Digest

November 02, 2007

Man, 33, who berated judge, gets 50 years for 2000 killing

Weeks after he told a judge, "I don't respect your courtroom," and shouted obscenities at her, Julius Collins was sentenced yesterday to 50 years in prison for second-degree murder and a weapons violation, the maximum the judge could give him.

Collins, 33, berated Baltimore Circuit Judge Althea M. Handy last month after a jury convicted him in an April 2000 killing. An earlier conviction had been overturned.

He repeatedly insulted the judge, using vulgar language, and she ruled him in contempt of court.

As deputies escorted him out of Handy's courtroom Oct. 5, he said, "I ain't coming back to this ... for no sentence."

The prison sentence Handy gave Collins yesterday is to run consecutively to a 20-year sentence he is serving in an assault case.

Also known as Julius Snead, Collins was convicted of shooting a man in the face after he felt disrespected, Assistant State's Attorney Gerard B. Volatile said. City police said at the time of Collins' arrest in 2000 that he was a suspect in at least four assault cases.

His last addresses were in the 700 block of Lennox St. in Reservoir Hill and in the 3000 block of Thorndale Ave. in Pimlico.

For the outburst by Collins the last time he had been in her courtroom, Handy sentenced Collins to an additional five months and 29 days.

Julie Bykowicz

Baltimore

: Mount Vernon

Fire erupts at hotel; residents evacuated

Several residents were safely evacuated yesterday evening when a single-alarm fire broke out in a Mount Vernon building across the street from the Basilica of the Assumption. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The fire, reported about 6 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Hotel in the first block of W. Franklin St., was confined to a shaft between the second and third floors containing utility pipes, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a city Fire Department spokesman.

He said plumbers had been working in the building earlier.

Cartwright said fire alarms were activated when smoke filled much of the eight-story brick building, where more than 100 students attend the Baltimore International College studying culinary arts and hospitality management. The hotel has 60 to 75 residents, he said.

Cartwright said the fire was brought under control in less than an hour and that there were no injuries among the students, residents or the 30 firefighters who responded.

Police detoured heavy downtown traffic from the scene.

Richard Irwin

Harford County

: Finances

Panel to study operations, spending

With the state budget deficit expected to lead to cuts in funding for counties, Harford County's chief executive announced yesterday the formation of a panel to study government operations and spending.

The 11-member commission is charged with finding ways to streamline functions and cut costs, said County Executive David R. Craig. Harford could lose up to $25 million in fiscal 2009 because of state cuts, he said.

The panel's members have backgrounds that include banking, insurance, law, manufacturing, education and real estate.

"This task force is a mix of business leaders who look at the bottom line every month," Craig said at a news conference in Bel Air.

Commission member Sheryl Davis Kohl, a former state legislator and president of a temporary staffing services company, said she hopes the initiative will improve the way the county conducts business.

"If we save money, it benefits everybody," Kohl said.

Over the next several months, panel members expect to meet with each department head, Craig said.

The commission will conclude its assessment and prepare a report by June, but Craig hopes it will make cost-cutting recommendations that can be implemented over the next eight months.

Scott T. Gibson, Harford's director of human resources and chairman of the commission, said he does not foresee layoffs for county employees as part of the panel's recommendations.

Mary Gail Hare

Howard County

: River Hill

Two teens charged in tot lot vandalism

Two former River Hill High School students have been charged in the vandalism of a tot lot and church near the school, Howard County police said yesterday.

The 16-year-old from Clarksville and 17-year-old from Laurel, both of whom dropped out of the Clarksville school in September, police said, are suspected of pouring a drain cleaner down the playground's slide, blanketing the playground equipment with rolls of cash register receipts and damaging a bench, archway and fence at the church.

Police also have charged the teenagers, whose names police did not release because they are juveniles, in the theft of the supplies used in the vandalism from a local Giant grocery store.

Firefighters washed away the drain cleaner, which can burn skin on contact, before anyone used the slide, said Cpl. Jennifer Reidy-Hall.

Police were able to solve the case because witnesses came forward.

"People at River Hill High School were using the church parking lot for an event that was going on that night," Reidy-Hall said. "These incidents occurred while witnesses were around."

Melissa Harris

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