- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

RICHMOND — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has appointed a former Roanoke judge and a specialist on the rights of victims and services for witnesses of crime to complete a panel that will study the Virginia Tech massacre.

Judge Diane Strickland, a specialist on the issue of involuntary commitment of people with mental problems, and Carroll Ann Ellis, of Fairfax, will serve on the panel, Mr. Kaine’s office said Saturday.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, appointed six of the panel’s members last week, including its leader, retired Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Gerald Massengill, and the country’s first Homeland Security secretary, Tom Ridge.

Thirty-two students and faculty were killed in the April 16 massacre, in the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history. The 23-year-old gunman committed suicide.

Among the major questions the panel will probe are communication about the mental-health history of the gunman, Seung-hui Cho, and communications from Tech authorities to its students and employees once the violence had begun.

Judge Strickland was a Circuit Court judge in Roanoke County and the cities of Roanoke and Salem from 1989 to 2003 and prior to that was a judge in General District Court. She has worked the past three years for a firm that specializes in mediation and arbitration and led a two-year study on the issue of involuntary mental commitment.

Mrs. Ellis heads the victim-services division for the Fairfax County Police Department, one of the largest in Virginia. She also trains authorities in other localities and provides them technical assistance on dealing with the families of murder victims. She is also on the faculty of the FBI Academy in Quantico, the National Victim Assistance Academy and Northern Virginia Community College.

Mr. Massengill said last week the panel hopes to finish its work and have its findings and recommendations ready before the General Assembly convenes again in January. In addition, Mr. Ridge, now a Washington consultant, said he would help press Congress for changes in federal law that the panel identifies.

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