- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008



Officer, suspect hit in street shootout

A Baltimore police officer and a suspect were in critical condition yesterday after a shooting in West Baltimore.

Police spokesman Sterling Clifford said that after two plainclothes officers from a gang unit pulled over a car about 2:15 p.m., a suspect got out, struggled with Officer Mark Spila, 25, and ran off. While he was being chased on foot, the suspect turned and fired at Officer Spila, striking him in the upper part of one of his legs. Officer Spila returned fire, and the suspect was shot several times.

Other police officers engaged fire with a second suspect. Police were looking for that gunman.

Officer Spila and the unidentified wounded suspect were being treated at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Officer Spila was expected to undergo surgery last night.


State drops charges in witness’ slaying

State murder charges were dropped yesterday against a man who faces a federal indictment in the slaying of a witness whose taped testimony could have been used in the state case.

Baltimore prosecutors decided not to pursue the case against Patrick A. Byers Jr. because they think he is more likely to be convicted in federal court, said Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Byers, 22, was charged in the 2006 shooting death of Larry Haynes, 30. A witness to the killing, Carl S. Lackl, 38, was killed in a drive-by shooting outside his Rosedale home in July.

Mr. Byers planned to pay $2,500 for Mr. Lackl’s death, according to an indictment. He and three co-defendants face the possibility of the federal death penalty.

Mr. Lackl was gunned down in his front yard after being lured outside by a telephone inquiry about a car he was selling, police said. He had identified Mr. Byers in a photo lineup as the man he saw shoot and kill Mr. Haynes, according to court documents.

A 2005 witness protection law includes a “hearsay exception” that allows testimony from slain or reluctant witnesses to be introduced at trial. However, there was no guarantee that Mr. Lackl’s taped statement to police would have been allowed as evidence, Mr. Sviatko said.


Patapsco closed after sewage spill

The Patapsco River is closed after a sewer main ruptured yesterday, spilling 10,000 gallons of sewage, Carroll County officials said.

A contractor using a backhoe broke a sewer main in Sykesville about 10 a.m.

As a result, state health officials closed the river to fishing and recreation until further notice.

The contractor was installing new pipes to connect water mains. No customers have lost service.


Inmate’s stabbing ruled gang-related

An inmate was stabbed in the neck in a gang-related incident at the medium-security Roxbury Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.

Division of Correction spokesman Mark Vernarelli said three correctional officers saved the man’s life by slowing his bleeding until medical workers arrived.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said the unidentified inmate was admitted Saturday to Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown.

The agency told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail that the 22-year-old inmate is serving a 30-year sentence for drug, murder and assault convictions in Baltimore.


Schools add one day to students’ calendar

Prince George’s County will add one day to the school year to make up for a weather-related closure Feb. 22.

The last day for students will be June 9, and the last day for teachers will be June 10.

The last day for seniors was moved to May 22, providing four more days for students to take advantage of educational and college planning opportunities, the school system said.



Toll evader caught after 633 violations

Delaware State Police arrested the state’s top toll violator, a Maryland man who dodged tolls more than 600 times in nearly three years.

Frank Maier, 55, of Abingdon, owes the state transportation department nearly $5,000 in unpaid tolls and another $30,000 in fees and penalties, police said.

Police said Mr. Maier began driving through E-ZPass-only lanes in January 2005 to avoid tolls at the Interstate 95 toll plaza near the state line. By Oct. 30, police said he had dodged the toll 633 times.

The Harford County resident turned himself in Monday after state police filed warrants for his arrest. He faces felony charges because the violations total more than $1,000, police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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