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Accused ‘Potomac River Rapist’ pleads not guilty; trial set for next year

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The man charged with a long list of brutal attacks on women in the 1990s made his first appearance in a courtroom since his indictment on murder charges earlier this month.

The man suspected in a long string of brutal attacks on women in the 1990s made his first appearance in a courtroom since his indictment on murder charges earlier this month.

Wearing an orange jump suit in front of a nearly empty courtroom, 61-year-old Giles Warrick said nothing more than his name at the outset of a brief hearing.

Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted Warrick on charges of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree premeditated murder while armed in the 1998 killing of 28-year-old Christine Mirzayan.

His attorney quickly pleaded not guilty to those new charges on Warrick’s behalf.

Warrick is accused of being the man once-dubbed the “Potomac River Rapist.”

Police in D.C. and Maryland both say he’s responsible for several attacks on women throughout the 1990s, including the death of Mirzayan, who was abducted along a Georgetown street, sexually assaulted and then killed with a 73-pound rock.

Police used DNA evidence and genealogy databases to connect Warrick to the crimes, leading to his arrest in South Carolina in 2019.

During the status hearing in D.C. Superior Court on Monday, Warrick’s attorney, Stephen Mercer, hinted at plans for a motion that will be filed by February which he indicated could eventually lead to the dismissal of the charges. He didn’t elaborate about what the motion would contain, and it’s likely the issue will be resolved one way or the other by next spring.

If the judge rules against the defense in the matter, the case is set to go to trial at the end of 2022, with jury selection beginning right after Thanksgiving and opening arguments getting underway in early December 2022.

It’s estimated the trial would take up to two weeks.

On top of the murder charges Warrick is facing in the District, prosecutors in Montgomery County, Maryland, have also charged Warrick with six counts of first-degree rape in several attacks throughout the 1990s.

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Jury finds former NASA executive guilty in shooting death of Springfield neighbor

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A former NASA executive who is accused of shooting his neighbor in Springfield, Virginia, with whom he had an ongoing dispute, has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

A former NASA executive who is accused of shooting his neighbor in Springfield, Virginia, with whom he had an ongoing dispute, has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

Michael Hetle, 52, was found guilty of shooting Javon Prather, 24, seven times. The shooting was captured by a Ring doorbell camera.

Hetle claimed he feared for his life when Prather came knocking on the door of his home, but prosecutors called it a coldblooded execution.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said the evidence was pretty clear and the jury agreed that it was “not self-defense, that it was murder in the first degree, which is murder with malice and murder with premeditation.”

Although the facts would have come out one way or the other, Descano said that being able to show the jury what happened from the video footage was a big part of getting the murder conviction.

“Being able to actually show the jury what happened and actually being able to show the demeanor and the seven shots I think really brought home to the jury the malice of getting this first-degree murder conviction,” Descano said.

Hetle was also found guilty of using a weapon in commission of a felony.

Descano said that while the verdict will not return Prather — who had served in the Maryland National Guard — to his loved ones, he hoped that the conviction brings Prather’s family some “small measure of peace.”

Hetle and Prather had simmering disputes since 2016, with Hetle repeatedly complaining and calling police about barking dogs and loud music.

Descano said that evidence submitted during trial revealed that “racial animus was a contributing factor” in Hetle’s actions, citing evidence from Hetle’s son about how the defendant referred to Prather and his wife, among other things that Descano said the jury found compelling.

“The message that I would have to the community is to remember that we all are one community. We all live here together, and Fairfax County is one. We should continue to remember that,” Descano said.

Hetle’s sentencing is scheduled on Jan. 28, 2022, and Descano said he is planning to seek a life sentence.

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Time served for man who threatened Trump with package he said was ‘detonator’

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Jean-Paul Gamarra, 41, of New York, has been sentenced on charges of threatening then-President Donald Trump and the White House complex in March 2017. He gave an officer a package he claimed had a “detonator” in it. It was a Bluetooth keyboard.

A man from Long Island, New York, has been sentenced on charges of threatening then-President Donald Trump and the White House complex during a March 2017 incident.

Jean-Paul Gamarra, 45, of Copiague, was sentenced Thursday after being found guilty on May 27, 2021, of one count each of “threats to the president and threatening and conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive” following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, according to the Justice Department.

Gamarra, who has been in custody for 41 months, was sentenced to time served, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said “is an effective sentence at the higher end of the applicable guidelines range.”

Under U.S. District Judge John D. Bates’ sentencing order, Gamarra will be placed on three years of supervised release.

During that period, Gamarra has to stay away from the White House, maintain mental health treatment, cooperate with the Secret Service in assessing his future risk and avoid all physical and online contact with anyone the Secret Service protects.

On the morning of March 28, 2017, Gamarra approached a uniformed, on-duty Secret Service officer a pedestrian access gate on Pennsylvania Avenue, within 100 yards of the White House.

As established at trial, he presented the officer with a package, stating it contained a “nuclear bomb detonator” that was being presented for “safekeeping.”

“Warning this is a tre threat on the President and Senator life” and “Warning 100% threat Brand New Electronic Detonator Device,” were handwritten on the package along with Gamarra’s name and address.

In response, the Secret Service cleared the surrounding area, including the north fence line of the White House, Lafayette Park and other areas near 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

People inside nearby buildings were told to shelter in place while the D.C. police department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit evaluated the package.

The package was declared “safe” and the area reopened after approximately 90 minutes, as the package contained a Bluetooth keyboard and letter.

Gamarra was arrested at the scene and was in custody until August 2020, according to a Justice Department news release.

Previously In 2014, Gamarra was interviewed by members of the Secret Service regarding threats to then-President Barack Obama.

The Justice Department said he admitted threatening Obama in order to gain the “attention” of the Secret Service so he could “expose” “corruption.”

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2 Maryland pet stores banned from selling puppies

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Two Maryland pet stores that specialize in puppy sales will no longer be allowed to sell animals and the owner is facing a $500,000 civil penalty after reaching an agreement with the state attorney general.

Two Maryland pet stores that specialize in puppy sales will no longer be allowed to sell animals, and the owner is facing a $500,000 civil penalty after reaching an agreement with the state attorney general.

Just Puppies retail pet stores in Rockville and Towson, along with the stores’ owner, Mitchell Thomson, were charged in June with violating two state laws – the No More Puppy-Mills Act and the Consumer Protection Act — in their practice of selling puppies.

“The settlement prevents Just Puppies from selling dogs in Maryland, provides restitution to Maryland consumers who purchased puppies that had a congenital disorder or hereditary condition or illness at the time of purchase, and imposes civil penalties,” according to a statement Friday from the office of Attorney General Brian Frosh.

The No More Puppy-Mills Act bans the sale of dogs and cats by retail pet stores, in an effort to curb the sourcing of animals from irresponsible breeders.

Frosh’s office contends that the stores misled consumers about their relationships with breeders and continued to sell puppies after the City of Rockville revoked the store’s pet shop license.

“This settlement resolves allegations that Just Puppies and its owner violated laws intended to protect animals from irresponsible breeding and mistreatment,” Frosh said in the statement. “Consumers who were misled by Just Puppies and purchased sick dogs will get their money back or receive compensation to help pay for their pet’s care.”

As part of the settlement, Just Puppies has agreed to refund payments to customers who purchased dogs with certain conditions since Jan. 1, 2020 — the day the No More Puppy-Mills Act went into effect — or pay for treatment of certain conditions.

The settlement also requires Just Puppies to pay a civil penalty of up to $500,000, but the fine could be reduced to $100,000 if the company complies with the remedies in the agreement.

Consumers who are eligible for refunds will be contacted by the Attorney General’s Office. Consumers can also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6569 with questions.

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