- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

VIRGINIA

ALEXANDRIA

Two men fatally shot near housing project

Two men were killed early yesterday in Old Town, bringing the city’s homicide total to three this year. There were five homicides last year.

Police said two men were shot about 2:15 a.m. outside a public housing project in the 800 block of North Patrick Street (U.S. Route 1). The men suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were pronounced dead at a hospital.

The investigation closed a portion of northbound Route 1 for several hours as police looked for evidence.

The names of the two men have not been released pending notification of their families. Police have not been able to determine a motive for the shootings.

RICHMOND

Wife gets new trial in husband’s killing

The Virginia Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for a woman convicted of murdering her husband in their Caroline County home.

Donna Blanton was sentenced to 28 years in prison in the October 2003 shooting death of state police 1st Sgt. Taylor Blanton.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously ruled this week that prosecutor Harvey Latney improperly struck five women from the jury. At trial, Mr. Latney said the strikes weren’t racially motivated but didn’t comment on sex.

According to the appeals court, striking potential jurors solely based on race and sex violates the Constitution’s equal-protection clause.

Mr. Latney said he was disappointed by the decision. He said he intends to retry Mrs. Blanton on the same charges — first-degree murder and use of a firearm.

Defense attorney Mark Murphy declined to comment on the ruling.

DANVILLE

Two die in crash of small plane

Two persons were killed yesterday when a small plane crashed, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The plane was flying from Washington County, Pa., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., when the Danville airport and the city’s Emergency Operations Center received word that someone on board was having medical difficulties.

The wreckage of the single-engine, two-seat Grumman was found about 9:30 a.m. in a wooded creek bottom. First responders used chain saws to get to the wreckage.

Identities of the victims were not immediately available.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

Land purchase OK’d for Tubman center

The state Board of Public Works approved the purchase of land in Dorchester County for a visitors center showcasing abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s roots on the Eastern Shore.

The 20-acre site along Route 332 cost $208,000. The planned visitors center will cost more than $12 million. The location is near where Tubman was a slave before her escape.

Tubman led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, a network of shelters and hideouts extending from the slave states to the North.

The center will have displays about Tubman’s life, a memorial garden and will point the way to sites along the Underground Railroad.

ELKTON

Jailbreak accomplice remains at large

Authorities in Cecil County said a failed escape attempt March 18 at the county jail involved help from three persons on the outside.

The sheriff’s office said James Copenhaver, 24, of North East, cut a hole in the fence and he and two women entered the jail yard. Inmates lowered torn bedsheets to them, and the trio supplied hacksaws and a sledgehammer that the inmates hoisted inside.

Copenhaver is still at large. Karen Watkins, 24, of Newark, Del., and Serena Ortega, 18, are facing charges.

The sheriff’s office said Miss Ortega is the girlfriend of inmate Jeffrey Anderson. Anderson and fellow prisoner Travis McNeal are charged with attempted escape and destruction of property.

Authorities said the escape attempt failed and McNeal staged a fight that caused a riot.

PASADENA

Drugs killed man who resisted police

An autopsy that found a Pasadena man who died after a struggle with six Anne Arundel County police officers had no significant injuries on his body and that he died of “cocaine induced agitated delirium.”

The findings involve the December death of Steven Ellison, 24.

Officers investigating a report of an assault on Center Street became engaged in a violent struggle with Ellison while trying to handcuff him. After he was handcuffed, police said he stopped breathing and the officers tried to revive him.

The report does not say how much cocaine was in Ellison’s blood.

The department is reviewing the incident, and the primary officer involved remains on light duty.

WESTMINSTER

Twice-hit trooper nominated for award

Maryland State Police said one of their own who nearly died twice in the line of duty is up for a national award.

Police said Trooper 1st Class Eric Workman, 36, is among eight finalists in the competition sponsored by “America’s Most Wanted.” Trooper Workman is among the final eight after receiving more online votes than thousands of other nominees.

State troopers nominated Trooper Workman who is assigned to the Westminster barracks.

In 1998, he was struck by a car on the Capital Beltway while approaching another car that had been stopped for speeding. He was knocked into the air for 60 feet and was on life support for two weeks.

Last year, he was shot while serving an arrest warrant on a wanted felon. Police said he collapsed after returning fire and was placed on life support in critical condition. He returned to duty three months after the shooting.

BALTIMORE

Ex-officer accused of mail, wire fraud

A former Baltimore police officer is charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in an insurance scam.

The indictment says Michael Nelson, 26, filed false reports of a car theft, a burglary and a traffic accident to collect thousands of dollars in insurance claims. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

His wife, Tierra, faces the same charges and made a court appearance Wednesday.

Mr. Nelson resigned from the force in January after more than four years as an officer. The department said it has no indication that other officers were involved in the reported scheme.

ROCKVILLE

Man made threats using Va. Tech

A Montgomery County man has been arrested after referring to the Virginia Tech massacre during an apparent threat to his child’s elementary school.

County police said Larry Moore, 40, of Gaithersburg, was charged with making threatening phone calls and disruption of a school day.

Investigators said Mr. Moore telephoned Gaithersburg Elementary School yesterday morning, said his child was ill and asked that the child be kept inside during recess.

After Mr. Moore was told that he needed a note from the child’s doctor, police said he became agitated, and said that what happened at Virginia Tech could happen at Gaithersburg Elementary.

After the school staff called police, Mr. Moore called back and made more threats, police said.

After Mr. Moore’s call, the school’s exterior doors were locked but students were allowed to move about the school and continue with their classes.

BALTIMORE

Man pleads guilty in goose hunting sting

The charter boat captain and restaurant owner known as “Cap’n Buddy” pleaded guilty to illegally hunting Canada geese.

Levin Harrison, 73, entered the plea yesterday in federal court in Baltimore.

According to the plea deal, Harrison took two undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers on a hunting trip in January 2006, and he let them shoot four Canada geese apiece. The daily limit is two geese per person. He then posed for a picture with the agents and the eight geese they had killed.

Harrison was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and contribute $675 to the Wildlife Replacement Fund. He also must give up his commercial hunting guide’s license.

PRINCESS ANNE

O’Malley gets taste of life on a farm

Gov. Martin O’Malley — a city slicker by Eastern Shore standards — climbed into a chicken house and revved a tractor yesterday during a farm tour designed to highlight his interest in agriculture.

Mr. O’Malley, raised in Montgomery County and most recently mayor of very urban Baltimore, toured a poultry farm and learned about agricultural research as he touted the state budget recently approved by the Maryland legislature. The budget includes almost $9 million for cover crops — a record amount for the initiative to reduce harmful runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

The governor, a Democrat, also touted $3 million for a state agency charged with helping agricultural start-up businesses. That is up from about $1 million last year.

He spent the morning at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, where he toured the state’s only orchid greenhouse and learned about a manure spreader that places the manure a few inches underground to prevent nutrients from washing away and polluting nearby waterways.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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