Md. urged to harden drunken driving laws

A national organization that promotes highway safety called on the Maryland General Assembly yesterday to adopt increased penalties for so-called "super-drunk" drivers with a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit.


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said the lack of such a law was one of a few deficiencies in Maryland's otherwise high-ranking highway safety laws.

The group put Maryland among 16 states it ranked as "green" for its adoption of model highway safety laws. It ranked 31 states as "yellow," indicating a middling performance, and four as "red," its lowest category. But Vice President Jackie Gillan said Maryland was among a group of states she called "fading green" - with little progress in passing safety-related bills in the past year.


Gillan pointed to a Thanksgiving Day accident in which a Marine corporal and his date were killed in a crash in which the other driver was charged with two counts of homicide by motor vehicle, two counts of manslaughter while intoxicated and driving while under the influence.

Police allege that Eduardo Raul Morales-Soriano, 25, a Mexican national living in Laurel, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.32 percent - four times the 0.08 percent threshold for driving under the influence in Maryland.

The advocacy group has urged states to adopt laws providing for harsher sanctions - including jail time, license revocation and mandatory installation of safety devices - against drunken drivers who test at 0.15 percent and above. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 60 percent of alcohol-related deaths on the road involve drivers with such elevated blood-alcohol levels.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Maryland but has always failed.

The advocacy group identified two other proposals it would like to see Maryland enact. One would bring children between age 6 and 8 under its current requirement for booster seats. The other would extend the nighttime hours under which teenage holders of provisional licenses would be barred from driving.

Michael Dresser

Charles County: Indian Head

Waldorf man sent to prison for role in 2004 house fires


One of the men responsible for arson fires that damaged several dozen homes in Charles County was sentenced yesterday to almost four years in prison.

The sentencing in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt marked the end of the prosecution for Roy T. McCann, 23, of Waldorf.

Testimony and court documents in the case presented no single reason why arsonists set fires at the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head. While the arrival of new black residents in Charles County fueled racist anger among some defendants, the ringleader seemed obsessed with igniting a spectacular fire to show off the power of his gang and to attract members, according to witnesses and prosecutors at trial.

McCann and four others were either convicted or pleaded guilty to setting the early-morning fires Dec. 6, 2004. No one was injured and most of the homes were unoccupied, but the arson caused millions of dollars in damage.

Matthew Dolan

Washington: Hagerstown


Man charged with killing baby is ordered held without bail

A man charged with murdering his girlfriend's 4-month-old son told police the death was unintentional, according to court records released yesterday.

A judge ordered Floyd Edward Bingaman, 20, of Hagerstown held without bail pending his preliminary appearance Feb. 1 in Washington County District Court. Bingaman is charged with first-degree murder and other offenses stemming from the apparent shaking and battering death Saturday of Justice C. Stotler.

Bingaman, who had been dating the baby's mother for about two months, was not Justice's father, police said. Court records show that Bingaman denied having struck or shaken the child.

After Bingaman was arrested, and after he requested a lawyer, an investigator said to him, "You killed a 4-month-old."

"Wasn't intentional," Bingaman replied, according to charging documents.


Bingaman, appearing by closed-circuit video from the county jail, didn't comment on the case during his brief bond-review hearing yesterday.

The baby's mother, Ashley Stotler, 20, told police she had left Justice alone with Bingaman while she took a shower. When she checked the baby about two hours later, he was wheezing and had a large knot on the back of his head, according to court records.

Associated Press

Frederick County: Thurmont

Park holds public meeting to discuss culling deer herd

Officials at Catoctin Mountain Park are thinking about taking aim at the deer population.


About two dozen people attended a public meeting over the weekend to comment on a plan to reduce the number of deer in the park from a high of 193 per square mile in 2004 to about 15 to 20 per square mile. The park service announced last month that using sharpshooters was the preferred alternative to cull the herd.

The shooting would not occur within 100 feet of a building or within 400 feet of the park boundary, according to the White-tailed Deer Management Plan.

Associated Press