Slots Foes File Counterclaims

Proponents of a video slots emporium in Northeast Washington repeatedly tricked and misled voters into signing a petition to put a slots initiative on the November ballot, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics and a citizen activist said in legal papers released yesterday.

The elections board and Dorothy Brizill said in papers filed late Friday that the board's decision this month to reject many of the pro-slots petitions did not violate voters' free speech rights. Instead, they argued, it protected voters from the illegal methods of some petition circulators.

Slots proponents asked the D.C. Court of Appeals last week to overturn the board's rejection of more than 6,000 petitions and give the slots proposal a spot on the Nov. 2 ballot. The court has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 8 to weigh the arguments.

The board told the court that voters complained petition circulators told them they were signing to keep slots out of Washington or to support a baseball stadium. Board lawyers said the Supreme Court has held that "demonstrable falsehoods are not protected by the First Amendment in the same manner as truthful statements."

Schools Issue Shots Reminder

All District public school students must be immunized by Wednesday, the first day of classes, or face being turned away, school officials have warned.

The D.C. Department of Health estimated Friday that 5,600 public school students had not complied with requirements that they obtain age-appropriate immunizations. Yesterday, children from 10 public housing complexes showed up for a back-to-school immunization clinic at the former D.C. General Hospital campus. The youngsters also enjoyed food, games and music and received school supplies.


College Park Hairdresser Killed

Prince George's County police yesterday were investigating the death of a 66-year-old hairdresser whose body was found inside his College Park apartment Thursday evening, the apparent victim of a homicide.

Police said Mario Leyva Alonso, who owned and operated a hair salon from his townhouse in the 4800 block of Berwyn House Road, was found by a friend who had gone to the house to check on Alonso after being unable to reach him by telephone. They said the last known time anyone talked to Alonso was last Sunday.

Until January, Alonso had worked for three decades as a hairdresser at Banana's Hair Design in College Park. Another hairdresser there said Alonso, who left his native Cuba as a teenager, was private but well liked. "He had a lot of friends in the area," said the hairdresser, Sandy Wells.

Alonso's house, on a short block about a mile from the University of Maryland campus, was tidy, police said, and there were no signs of forced entry. Missing was Alonso's 1997 green, four-door Honda Accord with Maryland license plates DXB-910.

Police said Alonso suffered trauma to the upper body, but they released no other details on the cause of death. His body was taken to Baltimore for an autopsy. Neither a motive nor a suspect had been established in the slaying, police said.

2 Die in Pr. George's Homicides

Two Prince George's County men were found slain early yesterday in separate homicides in Glenarden and Forestville, authorities said.

Police responding to a reported shooting about 2 a.m. in Glenarden found Dante Hawkins, 27, of the 3000 block of Brightseat Road. Hawkins, the victim of multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

About 6:30 a.m., police found Omar Brasher, 28, in the hallway of his apartment building in the 3700 block of Donnell Drive. Brasher suffered multiple stab wounds and was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police said they have not identified motives or suspects in either case. Cash rewards of up to $1,000 are being offered for information that leads to arrests and indictments of those responsible, police said.

2 Silver Spring Roads Closed

Portions of two major thoroughfares in Silver Spring were closed for several hours yesterday morning after a tractor-trailer struck low-hanging wires, injuring no one but pulling down at least two utility poles on the Route 29 overpass at New Hampshire Avenue, Montgomery County police said.

Lt. Lance Hatcher said the tractor-trailer was traveling south on Route 29 (Columbia Pike) about 8:30 a.m. when it struck the wires, which he said were not power lines but were used mostly by cable service providers. Two or three utility poles were pulled down, draping wires on the overpass, he said.

The incident closed Route 29 in both directions. New Hampshire Avenue was closed northbound, and southbound traffic was slowed.

There were no injuries.

"A utility company was doing work in the area, but at this point we don't know if that was the cause," Hatcher said. "We don't want to indicate that they had anything to do with it without knowing."

"Enjoy the traffic you have now, because in a few days, it'll be horrendous."

-- Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, on the road congestion that resumes on the Tuesday after Labor Day. -- Page C1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Carol D. Leonnig and Eric Rich and the Associated Press.