- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 19, 2009


Fenty signs gay marriage bill

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on Friday signed a bill legalizing gay marriage in the nation’s capital.

Mr. Fenty signed the bill Friday at All Souls Unitarian Church in Northwest.

The D.C. Council passed the same-sex-marriage measure Tuesday. Congress has final say over D.C.’s laws, so the mayor’s signature doesn’t mean the bill immediately becomes law.

The bill must pass a 30-day period of congressional review.

Supporters expect that Congress won’t touch the law and that gay couples may be able to wed in the District as early as March. Opponents, however, plan to fight the bill.

Mr. Fenty signed the bill in front of more than 100 supporters. His parents were among those in the crowd, and Mr. Fenty said it wasn’t too long ago that some places would not have allowed his parents, an interracial couple, to marry.

“That seems unbelievable now, maybe even ludicrous,” he said.

DOJ asked to look into Gates case

Internal ethics investigators at the Justice Department are being asked to look into the case of a man freed from prison this week after 28 years because DNA testing showed he was innocent.

The conviction of Donald Eugene Gates was based largely on the testimony of an FBI forensic analyst whose work later came under fire. Documents show prosecutors knew years ago that the discredited analyst was involved but failed to inform Gates’ attorneys.

In a letter Friday to Judge Fred B. Ugast, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Draper said her office has referred the matter to the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

Meanwhile, prosecutors say they no longer want to do additional DNA testing they had planned for Gates. They’re asking Judge Ugast to immediately throw out the conviction.



Miller clarifies tax comment

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. on Friday said he “never in my wildest imagination” envisioned an alcohol tax increase for drinks in restaurants in Maryland this legislative session.

Mr. Miller, who opposes the increase, brought the subject up while talking about the state’s budget problems.

He had mentioned during a Wednesday interview on Maryland Public Television that there was a possibility that a tax hike on alcohol might have enough support in the Senate. Mr. Miller said it would only raise about $20 million, not much considering the state’s $2 billion deficit.

But an editorial in the Baltimore Sun cited an Abell Foundation report that estimated a 10-cent-per-drink increase would raise about $214.4 million.


Republican resigning from state House

Delegate Richard B. Weldon Jr. is giving up his seat in the House of Delegates to take a job in Frederick City Hall.

Alexandra Hughes, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Michael E. Busch, said Friday that Mr. Weldon sent the speaker a resignation letter dated Thursday.

Mr. Weldon, who was elected as a Republican, announced last year that he had switched his voter registration from Republican to unaffiliated. He said at the time that he didn’t want intensifying party politics to interfere with his policy decisions.

Because Mr. Weldon was elected as a Republican, the Frederick Republican Central Committee will choose someone to replace Mr. Weldon. That person’s name will be forwarded to the governor to make the selection official.


Mooney honored by homeless advocates

A Maryland state senator is being honored by the National Coalition for the Homeless for working to extend hate-crime protections to homeless people.

The Frederick News-Post reported Friday that Frederick County Republican Alex X. Mooney will pick up the award Monday during a National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day event in Washington.

Mr. Mooney sponsored a bill that was signed into law this year, making Maryland the first state to extend hate-crimes protection to homeless people.

The hate-crimes statute imposes tougher penalties on criminals convicted of targeting people for factors that also include race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.



Ex-sheriff gets 19 months in prison

A federal judge on Friday sentenced former Page County Sheriff Daniel Presgraves to 19 months in prison for racketeering.

Presgraves had faced up to 20 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in August in exchange for prosecutors dismissing 21 charges, including violating the civil rights of female employees, bribery and money laundering. The racketeering charge involved personal use of inmate labor and trying to stymie the federal investigation.

Recommended sentencing guidelines called for 27 to 33 months in prison. But U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad said Presgraves, 47, had suffered enough by losing his job in law enforcement.


FBI to test evidence from 1980s slayings

The FBI’s laboratory in Virginia is getting evidence in a string of unsolved slayings in the 1980s known as the Colonial Parkway murders.

FBI special agent Alex Turner said Friday that the lab in Quantico will conduct advanced DNA and latent print testing on evidence from some of the murders. The evidence includes clothing, blood, fiber and hair.

Two women whose throats were slit were found off the parkway in 1986. Two couples subsequently were found dead in the area, and another couple disappeared.

Agent Turner also said the FBI has recovered crime scene photographs from the parkway slayings that were improperly taken from the office. An investigation found that the pictures were removed by an FBI employee who retired in 2001 and has since died.

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