September 26, 2013
THE REGION
THE DISTRICT
Paint case suspectis found incompetent

Doctors at the District’s psychiatric hospital said the woman who was arrested July 29 in connection with spattering green paint on city landmarks is incompetent to stand trial, based on a report read at a hearing in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday.

Jiamei Tian, 58, was charged with one count of defacing property after paint was found spattered at Washington National Cathedral. She is a suspect in similar incidents at the Lincoln Memorial, a statute next to the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall, Luther Place Memorial Church and a statue of Martin Luther in Thomas Circle.

After a court appearance last month, Tian was released to a halfway house but then ordered to a psychiatric ward. At Wednesday’s hearing, doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital issued a preliminary finding that Tian is now incompetent and recommended that she be given a full competency examination while she remained a patient at the hospital.

Her attorney, from the D.C. Public Defender Service, requested that Tian, who was not at the hearing, be released from the hospital while she underwent further evaluations. Judge A. Franklin Burgess Jr. denied that request and ordered another examination. A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 31.

Tian is in the United States from China on an expired visa, prosecutors said.

— Keith L. Alexander

MARYLAND
One person killed in Leisure World fire

One person was killed Wednesday in a fire at a residential high-rise at the Leisure World retirement community in Montgomery County. No details were immediately released about the victim.

Shortly after noon, firefighters were called to the building along Interlachen Drive, about nine miles north of the District. They found a fire on the ninth floor, according to officials at the Montgomery Fire and Rescue Service. The blaze was quickly extinguished. The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation.

— Dan Morse

VIRGINIA
Man convicted of killing shop owner

A Fairfax County jury convicted a Prince George’s County man of second-degree murder and recommended a sentence of 18 years in prison for killing the owner of a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in June 2012, according to his defense attorney.

Abir Ali, 21, was arrested last summer for the slaying of Bharat P. Patel, 40, of the 11900 block of Winterthur Lane in Reston. An officer found Patel’s body in some thick bushes at the apartment complex where Patel lived.

An officer had initially responded to a report of a fight on Patel’s block June 9, 2012. He investigated but found no signs of an altercation. About an hour later, a missing person report was made from Hunter Woods Plaza, where Patel’s Dunkin’ Donuts shop was located.

The officer returned to Patel’s block to investigate because the missing person report matched the description of one of the people involved in the fight, and he found Patel’s body.

Michael J. Lindner, Ali’s attorney, said the killing stemmed from a dispute between Ali and Patel over Ali’s girlfriend.

A judge is scheduled to sentence Ali on Nov. 1. The judge could accept or decrease the jury’s recommended sentence but not increase it.

— Justin Jouvenal

Pr. William officials seek church tax fix

Prince William County staff and the state of Virginia should find ways to allow for real-estate tax exemptions for religious institutions that own vacant land, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors directed Tuesday.

About 30 church leaders and congregation members told county supervisors during an evening board session that the tax assessor’s office was too strict when it comes to taxes on their charitable nonprofits, which are generally tax-exempt.

County supervisors directed the county attorney to work with Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) on crafting either legislation or an amendment to the state constitution to address the issue. The fix would ensure that Prince William or any other Virginia locality’s officials have discretion when it comes to taxing vacant land owned by religious institutions.

— Jeremy Borden

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