- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009



Officer charged in bank burglary

Prince George’s County police have charged a fellow officer in a Temple Hills bank burglary.

Officers were called to the SunTrust Bank in the 4600 block of Old Branch Avenue about 3:40 a.m. Wednesday for a man inside the bank.

A suspect was arrested, and police say their investigation led to burglary charges against Cpl. Eddie Smith Jr. The 16-year veteran of the force assigned to the bureau of patrol has been suspended without pay.

Police Chief Roberto Hylton said he’s disheartened by the charges and would not tolerate wrongdoing by any member of the agency.

Officials said an internal investigation will be conducted by the department’s Special Investigative Response Team.


Two women found dead in rowhouse

Baltimore police have launched a homicide investigation into the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in a city rowhouse.

Someone called 911 Wednesday evening reporting that the bodies were inside the rowhouse in the 4000 block of Biddison Lane.

Detective Nicole Monroe said the bodies showed signs of decomposition.

Detective Monroe did not describe any wounds on the bodies, where in the house they were found or how long they had been dead. She said she doesn’t know whether the women were related.

Police said a car missing from the address was found early Thursday.


Tornado touched down on Tuesday

The National Weather Service has determined that a tornado touched down in southeast Baltimore County.

The tornado touched down in Dundalk on Tuesday afternoon during a storm that damaged buildings and knocked down trees.

National Weather Service science officer Steven Zubricks said wind speed of a maximum of 70 mph during the storm was consistent with an EF-0 rated tornado, the minimum rating. Officials examined damage, reviewed weather instruments and took statements from residents to make the determination.

The storm caused more than 70,000 outages throughout the Baltimore area, most of which have been restored. No injuries were reported.


96 turtles seized from street vendors

Fear the turtle, just don’t sell them without a permit.

That’s the message Maryland wildlife officials have for two Baltimore street vendors who were caught selling the amphibians without a permit. In the past two weeks, 96 young turtles that can spread salmonella were seized from the vendors.

The turtles were small, red-eared sliders, not the diamondback terrapin that is the mascot of the University of Maryland, where “Fear the Turtle” banners and T-shirts are popular.

Maryland officials said vendors buy the turtles wholesale for about 50 cents each, usually from breeders in Louisiana and Florida, and sell them for as much as $15.


Beloved muted swan returns after month

The Humane Society of Carroll County said a beloved mute swan named Grumpy has returned after he disappeared a month ago.

Society Executive Director Nicky Ratliff said the staff in Westminster saw the swan Wednesday, called out his name and watched with joy as the swan swam across a pond to them.

Miss Ratliff said Grumpy is so named because a former owner said the mute swan couldn’t get along with other swans. However, Miss Ratliff said he’s been doing fine living in a doghouse at the humane society’s pond for the past three years.

Grumpy went missing May 11. Miss Ratliff said he wasn’t injured and only had dirty feathers when he came swimming back Wednesday.


Man hurt after falling from balcony

A 19-year-old Virginia man was hospitalized after he fell from a third-floor balcony in Ocean City, authorities said.

Ocean City police said the man fell from the balcony in the 200 block of Baltimore Avenue about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Police said Edward Sean Kiger of Chesapeake Beach, Va., was trying to climb over the piece of plywood on a third-floor balcony when he fell to the pavement.

Mr. Kiger was flown to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.



Poll: McDonnell trails Deeds after primary

The Virginia governor’s race appears to have significantly tightened, according to a new survey released by Rasmussen Reports.

Newly chosen Democratic gubernatorial nominee R. Creigh Deeds leads his Republican opponent, former Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, by six points in the first poll of Virginia voters released since Tuesdays Democratic primary.

Mr. Deeds had 47 percent of the vote and Mr. McDonnell had 41 percent in a survey where 2 percent of voters favored another candidate and 10 percent were undecided.

In a Rasmussen survey in April, Mr. Deeds scored the lowest of the three potential Democratic nominees in a match-up against Mr. McDonnell. Mr. Deeds had 30 percent of the vote to Mr. McDonnell’s 45 percent.

While such early numbers may have little significance at the end of the race, there were fewer undecided Democrats than Republicans or unaffiliated voters. Among moderate voters, who are considered key to winning the state, Mr. Deeds has 66 percent of the vote to Mr. McDonnell’s 18 percent.

The telephone survey of 500 likely voters was taken Wednesday night.


Lawsuits in Va. Tech slayings transferred

Lawsuits filed by the families of two students slain in the mass killings as Virginia Tech two years ago have been transferred to the jurisdiction where the school is located.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Charles Maxfield on Thursday granted defense motions to transfer the case to Montgomery County.

The parents of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson filed the lawsuits April 16.

Student gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before taking his own life April 16, 2007.

Defendants contended that Montgomery County would be more convenient for most parties to the case.

A spokeswoman for the plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert T. Hall, said he argued that the families would be more likely to get a fair trial in Fairfax County on their claim of gross negligence by numerous officials.


State expands green initiative

Virginia’s government is expanding efforts to reduce its energy use.

Gov. Tim Kaine’s Renew Virginia initiative requires all new buildings to be energy- and water-efficient. It also encourages employees to travel less and use fewer disposable materials.

Agencies that show the biggest savings will be recognized in December.

The employee who submits the best energy-saving idea also will receive a paid day off.

Mr. Kaine said he hopes to inspire private businesses and individuals to follow the state’s lead.


Judge tosses suit against Pat Robertson

A judge in Virginia has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a former Regent University law student who was suspended after posting an unflattering picture of school founder Pat Robertson on the Internet.

U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Friedman last week rejected Adam Key’s claims that Regent and Mr. Robertson violated his free speech and due process rights.

Mr. Key was suspended for one year in 2007 for violating the school’s code of conduct after posting on the Internet a picture of Mr. Robertson making what appears to be an obscene gesture. The picture was actually one frame of a video in which Robertson was scratching his face.

School officials also said Mr. Key violated Regent’s weapons policy by carrying a stun gun on campus.


Medical school opens cancer facility

The University of Virginia School of Medicine is hoping a new cancer research facility will lead to advances in the field.

The Charlottesville school opened its doors Wednesday to the $70.7 million Carter-Harrison Research Building. It will allow researchers in fields such as immunology to turn their discoveries in the lab into improvements in immune therapy for cancer.

Development for the project was kick-started by private donations from the Beirne B. Carter Foundation and the Harrison Family Foundation.

Officials said the new facility will help attract top researchers to the medical school and away from competitors such as Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and Harvard University.


Folly Castle to be auctioned

An 18th-century house built by a descendant of Petersburg’s founder is being put up for auction.

Folly Castle is scheduled to be sold Saturday. Owners Tim and Jackie Graham operated a bed and breakfast in the Georgian-style house, but they said it’s time to move on.

Folly Castle was built in 1763 by Peter Jones II, the great-grandson of Petersburg founder Peter Jones. It has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms and four kitchens.

The house’s contents will be auctioned separately.


Civic leader admits to embezzling

A southwest Virginia businesswoman and civic leader will spend three months in jail for stealing more than $50,000 from a physician when she was his secretary and bookkeeper.

Bertha Jean Neal of Abingdon pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court to one count of embezzlement, two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses and 17 counts of forgery.

A county prosecutor said the jail term falls slightly below guidelines, and noted Neal’s lack of a criminal record and her age, 63.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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