- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 2, 2009



Navy hero died of kidney disease

Doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have determined that the man known as the “Father of the U.S. Navy,” John Paul Jones, died of chronic inflammation of the kidneys.

Jones was born in Scotland in 1747 and died in 1792 at age 45. He was the subject of an annual conference at the medical school devoted to uncovering what killed prominent historical figures.

The researchers say a viral or bacterial infection led to Jones’ progressive kidney disease.

Dr. Matthew R. Weir acted as the medical sleuth, poring over Jones’ medical records and an autopsy that was performed 113 years after he died. Jones’ body had been preserved in an alcohol-like substance.

Previous conferences have explored the deaths of Edgar Allan Poe, King Herod and Christopher Columbus.


Prosecutor: Killer still dangerous

A federal prosecutor has suggested a few reasons not to sentence a Baltimore drug dealer to death for orchestrating the murder of a witness against him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Purcell Jr. said Friday that Patrick Byers is “a dangerous man” and will always be dangerous. He says a death sentence would not be an easy choice but reminded jurors that the man Byers killed, Carl Lackl, made a tough decision when he identified Byers as the gunman in another fatal shooting.

Byers’ attorney, William Purpura, noted that the 24-year-old will never again be a free man and asked the jurors to “turn to life.” He invoked a speech by Morgan Freeman’s character in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” to argue that Byers would one day be an old man in prison who regrets what he did in his youth.


Guilty plea entered in double slayings

A Smithsburg man has pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend and a police officer who tried to arrest him.

Douglas Wayne Pryor, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in Montgomery County circuit court Friday in the deaths of former girlfriend Alison Munson and Smithsburg police Officer Christopher Nicholson in December 2007.

Pryor has also agreed to six consecutive life sentences, including two of life without the chance of parole.

First-degree murder of a police officer is a capital offense, but the plea deal eliminates the possibility that Pryor would face the death penalty.

The Attorney General’s Office said Friday that capital-murder defendants convicted and sentenced before Oct. 1 won’t be subject to tighter death-penalty guidelines.



Historic inn sold for $1 million

The historic Wayside Inn in Middletown has been sold at auction for $1 million.

Jacob and Lois Charon submitted the winning bid at Thursday’s auction. The Charons will assume ownership of the 212-year-old inn May 28.

Mrs. Charon said the Wayside Inn is a good business opportunity for the couple, who recently had to close a gas station they owned in Triangle to make way for a road project.

Mrs. Charon said she and her husband don’t plan any changes at the inn.

The inn’s former owner, the Bernstein Family Foundation, plans to distribute proceeds from the auction to several charities.

According to the inn’s Web site, the Wayside began operations in 1797 as Wilkinson’s Tavern.


Bill Clinton encore tour for McAuliffe

Virginia hasn’t seen the last of former President Bill Clinton as a marquee campaigner in this year’s governor’s race.

The 42nd president will appear May 13 and 14 with his longtime fundraiser and political protege, Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign announced Friday that the two will campaign together in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Mr. McAuliffe, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and former Delegate Brian Moran are battling toward a June 9 primary.

The winner faces Bob McDonnell, the presumptive Republican nominee, in November’s closely watched governor’s election.

Mr. Clinton’s trip marks his second Virginia sortie with Mr. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman. Mr. McAuliffe was also the chief fundraiser for the presidential campaigns of both Mr. Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Rocket launch set for Eastern Shore

Scientists say a satellite scheduled for launch from Virginia’s Eastern Shore next week is designed to detect hidden enemy weapons and deliver their locations to U.S. combat troops.

If successful, the satellite could be developed for battlefield use in a year or two, after its one-year orbit.

The Air Force TacSat-3 satellite is scheduled to begin its orbit Tuesday. A 69-foot-high Minotaur-1 rocket is set to blast off between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

Scientists are hopeful that the 880-pound satellite atop the $60 million spacecraft will deliver battlefield images and information with the speed and detail depicted in fictionalized movie accounts.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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