VIRGINIA

Prisoner's Rights Not Violated, Judges Say

Fairfax County jail officials did not violate the constitutional rights of an inmate who died in 1995 after jailers used pepper spray on him and put him in restraints, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

Thelma Grayson had sued Sheriff Carl R. Peed, the Fairfax police and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors alleging that jail officials acted with "deliberate indifference" when they failed to get medical care for her son, who had a history of heart problems. But the three-judge panel found that Gerald Collins, 38, who was belligerent and fought with jail employees, did not appear to need medical care until he was found unconscious in his cell. At that point, he was taken to Fairfax Hospital, where he died.

Judge Erred in Death Case, Court Says

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a death-row inmate convicted of abducting and killing a 22-year-old Virginia Tech University student in 1995 is entitled to a new trial.

Virginia's highest court ruled 5 to 2 that the judge at the murder trial should not have allowed two statements by the defendant's brother into evidence because the brother refused to take the stand for questioning by the defendant's attorneys. The court said those statements were ultimately harmful to the defendant.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ordered the Virginia court to determine whether the trial judge's error affected the outcome.

Benjamin Lee Lilly was convicted of robbery, carjacking and capital murder for his involvement in the slaying of Alexander V. DeFilippis in December 1995. DeFilippis was abducted at a convenience store near the Blacksburg campus and shot three times. The court affirmed Lilly's convictions for carjacking and robbery, both of which resulted in life sentences.

7 Charged in Car Insurance Fraud Scheme

Seven current and former Northern Virginia residents have been charged with defrauding more than a dozen car insurance companies by submitting multiple claims for accidents that never took place, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

When insurance adjusters wanted to see the cars involved in the bogus accidents, the defendants would drive the cars into brick walls and smash them with hammers, the indictment said.

The defendants--Bobby Joe Megel, Larry Kaslov, Mary Kaslov, Duke Stevens, Jim Megel, John Megel and Angelo Gracer--are charged with mail fraud conspiracy.

THE DISTRICT

Warrant Issued for Shooting Suspect

D.C. police are looking for a man in connection with the fatal shooting last month of an unidentified man.

An arrest warrant has been issued, charging Damien Yates, 18, of the 1600 block of R Street SE, with first-degree murder while armed in the death of the man found at 18th and Q streets SE about 10 p.m. Oct. 30, police said.

Yates, also known as Dameon Yates, is considered armed and dangerous, police said. Anyone with information about Yates's whereabouts is asked to call the 6th Police District violent crimes unit at 202-727-4515 or the D.C. Crime Solvers Unit at 1-800-673-2777.

MARYLAND

Police Seek Rape, Assault Suspects

Prince George's County police are looking for a man suspected of sexually assaulting two women in apartment parking lots in Laurel. Last night, police said, the same man may have tried to attack a third woman.

In the most recent assault, police said, a man approached a 21-year-old woman walking outside an apartment complex in the 9500 block of Muirkirk Road in Laurel about 9:30 p.m. The man brandished a knife and put the woman in a chokehold, but she grabbed the knife from his hands, and the man fled, police said. They said the woman was not injured.

On Wednesday, police said, a woman had parked her car and was walking toward her apartment in the 14700 block of Bowie Road about 1 p.m. when a man chased her with a knife. The attacker fondled her but fled when she resisted, police said.

The same man is suspected of assaulting a woman Oct. 27, police said. The woman was walking toward her apartment after parking in the 13800 block of Briarwood Drive when a man threatened her with a knife and fondled her before running away, police said.

Police described the suspect as a black man in his twenties, about 5 feet 8 inches tall with a slim build. He was wearing a black leather jacket with black shoes in both attacks, police said.

In an unrelated case, a woman was sexually assaulted Sunday in New Carrollton by a man who approached her as she was unloading groceries from her car, Prince George's police said.

The woman was walking toward her apartment in the 5300 block of 85th Avenue when the man took out a knife, forced her into her apartment and raped her, police said. The woman went to a neighbor's to call 911 and was taken to a hospital, where she was treated and released, police said.

Police described that suspect as a black man in his twenties, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, wearing a checkered shirt, dark pants and a black cap. Police asked anyone with information about the assaults to call Crime Solvers at 301-735-1111.