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THE BALTIMORE SUN |
| TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2011
Killing ends relative quiet
Before stabbing, only 2 had been slain in 18 days
By Justin Fenton
The Baltimore Sun
ANDRÉ F. CHUNG/MCT PHOTO
Early view of memorial
Onlookers gaze Monday at the statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the national memorial to the civil rights leader, which covers 4 acres along Washington’s Tidal Basin. The monument, the first to an African-American on the National Mall, is scheduled to be dedicated Sunday, the 48th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Habitat for Humanity to open latest home improvement store Saturday in Halethorpe
Hard times, good deals
By Mary Gail Hare
The Baltimore Sun
Norma Thompson spent much of Monday dusting, polishing and sprucing up items that will fill a soon-to-open home improvement store in Halethorpe. The hours she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity’s newest ReStore will help this Baltimore grandmother, who works as a housekeeper at a downtown hotel, earn a home of her own. Each prospective homeowner must provide Habitat volunteer hours, and Thompson is doing just that at the nonprofit organization’s third ReStore in the metropolitan area. She has her eye on several items that will go on sale Saturday, when the discount center opens in a Halethorpe business park. She is picturing them in the East Baltimore townhouse that she hopes will be her home sometime next year. “I love making all this stuff look new and pretty,” said Thompson, 60. The stores support the building efforts of Habitat for Humanity, a nationwide nonprofit that provides affordable housing to income-eligible families. Judging from sales at its sister stores in Dundalk and Pasadena, the latest retail venture for the organization’s Chesapeake affiliate promises to be a success. Even in a sagging economy, those two ReStores posted a 34 percent increase in sales volume in the past year. “Most retailers would die for that kind of increase in sales,” said Tim Kenney, director for ReStore at Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. “There is a growing market for restored and recycled products, especially for the do-it-yourself builder or remodeler. All we ask is that you come here first and see if we have what you need.” ReStores, which number more than 700 nationwide, sell new, surplus or gently used appliances, furniture, cabinets, flooring and building materials and turn the profits over to Habitat’s building projects. Mike Mitchell, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, said the stores are building homes and saving the environment by keeping many usable items from going into a landfill. “Every store helps us to address the housing crisis,” he said. “This really is social enterprise at its best.” In 2008, the two metropolitan outlets combined to donate $1.2 million to Habitat, said Mark Bendann, chief operating officer for the local Habitat. “Even in the worst of times, we have still managed to make a profit,” he said. “The idea of recycling and green building
JOE SORIERO/BALTIMORE SUN PHOTOS
A display of furniture at the soon-to-open ReStore in Halethorpe.
Tim Kenney is director for ReStore at Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, which opens its third center Saturday.
has also been instrumental in our success.” Halethorpe seemed an ideal location for the third store, since it adjoins the offices of Habitat’s Chesapeake affiliate. That office staff could be among the store’s best customers. “You can furnish your office, your home, even your home office,” said Sandra Erbe, Habitat’s marketing manager. Kenney likes to show off the wares, pointing to new doors and windows,
many still in their original packaging, the custom-made cabinets that customers can order and the staged room settings that appeal to the furniture shopper. He has displayed stacks of mini-refrigerators and microwaves, selling for $50 each. “The timing could not be better,” he said. “They are ideal for college dorm rooms.” Kenney often travels to building shows and follows up on close-out deals, but inventory relies heavily on donations from both businesses and homeowners. “Call our donation line, and we will pick it up for you,” Kenney said. “Or you can drop off donations at our stores.” A local university donated those microwaves. A hotel chain dropped off 150 TVs and area retirement communities are a great source of merchandise for the stores, Kenney said. Furniture and appliances are the top sellers. “We don’t fix it, but we clean it up,” Bendann said. “We take commercial overstocks, slow-moving merchandise and donations from homeowners. We have hit a lot of home runs.” Customers will even find the hardware they need for the project, the paint and painting supplies and light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, carpeting and all kinds of decorating accessories. Most items sell for about 50 percent less than retail, and on Saturday for the grand opening on 3741 Commerce Drive, customers will get an additional 20 percent off on all merchandise. email@example.com
When Alfred “Freddy” Garner Jr. was growing up, his father taught him to be the bigger man and walk away from confrontations. That’s what relatives and police say the information technology professional from Washington was doing early Sunday when he was followed from a Northeast Baltimore bar and fatally stabbed. “He was getting into his vehicle so he could call his friend, who was still inside,” said his sister, Tina Jordan, 45. Garner was one of two people mortally wounded in separate incidents Sunday and pronounced dead Monday, ending a stretch of relative calm in the city, in which only two homicides were recorded over a span of 18 days. Police say Garner was leaving the Ibis Tavern in the 6000 block of Harford Road about 1:10 a.m. when a man followed and attacked him with an unknown object. Detective Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman, said Garner and his attacker crashed through the window of an adjacent store and continued fighting. The assailant jumped onto a motorcycle and fled the area, leaving Garner lying on the ground bleeding. He died the next day at Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital. Monroe said police have identified a suspect. Garner graduated from City College high school, Baltimore Community College and the University of the District of Columbia, where, at 6 foot 9, he played basketball for the school’s team. He went on to work in the information technology field, first for his alma mater and then for a private company, and helped raise his girlfriend’s 9-year-old son. His nickname was “Silk,” because of his easygoing demeanor, said Jordan, who is the director of the master’s of social work program at Delaware State University. “You couldn’t miss him because of his height and smile, but he was always willing to lend a helping hand,” Jordan said. Their mother died three years ago, and Garner returned home nearly every weekend to check on his father, Alfred Garner Sr., and do laundry. “It’s extremely shocking,” his father said of his son’s death. “All these things are always in the forefront of my mind – that it could happen. But we’ve never [as a family] had any problems like this at all.” “This is a tragedy for our family,” Jordan added. “To succumb in the city in which you were born and raised — to get that phone call, ‘Come to the hospital, he’s fighting for his life’ …” The weekend’s other homicide occurred Sunday night in East Baltimore’s Biddle Street neighborhood, and less was known about the circumstances. The victim, identified as Lawrence Rollings, was found in the 2500 block of E. Chase St. by officers responding to a report of gunfire. Rollings, of the 3300 block of Elmora Ave., had been shot several times in the head and body and was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital, officials said. Police did not have any suspects in the killing. firstname.lastname@example.org Baltimore Sun reporter Liz F. Kay contributed to this article.
Murder-for-hire trial to begin in killing of blind, disabled man
Brothers accused of slaying orchestrated by clergyman
By Tricia Bishop
The Baltimore Sun
Opening statements could come as early as today in the trial of two brothers accused of carrying out a murder-for-hire scheme orchestrated by Baltimore pastor Kevin Pushia, who pleaded guilty to ordering the death of a legally blind and mentally disabled man to fraudulently collect $1.4 million in life insurance. Brothers James Omar Clea III and Kareem Jamal Clea (pronounced “klee”) are each charged with conspiring to kill Lemuel Wallace, a 37-year-old group-home resident who was shot in the head on Feb. 4, 2009, and left to die in a bathroom stall at Leakin Park. Prosecutors claim that James Clea, 33, introduced Pushia to his brother, who was then paid $50,000 in church funds by the
pastor to execute Wallace. Kareem Clea, who turns 28 on Thursday, is also charged with murder and various handgun violations. The brothers have pleaded not guilty to the charges, though James Clea has previously acknowledged helping Pushia, according to police, claiming he thought the pastor only wanted someone beaten up. Jury selection began Monday afternoon, with about 150 potential jurors called for the high-profile case. The pool will be whittled down today. “This is a very serious case,” retired Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes, who’s presiding over the trial, told the potential jurors, who were packed tightly in the courtroom. But, he added later, it’s also “one of great interest.” The scheme shocked those who knew Pushia through his work with The Arc of Baltimore, which assists people with developmental disabilities, and the church he founded in East Baltimore in 2005, which
burned down two years later. The conspiracy was discovered after an insurance agent told police that Pushia was listed as a sibling beneficiary on Wallace’s life insurance policy and asked if the pastor was a suspect in the crime. Until then, investigators had few leads. They searched Pushia’s Frankford townhouse and found numerous insurance policies for Wallace that covered accidental death, including murder, along with a planning calendar that noted “L.W. project completed” on Feb. 5, 2009, the day after Wallace was killed. Police say Pushia confessed to the conspiracy after officers found his day planner. He pleaded guilty in August last year, admitting to using insurance funds from the church fire to pay the shooter. He could receive a maximum of life in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for midOctober. He also confessed to meeting with the hit man, who police say is Kareem Clea, at locations arranged by James Clea, including
an Applebee’s restaurant at Reisterstown Road Plaza in Northwest Baltimore. The two men hardly resemble each other. Kareem is lean and was casually dressed in court, with medium-length dreadlocks, while James, who wears his hair short, is heavier, and wore glasses and a bow tie Monday. Online state court records show no convictions for Kareem Clea, who is being held without bail. He was charged with gun and drug possession in Baltimore County in 2007, however, and with assault and property destruction in the city a year later. Prosecutors dropped those cases before trial. James Clea, who is free on a $250,000 bond, was on probation for armed robbery at the time of his arrest. He’s scheduled for a violation of probation hearing later this week. Both men face life in prison if convicted at their trial, which is expected to last about three days. email@example.com