Today in Maryland

Dominican police investigate deaths of Md. couple

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Dominican police are investigating the deaths of an American couple found in a hotel room in a resort area in the eastern Dominican Republic, where they were vacationing.

The Regional Institute of Forensic Sciences said in an initial report that Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, of Maryland, appeared to have suffered respiratory failure and fluid in the lungs. But it said further tests would be required to determine more about the cause of death.

The couple arrived at the Bahía Príncipe hotel in La Romana on May 25 and planned to leave May 30, the day they were found after they failed to check out, officials said. Police said several bottles of medicines to treat high blood pressure were found on the scene.

On May 27, the pair shared photos and messages on their Facebook accounts in which they appeared to be enjoying their vacation.

In another case, Dominican police are investigating an attack on a U.S. tourist in Punta Cana that the woman recently made public on social media, detailing a vicious hours-long assault by a man she said was wearing the uniform of an all-inclusive resort.

More than 6 million tourists visit the Dominican Republic each year.

Reported rape leads Baltimore police to search its own cars

BALTIMORE (AP) — Police in Baltimore say a reported rape may have involved a member of the department, so it has pulled 115 patrol cars out of service to scour them for evidence.

Police spokesman Matt Jablow tells The Baltimore Sun that the investigation started Sunday. Jablow says the victim told police she wasn't raped in the patrol car, but that she was in one during the night of the attack. Jablow says the cars are being examined in the hopes of finding evidence of who was with the woman.

The department declined to detail the allegation. An internal police memo obtained by the paper says the victim told officers she was near a bar when she met a man named Rick who appeared to be a police officer and later assaulted her.

Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com

No murder charge for suspect in death blamed on panhandler

BALTIMORE (AP) — The attorney for a woman accused in a killing that was initially blamed on a panhandler says prosecutors are dropping murder charges against her.

The Baltimore Sun reports attorney Brandon Mead says 28-year-old Valeria Smith has been indicted in Baltimore Circuit Court on one charge of accessory after the crime.

A spokeswoman for the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office declined to discuss the charges.

Smith and her father, 53-year-old Keith Smith, were charged in March in the December killing of her stepmother 54-year-old Jacquelyn Smith, a mechanical engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The killing attracted national attention after the two suspects claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed after she gave a panhandler $10 while the family was driving through East Baltimore.

Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com

Judge rejects defense request to step aside in teen's appeal

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — An eastern Pennsylvania judge has rejected a defense motion that she step aside from hearing the appeal of a teenager convicted in the murder of her mother four years ago.

The (Allentown) Morning Call reports that Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos said there was no merit to defense accusations that she improperly inserted herself into guilty plea negotiations involving Jamie Silvonek.

Silvonek, now 18, seeks a new trial in the 2015 slaying of 54-year-old Cheryl Silvonek, when the teen was 14. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 35 years to life.

Caleb Barnes of El Paso, Texas, a Fort Meade, Maryland soldier, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Silvonek testified that she plotted the murder and urged Barnes in texts to carry it out.

Information from: The Morning Call, http://www.mcall.com

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