State Digest


April 25, 2006

Mother convicted of murder attempt

A Hagerstown woman was convicted yesterday of attempted second-degree murder for leaving her newborn son in an alley, hidden beneath two blocks of wood under a parked trailer.

The boy survived, but Kelly E. Ruck, 26, could be sent to prison for three to eight years under a deal announced in Washington County Circuit Court. Judge W. Kennedy Boone set sentencing for May 15.

Ruck, who worked as a cook, has a history of mental illness, according to her lawyer, Gordon A. Lynn. He said after the hearing that a psychiatrist will testify at her sentencing that Ruck had a dissociative disorder at the time of the incident and could not have formed the intent to kill her baby.

Ruck entered an Alford plea to the attempted-murder charge and was found guilty by Boone. Under an Alford plea, she did not admit guilt but acknowledged the state had enough evidence for a jury to find her guilty.

In return for Ruck's plea, the state dropped charges of attempted first-degree murder, reckless endangerment and contributing to the condition of a child. Prosecutors also agreed to seek no more than the three- to eight-year prison sentence recommended by state sentencing guidelines for defendants who, like Ruck, have no prior criminal record. Attempted second-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

State's Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. said that whether Ruck had pleaded guilty or taken the Alford plea, "you still get to the same bottom line - it's a conviction."

According to a statement of facts presented by the state, Ruck gave birth to her live-in boyfriend's child about 6 a.m. Sept. 17 after repeatedly denying that she was pregnant. A neighbor found the infant about 3 1/2 hours later beneath two chunks of lumber under a parked trailer. The child was suffering from hypothermia but survived and is in foster care, Strong said.

The baby's father, Scott Rohrbaugh, declined to comment after the proceeding.

Associated Press


State lifts burning ban after rain reduces fire risk

The state Department of Natural Resources lifted a statewide ban on open-air burning in all remaining counties yesterday after abundant rainfall reduced the threat of wildfires.

Twelve counties - Allegany, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester - were still under the restriction before 1 to 2 inches of rain fell across the state this past weekend. Although year-to-date precipitation remains below normal statewide, projected wildfire conditions have lessened, the DNR said.

The heavy rain raised rivers and streams to hazardous levels, prompting a DNR advisory to avoid boating and other recreational uses of the Upper Potomac River and its tributaries through tomorrow.

The DNR implemented the statewide burning ban, except for Garrett County, on March 31. It was lifted in seven counties and Baltimore on April 10 and in three other counties April 18.

Associated Press

Frederick County

Police chase ends in crash; 2 group-home residents charged

Two teenage group-home residents stole a staff member's car and drove it about 45 miles on Interstate 70 before crashing into another vehicle during a police chase that exceeded 120 mph, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office said yesterday.

The unidentified Baltimore boys, ages 17 and 14, were caught after a foot chase Sunday afternoon near Monrovia, Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said. After hospital treatment for minor injuries, they were charged as juveniles with various offenses and sent to separate Department of Juvenile Service facilities pending further proceedings, she said.

The occupants of the other car, Michael R. Acker, 34, and Maria C. Acker, 35, both of Brunswick, were treated at Frederick Memorial Hospital and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Authorities said the 17-year-old drove the 2004 Nissan Maxima after stealing it from Oak Hill House, a residential treatment center in Clear Spring.

Associated Press


Silver Spring educator named Teacher of the Year

She may have just 15 pupils in her kindergarten class, but the children Kimberly Oliver teaches represent nearly every continent on the globe.

She has Vietnamese, Latino, African, African-American and Haitian pupils. All but one speak another language. Often children interpret for each other. And 90 percent of pupils at Broad Acres Elementary School in Silver Spring receive free and reduced-price meals, an indication that most come from low-income families.

Yet despite these apparent barriers, combined with a school that risked state takeover when Oliver arrived six years ago, she has helped boost pupil scores, involved parents in their children's education and gotten her young charges engaged in their school.

For those accomplishments, Oliver, 29, has been named Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Selected from the state teachers of the year, she is the 56th teacher to win the annual award. After meeting President Bush tomorrow, she will serve as a teacher advocate for the coming year.

Associated Press

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