- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2009


Trial set in deaths of four daughters

A woman accused of killing her four daughters and living with the bodies in her Southeast rowhouse is scheduled to stand trial in July.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg on Friday tentatively set a date after Banita Jacks was found mentally fit to stand trial after an evaluation at St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Before the July 13 trial, however, the judge plans to question Mrs. Jacks to determine whether she understands the implications of waiving an insanity defense and pleading not guilty.

Mrs. Jacks’ attorneys have urged her to plead insanity, but she has refused.

She has been jailed since January 2008 when the bodies were found. Authorities think the girls had been dead since the summer of 2007.

Student found dead on GWU campus

A George Washington University student has been found dead in a campus dorm room.

Sophomore Laura Treanor died Friday, university spokeswoman Tracy Schario told the Hatchet student newspaper. She was an editor on the newspaper staff.

Roommates found Miss Treanor on Friday about 8:30 a.m. and called 911.

There is no indication of foul play, but police continue to investigate, D.C. police spokesman Officer Israel James said.

The university sent an alert to students and faculty, saying authorities were investigating a student death in Ivory Tower residence hall. According to the campus Web site, the area was secured but the campus was operating on a normal schedule.



O’Malley announces global-warming bill

Gov. Martin O’Malley will sponsor legislation to commit Maryland to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

The Democrat will introduce the measure Monday as part of his legislative package.

The greenhouse gas emissions provision would be a cut of 25 percent from 2006 levels.

Prince George’s County Sen. Paul Pinsky and Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve, both Democrats, will sponsor the bill. They say the proposal stems from months of negotiations between industrial manufacturers, labor unions and environmental activists. It would require the state to ensure there will be no loss of manufacturing jobs as a result of the measure.

Under the bill, the state Department of the Environment must develop a plan by 2012 to meet the measure’s goals.


Mayor no longer seeks bills paid

Baltimore City Solicitor George Nilson is no longer drafting a policy under which taxpayers could end up paying Mayor Sheila Dixon’s legal bills.

The policy would have been similar to a state provision that allows officials to be reimbursed for legal fees if they are found innocent of charges against them.

Mrs. Dixon and Mr. Nilson were criticized this week after Mr. Nilson revealed he was drafting the policy. Mrs. Dixon is under indictment on theft and perjury charges and has retained two prominent attorneys.

Mrs. Dixon said that she doesn’t believe a new policy is necessary.

A city official who is acquitted or investigated but not charged could still have his or her legal fees paid back without a formal policy in place, Mr. Nilson said. An official would have to request reimbursement from the Board of Estimates, a city spending panel that’s controlled by the mayor.


O’Malley defends education budget

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is defending his budget proposal after Baltimore’s schools chief criticized the amount set aside for the city’s schools.

Baltimore city schools are set to receive 2.9 percent less money in this year’s budget than last year’s. Baltimore schools chief Andre Alonso told the Baltimore Sun that the governor’s budget represents a rollback of Maryland’s education funding plan known as Thornton.

But Mr. O’Malley said Friday that’s “patently false,” and that he’s fully funding Thornton. But some jurisdictions, including Baltimore and Prince George’s County, are seeing less money because of the formula used to calculate aid.

Mr. O’Malley said he is hopeful a federal economic recovery plan, which likely will include money for education, will help make a better state budget.


Teen who killed family gets 4 life sentences

A judge on Friday ordered four life sentences for an honor student and former Boy Scout who fatally shot his parents and brothers, then went to a friend’s house to play video games.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas Bollinger ordered Nicholas Browning, 16, to serve two of the sentences consecutively and two concurrently. That means he could be eligible for parole in 23 years with good behavior.

Browning wrote a statement in which he apologized to his family, but he was overcome with emotion and wasn’t able to read it in court. The only words he managed to speak were, “I’m so sorry.”

Prosecutors requested the four life terms for Browning after he pleaded guilty in October to first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents, John and Tamara, and his younger brothers, Gregory and Benjamin. Prosecutors never disclosed a motive.



New applications up 16 percent

With a few applications still trickling in, the University of Virginia is reporting extraordinary interest among high school seniors in the Charlottesville school.

The school has received a record 21,511 applications for 3,170 places in the fall’s entering class. That is at least 16 percent more than last year’s applicant pool.

The prospects for the Class of 2013 include 22 percent more black students and 56 percent more Hispanic students. The pool includes 100 percent more Indian scholars and 50 percent more international students.

The university said the intense interest is a testament to John A. “Jack” Blackburn, the school’s veteran dean of admissions. He died Tuesday.


Prepaid card ban clears House panel

A proposed Republican ban on online contributions via prepaid credit cards to Virginia candidates has sailed through a House panel.

Delegate Bob Marshall’s bill advanced to a floor vote next week after Democrats on the Privileges and Elections Committee failed to slow it.

It cleared the panel on a 15-6 vote Friday, with three Democrats joining 12 Republicans.

Mr. Marshall, Prince William Republican, argued that the cards allow donors to hide their identity and addresses.

Because Virginia allows unrestricted giving, it relies solely on disclosure to hold candidates and donors accountable.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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