Art imitates life imitates art

The Baltimore Sun

Felicia Pearson did time for murder, then went on to play a hitman named "Snoop" on The Wire. Now she finds herself caught up in another real-life killing - this time as a witness.

Authorities say she watched Steven James Lashley stab three men, killing one, after an argument that began outside New York Fried Chicken on The Block in the fall of 2005.

"I'm planning on calling her as a witness for the prosecution," Assistant State's Attorney Twila Driggins told The Sun's Melissa Harris this week, as the case was postponed. "I expect her to be able to identify the stabber, give details of the fight prior to the stabbing and the murder itself."

Pearson, who declined to comment to Harris, pleaded guilty in 1996 to second-degree murder for fatally shooting Okia "Kia" Toomer during a fight in Baltimore. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Wire creator David Simon told Harris that he didn't know many details of the case.

"I remember that she spoke to [co-producer] Ed Burns about it and indicated that the argument had nothing or little to do with her and that she did not know those involved," Simon wrote by e-mail from Dublin, Ireland. "She told us that she had been questioned by the police at length and she was in no way charged or implicated or in trouble."

No soaring rhetoric, just dozing prose

Theories on why Martin O'Malley's State of the State speech seemed a little flat, with his "alabaster cities" and "still as yet very imperfect country" conspicuously absent:

Maybe historical frippery and redundant qualifiers went out with Steve Kearney, the communications chief who just went over to the darker side (public relations). Or perhaps, as one State House wag put it: "Austere speech for austere times."

There was one maudlin, feel-your-pain moment, when O'Malley talked about the economy.

"[W]e don't need those numbers and figures to tell us that people are hurting; we see it in their eyes, we hear it in their voices."

He could have added: We read it on their BGE bills.

Nobody pines for the old flights of rhetorical fancy, but how about reprising that "detailed plan to make energy more affordable"?

The door is open, even to Republicans

The governor had a reception after his speech, and some Republican lawmakers actually showed, including Cecil County Del. Michael Smigiel, who's taken the administration to court - twice.

(He was lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that sought to toss out special-session taxes. He's also sued to block O'Malley's August order allowing a union to represent home day-care workers.)

"I was [Del.] Jill Carter's date," Smigiel told me. "Jill was heading there, and I was walking to my office and she said, 'Why don't you escort me over to the mansion?' ... She wanted me to watch her back."

Did Smigiel get the skunk-at-the-garden-party treatment?

"[O'Malley] came over and shook my hand and said, 'Delegate Smigiel, it's good to see you out of court,'" Smigiel said. "We made small talk. He's always personally been very gracious."

Here's just how gracious. As Smigiel left the mansion, he ran into a group of five House and Senate pages, one of them from his home county. They asked about the mansion, and Smigiel offered to escort them inside.

He checked with a guard at the door. The guard talked into her wrist to check with the boss. That boss checked with his boss. The message came back: No.

But Smigiel was allowed back inside, where he appealed his newest case to the governor. "He turned to the security guard, and he said, 'Send them in,'" Smigiel said.

O'Malley shook hands with the kids, posed for a photo and even invited them to partake of the shrimp salad sandwiches, cookies and cake.

"He could have said, 'No, I'm too busy.' Or defer to security," Smigiel said. "He was very gracious, and those kids were just ecstatic. All of them will go home and remember that the rest of their lives."

And maybe go on to vote Democratic?

"Not necessarily," Smigiel said with a laugh. "A Republican opened the gates."

Loved the movie, kept the pigs

Heard back from Hopkins med school about Babe star James Cromwell's appeal to stop teaching surgery with live pigs.

Spokesman Gary Stephenson said via e-mail that the school "does engage in very limited use of animals (pigs) in situations for which there is no adequate training substitute. The School also uses a simulation laboratory for training."

He added, "PS: Loved the movie. I watched it about a dozen times when it came out thanks to my two young daughters!"

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