Baltimore County Digest


August 29, 2006

Murder trial opens today for Overlea man

Opening statements are scheduled to begin today in the trial of an Overlea man charged with murder in the death of a woman who was found dead in the bathtub of her burning apartment.

Ellis Lee Hickman Jr., 34, is charged with the first-degree murder of Rakiyya Tiana States, 29, who was his neighbor on Mopec Circle in Overlea.

In the weeks before she died, States told friends that she had found greeting cards with religious messages and signed with an e-mail address on her car, according to charging documents.

When States e-mailed the address, the person who responded called himself "Minister Hickman" and said that the Holy Spirit had told him to contact her.

On Sept. 25, 2005, firefighters extinguished a blaze in States' apartment, then found her body in the bathtub. An autopsy found that she had been suffocated and beaten to death before her fingertips were cut off or the fire began.

Earlier that day, Hickman had called his brother and asked him to bring a can of gasoline, police said. When the brother, Terrance Davis, arrived with the can, Hickman asked him to set an apartment on fire, according to charging documents. Davis refused but left the gasoline with his brother, the documents said.

Yesterday, Assistant State's Attorney John Cox and defense lawyer Edward Barry selected a jury of 10 men and two women.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels denied several motions introduced by the defense, including one to bar mention of Hickman's arrest in Florida when he was found hiding behind a trash bin.

Julie Scharper


Autistic boy found outside motel

An autistic child was found alone and naked outside a Woodlawn-area motel early yesterday, county police said.

Shortly before 9 a.m. a guest at Motel 6 in the 1600 block of Whitehead Court found Isaiah Wilson, 7, walking along the side of the building, county police said.

Motel management called police after the guest told them about the naked child. The child, whose guardian could not be found at the time, was taken to Northwest Hospital, police said. The child was not injured.

Bessie Woodard, 46, the child's mother, was sleeping in the motel at the time of Isaiah's disappearance, police said. She alerted officials about noon that her child was missing.

"The Department of Social Services has put the child in foster care until they review the family situation," said Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the Baltimore County police department.

No charges had been filed against the mother, Toohey said.

Nick Shields


Smith backs Cardin for Senate

U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin won the endorsement yesterday of Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who said the Senate candidate's views on important issues including national security and Social Security make him a good match for Maryland.

"You have been a champion of education, and you're just a man of substance," Smith, a Democrat, said during a media event in front of Windsor Mill Middle School.

One of several Democrats vying for the party's nomination, Cardin, 62, said he is "proud to be a resident of Baltimore County" and that his congressional record distinguishes him from the competition. He noted his vote against the Iraq war and his work to reform the pension system as evidence that he is representing the interests of Maryland voters.

Cardin, a 10-term congressman and former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, is even in polls with Kweisi Mfume, a former Baltimore congressman and former head of the NAACP. Republicans are expected to nominate Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

Many think Baltimore County is a key to statewide races this fall and that Smith could help his candidate in the Sept. 12 primary.

"I endorse you for United States Senate," Smith said to Cardin. "I want you to win, and we are going to work hard for you."

Jennifer Skalka

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