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This Week in Potomac

Sigmund Pleads Guilty

Prescott W. Sigmund, 35, formerly of Potomac, pleaded guilty on March 25 to three felonies stemming from a July 12, 2002 car bombing, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Sigmund will receive an aggregate sentence of 32 years for charges including using a destructive device (the bomb) during a crime of violence, assault with intent to kill while armed, and mayhem while armed. Sentencing is set for June 19. The lead prosecutor for the case is Assistant US Attorney Jeanne Hauch. The judge is Emmett Sullivan.

Sigmund admitted to committing these offenses in a parking garage at 5225 Wisconsin Avenue, NW in Washington. He had attempted to kill his father by planting a pipe bomb in his father’s vehicle. When the bomb exploded, his half-brother, Wright Sigmund, 21, was injured. Wright Sigmund suffered near fatal burns and injuries from which he will never totally recover.

The bomb was made from copper wire, smokeless gun powder, pipes, a wooden match, metal screws as shrapnel, and other components.

The government found wire in Sigmund’s home office which matched the wire from the bomb, including having been cut with the same cutting tool; a wooden matchbox with his fingerprints on it that contained matches of the same kind used in the bomb, and records of a late May 2002 purchase of the precise kind of gunpowder used in the bomb by a “Paul Baillie,” an alias used by Sigmund after he fled the Washington area and created a new life for himself in Montana.

Sigmund was missing for nearly four months when a segment about him ran on “America’s Most Wanted.” Sigmund turned himself in the night it ran, Nov. 9, 2002, to authorities in Missoula, Mont. According to the officer in Missoula, Sigmund told him he had tried to kill his father and that he had done so with an explosive device.

Chest Pains in Jail

Zakaria Oweiss was admitted to Shady Grove Hospital after he experienced chest pains during his first week jailed at Seven Locks Detention Center.

Oweiss was convicted by a jury on Friday, March 14 for the second-degree murder of his wife Marianne Oweiss, 49. Oweiss heard the jury's verdict via teleconference from Suburban Hospital where he was admitted for chest pains. Oweiss had an angioplasty procedure performed at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park on Monday, March 17 and was released directly to Seven Locks jail when doctors determined it was safe to do so.

While in jail, Oweiss experienced additional chest, according to Oweiss' attorney Peter Davis. Davis said his client was scheduled to be observed this past Monday, March 24 at Shady Grove Hospital.

On March 24, Davis filed a motion for his client to be granted a new trial, claiming errors were made by the court and prosecution during the trial. He also says there is new evidence that further disputes the credibility of a state witness.

Zakaria Oweiss is scheduled to be sentenced for the murder of his wife on May 23.

Davis doesn't expect to hear back on his motion for a new trial for about a month.

Kindergarten Round-up

Potomac Elementary will be holding its Kindergarten Orientation on April 24 and 25, for children born before Nov. 30. Call 301-469-1042.

Audubon Offers Nature Sampler

The Audubon Naturalist Society is offering a two-month sampler course to get people outdoors as they learn about the regional environment.

The course runs Monday evenings, April 14 – June 23, at the Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, and is designed for the beginner or someone who just wants a refresher.

“If you can’t decide where to start, or just want an overview of the natural history features of the region, try this sampler,” said Stephanie Mason, naturalist and education director at the Audubon Naturalist Society.

The course’s four subjects – spring flower identification, bird life, geology, and ecology – are among the regular courses that the society co-sponsors with the Graduate School of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The sampler course costs $255, and registration is required. Further information can be found at www.grad.usda.gov, or phone 202-314-3320.

Residential Burglary

Between March 5 at 9 p.m. and March 6 at 9 a.m. a home on the 13900 block of Travilah Road was burglarized. An unlocked door was opened and art was removed.

Officer Shoots Suspect

On March 24 at approximately 11:30 p.m. a Montgomery County Police Officer shot a suspect in the 4500 block of Sleaford Road in Bethesda.

Officers responded to a domestic violence report to find a man and woman, both in their seventies, on the top floor of the house crying for help. As one of the officers started up the stairs, a 37-year-old man, later identified as the couple’s son, attacked the officer. Officer Barbara Waldecker, an eight-year veteran of the force who was acting as a back-up, shot the suspect in the leg.

The suspect then ran up the stairs and locked himself in the bathroom. Officers forced the door open and arrested the man. The victims and the officers were taken to the hospital for treatment. Officer Waldecker has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard following an officer involved shooting.

The suspect has been taken for a mental evaluation. Charges have not yet been filed.

Busy Week for Chief

On March 18, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose was called up to serve in the Air National Guard. He is currently in the area, but is subject to deployment at any time. As a result County Executive Doug Duncan has appointed Assistant Chief William O’Toole as Acting Chief until Moose returns.

Moose was also denied his request to publish a book about his role during the sniper attacks. It is considered a violation of the county’s ethics code to profit from work related publicity.

Parenting Strategies

Dr. Frances X. Walton presents “Winning Children Over: Strategies for Discipline without Threats or Bribes” at Suburban Hospital Auditorium on April 3. Light hors d’oeuvres are served at 7 p.m., seminar is 7:30-9 p.m. Suggested donation of $10 per person benefits community service through YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase/Ayrlawn and YMCA Bethesda Youth Services. To register, call 301-229-1347 or e-mail parenting@ymcadc.org.

Fund for Sniper Victims' Children.

Sixteen school-age children who lost a parent as the result of the sniper attacks in Montgomery County last October are to benefit from a campaign to raise funds for educational scholarships. The children range in age from the youngest in elementary school to the oldest already in college. The scholarship campaign is being sponsored by the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation, which will hold a fund raising reception on April 3, from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m., at Indian Spring Country Club, located at 13506 Layhill Road, Silver Spring.

A number of community leaders will be on hand, including CNN journalist Judy Woodruff who will moderate the program. The event also will honor the contributions of County Executive Douglas Duncan and Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose for their work and support during the sniper crisis. People who want to contribute to the scholarship campaign and attend the event can choose from the following several levels of financial support. Contributions also will be accepted from those unable to attend.

Checks should be made payable to the MCPS Educational Foundation (c/o Montgomery County Public Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Room 257, Rockville, Maryland 20850). The foundation is a nonprofit organization, and a portion of each ticket cost is tax deductible.

Call 301-279-3432.

Catholic High School Fair

Parents and middle and high school students are invited to learn about Catholic high schools in Washington, D.C. and southern Maryland. Meet principals and representatives from area schools, pick up information and learn about the admissions process. Montgomery County Fair is at St. Jane Frances de Chantal School, 9525 Old Georgetown Road on Wednesday, April 9 6:30-8:30 p.m.