Fox 5 has obtained the recording of the ex-Marine’s chilling confession, in which he expresses no remorse for killing two little girls and 20-year-old Navy Petty Officer Amanda Jean Snell.
A judge is scheduled to determine Torrez’s fate — whether to accept a jury’s death sentence recommendation — at a hearing on May 30.
Hot Car Mom Released from Jail – Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez, who’s accused of fatally locking her 8-month-old son in a hot car earlier this month, was released from jail yesterday afternoon after being granted a $25,000 bond. Police say Conde Hernandez accidentally left the baby in her car for 6 hours while she went to work. NBC4 reports that she works at the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. [NBC Washington]
More Money for Paving in Virginia — More money is available for VDOT’s summer paving effort this year thanks to new transportation taxes. The planned repaving includes 90 lane miles of interstate highways and 79 miles of primary roads. Arlington is one of two Virginia counties that doesn’t rely on VDOT for maintenance of secondary roads. [Sun Gazette]
Library Group to Hold ‘Great Gatsby’ Ball — The group Friends of the Arlington Public Library will be holding a 1920s-themed “Great Gatsby” ball at Artisphere on Sept. 28. The event will raise money for the library’s early literacy initiatives. [Arlington Public Library]
Photo by Katie Pyzyk. Hat tip to Peter Golkin.
Arlington Boy Drowns in Shenandoah — A 3-year-old Arlington boy drowned in a Shenandoah County creek over the weekend. The boy had been seen playing with other children about 200 yards downstream from where his body was found by a search and rescue team. His death has been ruled accidental. [NV Daily]
Jail Hosts Mother’s and Father’s Day Visits — Earlier this month, the Arlington County Detention Facility held a special event for the children of female inmates, in honor of Mother’s Day. Next month, the jail will host a similar event for the children of men for Father’s Day. [Sun Gazette]
Road Closures for Parade Near Shirlington — The westbound lanes of S. Four Mile Run Drive will be closed between Shirlington Road and Walter Reed Drive on Saturday for the Corso de Santa Cruz Parade. The closure is expected to be in place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Grand Opening for Bluemont Fitness Facility — Though it has been open for several months, Bluemont-based Phoenix Fitness (5130 Wilson Blvd) will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday with free food, classes and giveaways. [Phoenix Fitness]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
Comedian Stephen Colbert devoted part of his Comedy Central show on Monday to a four-star Yelp review of the Arlington County Detention Facility.
Colbert read from the review, which praised the jail for offering juice boxes and a “very clean environment.”
“If you’re going to get arrested, do it in Arlington County,” Colbert said, reading from the review.
“I think Arlington tourism just found its new slogan,” he quipped.
Hat tip to Keith H.
USS Arlington To Be Commissioned – The USS Arlington will be commissioned in Norfolk on Saturday. Fundraising for a 9/11 tribute room on the ship is continuing, as supporters have only raised $362,000 of the hope-for $500,000. [Washington Post, Patch]
Police Seek Wallet Thief — Arlington County Police are looking for a man who stole a victim’s wallet while at a bar/restaurant in Ballston. The man then used the victim’s credit cards at a store on the 200 block of S. Glebe Road. [Arlington County]
Fundraiser for Prisoner Assistance Org — A fundraiser was held Thursday for Offender Aid and Restoration, a group that “works in Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church with support programs for those in jail and prison, and assistance when they return to life outside a cell.” [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
As of 2:30 a.m., 1,734 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington. The outage was said to be centered in the Courthouse and Clarendon area, along Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards.
In addition to restaurants and commercial offices, the outage also hit county government buildings in Courthouse. Some of the county’s internal computer networks were said to have been knocked offline by the outage. Firefighters responded to the county jail after the emergency generator reportedly failed to start, leaving the facility in the dark.
Dominion’s web site estimates that power will be restored no later than 7:00 a.m.
More than 100 demonstrators marched through the busy streets of Virginia Square, Clarendon and Courthouse last night in support of immigrant rights and against deportations.
The protesters, assisted by a police escort, marched from George Mason University’s Arlington campus to the Arlington County jail. Holding signs and chanting slogans in English and Spanish, the protesters made their message loud and clear for scores of bewildered bystanders and outdoor diners in Clarendon.
Once at the jail, a number of speakers addressed the crowd. Most condemned the federal ‘Secure Communities’ immigration enforcement program while praising Arlington for attempting to “opt-out” of the program.
“Arlington was one of the first communities to opt out of Secure Communities,” said Tenants and Workers United Interim Director Jennifer Morley. “When people who live in Arlington heard about it, they spoke out, the organized. Arlington knows that Secure Communities is not the kind of initiative we want in our community.”
“Washington, D.C. is a sanctuary community!” shouted Johnny Barnes, executive director of the ACLU’s National Capital Area chapter, to loud cheers.
A woman identified as “Elizabeth” tearfully spoke about how she was deported before, but made her way back to the area so she could support her young daughter, who has a heart condition.
Also speaking at the rally was Arlington County Police Capt. Jim Wasem, who spoke on behalf of the department. ACPD Chief Doug Scott has previously expressed concern that Secure Communities could dissuade immigrants from cooperating with police investigations.
Protesters will march from George Mason University Founder’s Hall, at 3351 N. Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, to the Arlington County jail, at 1435 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, where they will hold a rally against the federal ‘Secure Communities’ immigration enforcement program.
The march is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. Organizers expect the rally outside the jail to start at 7:15 p.m.
“Speakers at the rally will include representatives from Virginia, Maryland, DC, New York, Illinois, California and other locales affected by the discredited deportation program,” organizers said in a statement.
The march and rally will coincide with the start of the Turning the Tide National Summit, a three-day pro-immigration gathering that’s being held this year at GMU’s Arlington campus.
Secure Communities helps federal authorities enforce immigration laws by checking the fingerprints of those arrested by local law enforcement through a Department of Homeland Security immigration database.
In September the County Board voted unanimously to attempt to withdraw from the program, saying that Secure Communities “will create divisions in our community and promote a cultural fear and distrust of law enforcement.” County officials eventually determined that it was not feasible to withdraw from the program. A coalition that helped organize local opposition to Secure Communities was later given the county’s James B. Hunter Human Rights Award.
Affordable Apartments Get Green Certification — The 36-unit Macedonian apartment complex in Green Valley has become the first EarthCraft-certified new multifamily building in Arlington and the most energy-efficient EarthCraft building in Northern Virginia. The affordable apartments, at 2229 Shirlington Road, received the green building certification thanks to a special central heating and cooling system, foam insulation and other high-efficiency components. The building is a partnership between affordable housing nonprofit AHC Inc. and the Macedonia Baptist Church. [AHC Inc.]
Jail to Host Mother’s Day Event — The Arlington Sheriff’s Office will be hosting its bi-annual Incarcerated Mother’s Holiday Program at the county lockup Monday night, one day after Mother’s Day. From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., female inmates will get the chance to have a “contact visit” with their children within the jail. The event will feature a card exchange, dinner and bonding time. “The program is designed to strengthen and encourage mothers to have positive relationships with their minor children to help lessen the impact and effects of separation,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
New Site Fixes and Features – We made some fixes and added some features to the site overnight. Among the changes: the comment problem we described yesterday has been resolved, we’ve added new fields to your user profiles, and the forums are now operational. Note that there are still some bugs to be worked out with the forums and with user profiles, especially for Internet Explorer users. Please let us know what you think of the changes in the comments.
Last month Arlington sent Falls Church a notice that it could owe an additional $2.2 million for use of the Arlington County Detention Facility. At the time, the county said a “clerical error” resulted in Falls Church being undercharged for the housing of prisoners. Falls Church even admitted that it owed the money, according to the Washington Examiner.
Now, the county says “an outside contractor’s software error” resulted in an over-count of Falls Church prisoners. Falls Church only owes Arlington $123,000, the county said in a statement last night.
“Arlington County regrets the error and the difficulties that it posed for the City as it develops its FY 2012 Budget,” Arlington said. “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Department will now report monthly on Falls Church prisoners. The report and applicable prisoner data will be shared with the Falls Church Sheriff for verification.”
The county’s contract for judicial, police and fire department services is up for renewal this year. Arlington says it will renegotiate the contract “to reflect changes in technology, procedures and services that have occurred since 1989, when the City of Falls Church first contracted with Arlington County to provide the City with judicial and public safety services.”
Punxsutawney Phil Doesn’t See His Shadow — Does that mean there will be an early spring in our area? Meteorologists, as usual, are skeptical. [Capital Weather Gang]
Falls Church Admits Debt to Arlington — Falls Church admits that it does, in fact, owe Arlington $2.2 million for shared use of the Arlington County jail. The city did not say how much of the debt it actually plans to pay. [Washington Examiner]
Complaints About Westover Beer Garden Continue — The Westover Market is moving forward with its plan to build a restaurant and bar, despite the fact that people in the neighborhood continue to complain about everything from noise to smoke coming from fire pits in the market’s outdoor beer garden. [TBD]
Arlington Sends Surprise $2.2 Million Bill to Falls Church — Arlington is billing the City of Falls Church an extra $2.2 million for its use of the Arlington County jail, the Falls Church News-Press reported late last night. Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields told the paper that Arlington sent the bill after discovering a “clerical error” that resulted in Falls Church being undercharged since 2008. [FCNP]
Lubber Run Renovation in Doubt — Arlington doesn’t have room in its current budget to pay for multi-million dollar renovations to the shuttered Lubber Run Amphitheater, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said at a recent public meeting. However, Donnellan said renovations could, theoretically, become a priority in future budget cycles. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Fighting to Start School in August — Arlington has been persistently applying for a state waiver to start the school year before Labor Day. Each year the county applies, however, it gets rejected. Now, school officials in Fairfax County and Alexandria are also considering applying for the right to start school before Labor Day. [Washington Examiner]
Reasonably-Priced Buffet Spots Profiled — TBD looks at seven of the most “notable” and/or “dirt-cheap” buffet options in Arlington. [TBD]
Zimmerman Talks Metro — County board member Chris Zimmerman, who recently announced that he was stepping down from the WMATA Board of Directors, has given what may be his first comprehensive interview since his surprise announcement last week. Zimmerman echoed his stance that Metro needs more funding to survive, and is at the mercy of “external” forces. “These are not things that are going to be fixed by a magical general manager,” Zimmerman said. “They’re not going to be fixed by any configuration of the board of directors.” More from We Love DC.
APS Students Give Back — A new “Snapshots” video from the county’s educational TV channel takes a look at how Arlington Public School students are giving back for the holidays.
Henry Elementary Student Wins WaPo Contest – Kate Lanman, a second grader at Arlington’s Patrick Henry Elementary school, has won the Washington Post’s annual holiday wrapping papers contest. Lanman, 7, will be featured on the cover of the Post’s weekend section tomorrow. More from the Washington Post.
Jail Gets Energy Star Label — The Arlington County Justice Center — which includes the jail and the courthouse — has become the first county building to be awarded an Energy Star designation. The Justice Center completed an energy efficiency overhaul in 2009. More from Arlington County.
The nationwide law enforcement and public outreach initiative — with the tagline “Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest” — will spend more than $7 million on national TV and radio advertising starting Wednesday. It seeks to reduce the number of drunk driving crashes around the holidays. Last year, 753 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes during the month of December alone.
Today LaHood highlighted the new “No Refusal” strategy that a number of states are adopting. “No Refusal” allows police officers to quickly obtain warrants from on-call judges in order to get blood samples from suspects who refuse to take a breathalyzer test.
“Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways,” LaHood said in a statement. “I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the ‘No Refusal’ approach to get drunk drivers off our roads.”
LaHood was joined by National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland and Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Laura Dean-Mooney at a press conference at the Arlington County Jail. A number of law enforcement officials from around the country were also present at the event, which kicked off at 10:30 this morning.
Virginia has a form of the “No Refusal” strategy currently in place. The state’s “implied consent” law calls for a drivers’ license to be suspended if he or she refuses to take a chemical test when stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on a state road.
Arlington County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick had little sympathy for former Marine Jorge Torrez at the convicted rapist’s sentencing today.
Calling Torrez a “coward,” Kendrick imposed the jury’s recommendation that Torrez serve five consecutive life sentences, plus an additional 168 years in prison. Torrez will also pay a $190,000 fine.
Two of Torrez’s three victims were in court for the sentencing, as was one of the jury members from the October trial.
In her argument before the court today, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said Torrez is a “predator” who made his victims endure horrifying ordeals. The jury “did the exact right thing” by recommending multiple life sentences, she said.
Torrez is currently being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility. He may eventually be transferred to a state prison, or may be sent to Illinois, where prosecutors are forming a case against Torrez in a 2005 double homicide.