- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Judge won’t stop teacher layoffs

A Superior Court judge has declined to halt the layoffs of D.C. school teachers announced earlier this year.

Judge Judith Bartnoff issued her ruling on Tuesday. The Washington Teachers’ Union asked the judge to stop the layoffs while the union challenges the personnel moves in court.

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee laid off about 400 D.C. public school employees after the school year started. She said she was responding to budget cuts, a statement that the union challenged.

Suspect arrested in 1997 slaying

Metropolitan police have arrested a suspect in the Jan. 21, 1997, slaying of a woman in her apartment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

Frederick Edward Morton, 57, was charged Tuesday with first-degree felony murder in the strangulation of Sharon Moskowitz, 25. Morton was brought to Washington on Monday from a federal prison in Allenwood, Pa.

Police released surveillance video last month that had been enhanced with new technology from the Secret Service. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said witnesses quickly came forward.

Moskowitz, who was from Connecticut, was killed just inside the front door of the house in the 1900 block of Biltmore Street in Northwest Washington, where she rented a third-floor apartment.



Jury recesses in Dixon trial

Jurors in the theft trial of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon recessed Tuesday after a fourth day without a verdict.

After spending 25 1/2 hours deliberating over four days, the jury had returned to work Tuesday morning. The jury received the case about midday Thursday. It was to resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors say Ms. Dixon used gift cards intended for the needy on personal shopping sprees.

The defense says the mayor’s then-boyfriend anonymously gave Ms. Dixon gift cards for her own use, and she thought that gift cards from another developer came from her boyfriend. She’s also accused of taking cards from a holiday charity event run by the city.


Priest gets probation for abuse

A Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to 10 years probation after being convicted of a third-degree sex offense in connection with the abuse of an altar boy.

Aaron “A.J.” Cote, 57, of New York City, must also register as a sex offender and undergo evaluation and treatment. He was sentenced Monday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Cote reached a $1.2 million settlement two years ago with the victim, who said Cote repeatedly molested him from June 2001 to June 2002.


Body identified as missing kayaker

Maryland Natural Resources Police say a body that washed ashore from the Chesapeake Bay has been identified as a missing kayaker.

Authorities used fingerprint analysis to determine that the body found Friday at Beverly-Tirton Beach Park in Mayo was that of Jerard Welsh.

Mr. Welsh was last seen Nov. 3 kayaking in Oyster Creek by another boater. The boater returned a few hours later and found an empty kayak and life jacket.

A preliminary autopsy said Mr. Welsh drowned.


State to treat roads with molasses mix

State Highway Administration officials plan to try out a fluid made from sugar beets to help fight snow and ice on Maryland roads this winter.

A pilot project in Frederick and Howard counties will test the molasses-based substance, known as Ice Bite, for pretreating highways.

Highway officials at the agency’s annual Snow Show on Monday said the molasses is meant to help salt stick to the road. They hope it will help cut the amount of salt the state must use, saving money and protecting water tables and aquifers from pollution.


Husband indicted in wife’s slaying

A former Navy air traffic controller was indicted on a charge of interstate domestic violence in the death of his wife.

Ryan Holness, 28, of Lexington Park, had been assigned to Patuxent River Naval Air Station. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

The body of Serika Dunkley Holness, 26, was found on the side of a rural Eastern Shore road on June 5. She had been stabbed to death.

Mr. Holness had told police that he and his wife were carjacked while returning to Maryland from New York, where they had been visiting family. He was charged with murder.



Resignation halts ethics inquiry

A state ethics panel has halted an inquiry into whether former Delegate Phillip Hamilton improperly used his powerful position to secure himself a job with Old Dominion University.

The House Ethics Advisory Panel said in a letter to House Speaker William J. Howell that it lacks jurisdiction to investigate a complaint about Mr. Hamilton, because state law only allows it to investigate current legislators. Mr. Hamilton, the top Republican member of the Appropriations Committee, resigned Nov. 16.

Mr. Howell noted Tuesday that the inquiry didn’t conclude whether Mr. Hamilton violated state law.

A federal probe is focusing on charges that he arranged a job at the university as he steered hundreds of thousands of dollars in appropriations to the school.

Mr. Hamilton lost his re-election bid.


Warning issued for seat belts

Virginia State Police will be especially watchful this holiday travel season for motorists who are not buckling up.

The agency is in the midst of an annual effort to boost seat-belt use and to prevent fatalities.

During last year’s Thanksgiving season, nine of the 12 people killed in traffic crashes in Virginia were not wearing seat belts.

Also last year, State Police wrote 915 tickets for seat-belt violations and 220 for child-safety-restraint violations during the Thanksgiving travel time.

About 75 percent of all troopers will be working the roads during the holiday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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