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Greetings from the Pr. George's courthouse, jail

With this blog still less than a week old, I thought it made sense to introduce myself, my beat and some of the issues I'm covering.

I cover the state court beat in Prince George's; I also write a lot about the jail in Upper Marlboro, where inmate Ronnie White died in his jail cell in 2008. There's always lots going on in the courthouse -- I try to cover hearings and trials in major cases, as well as stories that are just interesting and out of the ordinary. I've been writing about the jail, meantime, for more than two years.

There's no shortage of stories.

Among the stories I've written in the last year:

  • the incident on Super Bowl Sunday in which at least eight inmates, apparently upset that they were not allowed to watch the game, simultaneously broke out of their cells;
  • the arrest of Victor E. Bryant, a Capitol police officer accused of waving his handgun at guests at a hotel in National Harbor; and
  • the ongoing case against Jamal Alexis, who is awaiting trial on charges he murdered music producer Scottie Beats in October, 2006. Jamal and his brother, Rashadd, are also charged with murdering Bobby Ennels, who was to be a state witness against Jamal in the Beats case.

I also wrote about the suspension of jail Lt. Col. Kathleen Costello, after Kristine Krick, an ex-lover, came forward and accused Costello of initiating their romantic relationship when Krick was an inmate and Costello was a jail officer in the late 1980s.

In June, I collaborated with Aaron Davis to write a piece on the finding of a lengthy state police investigation into the June 2008 death of jail inmate Ronnie White. The inmate, who had been accused of killing a county police officer, died of asphyxiation, and the state medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide. The exhaustive state police investigation found no evidence to charge anyone with killing White, and concluded that the inmate -- who told officials he was taking medication for depression -- may have killed himself.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to follow the Costello-Krick story; Costello was suspended with pay when Krick came forward with her allegations, which county police are investigating.

The Alexis brothers are scheduled to go to trial, separately, in January. I plan to be there. ,

Among the other high-profile cases I plan on covering Next February, Aaron Spriggs is scheduled to go on trial for killing his girlfriend; prosecutors allege that Spriggs voice is captured on a voicemail, apparently from a cellphone, saying "die bitch die."

Early next spring, Tavon Taylor and Darren Jamar Bullock are scheduled to stand trial on vehicular manslaughter charges for the 2008 crash in Accokeek in which eight spectators at a drag race were killed.

I'll be busy -- but I'm always looking for more ideas, contacts and feedback. I welcome story tips and comments from all corners. Many of my best stories have come from tips from attorneys, judges, and members of the public. Send me an e-mail if you'd like to get in touch.

-- Ruben Castaneda

By Ruben Castaneda  |  November 24, 2009; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Pr. George's , Prison Beat , Ruben Castaneda  | Tags: Prince George's County courthouse, Prince George's County jail, Ronnie White  
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