Wednesday, October 24, 2007



Student from D.C. dies of her wounds

A Delaware State University student wounded in a September campus shooting died of her injuries yesterday, according to statement released by her family.

Shalita K. Middleton, 17, a cheerleader and freshman biology major from the District, died about 3:30 p.m. at Christiana Hospital in Newark.

“She struggled valiantly over the last several weeks … Ultimately, however, the internal injuries that she suffered were in the end too critical to overcome,” the family said.

Miss Middleton, a graduate of Wilson High School, was shot in the abdomen when gunfire broke out outside a campus cafe shortly before 1 a.m. Sept. 21. Nathaniel Pugh, 17, a graduate of Dunbar High in the District, suffered an ankle wound.

University spokesman Carlos Holmes said two administrators from the school were with Middleton’s family when she died.

“We understood that she had taken a turn for the worse,” he said.

Campus police had hoped to interview Miss Middleton about what happened on the night of the shooting, but Mr. Holmes said they never got the opportunity.

Loyer D. Braden, an 18-year-old freshman from East Orange, N.J., is being held in lieu of $92,000 bail on charges of attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

With Miss Middleton’s death, Mr. Braden now faces a possible murder charge.


Driver arrested in fatal hit-and-run

Police have arrested a man sought a hit-and-run crash that killed a 2-year-old girl and critically injured three adults early Sunday morning.

Investigators from the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force said Christopher Edwards, 31, also known as Wayne Williams, was arrested Monday night in Temple Hills.

Investigators said they found Mr. Edwards hiding under the steps inside a house in the 2500 block of Iverson Street. He was turned over to D.C. police for arraignment.

Police said Mr. Edwards was fleeing from a traffic stop in Northwest when his car ran a red light and hit the vehicle carrying 2-year-old Brandy McComb, her mother and three other adults. Their car hit a utility pole and flipped. The hit-and-run driver ran away after the crash.



Lawyer indicted on theft charges

A Maryland lawyer has been indicted in a conspiracy to steal more than $1.6 million from his clients and friends.

Harford County State’s Attorney Joe Cassilly said the county grand jury indicted Harold Tulley, 67, on 20 counts, including conspiracy to commit theft and being an accessory after the fact.

Co-defendant Michael Luby was indicted in March and was arrested over the summer in Vermont.

According to the indictment, Mr. Tulley assisted Mr. Luby in the theft of money loaned to the two men in an elaborate scheme that involved property in Maryland and Virginia.

Mr. Tulley was released on a $50,000 bail.


Judge won’t allow fingerprint evidence

Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Susan M. Souder threw out fingerprint evidence in a fatal shooting, saying the evidence is not reliable enough to be used when a defendant faces a possible death sentence.

Judge Souder’s ruling involves the case of Bryan Rose, 23, of Baltimore, who is charged in the January 2006 fatal shooting of Warren Fleming during an attempted carjacking outside the Security Square Mall. The partial fingerprints were taken from Mr. Fleming’s car.

In her opinion, Judge Souder repeatedly cited a flawed fingerprint analysis involving an Oregon lawyer mistakenly linked to the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

She also discounted testimony that fingerprinting is an infallible methodology, saying it was “neither credible nor persuasive.”


Wye Oak seedlings available for $35

It has been five years since the demise of Maryland’s famed Wye Oak, but one of its descendants could end up in your yard.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is taking orders for 2-year-old seedlings raised from acorns off one of the Wye Oak’s own offspring. Orders are being taken at the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery in Preston. Each seedling costs $35.

The 96-foot Wye Oak was thought to be nearly 500 years old when it collapsed during a storm in June 2002.

Meanwhile, the nursery has been growing several clones of the tree. When the clones begin producing acorns in a few years, the seedlings will be identical to the Wye Oak.


Man gets probation for in-flight assault

A federal judge sentenced an Arizona man to three years’ probation for assaulting two members of an airline flight crew.

Prosecutors said Bryan Spann of Morristown, Ariz., became belligerent on an America West flight from Phoenix to Baltimore.

He pleaded guilty to punching a flight attendant when the crew tried to calm him down. He also pleaded guilty to punching a second crew member before passengers and crew members restrained him. When the plane landed, Maryland authorities took him into custody, where he failed sobriety tests.

His sentence includes three months of home detention, substance-abuse evaluations and an anger management class. He also must write an apology to each victim and donate $1,500 to Air Charity Network.



Tom Davis won’t run for Senate in 2008

U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III will not enter the 2008 race for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. John W. Warner, Republican sources told the Associated Press last night.

Mr. Davis, Virginia Republican, is scheduled to make an announcement about his political plans tomorrow

“He’s out. He’s going to be real coy about it, though,” said a senior Republican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Davis has not made his plans public.

Mr. Davis has represented his Fairfax County district since 1995.

He has kept mostly silent about his political goals as he helps the campaign of his wife, state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, Fairfax Republican. She is facing a fierce re-election challenge as the Republican Party struggles to retain control of its Senate majority in the Nov. 6 election.


Special election set for Rep. Davis’ seat

Gov. Tim Kaine has scheduled a Dec. 11 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Davis.

At least a half-dozen Republicans, including Mrs. Davis’ widower, Chuck Davis, have either announced plans to run for the office or an interest in running.

Mrs. Davis, a Republican from Gloucester, died at her home Oct. 6 after a two-year struggle with breast cancer. She was 57 and had represented eastern Virginia in Congress since 2000.

The 1st District extends from the Hampton Roads area up the peninsula and north to Fredericksburg and Prince William County.

Republicans will nominate their candidate at a district convention set for Nov. 17 at Gloucester High School.

Besides Mr. Davis, Republicans who have said they will run are Williamsburg businessman Paul Jost; Spotsylvania County party activist David Caprara; former Delegate Richard H. Black of Loudoun County who just moved into the district; Delegate Robert Wittman of Westmoreland County, who is seeking re-election; conservative writer and blogger James Atticus Bowden of Poquoson; and Sherwood Bowditch of Gloucester.

No Democrat has announced in the strongly Republican district.


Cracks in dorm force students out

About 130 Liberty University students were moved into temporary housing Friday after cracks were found in their dormitory during a regular inspection, Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said Monday.

“We found that the cracks had widened a little bit since last December, so just to be on the safe side, we moved all the students out,” Mr. Falwell said.

The building, known as Dorm Seven, was completed in the 1970s and was one of the first dormitories built at the late Rev. Jerry Falwell‘s university. None of the other dormitories that were inspected raised concern, Mr. Falwell said.

“When an engineer says he thinks we ought to move everyone out and fix it, we don’t try to second-guess them,” he said.

Mr. Falwell said he was unsure what caused the cracks in the dorm, built of masonry on the first floor and steel on higher floors. The engineer who assessed the cracks said repairs would take about seven to 10 days after a contractor is hired.

Students will be allowed to return when the repair work is completed. In the meantime, they are staying wherever they can.

Freshman Tim Low and his roommates are living in a room in another dorm that also houses information-technology equipment.

“They told us [repairs would take] one to two weeks. But everyone is pretty doubtful that’s actually going to happen,” Mr. Low said. “I kind of want my room back.”

His father, Mike Low, of Kansas City, Mo., said he was upset about the arrangements.

“Couldn’t they use a few dollars and put them in a hotel room that was more conducive to studying?” he said. “I’m not feeling the love here.”


Locks will close in Dismal Swamp

The statewide drought has lowered water levels in the Dismal Swamp Canal, and officials will suspend lock service at the end of the month.

The locks will be closed indefinitely beginning Tuesday, but the canal will still be open to canoes and kayaks.

The canal runs north to south from Deep Creek in Chesapeake to South Mills, N.C. It is often used by boaters heading south for winter.

The canal draws its water from Lake Drummond, in the Great Dismal Swamp. The lack of rain this summer and fall has caused the lake to drop to 3.6 feet, according to a gauge the Army Corps of Engineers uses to determine whether the canal has enough water for boaters.

Once the water level reaches about 5 feet, lock service likely will resume. The Corps has had to suspend lock service 15 times since 1977 because of low water.

Jury clears man of assault at protest

An opponent to homosexual “marriage” from Arlington was cleared of charges that he assaulted a counterdemonstrator during a Dec. 16 rally in Worcester, Mass.

After deliberating for about seven hours, a Central District Court jury acquitted Larry Cirignano, 51. The former head of the group Catholic Citizenship was accused of pushing “marriage” supporter Sarah Loy to the ground in December during the rally against same-sex unions.

Two prosecution witnesses — including a reporter for the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester — testified that they saw Mr. Cirignano push Miss Loy. But Mr. Cirignano said he gently guided her away from the speaker’s podium because he feared her presence might lead to an altercation.

Miss Loy, 28, said she bruised her elbow and shoulder when she hit the pavement

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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