Week In Review

January 28, 2007

Arnold

Detailed evidence in newborn's death

A newborn either drowned in the toilet where he was born or was smothered in the trash bag where his 17-year-old mother placed him before stuffing the bag in a can outside, an Anne Arundel County prosecutor said Thursday.

Megan Rene Patria was alternately portrayed in a hearing as a liar so self-absorbed that she boasted about her slimmer figure a day after the Dec. 3, 2005, birth and as a scared teen who panicked when her mother - who didn't know she was pregnant - came home after the delivery.

County Circuit Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis is expected to decide Wednesday whether Patria, charged with second-degree murder and related counts, will be tried as an adult or a juvenile, which would reduce the potential punishment.

The pretrial hearing revealed the most detailed evidence yet against 18-year-old Patria, formerly of Arnold and now living in Nottingham, and previewed the defense's approach.

Maryland section, Friday

Annapolis

Overhaul planned at high school

All 193 staff members at Annapolis High School must reapply for their jobs in an overhaul announced Wednesday by Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell. It is a radical move that top Anne Arundel County school officials hope will reverse anemic student performance and head off a state takeover they fear is in the future of their flagship high school.

Annapolis High, which has about 1,700 students, has failed to meet state and federal benchmarks under the No Child Left Behind Act four years in a row.

"There are a lot of great things going on at Annapolis High, but it's just not broad enough or deep enough," Maxwell said. "Next year, if they don't make it again, they could face state intervention. I'd rather be in control of the destiny of Annapolis High than have the state or someone else step in."

The school has struggled with poor reading test scores among low-income students and lagging graduation rates among minorities. Those academic hurdles, along with persistent discipline problems - including fights that apparently led to an Annapolis mall shooting around Thanksgiving - have marred the school's reputation in recent years.

Maryland section, Thursday

Anne Arundel

Maryland soldier dies in Iraq crash

A senior enlisted soldier in the Maryland National Guard who begged to be sent overseas after the Sept. 11 attacks was one of 12 service members killed Jan. 20 when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed north of Baghdad, Iraq, military officials said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Haller, 49, served as the highest-ranking enlisted leader in a training unit at Camp Fretterd near Reisterstown before being assigned to the National Guard Bureau, the military's liaison with state militias, and deployed to Afghanistan.

Maj. Gen. Bruce F. Tuxill, the Guard's adjutant general for Maryland, sent out an internal e-mail saying "with an extremely heavy heart" that the Annapolis-area resident had been killed in the crash.

"He just thought it was important to have people fight for the freedoms that we take for granted," said Sandra Hockman, Haller's ex-wife and the mother of his two daughters and son.

Maryland section, Wednesday

Annapolis

Council seeks to curb drug activity

Stepping up efforts to curb drug activity throughout Annapolis, the city council is backing a bill in the General Assembly that would allow the city to be designated as a drug-free zone with stiffer penalties for convicted dealers.

The council unanimously passed the resolution, which was sponsored by Alderwoman Julie M. Stankivic, the Ward 6 independent, on Monday night. It expands on a council resolution last year that supported letting the city classify areas around school bus stops, Head Start facilities and public housing properties as drug-free zones. That bill passed the House of Delegates but was never voted on by the state Senate.

Stankivic said the broader designation would mean that certain communities are not unfairly targeted.

The state designates areas around schools as drug-free zones and allows courts to double the sentences for people convicted of dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of school property.

A bill sponsored by new state Del. Ron George, the Arnold Republican, will be considered by the county delegation at a hearing Friday.

Anne Arundel section, Wednesday

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