Utility executives called to Senate



Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said yesterday that he is calling utility executives to Annapolis to answer questions about this winter's high utility bills, an issue that has incensed consumers and is shaping up to be a potent political topic. The powerful lawmaker asked two committees to investigate, and a public hearing has been scheduled for Thursday. Executives from Constellation Energy Group and its subsidiary, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., are invited, as is Public Service Commission Chairman Douglas R.M. Nazarian, the industry's top state regulator. Miller, in a letter to committee chairmen, noted that senators have received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from angry constituents. "We have heard repeatedly that it's an exceptionally cold year - but that answer is insufficient for working families struggling to make ends meet," Miller wrote. He also asked senators to examine the use of federal stimulus funding for weatherization programs.

Laura Smitherman


Teen pleads not guilty in Harris killing


The 16-year-old boy charged in the murder of former Baltimore Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial during a brief hearing yesterday in city Circuit Court. An attorney for Jerome Williams of the 1500 block of Lochwood Road said he would ask to move the case outside Baltimore because of the "political ramifications" any outcome would have for a city judge and jury. Harris, 45, was fatally shot Sept. 20 during a robbery attempt at the Northwood Plaza shopping center in Northeast Baltimore. Police charged two others, Charles Y. McGaney, 19, and Gary Collins, 20, with murder in November. Williams' attorney, Jerome Bivens, also said he would seek to try his client's case separately from those of his co-defendants. The three suspects are scheduled to appear in court together for the first time April 28.

Melissa Harris

Fifth suspect arrested in Taylor killing in Dec.


Baltimore police have made a fifth arrest in the December killing of a man who was beaten unconscious, doused with gasoline and set on fire. Police spokesman Donny Moses said last night that police have arrested Terrell Gray, 23, of the 3400 block of Dorethan Road in Baltimore in connection with the death of Petro Taylor, 20, who was killed after angering members of a powerful gang. Taylor was beaten unconscious, wrapped in a blanket and taken to Leakin Park. He was then stabbed several times, doused with gasoline and set on fire. His body was found two days later. Gray was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit murder, according to Moses. Three of the other four suspects were arrested earlier this week, and one was arrested last week. Three of the suspects are teenage girls.

Joe Burris


Man found stabbed to death in apartment


A building maintenance supervisor discovered a 68-year-old man fatally stabbed in his apartment Thursday in West Baltimore, police said. Relatives of the victim, whom police identified as Frederick Jeffrey Archer, grew concerned for the man after they had lost contact with him and called the supervisor to check on him. The worker found Archer stabbed to death in his apartment, in the 700 block of N. Arlington Ave., police said. Anyone with information can call 410-396-2100.

Gus G. Sentementes

15 ex-prison officers charged in jail assaults

Fifteen former correctional officers were charged yesterday with assaulting inmates in Western Maryland prisons last year. Six former officers at North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland and nine formerly at Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown were charged with second-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Patrick Moran, director of AFSCME Maryland, said prosecutors were rushing to level charges before the one-year anniversary of the prison assaults. In April, 15 Roxbury officers and eight North Branch officers were fired in assaults on inmates. Several of the alleged victims were beaten at Roxbury, transferred to North Branch and beaten again, according to state prison officials.


Associated Press