State Digest


April 18, 2006

Inmate's records are made available

Washington County prosecutors won access yesterday to the hospital records of a state prison inmate accused of murdering the correctional officer who was guarding his Hagerstown hospital room.

Assistant State's Attorney Eric A. Reed said the confidential records could shed light on the shooter's state of mind, planning and motive in an incident in which guard Jeffery A. Wroten was shot with his own gun Jan. 26 at Washington County Hospital. The inmate had been admitted for treatment of a self-inflicted injury.

Public defenders for the accused, Brandon T. Morris, argued the state was fishing for evidence. "They're looking for something and they don't know what's there," Assistant Public Defender Eric A. Reed told Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III.

Wright granted the state's request for the hospital records and for Morris' Division of Correction case file - except for his mental health records. The judge also refused to grant access to Morris' Department of Juvenile Services files and public-school records, ruling that prosecutors hadn't shown that the potential value of those documents to the state's case outweighed Morris' privacy rights.

Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael had argued in part that the juvenile and school records would help the state prepare its arguments for sentencing, including the possibility of the death sentence, if Morris, 20, is convicted.

State's Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. filed notice last month that prosecutors will seek the death penalty if Morris is convicted. At the time of the shooting, Morris was an inmate and Wroten an officer at the Roxbury Correctional Institution near Hagerstown. Morris was serving an eight-year sentence for assault, robbery and handgun convictions in Baltimore.

The inmate, now being held in Baltimore at Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, also known as Supermax, faces 36 counts, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, assault and weapons violations.

He is accused of shooting Wroten, 44, in the face as the officer pleaded for his life, then trying steal a visitor's car keys and forcing the woman to accompany him to a hospital entrance, where he forced a cabbie to drive him on a chase into nearby Pennsylvania. The cab crashed into a concrete barrier.

Associated Press

Montgomery: Gaithersburg

Father of 8-year-old boy who shot classmate is arrested

The father of an 8-year-old boy who shot a classmate at a day care facility in January surrendered to police yesterday. He is charged with attacking and stabbing the boy's mother last week at a Gaithersburg apartment complex.

John Linwood Hall, 56, faces firearms and other charges stemming from the shooting at the Germantown day care center. Police allege that his son used a gun that he found in his father's apartment to shoot a 7-year-old classmate in the arm.

Hall is accused of confronting his ex-girlfriend at her apartment Thursday, punching her and cutting her with a small knife. Authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on assault, reckless endangerment and other charges.

Hall was out on bond at the time. He is expected to go on trial next month for the day care shooting.

Associated Press

Washington: Hagerstown

County program to curb teen pregnancy receives funding

The Washington County commissioners have included more than $134,000 in next year's budget for teen pregnancy prevention.

The funds were requested by the county Health Department, which has been openly critical of the county school board's reluctance to address the issue. The funds would pay for a media campaign, medical supplies and a full-time nurse practitioner in Hagerstown.

Commissioner William Wivell opposed the funding, saying the Health Department received $100,000 last year to fight teen pregnancy and it didn't appear to have had the desired effect. In 2004, the last year for which data are available, 206 teens gave birth in Washington County, up from the 185 in 2003, according to the Health Department.

County Health Officer William Christoffel said it could take several years for the program to show results.

Associated Press

Cecil: Elkton

Some polling places are being changed

Town election officials are changing some voting locations because of concerns about long lines that might discourage voters. Six changes in polling places are planned, according to John Dillman, Election Board president. Election Board Director Evelyn Potter said there are about 6,600 new voters since the last election in April 2004.

Associated Press

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