- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2009



New trial denied in dismemberment

Frederick County Circuit Judge Julie Solt on Wednesday denied a new trial for a Pennsylvania woman convicted in the 2002 murder and dismemberment of two Virginia residents who were tourists in Ocean City.

Erika Sifrit, 31, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., had claimed in her petition that jurors at her trial were not told that she was a “needy” woman whose actions centered around her husband, Benjamin. She is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years for killing Joshua Ford and Martha “Genie” Crutchley, of Fairfax.

Benjamin Sifrit, a former Navy SEAL, is serving 35 years for Miss Crutchley’s death. He was acquitted of killing Mr. Ford and maintained he was an accessory after the fact in Miss Crutchley’s murder.


Inland waterways not for aquaculture

The town council voted Tuesday to ask the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to exclude the town’s inland waterways from efforts to lease submerged land for commercial farming of clams and other aquatic life.

City Engineer Terry McGean told council members that aquaculture in Ocean City could block marina and residential channels and interfere with personal watercraft rentals.

Department of Agriculture aquaculture coordinator Karl Roscher said those areas would not be targeted by aquaculture anyway because there would be too much competition for use of those areas. He and Mr. McGean noted that the wider and more open Chincoteague Bay could provide better applications for clam aquaculture.


Rape charge added in hammer attack

Maryland State Police have added rape to the charges against a Carroll County man accused of attacking his neighbor with a hammer.

Paul Scott, 51, of Westminster, was previously charged with attempted murder and assault. Now authorities have charged the 51-year-old with rape in the attack on his 56-year-old neighbor.

Police said Mr. Scott hit the woman in the head and face with a hammer Sunday morning after offering to bring her newspaper to her. The victim said she thought Mr. Scott raped her while she was in and out of consciousness, and police said Wednesday they discovered evidence that confirmed the rape.

The woman told police that Scott threatened her with a knife after hitting her with the hammer. Mr. Scott was arrested Sunday after troopers surrounded his home.


Officials report new flu cases

D.C. health officials have confirmed two more cases of swine flu, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the District to nine.

Department of Health Director Pierre Vigilance announced the cases Wednesday. He said officials are waiting on confirmation of one remaining probable case of swine flu.

NORAD plans training over city

Military aircraft may be seen approaching Washington later this week and next week as part of a flight training exercise.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said the flights will be conducted during the late night and early morning hours on Friday and on Tuesday. The flights are to be conducted between midnight and 6 a.m.

The training exercise announced Wednesday involves two Civil Air Patrol Cessna aircraft, two F-16 fighter jets and a Coast Guard helicopter.



VMI cadets march for re-enactment

Seven cadets from Virginia Military Institute are marching more than 80 miles in the footsteps of their counterparts who fought in the Civil War Battle of New Market.

Sophomore Aaron Cregar of Frederick, Md., said the march along U.S. Route 11 from Lexington to New Market gives the cadets an understanding of what cadets endured in 1864.

Wearing replica Confederate uniforms, the cadets are walking about 20 miles per day. They stopped Tuesday in Mint Spring and will participate in the weekend re-enactment marking the battle’s 145th anniversary.

More than 250 cadets fought alongside Confederate soldiers in the battle and 10 were killed.


City faces fine for sewage spill

Harrisonburg faces a $14,300 state fine for a sewage spill that polluted two creeks - Blacks Run and Seiberts Run - in November.

A proposed consent order between the city and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality also calls for the city to pay $894.77 to cover the cost of the agency’s investigation of the spill.

Harrisonburg could pay only $1,430 of the proposed fine if a supplemental environmental project is successful. The project involves eliminating private septic systems next to Blacks Run.

Steven Hetrick with the environmental quality office says the remaining $12,870 would go toward the project. The consent order requires approval by the State Water Control Board.


Disclosure tardy, but DGA not fined

Virginia’s State Board of Elections won’t be fining the Democratic Governors Association after all, for tardy disclosure of its big-dollar givers.

The board said Tuesday that it would fine DGA $2,500 Wednesday for failing to identify its donors when it poured $1.3 million into Virginia’s governor’s race last week.

The association gave the money to a state political action committee, Common Sense Virginia, but had not updated its list of $2,500-plus donors since April 15. The national organization argued it was within the law, but overnight uploaded the list of new donors into the elections board database.

Board spokesman David Allen said state law gives parties of incomplete reports 10 days to update them.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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