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CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

News from around the Baltimore region

September 15, 2005

BALTIMORE COUNTY

Library system switching films from video to DVD

Baltimore County's public library system is making a complete transition from videotapes to DVDs in its feature film collection.

The switch to DVDs should be completed by January. The Cockeysville and Woodlawn libraries have already made the transition as part of a pilot project last spring.

The county library says it is the first in the Baltimore area to make the change, which will not include children's videos at this time.

The library system has been reducing the size of its video movie collection over the past three years. In that time, feature video circulation has decreased by 53 percent while DVD circulation has increased by 61 percent.

ELKTON

Trial of man accused in death of wife to move from Cecil Co.

A Cecil County judge ordered the trial of a man accused of starving his wife to death moved to a different county yesterday, saying residents are too familiar with the incident for the Elkton man to receive a fair trial.

John Joseph Dougherty, 53, who is charged with second-degree murder, is accused of locking his brain-damaged wife, Mary Elizabeth Kilrain, in a room for five years after she suffered an aneurysm. She was surrounded by decaying food and feces and weighed 81 pounds when police found her body.

The trial, which was scheduled to begin Oct. 3, will instead take place in one of four neighboring upper Eastern Shore counties at an undetermined date. The 2nd Circuit administrative judge is expected to decide later this month.

"Never in the whole time I've been practicing law have I seen a case where so many people knew about it," Circuit Judge Dexter M. Thompson Jr. said about his decision.

During jury selection for the trial of Dougherty's live-in girlfriend, whose neglect charges were eventually thrown out, more than 80 percent of the prospective jurors had heard or read about the case.

Cecil County State's Attorney Christopher J. Eastridge opposed the move, arguing that while the case had garnered publicity, a jury was eventually selected in that previous trial and could be for Dougherty's as well.

"Pretrial publicity is not by itself grounds for removal," Eastridge said.

- Justin Fenton

SEVERNA PARK

Man could get life sentence for rape of B&A Trail user

A Severna Park man faces the possibility of life in prison when he is sentenced this fall for the rape of a Bowie woman who was walking on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, one of the most heavily used parks in the state.

Harvey Edward Brown, 29, entered an Alford plea yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to the most serious of 12 counts against him in the Aug. 10, 2004, attack on the 24-year-old woman. The plea indicates that Brown, who lived near the trail and about 2 miles from the site of the rape, does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is enough evidence to convict him.

Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Foy Howell told Judge Ronald A. Silkworth that she intends to seek a life sentence when Brown returns to court Nov. 23. Brown's lawyer, assistant public defender Karl H. Gordon, declined to comment.

Howell said Brown approached the woman from behind and started a conversation that turned personal. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder, and held a knife to her neck and threatened to kill her, Howell said. She said Brown forced the woman into a wooded area and sexually assaulted and robbed her before letting her go with a warning that if she reported it, he would kill her.

But police were called immediately and arrested Brown, whom they identified through a tattoo of a heart with the name "Cheryl" on his right shoulder and the gold-colored bicycle he rode. When questioned, he first said he was at home asleep at the time of the assault. He later told police that the woman initiated the consensual sex, before admitting that he attacked her, Howell said.

- Andrea F. Siegel

HOWARD COUNTY

Police seek information after Baltimore man is shot in van

A 29-year-old Baltimore man on his way to work early yesterday at the wholesale fish market in Jessup was shot in the back through a rear window of his van as he was driving along Route 175 approaching U.S. 1, Howard County police said.

Daniel Martin had been traveling south on Interstate 95 and exited east onto Route 175 at about 3:15 a.m. when the shot was fired, said Sherry Llewellyn, police spokeswoman. The white Chevy Astro van window was opaque, so the shooter couldn't see the victim, according to photos released by police.

Police believe the bullet came from a handgun fired from another vehicle, Llewellyn said. Martin was treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and released.

Police ask that anyone in the area at the time who saw anything call police at 410-313-3200.

- Larry Carson

OWINGS MILLS

Portion of Gwynnbrook Ave. subject to closure into Oct.

A section of Gwynnbrook Avenue will be closed for six hours a day on weekdays to allow for utility work, Baltimore County public works officials announced.

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