the region

Suspicious Bag Clears National Terminal

A terminal at Reagan National Airport was evacuated for an hour yesterday while the Arlington County bomb squad checked a bag that a security screener thought looked suspicious in an explosives detection machine, an airport official said.

The bomb squad found nothing and cleared the bag, said Tara Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

About 250 people were evacuated from the lobby and gate areas of Terminal A from 2 to 2:55 p.m., Hamilton said. One flight was delayed, but no flights were canceled, she said.

Pentagon Lots Closed to Non-Staffers

The Pentagon is no longer allowing non-employees to park in its massive lots, abolishing a popular free parking spot that Metro riders have used on evenings and weekends.

Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood said parking has been limited to employees with a permit since Monday because of security concerns and because hundreds of employee spaces have been lost to nearby road construction.

He said he did not know how long the parking prohibition would last.

Cars parked in Pentagon lots that don't have a decal will be ticketed or towed, Flood said.

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Metro does not have any other parking lot at the Pentagon stop for riders.


High Court Denies Killer's Appeal

The state's highest court has denied a death row inmate's effort to appeal his sentence based on a recent study that found significant racial and geographic disparities in how capital punishment is administered in Maryland.

By a 5 to 2 vote, the Court of Appeals declined Steven Oken's application to be heard on the University of Maryland study. The justices already had agreed to hear an appeal based on a separate argument, that the state's death sentence statute was rendered unconstitutional by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. Oken was sentenced to death for the 1987 rape-murder of a Baltimore County woman. The appellate court last month stayed his impending execution and set a May hearing on his constitutional challenge.

Slaying Suspect Suffers Chest Pains

A Potomac doctor on trial for murder in the beating death of his wife was taken to a hospital with chest pains yesterday as a jury deliberated for a fourth day without reaching a verdict.

Zakaria M. Oweiss began complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain while returning to court after the midday break, his attorney Peter Davis said. He said Oweiss, who has a history of heart disease and diabetes, was taken to Suburban Hospital for observation. Oweiss, 58, who is charged with first-degree murder, allegedly killed his wife, Marianne Oweiss, with a mallet in their home in August 2001. His trial began Feb. 21. The jury began deliberations late Friday and is expected to continue today.

Accident Victims Identified

The three landscapers who were killed early Tuesday in a traffic accident in Prince George's County were identified yesterday as Miguel Portillo-Navarate, Santos Alvarez and Felipe Mollna-Alvarado.

Portillo-Navarate and Alvarez were both 27 and from Arlington. Mollna-Alvarado was 53 and from Northwest Washington. All three died at the scene of the 10:15 a.m. crash on Indian Head Highway.

The men were employed by Superior Landscaping and were on their way to a job in Bethesda when they became lost. They ended up nearly 40 miles away in Accokeek.

Crash Kills Two St. Mary's Students

Two St. Mary's College students were killed early yesterday when the car they were riding in apparently went out of control while rounding a curve on Route 5 near the Southern Maryland campus, authorities said.

Jonathan Sekula, 23, a senior from New Jersey, and Joshua L. Siegert, 21, a junior from Columbia, both were pronounced dead at the scene in southern St. Mary's County. Sekula was driving a 2002 Nissan Acura RSX south on Route 5, headed toward the campus in St. Mary's City, when the crash occurred about 2:20 a.m., said Lt. Lyle Long of the St. Mary's Sheriff's Department. The crash remains under investigation.

The college has planned a memorial for the students at noon today.


Alcohol Control Board Chief to Step Down

Roderic L. Woodson, chairman of the D.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board, resigned this week in a letter to Mayor Anthony A. Williams. He has been the board's chairman since July 1999, and his resignation will be effective May 1.

Woodson, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, did not elaborate on his reasons for leaving in a news release announcing his resignation.

But D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6), who is a backer of Woodson's, said the position took too much time away from his legal practice at Holland & Knight.

"He has been a godsend, and I really had to beg him not to leave before this," Ambrose said yesterday.

Interim Corporation Counsel to Resign

Arabella W. Teal, a longtime city government lawyer who has worked as D.C.'s interim corporation counsel since the departure of Robert R. Rigsby last summer, has announced plans to leave the job in June.

Teal was among several candidates being considered for the permanent appointment to corporation counsel before recently withdrawing her name from that search. She told her staff last week that she was moving to Upstate New York along with her husband and children. "It was a decision I made for family reasons," Teal said yesterday.

City Administrator John A. Koskinen said Mayor Anthony A. Williams is in the process of interviewing candidates for corporation counsel and hopes to fill the job before Teal's departure.

"Arabella has been terrific, and we're sorry to lose Arabella," Koskinen said.

"The most important thing . . . was to restore a sense of dignity and pride for those of us who are outside the fence of the White House."

-- Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, whose firm created a new design for Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Katherine Shaver, Susan Levine, Fredrick Kunkle, Jamie Stockwell, Michael Amon and Craig Timberg.