County news in the daily Washington Post, May 26-June 1


Cleared Defendant Speaks Out

A white defendant recently acquitted of manslaughter and other charges in the death of a black high school athlete in Anne Arundel County said that he feared for his life and for the lives of his friends during the fight last summer that left Jamahl Jones dead. Jacob T. Fortney strongly denied that racial animus contributed to the fight. Fortney and his family, their attorneys at their sides, spoke publicly for the first time since the end of the trial, telling reporters they felt compelled to respond to rumors.


Schools to Refigure Teacher Pay

The Anne Arundel County school system, whose teachers are among the lowest paid in the Washington area, announced a comprehensive study to calculate a more competitive pay scale -- and to determine whether the school board could afford it. Anne Arundel is the fourth-wealthiest county in Maryland and trails only Montgomery and Howard in the Washington region, according to per capita incomes tabulated by the Maryland Association of Counties.


Child Porn Charge for Teacher

A teacher at Old Mill High School in Millersville was arrested a day after firefighters extinguishing a blaze at his home allegedly found what police described as a large amount of child pornography. Michael Cashen, 54, was charged with possession of child pornography. Cashen was reassigned to an administrative position, in which he will not have contact with students, pending the outcome of the investigation, a schools spokesman said.


Shooting Witnesses Doubt Risk

Three witnesses say that a naked, unarmed man killed by an Anne Arundel County police officer on May 24 did not appear to be threatening the officer and that the two had no physical contact before the officer fired his service weapon.

Rob McClintock Jr., who watched the events unfold from a home across the street in Glen Burnie, told The Washington Post that the man's empty hands were clearly visible and that he appeared "completely confused" and "relieved to see the police officer."

Police said rookie officer Tommy Pleasant encountered Donald Coates, 20, who was naked and hiding behind a utility box and appeared to be delusional. Police said that the officer stepped from his cruiser and drew his weapon, and that Coates charged him.


Advance Study Participation Up

The Anne Arundel school system has doubled participation in the Advance Placement program in three years, filling classrooms with a new generation of AP scholars: smart students with checkered academic pasts; working-class teens who will be the first in their families to go to college; youths with adult-size concerns. The pattern has been repeated across the Washington suburbs.