- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2009



Kaine, Howell urge new Wal-Mart site

Gov. Tim Kaine and House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford Republican, urged Orange County supervisors and Wal-Mart officials to work together to find a different site for a Supercenter proposed near a Virginia Civil War battlefield.

In a July 13 letter to Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Lee Frame, Mr. Kaine and Mr. Howell describe the Wilderness battlefield as “supremely important” among Civil War battlefields.

“Every acre of battlefield land that is destroyed means a loss of open space and missed tourism opportunities, and it closes one more window for future generations to better understand our national story,” they said in the letter.

They said the decision is local but encouraged the retailer and local officials to seek an alternate site.

Wal-Mart officials have said they selected the site in Locust Grove after much study and maintain it will not harm the battlefield.

The proposal has outraged preservationists.


Toddler found safe after van stolen

A toddler was found unharmed after her family’s minivan was stolen at a Virginia Beach convenience store with the child inside.

Police said 1-year-old Naomi Hilel was found Wednesday in a parking lot in Newport News.

Virginia Beach police spokeswoman Margie Long said the child’s mother was pumping gas at a 7-Eleven at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when a man pushed her away and got into the minivan.

The man drove off with the child still in her car seat.

Police said they were searching for Matthew R. Nash, 24, as a “person of interest.”

Ms. Long said the Honda Odyssey has Florida license plates with the number HASHEM1. Naor Hilel, the child’s father, told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper that the plate number means “God is one.


AAA asks Kaine to save rest areas

A prominent motorist assistance organization asked Gov. Tim Kaine to rethink the decision to close 19 interstate rest areas in Virginia.

AAA Mid-Atlantic issued a statement Wednesday citing concern that drivers who are fatigued or trying to get to their destinations without a bathroom break will compromise highway safety.

Spokeswoman Martha Meade said a growing number of motorists have expressed alarm about the planned closings Tuesday.

Transportation officials facing a $2.6 billion budget shortfall expect the closings to save about $9 million a year.

Ms. Meade asked officials to look for other options to trim the transportation budget.

Transportation Department spokesman Jeff Caldwell said the agency has cut all its programs and $2 billion in road construction projects. It will lay off 1,000 workers.



Jury deliberates in murder solicitation

A jury in Hagerstown is deliberating in the trial of a 16-year-old girl charged with soliciting the murder of her father.

In closing arguments Wednesday, the prosecutor portrayed Danielle Black as a girl obsessed with her father’s death and her twisted hatred of him.

But the defense said Danielle, and the boy on a school bus she is said to have approached, were just teenagers saying things they didn’t mean.

Danielle’s father, 47-year-old Billie Lee Black, was stabbed to death outside the family’s Hagerstown home on Halloween. The man charged with killing him is not the same friend with whom she spoke on the school bus.


Man, 32, missing after swim in river

Montgomery County authorities were searching for a man who disappeared while swimming across the Potomac River.

Officials said Mauricio Granado, 32, disappeared Tuesday evening south of Old Angler’s Inn in Potomac.

Mr. Granado’s friends say they were on a fishing trip with him when he decided to go for a swim.


Man sentenced in fraud, ID theft

A District Heights man was sentenced Wednesday in an identity theft and bank fraud scheme.

Alvin Spencer, 30, was sentenced to four years in prison. He also was ordered to pay more than $165,000 in restitution and to forfeit jewelry.

According to Spencer’s plea agreement, in 2006, he cashed checks stolen from the mail at the Upper Marlboro post office provided to him by a conspirator. Prosecutors said Spencer received fraudulent driver’s licenses and other identification in the names of the people listed on the stolen checks.


Trial in sect case set for October

Four people accused of starving a toddler to death while part of a religious sect will now go to trial in October.

Their trial had been scheduled to start Tuesday but was delayed because the attorney for one of the defendants had a scheduling conflict.

Prosecutors also wanted to give the woman accused of being the sect leader, Queen Antoinette, and one of her followers, Trevia Williams, time to hire attorneys. But the two women said Tuesday that they would represent themselves.

Miss Antoinette, Miss Williams, Marcus Cobbs and Steven Bynum are accused of denying food and water to 1-year-old Javon Thompson after the boy refused to say “Amen” after meals.

On Wednesday, a Baltimore judge set Oct. 26 as their new trial date.


Couple sentenced for online drug sales

A federal judge Wednesday sentenced a Miami couple for illegally selling more than 2.2 million doses of a weight-loss drug on the Internet.

Federal prosecutors said Susana Mendez, 50, was sentenced to 24 months of probation, including a year of home detention. Her husband, Jose Riopedre, 51, was sentenced to a year in prison Wednesday. They were ordered to forfeit $1.5 million.

Prosecutors said their pharmacy in Laurel and an affiliated pharmacy in Silver Spring received drug orders online.

The Internet pharmacy business with which they and doctors in Puerto Rico were connected unlawfully sold 2.27 million doses of phentermine not for a legitimate medical purpose.

Prosecutors said customers answered a questionnaire without talking to a doctor and the prescription was mailed.


Crash probe to close Takoma station

The Takoma Metrorail station will be closed on two days as federal authorities continue their investigation into last month’s fatal crash.

Metro said in a news release Wednesday that the Takoma station on the Red Line will be closed on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct tests on the tracks at the Takoma and Fort Totten stations. The tests will require Metrorail to suspend service between the two stations.

Shuttle buses will take riders around the testing site.

The June 22 crash killed nine people - including a train operator - and injured about 80.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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