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Judge voids Va. crabbing feeMaryland watermen praised...


Judge voids Va. crabbing fee

Maryland watermen praised a federal judge's decision this week barring Virginia from charging them a $1,150 fee for crabbing in the lower Chesapeake Bay.

"It was unconstitutional, what they were trying to do to us," said Glenn Evans, a Smith Island crabber who is president of the Tangier Sound Waterman's Association.

On Jan. 1, the fee rose from $350 to $1,150. Commercial fishermen who are residents of Virginia did not have to pay the increase.

Mr. Evans' group and several watermen filed suit in December challenging the boost.

U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer in Richmond, Va., said the fee discriminates against Maryland watermen because of their non-residency.

He issued an injunction Wednesday barring Virginia from collecting the higher fee.

Students at Bryn Mawr School in North Baltimore's worked in their classrooms behind locked doors yesterday as city police searched for a motorist who ran away from a car left in the 600 block of W. Northern Parkway.

The foot chase began shortly before 10 a.m., when the car being pursued by a traffic officer stopped and the driver ran into a wooded section of the campus.

After a search by officers, assisted by dogs and a helicopter, police arrested Ricardo Bellot Sr., 20, of the 7600 block of McClean Blvd., and charged with driving on a suspended and revoked license.

Anne Arundel

State and county officials are considering a plan to build a judicial complex in Annapolis at the site of an Elks lodge dogged by controversy over its membership policies.

The county, which two years ago abandoned plans to expand the courthouse, would scrap plans to build a new Circuit Court building in downtown Annapolis in favor of a joint venture with the state to build a combined Circuit Court-District Court facility.

The favored site is Rowe Boulevard and Taylor Avenue, where Lodge 622 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks stands. The club in recent years has found itself at odds with the Annapolis City Council.

Representatives of the Elks Lodge this month convinced a judge to overturn a city law denying liquor licenses to clubs that discriminate in memberships.

Baltimore County

With approval from Maryland's highest court, State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor yesterday vowed to move quickly to try 28-year-old Michael Whittlesey on a charge of killing a Dulaney Valley High School senior 10 years ago.

The Maryland Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled 4-3 that murder trial for Michael Whittlesey would not violate the constitutional prohibition against being tried twice for the same crime.

Whittlesey, serving 25 years for his 1984 conviction of robbin Jamie R. Griffin, 17, is now charged with killing the teen-ager and burying his body at Gunpowder State Park in April 1982.

Prosecutors did not charge Whittlesey with murder at the time because there was no body to prove a homicide had occurred. Jamie's remains were unearthed in March 1990 with the help of new electronic sensing devices, ending an eight-year search by the youth's father.

The opinion, written by retired Judge Charles E. Orth Jr., said murder trial would not create double jeopardy because murder was not charged originally and new facts have emerged since the robbery trial.

Assistant public defender George E. Burns Jr. said officials wer reviewing the decision in light of similar cases and would "strongly consider" appealing to the Supreme Court.

But Mrs. O'Connor said discovery of the body was essential i this case. Before that, she said, officials had not been able to determine whether Jamie's death resulted from first-degree murder, manslaughter or self-defense.


The Board of Education has voted to use nearly $1.3 million left over from the current year's budget for pay raises.

Contract talks have been completed with the 2,000 employees, providing step and longevity increases but no cost-of-living raise.

About 500 employees will receive no raise because they are at the top of their scales or at a step with no increase.

School employees received no cost-of-living raise last year, either.

In negotiations, teachers had asked for a two-year contract with a raise in the second year or with an option to renegotiate.


An Aberdeen man burned over 20 percent of his body in an accident at an outdoor grill was listed in satisfactory condition today at the Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore, said a hospital spokeswoman.

Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Bob Thomas said Cletus J. Blackwell, 68, was cooking on the grill Wednesday when a pressure relief valve opened on a propane gas cylinder beneath the grill.

The cylinder began spewing fuel, which was ignited by heat from the grill.

Mr. Blackwell received first- and second-degree burns.

The fire caused an estimated $1,000 in damage to the rear porch of Mr. Blackwell's home, in the 400 block of Winmar St., said the fire marshal.


The Maryland Court of Appeals yesterday reinstated the first-degree murder conviction of a man who fatally shot tractor-trailer driver Cynthia Southern on the Beltway in January 1990.

The court reversed part of a ruling by the Court of Special Appeals, which had ordered the convictions of Ronald Lee Raines and Lawrence Wayne Bentley reduced to second-degree murder.

Raines shot Ms. Southern on the Beltway at 7:40 p.m. Jan. 7, 1990, after the men left the Eight Mile House bar in Ellicott City.

The court ruled that Raines intentionally shot Southern, dismissing his contention that he was aiming at the truck's tires.

He fired the shots from a pick-up truck driven by Bentley.

In a unanimous opinion written by Judge Robert L. Karwacki, the court said Raines' action in directing a gun at the trucker's window created an inference that he shot with the intent to kill.

The court agreed that Bentley's conviction should be reduced to second-degree murder. It ruled there was no evidence he knew Raines would shoot the trucker.

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