Local Leads: 10/17/2009 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 10/17/2009

News you need to know



    Local Leads: 10/17/2009
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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    Prince George's County police say an off-duty officer has shot two women after he was hit by a car they fled in after shoplifting from a store.  Officer Henry Tippett, a police spokesman, says it happened about 5:20 p.m. Friday in the 7300 block Baltimore Avenue at a department store. The off-duty officer was working as security for the store when he confronted two female shoplifters.  The women fled the store and got into a car. Tippett says the officer was trying to stop the car from leaving when his arm got caught inside the door and the vehicle took off.  Tippett says the officer fired his weapon, striking both suspects.  The two women to taking to a local hospital. The officer was also taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

    The University of Maryland, College Park is "America's Greenest Campus," according to a pair of environmental organizations that ran a contest this year urging students to reduce their carbon footprints. The university bested 460 competing institutions by enlisting 2,257 participants, the most of any school in the contest. The students reduced vehicle usage and conserved water and electricity. The environmental organizations, SmartPower and Climate Culture, will award College Park $5,000 to help with green initiatives on campus. Student organizers said they will use the money to create a program to teach their peers about sustainable living. Gov. Martin O'Malley congratulated the campus. "The University of Maryland students have made us all proud, and we owe them thanks not only for reducing their carbon emission and also for inspiring others," he said in a statement.

    A new swine flu culture is descending on America and it's got us all squealing.  Our sneezes are now a duck-and-cover operation. We fear getting the vaccine and, alternatively, not getting the vaccine. We are so awash in hand sanitizers that one manufacturer warns against hoarding. Our new nation of wide-eyed germphobes now opens doorways in inventive new ways, like with our shoulders. And forget that handshake.  "A handshake is not mandated by the church, and is discouraged during this time," notes a recent missive from the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland to those concerned about the "Passing of the Peace," a traditional greeting between Episcopalians during Sunday services.  "Continue to verbally share the Peace of our Lord. Making eye contact, slightly bowing your head, or a friendly wave are good substitutes for the traditional handshake or hug," the diocese advises.

    A woman who was expected to be sentenced Friday to life in prison for murdering her four daughters could instead walk free under a scenario outlined by the judge who found her guilty, though such an outcome still faces several legal hurdles.  The decomposing bodies of Banita Jacks' daughters — ages 5 to 16 — were discovered in January 2008 when U.S. Marshals came to evict Jacks from her southeast Washington rowhouse. In July, D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick H. Weisberg found Jacks guilty of four counts of felony murder, three counts of premeditated first-degree murder and four counts of first-degree child cruelty.  Jacks was scheduled to be sentenced Friday but Weisberg postponed it while he considers issues related to her refusal to use an insanity defense. Jacks rejected the defense against the advice of her lawyers, who are now asking Weisberg to appoint an independent counsel to investigate whether she was competent to make such a decision.

    Ben Ali gave all three of his children the same middle name: His own. "The man could cuss," recalled Sage Ben Ali, one of the three sons of the founder of Ben's Chili Bowl, and he laughed at the thought.  "Dad celebrated life to the fullest," said Nizam Ben Ali, who noted that his father owned homes in three states and traveled the world. Shortly before dying of congestive heart failure last week at the age of 82, Ali took a two-week cruise with his wife of 51 years, Virginia. Never told his cardiologist he was going, either.  "He sucked the marrow out of life," said another son, Kamal Ben Ali. "Eighty-two years -- he lived like a king."  Bernard Demczuk, a former mayoral aide who loves Ben's so much he regularly brings his George Washington University students there for a lesson on Washington history, summed it up at the beginning of a memorial tribute to Ali during Friday's lunch hour: "There was more to Ben Ali than Ben's Chili Bowl."

    A winning ticket was sold for Friday night's drawing in Shenandoah, Va.  The winning numbers were 10-13-18-33-51, and the Mega Ball was 43.  Since the beginning of January there have been 30 second-tier $250,000 prizes and 173 third-tier $10,000 prizes won in Maryland. Two of the third-tier prizes were won Friday night.  The odds of having the winning ticket are 176 million to one.  The multi-state game is played in 11 other states, including Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, Texas and California.  March 2007’s $390 million Mega Millions jackpot currently holds the record for the world’s largest. The biggest jackpot in Maryland, $183 million, was won in June 2003 by Bernadette Gietka, from Baltimore County.