Week In Review

April 16, 2006

Anne Arundel

Sojourner-Douglass case heard by court

The following are Anne Arundel County news items that appeared in other sections of The Sun during the past week:

The Maryland Court of Appeals heard arguments April 7 on whether Sojourner-Douglass College's Anne Arundel County campus should be torn down.

A panel of judges listened to the attorney for an Edgewater community argue that building the school violated a 30-year community covenant that restricted development. The developer and his attorney say the school meets the terms of the covenant. The building also houses KIPP Harbor Academy, a charter school, but neither it nor the college is a party in the suit.

Supporters of the college and members of civil rights groups filled the courtroom during the proceeding, and said afterward that they were hopeful that the panel of judges would not order the school torn down. The judges did not indicate when they would issue a ruling on the case.

Maryland section, Saturday, April 8

Crownsville

Eviction threatened for several nonprofits

The state is threatening to evict several nonprofit organizations, including a regional food bank and a nursing home, operating on the grounds of the former Crownsville state psychiatric hospital, in a dispute with Anne Arundel County over the future of the property, which the county says it cannot afford to take over.

A top Ehrlich administration official told Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens in a letter obtained by The Sun that the impasse over who will pay $25 million for environmental cleanup will force the state to clear the land for possible sale.

"I regret that we were not able to reach a conclusion that would allow the tenants to remain at Crownsville," Van T. Mitchell, deputy secretary for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Owens in the Feb. 6 letter.

Mitchell put the onus on the county to relocate the nonprofit groups from Crownsville as the state prepares for a "final sale or transfer of the property." He set a June 2007 deadline for the community organizations to leave.

In an interview, Mitchell said he regretted that the two sides have been unable to work out a deal.

Maryland section, Saturday, April 8

Anne Arundel

Man pleads guilty in attack on girlfriend

Leeander Jerome Blake, a freed suspect in a 2002 Annapolis carjacking and murder, pleaded guilty this month to second-degree assault, a charge that stemmed from a June incident involving a former girlfriend.

Judge Joseph S. Casula, a Prince George's County magistrate who heard the case at the request of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, sentenced Blake, 20, to a six-year suspended prison sentence and three years' probation and psychological treatment, and required that he complete an anger management course.

The assault charge stemmed from a June 30 incident at a house where he was staying in the Robinwood public housing community. In court documents, Blake's former girlfriend wrote that after she rebuffed his attempts to talk with her, he followed her down a street and "harassed" her. He took her cell phone, threw it on the ground, pulled two necklaces off her neck and ripped a bracelet from her wrist, the document said.

Blake and Terrence Tolbert of Annapolis were charged earlier in connection with the 2002 carjacking-murder of Straughan Lee Griffin, an Annapolis businessman. Blake was freed after Maryland courts found that Annapolis police violated his rights when they initially questioned him.

Tolbert was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving life without parole plus 30 years. The U.S. attorney's office is considering federal charges against Blake.

Maryland section, Tuesday April 11

Edgewater

Effigy hanging probed as `racial incident'

Anne Arundel County police said they are investigating as a "racial incident" the hanging of an effigy of a black man from a bridge that crosses Route 2 in Edgewater.

The effigy was found April 6 hanging from a footbridge that connects two portions of the South River Golf Links, according to authorities.

The effigy was "like a scarecrow" and was dressed in blue jeans and a shirt, said Anthony Lloyd, one of several people who saw it. The face was painted black, and it was hanging from a noose, Lloyd said.

Lloyd called 911 when he saw the effigy at 10:30 p.m. and said that the dispatcher was aware of it from other calls. Lloyd said a county police officer removed it at 11 p.m.

"I went to college in the South, and I never saw that kind of stuff there, then to come here, in the suburbs of D.C. and see that - it was disappointing to see that," Lloyd said.

Sgt. Shawn A. Urbas, a spokesman for the county police, said the incident is under investigation and that there are no suspects.

Maryland section, Wednesday, April 12

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