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News from around the Baltimore region

July 29, 2005

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

Man killed by officer was shot multiple times

A naked, unarmed man was shot multiple times during his fatal encounter with a rookie Anne Arundel County police officer in May, according to his death certificate.

Police had said Officer Tommy Pleasant fired his gun four times after "close quarters contact" with Donald E. Coates, 20, of Glen Burnie, but had not said how many times Coates was struck.

Pleasant was originally put on paid administrative leave. He started working administrative duty in the county's Northern police district about a month ago, said Lt. David Waltemeyer, a spokesman for the Police Department.

At the request of Anne Arundel prosecutors, the Montgomery County state's attorney's office is investigating the shooting.

Coates was on probation for a drug-distribution conviction in Baltimore when he was killed, say Baltimore Circuit Court records.

A Baltimore judge had sentenced Coates to four years in jail and one year of probation in July 2004, court records show. The jail time was suspended. The conviction came after Coates was arrested with two other men for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer, according to police documents filed with the court.

Coates had smoked marijuana on the day he was killed, his girlfriend, Chelsia Wallace, said at the time. She said he had received a phone call from a friend in jail and become hysterical. Wallace said he got a gun and told people to leave the house. He called 911 and went upstairs to a bathroom and then fired six shots through the door. Nobody was hurt.

Coates then jumped out of the second-story bathroom window, leaving his gun behind. It is not clear when he removed his clothes. Pleasant, who had been with the Anne Arundel County police for nine months, spotted Coates on a nearby street. Coates charged toward Pleasant, who retreated behind his police car before firing his weapon, police said.

- Annie Linskey

BALTIMORE COUNTY

Witness' testimony heard on tape at murder trial

Eric Thomas "Ock" Watkins initially pointed a finger at Ogden E. "G-Wizz" Coleman as the ringleader in the strangling and beating death of a 15-year-old Woodlawn girl whose body was found burning in a Pikesville park last July.

It was only after a Baltimore County police detective said he doubted Watkins' account that the 19-year-old alleged that another man, Jason T. Richards, plotted to kill Quartrina Johnson and her 13-year-old foster sister.

Prosecutors played Watkins' taped statement to police yesterday during the second day of testimony in Richards' trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Richards, 25, is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in Johnson's death and with second-degree rape and conspiracy in the alleged sexual assault of the younger girl, a charge that prosecutors contend made Richards angry enough to want both girls dead.

Watkins, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in May and testified against Coleman last week, had initially been expected to testify against Richards as part of an agreement that promised him no more than 60 years in prison. But the teenager balked when he was brought to court Wednesday. His claim not to remember anything about the case led Judge Patrick Cavanaugh to allow prosecutors to play for jurors the recording of Watkins' October interview.

Coleman has been convicted of murder in the case. A fourth man, Michael X. Shelton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in March.

Testimony is to resume this morning.

- Lisa Goldberg

EDGEWATER

Ruling could lead to college's building being demolished

Only days after Sojourner-Douglass College opened a new campus in Edgewater, Maryland's second-highest court issued a ruling that could lead to the demolition of the $2.5 million building.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals said that the construction of a 16,000-square-foot building violates a 1988 covenant that requires the 6-acre woods to remain "undeveloped, except for educational facilities in conjunction with the Anne Arundel County Board of Education."

The ruling overturns a decision by an Anne Arundel County judge allowing construction to go forward. Now, lawyers said, the case likely will go back to court for a judge to craft a remedy - which could include razing the structure.

"I'd like to think not," said James C. Praley, lawyer for Tom Schubert, developer of the campus.

Schubert went ahead with construction despite the pending appeal. He had prevailed in three administrative and two court proceedings, Praley said. College officials did not respond yesterday to requests for comment.

- Andrea F. Siegel

BALTIMORE

Man convicted of assault; his father is barred from court

Four months after a Northwest Baltimore man's trial on attempted murder charges ended when his brother tried to pass notes to jurors, the suspect's father was barred from the courthouse yesterday during the new trial because he asked a courtroom clerk to talk to jurors.

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