state digest

state digest

June 27, 2007

Teacher sentenced for threatening notes

A sixth-grade teacher was sentenced yesterday to nine months in jail plus nine months of home detention for writing threatening notes to five students with messages such as, "Tick Tock Tick Tock. Is it a bomb or is it a clock?"

Michelle J. Dohm, 42, of Thurmont didn't acknowledge guilt or remorse during the hearing but expressed sympathy for the students' families.

Dohm was convicted by a judge in April after agreeing to a statement of facts that included handwriting analysis and a microscopic comparison of fibers in postage stamps.

"She has consistently and emphatically denied guilt," defense attorney Thomas C. Morrow said afterward.

Frederick County State's Attorney J. Charles Smith said a mental health assessment had concluded that Dohm, a married mother of two, has a personality dysfunction. He said prosecutors theorized that she wrote the notes so she could get attention by offering sympathy and comfort to the victims' families.

"She would run to the rescue or provide offers of help or assistance to the victims' families, all the while being the person who created the controversy," Smith said.

The Frederick County school board will consider today an administration recommendation to fire Dohm, who has been on unpaid leave from Thurmont Middle School since her arrest in December 2005.

Teachers who are convicted of crimes lose their professional certification and are no longer qualified to teach, school system attorney Jamie Cannon said.

Circuit Judge Julie Solt suspended the remainder of a 10-year sentence that will be imposed if Dohm fails to comply with terms of a five-year probationary period after her release.

Solt also ordered Dohm to get psychological counseling, avoid contact with the victims and their families, avoid sporting events in Thurmont and stay away from the school.

Dohm contended in a December 2005 interview that the notes' author might have been someone who was jealous of the attention showered on a local Little League all-star team in the summer of 2005.

Four of the victims were members of the team and one of the messages began, "Tick Tock Tick Tock. You play ball just like a rock."

Associated Press

Prince George's

Boy, 13, dies after being thrown from pickup truck

A 13-year-old Prince George's County boy died early yesterday at Children's Hospital in Washington of injuries sustained after his father lost control of a Toyota pickup truck and crashed into a bridge abutment.

The truck was headed south on Interstate 95 about 9:30 Monday night near the Howard County line when the accident occurred.

The boy's name and that of his father and a brother who also was a passenger were not released. All were from Lanham, police said.

State police at the College Park Barracks said the victim was seated in a makeshift chair in a rear compartment behind the driver's seat when the father lost control of the vehicle, hit a right-side bridge abutment and skidded across four lanes of the highway.

The boy was thrown from the truck.

The pickup then struck the left bridge abutment before it overturned and skidded down the highway.

Police said the victim's 12-year-old brother and the father were injured.

Police said the father was taken to Mid-Star Hospital in Washington and that the younger son was also taken to Children's Hospital.

Charges were pending a review of the crash by the county state's attorney's office, police said.

Sun reporter

Frederick County

State highway worker fatally struck by truck

A State Highway Administration worker was fatally struck by a pickup truck yesterday while sweeping the shoulder of a ramp connecting three major highways near Frederick, the agency said.

The 21-year employee, who worked out of the SHA's Frederick maintenance shop, was working with a crew of five removing accumulated rocks and roadside debris from the shoulder of a ramp connecting eastbound U.S. 340 to eastbound Interstate 70 and southbound I-270, spokesman David Buck said.

A white pickup truck crossed onto the shoulder and struck him, Buck said.

Buck wouldn't identify the victim, pending notification of family members.

Maryland State Police Cpl. Kevin Fling said the pickup truck stopped and that police were investigating the incident.

Buck said drivers in work zones should heed caution signs like the one on the back of the crew's dump truck.

"It's dangerous, dangerous work, and the highway folks are frequently only protected by cones and barrels. We really look to the motorists to do their job," Buck said.

Associated Press

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