Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Native Londoner Kimberly Marie Freeman lives and works 200 miles north of Baltimore, but she's enthusiastically joining the effort to save one of the city's cultural treasures. Shutting the Edgar Allan Poe House, she says with a hint of exasperation, would be a shabby way to treat such an internationally renowned figure.
"There would be outrage in England if anyone ever considered shutting down Shakespeare's home," said Freeman, artistic director for New York-based Bedlam Ensemble, a performance group putting on several shows in Manhattan this month and next to raise money for the beleaguered museum. "I find it hard to believe there's not enough support for the Poe House to keep it open."
Plenty of Baltimoreans objected when the city, citing a budget shortfall that has reached $65 million, cut off funding for the Poe House and Museum last year. The famed author, who is credited with inventing the detective novel and popularizing horror fiction, lived in the Amity Street home from about 1832 to 1835.
But national and international interest is growing as well. This month, as Poe fans prepare to commemorate the 162nd anniversary of his death in Baltimore on Friday, fundraisers for his former home are being held in Washington and Falls Church, Va., as well as Manhattan. An online petition to save the Poe House includes names from France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Romania. Addressed to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, it has been signed by more than 6,000 people.
The man, it seems, has friends everywhere. And they're desperately trying to fill the void caused when city officials decided Baltimore could no longer afford the $85,000 a year it costs to keep the house open to the public. The museum's funding was cut in summer 2010, and this year, the city's Committee for Historic and Architectural Preservation was ordered to have a plan in place by July 2012 that would make the Poe House self-sufficient.
"If this Poe House closes, it will be viewed by many as a civic disgrace," said former Baltimore Sun reporter and Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore President Rafael Alvarez, whose "Pennies for Poe" campaign (penniesforpoe.com) has raised nearly $500. "He's beloved here — he's beloved by people who have never even read him. That's Baltimore."
Saturday, August 20, 2011
The arrangement fell apart earlier this month when Williams asked if Baltimore Fashion Week could also pay for hotel accommodations for his girlfriend, Nixon said.
"According to the contract, I was suppose to provide accommodations for him, his manager and bodyguard," Nixon said. "Then they started demanding other requests that were not in the original contract."
"That was on the producer, Sharan Nixon," he said. "She called and said that she had to do some cut backs, and the budget she had for him had to be cut. We were really disappointed about that."
Battle said adding Williams' girlfriend to the mix might have also played a role.
Nixon said that different personalities from local radio stations will be filling in for Williams, including Belinda Merritt from Magic 95.9, Tim Watts from Magic 95.9. and Mikel from Magic 95.9.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wagner stabbed Pitcairn, and Merritt punched him after he fell, according to testimony. They took his iPhone and his wallet, a Christmas gift from his mother.
"It is clear, given the length of their deliberations, that they understood and accepted what we presented and, more importantly, what the evidence shows," Bernstein said afterward.
"It's not only a function of justice delayed is justice denied, [but also that] cases do not get better with age, they get worse," he said.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wayne Black, who was 18 when he pushed 22-year-old Ankush Gupta into the water and ran, will be sentenced to four years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 30, per an agreement cut with Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock.
His mother dabbed tears from her eyes as the deal was done, while Gupta's friends and family sat stone-faced on the other side of the courtroom.
They were devastated by his death and disgusted by Black's deal, which the family was informed of shortly before it was struck. They were hoping for a murder conviction rather than manslaughter, and a prison term of at least 10 years.
A spokesman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office said prosecutors pushed for a 10-year sentence, the maximum allowed for involuntary manslaughter, but that the judge reduced it to four years, based on sentencing guidelines.
"We, as a victim's family, have no authority whatsoever," said Rohit Gupta, who is not related to Ankush. Black "intentionally pushed [Ankush] into the water; it was a murder."
Prosecutor Charles Blomquist filled in the gaps Thursday during the plea hearing, quoting from a confession Black gave authorities.
Black's attorney, Howard Cardin, said his client has been choked with guilt and last year confided in a friend who alerted police.
Black's mother said she would give anything to reverse the past.
Ankush Gupta's family said he was their best hope for the future.
At 22, he was the only child still living at home in Montgomery County with his parents, who emigrated from India when Ankush was 12. He cared for them, delivering medication to his disabled father, Anoop, and shared his dreams of being a NASA engineer with his mother.
Ankush was about to enter his junior year at the University of Maryland, College Park on an engineering scholarship when he was killed, his friends said. They described him as bright, selfless and hardworking.
Friday, July 8, 2011
The U.S. attorney's office for Maryland, the FBI, and state and city police declined to comment.
"It would be inappropriate at this point to discuss the criminal investigation or do anything that could jeopardize the case down the road," said Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.
"They've got it wide open to see what happened."
Authorities must have probable cause to obtain the search warrants based on the sexual exploitation and child pornography statutes.
"It's ordinary practice for law enforcement to get search warrants on everybody and anybody who's related to it to see if there's other evidence of other crimes," said Andrew Alperstein, a Baltimore defense attorney who is not involved in the case. But, he said, "a tip is not enough for a judge to issue a search warrant — there has to be reliability to it and probable cause that a crime occurred."
"This is a very high-profile case, and I'm sure law enforcement is using every tool available to them," Alperstein said.
"Her being nude will tie back to that eventually," Copus said.
But for now, he said, investigators are casting a "wide net."
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
A car heading south struck Courtney Angeles, 16, and Emerald Smith, 17, at West Pratt Street and sped off without stopping, according to city police. The teens were rushed to nearby Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where they died early Tuesday, nine minutes apart.
You could never separate them two," said Courtney's sister, Stephanie Angeles.
On Tuesday, two groups of tearful family and friends gathered at the victims' rowhouses, one on James Street, the other a block away on Glyndon Avenue.
Angeles died at 12:10 a.m. and Smith at 12:19 a.m.
Baltimore police accident investigators have interviewed the suspects and are consulting with the Baltimore State's attorney's office before filing charges. Silbert also said the investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from red light cameras.
"She did anything for anyone," said Amanda Channell. "That's why she was walking Emerald to meet her friend."
"She was Team Edward," said Amanda Channell, explaining Courtney's preference for the vampire character over the teen werewolf in the popular Twilight series of books and movies. But it was Taylor Lautner, who played the werewolf, that "Courtney thought … was hot," she said.
Courtney attended Maritime Industries Academy High School and would have entered the 10th grade in the fall.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Detectives "were looking at this case as it was — two people who were found dead. They needed to determine how they ended up that way. I don't know that there was any kind of hope" that they were connected, state police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley said Tuesday.
State police matched fingerprints from Harper with prints entered in the National Crime Information Center database for missing persons. Police said Harper, who had been reported missing by his wife, had stayed at a hospital in southern Pennsylvania for mental health problems and had a history of attempting suicide.
He said 12 state troopers are continuing to investigate Barnes' death, alongside city homicide detectives who have worked the case for months.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not yet determined the cause and manner of death for Barnes and Harper, as they continue to perform tests. Dr. David R. Fowler, the state's chief medical examiner, would not comment further, citing the pending investigation.
Police confirmed that he stayed in the hospital one night. According to his wife, Harper had told a relative in March he was going to jump off a bridge. She said her husband had attempted suicide in 2006.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Police had no information on what the victim was doing at the mall at the time of the shooting.
The assailants, described as two black men, one of whom might have had dreadlocks, drove off in a dark gray Honda or a similar vehicle, south on Ritchie Highway.
Two male friends of the shooting victim drove the man south on Ritchie Highway in a Honda Civic to the Dunkin’ Donuts nearly a mile away. They then called police.
Firefighters and police officers responded to the doughnut shop and the victim was taken by ambulance to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with a gunshot wound to his upper torso. He was reported in stable condition last night.
At the shooting scene, officers and detectives blocked off an area about 50 yards long and including four rows of parking spaces near JCPenney and the food court. They were examining the area around a parked gray Infiniti.
Mall officials declined to comment, and refered all inquiries back to police.
Crime scene technicians took photographs and collected evidence. There were about 11 yellow evidence markers in and around the vehicle of interest.
Among the evidence gathered was one black tennis shoe, a black and white speckled composition book, a crumpled up plastic bag, and what was believed to be one shell casing sitting on the pavement next to the Infiniti’s driver’s side door.
The car also had several pages of paper, regular 8.5 by 11 sheets, stuck under the windshield. A few other pieces of paper were also strewn about and gathered by police.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Williams signed a contract Tuesday morning that results in him live announcing designers each day of the four-day event. In addition, Williams will do radio spots and attend promotional events associated with Baltimore Fashion Week, which runs Aug. 18-21.
"When we finally found his information, and his agent said he wanted to come, I just started crying because I couldn't believe it," Nixon said. "Having someone of his magnitude say they are willing to be a part of my event is just fabulous."
Williams achieved instant celebrity in January after the Columbus Dispatch posted on its website a video interview of him where he demonstrated his voice by doing a mock radio announcement. The video hit YouTube and went viral — making him a household name. He has recorded voice-overs for various national brands and he's been offered a job announcing at games for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Williams has also had his share of troubles, including being detained in Los Angeles by police after an altercation with his daughter, and a brief stay in rehab for alcohol abuse after appearing on "Dr. Phil."
Nixon said she is not concerned that Williams' personal troubles will affect his appearance at her event.
"His agent has assured me that he will be fine," she said. "There won't be any problems. Everybody has their problems in life. It is not my place to wonder if he is going to handle himself accordingly as a special guest of Baltimore Fashion Week."
Williams is excited to attend Baltimore Fashion Week, according to his agent, Alfred Battle.
"We have not been in the Baltimore area," said Battle, who has known Williams for the past 25 years. "Surely there are some people who have been touched and affected by his story in that area. We want to make a personal appearance by those people."
Battle stressed that Williams would be ready for his trip to Baltimore. In fact, Williams is scheduled to begin taping a reality television show "Second Chance At Life," which will chronicle his life as well as allow him to give other homeless people a chance at redemption, according to Battle.
"Ted is doing wonderful," Battle said. "He is living in a sober living environment in Los Angeles. He's doing a good job with it, too."
The addition of Williams is the latest in an attempt to elevate the event's image, according to Nixon.
In January, Nixon announced that she was moving the event back to Baltimore after holding it at the Sheraton Baltimore North in Towson. The new site — a parcel of land near the Morgan Stanley building in Harbor East — will provide Nixon with the type of location she envisioned when she first launched the event, she said.
To Read More>>>Overnight sensation Ted Williams to be the voice of Baltimore Fashion Week
Monday, February 7, 2011
Baltimore officials — who last summer cut the Poe House's funding — have ordered the city's Committee for Historic & Architectural Preservation (CHAP) to settle on a plan to operate the museum without using public funds. The plan must be in place by July 2012.
"That's a big order," says Jeff Jerome, who has been curator since 1979. "I've been talking to other museums, and each and every one of them — first of all, when they stop laughing, they say, 'Jeff, you should have been doing this three years ago.' You just can't do this in a year."The museum, in a North Amity Street home where Poe lived from late 1832 or early 1833 until 1835, operates on an annual budget of $85,000.
"We were in the middle of the worst budget crisis the city had faced in decades," city planning director Thomas J. Stosur said of last year's decision to cut funding. "When the sausage got made, certain things got funded and certain things did not."
Although funding for it was deleted from the current fiscal year's budget, the museum has remained open thanks to private contributions and money raised through such events as last year's 200th anniversary celebration of Poe's birth.
CHAP and the city hope to have an individual or group in place by spring to oversee the transition. "We want to have a fresh set of eyes, look at what our asset is today and at what the market might be," Stosur said. "One idea is to spin it off into its own non-profit, and perhaps put it under the umbrella of another museum or educational institution."
Poe, a Boston native who would die in Baltimore in 1849 under circumstances never fully explained, was 23 when he moved into the house, which dated to around 1830. His aunt, Maria Clemm, was the head of the household, which besides Poe included her mother, Elizabeth Cairnes Poe, and daughter, 10-year-old Virginia Eliza Clemm. Poe left the home in 1835 for Richmond, where he edited the Southern Literary Messenger.
Most of Poe's reputation as a master of American mystery and suspense was built on writings penned while living in Richmond, Philadelphia and New York. But he is believed to have authored several stories and poems while living in Baltimore, including "The Visionary," "Morella" and "To Elizabath."
Thursday, January 6, 2011
In an opinion issued Wednesday, the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed a gun possession charge levied in Prince George's County against Charles F. Williams, Jr.
Williams said the state's gun regulations violated his right to "keep and carry arms" under the Second Amendment, and based his argument in part on the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.
The high court in that case said barring a person from possessing a handgun in the home is unconstitutional. Williams, according to the opinion, said the Second Amendment establishes the "right of persons to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes."
Williams also based his argument on another recent gun decision by the Supreme Court in McDonald v. City of Chicago. But the appeals court unanimously rejected his claims and upheld his conviction.
"The defendant wished to extend the Second Amendment beyond what the Supreme Court held in the Heller case -- that a person has an individual right to possess a gun in their home and for self-defense," says Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who argued the state's case before the appellate court last year.
"What this defendant said is, 'You shouldn't convict me for toting a gun on the streets of Prince George's County, because I have an individual right to carry a gun outside of the home,'" Gansler says.
The court specifically said the Maryland law governing Williams' conviction falls outside of the Second Amendment's scope, because it bars having a handgun in public.
The judges also said Williams did not have standing to challenge aspects of the state's gun permit statutes "because he had failed to even apply for a permit to wear, carry, or transport a handgun."
Gansler says no other state has changed its gun laws based on the Supreme Court's decision regarding the District.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
A District Court judge on Monday set bail at $500,000 and scheduled a hearing for Feb. 2. The 54-year-old is charged with violating a protective order, telephone misuse, harassment and malicious destruction of property.
Police first arrested Edwards on Wednesday, Dec. 29, and charged him with assaulting his wife in their home on South Road. The woman told police that Edwards shoved her down and banged her head on the floor. He posted $20,000 bail and was released pending trial.
In an interview after his first arrest, Edwards called the incident an "unfortunate situation" and called the police account inaccurate. "It's not what it appears," he said then. "It's not accurate, nor is it true."
Court records shows that Edwards was arrested the second time on Jan. 1 by Baltimore Police Officer Brent R. Fleming. Further details were not immediately available.
Edwards served as a reporter for WJZ-TV from 1994 to Jan. 2009 and for two months as a spokesman for Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Along with tourists fresh from a 12-day excursion to the Caribbean, agents were expecting the arrival of crew members attempting to smuggle drugs into the United States.
As soon as the vessel docked Dec. 18, agents pulled aside crew member Gavin Excell, 35, suspected by the ship's security officer of bringing drugs aboard. Customs agents say they found 700 grams of heroin and 300 grams of cocaine wrapped in duct tape and hidden in his waistband and shoes.
A criminal complaint filed Tuesday accuses Excell and two other cruise line employees — John Swart Garth and Kishurn Neptune, both 27 — of picking up more than a kilogram of heroin and 500 grams of cocaine in the Dominican Republic when the cruise ship stopped there Dec. 10, with the intention of delivering it to associates in Baltimore.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean International said it maintains a "strict zero tolerance policy regarding illegal drugs on its ships." The company said it "cooperated fully with authorities during this investigation and will continue providing any assistance necessary to prosecute these individuals to the fullest extent of the law."
Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean, could not immediately confirm whether the three men had been fired.
Marketed toward vacationing families, the Enchantment of the Seas began operating out of Baltimore last summer and features luxury amenities, six whirlpools, a rock-climbing wall and a solarium. The ship can accommodate 2,252 guests, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation.
According to the court filing, Garth and Neptune worked in the ship's galley, or kitchen, an area largely out of view of passengers.
Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration, which operates the cruise ship terminal, said safety at the Baltimore port has been improved, earning a near-perfect security assessment from the Coast Guard the past three years."It's always a concern whenever you have a case like this occur, whether it happens on land or in sea," Scher said. "But certainly when you've got a ship such as the Enchantment that is linked to the port of Baltimore, it's a concern."
According to an affidavit written by an agent from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and filed Tuesday in federal court, Excell told authorities he had picked up the drugs with Garth and Neptune from a Jamaican in the Dominican Republic and had been instructed to hand them over to a man named "Tony" at the Port Covington Walmart near the Cruise Maryland Terminal.
On the morning of Dec. 18, authorities said they saw Garth getting into and out of a black GMC Envoy with Virginia license plates outside the Walmart. Garth later told customs agents that he had been paid $4,000 to deliver three packages of drugs to Loxly Johnson, 48, and Shenika Graves, 34, who were inside the vehicle.
Johnson, a Jamaican citizen and legal resident of the United States, was stopped by customs agents on Hanover Street after leaving the Walmart lot. According to documents, agents found $8,000 in his car. Other agents approached Graves, who was still at the Walmart. In her purse, according to the affidavit, were three packages containing 700 grams of heroin and 300 grams of cocaine, also wrapped in duct tape.
Johnson and Graves face the same charges as the three crew members: conspiring to import drugs into the country.
Excell, a Jamaican citizen, is in federal custody in Baltimore and an arraignment is scheduled Jan. 7, said his attorney, Chris Purpura. He said his client will plead not guilty.
Johnson, also known as Desmond Williams, is in federal custody, said Joseph L. Evans, an assistant federal public defender. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has lodged an immigration detainer against Johnson, Evans said.
Graves' attorney, Thomas L. Crowe, said his client is a "solid citizen" and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
"She has absolutely no criminal record," Crowe said. "She's never been accused of being involved in anything like this. She maintains her innocence."
Graves has been released, Crowe said, and is in Virginia with family.
Garth and Neptune were in federal custody Wednesday but had not been indicted, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore.
A task force of immigration and customs agents, police from Baltimore city and county, and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, was responsible for the investigation and arrests, said Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.
Industry experts said the arrests display the effective partnership in place between cruise lines and federal law enforcement.
Michael Crye, executive vice president of the Cruise Line International Association, a trade group, said cruise companies have formal agreements with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security so security staff can report any incidents or suspicions regarding passengers or crew.
"The fact that the system seemed to work properly in this case is a good indication that the ship was maintaining its vigilance and doing the right thing," he said.
Cruise lines typically screen passengers, crew and their belongings when they get on and off the ship, but do not conduct a thorough search of each person boarding, Crye said.
In October 2008, a British citizen was caught trying to smuggle 20 kilograms of cocaine into Britain as a passenger on a cruise ship that sailed from St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Last August, he was sentenced to 101/2 years in prison, according to news reports.