- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007


Officer dies of accident injuries

A D.C. police officer injured during a traffic control assignment Friday died yesterday at Washington Hospital Center.

Officer Wayne Pitt, 57, was escorting a Holy Week procession when he got out of his patrol car to try to stop a motor scooter from entering the route.

When he realized his car was still in gear, he tried to get back inside. The car struck the scooter, a Metrobus and a tree. Officer Pitt suffered internal injuries.

Officer Pitt joined the Metropolitan Police Department four years ago after spending 20 years as an officer on the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., police force.



Inmate pleads guilty to 1982 rape

An inmate whose implication by DNA evidence in a 1982 rape and murder allowed another man to be freed from death row pleaded guilty yesterday to rape and capital murder.

Kenneth Tinsley admitted that he raped Rebecca Lynn Williams in her Culpeper apartment. He did not admit he killed the 19-year-old mother of three but conceded the state’s evidence could have proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, Tinsley was sentenced to two consecutive life terms. He already was serving two life terms for a rape in Albemarle County.

Earl Washington Jr. spent 18 years in prison for Miss Williams’ murder. Mr. Washington, who is mentally retarded, confessed to the slaying and was convicted and sentenced to death. He came within nine days of execution before DNA cleared him.


Man charged in minister’s death

A man charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of the minister of a rural county church was arraigned yesterday.

Charles Vincent Cobler did not enter a plea in Franklin County General District Court. Mr. Cobler is charged with first-degree murder in the death of the Rev. Nancy Copin, 60.

Miss Copin’s body was found last week in her home, the parsonage of Snow Creek Christian Church. An official said she died of blunt force trauma.

Mr. Cobler is being held without bond and a preliminary hearing is set for June 14.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Cliff Hapgood said it hasn’t been determined whether more charges will be filed. The investigation is continuing.

Mr. Cobler was arrested in Ohio on Sunday on unrelated charges and returned to Franklin County. Franklin authorities went to Ohio to assist in surveillance of a vehicle linked to Mr. Cobler.



House fire leaves seven homeless

Seven persons were left homeless after a fire tore through a house yesterday.

No one was injured, but the fire caused extensive damage to the first and second floors of the house.

Fire officials say the cause, thought to be accidental, is under investigation.

One adult and five children — ages 15 months to 13 years old — escaped safely.

Lt. Ron Faulconer said the Red Cross is helping the displaced residents find shelter. He estimated the damage at $50,000.


‘Guitar King’ reunited with custom instrument

A custom-made double-neck guitar stolen more than 50 years ago from a teenage musician has been returned to its owner.

The electric guitar-and-mandolin combination was made in 1952 as a gift for Jimmy Luttrell, who was 11 at the time and toured with family members.

The guitar was stolen in Albany, Calif., in 1955 and eventually forgotten by Mr. Luttrell, until he received a call from a man in Mexico a few years ago who had purchased the guitar and tracked its origins.

The man wanted to sell the guitar for $30,000, but Mr. Luttrell declined. Later, a Leesburg man bought the guitar for $1,500, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said. That man also contacted Mr. Luttrell.

Mr. Luttrell called the sheriff’s office, which tracked the guitar back to Mexico but was unable to determine who actually stole it. Sheriff’s spokesman Kraig Troxell said the Leesburg man who bought the guitar volunteered to return it to Mr. Luttrell when he learned that it had been stolen.

Mr. Luttrell, now 65 and living in Fremont, Calif., where he still records under the name of “the Guitar King,” said the guitar remains in excellent condition. He said he has looked through numerous guitar books and thinks it is one of a kind.


City, Indian tribe settle reservoir battle

City officials have two weeks to pay the Mattaponi Indian Tribe $650,000 as settlement in a 10-year-old lawsuit that stemmed from the controversial King William reservoir, officials announced this week.

The city will pay the tribe as a compromise to resolve the disputes concerning the tribe’s water rights that date back to a 1677 treaty.

It clears the way for the reservoir project, stalled by battles with Indian leaders and environmentalists as the city paid millions in legal fees. In February, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging a decision letting Newport News continue to work on the 12.2-billion-gallon reservoir.

Mattaponi leaders filed suit to challenge the Virginia State Water Control Board’s permit for the project in 1998. The matter had been set to go to trial in June — potentially costing the city $800,000 in fees for attorneys and expert witnesses, Mayor Joe S. Frank said.

Newport News Waterworks has worked for more than a decade toward building the reservoir, which developers say would address long-range water needs for the peninsula. Construction originally expected to begin in 2011.


Bald eagle found injured along road

A bald eagle was recovering yesterday after possibly being hit by a car.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office rescued the eagle yesterday morning off U.S. 17 after getting a call about the bird being on the side of a road. Two animal control officers picked up the eagle, which had an injured left wing.

Authorities said the small, male eagle appeared to have been attracted to the area by fresh road kill. Police think it was accidentally hit by a car that did not stop and there will be no charges filed.

Officials with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries took the eagle to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro. They said the eagle may have injured the wing during a fight with another bird but suspect it was hit by a car.



Road rage incident leaves two dead

A man and woman exchanging obscene gestures with the driver of another vehicle as they sped along Interstate 270 were killed early yesterday when their car hit a guardrail and flipped into the air, police said.

Police identified the driver as Christian M. Luciano, 28, and the passenger as Lindsay L. Bender, 25, both of Harrisburg, Pa.

Police said the accident occurred about 8 a.m. in the southbound lanes south of Park Mills Road.

Witnesses told police that the driver and passenger were exchanging obscene gestures with the driver of a green pickup truck for some distance as they headed south in commuter traffic.

The truck swerved into the left lane in front of the car, causing the driver to lose control, cross through the right-hand lane and hit the guardrail, Maryland State Police 1st Sgt. Russ Newell said. The car went airborne, flipped over the guardrail and struck several trees. Police said Mr. Luciano and Miss Bender were thrown onto the grassy area beyond the roadway. Neither was wearing a seat belt and both were pronounced dead on the scene, Sgt. Newell said.

The driver of the pickup truck did not stop and was being sought for questioning, Sgt. Newell said.

The accident closed the highway for about three hours.


Golf pro among city’s highest paid

A Frederick alderwoman wants the Board of Aldermen to examine how the city pays the head golf pro at Clustered Spires Golf Course.

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak-Ramsburg said the city pays golf pro Donald Frost more than $100,000 a year in salary and bonuses — in the neighborhood of salaries for the city’s three highest-paid positions: police chief and finance and budget directors.

Meanwhile, she said golfers pay Mr. Frost directly for lessons, and Mr. Frost does not compensate the city for the use of the golf course. Estimates suggest those services could bring in tens of thousands of dollars each year.

Mr. Frost said that allowing professionals compensation for lessons is golf industry standard and that it was in his original 1996 contract with the city.

Documents related to Mr. Frost’s compensation dating from 1997 don’t mention compensation for lessons, but do say Mr. Frost is to receive a percentage of golf course revenue.


Teen ‘playing’ with rifle shoots through floor

Annapolis police arrested a teenager who fired a rifle through the floor of his apartment and into the bedroom below.

Police said John Simms, 18, of Annapolis, is charged with reckless endangerment, destruction of property and discharging a firearm within city limits.

About midnight Tuesday, police said the man who lives below Mr. Simms on Captains Circle heard a gunshot. When he examined his apartment, he told police the bullet came through the ceiling and stopped in his bedroom floor.

Mr. Simms told police that he accidentally fired the weapon. He said he was playing with it and didn’t know it was loaded.


Repeat sex offender released from jail

A repeat sex offender convicted of abusing two 3-year-old girls at a day care center has been released from jail after serving 27 months of a 36-month sentence.

James Allen Gregory, 62, was released as part of a binding plea deal in which he received a 15-year suspended sentence after conceding that the state had enough evidence to convict him of sexually abusing a minor in May.

According to court records, Gregory was wanted for violation of parole for child molestation charges in Washington state when he was hired as a handyman at the Rainbows and Reasons day care center in 2001.

He was charged with sexually abusing the 3-year-olds at the day care center and other locations.

Gregory has maintained his innocence.

Parents of the victims had wanted the case to go to trial, but prosecutors said the case was damaged when forensic evidence was temporarily misplaced.


Fire department official charged with larceny

A volunteer fire department treasurer wrote several department checks to pay his own expenses, Anne Arundel County police said.

Police said Kelly McColl was the treasurer for the Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Department from 2000 to 2005. Police began their investigation in January and said numerous questionable checks were discovered.

Starting in 2003, police said Mr. McColl used fire department checks to cover mortgage payments, credit cards and vehicle insurance payments.

He is charged with one count of theft over $500 and one count of a felony theft scheme.

Police said Mr. McColl didn’t keep ledgers of the accounts he was responsible for maintaining, and that several receipts, canceled checks, statements and invoices disappeared when he stopped serving as treasurer.

Police said the loss to the department totaled about $50,000.


Man pleads guilty in child-porn case

A Waldorf man faces a minimum of 15 years in prison for transmitting a pornographic video of a child on the Internet.

Richard Patrick Jackman pleaded guilty yesterday to sending the video with images of a young boy in a bathtub. The video was sent to an undercover agent working with the Innocent Images Task Force in Buffalo, N.Y.

Federal prosecutors said the incident occurred Jan. 10. Investigators who searched Jackman’s home found more than 600 pornographic images of children on his computer.

Jackman was already a registered sex offender. He is scheduled for sentencing June 20.

U.S. District Judge Roger Titus has the option of sentencing him to a minimum of 15 years and a maximum off 40 years in prison. Jackman also faces lifetime court supervision after his release.


Woman found dead at her work desk

Annapolis police said they are investigating how a woman died at her desk Monday.

Police said the 59-year-old woman was working at Middleton’s Tavern at 2 Market Place on City Dock. She was found slumped over a desk just before midnight Monday.

Police said paramedics were unable to revive her.

Police said her cause of death is an unknown medical condition. They say there were no signs of foul play.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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