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Suspect in Pentagon Officer's Death Faces New Capital Charges

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 7, 2005; Page A17

More serious charges that could carry the death penalty were levied yesterday against a man accused of fatally injuring Pentagon police officer James Feltis in January by slamming into him at a traffic booth with a carjacked vehicle, prosecutors said.

A federal grand jury indicted Ossie K. LaRode, 22, on charges of murdering and assaulting a federal officer and carjacking resulting in death, prosecutors said at a news conference outside the federal courthouse in Alexandria.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty called the death of Feltis -- the first Pentagon officer killed in the line of duty in the agency's 61-year history -- an "enormous blow" to the police force.

McNulty said his office will make a recommendation to U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales about whether to seek the death penalty. Gonzales will make that decision. Two of the new charges carry a possible death penalty.

Police say LaRode carjacked a car in Alexandria in January and led them on a six-mile chase before driving the wrong way into the Pentagon's south parking lot and plowing into Feltis. Critically injured, Feltis lived for five weeks but never regained consciousness. He died Feb. 14.

Pentagon Police Chief Richard S. Keevill yesterday accused LaRode of deliberately running Feltis down. "This man was interested in getting away,'' Keevill said at the news conference. "He obviously knew that he was going to run down a police officer because the officer was standing in front of him.''

Gerald T. Zerkin, an attorney for LaRode, said his client will plead not guilty to the new charges. A federal grand jury first indicted LaRode, of no fixed address, in February on charges that included attempted murder before Feltis died.

Zerkin said he had expected yesterday's indictment but declined to comment further.

According to police, LaRode stole a 2002 black Cadillac on Jan. 11 from a 65-year-old Maryland man who had parked at a McDonald's restaurant in Alexandria. He then led local and state police on a six-mile chase along Interstate 395 before zooming the wrong way on a one-way street at the Pentagon.

Feltis, a 12-year veteran of the force who was on duty at a traffic booth, tried to stop the speeding car, police said. But LaRode allegedly accelerated the Cadillac into Feltis and continued up a ramp leading to Route 27, where he was rammed by an Alexandria police cruiser and crashed into a guardrail.

He then scuffled with four officers, snatching a gun from an Alexandria officer and accidentally shooting himself in the leg and groin, police said.

LaRode will be arraigned on the new charges tomorrow.

At a memorial service attended by hundreds of people in February, Feltis was remembered as a quiet man who cherished his wife and daughter and as a dedicated officer who was a natural leader.

At the service, Mary Feltis talked about the love that blossomed when she and her husband were ROTC cadets at Ohio University.

"The depth of my sorrow is deeper than the Grand Canyon,'' she said, "and I miss him so much.''

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