Crime shakes village center in Oakland Mills

The July 26 slaying of Terrence Armstead in Columbia had a profound effect on local leaders, many of whom have resisted the idea that the area around Oakland Mills Village Center has more crime than other neighborhoods. Since the killing, many leaders have changed their tune.


A Sun analysis of police data shows that the area around the village center had one of the highest incidences of crime in the county last year. There were 348 crimes in 11 categories - ranging from disorderly conduct to homicide - around the village center, according to data provided by police.

The analysis by The Sun shows that the same neighborhood had the highest number of homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults in the county last year. It had 37 such crimes in that period.


Income tax increase insufficient, Wacks says

Although some residents are still angry about Howard County's sharply higher income tax rate, the $60 million a year in new revenue that it eventually will produce won't be enough for the long haul, according to Raymond S. Wacks, the county budget director.

Growing labor costs and higher interest on bond debt will create a new, growing budget deficit in about five years if nothing is done. That is one reason the county needs a new revenue source to pay for burgeoning school construction and other capital costs if residents want Howard to stay in Maryland's economic and educational elite, county officials told a citizens committee on school construction.

Howard's income tax will rise from 2.45 percent to 3.2 percent Jan. 1.

Dyer loses open-meetings suit against school board

After three years of arguments and legal filings that cost taxpayers nearly $300,000, the Howard County Circuit Court has ruled against Ellicott City lawyer Allen Dyer in an open-meetings lawsuit he filed against members of the school board.

"The Plaintiff has failed to prove standing to maintain this [Open Meetings Act] complaint," Judge James B. Dudley wrote in an eight-page opinion sent to the parties Monday. "Judgment is therefore entered in favor of the Defendants."

Dyer had claimed that being a citizen and a taxpayer gave him grounds to file suit against current and former board members.


Dudley's recent ruling may deny Dyer the opportunity to argue a second open-meetings case brought Aug. 4 against the current school board members by Howard County parent Melody Higgins, whom Dyer represents.

County expanding deer hunt areas

Howard County officials announced Monday that they will expand local deer hunts from two parks to five this fall to intensify efforts to reduce the population - a move praised by hunters but denounced by animal lovers.

A bow hunt first discussed last winter for Blandair, the 300-acre former Smith farm in east Columbia, will go forward in October, officials said. The two other new hunt sites are High Ridge Park along the Patuxent River in southern Howard and Alpha Ridge Park in the western county - all largely undeveloped parkland destined for recreational use.

Robey makes widening Route 32 a priority

Abandoning his wait for state action on improving traffic-clogged western portions of Route 32, Howard County Executive James N. Robey wants to widen the highway as one of his top transportation priorities for state funding next year.


The road is a popular route to Annapolis for commuters in Frederick and Carroll counties who are near Interstate 70, and the six-lane divided portion east of Clarksville draws thousands of motorists from the large new homes increasingly dotting the rural landscape.

Residents who live along the two-lane western portion of the road in western Howard County fear that widening Route 32 in their community would make things worse.

Testimony derails Sands' murder trial

The retrial of a 22-year-old Columbia man accused of fatally shooting a computer student during a botched robbery ended in a mistrial Tuesday after a witness identified the defendant from the stand, despite being told not to do so.

It was the second time in 10 months that Gaston Davis' testimony derailed the trial of Tavon Donya Sands. Sands was charged with murder, armed robbery and other offenses in the death Jan. 25 last year of DeShawn Anthony Wallace, 23, in Columbia's Oakland Mills village.

Suspect in stabbing death arrested on Long Island


Following a hunch, Howard County police detectives drove to Long Island, N.Y., early Thursday and arrested the third and final suspect wanted in connection with the stabbing death of a 40-year-old man in Columbia last week.

With the help of police in Nassau County, N.Y., Howard detectives arrested Elmer Antonio Galvan-Giron. The suspect was being held at the Howard County Detention Center, awaiting the filing of formal charges of first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Earlier, police arrested Jerman Avelar, 27, and Marcus Tulio Moran, 31, in the slaying of Rigoberto Zavala in the 6500 block of Quiet Hours Road in Owen Brown. Zavala was found dead in his apartment with 30 stab wounds early Tuesday.

Charging documents indicated that the killing stemmed from a confrontation last weekend between Zavala and another man in the apartment. Zavala yelled at the man's children and then struck one of them on the head with a remote-control device, the charging documents said.