- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2007


House approves plan for schools takeover

House lawmakers yesterday approved Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s plans to take over the District’s public school system.

Mr. Fenty’s plan, which would elevate the school system to a Cabinet-level agency under his authority, was approved by the D.C. Council on April 19. But because the shift in school governance requires a change in the District’s home-rule charter, Congress also must approve federal legislation authorizing the changes.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who introduced the legislation authorizing the takeover, said local school restructuring should be done without congressional input, and she is working to develop a bill that would give the District such home-rule authority.

“The necessity for a member of Congress to introduce a bill for a self-governing city is an anachronism neither Congress nor the District can afford today,” Mrs. Norton said.

The schools takeover now must be passed by the Senate and signed by the president before being put into place.

Noted Palfrey client died years ago

A “career Justice Department prosecutor” identified in a report as a client of Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s escort service has been dead for nearly three years, the Justice Department said yesterday.

An ABC News report Friday on Miss Palfrey’s client list included mentions of NASA officials, military officers, chief executives and the prosecutor. But the network did not publicly identify the individuals, saying their names were not newsworthy.

Miss Palfrey’s civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, has sought disclosure of the prosecutor’s name to determine whether he had any role in the decision to prosecute Miss Palfrey on federal charges of running a prostitution ring out of her escort service, Pamela Martin & Associates.

The Justice Department said the individual died in 2004, presumably before authorities began their investigation of Miss Palfrey.

“I don’t know how dead people can influence prosecutions,” Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.



Fairfax police honor officers slain last year

Fairfax police yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of an attack on their Sully District station that left two officers dead.

Two parking spaces outside the station were marked with signs honoring Detective Vicky Armel and Officer Michael Garbarino. Both officers died of wounds suffered when Michael Kennedy attacked police outside the station.

The 18-year-old Centreville man was fatally shot by other officers.

Permanent memorials have been dedicated to the fallen officers.


Woman loses appeal in visitation dispute

The Virginia Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal filed by a woman who lost a high-profile child custody and visitation battle with her former homosexual partner.

The court ruled that Lisa Miller-Jenkins failed to properly file notice of her appeal after the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that Vermont courts have jurisdiction in the dispute.

However, she still has a second appeal pending before Virginia’s highest court.

Lisa Miller-Jenkins and Janet Miller-Jenkins were Virginia residents in 2000 when they traveled to Vermont for a civil union ceremony. Lisa Miller-Jenkins conceived a child through artificial insemination in 2001 while the couple was together, and a daughter, Isabella, was born in April 2002. They moved to Vermont in August 2002.

In the fall of 2003, the women separated, and Lisa Miller-Jenkins moved back to Virginia. She filed for a dissolution of their civil union, which is akin to a divorce, and sought custody of Isabella.

In June 2004, a Vermont family court granted Janet Miller-Jenkins visitation rights; that October, a Frederick County, Va., court issued a contradicting decision.

In August, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that Vermont courts had exclusive jurisdiction in the custody battle. The Virginia Court of Appeals agreed in November.

On April 30, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Lisa Miller-Jenkins’ appeal of the Vermont court ruling.


Web savvy profit from Va. Tech shootings

Within minutes of the massacre at Virginia Tech, some people turned to the Web looking to profit on the tragedy.

Domain names related to the tragedy were snapped up by people hoping to sell them for a profit or use them to link to advertisers.

The cost of registering such domains is generally less than $10. But some are now being auctioned off for thousands.

The day the victims’ names were released, people began registering domains named after the dead. Victims’ friends and family members seeking to create a memorial site under the same Internet address would then have to purchase it from the domain name owner.

While many consider the practice repellant, specialists say it has become commonplace in the wake of tragedies.



Killer gets life term at resentencing

A Baltimore man was sentenced to life without parole yesterday for the kidnapping and death of his girlfriend’s daughter.

Jurors deliberated more than 10 hours over two days before reaching a decision in the resentencing hearing for Jamaal K. Abeokuto. Prosecutors had again been seeking the death penalty.

Abeokuto, 27, of Baltimore, was found guilty of the 2002 kidnapping and death of Marciana Ringo, the 8-year-old daughter of his girlfriend. Marciana’s body was found in Harford County, but his trial was moved to Baltimore County. A judge sentenced him to death, but Maryland’s highest court ruled should he get a new sentencing hearing because of errors at his trial.

Abeokuto told the jurors Monday that he was sorry.

“Many of you may have asked, ‘Well, if you know so much about Christianity, how could you do such a thing?’ ” Abeokuto said. “The true answer to that is I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out to this day. It’s beyond me.”

Abeokuto said the “event was against my entire character, my entire lifestyle and my entire nature,” he said.

Prosecutors told jurors that there is no doubt that Abeokuto alone is responsible. Defense attorney Amanda E. Bull told jurors that Abeokuto’s life should be spared, noting he had a clean record before Marciana’s death but suffered from paranoia and delusions.

Miss Bull said his mental illness convinced him that “he needed to kill.”


Three MS-13 members may face death penalty

Federal prosecutors said yesterday that they will seek the death penalty against three gang members charged with murder and racketeering.

Jorge Rigoberto Amador, 32, Antonio Roberto Argueta, 25, and Juan Carlos Moriera, 27, are among 13 members of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang, known as MS-13, indicted under broad Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations law, which is used to fight organized crime. Ten others could face life in prison if convicted.

The indictment links the group to crimes from 2001 to 2006 that include killings, assaults, kidnappings, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. No trial dates have been set.

Twelve others charged in the current racketeering case have been convicted.


Driver carjacked by men in car with flashing lights

Anne Arundel County Police are investigating an armed carjacking Monday night in which a vehicle with a flashing blue and red light appeared behind him on Route 198 near Watts Avenue.

The driver pulled over, and police said a man from the vehicle asked for his driver’s license. Then another man entered the passenger side of the car and pulled a handgun.

The man was ordered out of his vehicle and police said the second man drove off with his car. The stolen vehicle was a rental.


Council temporarily blocks sex shops

The City Council has called a halt to zoning approvals for sexually oriented businesses until it can adopt strict limits on where the stores can operate.

The moratorium was recommended last week by the planning commission. The council last month also approved a moratorium on issuing business licenses for the stores. Both expire in five months.

The moves follow the recent opening of a store selling graphic videos, lingerie and sex toys.

The planning commission has recommended that the council ban the businesses from within 600 feet of a church, school, park, amusement park, the beach and the Boardwalk. The stores also would be required to be at least 150 feet from any dwelling.


Associate pastor gets five years for abuse

An associate pastor at an Essex church convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy at his home has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Enoch Hill, 29, was sentenced Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. He was also ordered to serve probation after his release from prison.

Hill was an associate minister at the House of God in Essex. He was arrested in April 2006 and convicted in January.


Convicted killer gets second trial

A judge in Anne Arundel County has ordered a new trial for a Glen Burnie man in the fatal shooting of a friend.

The judge ruled that a prosecutor made errors in the trial of Todd Poorman, 28, that could have prejudiced the jury.

Mr. Poorman was convicted of manslaughter in March in the death of Michael Rousseaux, 28, of Severna Park. Authorities said the two men had been arguing at Mr. Poorman’s home about money. Mr. Poorman said the shooting was in self-defense.

In the motion for a new trial, the defense said the prosecutor discussed elements of the case in his closing statement that had not been introduced at the trial.


Boston officer charged in assault in a bar

A Boston police lieutenant has been placed on paid leave after Baltimore police arrested him, saying he punched his girlfriend in a bar.

Lt. David Murphy is a 21-year veteran of the depart-ment. He is accused of hitting the woman after the couple attend-ed a Baltimore Orioles game against the Boston Red Sox last month at Camden Yards.

Lt. Murphy is charged with second-degree assault. A police report said he punched his girlfriend in the face, causing her to fall off a bar stool.

Police said Lt. Murphy fled the scene but was arrested nearby. The woman refused medical attention and told police she did not want to press charges.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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