MARYLAND

Chase Ends in Crash

A 21-year-old man who was absent without leave from an Air Force base in Mississippi was critically injured yesterday after he tried to get away from police in Prince George's County and crashed a car into a utility pole on Route 1 in Riverdale, authorities said.

Airman Basic Charles Whittington, who was assigned to the 334th Training Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, was reported absent without leave about 4 a.m Monday, shortly after he allegedly stole his roommate's 1998 Chevrolet Camaro, base spokeswoman Anne Gunter said.

Whittington surfaced in College Park about 12:15 a.m. yesterday, when a Hyattsville police officer saw him driving the Camaro as he sideswiped three cars in the parking lot of Plato's Diner at 7150 Baltimore Ave., police said.

Whittington sped away when the officer tried to pull him over. He fled south on Baltimore Avenue but crashed about a half-mile away, near East West Highway in Riverdale, police said. He was trapped in the Camaro for about an hour before he was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was listed in critical condition yesterday.

Prince George's police said charges are pending. Air Force officials said they didn't know why Whittington would have driven from Mississippi to Maryland. They declined to identify his home town.

Armed Robbery Alleged

A District man was arrested Monday and charged with robbing two delivery men in Anne Arundel County of their truck, which carried a shipment of wide-screen televisions, police said.

Maryland State Police said the men were robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of a doughnut shop on Route 3 in Crofton. They surrendered their Chevrolet truck and its cargo of nine televisions, valued at more than $25,000.

Troopers later spotted and stopped the truck at Baltimore Avenue and Route 450 in Prince George's County and arrested Earlfonzo Love, 34, who also has an address in Frederick. He was charged with armed carjacking, armed robbery, auto theft and felony theft, among other charges, and is being held pending a bond hearing.

Tripp Prosecutors Getting Help

A Howard County Circuit Court judge yesterday allowed the prosecutor in the Linda R. Tripp wiretapping case to share evidence from the grand jury investigation of Tripp with the state attorney general's office.

Lawyers from the office are assisting State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli with technical aspects of the case, as they have in many of his past prosecutions.

Tripp was indicted by a Howard County grand jury July 30. She was charged with illegally taping a phone conversation with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky and illegally sharing it with Newsweek magazine. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

THE DISTRICT

Slayings May Be Linked

Two execution-style slayings in Columbia Heights this weekend may be linked because the victims lived in the same block in Northeast Washington and may have known each other, D.C. police said yesterday.

The victims, identified as McKinley Paul Nelson, 36, and Rodrick Herbert Jones, 26, lived in the 600 block of Hamlin Street NE, authorities said. "It appears that they knew each other, but the evidence right now is not conclusive" that the slayings were related, said Capt. Barry Malkin of the 3rd Police District.

Nelson was shot to death Saturday night at 15th and Fuller streets NW. The next night, police found Jones's body a block away, under a broken swing set at the Girard Street playground.

Both men had been shot several times in the body and head. Police said the killings likely were drug-related because marijuana was found near Nelson's body and cocaine near Jones's body.

D.C. Superior Court records indicate Nelson had an outstanding warrant, issued in January, for failing to appear in court on two charges of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute and one charge of attempted cocaine possession.

In addition, Nelson was convicted of or pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in 1997; attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in 1995; attempted distribution of marijuana in 1991; distribution of marijuana in 1990; violation of the terms of his bail in 1989; cocaine possession in 1985; and attempted robbery in 1983.

Jones was charged with assault on a police officer and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in 1998, but those charges were dropped, court records show.

CAPTION: Authorities say a driver fleeing police in Prince George's County crashed into a utility pole.