Death Penalty Sought for Torrez — Former Marine Jorge Torrez, who’s already serving a life sentence for raping and abducting an Arlington woman, is now facing a separate murder trial. Prosecutors say they’re seeking the death penalty for Torrez, who’s accused of murdering Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell in her barracks on Fort Myer in 2009. [WTOP]
Involuntary Bankruptcy for Market Tavern? — Creditors are trying to force newly-renovated Clarendon restaurant Market Tavern (formerly Harry’s Tap Room) into bankruptcy, claiming the eatery owes them at least $77,000 in unpaid debts. Owner Michael Sternberg says the proceedings won’t have an impact on the restaurant’s operations. [Washington Business Journal]
Elevation Burger Expanding — Arlington-based organic burger chain Elevation Burger is expanding. The restaurant now has 29 locations worldwide, but is planning to have 50 locations by the end of the year. The concept is proving especially popular in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the company is testing out two new burger toppings — hardwood smoked bacon and sauteed mushrooms — at its Arlington location (2447 North Harrison Street). [Nation's Restaurant News]
Historic Designation for Tiny Cemetery — A tiny, historic cemetery plot at 5000 Lee Highway, in the Hall’s Hill community, is getting some attention as Arlington County moves to designate it as a local historic district. The oldest grave in the 7,100 square foot cemetery is that of Margaret Hyson, who died in 1891 and was a former slave on the Hall’s Hill plantation. [Washington Post]
Javon Martin, 25, was arrested on a bench warrant and charged with robbery and murder in the first degree. A jury trial has been scheduled for April 23, according to court records.
Martin is one of two people charged in the case. His cousin, 20 year-old Roger K. Clark III, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in this case earlier this month. His sentencing is set for April.
Diener, 57, was found beaten and stabbed on Dec. 29, 2009 near the intersection of N. 13th Street and N. Hudson Street, three blocks from the Clarendon Metro station. In a “statement of facts” entered as part of Clark’s plea, prosecutors said that Martin stabbed Diener in the chest during an early morning robbery.
Martin was originally arrested in June of last year, but charges against him were dropped in October. It’s unclear why the charges were dropped.
As ARLnow.com first reported yesterday, a suspect in the case, Roger K. Clark III, has pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the case. In a statement of facts entered as part of the guilty plea, prosecutors say robbery was the motive behind the murder — and that Clark wasn’t the only perpetrator.
According to the statement, Clark and his cousin, Javon Martin — then 20 and 24 years of age, respectively — were driving around Arlington County early on the morning of Dec. 29, 2009 looking for someone to rob. They encountered Diener, 57, near the intersection of N. 13th Street and N. Hudson Street, three blocks from the Clarendon Metro station. It was around 3:00 a.m. and Diener was on his way to a part-time job at a local health club, police said at the time.
During the robbery, prosecutors say, Clark punched Diener and then Martin stabbed him in the chest with a knife. Diener was later found lying on the street by a passerby who called police. Medics arrived on the scene and pronounced him dead. According to the statement of facts, Diener bled to death as a result of the stab wound, which severed two major arteries.
Clark’s DNA was found in several places, according to the statement, including on Diener’s palm and in his pants pocket, where Clark had looked for something to steal following the stabbing. In the end, Clark and Martin made off with Diener’s shoulder bag, according to prosecutors.
Clark’s plea was accepted yesterday afternoon by Circuit Court Judge Joanne F. Alper. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on April 27. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek more than 25 years in prison.
Martin was arrested in June, two days after Clark was arrested, but ultimately prosecutors decided not to pursue the first degree murder charges against him at the time. The charges were dropped in October, according to court records. Martin is not currently in custody, according to Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, who declined to comment further.
Carl Diener’s sister, Patti Diener Lough, said Clark’s guilty plea is comforting to her family.
“Nothing — not even this guilty plea — can ever bring Carl back to his family and remarkable network of friends and colleagues from so many aspects of his life,” Diener Lough told ARLnow.com via email. “But we are immensely comforted to know that a murderer is in custody and will not be able to hurt another person or family like he shattered ours.”
Roger K. Clark III entered a guilty plea on first degree murder charges today, prosecutors said. Circuit Court Judge Joanne F. Alper accepted the plea this afternoon. A sentencing hearing is now scheduled for April 27.
Diener, a 57-year-old Lyon Village resident, was found lying dead on a Clarendon street early on the morning of Dec. 29, 2009. A dogged investigation finally resulted in the arrest of Clark and another man in June 2011.
The second suspect in the case was later released after charges against him were dropped.
No Homicides in 2011 — It’s official: for the first time since at least the 1950s, Arlington County did not record a single homicide in 2011.
Another Book Dating Session — The Shirlington Branch Library is holding another Book Dating for Singles session, after the inaugural book dating event in October was deemed a success. This month’s book dating session will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15. Using books as conversation starters, participants will have three-minute “dates” moderated by library staff.
Arlington to Install Real-Time Traffic System — Arlington County is planning to install a real-time traffic system along Route 50. The system will track anonymous Bluetooth information from drivers’ cell phones in order to calculate the time it would take drivers to get from one point to another. [Washington Business Journal]
Earlier: If Arlington can go 36+ hours without a homicide, it will be the first year since at least the 1950s without a single recorded murder in Arlington County.
Available police records, which go back to 1960, show at least one homicide has been reported in each of the past 51 years. In fact, there have been 273 homicides in Arlington since 1960 — for an average of about 5.4 homicides per year.
The number of homicides in Arlington has declined since the early 1990s. In the six years between 1990 and 1995, there were 56 homicides in Arlington. Between 2006 and 2011, there have been 13 homicides, as illustrated below.
- 2006: 4
- 2007: 2
- 2008: 4
- 2009: 2
- 2010: 1
- 2011 (as of Dec. 29): 0
The District of Columbia is also experiencing a decline in murders. With 108 reported homicides as of Dec. 29, the District is on track to have the lowest murder tally since 1963.
Roger K. Clark III is facing a first degree murder charge in connection with the 2009 slaying of Diener. The 57-year-old Diener was found lying on a Clarendon side street in the early morning of Dec. 29, 2009. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
After a year and a half investigation, police arrested Clark and another man in June. The other suspect has since been released, while Clark faces a jury trial that’s currently scheduled to begin on Jan. 9, 2012.
The trial is expected to last at least four days, according to Diener’s sister.
GOP Will Likely Control Va. Senate — Despite the clean sweep by Arlington Democrats, it looks like Republicans will pick up the two Virginia Senate seats they needed to wrest control of the state Senate from Democrats. “If the results hold, Republicans will have complete control of state government for only the second time since the Civil War,” the Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, Republicans will now have a two-thirds majority in the House of Delegates after picking up six seats there. Gov. Bob McDonnell said the GOP-controlled General Assembly will be more likely to push a “pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage” agenda.
Hawaiians Protest Bail of Arlington Resident — Dozens of demonstrators marched through Honolulu last night to protest the release of State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy, an Arlington resident, on $250,000 bail. Deedy, 27, is charged with second-degree murder after shooting a man in the chest during a late-night argument inside a McDonald’s in Waikiki. [Associated Press]
Closures Planned for Tuckahoe 5K — The third annual Tuckahoe 5K run will be held on Saturday morning. Rolling street closures are planned in the East Falls Church neighborhood between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. For interested runners, limited race day registration will be available at Tuckahoe Elementary School. [Tuckahoe 5K].
Cookie Within a Cookie in Clarendon — What do you get when you place an Oreo cookie within a chocolate chip cookie? You get an ‘Oreo in a Blanket,’ which is being offered by Bakeshop in Clarendon (1025 N. Fillmore Street). [Clarendon Culture]
Mailer Blasts GOP State Senate Candidate — A mysterious last-minute political mailer has been sent to voters in the 32nd state Senate District. The mailer attacks GOP state Senate candidate Patrick Forrest for being “openly homosexual,” supporting “illegal immigration reform” and for supposedly working for President Obama’s transition team. Forrest’s opponent, incumbent state Sen. Janet Howell, spoke out against the mailers, calling them “disgusting and despicable.” The mailing’s return address comes back to a parking lot, and the organization it purports to come from does not exist. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Man Charged With Murder — A 27-year-old Arlington man has been charged with second degree murder in Hawaii. Christopher Deedy, a special agent with the State Department, allegedly shot a man during a late-night argument at a McDonald’s in Waikiki. [KHON 2]
Post Endorses Tejada, Hynes — The Washington Post has endorsed incumbent Democrats Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes for reelection to the Arlington County Board. The paper’s editorial board called their opponent, Green Party candidate Audrey Clement, “well informed” but “anti-growth.” Clement, meanwhile, is accusing Tejada and Hynes of being “in bed with developers.” [Washington Post]
D.C. Cop Seeks Legal Fees from Arlington Lawyer — A D.C. police officer is asking her ex-boyfriend, an Arlington lawyer, to pay her legal fees (more than $70,000) in a case that included accusations of “attempted stalking,” defamation and civil rights violations. [Legal Times]
Marines Want More Access to APS Students — The U.S. Marine Corps is asking Arlington Public Schools to relax its restrictions on military recruiting at school facilities. While more restrictive than Fairfax County or other local jurisdictions, the school system argues that its rules are consistent with federal law. The Marine Corps says its rate of enlisting Arlington students is far below expectations. [Sun Gazette]
Norwood Found Guilty of Murder — A Montgomery County jury has found Brittany Norwood guilty of the brutal murder of Rosslyn resident Jayna Murray. Murray was found beaten and stabbed to death in a Bethesda Lululemon yoga store in March. [ABC 7]
Cain Accused of Sexual Harassment in Crystal City — Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain has been facing accusations that he sexually harassed female employees while serving as head of the National Restaurant Association. The latest accuser alleges that one incident of harassment happened at an (unnamed) restaurant in Crystal City. [Politico]
‘Puzzle Fest’ This Weekend — Arlington Public Library is hosting its first-ever Arlington Puzzle Festival on Saturday. From 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) puzzle enthusiasts can compete in crossword and Sudoku tournaments. There will also be speakers and a scavenger hunt. [Library Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
Teacher Diversity Lags in Arlington — While 28 percent of Arlington public school students are Hispanic, only 7 percent of APS teachers are Hispanic. The school system has been actively working to diversify its teacher pool, however. Over the past year, 14 percent of new teachers hired have been Hispanic. [Sun Gazette]
Jury Selection for Lululemon Murder Trial — Jury selection is beginning today in Maryland in the trial of Brittany Norwood, the woman charged in the murder of Rosslyn resident Jayna Murray. Murray was found bludgeoned to death inside a Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda in March. [WJLA]
Wardian Strikes Again — Prolific marathoner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian has “obliterated” another record. He ran the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Ultramarathon in central Pennsylvania in 5 hours, 33 minutes and 47 seconds — beating the course record by nearly 10 minutes. [Centre Daily Times]
Photo courtesy Anonymous
A preliminary hearing was held yesterday afternoon for Roger Clark, one of two suspects in the 2009 murder of Lyon Village resident Carl Diener.
The court found probable cause and ordered the Clark held pending an indictment by a grand jury. If an indictment is handed down, a court date is expected to be set on Sept. 22.
Prosecutors say that a trial in the case would likely take place early next year.
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) Carl Diener was a fitness nut — a big, strong man who, having retired from the federal government, decided to apply his love of exercise by working part-time at two local fitness facilities.
When employees at one of those facilities — the YMCA Arlington Tennis & Squash Center at 3400 N. 13th Street — first heard yesterday that two men had finally been arrested for Carl’s 2009 murder, at least one woman burst into tears.
“We’ve all been sort of waiting around and hoping [police] find who did it,” said Audrey Giberman, who works at the Tennis Center and who formed a close bond with Carl through the years. “He’s always been on our mind. It was a horrible, horrible tragedy.”
Giberman recounted vivid memories of the morning when Carl, a Lyon Village resident, did not show up to work as usual.
“The morning he didn’t show up, Sport and Health (Diener’s other fitness center employer) called me and said… ‘Carl’s not here.’ My front desk started calling all the hospitals. A Sport and Health member actually went to Carl’s apartment,” Giberman remembered. “When it was officially announced by police… it was very hard. Actually some of the staff went for counseling, it was such a shock.”
Now, Giberman and others are hoping that the arrests will help shed light on those lingering, unanswered questions surrounding the murder.
“You hear all these things, and you just want to know why,” she said. “You just want closure.”
Police have identified the two suspects arrested for Carl’s murder as Roger K. Clark III (top), 20, of Severn, Maryland, and Javon Martin (bottom), 24, of Washington D.C. Both men are now being held in the Arlington County Detention Center. So far, authorities have not revealed a motive in the case.
Diener, a 57-year-old Lyon Village resident, was found lying dead on a Clarendon street early on the morning of Dec. 29, 2009. Late last year, friends and family held a vigil to mark the one year anniversary of Diener’s death, and to draw public attention to the police department’s continued effort to find clues about the case. With today’s announcement, those efforts seem to have paid off.
The two men arrested are both in their early 20s. One was arrested in Montgomery County, Md. and the other was arrested in the District, according to police.
Patti Diener Lough, Carl’s sister, says she hopes the arrests will help her family and the community feel safer.
“I’m just thrilled,” she told ARLnow.com. “The Arlington County Police obviously didn’t consider this a cold case. I don’t believe that they would be making an arrest if they didn’t have information that was going to stick.”
“I am just glad that we’re going to have some more information” about the case, Diener Lough added. “It doesn’t change anything. Nothing can bring Carl back, of course. But it will allow the family and the Arlington community to process this and feel better and safer.”
Diener Lough said the arrests support what she has believed all along — that the murder a “crime of opportunity” by multiple assailants who did not know Carl.
Here’s the press release from the Arlington County Police Department.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit announces several arrests related to the homicide that occurred on December 29, 2009. At 2:50 a.m. that morning, medic units and police responded to a call regarding an injured man lying on the street in the 3200 block of N. 13th Street. They located Carl Diener, 57, an Arlington resident, deceased.
Detectives have conducted an extensive investigation over the past year and a half and obtained warrants charging Roger K. Clark III, 20, of Severn, Maryland, and Javon Martin, 24, of Washington D.C. with Murder. Roger Clark III, was arrested on June 6, 2011, and Javon Martin was arrested on June 8, 2011. They are pending extradition to Virginia.
“I am extremely pleased with our detectives’ investigation,” stated Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott, “It illustrates that there are no “cold cases” in Arlington; we continue to investigate crimes long after they occur.”
Diener’s death was a shock to the Clarendon community. His family, friends, and concerned business owners took up a collection of $25,000 for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for his death. They also held several vigils and benefits in his memory.
The Arlington County Police Department would like to thank the men and women of the Washington Field Office of The Federal Bureau of Investigation, The United States Marshals Service, the Montgomery County Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Department for their assistance in locating these fugitives.
Anyone who has additional information about this case is asked contact Detective Rosa Ortiz at (703) 228-7402. Det. Ortiz can also be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com. Witnesses can also call the Arlington Police Tip-Line at (703) 228-4242.
Federal prosecutors say Torrez is responsible for the 2009 death of Amanda Snell, a 20-year-old Navy intelligence specialist who was found dead in her Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall barracks two years ago.
Torrez is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for the abduction of two Arlington women and the abduction and brutal rape of another in February 2010. Arlington prosecutor Theo Stamos called Torrez a “predator” during his sentencing. Now he’s being charged with first degree murder in Snell’s death.
“Today, we are charging Jorge Torrez with murdering a young Navy Petty Officer in her barracks,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement. “This indictment is the result of extreme dedication by NCIS and the Arlington County Police Department to follow every lead possible to bring the person responsible for Amanda’s murder to justice.”
Snell’s mother told the Washington Examiner that she is hoping the case will provide some closure.
“I’m waiting until this is all over and I actually find out why,” Cynthia Snell told the paper.
Torrez has also been linked via DNA to a 2005 double homicide outside Chicago, but has yet to be charged in the case.