Muhammad Judge Recuses Himself

Jurist Accused of Probing Defense Attorneys' Claim

The Fairfax County judge overseeing the second trial of John Allen Muhammad recused himself after he was accused of conducting his own investigation into a claim by the convicted sniper's attorneys.

In a letter to the attorneys in the case that was posted Tuesday on the court's Web site, Circuit Court Judge Jonathan C. Thacher defended his actions but said he thought the focus needed to return to the victim and the suspect.

Meanwhile, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge M. Langhorne Keith, who replaced Thacher, indicated that there may be sufficient evidence that Muhammad was denied a speedy trial to warrant dismissal of the Fairfax charges. Keith did not say when he would rule on the speedy-trial issue.

State Gets Grant to Handle DNA Backlog

$2 Million Awarded for Testing of Crime Samples

The Justice Department has awarded Virginia $2.1 million to help the state clear up its six-month backlog of untested DNA samples, which detectives hope will help them solve crimes and which prisoners think could exonerate them. The grant represents Virginia's share of a $95 million pool to help states cope with a nationwide backlog and to expand DNA testing of crime-scene evidence.

Guilty Plea in Machete Attack on Teen

Annandale Gang Member Faces 30-Year Sentence

A member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang admitted to participating in a machete attack in May that mutilated the hands of an Alexandria teenager.

Hayner R. "Rolando" Flores, 18, of Annandale, pleaded guilty in Fairfax Circuit Court to malicious wounding and illegal participation in a street gang, rather than face a more serious charge of aggravated malicious wounding. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. The more serious charge could have resulted in a life sentence.

N.Va. Islamic Leader Indicted

Man Charged With Inciting 'Jihad' Terror Training

An Islamic spiritual leader was indicted Thursday on charges that his preaching inspired a group of Northern Virginia men to train for violent jihad overseas and prepare for war against the United States.

Ali Al-Timimi, 40, is charged with inciting members of an alleged "Virginia jihad network" to travel to terrorist training camps in Pakistan and battle U.S. troops seeking to oust Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers. For several years, the Fairfax County resident was a frequent and popular lecturer at the Center for Islamic Information and Education, also known as Dar Al-Arqam, in Falls Church. Timimi is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of conspiracy and attempting to contribute services to the Taliban and on firearms and explosives counts.

Magnet School's Class Size to Increase

Fairfax Board Cites County's Growth

The Fairfax County School Board unanimously agreed to increase by 50 students the freshman class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, saying it is unfair that the size of the elite magnet school has remained virtually unchanged despite the county's growth.

The new policy will begin with freshmen selected for the Class of 2009.

Across the Region

Baseball Stadium Plan; Metro Breakdowns

* D.C. officials unveiled plans to build a publicly financed baseball stadium costing more than $400 million on the Anacostia waterfront near South Capital Street. The announcement came amid signs the Montreal Expos will relocate to the Washington area.

* Transit officials said that Metro's rail cars are breaking down nearly twice as often as they did three years ago, creating increasing delays across all lines at a time when ridership is surging.

Pentagon poles: Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum of the Mohegan Indian tribe blessed two totem poles at the Pentagon. It was the third set to be presented at a site of the Sept. 11 attacks.