- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Woman dead after fire in row house

A D.C. fire department official says a woman died after she was found in a burning vacant row house.

D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer said investigators think improperly disposed smoking materials started the blaze in the boarded-up row house around 9 p.m. Monday on Kennedy Street in Northwest.

Mr. Piringer said firefighters found the woman, who was in her early 30s, in the basement, and she was taken to a burn center where she later died. The woman has not been identified.

He said the cause of her death has not been determined, but she might have suffered from smoke inhalation.

Mr. Piringer said it appears many people have regularly used the row house as a temporary shelter. He said the death brings the number of people to die in a fire in the District this year to 19.

City seeks dismissal of marriage lawsuit

The District has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit by opponents of same-sex marriage.

The plaintiffs, led by a local pastor, Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., are seeking to get their proposed ban on gay marriage on the ballot. They sued after the city’s Board of Elections and Ethics turned them down.

City lawyers filed a response on Friday. They say the ballot initiative would violate the city’s Human Rights Act because it seeks to deny benefits on the basis of sexual orientation.

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed a bill legalizing gay marriage on Friday, and the measure is expected to pass congressional review.



Stolen coat report was a mistake

The Salvation Army said the disappearance of 300 new winter coats from its distribution center in Chesterfield County wasn’t a theft after all.

An employee reported the coats stolen after noticing the garments weren’t in the cordoned-off area where they were supposed to be.

Salvation Army spokesman Jeff Baldwin said volunteers had given the coats to clients.

Chesterfield police Lt. Tim Smith said the incident appears to have been a misunderstanding.

All the coats were donated last year and stored until this holiday season.



Man gets 19 years for bank robbery

A Calvert County man has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for kidnapping a bank manager and her two children and robbing the bank where she worked.

Joseph Franklin Brown Jr., 37, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow in Greenbelt.

Brown pleaded guilty to armed bank robbery and other crimes in connection with the September 2008 robbery in St. Mary’s County.

In July, William Cordell Johnson, 38, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the scheme.

According to the plea agreement, the men forced the woman and her young children from their home and took them to the bank in California, Md., where they forced the manager to withdraw $169,900.


Snow removal costs $27 million

Transportation officials Tuesday said the cost of removing snow from last weekend’s storm is nearly $27 million and could go higher.

Officials gave a breakdown of costs incurred by agencies under the Maryland Department of Transportation. The highest by far was the State Highway Administration, which incurred costs of $20 million.

Officials said the SHA’s annual budget for snow removal is $26 million. With earlier snow-removal efforts in Western and Central Maryland, the agency has incurred $27 million in costs this year.


75 passengers stuck on train

About 75 people were stuck on a Metro train for an hour and 40 minutes after workers were forced to cut the power because of a man on the tracks.

Metro officials said that after the man was removed, workers weren’t immediately able to restore power.

Power was restored at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday.

Metro said the six-car Orange Line train was stopped before the Cheverly station.

The transit agency said the man appeared to be drunk.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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