- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Judge won’t send Barry to prison

D.C. Council member Marion Barry won’t be going to prison after a federal judge ruled Monday against a prosecution request to incarcerate him for a year in connection with a criminal tax case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said she won’t rule on sending Mr. Barry to prison unless his probation officer asks to revoke his pro-bation. No such request has been made, she said in her ruling.

Mr. Barry was given probation instead of prison last year after pleading guilty to not filing his taxes.

Prosecutors recently said Mr. Barry should go to prison because he had not filed tax returns even after being placed on probation.

But Judge Robinson said she would consider such a request only if his probation officers moved to revoke his probation.

“I’m delighted and thank Judge Robinson for her fairness in this situation,” Mr. Barry said.

Man on tracks killed by Metro train

A man was struck and killed by a Metro train yesterday at the Columbia Heights station in Northwest, authorities said.

Witnesses said the man was intentionally on the tracks and in the path of an inbound Yellow Line train headed to Huntington about 1:40 p.m., spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

The station is in the 3000 block of 14th Street.

The 57-year-old man’s name was not released pending notification of next of kin.

Green and Yellow Line trains shared one track around the scene as authorities removed the body and talked to witnesses. The trains were single-tracked between the Georgia Avenue-Petworth and U Street stations. Shuttle buses carried passengers between the stations to help commuters get around the scene.

The other track was reopened shortly before 4 p.m.



Defendant statement can be used in court

A federal judge has ruled that a man’s incriminating statement to police about a 2002 fatal carjacking in Annapolis’ historic district can be admitted as evidence in his upcoming trial.

Monday’s ruling in U.S. District Court in Baltimore marked the latest in the long legal wrangling over a statement that Leeander J. Blake, 21, gave to police after the slaying of businessman Straughan Lee Griffin, 51.

Mr. Blake, who was 17 at the time, initially refused to talk to police when he was arrested and taken to jail, wearing only a tank top and boxer shorts. When a police officer deliver-ed a copy of the charging documents listing death as a potential penalty, another officer told Mr. Blake, “I bet you want to talk now, huh?”

About half an hour later, he told police, “I understand I was wrong by being there, but I don’t want to be blamed for the murder,” Detective William Johns testified Monday.

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge ruled the statement inadmissible, a decision ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Anne Arundel County prosecutors dropped state murder charges against Mr. Blake, but federal prosecutors indicted him last year, saying new evidence had emerged.

The new evidence includes additional accounts from witnesses that place Mr. Blake near the scene of the crime.

Terrence Tolbert, 23, was convicted of murder last year in state court. He is serving a prison term of life without parole plus 30 years. Tolbert testified in his trial that Mr. Blake was the gunman.

Mr. Blake’s trial is scheduled to begin in June.


Benches disappear from Boardwalk

Someone is stealing benches from the Boardwalk.

Nine benches have vanished from the resort’s famed Boardwalk since the first of the year.

The benches, which are worth $1,375 apiece, are seven- feet long and have white cast iron legs. They have wood-grain PVC slats. Each leg is stamped “Victor Stanley Company,” but lacks a serial number or other markings.

Seven of the benches were stolen from between Second and Fourth streets.


Mother, son indicted on theft charges

A mother and son from Hagerstown who were Washington County employees have been indicted by a grand jury for stealing from the county liquor board, state prosecutors said.

Ricki Hemphill, 53, and his mother, Constance Rooke, 74, are charged with theft over $500 and conspiracy. According to the Monday indictment, Miss Rooke was a former office administrator of the county liquor board and Mr. Hemphill was the Washington County Circuit Court deputy clerk.

Miss Rooke was paid for serving on the liquor board, which is an appointed position, according to state law.

The indictment says the pair cashed unearned payroll checks made out to Miss Rooke from at least June 1, 2001, until July 20, 2005, as part of a conspiracy to steal from the Washington County Board of License Commissioners. And the indictment says they unlawfully issued checks to a business, Chalwyn LLC, owned by Mr. Hemphill.

State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh said he couldn’t say exactly how much the checks totaled, but he said it was in the thousands of dollars.



Trooper, two others injured in crash

Three persons, including a state trooper, were injured yesterday in a multi-vehicle crash that closed U.S. Route 460 for several hours, Virginia State Police said.

Sgt. D.S. Carr said a tractor-trailer sideswiped a state trooper who was making a traffic stop along Route 460 in Sussex County.

The injuries to Trooper Christopher Gassner, 31, of James City County, were not life-threatening, Sgt. Carr said.

The truck knocked Trooper Gassner’s cruiser into nearby trees, and the tractor-trailer overturned. The truck driver — Edmond Dease, 46, of Chesapeake — suffered life-threatening injuries.

A car that tried to avoid the crash also overturned, injuring the driver, Margaret Snapp, 33, of Suffolk.

The road remained closed in both directions four hours after the 10 a.m. crash.


Man gets 10 years in trooper’s death

A West Virginia man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for his role in the death of a Virginia State Police trooper.

David Ellis Ferrebee, 59, of Charles Town, W.Va., entered an Alford plea in December to involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Trooper Kevin C. Manion, 27. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowl-edges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict.

Trooper Manion, 27, was killed Feb. 18, 2006, while investigating a single-vehicle crash involving a pickup truck Ferrebee was driving.

As a tow truck moved Ferrebee’s pickup truck from the scene, a stolen rifle inside the truck discharged, striking Trooper Manion in the chest.

Ferrebee also had pleaded guilty to larceny of a firearm, possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony, breaking and entering, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.


Teacher enters plea to sex-related charges

A former middle school teacher pleaded no contest Monday to sex-related charges involving two of her students.

Karen Susan Patton, 42, pleaded to two counts of carnal knowledge and one count of non-forcible sodomy. Other charges were dropped.

Patton resigned from her job as an English teacher and cheerleading coach at Wythe-ville’s Scott Memorial Middle School in January 2006 after she was charged with having oral sex with a 13-year-old student.

A month later, Patton was charged with engaging in sexual acts with two other 13-year-old boys. All charges involving one of those boys were dropped.

Patton faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced in June.


Humpback whale rescued from nets

Virginia Aquarium officials say researchers freed a 7-ton humpback whale that had become caught in fishing nets more than a mile off the Virginia Beach coast.

Coast Guard and fishermen helped with the rescue effort, which took most of the afternoon Monday.

Aquarium staff spotted the 30-foot whale about 11 a.m. and worked to untangle it while staff members of the Massachusetts-based Center for Coastal Studies guided them by phone.

Museum spokeswoman Joan Barnes said the whale was freed in about six hours.

“It was a very intense day,” Miss Barnes said. “It was very exciting to be able to set a whale free, especially one that our whale-watching boats have spotted in these waters.”

Aquarium researchers recognized the whale as one they had seen recently while taking skin biopsies of whales for research purposes, she said.


Student gets probation for false plot report

A former Old Dominion University student who said he falsely reported that his roommate was plotting to sabotage Navy ships because he was angry with him was sentenced Monday to probation.

Philip A. Bent, 27, admitted anonymously calling Norfolk police three times in 2005 to report that his former roommate, Yhoshua Ben Yisrael, was a black supremacist planning to blow up the decommissioned battleship USS Wisconsin.

Mr. Yisrael, a self-pro-claimed descendant of the 12 tribes of Israel, changed his name from Joshua Celestin.

Last March, the FBI received a similar anonymous call from someone who said he was plotting to sabotage Navy ships. FBI agents cleared Mr. Yisrael, who identified Bent’s voice through the 911 calls.

Bent admitted he lied because he was angry, but authorities did not say why.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca B. Smith called his actions “juvenile, sophomoric and impulsive” but said incarcer-ation was not the answer.

Judge Smith ordered Bent, who dropped out of ODU in 2003 and moved home to Scarsdale, N.Y., to continue treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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