City/county Digest


August 08, 2006

`Black Widow' fails to secure reduced sentence for fraud

A effort to reduce the prison term of a woman prosecutors dubbed the "Black Widow" failed yesterday when she received the same four-decade sentence imposed by the judge in Greenbelt almost four years ago.

U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow ordered that Josephine Gray, 60, of Wheaton serve 40 years in prison for her conviction on eight counts of mail and wire fraud.

FOR THE RECORD - An account Tuesday of the accidental drowning of a 14-year-old boy at his grandparents' Harford County home misidentified the victim. He was John "Jack" David Lulie.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Gray appealed her original sentence based on the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in United States v. Booker. That case found that federal sentencing guidelines should be considered advisory and not mandatory by judges.

In 2002, Gray was convicted of defrauding insurance companies when she collected life insurance proceeds on three slain lovers after allegedly using the threat of voodoo to keep witnesses silent.

Gray escaped two previous attempts to prosecute her when witnesses refused to testify. In the third case, prosecutors did not pursue state murder charges, choosing instead to pursue a federal fraud case.

At her original sentencing hearing, Chasanow held that because prosecutors presented evidence at trial that Gray committed premeditated murder, she should be sentenced using the guidelines for first-degree murder and not fraud.

Matthew Dolan

Carroll County: Mount Airy

Driver loses control of truck, hits homes

The 45-year old driver of a landscaping truck lost control and hit two houses in Mount Airy yesterday, leaving one of them uninhabitable and sending him to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Felix Anthony Frederick of Middletown was driving a Hav-A-Lawn pickup truck in the 1500 block of Sweet Summer Lane about 10:30 a.m. when he crossed the road and hit a crosswalk sign and a tree before striking a garage connected to one house before hitting the side of a second house, said Maryland State Police, who investigated the accident.

Frederick was freed from the truck and flown to Shock Trauma, said Doug Alexander, public information officer for Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company. A hospital spokesman said Frederick was in fair condition. Police did not know what caused the accident.

The truck was carrying a tank of water and a diluted pesticide mixture. Both tanks ruptured in the accident, Alexander said. Maryland Department of the Environment officials cleaned up the pesticide leak, which was a low concentration of chemicals and did not pose a hazard, Alexander said.

Ellie Baublitz

Howard County: Elkridge

Police identify U.S. 1 crash victim

Howard County police identified yesterday the woman killed in a two-car accident Saturday morning outside the Tip Top Motel on U.S. 1 in Elkridge.

Kenmarlo Denise Jackson, 21, of the 9100 block of Scott Adam Court in Laurel died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after the southbound 1999 Chrysler 300 in which she was riding attempted to make a left turn into the motel about 6:45 a.m. and pulled in front of a northbound 2003 Ford Ranger.

The driver of the Chrysler, Dwayne Shontae Williams, 27, of the 9200 block of Crazy Quilt Court in Columbia, has been charged with manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol in the incident.

Police also identified a second passenger in the Chrysler, 41-year-old Quintella Alston, with a last-known address of Sesame Court in Reisterstown, who remained in critical condition at Shock Trauma yesterday. Officials have not been able to locate Alston's relatives and are asking people who know her family to police.

The driver of the Ranger, John Grimes, 58, of the 1600 block of N. Forest Park Ave. in Baltimore, also was taken to Shock Trauma, where he was treated and released.

Melissa Harris

Baltimore County: Reisterstown

Boy, 14, drowns in relatives' pool

A 14-year-old Reisterstown boy drowned while playing in his grandparents' Joppatowne swimming pool, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said yesterday. John "Jack" David Little of Mansel Lane had been jumping in and out of the pool at a family outing when his mother discovered him lying motionless in the water Saturday evening about 6:45 p.m., police said. She and a friend jumped into the pool to rescue the boy and performed CPR, police said. He died while being taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

Justin Fenton

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