Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

February 13, 2004

Woman who killed mother gets sentence reduced to 40 years

A 24-year-old Carroll County woman who stabbed her mother to death in 1999 has won a reduction of her prison sentence and could soon be transferred to a state prison facility that offers mental-health care.

Kristi Lynn Ziemski, formerly of Hampstead, has been serving a life sentence for first-degree murder at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup since 1999. She sought a modification of the life sentence in a court hearing Dec. 17, with support from family members who expressed forgiveness and concern about her mental state.

Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr., who is retired and vacationing in Florida, signed an order Feb. 6 reducing Ziemski's sentence to 40 years and recommending that she serve it at the Patuxent Institution's Youth Program.

"Patuxent requires a special order. It is a highly sought-after program," said Mark A. Vernarelli, director of public information for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The institution can decide whom to accept and usually only takes inmates sentenced to less than 40 years, he said. It functions as a separate entity from the rest of the department and has its own parole board.

"She could be moved to Patuxent within a matter of weeks," Vernarelli said, once the judge's order reaches the women's prison in Jessup and Ziemski agrees to go. Patuxent houses 50 to 60 women and several hundred men.

Ziemski was a 19-year-old heroin addict in March 1999 when she stabbed 52-year-old Doris A. Ziemski 13 times with a butcher knife and a bayonet at the victim's townhouse in the 1400 block of Popes Creek Drive in Hampstead. Prosecutors pointed to the brutality of the murder in opposing the sentence reduction, but Ziemski's father, her sister and her aunt said they had forgiven her and want her to have psychiatric and drug treatment.

At Patuxent, Vernarelli said, "they have a very, very intensive mental-health program. They do an excellent job of rehabilitation."

County aims to save money through selling new bonds

Carroll County will seek bids for up to $41.5 million in bonds to take advantage of low interest rates.

The move could save the county $1.5 million, most of which would come in the next two years, Comptroller Eugene Curfman said.

The county commissioners approved a resolution yesterday allowing the Department of the Comptroller to sell new bonds with lower interest rates and replace old general obligation bonds from 1996, 1997 and 1999.

Curfman said he expects interest rates for the new bonds to be 3.25 percent to 3.3 percent, which would be a significant reduction from the rates on previous bonds. Once the new bonds are in place, the county would see $800,000 in savings next year, another $500,000 in 2006 and the remaining $200,000 in following years, said county budget director Ted Zaleski.

The bids for the new bonds are expected to close the second week of next month.

Web site on county laws in final stage of revision

Carroll County is in the final stages of revamping its Internet access for the county's Code of Local Laws and Ordinances.

The county attorney's office, the office of zoning administration and the information and technology office have been working with a consultant for several months to make the Web site for county ordinances easier to use, said Neil Ridgely, the county zoning administrator.

"It's very difficult the way it is now," Ridgely told the county commissioners yesterday.

Once in place, the Web site would provide a more detailed index and links to zoning maps. The revamped system would also allow county staff to add amendments to ordinances, instead of outsourcing the work to a contractor, Ridgely said.

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