Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Girls put in trunk say they were playing

A D.C. man pleaded not guilty Monday in a Massachusetts court to reckless endangerment and assault charges for closing his daughters in a car trunk in 90-degree heat.

Michael Fekete’s attorney, Samuel M. Hausman, said that the two girls were in the trunk for only 30 seconds and that they were inside because they liked playing with a glow-in-the-dark release lever. Prosecutors said the girls were inside for five minutes.

Mr. Fekete, 48, was released without bail.

Mr. Fekete, a technology contractor for the Department of Justice, was visiting his mother in a nursing home in Foxborough, Mass., on Sunday when the girls, ages 9 and 11, were left in the Chevy Cobalt trunk.

His daughters told police that they liked going in the closed trunk “so they could play” with the release lever, according to a police report.

A witness called police when the girls were spotted climbing into the trunk. When police stopped the car, the girls were in the back seat.

Social service officials took the girls into custody, and they were later released to family members in Massachusetts. Mr. Fekete is scheduled to return to court Aug. 15.



Police catch would-be copper wire thieves

Police arrested five persons early yesterday after setting up a surveillance operation to catch copper thieves at a recycling center.

Police records said an officer was stationed at Wise Recycling Center because of recent burglaries. A surveillance camera recorded the five suspects entering the center and rummaging through scrap copper shortly before 1 a.m.

When officers arrived, the suspects ran off but were apprehended a short time later. All were charged with theft and held without bail.

High copper prices have made the metal a target of thieves, who have broken into power plants and abandoned buildings to take wiring.

One of two men who police said were injured last week when they tried to steal copper wire from a closed southwest Virginia foundry died Sunday.

Christopher Brandon Goad, of Radford, suffered second- and third-degree electrical burns to at least 60 percent of his body after he cut into a 4,160-volt wire with a hacksaw at the Radford Foundry.


Ex-teacher accused of having child porn

A former middle school teacher in Bedford County is accused of sending sexually explicit messages, pictures and live video to an online undercover officer he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Stanley Deloach Jr., 48, of Boonsboro, resigned last month after teaching seven years at Forest Middle School. Bedford County school officials said he resigned before the charges surfaced.

Mr. Deloach was arrested July 11 on charges of the publication, sale and possession with intent to distribute or finance child pornography and use of a communication system to facilitate certain offenses involving children. He is being held without bail while the investigation continues.

Missing woman’s car found in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania authorities have located a car belonging to a Virginia woman who has not been seen since the remains of an infant were found in her burned home.

The red Saturn with Virginia license plates belonged to Joey Lynn Offutt, 33, who previously lived in Warrenton, Va. The car was found early Monday in State College, about 70 miles east of the home she rented in Sykesville. The home burned down last Thursday and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

State police said Miss Offutt still is missing and investigators are looking for her “out of concern for her welfare.”

State police have not said whether they think Miss Offutt and the infant were related. Miss Offutt does have two children, and police said both are safe and staying with relatives.


Scientists: More corn may pollute the Bay

Agricultural experts and scientists say record corn prices will cause trouble for the Chesapeake Bay unless government increases spending for conservation programs.

A report released Monday examined the ethanol-driven surge in corn planting and how that crop will affect the Bay.

One expert said that corn is a leaky crop and allows fertilizers to drain into waterways where it causes fish-killing algal blooms and other environmental problems.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said farmers in Virginia and five neighboring states planted 2.1 million acres in corn for grain this year, compared with 1.9 million in 2006.

The report says U.S. farm policy could offset some of the expected pollution.



Cat stomper freed after abuse reports

A judge has freed a homeless man serving two years for stomping an 86-year-old woman’s cats to death because the man said he was being physically and sexually abused by inmates.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Michael Loney called a hearing Monday for state prosecutors and Michael Poole’s defense attorneys to respond to Poole’s letter dated June 13.

Poole’s attorney said his client has a bipolar disorder and is developmentally disabled.

Poole, 24, will live with a friend until a social worker can find a treatment program for him, Judge Loney said. State prosecutors said plans to place him at halfway houses and other options have fallen through.

Poole was arrested last year, after he went to Annie Parker’s house and stomped a cat to death two days in a row. Police said he had been visiting her home for several months and had played with the cats he later killed.


Inmate indicted in fatal stabbing

A grand jury has indicted a prison inmate on charges that he killed another prisoner at the House of Correction in Jessup.

Micah E. Hill, 38, of the District, is charged with first-degree murder and carrying a homemade knife in the May 22, 2006, death of James Murphy, 29. Murphy was killed in a dormitory at the Jessup prison when he and two other inmates were attacked by three others wielding homemade knives.

The state closed the maximum-security House of Correction in March. The prison, which opened in 1879, was antiquated, and officials said its design made controlling inmates difficult. Violence at the prison last year claimed the lives of three prisoners and a correctional officer.

Hill was indicted Friday in Anne Arundel County.

He was serving his 40-year sentence for first-degree murder and handgun charges.


Severe storm ruled a small tornado

Investigators with the National Weather Service have confirmed that storm damage in Harford County on Monday night was caused by a small tornado.

The powerful storm cell dropped heavy rain and hail on the county and knocked down trees and power lines mostly around Fallston and Bel Air.

No injuries were reported.


Scientist worry about invasive crabs

The Chinese mitten crabs found around the Chesapeake and Delaware bays in recent months are mating, scientists confirmed, raising concerns that the invasive crab could be making a home in the area.

Scientists say 10 mitten crabs have been reported in the past three years, two of them females. Scientists have confirmed that those females showed evidence of mating.

Greg Ruiz, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, said it is too soon to evaluate the threat posed to native blue crabs by the smaller Chinese species.

Scientists worry about the Chinese mitten crab because they dig burrows in tributaries and can clog water pipes and fight for food with native species.

Jonathan McKnight, associate wildlife director at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said Chinese mitten crabs prefer saltier water for reproduction than the water in the middle and upper Chesapeake Bay.

No mitten crabs have yet been confirmed in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake.


Man stabbed father over drugs, police say

A man charged in the fatal stabbing of his father wanted money for drugs, Wicomico County authorities said.

Donald Harris Jr. 48, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death Saturday of his father, Donald Harris Sr., 72, at the older man’s home. Deputies found the body in a shed on the property.

State’s Attorney Davis Ruark said it appears that the son wanted money from his father to buy drugs, particularly crack cocaine.

The younger Harris was arrested at an area hotel after the stabbing.


Improper use of words may lead to new trial

A Glen Burnie man who fatally shot his friend will get a second trial.

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge said Todd Poorman, 28, deserves a new trial because prosecutors improperly used the words murder and execution during closing arguments.

Poorman admitted to shooting his friend in November 2005, but he said it was in self-defense.

Assistant State’s Attorney Frederick Paone said he will see whether the judge’s ruling can be appealed.


Missing python found dead on I-97

An 11-foot python that escaped from his owner’s truck was found dead along Interstate 97.

Police said Jackson McKneely reported that he left the snake in an open container in his truck Sunday afternoon while he was at Arundel Hills Park. When Mr. McKneely returned, the snake, a 50-pound python named Hugo, was missing.

Officials found Hugo dead Monday afternoon.


Farmer on probation for poor upkeep

A Carroll County Circuit judge sentenced a Marston hog farmer to probation and ordered him to clean up his 112-acre farm where investigators found dead and rotting carcasses, malnourished animals and more than 500 pounds of junk.

Carroll L. Schisler Sr., 61, said he would appeal.

County, state and federal inspectors conducted raids on the farm in March and April 2006 and reported finding decomposing carcasses, piles of bones, livestock feeding on rotting trash and the decaying bodies of other animals.

Schisler was indicted on 19 criminal counts stemming. He was convicted after pleading not guilty but agreeing not to offer a defense.

Judge Thomas F. Stansfield sentenced Schisler to five years plus 90 days in prison in the animal cruelty case and six years in prison for the environmental crimes. The judge suspended those sentences and put Schisler on five years’ probation, ordering that all decomposing animal carcasses and other trash cluttering the property be removed within 90 days. He gave Schisler six months to remove junked cars on the land.

Schisler’s son, Carroll L. Schisler Jr., 35, was indicted on the same 19 counts and is serving a three-year sentence in Maryland for threatening a witness who had assisted the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office with the animal cruelty case.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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