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MURDER SUSPECT DIES BEFORE TRIAL

Russell Jerome Graves, 73, died on Monday, before the first hearing on charges that he murdered his wife in September.

Police officers discovered the body of Graves’ wife, 77-year-old Laura K. Graves, at about 4 p.m. on Sept. 23. She had a plastic bag over her head. When officers arrived, they found Russell Graves semi-conscious on the floor. Police believe Graves killed his wife, then attempted suicide. Laura Graves suffered from a serious illness, and Russell Graves was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Russell Graves was treated at a local hospital and was released three days later. He was arrested upon his discharge from the hospital and was being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

He was charged with non-capital first-degree murder, and his preliminary hearing was scheduled for Nov. 10. But he died on the evening of Monday, Nov. 3, said Andrew Parker, the assistant Commonwealth's attorney prosecuting the case.

Graves' death did not come as a surprise to Denman Rucker, his court-appointed attorney. “I don’t believe he’s going to survive the next two or three days,” said Rucker on Monday. Graves was at that time in a semi-conscious state, the attorney said.

Rucker said he met with Graves over the weekend and was able to converse with him then. “He’s in no pain, but he’s ready to go,” said Rucker.

Graves suffered from a blood condition, police said. He and his wife were married for 30 years. Rucker has spoken with a nephew of Russell Graves but no other family members.

“It is sad all the way around,” said Rucker.

BOARD APPROVES SHIRLINGTON DEVELOPMENT

At their Saturday, Oct. 18 meeting, county board members approved plans for a 13-story, 245-unit residential building designed to be a “gateway” to Shirlington, including 15 affordable housing units. The project, to be known as the Alexan-Shirlington, will be located at the intersection of Arlington Mill Drive and Shirlington Road.

The Board approved developer Trammell Crow Residential’s request for a site plan amendment to convert the previously approved use of a 1.3-acre vacant lot from hotel to residential. In 1982, the County Board approved the site for 300-room hotel, which was never built, as part of the Shirlington Phased Development Site Plan.

Alexan-Shirlington will include 15 affordable housing units:

three 1-bedroom and five 2-bedroom units at 60% of area median income

three 1-bedroom and four 2-bedroom units at 50% of area median income

The developer's plan includes: a $75,000 contribution for public art for a gateway plaza; undergrounding of utilities; new sidewalks, crosswalks, street trees and lighting; improved pedestrian access to Four Mile Run Park; a new 15-ft.-wide median with landscaping along S. Quincy Street, and public parking in the adjacent WETA garage on evenings and weekends.

Construction is estimated to begin in late 2004 and scheduled for completion in the second or third quarter of 2006.

SERIES OF AREA RAPES LINKED

Arlington police learned last month that FBI analysts, using DNA evidence, linked a series of rapes reported in the D.C. area between December 2002 and June of this year. One of the five related incidents occurred in Arlington--a June 6 reported rape at the Holiday Inn on the 2600 block of Jefferson Davis Hwy.

Police had suspected the five rapes, all of which occurred at area hotels, were linked. They now have DNA evidence supporting that theory.

CORRECTION

The story “Candidates Address Women Voters” (Oct. 22) should have said that the Oct. 16 candidate forum was put together by the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women-Arlington branch. In addition, questions for candidates submitted by audience members were selcted by a panel of representatives from the AAUW, the LWV, the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, The Links, League of United Latino American Citizens and Delta Kappa Gamma-Alpha Omicron Chapter.