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Investigation Continues For Two Unrelated Hit-And-Run Cases; Knupp Family ‘Confident’ As Probe Nears End

BERLIN – Two fatal hit-and-run cases from last year remain under active investigation amid a constant swirl of questions, but progress was cited this week in the spirited quest for justice in a local teen’s death.

The higher profile of the two unresolved pedestrian fatalities in 2022 was the first involving Gavin Knupp, who was 14 years old when he was killed crossing Gray’s Corner Road last summer as a pedestrian returning to a vehicle driven by his sister. Officially, what is known today is what was reported by police hours after the fatal collision. The public comments remain the same. Maryland State Police Office of Media Communications Director Elena Russo confirmed this week the “the case is still active and ongoing.”

On Thursday, Knupp’s father, Ray, posted on the Do It For Gavin-Justice for Gavin Facebook page, which is a public group with 19,600 followers, “Met with SA (State’s Attorney) today. Won’t be much longer.”

Knupp family attorney Neil Dubovsky expanded on that post, saying, “As their investigation works its way to a conclusion, we remain confident that (State’s Attorney) Kris Heiser and her incredible team will secure justice for the Knupp family and the entire community. We remain appreciative of everyone’s encouragement and support.”

Due to the investigation remaining active, Heiser was unable to offer details Friday. “I cannot comment on the Knupp investigation as it is still ongoing, but I can confirm that we do meet with and update victims on cases regularly and that it is our common practice to do so,” she said.

Three months later and a little more than a mile to the east of where Knupp was struck on Gray’s Corner Road, on Oct. 6, retired local veterinarian Terri Wattay, 59, of Berlin was killed in a hit-and-run crash near her residence.

The preliminary investigation indicates the vehicle was traveling west on Grays Corner Road when it struck the pedestrian who was on the right side of the roadway. Troopers subsequently located the driver of the vehicle, later identified as Russell Kimball, 62, of Berlin. He told police he swerved to miss a dog. He has not been charged in the case.

“Under active investigation” was the same report from State Police when asked about the status of the Wattay death this week. Heiser confirmed the investigation remains ongoing and could not comment.

It’s not uncommon for motor vehicle fatalities to take many months for charges to be filed, according to recent history. For example, on Dec. 17, 2018, police revealed that a single-vehicle accident in the area of Route 589 near Beauchamp Road claimed the life of a 25-year-old man. According to police, an F-150 pickup truck crashed after the driver, a 30-year-old Worcester County man, lost control of the vehicle. The 25-year-old passenger was partially ejected and suffered fatal injuries. According to police reports, troopers on the scene observed significant signs of impairment exhibited by the driver.

During a town hall meeting in May of 2019, Heiser talked about the length of time the investigation had taken while blood testing results were examined. When asked at the town hall if she was satisfied with the pace of that specific probe, Heiser said she was not, “but there’s nothing I can do. They have three chemists or four chemists that do this type of testing that we needed to have done. There’s actually such a shortage at the state level for this testing now that they’ve actually received a grant to … get additional help from out of state because we are so strapped for qualified individuals to conduct the testing. I don’t relish the idea of having had to wait five months but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

In February of 2020, 14 months after the fatal accident, Bryan Wersten 32, was convicted of homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of controlled dangerous substances and sentencing was deferred. Wersten was the driver of a vehicle that claimed the life of his passenger, identified as Michael Hernandez, also of Berlin. Wersten was sentenced in July of 2020 to 10 years in jail all but four of which was suspended. He was also placed on supervised probation for five years following his release.

Knupp Case Review

A black Mercedes was driving eastbound on July 11 around 10:45 p.m. on Grays Corner Road, a short cut used by locals to avoid the Routes 589 and 50 traffic light that runs parallel to Route 50 between Glen Riddle Lane and Route 589. The vehicle struck and killed Knupp, who was reportedly a pedestrian on the road and was returning to a nearby vehicle when the collision took place. Knupp was pronounced dead at Atlantic General Hospital shortly after the collision.

The vehicle fled the scene and did not return. Police reportedly canvassed the area with residents in Glen Riddle reporting police asked permission to search garages and properties for the vehicle. On Sunday, July 17, 2022, six days after the incident, at 1;30 a.m., the Mercedes identified as the vehicle in the collision was seized from a home in the Ocean Reef community. The vehicle, which reportedly matched the suspected damages sustained in the collision, was towed to the Maryland State Police Berlin Barrack for further processing.

A press release stated, “Maryland State Police continue the search for the individual operating the Mercedes at the time of the incident. Anyone who witnessed this crash, or who may have information about the operator of the suspected vehicle, is urged to contact Maryland State Police Corporal Kevin Moore of the Maryland State Police Crash Team at 410-819-4721. The investigation continues…”

In the immediate aftermath of Knupp’s death, a GoFundMe Page raised more than $50,000, which the family has funneled into the creation of the Gavin Knupp Foundation.

From the beginning, the family’s official statements through their attorney have maintained the high road and been supportive of authorities. In other interviews, the family has admitted candidly the investigation has taken a toll and patience is wearing thin.

Most recently, Gavin’s mom, Tiffany, was on Ocean 98.1 WOCM last month discussing the foundation as well as making another plea for witnesses with knowledge about her son’s death to do the right thing and come forward. “There are people in this community who absolutely know. There are eyewitnesses who have not come forward that just won’t speak. I don’t know why. I just want them to come forward and we are begging them to come forward,” she said. “… I am not backing down … I am ready for justice for my son. … We do get briefed on the case. Every two weeks our attorney gets briefed by the State’s Attorney’s Office. He talks to us about it. It’s progressing. We do trust in the system and the process. It’s just my patience is done. I’ve had enough. It’s six months. I’m done. We are ready for some movement. I want an arrest. I want this justice. We should not be fighting this hard for justice.”

Summer Knupp, Gavin’s older sister, was driving Gavin the night her brother was struck and killed as a pedestrian. She was on the local radio show with her mom. “Patience is gone. It feels like it’s yesterday but when you do realize it’s been six months …,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for six months. I’ve been told since July 12, the day after, he would be arrested soon and six months later I’m still waiting. It’s getting tiring.”

Time will tell what justice looks like in this specific case, and the worry for many is justice will not be the reality because of the long investigation. I think charges will ultimately be filed but whether they bring the consequences many seek for a lost young life remains unclear. A potential charge against the motorist who struck and killed Knupp and fled the scene could be leaving the scene of a fatal accident. State code says, “A person who violates § 20-102 of this article (“Driver to remain at scene — Accident resulting in bodily injury or death”) and who knew or reasonably should have known that the accident might result in the death of another person and death actually occurred to another person, is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $10,000 or both.”

Over the course of the many months since the incident, the Knupp family has remained committed to supporting police and the investigation underway.

In October of 2022, the Knupp family appeared on local news stations in touching features. After watching the WBOC and WMDT segments, the takeaway seems to be the family has more information than the public about the investigation. Armed with details that can’t be shared publicly, the family is at peace with how law enforcement is handling the investigation. This is what matters at this time.

On WBOC’s interview with Steve Hammond, Tiffany Knupp said, “We know that the police department and everybody is working overtime. And we have complete faith in them and we know how hard they’re working and we saw that from the beginning. The fact that it’s taking a while is a good thing. They’re getting everything right so we trust in that … You think of death and mourning and that totally cripples us, trust me all day long. But there’s also this level of strength that we have and I totally, firmly believe it’s Gavin just kind of pushing us along because he would not want us to be upset. That’s not his personality. He would want us to fight for him and we are for sure.”

During the same interview, sister Summer Knupp showed remarkable poise and maturity for her age, saying, “Naturally everyone’s going to be frustrated with how long. Time is a frustrating thing, but we are more worried about having a conviction and having an outcome we want than how long it takes. We don’t want to rush something and then get it wrong and then we’re upset about that for years and years to come.”

In September of 2022, Knupp attorney Dubovsky issued a statement, saying, “Having had the opportunity to meet with the State’s Attorney and others in her office, we believe more strongly than ever that those responsible for Gavin’s death will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We thank Kris Heiser, her team and law enforcement for all their hard work to that end.”

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WHO: COVID-19 Origin Data on Raccoon Dogs Should Have Been Made Available Years Ago

The World Health Organization called on China to make the data fully accessible to the international community after it was removed from a global virology database.

The World Health Organization on Friday said that the origin of COVID-19 remains unknown following the release of genetic data from China that links the coronavirus to raccoon dogs for sale at the Wuhan market.

The head of WHO said that the information from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – which has since been taken down from the global virology database GISAID – should have been made available years ago as every piece of data can help solve the origin question.

This data do not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important in moving us closer to that answer, and every piece of data relating to studying the origins of COVID-19 needs to be shared with the international community immediately,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Friday press briefing. “This data could have – and should have – been shared three years ago.”

An analysis of the genetic data, which was first reported by The Atlantic, shows that raccoon dogs could have been carrying and potentially shedding the virus at the end of 2019.

WHO was made aware of the data on Sunday, and it called on China CDC to make the data accessible in full to the international community.

“We continue to call on China to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results,” Tedros said. “Understanding how the pandemic began remains both a moral and scientific imperative.”

WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove emphasized that the virus itself has not been identified in an animal from the market.

“We have repeatedly asked for studies to trace those animals back to their source farms so that we can go back in time and actually look to see where the animals came from and if any testing had been done,” she said at the briefing. “We repeatedly asked for serology to be conducted of people who worked in the markets, perhaps people who worked on farms where these animals came from.”

The development comes shortly after the Department of Energy reportedly concluded with “low confidence” that the coronavirus most likely came from an accidental lab leak in China. But the White House emphasized that there is not a consensus among the intelligence community about how COVID-19 started. The Energy Department joins the FBI in its view, but four other intelligence agencies and the National Intelligence Council believe the route was natural transmission from animal to human. Two agencies, including the CIA, are still undecided.

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Multimedia Speakers Market size to grow by USD 21.33 billion from 2022 to 2027, Driven by the growing consumer preference for in-home entertainment systems – Technavio

The global multimedia speakers market size is estimated to grow by USD 21.33 billion from 2022 to 2027, according to Technavio. The market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of over 11.33% during the forecast period. The growing consumer preference for in-home entertainment systems is driving the growth of the global multimedia speakers market significantly. There has been a paradigm shift in the home entertainment industry due to the changes in consumer lifestyles and the choice of entertainment. The shift can be attributed to factors such as the busy lifestyle of consumers, rising disposable income of consumers, and the easy availability of in-home entertainment systems to play music and video games as well as to watch movies. Furthermore, in-home entertainment systems prove to be an economical option when compared to expensive outdoor leisure pursuits such as vacations, movie theaters, and sports events. Hence, the shifting preference toward in-home entertainment is expected to drive market growth.

For more insights on the historic market data (2017 to 2021) and forecast market size (2023 to 2027) – Request a sample report

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Multimedia Speakers Market – Segmentation Assessment
Segment Overview
Technavio has segmented the market based on distribution channel (offline and online), type (wireless multimedia speakers and wired multimedia speakers), and geography (APAC, North America, Europe, South America, and Middle East and Africa).

The market share growth of the offline segment is estimated to be significant for the growth of the global multimedia speakers market during the forecast period. Due to the consumers’ affinity toward experience-based purchase offerings, offline stores continue to thrive in the market. Many consumers rely on in-store performance and store expert demos to make their purchase decisions. Vendors increasingly emphasize matching the online prices of their multimedia speakers with the store manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), resulting in the reduction of the price disparity between distribution channels.
Geography Overview
By geography, the global multimedia speakers market is segmented into APAC, North America, Europe, South America, and Middle East and Africa. The report provides actionable insights and estimates the contribution of all regions to the growth of the global multimedia speakers market.

APAC is estimated to contribute 45% to the growth of the global multimedia speakers market during the forecast period. The growth in sales in the region can be attributed to factors such as the growth in disposable income and the rise in the purchase of multimedia speakers through online sales channels. The rise in disposable income across APAC countries has resulted in a rise in consumer spending on leisure items such as home entertainment products, including advanced and high-end multimedia speakers. The rapid penetration of smartphones and internet facilities, coupled with the proliferation of online payment facilities, has boosted the use of online purchases across the region. Moreover, the majority of people in APAC are shifting to smart lifestyles, due to which the penetration of smart homes in the region is expected to surpass the US by 2030. Hence, factors like growing disposable income are driving the growth of the global multimedia speakers market during the forecast period.

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How this High School Graduate Became a Real Estate Mogul

Zev Freidus, President of ZFC Real Estate, opens up about his childhood on a farm as one of nine children, his drive to succeed, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.

Zev Freidus is the president of ZFC Real Estate. He sat down with Jessica Abo to discuss how he’s using technology to change the real estate game.

Jessica Abo: Zev, you grew up on a farm and you’re one of nine kids. What can you tell us about that?

Growing up on the farm in a big family, for the most part, was a very good experience. It taught me a lot of life lessons. I had to take care of younger siblings. I would go fishing in the morning before I caught the bus to school. I’d tried to catch enough fish to feed all eleven of us and being one of the older ones, that fell on me. I’d collect the eggs and milk the cows before I went to school. It definitely was the foundation of my work ethic.

You went on to get your first minimum-wage job when you were 19. How did that job play a role in the business person that you are today?

I did not go to university. I went straight to work. I always knew, and my parents always knew, even before I knew, that I was a computer person. Computers were just getting started. I remember my first computer, my grandma bought it for me when I was a teenager. It was one of those things you connect to your TV and I couldn’t do much with it, but I was fascinated by it. And I think it was just a given that I was going to go into technology, but I didn’t know anything. So I got a minimum wage job, but it was in the field that I was interested in.

I was literally packing boxes for a computer component manufacturer. The guy sitting next to me would test the parts before I put them in the box and I’d watch what he did. And then when he quit, I pulled the boss aside and I said, “I could do that,” and I did. And then when they needed a network — this was the early days of networking — and nobody knew how to do it, I said, “I’ll try. I’ll read the book, I’ll figure it out.” And I taught myself. I had to prove myself over and over again — more so than most because I didn’t have the credentials. But I think that’s a good thing because I would take the manuals home at night and read them. That’s what I did when I got home from work because I wanted to learn.

How did you move from the technology industry to real estate?

I had already been investing in real estate as a part-time investor for myself. I owned just a few residential rental properties and I was working for a large American company. I was traveling all over the world and I had a pretty busy schedule. After seven years of doing that, I realized that my dreams of building a real estate portfolio had been put on the back burner. So I decided to quit my job and just focus on real estate. And since people had been picking my brain for years about real estate, I figured I could earn a commission for answering those questions and that would allow me to stay in real estate and then I wouldn’t have to choose between my career and my investment goals.

Zev, how did your background in technology influence the way that you approached the real estate industry?

Real estate was really one of the last industries to get transformed by the internet. But I understood from the beginning that everything was going to go online. I put together a website. I started doing some search engine optimization (SEO) and generating leads. Then I would get a lead off the internet. I would talk to them, I’d get them in my car, I’d take them out to the country clubs. I’d show them multimillion-dollar houses that were not listed by me but listed by other people, just a member of the MLS. I’d have them just look at the listings, show them houses, represent the buyer, and get paid commission from the listing agent and do it again. As they say, the rest is history. It’s a blur from there. Ten years later, I had 250 agents doing and $25 million of commission a year.

You sold that brokerage, which is not a typical move. How did you do that?

What was different for me was that I built it all on technology. 50% of all of my agents’ business came from leads that I provided. So when you have a value proposition for an agent that is, “I will double your business” and you do that, but that increase in business doesn’t go with you if you leave, then they’re going to stay, even if it’s under new ownership. As long as the value proposition continues.

It’s been several years since you sold that brokerage. What made you want to get back in the game and start ZFC Real Estate?

In all the years since I sold, I haven’t found a more interesting business than this, and I see that the same basic principles that I founded my first company on still exist. The same number of people go to Google every month and search for real estate in Boca Raton as they did then. The competition is more difficult now because my competitors have caught up with me over the years, and there are a lot of good websites out there now. The industry is basically run by a few big brokerages, but there is absolutely a need for a boutique firm. A lot of agents prefer to work that way.

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