City/County Digest

THE BALTIMORE SUN

IN BALTIMORE COUNTY

Sex assault charges dropped against ex-student teacher

TOWSON -- Weeks after a grand jury declined to indict former student teacher David L. Aiken, Baltimore County prosecutors have dropped sexual assault charges against him.

Aiken, 22, was accused in June of inappropriately touching three female pupils at Hernwood Elementary School, where he was assigned. He was dismissed from his job May 1, the day the school system and Police Department learned from the county's Department of Social Services about the complaints against him.

From the time detectives started investigating him, Aiken, a Towson University student, denied assaulting the girls, ages 9 and 10. Last month, the grand jury sided with him. Prosecutors dropped the charges Aug. 1, said Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Barth.

Aiken, whose phone has been disconnected, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Charles A. Herndon, a school system spokesman, said Aiken would be welcome to apply for a teaching post as long as he showed paperwork proving the charges against him had been dropped.

Man tries to kidnap woman, 18, near home

TOWSON -- Baltimore County police are looking for a man they say tried to kidnap a woman after following her home from a gas station and convenience store at Joppa and Old Harford roads July 23.

Police say the man followed the 18-year-old woman in his black, four-door Honda. When she parked near her home, he got out of his car and asked her for directions. Then he put a gun to her head and told her to get into her car. The woman dropped to the ground and started screaming, police said. Her brother came out of her house and the man fled.

Police described the man as white, 20 to 25 years old and about 6 feet tall, with a thin build and short brown hair. Anyone with information about him can call Baltimore County police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 410-276-8888.

3 writers to take part in diversity discussion

TOWSON -- Three nonfiction writers will take part in a panel discussion on diversity in literature from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. tomorrow at Goucher College.

The discussion, "Diversity Dialogue," will feature Richard Rodriguez, an editor at Pacific News Service and author of three books, including Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father; Patrice Gaines, an author, editor and former reporter for The Washington Post; and Katherine Russell Rich, an editor, writer and author of The Red Devil: To Hell With Cancer -- and Back.

The event, which will take place in Merrick Lecture Hall, is part of the eighth annual Mid-Atlantic Creative Nonfiction Summer Writers' Conference. It is free and open to the public. Information: 410-337-6200.

IN BALTIMORE CITY

Baltimore man, 23, gets 15 years for 1996 murder

A 23-year-old man pleaded guilty this week in Baltimore Circuit Court to killing a woman in 1996, the state's attorney's office announced yesterday.

Damon Evans, 23, of the 2900 block of Presstman St. was handed a 15-year prison sentence Wednesday. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and a handgun violation in the shooting death of Michelle Cooper on Dec. 3, 1996. Prosecutors said the shooting happened as the two argued.

The case remained unsolved until a witness came forward in 2001 and identified Evans as the gunman, prosecutors said. Judge John Carroll Byrnes sentenced Evans to 35 years in prison, with all but 15 years suspended.

No additional charges sought in man's death

A Baltimore man imprisoned for attempted murder in a 1996 shooting will not face additional charges, despite the recent death of his victim from the 7-year-old wounds, police said.

State law prevents prosecutors from filing murder charges against Melvin Curtis Rust, 25, who is serving 15 years for shooting Thomas R. Smothers. Smothers, who was shot five times in the back and buttocks, died June 26 and the medical examiner ruled it a homicide as a result of the 1996 wounds.

Because the shooting occurred before Oct. 1, 1996, state law required prosecutors to place murder charges within one year and a day between the incident and the death. A spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office said the law has affected several cases recently.

Metro Crime Stoppers to hold fund-raiser Aug. 20

Metro Crime Stoppers is holding a fund-raiser Aug. 20 at Baltimore Improv 6 in Market Place to benefit its 24-hour tip line and the launch of a new Web site.

The anonymous tip line is used in the city, and in Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford counties. The organization pays rewards up to $2,000 for tips that lead to arrests and prosecutions of criminals.

Tickets to the event, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., are $30. Information: 410-727-8500.

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