Clark Guilty of Slaying Girl

Killer to Serve Additional 30 Years

The man convicted of slaying 6-year-old Michele Dorr likely will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Hadden Clark was sentenced to 30 years in prison--which will start after he serves 40 years for a previous murder conviction and a theft conviction--after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in Michele's 1986 disappearance from her father's Silver Spring home.

It was a tough--and especially emotional--case for prosecutors, who had no eyewitnesses, no motive and no body to prove that a crime had occurred. And jurors were not told about Clark's previous murder conviction because a judge had ruled it would unfairly prejudice them.

Perhaps even more damaging to the prosecution was that Michele's father, Carl Dorr, had told police that he had killed his daughter. Prosecutors argued that Dorr became so distraught after Michele vanished that he "snapped" under police scrutiny and suffered a psychotic breakdown.

Jurors said they were initially divided on whether Clark, who has a history of mental illness, killed the girl. After reviewing the evidence, they decided that he intended to kill her but that the slaying may not have been premeditated. The detective who led the case for seven years was so relieved that he broke into tears when he heard about the verdict.

Teen Convicted in Fatal Beating

Victim Was Woodbridge Mother of 2

In June, Teresa Hattie Dixon kicked a 25-year-old mother of two during a dispute over a car that was blocking a residential street. Natalie Giles Davis, of Woodbridge, didn't survive the beating by Dixon. Another alleged participant is to stand trial next month.

Last week, after a Prince William County jury convicted Dixon of voluntary manslaughter for her role in Davis's death, Dixon, 18, apologized--and was comforted by the dead woman's family.

"I just want to say that I'm sorry for what happened, and I know how you all feel," Dixon said, wiping her eyes. "I just hope for all your forgiveness, and I apologize."

Davis family members quickly responded: "We forgive you."

The involuntary-manslaughter verdict indicates that jurors decided that Dixon--who had been charged with first-degree murder--meant to kick Davis but did not mean to kill her. Jurors, who could have recommended a sentence of up to 10 years, suggested a 2 1/2-year term.

Across the Region

DNA No Match in Triple-Slaying Case

* It appears that another possible lead in the slayings of three Spotsylvania County girls may not pan out. Police took DNA samples from a Stafford County man who allegedly approached a 15-year-old girl and asked her suggestive questions. But officials said the samples didn't match evidence found in the deaths of Sofia Silva, Kristin Lisk or Kati Lisk. Still, police say they will not rule out Melvin Hogan, 32, until further FBI analysis is completed.

* Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is getting a checkup from Maryland officials, and the Rockville facility is none too happy about it. Three nursing inspectors interviewed staff members and patients after doctors complained that staff cutbacks have led to rampant mistakes. Doctors say a patient in the intensive care unit died this month after being left unattended elsewhere in the hospital.

* In a dispute at another health care facility, nurses at Howard University Hospital won enough concessions after walking the picket line Friday morning that they were back at work by that evening. Nurses complained that they were overworked and underpaid. "We took a chance on losing our jobs and losing everything," said nurse Mary Jones-Bryant. The deal calls for them to get a 2 percent raise this year, followed by raises of 3 percent and 2 percent the next two years.

* Build wiser, not wider. So says a coalition of business groups, which wants Maryland and Virginia to construct a network of parkways, rather than add lanes to the Capital Beltway. "If you widen a dysfunctional highway, you just get a wider dysfunctional highway," said Robert T. Grow, of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

* Montgomery County has become the first in the country to approve a local income tax credit. In an effort to help working poor families make ends meet, 12,000 families will receive refund checks averaging $176 next year. County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) proposed the measure as an alternative to a living-wage bill he helped defeat last summer.

* It has come to this: An Alexandria man is suing the Virginia General Assembly, the governor and the panel that's picking a new state song. Saying his "Virginia Is for Lovers" was denied a fair hearing, Ray Parker is seeking more than $10 million in damages. But Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta) is hanging tough. "I'll let them put me in jail before I put that fellow's song back in the competition," he declared.

-- Erica Johnston

Victim's Mother Wins $98 Million Verdict

Son Was Kicked to Death in 1997 While an Informant for D.C. Police

A drug buy gone bad cost a police informant his life. And it could cost the District $98 million.

In the largest jury verdict ever against the D.C. government, the city's police department and four officers were ordered to pay $70.5 million in compensatory damages and $27.5 million in punitive damages to a woman whose son was slain while working as an informant on the Starbucks triple-slaying investigation.

City officials might appeal the verdict and the size of the judgment, but the result could still set the city back millions.

Terry Butera had sought $115 million, contending that police put her son, Eric, in danger and didn't stick to their own rules about working with informants.

Butera, 31, was beaten to death in December 1997 as he left a row house where police had sent him with $80 in marked bills to buy crack cocaine. If he bought drugs there, police hoped, they could get a search warrant and possibly turn up leads in the slayings.

But an expert witness testified that police didn't keep tabs on Butera or give him warning equipment. They didn't find out what had happened until 40 minutes after he was kicked to death.

Juror Marion Wilson said the panel agreed it had to send a message to police with a large award. "You're dealing with somebody's life," she said. "There's no price tag you can put on that."

As it turns out, Butera's information was of no use in the Starbucks case. A suspect with no ties to the row house has since been charged in those killings.

Liberty Tree's Historic Vigil Is Ending

400-Year-Old Tulip Poplar a Victim of September Hurricane

Give me the Liberty Tree or give me . . .

About 225 years ago, American colonists incited rebellion against the British under the boughs of a tulip poplar in Annapolis. But after surviving the Revolutionary War, commencement ceremonies at St. John's College and even croquet matches played under its shady canopy, the symbol of freedom was done in by Hurricane Floyd. The 400-year-old tree--believed to be the last surviving Liberty Tree in the former 13 colonies--is expected to be cut down this week.

Winds from last month's storm fractured the tree's main trunk, and four arborists concluded that it couldn't be saved. In fact, said specialist Russell Carlson, its trunk appears to be mostly hollow, so the tree could be knocked down on a windy day--or even on a calm one.

The majestic poplar will be cut down after a brief public ceremony, and wood from the tree will be fashioned into mementos for students, faculty and staff. Members of the public will be able to buy a chunk of history.

But the tree may live on, in spirit, through its descendants. Cuttings were collected last summer in an effort to cultivate new Liberty Trees, and University of Maryland scientists hope to plant its seedlings this winter.

CAPTION: Terry Butera talks with one of her attorneys, James Ludwig, after the verdict.

CAPTION: Eric Butera, 31, was killed while helping police in the Starbucks case.

CAPTION: The Liberty Tree in Annapolis withstood the winds of war, but not the winds of Floyd.