J.


Teens killed in car crash

Two teenage girls were killed Friday night when their car was struck in the rear while at a stoplight.

The victims have been identified as Allison Kunhardt, 17, and Tessa Pranchant, 16. A police spokesman said the car was being driven by Miss Kunhardt and was stopped at a light on Virginia Beach Boulevard when it was hit by a vehicle driven by Alfredo Ramos, 22. Mr. Ramos has been charged with two counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter and is being held without bond in jail.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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