Harford Week

April 20, 2003

DiBiagio defers to state's case against Abeokuto

U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio said last week that he will ask a judge to delay federal prosecution of Jamal Abeokuto, who is accused of killing 8-year-old Marciana Ringo and dumping her body in Joppatowne, until the Maryland trial of the case is over.

In a statement, DiBiagio said he decided to delay federal prosecution after consulting with the victim's family "in order to maintain the focus on the successful prosecution" of the suspect.

Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly had asked the Justice Department to remove DiBiagio from the case.

Cassilly criticized DiBiagio for pursuing federal extortion charges against Abeokuto instead of turning him over to authorities in Harford County, where Abeokuto could face the death penalty.

The child's battered body was found in Harford County in December.

Cassilly said DiBiagio's decision Thursday resolves most of the issues he had with the U.S. attorney's office. Cassilly said he had been worried about how publicity from a federal case would interfere with his ability to try the case in Harford County.

Credit union sending packages to troops

Employees of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union organized an effort to send packages to family members of staff serving in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Korea, it was announced at the credit union's annual meeting last week.

After organizing, planning and execution by the staff, 70 packages that included toiletries, snacks and candy were prepared and sent.

"Our sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters received a `little piece of home' in a parcel," said David Gilbert, chairman of the board. "Within a few short days of our employees getting together, we had a deluge of donations and were sending them off," he said.

Aberdeen scientists analyze Iraq material

If a "smoking gun" is found to support President Bush's assertion that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction - a primary justification for the current war - it might be discovered in a tiny glass tube inside an obscure brick building labeled E-5100, at Aberdeen Proving Ground's Forensic Analytical Center, where scientists are studying samples of suspected nerve and blister agents found by soldiers from the Army's 101st Airborne Division this month near Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad.

Typical of the top-secret laboratory, officials confirm only that the samples are there. They will not say if, or when, their findings will be made public. Any announcement, they explain, is likely to come from the White House.

Usually, test results on suspected agents can be produced at the center's lab in 72 hours. But these are not "usual" times, officials say.

That is evident from the overwhelming environment of secrecy at the center.

"We take security very seriously here - we have to," said Dennis Reutter, chief of the Forensic Analytical Center.

Officials said that the material in the custody of FAC scientists was brought to Aberdeen Proving Ground from Iraq by the elite Technical Escort Unit, a low-profile group based at Aberdeen that has handled dangerous materials since 1943.

Gold Star banners sent for two Ohio soldiers

Gold Star banners have been handmade at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground for the families of two Cleveland-area soldiers killed in Iraq.

Gold Star banners, a tradition that dates to World War II, are symbolic of a family that has lost a member in combat.

Banners with the Gold Stars were made for the families of Pfc. Brandon Sloan, 19, of nearby Bedford Heights, and 1st Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland. Both served in the 507th Maintenance Company and were among those killed when their convoy was ambushed last month in Iraq. Five comrades were taken prisoner and released Sunday.

Svehla Foundation presents $10,000 gift

The John Steven Svehla Foundation awarded $10,000 to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation last week.

The Svehla Foundation is named for John Steven Svehla, who graduated from North Harford High School, where he excelled as an athlete, in 1987. After attending Elizabethtown College and Towson University, Svehla died Aug. 18, 2000, of a brain aneurysm.

Svehla's parents, John and Susan Svehla, presented the award.

William, Dolly Edge mark 50th wedding anniversary

William and Dolly Edge of Bel Air are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

The Edges were married at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church on April 18, 1953.

The Edges have lived in Bel Air for 44 years. They have two sons, three daughters and five grandsons.

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