- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Lanier praises killing-free weekend

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on Monday praised the second phase of her signature All Hands on Deck initiative, citing increased arrests and no homicides.

“I am very pleased with our result,” she said. “We had no homicides over the weekend, and residents continued to welcome the increased police presence in their neighborhoods.”

Chief Lanier said the department increased foot patrols and focused on traffic safety and pursuing outstanding warrants during the initiative, which extended from Friday to Sunday.

Police reported 464 arrests, a increase of 66 percent over the same period last year. There were eight homicides during the same three-day period in 2007.

Officials said that 28 guns were recovered over and that police recruits were sent to neighborhoods to follow up on complaints and talk to residents.

The weeks leading up to the second phase marked a sharp contrast to those before the first phase, which were marred by a rash of shootings that led to a increase in homicides.

Chief Lanier doubled, then tripled the number of officers on patrol in the 5th Police District after the series of retaliatory shootings shortly before the first phase, which ran from May 2 to 4.

During All Hands on Deck, the entire 4,000-officer department works patrol shifts over three-day periods.



Road kill incinerator planned for agency

The State Highway Administration is planning to operate an incinerator to burn animal carcasses found on Maryland roads.

The incinerator is planned for the SHA’s Frostburg satellite facility near Interstate 68 and Route 36.

The Maryland Department of the Environment recently gave preliminary approval for the incinerator. The SHA said obtaining the final permit could take three to six months.

The incinerator is to be used only for road kill. In the past, the agency has buried the carcasses along highways or has taken them to landfills.

The SHA said the incinerator is needed because of the high number of carcasses needing disposal. For example, officials said five to 10 deer are found in a typical week and the number rises in the mating season.


Teen fatally stabbed over weekend

Prince George’s County police were investigating a stabbing on 14th Avenue in which a 17-year-old youth died.

Officers were called to the 7900 block of 14th Avenue shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday for a stabbing, but could not find a victim. Police learned that Takoma Park police were at a local hospital with a stabbing victim.

Joseph William Durcios, of the 4600 block of Quimby Avenue, died at the hospital of his injuries. Investigators think the teen was in a fight with several other people before he was stabbed in the upper body.


Son charged with stabbing father

Prince George’s County police said a teenager fatally stabbed his father during an argument at the father’s home on Red Top Road.

Michael Rene Tucker Jr., 16, has been charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bond.

Officers went to the 6700 block of Red Top Road Sunday shortly after 8 p.m. to investigate a report of a stabbing and found Michael Rene Tucker, 56, in the home with a stab wound to the upper body. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The teen was arrested a short distance away.


Cell phone suspect back in state

A suspect in a string of burglaries and thefts of cell phones at Verizon wireless stores is in custody in Maryland.

Robert Dawson, 21, of Cambridge, faces more than 30 charges in Dorchester and Talbot counties after completing nearly a year behind bars on similar charges in Sussex County, Del.

The burglary spree in the two states occurred between April and July 2007. Charging documents state Dawson smashed windows with rocks to get inside the stores. Some were targeted more than once.

Dawson also is charged with motor vehicle theft.


Mother charged with leaving child

A Bowie woman is facing criminal charges for purportedly leaving her 14-month-old child unattended in a sport utility vehicle parked at an Annapolis area shopping center.

Lorraine Fortilage, 37, is charged with reckless endangerment and confinement of an unattended child.

Anne Arundel County police said witnesses reported seeing the child strapped in a child-safety seat at the Annapolis Harbour Center while the outside temperature was above 90 degrees Sunday afternoon. Firefighters broke the rear window to free the child.

Police said the child had symptoms of dehydration and was sent to Anne Arundel Medical Center. Police said the mother was found about an hour later.



Former professor refuses to plea

A former professor once accused of being a terrorist leader declined to enter a plea on charges that he refused to testify before a federal grand jury.

At a hearing Monday in federal court, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Sami al-Arian, who is charged with criminal contempt.

The former University of South Florida computer science professor has been in jail since 2003.

Prosecutors accused him of being a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. A jury in Florida acquitted him on those charges, but al-Arian struck a plea bargain admitting guilt to lesser charges.

Prosecutors in Virginia wanted al-Arian to testify to a grand jury investigating a cluster of Islamic organizations in Northern Virginia. But al-Arian claims the terms of his plea bargain exempt him from testifying.


State won’t charge same-sex couple

A couple who obtained a state marriage license and had a ceremony before officials realized one of them might not legally be female will not face charges.

Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn investigated the case of two birth males - Antonio Blount, 31, and Justin McCain, 18 - who authorities said got the license in Newport News and traveled to Norfolk for a civil ceremony in March.

Officials later realized that the bride, “Justine,” was born male in North Carolina.

In a letter to Newport News Circuit Court clerk Rex Davis on Monday, Mr. Gwynn said charges are not warranted based on the law and facts of the case. The pair had faced misdemeanor false information charges.


Protesters charged with blocking offices

Richmond police charged 13 protesters who blocked the entrance to Dominion Virginia Power’s corporate offices, tying up Monday-morning traffic.

The protest against Dominion’s planned coal-fired power plant in Wise County started about 7:30 a.m. Protesters were charged with various misdemeanors, including impeding traffic.

The protesters said they were members of Blue Ridge Earth First and were protesting the state Air Pollution Control Board’s approval last week of pollution permits for Dominion’s 585-megawatt power plant.

Police said that four protesters each had one hand in a 55-gallon drum of cement. They blocked the street and another dangled from a nearby footbridge.


Trial set in death of VCU student

A woman charged in the robbery and fatal shooting of a Virginia Commonwealth University student is set to go on trial Sept. 12.

Richmond Circuit Judge George F. Tidey scheduled the trial date for Zsabriela Evelyn Williams, 20, on Monday.

Miss Williams is charged with murder, two counts of robbery and three counts of using a firearm in a felony.

A co-defendant, Howard Reed Scott III, 17, of South Richmond, is scheduled to be tried Aug. 18 on similar charges.

Police said Miss Williams and Mr. Scott robbed and killed Tyler J. Binsted, 19, March 27 in a city park in Richmond.


Virginia Lottery sued over defective tickets

A business professor is taking the Virginia Lottery to court, seeking $85 million in reimbursement for defective scratch-off tickets.

A lawsuit by Washington and Lee University professor Scott Hoover seeks reimbursement for purchasers of an estimated 26.5 million tickets during the past five years. He says the tickets had no chance of winning the top prize promised on them.

John Fishwick, a Roanoke attorney for Mr. Hoover, on Monday released copies of a lawsuit filed in Richmond Circuit Court. It seeks an $85 million judgment and an injunction preventing the lottery from selling outdated tickets.

After Mr. Fishwick gave notice of a possible lawsuit earlier this month, lottery officials said they were checking to ensure that each scratch-off game had top prizes available.

Virginia Lottery Director Paula Otto said Monday she had not seen the lawsuit, but that policies were being updated to ensure that top prizes were available for all games.

Mr. Hoover’s action said the problem arose in popular games, in which the lottery issued new shipments of tickets but did not tell retailers to pull tickets from old shipments when all the top prizes were awarded. As a result, the lawsuit said, tickets with no chance of winning a game’s top prize were sold.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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