VIRGINIA

Trial Date Is Set in Democrats' Lawsuit

A federal court judge has set a December court date for a lawsuit filed by Democrats against Republican lawmakers and political operatives who listened in on the Democratic Party's confidential strategy conversations in 2002.

U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer on Tuesday set aside Dec. 9 and 10 for the trial, in which the Democrats are seeking civil damages against the Republican Party of Virginia, its former chairman, its former executive director and others.

The lawsuit stems from two telephone conference calls in March 2002, when Democratic lawmakers discussed the legal and political ramifications of a redistricting dispute. Edmund A. Matricardi III, the former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, later pleaded guilty in federal court to listening in on the calls illegally.

Matricardi implicated several other Republicans, saying that he had discussed the matter with former party chairman Gary R. Thompson, former House speaker S. Vance Wilkins and Anne Petera, a top aide to Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore. Kilgore is running for governor.

Man Killed in Collision in Fairfax

A Newington area man was killed Monday night when the car he was driving collided with a van on Backlick Road.

Israel Carranza-Linares, 20, of the 6600 block of High Valley Lane, was driving a 1992 Honda Civic south on Backlick Road. Police said that the Civic was speeding and that Carranza-Linares crossed a double yellow line as he tried to pass another car in the 4900 block of Backlick.

The Civic then hit a 1995 Ford van driven by Tai Lu, 32, of Falls Church. Carranza-Linares was pronounced dead at the scene. Lu and a passenger, Anh Vo, 39, were treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital and later released. All involved in the collision were wearing seat belts.

Higher Toll Approved for Dulles Greenway

Virginia officials approved toll increases yesterday on the privately owned Dulles Greenway that could raise rates immediately and could eventually increase the cost of riding along the 14-mile road to as much as $3.

The State Corporation Commission approved immediately raising the toll to as much as $2.40, a 26 percent increase over the current $1.90 maximum charge. The commission approved letting the owners of the road raise the fee to $2.70 on Dec. 31, 2005, and to as much as $3 on July 1, 2007.

Although the maximum toll on the Greenway is $1.90, drivers who proceed to the Dulles Toll Road fork out $2.25 at the Greenway tollbooth. The difference is a charge for the Dulles Toll Road.

The road's owners, Toll Road Investors Partnership II L.P., sought the fare increases to help pay off debt. The partnership's financial records showed that it has lost money every year since 1993, when road construction began, state officials said. The Greenway opened to traffic in 1995.

MARYLAND

State House Renovation Plans Decried

Legislative leaders in Annapolis called on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) yesterday to halt a planned renovation of the State House because they believe his administration is disregarding long-standing procedures that govern how the historic building should be managed.

In a letter to the governor, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) accused the administration of making decisions without consulting with the State House Trust, a four-member group established in 1969 to preserve the State House. Miller and Busch were responding to the administration's order two weeks ago that media, including The Washington Post, relocate from the State House for three years during construction to repair water pipes. The administration has also evicted the Historic Annapolis Foundation from the State House grounds, Miller said.

Miller said that only the State House Trust, of which he and Busch are members, can issue such orders. Ehrlich spokesman Greg Massoni said the administration will review the letter, but he said Miller and Busch should be worrying about other things, such as rising medical malpractice insurance rates.

Girl Wounded by Friend Is Stable

A 17-year-old Howard County girl who was accidentally shot in the chest by a friend was in serious but stable condition yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Katie Lea Weyer of Dayton had visited Benjamin Mark Allen, 18, at his home in the 800 block of Iron Rail Court in Woodbine on Tuesday to go swimming with him and two other 18-year-old male friends, police said. Afterward, the teenagers went inside the home and Allen took out his father's .22-caliber handgun from a safe, police spokesman Richard Malcolm said. Allen began playing with the gun and a round accidentally discharged, hitting Weyer.

Allen called 911, police said. No parents were home at the time of the shooting.

Police did not arrest Allen, and no charges have been filed, Malcolm said. He said an investigation is ongoing.

THE DISTRICT

City Announces Emergency Alert System

New technology will help District residents get emergency information faster.

The city's Emergency Management Agency unveiled the "Alert D.C." system yesterday. The city has invested $200,000 in the effort, which officials say could be made available throughout the region.

"It includes text alert, voice alert, an emergency information Web site and an enhanced emergency alert system" using several local commercial radio stations, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said.

A pilot program was launched in Georgetown in November 2002. Members of the Georgetown Citizens Association had hoped to sign up 300 people, but 500 registered to receive messages by cell phone and through their e-mail accounts.

The system allows users to sign up for alerts on 124 District neighborhoods. That means residents can tailor their alerts to areas where they live, while commuters can get information on the areas surrounding their offices or along their driving routes. Dozens of public, private and charter schools have also agreed to transmit emergency information through the system.

"We are a nation at war. The moms and dads are hearing conflicting stories from the media. But the Army drives on."

-- Dale Terry, Army battalion advertising and public relations chief, as he tries to help recruiters fill vacancies in the 372nd Military Police Company after some members were accused of abusing prisoners in Iraq. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Michael D. Shear, Monte Reel, Ylan Q. Mui, Steven Ginsberg and Tom Jackman and the Associated Press.