Malvo Can Be Tried as Adult

Death Penalty an Option in Sniper Case Sniper suspect John Lee Malvo can be tried in adult court, where he would be eligible for the death penalty, a Fairfax County juvenile judge ruled Wednesday.

The ruling means that Fairfax prosecutors can seek to indict Malvo, 17, on capital murder charges in Circuit Court in the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside Home Depot at Seven Corners. A grand jury will hear evidence Tuesday.

Arlington County Board Election Slated

Chairman Died During Meeting Arlington County will hold a special election March 11 to fill the seat of County Board member Charles P. Monroe (D), who died last Saturday of a brain aneurysm during his first regular meeting as chairman.

Funeral services for Monroe, 46, an Arlington native and lawyer, were held Wednesday.

Baseball Backers Slow Push for Funds

$1.2 Billion Budget Gap Cited In light of the state's budget problems, proponents of a Major League Baseball team in Northern Virginia have decided not to seek more public money for a stadium this year. Meanwhile, proponents of having a team in the District are pushing ahead to choose a site and secure financing.

Officials with the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority said it would be impossible to persuade lawmakers to approve more money for a stadium costing $300 million to $400 million at the same time they are cutting services to close a $1.2 billion state budget gap.

Weast Wants to Overhaul Grading

Better Indicator Sought for State Tests Montgomery County School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, with support from the school board, is looking to radically change the way students are graded.

On Tuesday, the board unanimously endorsed a Weast proposal aimed at removing some of the subjectivity from grading. Public comment will be taken on the proposed policy until March 24, when the board will act on it. Under a policy set a decade ago, students are graded according to the objectives teachers give to them, and a teacher's instruction and expectations differ based on an individual student's level of ability. In the proposed system, report cards would make clear what the standard is for work considered "on grade level" and spell out just how far above or below that line the student falls.

The goal, Weast said, is to make sure grades accurately predict how a student may perform on standardized tests.

Montgomery Homes Looking Richer

Higher Property Tax Bills Loom It's the best of times and the worst of times for more than 100,000 Montgomery County homeowners.

The average assessed value of their homes increased a whopping 46 percent in 2001 and 2002. But that also almost certainly means that heftier property tax bills will be in the mail come September -- at least $175 heftier. About a third of the county's homes get revalued each year, and the hot real estate market has fueled this year's rise. A home that had cost $175,000 is now worth $255,000, according to county officials.

The Montgomery County Council could lower the tax rate -- now $1.08 per $100 of assessed valuation -- to offset the increase, but with a $300 million revenue gap, that is exceedingly unlikely. A final decision on the rate will come later this year.

Delegates Shelve Ethics Work

Pr. William Lawmaker Drops Demand Virginia lawmakers put off creating a code of conduct for House members after the delegate who had been pushing for the rules withdrew his demand for immediate action from the body. The reversal spares lawmakers a difficult debate about how to best govern their own behavior.

After last summer's sexual harassment scandal involving former GOP speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr., Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) had proposed a requirement to investigate all complaints from the public about behavior that reflects poorly on the House of Delegates. He had called for broad new standards of behavior for members while in Richmond and their home districts.

Funds Sought for Carpool Lane Study

Lone Drivers Who Pay Could Get Access Virginia is seeking $1 million in federal money to study whether to allow lone drivers to pay a toll to use carpool lanes.

State officials said that the so-called High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes would provide harried commuters with faster travel and that the money collected could go toward longer-term traffic solutions, such as increasing bus and rail service and improving roads. HOT lanes would be studied for highways including Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway, parts of Interstate 95 and the Dulles Toll Road.

On the trail: A ceremony at Monticello marks the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition.Inauguration day: At the State House, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., left, introduces Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.