THE DISTRICT

Man Gets 20 Years to Life in Killing

An episode that started as a basketball court argument and progressed to murder ended yesterday in a prison sentence of 20 years to life for Curtis R. Dickson, a Northeast Washington man who killed a 17-year-old ballplayer at Fort Totten Drive and Hamilton Street NE.

Dickson also was 17 when he fired a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol at Wayne Devon Walker after a three-on-three game in May 1996. A D.C. Superior Court jury convicted Dickson in February of second-degree murder and two gun charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Klein said the beef began as a debate about who had better skills, Walker or one of Dickson's friends who had joined a pickup game at Keane Elementary School. Walker and Dickson's friend agreed to play each other another day, then parted ways.

Dickson had been a spectator at the game and left the school while Walker and three other youths continued to shoot baskets, Klein said. Then, as Walker and the others headed home, Dickson reappeared, pulled out the pistol and fired, hitting Walker with two bullets.

Conviction in Series of Drug Killings

A Southwest Washington man who prosecutors said headed a violent drug crew was convicted Tuesday of federal racketeering and other charges stemming from a series of shootings and killings carried out in recent years.

Thomas "Woozie" Fields, 25, was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court after a seven-week trial. His cousin, Bernard Johnson, 22, also of Southwest Washington, was convicted along with him. Both could face life prison terms when they are sentenced in September by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys James H. Dinan and Nancy Jackson described Fields as the leader of the L Street Crew, a gang that allegedly built a thriving business in the 1990s by selling marijuana, crack cocaine and PCP in the Greenleaf Gardens public housing complex in Southwest Washington. A law enforcement task force broke up the gang last year with a sweep of arrests. All told, more than two dozen people have been convicted of charges resulting from the investigation. Most of the drug sales took place in an area surrounding the 200 block of L Street SW.

Prosecutors are pursuing a separate case against leaders of the K Street Crew, which allegedly operated in the same area.

VIRGINIA

Slaying Suspect to Return to State

Keith J. Gardner, a suspect in last month's slaying of his parents and grandfather in their Lorton home, agreed yesterday to return to Virginia after he was arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge, authorities said.

Gardner, 39, was arrested Tuesday night outside a Pensacola hotel and charged with violating the terms of his probation in connection with a 1989 drug conviction.

Police had been searching for Gardner since his parents, Jimmy and Jannis Gardner, and grandfather, Elmer Gardner, were found stabbed to death May 11. The bodies were covered in limestone powder and sealed in an old underground fallout shelter at their Gilmore Drive home. Neighbors said they saw Keith Gardner around the house in the days before the discovery.

Fairfax County investigators went to Florida to interview Gardner but said they do not know when he will return to Virginia. Gardner has not been charged in the slayings, but police named him as a suspect last week.

Man Charged With Stalking Teen

Fairfax County police have charged a Reston man with stalking and soliciting a child to pose in sexually explicit photographs.

Paul Robert Worstell, of the 11200 block of Chestnut Grove Square, has been held at the county jail without bond since he was arrested at his apartment last week, police said yesterday.

According to authorities, Worstell, 43, approached a 16-year-old girl several times in December and January, seeking to take sexually explicit photos. On one occasion, he began taking photos of the girl against her will, police said.

Anyone with information about these incidents or others allegedly involving the suspect is asked to call Officer Ken Baine at the Reston police station, 703-478-0904.

MARYLAND

Woman Is Charged With Arson

A 30-year-old woman was arrested yesterday and charged with setting fire to the Germantown town house of her estranged husband, investigators said.

Earlene Edwards, who had been staying at another Germantown address, was charged with first-degree arson and malicious burning, fire officials said.

Fire investigators said Edwards, who had been separated from her husband for about a month, had argued with him the day before the fire was set Sunday. No one was in the town house in the 19800 block of Larentia Drive at the time.

The blaze caused $175,000 in damage. Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on the arson charge. Yesterday, she was being held at the Montgomery County jail on $50,000 bond.