- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007



Law students review innocence claims

Law school students at the University of Richmond could bring hope to wrongfully convicted inmates in Virginia.

This semester marked the opening of the Institute for Actual Innocence at the University of Richmond School of Law.

For class credit, students will review requests from inmates who claim innocence and have exhausted other means of appeal.

They will be looking for legal grounds to apply two recent changes to Virginia’s law that permit new DNA or nonbiological evidence to be presented long after trial.

Professor Mary Kelly Tate said she was inspired to create the institute after hearing a speech by Peter Neufeld.

Mr. Neufeld represented Earl Washington Jr., who came within days of execution for a 1982 murder before being cleared by DNA evidence in 2000.


Justice Department probes fraud case

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the unsuccessful federal prosecution of the former head of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility acknowledged the investigation in a letter provided by Richard Burrow, the subject of the prosecution.

Mr. Burrow was tried in 2002 and again in 2004 on charges that he committed fraud while raising millions of dollars in bank loans and state grants to build the D-Day memorial in Bedford County.

In both cases, jurors were unable to reach verdicts.

Mr. Burrow filed the prosecutorial-misconduct complaint with the Justice Department last year.

U.S. Attorney John Brownlee’s office wrote that it would respond to Mr. Burrow’s complaint “like any from a former criminal defendant, in a timely manner.”


House fire kills 2, hurts 10 others

Two children died after a fire in a crowded house early yesterday, and 10 other persons, many of them children, remain injured.

Fire officials identified the children who died as girls ages 4 and nearly 3. They said an 18-month-old boy is listed in grave condition at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.

One of the injured was a neighbor who tried to rescue people from the blaze.

Capt. William Martin said witnesses described a scene in which a 14-year-old boy was tossing his siblings to safety out a window in the back of the small home.

A neighbor said a burned woman who lived in the house came to her house seeking help for those still inside. The neighbor said she saw burned children in the yard.

The fire broke out at about 2 a.m.

Fire officials said the residents of the house included the parents of some of the children, but there were conflicting accounts on the number of occupants.

They said the fire does not appear to have been intentionally set.

The house had no smoke detectors.



Local priest accused of sex assault in ‘60s

A 67-year-old Ellicott City priest has been removed from the ministry after the Archdiocese of Baltimore learned of two accusations of sexual abuse that reputedly occurred in the 1960s.

Monsignor Richard E. Smith, pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City, admitted to some of the charges when he was confronted by officials within the past week, the archdiocese said yesterday in a release.

Parishioners and staff were informed of the charges Sunday, the archdiocese said.

The reported incidents occurred when Monsignor Smith was a priest at Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish, now known as St. Gabriel, in Woodlawn.

One woman said she had a series of sexual encounters with the priest for several months in 1967, officials said.

Another woman said she had a single encounter in 1966 or 1967, when she was about 15 years old.

The incidents have been reported to civil authorities, the archdiocese said.


Man pleads guilty to receiving fake checks

A Virginia man pleaded guilty yesterday after he was arrested last year in Silver Spring with more than $700,000 in fraudulent checks.

Federal prosecutors said Samuel Ibukun Oduyemi, 20, was charged with possession of counterfeit money orders and bank checks.

Last year, prosecutors said he and an accomplice were receiving counterfeit money orders from friends in England.

On May 31, the two men were arrested in Silver Spring by federal agents who seized more than $700,000 in counterfeit checks and money orders.

The accomplice, Adebayo Michael Idamakin, has pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors said they were arrested after picking up a Federal Express package containing $228,000 in fictitious checks.


Carbon monoxide cited in family hospitalization

Officials said a water heater or a furnace may be to blame for a carbon-monoxide leak that sent six residents of a Baltimore home to the hospital.

The patients were transported yesterday morning from the 700 block of North Linwood Avenue.

They include a 6-month-old baby and 9-year-old twins.

Family members woke up with headaches.

The house had working smoke detectors but did not have a carbon-monoxide detector.

The patients were placed in a hyperbaric chamber at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Fire officials said carbon-monoxide levels in the home were at 500 parts per million, or about five times the level that usually requires an immediate evacuation.

Residents of two adjacent homes were evacuated as a precaution.


Electrical panels blamed in 2 apartment fires

Prince George’s building inspectors are expected to spend much of the day checking electrical panels in a large garden apartment complex in Berwyn Heights.

Fire department officials requested that the electrical panels be checked after two fires over a 10-hour period.

The first fire damaged 36 units in three buildings about 12:30 a.m. yesterday.

A second fire broke out just before 9:30 a.m. and damaged a fourth building.

Fire department spokesman Mark Brady said as many as 200 buildings at the massive Springhill Lake Apartments will need to be checked.

Mr. Brady said inspections could include checks of wiring the three-story garden-style wood-framed apartment buildings.

The buildings are a combination of brick and composite-fiberboard construction widely used about 40 years ago.


School first ‘green’ building in state

Great Seneca Creek Elementary School in Germantown is the first school in Maryland to be formally designated a “green” school by the U.S. Green Building Council.

It’s being recognized for its environmentally friendly and energy-efficient design. And it’s one of 770 buildings across the country now recognized by the council as green buildings.

Although some of the features add to the construction cost, the governor and state lawmakers are pushing to direct more money toward energy-efficient schools and government buildings. Officials said the added costs are more than recovered by long-term energy savings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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