- The Washington Times - Friday, November 28, 2008


Shoppers thankful for sales tax holiday

Holiday shopping in the District will come with a price break this week as the city suspends sales taxes for clothing and accessories.

The tax holiday begins Friday and runs through Dec. 7. That means shoppers can save at least 5.75 percent on many items.

All clothing, shoes and accessories such as jewelry and watches, will be tax free if they cost $100 or less.

ZooLights fest gets a little brighter

The National Zoo is lighting up its holiday decorations this weekend with some new additions this year.

The ZooLights festival runs for 20 nights from Friday evening through Dec. 30. It includes more than 50 animal light sculptures made of energy-efficient bulbs.

New displays this year include zebras and a blue crab with seaweed. Also, there will be an animated ant hill for the giant anteater and fish for sea lions to catch.

Woman, 22, arrested in slaying of couple

Police have arrested a second suspect in the slaying of a couple found dead in their Northwest home.

Angela Hernandez, 22, of Washington, was charged Wednesday night with first-degree felony murder. She was ordered held without bond Thursday.

On Tuesday, Peiro Emanuel Fuentes Hernandez, 27, of Capital Heights, was charged with killing Michael Spevak, 68, and his wife, Virginia Spevak, 67.

Police did not say whether the two suspects were arrested.

The psychiatrist and former teacher were found dead Saturday in their Friendship Heights home.

According to police documents, Angela Hernandez told investigators she knew the Spevaks’ former foster daughter, “Anna.”

She told police she went to rob the Spevaks with two other suspects. She provided telephone cords to tie up the couple. Police think at least one suspect was a gang member.



PG County targets fraud in home loans

The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office hopes to send a message to potential perpetrators of mortgage fraud - “Not in this county.”

Operating since September, the office’s new Mortgage and Foreclosure Division is hoping to bring 20 cases to indictment soon, said Assistant State’s Attorney April Richardson.

Ms. Richardson said the division is moving forward against loan officers, title companies, lawyers and brokerages thought to have participated in mortgage scams.

Sgt. Ted Jones, a former investigator with the county’s homicide division, was hired along with Ms. Richardson as part of what Maryland Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has called a “posse” that will protect citizens from housing crimes. Sgt. Jones said these crimes should not be taken lightly.

“There is very little difference, if any, between a bad guy who robs you of your money at gunpoint and one who steals your home from you,” he said. “I think stealing someone’s home is worse. You’re talking about robbing them of a basic need - a place to live.”


Use of force probed in hit-and-run case

Montgomery County police are investigating an incident that unfolded outside a church service and ended with an officer shooting at a vehicle.

The off-duty police officer was directing traffic at the Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg about 7:10 p.m. Wednesday when a sport utility vehicle traveling fast struck the officer, police said.

Police have arrested Joseph Nelson, 16, of Clarksburg, and charged him as an adult with first-degree assault for striking the officer.

Officer Josue Zelaya was treated for injuries to his foot, investigators said. Officer Zelaya fired shots at the SUV but didn’t strike Joseph. Another officer also was directing traffic at the church and saw the shooting.


American Indian day marked for first time

American Indian Heritage Day is a new state holiday that will be celebrated for the first time this year.

The event in being marked Friday with a dinner in Annapolis featuring American Indian dancers and musicians.

The most visible sign of the American Indians in Maryland can be seen in the rivers - Patapsco, Patuxent, Susquehanna and others.

Delegate Talmadge Branch, Baltimore City Democrat, sponsored the legislation for the holiday. He said it will bring some awareness to the American Indian heritage.


Woman, 85, killed by fire in her home

An 85-year-old woman has died from injuries she suffered when her house caught fire in Jarrettsville, fire officials said.

The fire was first reported at 9:41 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, Deputy State Fire Marshal Joseph Zurolo said.

The woman, who was not immediately identified, was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

The woman’s son suffered some burns while trying to extinguish his mother’s burning clothes.

Investigators were looking for the cause of the fire, which appeared to be confined to the basement.


Police still seeking patrol car cameras

Ocean City police are still trying to get video cameras into patrol cars.

Last year, two officers suggested a 12-month pilot program for in-car cameras. Since then, the department has tested three systems, for a month each, in a few police vehicles.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino says the department is still working on issues such as storage, access and training. She says, “It’s got to be done the right way.”



JMU band plays in Macy’s parade

With nearly 500 members, James Madison’s marching band wasn’t hard to miss in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Marching Royal Dukes performed Thursday in the holiday spectacle.

The 474-member band left JMU’s Harrisonburg campus on Wednesday in 11 buses destined for Manhattan. They were set to rise before dawn to practice.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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