- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2007



Five in family killed in house fire

Five family members, including an infant, were killed yesterday morning in a fast-moving fire that destroyed a single-family home, state fire officials said.

Authorities did not release the names and the relationship of all the victims.

Four victims were found immediately after the fire was extinguished, Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor said. A boy’s body was found in the ruins of the second floor at 8:45 p.m.

The fire was reported by a passing garbage truck driver at 10:22 a.m.

Harford County sheriff’s deputies arrived to find the first floor of the two-story frame home engulfed in flames at 10:25 a.m. They pulled a 72-year-old alive out of a rear door, but he went into respiratory arrest and died at a hospital, Marshal Taylor said.

When firefighters arrived minutes later, flames had engulfed the home.

The other victims were a woman thought to be in her 60s, an 8-month-old girl and two boys ages 3 and 4 years old.

Marshal Taylor said there was no evidence the home had working smoke detectors.


Hunters in boat rescued from river

Emergency personnel from Montgomery County yesterday morning rescued duck hunters who were stranded in a disabled boat on the Potomac River.

The hunters were found just before 10 a.m. near Noland’s Island in a portion of the river in southern Frederick County.

Montgomery County Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer said crews pulled the hunters’ camouflaged boat to shore on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, north of the Montgomery County line.


Charter boat owner accused of sex abuse

A charter boat captain was indicted on 95 counts of child sex abuse and other crimes in the abuse of eight boys who worked on his boat.

Karl Hickerson, 63, of Lanham, was indicted last Friday in Charles County and is being held on $1 million bail at the county jail, authorities said.

Police said the boys fished with Mr. Hickerson and sometimes slept in his trailer at the Goose Bay Marina near Welcome. They said the abuse took place between 2003 and 2005.


Pilot charged with drug possession

The pilot of a helicopter that crashed while trying to land on a truck trailer at the Port of Baltimore has been charged with drug possession, Maryland Transportation Authority Police announced yesterday.

Kenneth Trivett, 34, of Fredericksburg, Va., also was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and reckless endangerment.

The crash occurred Nov. 15 when Mr. Trivett was attempting to land the Robins model R44 II helicopter on a trailer for transportation overseas.

Mr. Trivett suffered minor injuries.

During a search of the helicopter, officers found drugs and drug paraphernalia, and medical tests found the presence of illegal drugs in Mr. Trivett’s system.


State gets deadline to fix Baltimore jail

Maryland has four years to fix problems at the Baltimore city jail or else face federal litigation, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The timetable is included in an agreement between state prison officials and the Department of Justice. It follows a federal investigation of health and living conditions for adults and juveniles at state facilities. The inspections began about seven years ago.

The agreement requires that the state make improvements in medical care, staffing and training, security, juvenile treatment, education, and fire and environmental safety.

The state must create an “action plan” in four months, then file twice-yearly progress reports.


Expelled midshipman must pay for education

A Naval Academy midshipman who was expelled after he failed a running test will have to pay the Navy for the cost of his education.

Baltimore County resident Frank Shannon had asked that the $127,000 bill be waived, but a senior Navy official rejected his appeal this month, saying the academy provided Mr. Shannon with ample opportunity to meet its minimum fitness standards.

Mr. Shannon failed 12 of 18 fitness tests and failed in a series of attempts to run a mile-and-a-half in 10 minutes, 30 seconds. He was expelled just weeks before graduation.

Mr. Shannon is hoping a member of Congress will intervene. Aides to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, suggested that he apply for re-admission to the academy, but Mr. Shannon is married and would first have to divorce his wife before applying in accordance with the academy admission requirements.


Documents detail woman’s killing

Court documents have shed light on the slaying of a Pittsville woman last week at her parents’ home.

Charging documents say Gregory Stokes, 30, shot Pamela Balk several times in the face and head. Miss Balk’s body was found Jan. 11 at the home on Dockside Drive. Mr. Stokes also beat her dog, documents say.

Mr. Stokes was arrested Saturday in Baltimore and is being held without bail on charges of first-degree murder and animal mutilation.

Charging documents say Mr. Stokes became a suspect after a friend told police that Mr. Stokes had called him and admitted killing his girlfriend.

Troopers investigating a crashed and abandoned vehicle soon after the killing tracked down a cab that picked up the driver, who was later determined to be Mr. Stokes. After he was questioned about the crash, Mr. Stokes returned by cab to the Dockside Drive home, took Miss Balk’s Jeep and fled, according to the documents.


Missing man’s car found on Eastern Shore

Police are looking for a man from New York City whose abandoned rental car was found in Caroline County.

The sheriff’s office said a deputy discovered the car late Monday night on Route 317 near the Maryland-Delaware state line. The keys were in the ignition, and the car did not appear to be disabled. Authorities said there were signs of a struggle at the scene.

The car had been rented to Lawrence Sorden, 28, in Fort Lee, N.J. Police said he was traveling to Petersburg, Va., to visit relatives.

Mr. Sorden was last seen leaving New York City on Monday evening.



Execution date set for killer who bragged

A murderer who bragged in a letter to prosecutors that he killed a teenage girl and tried to rape her is scheduled to be executed Feb. 15.

Prince William County Circuit Judge Lon Farris yesterday set the execution date for Paul Warner Powell, who in 2003 was convicted for the second time of the 1999 slaying of Stacie Reed, 16, of Manassas.

Powell, 28, was first convicted in 2000 of capital murder, but the Virginia Supreme Court overturned that verdict, ruling that he could not be executed because prosecutors lacked evidence that Powell tried to either rape or rob the girl.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert got that evidence when Powell wrote him a hate-filled letter. Mistakenly thinking he could not face the death penalty a second time, Powell described how he tried to rape Stacie, then killed her when she would not comply.

Powell also raped and stabbed a young relative of Stacie’s, but she survived and testified against him.


Trial set for inmate charged in two killings

A man charged with killing a hospital security guard and a sheriff’s deputy after escaping from custody will face trial in September.

William Morva, indicted earlier this month on charges that include capital murder, will go to trial Sept. 17 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Mr. Morva, 24, also was indicted on charges of use of a firearm in commission of a felony, assault and battery of a law-enforcement officer and escaping with force.

Mr. Morva is charged with overpowering a guard who took him to the hospital for treatment of an injury. Police said he took the deputy’s gun and used it to kill Derrick McFarland as he fled the hospital Aug. 20. Cpl. Eric Sutphin was killed the next day during the manhunt near the Virginia Tech campus.


Community colleges see enrollment boost

Enrollment at Virginia’s community colleges continues to rise, with a record number of students taking courses at the two-year public schools, the Virginia Community College System said.

Community college enrollment grew to 159,202 last fall, up 3.7 percent from fall 2005. The record fall enrollment was up 10 percent since fall 2001, the VCCS said this week.

VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois said the transfer agreements the two-year system has made with several four-year colleges and universities has encouraged more students to start pursuing their bachelor’s degrees at a community college.


Police officer charged with on-duty drug buy

A St. Paul police officer is charged with trying to buy narcotics while on duty.

Officer Daven Cory Phillips, 22, of Russell County, was arrested Wednesday night by two agents from a regional drug task force, Wise County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Elkins said.

A sting was set up using imitation OxyContin after an informant told authorities that she had seen Officer Phillips purchase narcotics previously, Mr. Elkins said.

Officer Phillips also was charged with breaking and entering and conspiracy to commit breaking and entering in connection with a break-in at a house.

Officer Phillips was released on $20,000 bail.

He has been a police officer in the Southwest Virginia town since March.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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