Muhammad Case Is Over in Fairfax

Judge Refuses to Reconsider Speedy Trial Ruling

The Fairfax County murder case against John Allen Muhammad formally ended when a judge rejected the prosecution's request to reconsider his ruling the previous week dismissing the case.

Muhammad's attorneys successfully argued that prosecutors had violated Muhammad's right to a speedy trial by issuing a "detainer" for him in the Prince William County jail in January this year but not bringing him to trial in Fairfax within five months of that date. Virginia law requires that a jailed defendant be tried within five months of arrest unless the defense waives that right, and a 1993 appeals court decision ruled that a detainer, though not a legally defined process, carried the same weight as an arrest.

Fairfax Circuit Court Judge M. Langhorne Keith cited the 1993 ruling as precedent in issuing his order to dismiss all Fairfax charges against Muhammad. Fairfax prosecutors quickly filed a motion asking Keith to reconsider, but he declined.

Weapons Permitted on Airport Grounds

Authority Eases Rules It Called Overly Strict

People soon will be able to carry guns and other dangerous weapons onto the grounds and into the parking lots of Reagan National and Dulles International airports, after officials voted to ease what they said were overly restrictive rules.

Without debate, the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority unanimously agreed to permit passengers and other airport visitors to carry guns, knives and other weapons as long as they keep them out of terminals and other buildings that access airfields. Passengers who are taking guns with them on flights will still be allowed to carry them into the terminal but are supposed to make arrangements with airlines in advance, officials said.

Mother Admits Guilt in Gun Scare

Weapons Were in Vehicle on School Property

Naomi Lewis, whose 12-year-old son threatened to shoot people with a high-powered rifle at his Prince William County middle school in June, pleaded guilty to a felony weapons charge for leaving the gun and ammunition locked in her van at the school.

Lewis, 39, of Haymarket was found guilty of possession of a weapon on school property in Prince William Circuit Court. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Claiborne T. Richardson II recommended that Lewis serve a five-year suspended sentence on probation and undergo counseling.

Lewis will be sentenced Jan. 6.

Report Cites Funding Gap Among Schools

Va. Districts With Poor Students Receive Less

Poor school districts receive fewer resources than affluent ones in half the nation's states, and Virginia has one of the largest funding gaps, according to a report by a Washington-based research and advocacy group.

Virginia districts with the most impoverished students received an average of $1,105 less per student than did districts with the most affluent students, based on 2001-02 financial data compiled by the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to close the achievement gap between poor or minority students and other children.

The largest spending gaps, at more than $2,000 per student, were reported in New York and Illinois. Virginia had the third-largest, followed by Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont and Louisiana.

Across the Region

Too Much Traffic, Too Little Vaccine

* Traffic congestion costs the average Washington area motorist more than $2,100 a year for lost time, fuel and maintenance, according to a report by the Road Information Program, a D.C.-based transportation research organization.

* Hundreds of flu vaccination clinics scheduled across the Washington region were canceled because of a shortage of vaccine.

It's alive: A baby snakehead was found in the Potomac River -- proof that the predator is breeding here, scientists say.