Attorney hopes judge will toss trash-bin case

The lawyer representing one of the D.C. residents arrested for allegedly stealing neighborhood garbage bins said Thursday that she hoped the case would be dismissed or lead to a community service agreement.

“This is a dumb case that should never have been brought,” Carol Blume, the attorney for Timothy Logan Melham, 27, said at a court hearing. “We’re going to see what we can do to resolve it,” she added.

Both Melham and Mina Karini, 30, have been charged with second-degree theft, a misdemeanor. They were both ordered to return to court in August.

Waiting for her case to be called Thursday in D.C. Superior Court, Karini sat in the back of the courtroom holding one of the yellow “Take Me!” signs that are affixed to trash and recycling bins, signs meant for city pickup crews.

Karini was arrested for canvassing the streets of Georgetown last month and picking up bins that she planned to use for flower planters.

After Karini’s case was called, Magistrate Judge Karen Howze set a follow-up date of Aug. 28. She ordered Karini to undergo drug testing and avoid any criminal offenses, which is customary in criminal cases where the defendant is freed until trial.

Howze then asked the prosecutor, Charles Cobb, if there was a stay-away order, such as from a particular person, neighborhood or address, a standard procedure. Cobb looked perplexed, then said no. “This is a case of stealing trash cans all over the city.”

Melham, a wildlife biologist, was in New Mexico on Thursday and unable to attend the hearing. Howze agreed to reschedule his appearance to Aug. 28 also.

Authorities have said that Karini and Melham had amassed 51 bins by the time they were handcuffed and arrested, although Karini has disputed that number.

Leaving the courthouse, Karini declined to comment.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.
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