Sniper Suspect Trials Set

Death Penalty in Va. Cited

Sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo will stand trial first in Virginia, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft announced Thursday. Muhammad, 41, will be prosecuted in Prince William in connection with the shooting death Oct. 9 of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a Sunoco gas station. Malvo, 17, will be tried in Fairfax County in the shooting death Oct. 14 of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside a Home Depot store. Both defendants could be sentenced to death if convicted.

Ashcroft said that it's appropriate for the "ultimate sanction" -- the death penalty -- to be available in the two cases, and that's one reason Virginia will be the first jurisdiction to put the two suspects on trial.

Va. Schools Catching Up

Two-Thirds Meet Standards About two-thirds of Virginia's public schools met state standards for full accreditation this year, according to Standards of Learning exam results released Thursday. That's an improvement from 41 percent in 2001 and 23 percent in 2000. The improvement was even more pronounced in Northern Virginia, where every district improved and more than 80 percent of schools reached the goal.

Students take the SOL exams in the third, fifth and eighth grades and in high school. Beginning in 2007, schools will need to meet a 70 percent pass rate in each exam subject area to maintain full accreditation. Loudoun County was the largest district in the state in which every school met the standard. In Fairfax, the state's largest school system, 90 percent of schools met the accreditation benchmark this year, up from 80 percent last year.

Slaying Suspects Sought

Restaurant Manager Killed

Prince George's police are looking for suspects in the shooting death of David Livingston McCoy, outside a bank off Central Avenue, at midday on Oct. 25. McCoy, 25, was manager of Tucker's restaurant near Upper Marlboro. Police ask that anyone with information call the department's Crime Solvers line at 301-735-1111.

People Mover Contracts

Work Planned at Dulles Airport The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board approved about $200 million in contracts Wednesday to design, build and maintain a train-like people mover to replace the lumbering mobile lounges at Dulles International Airport. The underground system, which will carry passengers between the main terminal and gate areas, is scheduled to be completed in six years, officials said. The contracts -- $165 million to design and install the system and $34 million to maintain it for five years -- will be awarded to Sumitomo Corp. of America. Each people mover will have three electric cars, similar to rail cars, that will run on rubber wheels along a guideway. A $184 million contract was awarded in October to Turner Construction to build the system's main station.

Silent Witness Ceremony

Domestic Violence Targeted The solemn ceremony in La Plata marked a new chapter for the Silent Witness project in Charles County, which began in 1999. The nine dead women, and the many more unnamed victims, were not present, but their memories were embodied in life-size silhouettes, painted the color of blood, and their stories were told in a public chorus of shared pain; strangers united by grief comforted one another. The victim advocates have added to the exhibit each year to honor each subsequent domestic violence victim -- including four county women killed last year -- but this year they decided it was time to assemble the growing circle of survivors for healing and a renewed vow to fight for those still enduring domestic abuse.

Jail Opening Delayed

Security System Has Problems Snags in the security system for the new Montgomery County jail in Clarksburg are delaying the $90.4 million facility's opening until early next year. The high-tech system failed its first test and adjustments will be made, officials said. The system has such technologically advanced equipment as sensors on each door and individual alarms for staff members. Construction of the 306,000-square-foot jail is finished.

Vo-Tech Overhaul

Howard Changes Debated Changing technology and a population surge have prompted several overhauls of Howard County schools' vocational tech program, giving new life to what many saw as a dumping ground for low-achieving students. But some worry that the more sophisticated new program is neglecting the needs of traditional vo-tech students. A report to the Howard Board of Education recommended targeting students in middle school, and the Applications and Research Lab, the technical high school in Ellicott City, has mailed fliers to all eighth-graders and is holding three open houses this week in an effort to increase enrollment.

Drought: Virginia's apple crop has been severely damaged by dry conditions. Bill Van Deusen, owner of Harmony Hollow Orchards in Front Royal, inspects his crop.