Friday, January 19, 2007


Two men sentenced in teen witness killing

Two men were sentenced yesterday for the execution-style killing of a 14-year-old girl who witnessed the slaying of a local drug dealer.

Marquette Ward, 31, was sentenced by D.C. Superior Court Judge Wendell P. Gardner to 143 years for murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and other offenses.

Prosecutors said he had ordered the 2004 shooting of Jahkema “Princess” Hansen, and carried out the killing days earlier of drug dealer Mario Evans.

Franklin Thompson, 25, the man convicted of carrying out the hit on Jahkema, was given a 63-year sentence during a separate court hearing.

Attorneys for Ward and Thompson said they would appeal.



Officer shot, man killed in drug sting

A Montgomery County police detective was shot and wounded and a suspect was killed yesterday during an undercover drug operation, police said.

Detective D.H. Oaks, a 61/2-year veteran of the department, was sitting in an undercover vehicle at a park-and-ride lot when two male suspects approached him and one of them shot him, said police spokeswoman Lucille Baur. The detective suffered head and shoulder wounds and was flown to a hospital for treatment. His injuries were not life-threatening.

An officer who was providing backup at the scene shot the gunman, who was airlifted to a hospital and later died, Miss Baur said. The gunman’s name was not released.

The second suspect was taken into custody.

The officer who shot the suspect was placed on administrative leave during the shooting investigation.


5 victims of house fire identified by officials

Fire investigators have identified the five persons killed in a house fire in Abingdon Thursday.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Faron Taylor said the victims were the wife of Jerome Shropshire, who was identified Thursday, and three of his grandchildren.

They were: Annette Shropshire, 47; Donald White, 4; Derek White, 3; and 9-month-old Jhaniyah Davis.

Marshal Taylor said all five died of smoke inhalation and burns. Mr. Shropshire was pulled from the home and died in a hospital, while the rest were found dead on the second floor.


Street video actor gets prison for assault

A man who warned city residents about ratting out drug dealers to police in a notorious street video has pleaded guilty to beating up a female employee of a menswear shop.

Prosecutors said Rodney Thomas, 31, who was featured prominently in the “Stop Snitching” DVD under his street name, “Skinny Suge,” was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but three years suspended, after pleading guilty Wednesday to first-degree assault.

Thomas was also given a three-year probation term and ordered to pay more than $1,400 in restitution to the victim.

According to court documents, Thomas attacked the woman after an argument last February at the USA Boutique in Mondawmin Mall, where she worked. She suffered a broken nose, a chipped tooth and facial bruises.

Prosecutor Rita Wistoff-Ito noted in court that the victim recognized Thomas from his appearance in “Stop Snitching.”


Toaster at Poe grave for 58th year in row

For the 58th year in a row, a mystery visitor has paid tribute to Edgar Allan Poe by placing roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer’s grave to mark his birthday.

Jeff Jerome, the curator of Baltimore’s Poe House and Museum, said the overnight visit drew 55 persons hoping to catch a glimpse, the largest crowd ever.

But Mr. Jerome said the spectators were well behaved, unlike last year, when people tried to interfere with the mystery visitor’s tribute.

Mr. Jerome has seen the so-called Poe Toaster every Jan. 19 since 1976.

Poe, who wrote poems and horror stories such as “The Raven” and “The Telltale Heart,” died in 1849 in Baltimore at the age of 40 after collapsing in a tavern.



Virus sickens guests, shuts down hotel

The Hilton Hotel near Washington Dulles International Airport has been closed for a top-to-bottom scrubbing after more than 100 guests were sickened by the highly contagious norovirus, a hotel spokesman said yesterday.

A total of 120 persons, including 105 guests and 15 employees, have fallen ill, said Jim Cree, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport.

Mr. Cree said hotel officials first heard reports of sick guests Wednesday morning and contacted Fairfax County health authorities. He said officials confirmed it was norovirus Thursday evening.

Mr. Cree said the hotel, at 13869 Park Center Road, would reopen Tuesday at noon.

Authorities are investigating, but might never be able to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, said Kimberly Cordero, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Health Department.

Outbreaks of norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, are common on cruise ships, hotels, prisons and nursing homes.


VDOT enlarges signs for better driving

The Virginia Department of Transportation is introducing new typefaces on signs and broader highway markings to make driving easier.

VDOT said this week it has begun phasing in the typographical changes on signs and using 6-inch-wide pavement markings on interstates to replace 4-inch versions.

A VDOT official from the department’s Richmond office said the changes might help reduce crashes.

Along some stretches of interstates, VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration are painting interstate shields directly onto the pavement so drivers are clear about what road they’re on.

New overhead signs will be made from more reflective material and new signs and markings will be added as older ones wear out, officials said.


Bill would protect executioners’ identities

The identities of those who carry out executions would be kept confidential under a bill that moved forward yesterday.

The Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee passed legislation to exempt the identities of “persons designated to carry out an execution” from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The bill would also exempt those same people from giving evidence in a court proceeding.

Virginia Press Association lawyer Craig Merritt said the bill is written too broadly.

He said it could include everyone from the guard who transports a prisoner to the person who injects the lethal chemicals.

There also would be no accountability in the case of a botched execution, he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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