- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2007


City appeals handgun ruling

D.C. officials asked a federal appeals court yesterday to reconsider its ruling striking down the District’s handgun ban, warning that the decision creates a precedent that could severely limit any kind of gun control.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision March 9 that some of the District’s gun-control provisions are unconstitutional. The court rejected the city’s argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies only to state militias.

Yesterday’s petition by the city asks for a new hearing before all 11 judges of the appeals court.

Attorneys for the District argued that the decision contradicts previous Supreme Court rulings and the decisions of other federal appeals courts.

“If the panel majority’s holding remains unchanged, it will severely limit the authority of both the District government and Congress to legislate in ways that they believe will best protect citizens and law-enforcement officers from gun violence and ultimately save lives,” the lawyers wrote in their petition.

D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer said she expected the court to decide by June whether or not the full panel will consider the case. If it does, arguments could be heard again in the fall.

If the petition is rejected, D.C. officials will consider whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.



Passer-by fatally shot in drive-by shooting

Shooters aiming at a group of teenagers just out of Easter church services killed a passer-by in a drive-by shooting Sunday afternoon, police said.

The victim, identified only as a man in his 40s, was shot about a block from First Baptist Church of South Richmond.

Witnesses said the shooters were aiming at seven or eight teenage boys who were members of the church.

Police department spokeswoman Mary-Hope Gangwer said the shooting may have been related to an argument in the area on Saturday night, but she did not elaborate.

Police are looking for at least three persons in connection with the shooting.


Mother of crash victims dies in I-81 accident

A Waynesboro woman who sued a trucking company over the traffic death of her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren on Interstate 81 three years ago has died in a car crash on the same highway.

Virginia State Police said Kathy Chesney, 54, died early Saturday after losing control of her car on an icy bridge in Pulaski County.

Her ex-husband, Ed Armstrong, said Mrs. Chesney was driving to a sister’s home in Knoxville, Tenn., to celebrate Easter when she lost control of her vehicle.

In March 2004, Edward Armstrong III, 32, his wife, Melissa, 26, and their two children, Brittany and Edward, died when a truck driver smashed into their car on I-81 in Tennessee.

The truck driver, Nasko Nazov of Illinois, was convicted of reckless homicide and was sentenced to four years in prison. Nazov later was involved in a national license-for-bribe investigation that nabbed hundreds of truckers, driving schools and government officials.


‘Homeless’ students get economics lesson

About 20 University of Mary Washington students each recently lived on just $10 for five days as part of a economics project.

A few Mary Washington students went Dumpster diving for stale bagels.

They gathered pieces of cardboard behind a shopping center to build a “shanty town” on campus and took stakes from a construction site to put up a makeshift tent for their little village.

The assignment showed students firsthand why poor people struggle to save money. They used their limited funds for necessities such as food and soap but could ask strangers for additional goods.

Economics professor Shawn Humphrey joined them at the shanty town. Mr. Humphrey started what he calls the “Living on Two Dollars a Day” project at Mary Washington last semester and hopes to do it annually.

Throughout the week, the students encouraged others to donate money that will provide business loans for poor entrepreneurs in developing countries.


TV show leads to arrest of suspect

Police in Wisconsin have arrested a suspect in a Virginia rape after he was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.”

Willie Cardell Sanders, 46, is accused of abducting, beating and raping an 18-year-old in August in Newport News, according to the show’s Web site. He was featured in Saturday night’s episode.

Milwaukee police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said Mr. Sanders was arrested Sunday night after police received a tip. He is charged with two counts of forcible sodomy and abduction.



Teacher charged with sex abuse

Baltimore County police have charged a teacher with sexually abusing a student at Chesapeake High School earlier in this school year.

Police said a friendship between Christian Marcel Liverman, 30, and the girl escalated from e-mail messages to after-school meetings and sexual contact.

They said the relationship ended in January, but rumors reached school officials, who notified police. Police said the student revealed details of the relationship, and Mr. Liverman was charged with perverted practice and one count of second-degree child abuse.

Mr. Liverman’s status with the school system could not immediately be determined, but police said he no longer teaches at the high school.


Missing mother added to FBI list

A woman whose four children were found slain and whose husband hanged himself in the family’s Frederick townhouse was added yesterday to the FBI’s national list of missing persons.

The text accompanying Deysi M. Benitez’s photo on the FBI’s Web site contains a new alias — Rosi Chavez, also spelled Chaves — in addition to an alias previously released by police, Estela Sedillo.

Special Agent Michelle Crnkovich, a spokeswoman in the FBI’s Baltimore office, declined to comment on how authorities learned of the second alias.

Mrs. Benitez, 25, a legal immigrant from El Salvador who spoke mostly Spanish, was last seen on the evening of March 18 by a neighbor, the FBI posting said.

Her husband, Pedro Rodri-guez, 28, was last seen alive by a neighbor the same day, outside the family’s home. The bodies of Mr. Rodriguez and the couple’s children — Elsa, 9; Vanessa, 4; Angel, 3; and Carena, 1 — were found March 26 by authorities summoned to the home after the two oldest children had missed a week of school.

Autopsies showed that the three girls were suffocated, and Angel, the boy, was bludgeoned in the head.

Investigators are pursuing a rumor that Mrs. Benitez is in Honduras, Frederick police Lt. Thomas Chase said. He would not say how or when police got the tip, but said it wasn’t new. “We’ve gotten one rumor, that’s all it is,” he said.

Asked whether he thinks Mrs. Benitez is alive, Lt. Chase said, “We’re pursuing it from both possibilities.”

The five bodies will be flown tomorrow to El Salvador for burial in the parents’ hometown of Sensuntepeque.

Relatives and co-workers have said the family struggled with language problems and financial difficulties and that the marriage was troubled. The parents and their oldest daughter were legal immigrants, while the three other children were born in the U.S.

Mr. Rodriguez learned March 15 that he would lose his job at a door-manufacturing plant scheduled to close in July. Mrs. Benitez worked in a restaurant kitchen.


Autopilot problem led to crash

A preliminary report into a fatal plane crash last month says the pilot reported an autopilot problem before the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board report says preliminary radar and voice data show that the pilot requested clearance to divert to Frederick. He was climbing at about 4,000 feet when he reported the autopilot problem.

Not long after the request, radar and radio contact were lost.

The Piper PA32-R crashed March 24 in a wooded suburban neighborhood in Baltimore County. Three men from Joppa died. They were identified as Theodore Ryder, 45; Paul Sorensen, 48, and Timothy Connor, 48.


Rape suspect found in Ohio

FBI officials in Baltimore say a fugitive wanted for robbing a man and raping two women in Baltimore County was arrested Friday morning.

Andre Evans, 31, was arrested at a home in Xenia, Ohio.

Baltimore County police said Mr. Evans and Robert Eubanks, 26, conspired to break into a house in the 11000 block of Bowerman Road in Essex last month.

After arranging a plan, the two men drove to the house, and Mr. Eubanks lured one of the women outside. Police said Mr. Evans then arrived with a gun and forced the woman inside. Once inside, Mr. Eubanks robbed the 50-year-old man and raped the women, who are in their 40s, police said.

Police said Mr. Evans waited outside. He is charged with one count of armed robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree rape and three counts of conspiracy to commit a first-degree sex offense.

The FBI also charged Mr. Evans with felony flight to avoid prosecution.

Mr. Eubanks was arrested March 23 and is charged with the same offenses, except for the FBI charge.


Court denies review of Bromwell decision

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the request by former state Sen. Thomas Bromwell and his wife, Mary Patricia, to review the decision to seize his property as part of a federal investigation on racketeering conspiracy charges, the court announced yesterday.

The Bromwells had asked for a rehearing of the Richmond-based court’s earlier decision, which held that the government was correct to seize about $250,000 worth of property during the probe.

Mr. Bromwell, 58, and his wife, were indicted in U.S. District Court in October 2005.

Federal prosecutors have accused Mr. Bromwell of accepting bribes from a construction company executive in exchange for help in securing publicly funded contracts.

In return for his influence, Mrs. Bromwell is accused of accepting a salary for a no-show job at a subcontractor controlled by the same construction company, Poole and Kent.

The Bromwells have denied the charges. Their trial is set to start in the fall.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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