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Arundel Digest


Appellate court declines to overturn murder conviction

The state's second-highest court turned down yesterday a murder conviction appeal by former Washington lawyer Fortunato J. Mendes, who was sentenced to life without parole for the 1988 killing of a man who was to testify against him the next day in a cocaine-dealing trial.

Mendes, whose previous appeals were unsuccessful, contended that his attorneys did a poor job representing him in his 1989 trial and that photo lineups shown to potential witnesses were prejudicial. In its 37-page opinion, the Court of Special Appeals said that there were no mistakes that warranted overturning the conviction.

The victim, Davide Diggs, was fatally shot outside his Oyster Harbor home in Anne Arundel County. His mother told police that he identified Mendes as his attacker before he died.

Ministers group issues call to social justice for blacks

Black ministers from Anne Arundel County issued a "Call to Action" yesterday to political and community leaders, saying more needs to be done to help African-Americans in the county achieve educational, social and financial parity.

Blacks are "a population that is not reaping the benefits of living in a wealthy county, a county that boasts of diversity and prosperity," said the United Black Clergy's president, Bishop Larry Lee Thomas of St. James Church of the Apostolic Faith in Glen Burnie.

He presented statistics showing a gap between blacks and others. In its progress report card, the United Black Clergy gave the county an F in affordable housing and violence prevention, a D for efforts on HIV/AIDS issues and economic development and a C in education.

The group called for more governmental grants for black organizations and contracts for black-owned companies and implored other groups, community leaders and politicians to work for improvement in the six areas that it rated.

County schools to offer diplomas to veterans

The Anne Arundel County school system is creating a program to award diplomas to veterans of World War II and the Korean War who left high school before graduating.

Diplomas will be awarded to veterans who withdrew from high school in their senior year to enlist in the armed forces.

Veterans who attended a full-time public or private high school accredited by the state are eligible. To obtain an application for a diploma, call the school system at 410-222-5316. The school system plans a ceremony to award the diplomas.

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