- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Anti-collision devices tested on buses

Metro is testing a new safety device to help prevent bus collisions.

The transit agency installed the ultrasonic detection system on 50 buses in Northern Virginia. It is designed to help bus drivers avoid objects in their most critical blind spots — along the sides of the buses.

Each bus is outfitted with six sensors, which emit a high-frequency sound wave. The waves bounce off large objects and echo back to the bus. If another vehicle gets too close, dashboard warning lights and an alarm alert the driver. But the technology is not meant to detect pedestrians, although it will often do so, according to the manufacturer.

The bus upgrades cost Metro $150,000 for the 50 buses. If the yearlong pilot program is successful, Metro said, it may order the system for all new buses or even retrofit the entire fleet.


Gallaudet protesters won’t be punished

Protesters who effectively shut down Gallaudet University’s campus last fall will be not be punished further, President Robert R. Davila said in a “video blog” Monday.

“[N]o student who was arrested will receive additional punishment in any way or form,” Mr. Davila said.

Student protesters who expressed outrage about the selection of the university’s next president protested until the board of trustees scuttled the appointment of Jane K. Fernandes and appointed Mr. Davila to serve as interim president.

In an interview last week with a Salt Lake City radio station, Mr. Davila said the “protests were very much a part of young people… and so I have no problem with that right to protest.”

Graham aims to restrict minors at D.C. bars

D.C. Council member Jim Graham yesterday introduced legislation that would restrict the presence of minors at bars and clubs during late-night hours, a response to the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old on Jan. 20 at a nightclub in Northwest.

The shooting of Taleshia Ford highlighted what Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said is a lack of restrictions in the District on minors attending bars, clubs and restaurants where alcohol is served.

His bill would require establishments serving alcohol to apply for special permission to admit people younger than 21 after 11 p.m. In order to obtain approval from the director of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Admini-stration, the establishment must submit a detailed security plan that includes, among other requirements, the location’s procedures for ensuring only people older than 21 are served alcohol.

The permit would cost $375. The bill also includes an attendance exception for minors accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

“There will undoubtedly be changes” to the bill, Mr. Graham said. “But we need to start now. I did not want to delay another day on this issue.”



Purse snatcher gets 7-year sentence

A man who snatched a purse containing no money will spend more than seven years behind bars.

David Lee Keys, 41, pleaded guilty Monday to robbery in Fredericksburg Circuit Court. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but seven years and three months suspended as part of a plea agreement.

On Nov. 22, Keys approached two women walking home from a restaurant. He asked to use their cell phone and offered to give them a ride if they gave him money, police said.

The women ran off, but Keys caught up with them, knocked one to the ground and stole her purse. He then jumped into a car and rode off.

Police identified Alphonso Ford Jr., 41, of Fredericksburg, as the driver. He is charged with larceny.

The woman who was robbed was not seriously injured.


Woman battles rabid cat outside home

Bleeding and wearing only a housecoat, a woman upended an attacking, rabid cat in the street in front of her home.

Isabelle Blankenship, 85, had gone out Friday morning to retrieve her paper when the stray cat attacked her, biting her twice in the leg and once on her hand.

Authorities said Monday that an examination of the cat revealed the presence of rabies.

Miss Blankenship managed to grab the cat’s tail, and she beat the animal against a utility pole until it stopped fighting.

Neighbor Ashley Altice, 17, heard the commotion and told her mother to call 911. The girl put her foot on the cat’s head while her sister, Tina, followed Miss Blankenship into her house. Miss Blankenship received prompt rabies care.

Thirty cases of rabid animals have been confirmed in the state this year, slightly below average, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The state averages 537 confirmed cases a year.


Man jailed for using pigeon to beat car

A man who took off his clothes and hit a car with a dead pigeon outside a home was sentenced to a year in prison for animal cruelty.

Juan Pablo Lopez of Virginia Beach, who was 30 at the time of the incident in July, was sentenced Monday.

Lopez pleaded guilty last year to burglary, obstruction of justice and animal cruelty. He received no time for the burglary and obstruction charges.

Police said Lopez broke into the home, destroyed bird cages and freed some chickens and pigeons and killed several of them.

The homeowners pulled into their driveway when Lopez came running out naked, bashed a dead bird against their car and ran away.


Doctor indicted in OxyContin sting

A Clarksville doctor was indicted yesterday on charges that he illegally wrote a prescription for OxyContin and exchanged that prescription for what he thought was crack cocaine.

Federal prosecutors said Dr. James Stanley Ross, 53, is charged with unlawfully distributing 60 dosage units of OxyContin without a legitimate medical purpose.

He was arrested Jan. 17 after he handed the prescription to a police informant in return for what Dr. Ross thought was crack, police said.

Dr. Ross faces 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

He could lose his license to practice medicine.



Electrical fire displaces residents

No one was injured, but about 150 people who live at an apartment complex were put out of their homes because of an electrical fire yesterday morning.

A resident of the Cider Mill Apartments on Lost Knife Circle discovered the fire in a laundry room, Montgomery County fire officials said.

Firefighters put it out quickly, but power to several buildings was cut off.

The management company is helping the residents find a place to stay.


Mother gets 12 years for newborn’s death

A Glen Burnie woman who beat her newborn to death, then tried to blame the crime on the girl’s 3-year-old brother, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Arkia L. Douglas was convicted in November of child abuse resulting in death.

Deputy State’s Attorney Laura Kiessling said 13-day-old La’Monica Douglas had five “impact sites” on her head, skull fractures and bleeding and bruising on her brain.

Douglas told police that she thought her son Wayne must have dropped La’Monica, but specialists said there was no way injuries so serious could have happened by accident or been caused by a toddler.

When police asked the boy what had happened, Wayne said, “Mommy did it.” Asked to demonstrate on a doll, the boy shook it and threw it on the sofa.

Wayne, now 4, is living with Douglas’ mother, who won custody of him.


Founder of AmeriDebt testifies about finances

A court-appointed receiver wants the founder of a credit-counseling firm accused of cheating thousands of debtors held in contempt of court.

An attorney for the receiver told a federal judge yesterday that Andris Pukke is hiding assets after agreeing to contribute millions of dollars to help repay the debtors.

Now-defunct AmeriDebt is charged with making $172 million through hidden fees it charged 300,000 customers who sought credit counseling.

Hiding the assets would violate the terms of a 2006 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that set up a restitution fund of up to $35 million.

So far, only about $10 million of Mr. Pukke’s money has been turned over to the FTC.

In testimony yesterday, Mr. Pukke said the attorney was overstating his control over money.


Wood stove cited as house fire cause

Montgomery County investigators think a malfunctioning wood stove is to blame for a fire yesterday that severely damaged a house and left a family temporarily homeless.

The fire broke out in the basement of a single-family home in the 300 block of Market Street just before 8:30 a.m.

The homeowner lighted a wood stove that hadn’t been used recently, then went out for breakfast. When he came home, the house was on fire, fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said.

No one was injured.

Damage is estimated at about $700,000.


Teacher accused of sexual abuse

A Woodlawn High School technology teacher is charged with sexual abuse of a student.

Parris McGhee-Bey, 57, of the Gwynn Oak area, is accused of having sexual contact with a girl in November and December in his office at the school. According to court documents, the girl had been performing after-school office work for Mr. McGhee-Bey to complete community-service requirements for school.

The Baltimore County school system said Mr. McGhee-Bey is still employed but is no longer working in the classroom. Court documents said he denied the incidents during police interviews.

Mr. McGhee-Bey is charged with sex abuse of a minor, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses and perverted practice.


Forestville man faces murder charge

A Prince George’s County man faces first-degree murder and 22 other charges in the death of an Elkton teen shot in the head during a robbery.

Shiloh Demetris Beale, 29, of Forestville, was arrested Friday, Elkton Police Lt. Lawrence Waldridge Jr. said.

Prosecutors say Mr. Beale and another man, whom police haven’t identified, were at the apartment when William Joseph Clark, 18, was shot. Mr. Clark and five others were in the apartment when two men tried to rob them, and Mr. Clark resisted and was shot once in the head, police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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