- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007


Judge won’t dismiss Abu Ghraib charges

A military judge refused yesterday to dismiss the case against the only U.S. officer charged with crimes in the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal in Iraq.

Attorneys for Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan argued that the government exceeded a 120-day limit between charging him April 28 and arraigning him Jan. 30.

Col. Jordan, 50, a reservist from Fredericksburg, Va., directed the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib in the fall of 2003 and is accused of failing to exert his authority as prisoners were stripped naked, photographed in humiliating poses and intimidated by military dogs.

He also is accused of lying to investigators about abuses they say he witnessed.

Electrical fire damages apartments

An early morning electrical fire yesterday left one person homeless and caused extensive damage to an apartment building in Southeast.

Firefighters were called to the 2600 block of 29th Street just after 4 a.m. When they arrived, they found a two-story apartment building burning.

Investigators said the fire began in the basement of the building, which was being remodeled as part of a condominium conversion.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said investigators had not determined an estimate of the damage.

Zoo’s oldest elephant suffers blood clot

The National Zoo’s 59-year-old elephant seems to be recovering from some age-related health problems.

Last month, Ambika became sluggish and lost her appetite. Tests later revealed a low red blood cell count. Her appetite and blood cell count have nearly returned to normal in the past week.

Veterinarians performed an ultrasound exam and found excessive blood and a clot in Ambika’s reproductive tract. The cause of the bleeding was not clear.

Dr. Suzan Murray, the zoo’s chief veterinarian, said it may be caused by age-related changes that can be common in older elephants that have never given birth.

Ambika is one of the oldest Asian elephants in North America. She came to the zoo from India in 1961.



Woman dies in jump from van on highway

An Ashland woman en route to a hospital died after she jumped out of the van in which she was riding.

State police said Melissa Sholley, 23, jumped from the van after an argument with an aide from the Ye Old Virginnie Home for Adults as the van left the home’s parking lot Wednesday afternoon. The van was taking Miss Sholley to a hospital in Richmond.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Officer Corinne Geller said the van was traveling between 25 mph and 35 mph when Miss Sholley opened the sliding passenger door and jumped onto the roadway.

Officer Geller said Miss Sholley’s death has been ruled accidental.


Mother, two children die in house fire

A massive house fire Wednesday killed a woman and her two children, Bedford County fire officials said.

Two bodies were recovered Wednesday night, and officials said the third was found yester-day morning buried in debris from the partial collapse of the two-story wood-framed house.

Bedford County fire department Chief Jack Jones Jr. said family members told him that the woman was 29 and her daughters were 11 and 4. He declined to release their names, pending the medical examiner’s identification of the bodies.

Chief Jones said the blaze apparently started on the first floor in a living room or den, the location of one of two wood stoves that were used for heat.

Fire investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blaze. Chief Jones said that will be difficult because so much of the home was destroyed.

He said a passer-by used a cell phone to report the blaze. It took about 50 firefighters four hours to extinguish the fire.



Two men arrested in kidnapping, shootout

A home invasion and kidnapping ended in a shootout with police and the arrest of two men, Salisbury police said.

Witnesses told police a group of armed men forced their way into a home and forced two persons to leave with them in a vehicle about 10 p.m. Tuesday. Salisbury and state police tracked the vehicle to an apart-ment complex 30 minutes later.

Two suspects were arrested. A third fired at least one shot at pursuing officers and was shot in the hand, police said.

Police charged Reginald Maurice Wallace, 23, of Federalsburg, and Ronald Nathan Robinson, 26, of Salisbury, with false imprisonment, kidnapping, assault, possession of a deadly weapon, burglary and use of a deadly weapon.

Charges against the wounded suspect, a 21-year-old Baltimore man, were pending.

The victims told police they received only minor injuries and declined treatment. Police did not identify them.


Boiler explosion injures two workers

Two men were injured in a boiler explosion and flash fire on Wisconsin Avenue yesterday.

Montgomery County fire officials said the explosion occurred about 4 p.m. in the penthouse of the Bank of America Building.

Two maintenance men were working on the boiler when there was an internal explosion and a flash fire. The men, 48 and 60, were taken to the Washington Hospital Center with facial burns. They were in fair condition with injuries that were not thought to be life threatening.

The commercial and office building was evacuated and closed.


Board reinstates high school principal

The Anne Arundel County school board has voted unanimously to reinstate Annapolis High School Principal Donald Lilley.

The vote Wednesday occurred after a demonstration of more than 40 students upset about Superintendent Kevin Maxwell’s plans to force all 193 staff members at the school to reapply for their jobs.

The students told the board that the proposal would be devastating for the school. Organizers of the student protest now plan to focus on keeping the teachers at the school.

Mr. Maxwell said his plan is needed to reverse the school’s poor academic performance and prevent a state takeover.


Man charged with posing as physical therapist

A Montgomery Village man has been charged with misrepresenting himself as a doctor and practicing physical therapy without a license.

Robert Targan, 68, used electrical stimulation to treat people with facial paralysis, but his credentials were false, police said. He was also accused of improperly taking money from patients by charging their credit cards without permission.

The investigation began after complaints from several patients. He was arrested Wednesday and freed after posting $50,000 bail.


Kitten killer gets nearly a year in prison

A man convicted of killing four of his girlfriend’s kittens by throwing them into a fire was sentenced to nearly a year in prison yesterday despite the couple’s pleas for leniency.

Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell also urged authorities to investigate whether defendant Robert L. Tomlin’s girlfriend, Kelli Green, participated in the animal abuse and lied to police.

“You have given so many stories, conflicting stories, about what happened that evening that I don’t believe a word you have to say right now,” Judge McDowell told Miss Green after she spoke in Tomlin’s defense.

Judge McDowell ordered Tomlin, 22, to serve the maximum of 341 days in prison for violating his probation by moving back in with Miss Green and her five remaining cats days after he pleaded guilty Nov. 13 to aggravated animal cruelty. The plea bargain had included a suspended 18-month prison term and three years of supervised probation with conditions that Tomlin avoid contact with Miss Green and animals.


UMUC inaugurates new president

The University of Maryland University College will formally inaugurate its fifth president this morning.

Susan C. Aldridge arrived at UMUC a year ago after serving as chancellor of Troy (Ala.) University’s University College.

With 90,000 students, UMUC is one of the largest public providers of online higher education in the nation. The university also offers face-to-face instruction at 21 locations in Maryland and more than 120 locations overseas.

The inauguration is at 10 a.m. at the Inn & Conference Center in Adelphi.


State mulls fees to aid nursing homes

The O’Malley administration says it can collect more federal money for nursing homes by charging them a state fee.

State health Secretary John M. Colmers said homes with at least 45 beds could be charged a fee equaling up to 2 percent of their income. The homes would recover the money in higher Medicaid reimbursements that could be used for more workers or equipment.

Mr. Colmers yesterday told state lawmakers the maneuver is legal and is already being done in 32 states and the District.

But critics say seniors who pay their own way at nursing homes where few patients are on Medicaid would be paying into the system and getting nothing back.


Man charged in dog’s poisoning

Howard County Police have charged a Laurel man with poisoning his neighbor’s dog.

Jack Schroeder, 58, is charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and malicious destruction of property.

Police said they received reports of food, antifreeze, oil and water near Mr. Schroeder’s property line. Police said the 2-year-old beagle became sick after ingesting the contents and died.

An investigation was started when the dog’s owners took the bowls and liquids to police. Police said they have confirmed the dog was poisoned.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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