- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Three backed for Superior Court

D.C. officials have recommended three people for a spot on the D.C. Superior Court.

The Judicial Nomination Commission has sent its picks to President Obama, who has 60 days to select a nominee.

The commission named Marisa Demeo, a D.C. Superior Court magistrate judge; Elizabeth Sarah Gere, a partner at Troutman Sanders; and Florence Pan, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District.

The vacancy was created by Judge Linda Turner’s retirement.

Former child welfare chief dies of cancer

Sharlynn E. Bobo, a D.C. native who once ran the city’s child welfare agency, has died at age 61.

Mrs. Bobo died of pancreatic cancer on Saturday at Washington Hospital Center, said her daughter, Danna Bobo-Johnson, of Fredericksburg, Va.

Mrs. Bobo joined the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency in 2002, and became director of the agency in 2007.

She stepped down as director last July, as the agency grappled with the deaths of several children and a backlog of cases.

A memorial service is planned for Thursday at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Northwest.



Teacher admits sex offense

A former high school English teacher from Frostburg has pleaded guilty to a sex offense with a 15-year-old male student.

Autumn Lee Leathers, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree sex offense during a court hearing Tuesday in Cumberland.

In return for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped more serious charges, including child abuse and assault.

The conviction carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail, a $1,000 fine and registration as a sex offender. No sentencing date has been set.

Miss Leathers was an English teacher at Mountain Ridge High School in May when prosecutors say she began a three-month relationship with the boy.


Convicts in slayings get new hearing

A court hearing began Tuesday for two men convicted in the murders of three young relatives.

The hearing is on whether jury notes received by the court during the trial were communicated to defense counsel.

Adan Canela and Policarpio Espinoza are serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the deaths of Lucero Espinoza, 8; brother Ricardo, 9, and male cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10.

The children were murdered in a Baltimore apartment in May 2004. One was beheaded, and the other two were nearly decapitated.

The hearing is scheduled to last three days.


Ominous call leads to dead bodies

An ominous 911 call from an Annapolis apartment has led police to two bodies with gunshot wounds.

Police said a woman called at 12:23 a.m. Tuesday, saying police should come to the 600 block of Admiral Drive or they would “find two dead bodies.”

When police arrived three minutes later, nobody answered the door and police found a 39-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman dead inside.

Police consider the case a homicide and a suicide. They think the two people lived together but don’t know the motive for the shooting. The identities have been withheld while family members are notified. Police also said a firearm was recovered at the scene.


Candle sparked condominium fire

A knocked-over candle started a two-alarm fire that displaced a dozen people at a Silver Spring condominium complex, according to the Montgomery County Fire Department.

The fire started about 7:30 p.m. Monday in a top-floor apartment in the three-story building in the 2100 block of Walsh View Terrace.

Investigators think a resident knocked over a lit candle while taking off her coat. She returned to the room when she smelled smoke, but when she opened a door to let smoke escape, air fueled the fire.

One firefighter was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, and two residents were taken to a hospital for a checkup.

Damage to the building and the 10 units involved is estimated at $900,000.


Man committed after hammer attack

A man charged with beating his 81-year-old wife with a hammer was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Charges of attempted first-degree murder will remain active against Calvin Payne, 83, of Columbia. A spokesman for the county State’s Attorney’s Office, said hospitalizing Mr. Payne is in his best interest. He was committed Friday to the Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.

His wife, Alma Payne, asked that the charges be shelved and that her husband be committed.


Guards suspended for inmate’s escape

Maryland’s prison agency suspended four correctional officers for negligence in connection with the escape of a convicted murderer from a medium-security prison near Hagerstown.

Two of the unidentified officers worked in observation towers at the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said.

Inmate Kandelario Garcia-Ramos scaled two fences topped with razor wire in view of both towers, the agency said.

The other two officers failed to detect Garcia-Ramos’s absence during two routine counts of inmates.

Garcia-Ramos escaped Jan. 17 and was captured five days later about six miles away from the prison.



Senate broadens death penalty

The Senate has voted to expand the death penalty to those who assist in a murder but don’t do the actual killing and to those who kill certain fire marshals while they are on duty.

A bill by Sen. Mark Obenshain of Warren County would expand Virginia’s “triggerman rule,” which reserves capital punishment for the person who actually does the killing. It passed 24-16, three votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to overturn a likely veto.

Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, has vetoed the bill in the past two years and indicated he would do so again.

A bill by Sen. Steve Martin of Chesterfield County would add fire marshals and assistant fire marshals to the long list of law enforcement officers for which killing them in their line of duty is punishable by death. It passed 29-11.


Couple charged in daughter’s death

A Suffolk couple face murder charges stemming from the starvation death of their baby daughter last year.

Linwood and Shawntay Jones, both 25, are charged with murder. They are being held without bond.

A city spokeswoman said the medical examiner’s office determined the 11-month-old girl died Dec. 1 of dehydration and malnutrition because of medical and nutritional neglect.

Two other children, 3 and 4, were removed from the home.


Fraternity asks court to revive suit

An attorney for a fraternity banished from George Mason University in Fairfax County asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to revive a lawsuit against university officials.

George Mason withdrew recognition of the Sigma Chi chapter for at least 10 years after a disciplinary panel found the fraternity guilty of hazing, providing alcohol to minors and allowing sexual assaults at parties.

Sigma Chi attorney Christopher Aldo Porco told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the disciplinary proceedings violated the fraternity’s due process and constitutional rights.

State Solicitor General Stephen McCullough argued that the fraternity was given proper notice of the hearing and an opportunity to make its case.

The court usually takes several weeks to rule.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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