- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007


Second fire prompts school evacuation

For the second time in two days, a fire prompted the evacuation of Kelly Miller Middle School in Northeast.

An arson investigator was at the school looking into Wednesday’s suspicious locker fires when smoke was reported in the building at about 11 a.m. yesterday, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

An investigation determined that the smoke was coming from a trash can on the first floor.

The entire school had to be evacuated, and the cause of the fire is under investigation, Mr. Etter said.

Wednesday’s fires were traced to a pair of lockers. The school had to be ventilated before students were able to return.



Cup-throwing mom released from jail

A mother of three who hurled a McDonald’s cup of ice into a car that cut her off on Interstate 95 last summer was released from jail yesterday, a day after being spared a two-year prison term.

Jessica Hall, 25, of Jacksonville, N.C., on Wednesday was ordered released from jail and sentenced to probation for the offense. But Hall had remained jailed on an outstanding warrant from Mississippi for writing bad checks. She was released after the costs of the checks were covered.

Hall, whose husband is serving his third tour in Iraq, said her more than a month in jail was “an experience and a lesson” that brought her closer to God.

“I don’t want to ever have this lesson taught to me again,” she said.

A jury last month found her guilty of maliciously throwing a missile into an occupied vehicle, a felony in Virginia with a minimum sentence of two years in prison.


Aircraft crashes in Virginia creek

An aircraft with one person aboard went into Locklies Creek in Middlesex County yesterday afternoon, and a private boat picked up the pilot, Virginia State Police said.

The pilot was taken to a hospital by air ambulance from an airfield nearby. The extent of the pilot’s injuries was not clear, said Sgt. D.S. Carr, a state police spokesman.

The crash was reported shortly after 1:30 p.m. off the Rappahannock River, Sgt. Carr said.


Guardsman pleads guilty to ID theft

A Virginia National Guard specialist has admitted that he used his access to military personnel records to steal identities and commit bank fraud.

Jerry Crockett, 28, of Triangle, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to bank fraud and aggravated identity-theft charges, federal officials said. The former Marine faces up to 32 years in prison when he is sentenced May 11.

Prosecutors said he opened bank accounts and cashed fraudulent checks worth about $120,000.

The Virginia Guard is moving to discharge Crockett, who joined the National Guard last January and worked from May through August as a recruiter aide in Alexandria, Col. Robert Simpson said.

The Guard now has controls in place to prevent unauthorized access, Col. Simpson said.



Fire department training chief fired

Mayor Sheila Dixon yesterday dismissed the Baltimore Fire Department’s division chief of training as she cracks down on the lapses that led to the death of a trainee during a firefighting exercise.

Division Chief of Training Kenneth Hyde was suspended without pay after the death of Racheal Wilson, 29.

Lt. Joseph Crest and Lt. Larry Broyles were suspended for 60 days without pay, Miss Dixon said. Lt. Crest was the lead firefighter instructor at the city’s training academy.

Miss Wilson collapsed Feb. 9 during a firefighting exercise and died after being taken to the hospital.

The mayor said she was shocked and upset by a preliminary report of the incident and has ordered a panel of fire experts to conduct a full independent review of the department’s training practices.


Mayor charged with theft, forgery

Mayor Myles Spires Jr. faces a seven-count indictment on charges including theft, embezzlement, misconduct in office and forgery, prosecutors said.

The indictment says Mr. Spires collected $2,500 by submitting false reimbursement forms for private investigative services. He also is charged with forging a town resolution that allowed him to be reimbursed by the town for personal legal fees.

Last year, Mr. Spires’ predecessor, Joyce Beck, was forced out of office over charges that she slammed the door on a police officer’s arm. Miss Beck was cleared of assault charges.


Police investigate assault on student

Prince George’s County police are investigating a report that a student was assaulted at Stephen Decatur Middle School.

School officials said three adults attacked a 13-year-old boy who had been in a fight with another student at lunchtime Wednesday. The assault occurred in the principal’s office. Portions of the incident were recorded by the school’s video surveillance system.

A spokesman for the Prince George’s school system said school staffers intervened and called police. The principal was able to get the license plate number of the vehicle that the adults were riding in before they drove away.

The father of the boy who was attacked took his son to the hospital for treatment of bruises, abrasions and other injuries.


Man gets probation for gun at BWI

A Baltimore man caught last September with a loaded gun at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport received a suspended sentence Wednesday.

DeJuan Hunter, 36, pleaded guilty to a handgun charge in January and was sentenced to probation and community service. He served 30 days in jail while his case was pending.

A security screener at the Southwest Airlines terminal found the gun in a carry-on bag Sept. 22. When the screener went to get a supervisor, Hunter left. A fingerprint in the bag led police to arrest him in October.

The discovery of the gun forced delays and cancellations for more than a dozen flights.

Hunter said he forgot the gun was in the bag. He apologized for the problems he caused.


Man charged in hotel robberies

A D.C. man faces felony charges in Montgomery County in connection with a series of hotel robberies.

Anthony Bryant, 40, was arrested after managers of two hotels on Rockville Pike contacted police about incidents in their establishments.

The manager of a Ramada Inn said a man who implied that he had a weapon passed a note announcing a robbery about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. He fled without getting any money.

While officers were investigating that incident, the manager of the nearby DoubleTree Hotel approached them and told them that he was following a man who had robbed his hotel. Mr. Bryant was arrested a short time later.

He has been charged with attempted robbery in the Ramada incident and robbery in the DoubleTree case. Mont-gomery police have also linked him to robberies at two other hotels in the county this month.


Bigamist gets one-year sentence

A man who married his mistress so his employer would pay her moving expenses has been sentenced to a year in jail for bigamy.

William A. Moats, 36, of Hagerstown, said a drug addiction contributed to his decision to marry Karen E. Holder on Jan. 3, 2003, less than four months after he married Sandra L. Clipp. Moats and Mrs. Clipp have since divorced.

During a hearing in Frederick County Circuit Court on Wednesday, Assistant Public Defender Stephen Musselman said the lure of an out-of-state job played a part in Moats’ case. The company wouldn’t pay for Holder’s share of the moving expenses unless she was married to Moats, Mr. Musselman said.

Moats pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to one count of bigamy. The offense is a felony punishable by up to nine years in prison.


Gunman chose not to escape liquor store

A gunman who perished in a strip-mall fire after shooting at police started the blaze with a lighter or match in a liquor store’s back room, investigators concluded yesterday.

James C. Douglas, 29, could have escaped the fire but chose not to and died from smoke in-halation, Lt. Thomas Chase said.

The reports by the Frederick Police Department and the Maryland state fire marshal ended their investigation into the fire Monday that destroyed the two-story Antietam Village Center and 11 businesses, including the liquor store where the incident began.

Authorities don’t know why Douglas locked himself in the store after ordering the owner to leave, why he set the fire and why he didn’t flee the flames, Lt. Chase said.

Douglas’ remains were found Tuesday and identified Wednesday. Investigators also recovered a .25-caliber handgun from the liquor store with a live round in the chamber and an additional round in the magazine, Lt. Chase said.

The shopping center didn’t have a sprinkler system, but city planners were told in 1982 that it was supposed to have one before it opened in 1984.

The Frederick News Post reported that an October 1982 letter from the city engineering department said a sprinkler system would have to be provided inside the building.


1990 murder solved with DNA

State police recently solved a 16-year-old murder case that went cold when the suspected killer of a Towson man couldn’t be located.

State police recently closed their investigation of the murder of Leonard Steele after they learned that their primary suspect, Carlos Luiz Cruz, committed suicide in a Florida prison in 2004, 1st Sgt. Russell Newell said.

Fingerprints and DNA gathered from saliva on a bite mark linked Cruz to the murder, police said.

Mr. Steele, 42, was found on an access road near the Mason-Dixon Sand and Gravel Pit off Route 40 in April 1990. He had been strangled.


Ranting woman charged with abuse

A woman faces several charges including false imprisonment and disorderly conduct in connection with a series of rants and a child-abuse case.

Amanda Smith, 24, was removed from an auto-parts store Tuesday because she was being disorderly, Easton police said. A short time later, she was accused of causing a disturbance at a restaurant by swearing, yelling and refusing to leave.

When officers tried to arrest her, she resisted, then complained about stomach pains, police said. Miss Smith continued yelling in the emergency room, police said.

Police, meanwhile, charged Miss Smith on Tuesday with locking a 13-year-old boy in a closet at their home Saturday.

Miss Smith is charged with child abuse, assault, false imprisonment and disorderly conduct.


Roosevelt bridge lane closure set

The District Department of Transportation will close the far right lane on the outbound Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow for routine maintenance.

DDOT also will be closing the ramps from the bridge to Route 50 West and the George Washington Parkway northbound.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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