Week In Review

December 11, 2005

Leaders defend four trips taken overseas

Since June 2004, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens has traveled at taxpayer expense to Finland, Russia, Denmark, China, back to Denmark and once more to China, according to a Sun review of county travel records.

In a 16-month span through September, she and other county representatives have spent more than $70,000 during four trips to promote the county's economic development abroad, records show.

While overseas, they met with foreign dignitaries, attended the theater and visited such landmarks as the Kremlin and the Great Wall of China.

Owens is not alone among Baltimore-Washington-area county executives, several of whom have gone overseas in recent years to attract businesses. Still, some question the value of such trips by local officials. "I'm not sure I see that many jobs ... coming as a result of these visits," Maryland Taxpayers Association President Dee Hodges said of Owens' efforts.

"I can't believe that a county executive can have any major influence on these trips. ... It's a very weak case to spend money," said former County Executive John G. Gary, a Republican who took no overseas trips during his term.

But, according to Owens and her economic advisers, the trips are not about hobnobbing and seeing the sights. Participants said they are crucial for maintaining international business ties and creating new ones to promote the county's economic vitality.

Maryland section, Dec. 5, 2005

Man pleads guilty to fatal stabbing

An Annapolis man admitted Monday to fatally stabbing his cousin - apparently after an argument over a $10 debt - in a plea bargain that calls for a 15-year prison term.

Aaron M. Brown Jr., 22, pleaded guilty to killing Kevin L. Moulden, 20, after a fight that started about 2:30 a.m. Oct. 30, 2004, in the 100 block of Bowman Court in Annapolis.

Karen Graves, Moulden's mother, said outside the Anne Arundel County Circuit courtroom that she would have preferred that Brown receive a longer sentence. Though Brown had been charged with first-degree murder, Assistant State's Attorney Robin E. Rickard said she and the victim's family felt that a plea to second-degree murder was an appropriate conviction given the facts of the case.

Maryland section, Dec. 6, 2005

Newborn found dead in trash can

Anne Arundel County police are awaiting the results of an autopsy on a newborn boy who was found in a trash can Sunday in Arnold, police said.

The death is being treated as suspicious by police, but no one had been charged as of Thursday. Police don't know whether the baby was stillborn or whether he was born alive. It could be weeks before police receive autopsy results.

A 17-year-old girl, who has not been identified by police, gave birth to the boy either Saturday night or Sunday morning, police said. About 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the girl's mother found the newborn in a trash can on the side of their home in the 300 block of Buena Vista Ave. and called 911. The newborn was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, where an autopsy was performed, according to the medical examiner's office.

Police said that a civilian employee of the department's criminal investigation division is related to the 17-year-old and has been temporarily transferred to another area of the Police Department. A detective from another unit has been assigned to lead the investigation, police said.

Maryland section, Dec. 7, 2005

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