Digest

December 21, 2007

Judge bars escape attempt as evidence in inmate's trial, A judge ruled yesterday that a state prison inmate's attempted escape from a Howard County courtroom this year will not be admitted as evidence when he goes on trial in Ellicott City next month in the shooting death of a correctional officer who was guarding him at a Hagerstown hospital.

Brandon T. Morris, 22, of Baltimore is charged with killing Officer Jeffery A. Wroten during an attempted escape from Washington County Hospital in January 2006. Morris had been taken there for treatment of self-inflicted wounds from Roxbury Correctional Institution, where he had been serving a seven-year sentence for armed robbery and assault.

Morris attempted to flee the Howard County courtroom during jury-selection proceedings in May. His trial on a charge of first-degree murder had been moved to Howard County Circuit Court from Washington County after his lawyers requested a change of venue.

Yesterday's ruling was issued by retired Anne Arundel County Judge Joseph P. Manck, who took over the case when Howard County Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney recused himself after the attempted courtroom escape.

Morris' trial is scheduled for Jan. 7.

Tyeesha Dixon

Carroll County

: Sykesville

Police seeking man who offered girl a ride

Police asked for the public's help yesterday in finding a man who they say offered a 14-year-old girl a ride in his vehicle Wednesday evening in Sykesville.

The man approached the girl at Norris Avenue and Kalorama Road in Sykesville and persisted in trying to get her to ride with him after she refused, police said. He then left the area and was last seen shortly after 6 p.m. on Norris Avenue headed toward Obrecht Road.

The man was described as white, 30 to 35 years old, with short black or brown hair, a stubble goatee and a medium build. He was wearing a red polo-style shirt and was driving a red minivan.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or Sykesville police at 410-795-0757.

Ellie Baublitz

Baltimore

: Park Heights

Man is treated after fire at duplex

A man was treated for minor smoke inhalation after a two-alarm fire in a Park Heights duplex yesterday afternoon, a city Fire Department spokesman said.

Firefighters responded to a report of fire in the 5300 block of Denmore St. about 3:30 p.m., said Capt. Roman Clark, a department spokesman.

The fire began on the third floor of one side of a frame duplex, Clark said, and extended to the attic of the other side.

Workmen who were in the apartment where the fire started were unharmed, Clark said. A man in the other side of the duplex was treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation but refused to be taken to the hospital.

The fire grew to two alarms before firefighters brought it under control by 4:30 p.m.

Liz F. Kay

Citywide

Police sirens signal delivery of toys

In response to calls from the public last night about numerous police cars traveling around the city with their lights flashing and their sirens sounding: not to fret.

It's all in the spirit of giving this time of year.

Officer Troy Harris, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said city and Baltimore County police, Maryland State Police and officers from other jurisdictions were going from one Toys For Tots collection center to another all over town in their marked vehicles dropping off toys for underprivileged children who otherwise would not have received a toy for Christmas.

Baltimore County

: UMBC

Johnson steps down from provost post

After 10 years as provost of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Arthur T. Johnson will return to the faculty and be replaced by a senior administrator at George Washington University, school officials announced yesterday.

Elliot L. Hirshman, chief research officer at the private Washington university, will take over the top academic job in Catonsville in July. He is a graduate of Yale University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Hirshman, 46, was also the psychology department chairman at George Washington, where he studied memory and cognition.

Johnson, 63, has been with UMBC since 1980. He will rejoin the political science department.

Gadi Dechter

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