- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2009


City drops appeal on checkpoints

The District has decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal appeals court decision that its police checkpoints were unconstitutional.

In a court filing Monday, D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier canceled the special order authorizing the Neighborhood Safety Zone program.

Last year, Metropolitan Police stopped cars in the Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast, refusing to let in motorists who didn’t prove they lived in the area or reveal their destinations. A civil liberties group sued on behalf of three drivers.

A federal appeals court declined the city’s request for a hearing before the entire court after a three-judge panel struck down the operation.

In Monday’s filing, Mr. Nickles said the city will not file an appeal to the Supreme Court.



State gets grim financial news

Virginia lawmakers have learned that state government could experience a budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion in the next two fiscal years.

The grim forecast for the next state budget comes on top of $5.6 billion in reductions to the current two-year state budget and continued revenue declines in a poor economy.

Members of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee were told Tuesday by staff analysts that weak revenues, combined with mandatory boosts in spending programs, will leave the state $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion shy of its needs.


Man gets life in sailor’s slaying

A Newport News man was sentenced Tuesday to three life terms for the murder-for-hire of a sailor.

Michael Draven, 29, was convicted in July of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, carjacking resulting in death and murder with a firearm.

Prosecutors say Draven and Catherina Voss of Newport News hired David Runyon of Morgantown, W.Va., to kill her husband, 30-year-old Navy ensign Cory Voss. The sailor was shot while sitting in his pickup truck in April 2007.

Runyon also was convicted in July, and a jury recommended the death penalty. Runyon will be sentenced Dec. 4 in federal court in Norfolk.

Catherina Voss pleaded guilty to arranging the slaying and is serving life in prison.



County passes new menu rules

The Montgomery County Council approved a bill to force chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus.

The measure was approved on an 8-1 vote Tuesday, with council member Mike Knapp voting against it. The regulations would take effect in July.

Proponents say the rule would give consumers the information they need to make healthy eating choices. But restaurant owners have said revising menus will cost them money. They say it’s the wrong time for such a change because many restaurants are struggling in the recession.

The law would apply to restaurants with 20 or more facilities nationally and would only require calorie information. A similar law is in effect in New York City.


Ex-police chief faces gun charges

A former police chief from the town of Morningside was indicted Tuesday on five counts for illegally selling a police department gun.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said David Allan Eichelberger Jr., 30, of Accokeek was charged with illegal possession of a stolen regulated firearm, illegal sale of a stolen regulated firearm and other counts.

The indictment stems from what prosecutors say was the sale of a handgun owned by Morningside police that was in the trunk of Mr. Eichelberger’s cruiser.


Teen charged in rape, robbery

Montgomery County police have arrested and charged a Wheaton teenager with robbery and rape.

Police arrested Tyree Echols, 15, on Monday night. He is charged as an adult with first-degree rape, attempted first-degree rape, robbery and first-degree assault.

Police say the teen followed a 24-year-old woman off of a bus Saturday night on Bel Pre Road in Wheaton and forced her into the woods, where he beat, choked and raped her, as she fought back. They say he took the woman’s cash and ran off.

The victim was treated for minor injuries at a hospital.


Town remakes signs to deter thieves

Officials in Burkittsville are taking a fresh approach to combat the town’s stubborn image as the home of the Blair Witch.

The Frederick News-Post reported Tuesday that the Western Maryland community of fewer than 200 people is erecting new welcome signs bearing little resemblance to those featured in the 1999 movie, “The Blair Witch Project.” Souvenir seekers repeatedly stole the older signs, even after the town replaced the wooden versions with heavy metal ones.

Officials said a local historical society has claimed one of the old signs. They said the rest may be auctioned online or locally.

Mayor Debby Burgoyne said the new signs will be blue with white letters and red stars. The old signs were black on white.


Two witnesses testify for Dixon

The defense in Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s theft trial has called its first two witnesses.

Testifying on Tuesday were Wanda Watts, a member of the mayor’s staff, and Karen Daniels, who works at Bethel AME Church as an administrative assistant, which Ms. Dixon attends.

Defense attorneys repeatedly tried to ask Ms. Daniels about her opinion of Ms. Dixon’s honesty, prompting objections from the prosecution. The defense eventually abandoned that line of questioning.

The two defense witnesses testified after instruction to the jury by visiting Judge Dennis Sweeney that they are to disregard all evidence related to developer Ronald Lipscomb.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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