MARYLAND

Young's Bribery Trial to Begin

Opening statements will begin today in the bribery and extortion trial of former legislator Larry Young, the first Maryland state senator ever expelled from office.

The Baltimore Democrat is accused of demanding money and computer equipment to help a health maintenance organization receive a state contract to treat Medicaid patients and with filing a false state tax return.

Jury selection was completed yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. Of the 66 potential jurors, more than 55 indicated that they had heard of the high-profile case. Seven of the potential jurors were African American, and State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli used three of his four strikes to eliminate some of them from the jury. The jury of seven women and five men includes two African Americans. One of the three alternates is black.

Young's attorneys, who had unsuccessfully sought to have the trial moved to Baltimore, where more potential jurors are black, complained about Montanarelli's move and called the small number of African Americans in the jury pool "disturbing." Montanarelli declined to respond in court. Young's supporters have said he has been singled out because he is black.

Life Term in '95 Slaying

Garrison Thomas, convicted June 30 of the 1995 slaying of a woman left bludgeoned and strangled in a Charles County field, was sentenced yesterday to a mandatory term of life in prison. Judge Richard J. Clark declined to suspend any of the sentence resulting from Thomas's first-degree murder conviction.

A jury convicted Thomas, 44, in the March 1995 killing of Beverly R. Mitchell, 26, of Alexandria. She was last seen alive March 22, 1995, when she dropped off $10 with her uncle at his Southeast Washington home, where Thomas lived. Her body was found the next day in a lot cleared for new housing near the Charles County seat, La Plata, about 20 miles from Washington.

Indictment in '92 Slaying

A St. Mary's County grand jury has indicted Christopher James Wilson, a construction worker from Leonardtown, in the 1992 slaying of a California, Md., woman, whose body was set afire.

Authorities said Wilson, 25, was arrested Monday at his home in Leonardtown by sheriff's deputies and Maryland State Police. He is being held without bond pending arraignment.

The body of Sara Marie Sapp, 24, was found burning in a field in northern St. Mary's County on June 26, 1992. Investigators said she died of asphyxiation. Her car also was set afire.

"The investigation continues, because evidence has been discovered that indicates one or more co-defendants may be involved," the county state's attorney said in a statement.

For years, the case seemed stalled and the motive for the killing was a mystery. Initially, investigators speculated that the killing was drug-related.

But yesterday, Dan Morris, an investigator with the state's attorney's office, said the slaying resulted from "an argument that got out of hand," although he declined to comment further. He said Sapp and Wilson were friends.

VIRGINIA

Guilty Plea in Airliner Uproar

A 37-year-old man from Brussels pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to interfering with a flight crew by verbally assaulting and intimidating a United Airlines crew member during a flight from Belgium to Dulles International Airport.

Frank Janicki faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when sentenced Dec. 3.

According to court documents, Janicki was flying on United Airlines Flight 951 on Aug. 29 when he became loud and abusive with passengers and flight attendants in the plane's coach section. Investigators said he was drinking from his own quart bottle of Southern Comfort liquor.

Confronted by a member of the flight crew, Janicki said he would stop drinking and disturbing other passengers. But according to court documents, he threatened the mother of a crying child. The captain and a flight attendant tried to calm Janicki and later told investigators that they thought he was going to assault them.

Janicki was arrested by FBI agents upon landing at Dulles.