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Twins, 17, to be tried as adults in burning of dog


The 17-year-old twins accused of setting fire to a pit bull will be tried as adults, a judge decided Tuesday. Judge David Ross ruled that Tremayne and Travers Johnson will face felony animal cruelty charges in Baltimore Circuit Court, allegations that could send the boys to jail for three years. Attorneys for the twins argued that they were not properly cared for in the juvenile system after they were placed on probation for a handgun violation in October 2008. The lawyer for Tremayne Johnson added that his client suffers from depression and had not had any problems before he had brain surgery for a tumor four years ago. But a representative of juvenile services said the teen failed to cooperate with some of the department's programs. The twins are charged with setting fire to a pit bull puppy known as Phoenix; rescue workers eventually had to euthanize the dog in May. The teens are also charged as adults with illegal drug and firearms possession in a separate case.

- Brent Jones

Columbia man is held in West Friendship stabbing


A 36-year-old Columbia man, who police say fled to Mexico before Howard County investigators identified him as a suspect in a 2005 killing, is being held without bond in the county's detention center. Joel Nunez Valles was recently extradited from Mexico, where he was in jail on an unrelated charge. Police say they found Valles' fingerprints on the body of Abolina Avila, a 51-year-old West Friendship man who was found fatally stabbed in his home in the 13000 block of Frederick Road. At a bond hearing Monday in Howard County District Court, Assistant State's Attorney Laurie Haas told Judge Mary C. Reese that Valles fled with the help of family and friends to Chihuahua, Mexico, within 48 hours of the homicide. Because of his former fugitive status, Haas said that Valles has been deemed a flight risk and asked that he be held without bond.

- Don Markus

Md. extends warning period for speeding in work zones

Maryland is giving drivers who are caught by speed cameras in work zones at least two more weeks before they face $40 fines. The State Highway Administration, Maryland Transportation Authority and the Maryland State Police said they are extending the one-month grace period that began when the state's new speed camera law took effect Oct. 1. According to the highway administration, more than 900 warnings have gone out to drivers who were exceeding the speed limit in work zones by at least 12 mph. SHA spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar said the warning period was extended because it took about two weeks after Oct. 1 for the first warnings to be processed and sent out.

- Michael Dresser

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