Local Digest: District man charged in fatal shooting of Takoma Park resident

December 24, 2013
DISTRICT
Man charged in fatal shooting

A 41-year-old man was arrested Tuesday and charged in the May fatal shooting of a Takoma Park resident who was found wounded near the Petworth neighborhood of Northwest Washington, according to D.C. police.

Roger St. John, of Northeast Washington, was charged with first-degree murder while armed. Police said he was arrested by members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Police said Rhett Gelb, 22, was found shot about 7:50 p.m. on May 27 in the first block of Hamilton Street NW. He died at an area hospital on May 29.

Authorities did not describe a motive for the crime.

— Peter Hermann

MARYLAND
Cocaine shipment seized in Baltimore

A huge shipment of cocaine from Panama to the United States was seized last week at the Port of Baltimore by Customs and Border Protection officials, the agency announced Tuesday.

Nearly 128 pounds of powder cocaine, with a street value of $4 million, was found hidden inside two gym bags in a shipment of commercial car parts from Colón. It’s the largest bust at the port since 2007, when 310 pounds of cocaine were found in a refrigerated container shipped from Ecuador. In the past two years combined, less than 25 pounds of cocaine have been found at the port.

The 100 bricks of cocaine were discovered during a routine inspection using imaging technology.

“Tis the season for giving, but sometimes it’s better to just seize,” the agency said in a statement.

— Rachel Weiner

VIRGINIA
Same-sex marriage ban lawsuit continues

A judge has removed Virginia’s governor from a lawsuit challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban but is allowing the case to continue with two other defendants.

U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski in Harrisonburg said in Monday’s ruling that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) is protected by the constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, he refused to dismiss Staunton Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Roberts as a defendant. The other defendant is Janet Rainey, the state registrar of vital records.

The lawsuit was filed by two couples — Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester. They claim Virginia’s constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and denying recognition of such unions sanctioned by other states violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution.

— Associated Press

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