- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Judge axes statement in Abu Ghraib case

A military judge yesterday threw out a statement that supported one of the charges against the only U.S. military officer charged in the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal.

Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan wasn’t properly advised of his rights by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba during Gen. Taguba’s investigation of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib in February 2004, the judge, Col. Stephen R. Henley, found during a three-hour pretrial hearing.

The ruling likely will force the government to drop its charge that Col. Jordan, a reservist from Fredericksburg, Va., who headed an interrogation center at the prison in Iraq, lied when he told Gen. Taguba that he never saw nude detainees, never knew of dogs being used in interrogations, and never supervised anybody guarding prisoners or doing interrogations in the prison.

“The reality is that this is the only piece of evidence there is” to support the charge, Maj. Kris Poppe, a member of Col. Jordan’s defense team, told reporters.

A dismissal of the charge would leave Col. Jordan still facing six counts and up to 16 years in prison.

Col. Henley postponed the start of Col. Jordan’s trial from July 9 to Aug. 20. He also ordered another pretrial hearing to be held July 10 at Fort McNair.

Celebrities announce King memorial concert

Designer Tommy Hilfiger, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and composer-producer Quincy Jones are among those spearheading a one-night concert in September to raise money to build a memorial to Martin Luther King on the Mall.

The event, called the Dream Concert, is scheduled for Sept. 18 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the memorial fund announced yesterday. Performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

The group working to build the King memorial has raised $79 million of the $100 million needed to complete and maintain the memorial. Organizers hope the concert raises at least $3 million.

The memorial is slated for a space on the Tidal Basin between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and is scheduled to be completed in 2008.



VDOT to close I-64 for emergency test

The Virginia Department of Transportation will shut down 72 miles of eastbound Interstate 64 on Sunday to test the emergency evacuation route for Hampton Roads.

Entrances to the interstate will be blocked between Interstate 295 in Richmond and the southern end of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel between 5:20 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., the agency said.

VDOT installed 71 hurricane gates at entrances and exits along I-64 between Richmond and Hampton Roads last year to ensure that eastbound lanes could be reversed in the case of a major hurricane so all traffic could flow westbound.

Westbound lanes will remain open during the test.



Second person dies after Taser attack

For the second time in three weeks, a person has died soon after being subdued by Baltimore police using a Taser.

The latest case happened about 8:30 p.m. Mondayin the 2600 block of Aisquith Street.

Officers responded there after a man kicked in an apartment door and locked himself in a bedroom. When officers tried to talk to him, police said the man became agitated.

Tactical officers entered the room and shot the man with a Taser. According to police, the man subsequently had a heart attack and was pronounced dead at Union Memorial Hospital.

A 43-year-old woman died April 24 after a tactical officer involved in a drug investigation used a Taser to subdue her as she assaulted him.


Threatening messages lead to man’s arrest

A man suspected of sending text messages threatening a Pennsylvania college student and referring to last month’s mass killing at Virginia Tech was arrested at his home.

According to court documents, Justin Lagrenade, 22, of Montgomery Village, sent 47 text messages Saturday and Sunday to a Lafayette College senior, whom he once dated.

Maryland State Police arrested Mr. Lagrenade on a fugitive warrant Monday. Pennsylvania State Police said he is being held without bail in the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville.

Charging documents say Mr. Lagrenade threatened to cut the student’s face and scar her, and the messages made several references to the Virginia Tech shootings April 16.


Murder suspect says killing was accidental

A man on trial for murder and attempted murder said he did not mean to hurt anyone.

Shawn Jones, 29, testified Monday that he did not intend to kill Donnie Bowman, 43, in a December 2005 shooting behind the Little Jay’s convenience store.

The shooting also wounded Lamont Dew, 40, who was sitting with Mr. Bowman in a parked car. Mr. Bowman was from Westminster, and Mr. Dew was from Baltimore.

Mr. Jones testified Mr. Dew owed him money for selling him bad drugs. He told jurors that he brought a shotgun to the parking lot to scare Mr. Dew. Mr. Jones said he did not see anyone in the car and decided to shoot out a window.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Mr. Jones could face the death penalty or life in prison.


Inmate stabbed on basketball court

An inmate was stabbed yesterday afternoon on the basketball court at a minimum-security prison.

Maj. Priscilla Doggett with the Division of Correction said the inmate was stabbed several times by another inmate with a makeshift knife about 3:20 p.m. at the Jessup Pre-Release Unit.

The injured inmate was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Maj. Doggett did not know his condition.

Many of the inmates at the Pre-Release Unit work on road crews. The facility is meant to help inmates prepare for work-release programs and other jobs as they transition back into the community.


Judge refuses release of arrested student

A District Court judge has refused to release the Dulaney High School senior accused of bringing a destructive device to school.

At a hearing Monday, an attorney representing Scott Perry, 18, of Phoenix, Md., asked that the teen be released on his own recognizance. But the judge kept the bail at $150,000.

Baltimore County police said Mr. Perry brought a plastic bottle filled with a potentially explosive mixture of alcohol and chlorine to school Friday morning. The bottle was left in a restroom.

A science teacher who found the bottle suffered breathing difficulties after inhaling the fumes and had to be treated at a hospital.

Mr. Perry is charged with knowingly using a destructive device, disrupting school activities and reckless endangerment.


City Council apologizes for role in slavery

The Annapolis City Council has approved a resolution apologizing for the city’s role in slavery.

“It is meant to be a resolution that is part of a healing process,” said Alderman Sam Shropshire, who sponsored the bill. “Our city, in part, was built on the backs of slaves, and both our state’s economy and our city’s economy boomed because of slavery. … We need to say we’re deeply sorry.”

The resolution found support from residents and local officials. The council voted 7-0 in favor of the resolution. Aldermen Mike Christman and Julie Stankivic abstained, saying they would rather see some action rather than just words on paper.

“I don’t think a resolution or policy should be the genesis of someone feeling bad or sorry,” Mr. Christman said. “An apology without a concrete plan is a misstep.”

The Maryland General Assembly joined Virginia this year in apologizing for the state’s role in slavery.


Band leader sentenced for sex with student

A former Glen Burnie High School band director will serve 18 months in jail for having sex with a student.

Jeffrey Thompson, 38, of Severn, said yesterday at his sentencing that his emotions took precedence over his common sense. He pleaded guilty in March after being charged for sexual encounters with the 16-year-old.

He also faces sex abuse charges in Baltimore County in two weeks. He is charged with giving Gatorade mixed with vodka to a minor. He is also charged with sexually molesting the minor in 2004 while at band camp.

Whatever sentence he receives in Baltimore County will be added to his Anne Arundel County sentence.


Drug-sniffing dogs returned to handler

Two drug-sniffing dogs sprung from their kennel over the weekend were reunited with their handler yesterday morning.

The dogs, both Labrador retrievers, disappeared Saturday when someone broke into the back yard of their handler’s East Baltimore home and broke the locks on their kennels, said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Division of Correction. She said city police were investigating the incident.

Maverick, an 11-year-old chocolate-colored male, was recovered from an animal shelter in Baltimore, and 6-month-old Alexis, a black female, was turned in to a veterinarian in the Essex area, Maj. Doggett said.

The dogs are used to sniff out contraband at Maryland prisons. Alexis is part of the first litter of puppies from a pilot breeding and training program.


Judge upholds denial of gun dealer’s license

A Harford County gun dealer who “willfully” violated federal gun-control laws hundreds of times will not get his license back, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. granted summary judgment yesterday to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which revoked Chares D. Scheuerman’s firearms-dealer license after an inspection of his Fallston shop in May 2005 found repeated instances of faulty record-keeping.

According to court documents, Mr. Scheuerman has been selling guns at Bel Air Gun & Pawn since 1992. ATF agents first inspected the business in 1992 and found poor record-keeping, and when agents returned in 1999, they found that 86 guns were missing from his inventory without any record of their sale, among other violations.

He was told to correct the problems, but the 2005 inspection found that he had not, and it cited more than 800 violations of gun-control laws. Mr. Scheuerman has admitted to 492 of those violations, demonstrating a “plain indifference” to his responsi-bilities, Judge Quarles wrote.


Mother details son’s alcohol poisoning

A Broadneck High School senior who died April 22 died of alcohol poisoning after a night of heavy drinking, his mother said yesterday.

Claire Harig-Blaine said Galen Harig-Blaine drank vodka, Southern Comfort and energy drinks. She said the alcohol killed him2.

His autopsy shows his blood alcohol level was .30, nearly four times the legal limit.

Mrs. Harig-Blaine said teens need to take it as a warning that whether you drive or not, this kind of drinking is dangerous.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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