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Route 195 Closed in Mansfield Due to Crash


Route 195 is closed in Mansfield due to a crash involving a car and motorcycle.

The road is shut down between Baxter and Dartmouth roads.

State police are investigating the crash.

No further information was immediately available.

It's unknown whether there were any injuries or what caused the crash.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

U.S. Airstrikes Back Afghan Push to Retake City From Taliban


U.S. airstrikes hit Taliban positions overnight around a key northern city seized by insurgents this week as Afghan troops massed on the ground Wednesday ahead of what is likely to be a protracted battle to retake Kunduz. 

Also overnight, fierce fighting was underway for control of Kunduz's airport, a few miles outside the city, before the Taliban retreated under fire, several residents said.

U.S. Army spokesman, Col. Brian Tribus, said there were two new airstrikes and that U.S. and NATO coalition advisers were at the scene "in the Kunduz area, advising Afghan security forces."

Among NATO experts backing Afghan troops were coalition's special forces advisers, he said.

The Taliban on Monday blitzed into Kunduz and took this city of 300,000 people — the first major urban area they captured since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion ousted their extremist regime.

Residents have reported militants going house to house searching for government workers, instilling fear. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their safety.

Roads in and out of the city were blocked and the Taliban — believed to have joined forces with other insurgent groups to boost their numbers — released around 600 prisoners from the Kunduz jail. The insurgents also set up checkpoints to ensure no one leaves.

Information from inside the city remained sketchy.

The U.N. special representative in Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, said he was concerned about reports "of extrajudicial executions, including of health care workers, abductions, denial of medical care and restrictions on movement out of the city."

Reports from the region indicated that up to 6,000 civilians have fled the city to escape the fighting, a statement from Haysom's office said.

The spokesman for Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry, Wahidullah Mayar, said on his official Twitter account that 30 people have been killed in the fighting, and more than 200 inured. "Around 90 percent of them are civilians," he tweeted.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called on all parties in the conflict to "protect civilians from harm and to respect human rights at all times."

Kunduz, 108 miles north of Kabul, has been the scene of Taliban attacks since April, when the insurgents launched their annual warm weather offensive with an attempt to take control of the city. The surrounding province, also called Kunduz, is one of the country's most important grain producers, and also has rich mineral resources. The province borders Tajikistan.

Photo Credit: File--AP

Man Shot at Another Man in Dispute Over Woman: Hartford Police


Hartford police have arrested a man suspected of firing at another man in a dispute over a woman back in April.

Police identified Lorenzo Ellison, 21, of Hartford, who goes by the street name "Pound," as the suspected shooter and arrested him Sept. 29.

The department's Shot Spotter system detected two gun shots fired in the area of 316 Bellevue Street at about 5:40 p.m. on April 29. Officers didn't initially discover any evidence and couldn't find a crime scene right away.

Police learned through the investigation that there was an ongoing dispute between two men over a woman and that one of them, who went by Pound, identified as Ellison, fired at the other.

After obtaining an arrest warrant, police arrested Ellison on charges of carrying a pistol without a permit and criminal attempt at first-degree assault.

Police apprehended him without an issue.

A judge set his bond at $500,000.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Another Stay of Execution for Ga. Woman on Death Row


The United States Supreme Court has denied an application for a stay of execution for the lone woman on Georgia's death row.

The execution of Kelly Renee Gissendaner was scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The 47-year-old was convicted of murder in the February 1997 slaying of her husband. She conspired with her lover, who stabbed Douglas Gissendaner to death.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles declined Gissendaner clemency earlier on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court in Georgia denied her stay of execution Tuesday night.

Pope Francis, who called for a ban on the death penalty during his visit to the United States, urged the parole board to spare Gissendaner's life.

A local archbishop made the appeal on the pontiff's behalf. The letter referenced the pope's speech to Congress last week in which he called for a worldwide rollback of the death penalty "since every life is sacred."

The letter, provided to NBC News by a representative for Gissendaner, was presented to the State Board of Pardons and Parole, which held a briefing hearing Tuesday morning to reconsider its previous denial of clemency.

Photo Credit: Ann Borden / Emory University

Pope's Visit Still Resonates With Americans


Just two days after his historical trip in the U.S. the pope's presence and powerful words are still resonating with Americans.

“I just cried because I caught a glimpse of him. I caught his eyes,” said Nell Motto, St Patrick’s Catholic Church member.

The Holy Father's last stop in Philadelphia was nothing short of remarkable. An inspiration to the world around him, Pope Francis touched the lives of so many people who came far and wide to see him.

“You could see the smile on his face and immediately you can see the smile on mine,” said Vincent Motto, a deacon at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

Tucked deep into a crowd of about a million people, Deacon Vincent Motto was faced with the moment he’d waited years for; the moment he’d watch the pope blissfully stroll by him, waiving to a crowd, anxiously awaiting his spiritual message.

“Just to see a million and a half people gathered together in the name of our holy lord and savior Jesus Christ, to listen to these words telling us how to live that gospel out was really the most amazing thing,” said Vincent Motto.

His wife says the family friendly atmosphere was totally consuming.

“Our Holy Father with the babies…he was so wonderful,” said Nell Motto.

It was those moments that has inspired her to reach out to others who need it the most.

“I think I’m going to put a little more emphasis on families and helping young families out,” she said.

For others, it was the Pope’s small solution to a large problem that made the biggest impact.

“The little touch of the hand, the little kiss on the cheek, the little have a good day…it’s the attention to those details to make that family, to use Pope Francis’ word ‘A Factory of Love’,” said Vincent Motto.

It’s the simple things that will truly help unify the American people.

Photo Credit: AP

Old Saybrook Prepares for Storm


There are already some preparations being made along Connecticut's shoreline in the event that a strong storm moves in that direction in the coming days. On Tuesday evening, the Old Saybrook Fire Department was busy preparing for the emergency calls that may come in if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

What was supposed to be a typical night of training, turned into an impromptu storm preparation session.

“It’s uncertain what the forecast is going to be but we are going to be ready for it," said Fire Chief Jay Rankin, who knows that the weather can get very rough on the shoreline. “In this town, we deal with substantial flooding," said Rankin. "And due to the fact that we haven’t had rain in so long, we know that the ground isn’t going to impact the water.”

During 'Superstorm' Sandy in 2012, Old Saybrook dealt with flooding, fires and stranded residents, which provided the ultimate real-life lesson about the importance of preparation. On Tuesday, dozens of the department's firefighters tested just about every piece of equipment they have to make sure they are prepared no matter what the weather situation may be.

“We’re running all the saws, running all the pumps. We’re going through every trauma kit," said Chief Rankin.

Rankin said that residents in Old Saybrook and beyond should being thinking about preparing as well, by picking up food, water, batteries and other supplies that might be needed if a storm packing a punch moves through.

“We’re always at the ready. We always have our equipment ready," said Chief Rankin. "That’s how the fire department operates.”

In addition to closely monitoring the forecast, the Old Saybrook Fire department is also planning for potentially adjusting its staffing levels to be able to respond if and when they do have to deal with rough weather.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

As Ridership and Routes Increase Operating Fastrak Becomes More Pricey


The Department of Transportation has revised upward the amount of cash estimated to operate the state's bus rapid transit system, CTFastrak.

For the past several years and during budget briefings, Transportation Commissioner James Redeker had quoted a $10 million figure but with increased ridership and new routes expanding East of the Connecticut River, the system has taken on extra costs.

In documents provided to NBC Connecticut by the Department of Transportation, Redeker said new routes and services are the major factors that led to the increased cost.

He wrote that any talk of revenues or profits from CTFastrak ridership are premature and those figures should come in in coming months.
Redeker also pointed out that CTFastrak construction projects were 3% under budget.

Gov. Dannel Malloy was asked about the cost overrun for operations on Monday and said any criticism of the busway disregards its success.

"Taking a number from a document that is an old number and then discounting the fact that you’ve increased services substantially, running substantially more buses and running substantially more people than were originally projected at the outset misses the point" Gov. Malloy said.

Mel Davis is one of the more than 16,000 people who use the busway every day to get to and from work. Roughly 11,000 riders were expected to use the service daily.
Davis, who lives in Bristol, said CTFastrak "changed his life."

He added that he supports expansion and that if lawmakers and taxpayers have to figure out a way to pay for more routes, buses, and riders, then it's worth it.

“I think it’s definitely a good thing. I think they need to expand it more. I think more people want to go to more places, so, you know, I hear it on the bus all the time."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bridgeport Police Investigate Shooting Homicide


Bridgeport police are investigating a shooting death that they have ruled a homicide.

Police responded to gunfire near Madison Avenue and Frank Street in Bridgeport at 8:25 p.m. on Tuesday.

Officers found a 17-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds. An ambulance took him to St. Vincent's Hospital, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police ruled his death a homicide.

Police continue to investigate the shooting death and ask anyone with information to call the Bridgeport Police Department at 203-581-5201.

No suspect has been identified at this time and police have not released the name of the victim.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bridgeport Police Arrest 4 in Armed Robbery


Bridgeport police arrested four people in an armed robbery that happened early Sunday morning.

Walter Meyers, 28, of Waterbury, Tywan Groomes, 35, of New Haven, Jacqueline Edgehill, 40, of New Haven, and Tiffany Franklin, 44, of New Haven, are all facing charges in the incident.

A man flagged down officers near the intersection of Benham Avenue and Coleman Street and told them two men approached him while he was walking on Benham and robbed him of his wallet and cell phone at gunpoint, police said. The armed robbery was reported to police at about 1:20 a.m. on Sunday.

The two men then climbed into the back seat of a grey 2015 Toyota Camry, which fled the scene in the northbound direction and turned onto Coleman Street.

Police pursued the car and activated emergency lights and sirens to pull the car over. The suspects' vehicle's headlights were turned off as the vehicle continued moving. Officers saw the two back doors of the car opening during the pursuit. As the car stopped at Harral Avenue, police blocked the rear door on the driver's side so it couldn't open further, but both men got out the other back door.

Police got out of the cruiser and ran after them on foot.

Meyers ran south on Coleman and an officer lost sight of him as he ran into a backyard. Backup was requested and more officers came and surrounded the area, finding Meyers hiding on a multi-family home's front porch near the corner of Harral Avenue, police said.

Police detained him and found a cell phone and wallet in the area.

Police found Groomes hiding under a parked red pickup truck while searching the area. Officers discovered a handgun under the truck that was loaded and rounds in Groomes' pocket.

The victim positively identified both men as the armed robbers, police said.

Police took the suspected getaway driver, Edgehill, and the front seat passenger, Franklin, into custody, as well.

Authorities charged all four with robbery. Groomes also faces charges of theft of a firearm, criminal possession of a firearm and having weapons in a motor vehicle. Edgehill was also charged with operating under suspension and taking a car without the owner's permission. Meyers', Edgehill's and Franklin's bonds were set at $50,000 and Groomes' bond was set at $100,000.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Crash Involving Car and School Bus in Wallingford

Tropical Storm Joaquin Likely to Turn North


Tropical Storm Joaquin will threaten the United States late this week, but there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the storm's track.

Blocking high pressure in the north Atlantic would normally mean the storm couldn't track out the sea. That's still the forecast. However, some models slow the storm down so much so that it sneaks east underneath the ridge of high pressure.

One major reason the track has changed considerably in just the last 24 hours is the lack of strong steering winds. Without notable wind at 18,000 feet above sea level, the storm just meanders along.

The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to drift west and southwest towards the Bahamas before finally taking a sharp turn to the north Friday night. But, it cautions the public that the forecast is very low confidence.

"It should be repeated that the confidence in the track forecast is very low," the hurricane center said in its 11 a.m. update Tuesday morning.

Once the storm turns north, it will rapidly increase its forward motion. It's possible that the storm strengthens into a category one hurricane over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

While a direct hit is unlikely in Connecticut, there's a large amount of moisture with Joaquin. This means another rainstorm is likely this weekend. The timing is up in the air given the changeable track of Joaquin.

With round one of rain dumping several inches on Connecticut Wednesday, any additional rain this weekend means an increased threat for flooding. River flooding isn't a major concern midweek, but even with the drought it could become a concern this weekend.

Stay clear of bad information and hype that may circulate on social media, which is bound to happen given Joaquin's ominous-looking forecast track.

The First Alert weather team will have the latest information on-air and online all week long.

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NYC Worker Faces Suspension Again


A New York City  worker on a help line faces suspension from his job again for answering customer-service calls in a robotic voice, according to reports.

Ronald Dillon, 67, who works on a help line for the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, could receive a 30-day unpaid suspension for impersonating a machine, misdirecting callers and failing to answer his boss, according to the New York Post.

The Health Department wanted Dillon fired for insubordination, reports the Post, and still hasn't decided whether to accept the court's suspension recommendation, which was issued two weeks ago.

Dillon was suspended for 20 days last year after callers complained about the robotic voice.

For a six-month period in 2012 and 2013, he would state in an "unprofessional, robotic voice, 'You have reached the help desk. This is Mr. Dillon. How may I help you?'" according to last year's ruling.

Dillon would eventually adjust his voice to a "normal tone," but callers didn't like how he greeted them, according to the New York Times.

Dillon, who unsuccessfully tried to appeal the judge's decision to suspend him for insubordination in 2014, argued that he was only trying to neutralize his Brooklyn accent.

He added that his boss was constantly "harassing" and "belittling" him, according to the Times, and wanted to maintain an even phone voice so that his boss wouldn't have an excuse to harp on him any further.

Dillon and the Health Department could not be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

13 Blasts Rock Chinese City; 6 Dead


A series of "massive" explosions rocked the southern Chinese city of Liuzhou on Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring more than a dozen, according to state media, NBC News reported.

A local police chief told state news agency Zinhua that the 13 explosions hit locations including a hospital, a food market and a bus station.

State-run broadcaster CCTV cited a police chief saying the blasts were caused by "parcels containing explosives," without providing further information. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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2 College Students Plead Not Guilty in UCLA Sorority Student's Slaying


Two college students pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges in the slaying of a 21-year-old UCLA student whose body was found after a fire at her Westwood apartment last week.

Alberto Hinojosa Medina and Eric Marquez, both 22, face charges of murder and burglary in the fatal stabbing of Andrea DelVesco. Medina is also accused of arson.

In the scenario described by deputy district attorney Victor Avila, Medina killed DelVesco while Marquez waited outside.

Medina is charged with burglarizing an apartment in the 10900 block of Roebling Street on Sept. 21 and then entering a second nearby apartment where he allegedly fatally stabbed Del Vesco and set her room on fire before fleeing, prosecutors said. Firefighters discovered Del Vesco's body.

He is charged with one count of capital murder with the special circumstance of murder during a robbery and a special allegation that he personally used a knife; one count of arson of a dwelling; and two counts of first-degree burglary.

"It's really difficult to believe someone like Mr.Medina who's respected by his friends and his family and by the community could commit such such a horrible vicious offense," said his attorney Dimitry Gorin after the arraignment. 

Marquez is charged with one count of murder and two counts of first-degree burglary. Authorities said they believe Marquez did not go into the apartment.

"Even if he were an aider and abettor, he's not equally culpable because the DA did not allege special circumstances," said Marquez’s attorney Steve Cron.

Cron described his client as an exemplary pre-med student who had never been in trouble. Family and friends stood up in court to attest to his good character.

Del Vesco was a fourth-year UCLA student from Austin, Texas, and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She studied psychology and Spanish, and was facing drug-related charges at the time of her death. Authorities have not said if her death was linked to the circumstances of the drug case. 

The special circumstance raises the possibility Medina could face the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek death, or life without possibility of parole.

The suspects were linked to Del Vesco's death through forensic evidence collected at the scene as well as witness statements, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

"There's a considerable amount of forensic evidence," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

Medina was arrested Saturday in Fresno, and Marquez was taken into custody Sunday near his apartment in Westwood, according to police.

According to UCLA, Marquez is a fifth-year undergraduate student at the university, majoring in biology. Medina has been attending Cal State Fresno.  They have been friends since high school, prosecutor Victor Avila told the court.

Medina's father said, "He told me that he didn't do it."

Marquez's mother said Eric Marquez is a hardworking student who wants to be a doctor.

"He's a perfect son," she said in Spanish, with her younger son translating, adding that she doesn't believe the allegations.

Medina is being held in jail without bail. Bail for Marquez was kept at $1.1 million.

During the bail hearing,  Avila laid out aspects of the prosecution's case that had not previously been made public.

Investigators found a witness who saw a man who appeared to be Medina leaving his red car and head toward the DelVesco apartment, Avila said.

He also told the court that investigators obtained security camera video that shows the two defendants arriving at the Westwood apartment house of Marquez the morning of Del Vesco's death.

A man who appears to be Medina was splattered with blood which he tried to cover with an item of clothing that investigators identified as belonging to Del Vesco, Avila said.

During searches in Fresno, investigators recovered property stolen from Del Vesco and also from another nearby Westwood apartment during a burglary earlier that Monday morning, Avila said.

Both defendants are due back in court Oct. 22.

City News Services contributed to this report.

Kim Davis' Lawyers Claim She Met Pope in D.C.


Attorneys for Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis claimed Tuesday that she had a secret meeting with Pope Francis during his historic trip to America — and he supposedly told the defiant county clerk to "stay strong," NBC News reported. 

The clandestine communication occurred in Washington, D.C., on Thursday on the same day of the pontiff's historic speech to a joint session of Congress, according to Liberty Counsel, which has represented Davis in her legal battles.

Davis sparked a national firestorm after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, citing her religious beliefs as a Christian. She was jailed for five nights before a judge allowed her to return to her job — as long as she doesn't interfere with the granting of licenses.

In a statement released by Liberty Counsel, Davis says she was "humbled" and never thought she would be invited to meet the popular and unpredictable pontiff. The conservative nonprofit said Davis and her husband, Joe, shared face time with Francis at the Vatican Embassy in D.C.

Photo Credit: File--AP

Rain Causes Crashes, Power Outages


Rain is causing crashes and more than 2,000 power outages across parts of the state this morning.

Eversource is reporting around 1,800 power outages, with most in East Haddam, and United Illuminating is reporting 516 power outages, with most of them in Trumbull and Orange,

There have been several crashes on the highways and Interstate 84 East was closed in Hartford for around 10 minutes after a spinout.

A tractor-trailer has jackknifed on Route 9 North and the exit 27 ramp to Route 72 is closed. Use exit 26 to get to Columbus Boulevard.

Route 9 North is congested in Middletown between exits 12 and 18 and traffic is also backed up on the westbound side of the Arrigoni Bridge.

Follow Heidi Voight on Twitter for traffic updates.

In Trumbull, wires are down on Strobel Road, near Doe Hollow Drive. Officials said a transformer blew and the road is down to one lane.

Wires are also down at Petticoat Lane and Route 84 in East Haddam.

In Hartford, a tree came down onto wires near 49 Mansfield Street.

In Berlin, a car crashed into a Crane Pond and the shoulder of the road was blocked.

A flood watch has been posted for northern Connecticut, and this is only round one of two major rain events this week.

In Waterford, there was minor flooding at Great Neck Road and Route 156 and Gardeners Wood Road at Route 156, but all roads have cleared and police are reporting no problems.

A cold front is approaching in conjunction with a plume of Pacific moisture and will slowly traverse the state between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Steady, heavy rain is anticipated for several hours on end this morning and the morning commute will be a slow one. By lunchtime, the wall of rain will be in the process of breaking up.

The primary impact from round one will be flooding. There's a moderate risk for urban and poor drainage flooding, especially this morning.

Half an inch to 3 inches of rain can be expected from round one, which tapers to scattered downpours and storms by this afternoon. The most rain is likely to fall over the Berkshires and Litchfield Hills, while the least rain is expected along the Connecticut coastline.

The winds throughout the atmosphere are strong enough to mention a low threat of damaging wind gusts or even a tornado. That's by far the exception and not the rule, though.

A massive high pressure center sets up over eastern Canada by nightfall and it will result in a strong pressure gradient over the region. Breezy conditions will stick around for the rest of the week.

While the impact on beaches will be far greater along the eastern shore of Massachusetts, some water will pile up in western Long Island Sound. Coupled with astronomically high tides, minor splash-over can be expected late week.

In the grand scheme of things, Thursday and Friday are both lulls in the action. Still, showers are possible with cloudy skies sticking around. Temperatures will be stuck in the 50s to near 60 degrees!

For the latest on Tropical Storm Joaquin, click here.

It's the busiest week of weather in some time, so be sure to stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team for the very latest information.

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Guests Billed For Not Showing up to Wedding


Jessica Baker got a bill for $79.50 after she and her husband had to skip out on a friend's wedding, NBC affiliate KARE reported.

The night of the wedding, Baker got a call from her mom.

"She called at the last minute and had something come up and said I can't make it," Baker told KARE.

Since the wedding invitation said no children and Baker was now without a sitter, the couple had to forego the event. 

A week later, Baker was shocked to receive a bill for the dinner they were supposed to have.

"You've got to be kidding me," she told KARE. "It listed, we would have had two herb crusted walleye and there was also a service and tax charge."

The bill reads: "This cost reflects the amount paid by the bride and groom for meals that were RSVP'd for, reimbursement and explanation for no show, card, call or text would be appreciated."

Baker said she has no plans on paying the bill. 

Photo Credit: KARE
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Trump Hotels Report National Data Breach


If you have recently stayed at the Trump hotel, your personal data may be compromised.

The Trump Hotel Collection posted a notice to its website notifying guests that hackers may have accessed their databases, warning that anyone who has visited one of their locations between May 19, 2014 and June 2, 2015, may have been affected.

“Although an independent forensic investigation has not conclusively determined that any particular customer’s payment card information was taken from the Properties’ payment card system or misused, we are providing this notice out of an abundance of caution,” the hotel said in the notice.

The list of affected hotels includes cities across the U.S., including: Chicago, New York, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Toronto and Miami.

The hotel chain is offering customers a year of free identity fraud protection to anyone who has been affected.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Baby Hospitalized After Fall from Window in East Hartford


A baby has been taken to Connecticut Children's Medical Center after falling out a first-floor window at building 35 of Woodcliff Estates, a big apartment complex off Simmons Road in East Hartford.

It happened just before 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The baby was still alive and breating, police said.

Medics transported the baby for medical care and officials said the child is breathing, conscious and responsive.

When it comes to the safety of children, people say you can't be too careful.

"Because it's important to not be caught up in too many videos and movies. Make sure your children's OK before you," Benjamin Lott, of East Hartford, said.

A Manchester mother said she can understand how a child could fall out a window.

"I think accidents do happen but we all need to be vigilant to try to really take care of our kids and watch every move they make because things do happen really quickly," Tracey Lineburg, of Manchester, said.

A Manchester father, David Callejas said "kids are always looking around for any stuff, in particular being curious and to leave the window open is just not safe at all."

A dowel or a piece of wood cut to keep windows from sliding open to far is one possible safety device.

Cravings Prompted Clerk to Steal Pot From Evidence Vault: PD


A former city of Hartford employee charged with stealing marijuana and pills from the police department's property room she oversees was arraigned in Hartford Superior Court on Wednesday.

Liza Aponte, 40, of Hartford, had turned herself in to police Sept. 23 and was charged with two counts of second-degree larceny and two counts of unlawful removal of records.

Police said Aponte, a civilian clerk hired in January, stole three bags of property from the Hartford Police Department's property room, which stores evidence including drugs, money, jewelry and weapons.

Aponte and another civilian coworker were  conducting a routine audit of the property room on Aug. 18 when her colleague discovered an evidence bag was missing, police said in the arrest warrant. The bag contained 13 bags of marijuana and 11 orange pills, according to police. Employees assigned to the property room could not find the missing evidence bag upon searching the area, police said.

After the audit, Aponte approached the police officer supervising the property room to tell him she accidentally took the drugs with her while bringing other evidentiary items to the State Laboratory in Meriden, police said. She told him that she panicked when she realized her mistake and disposed of them, but she said she didn't recall when that happened, police said.

Aponte had access to the evidence including drugs seized, police said.

Authorities began investigating Aponte, who was assigned to the property room, after the supervisor contacted the city's Internal Affairs Division about the missing evidence.

During an interview in Internal Affairs on Aug. 21, Aponte again said that she accidentally took the drugs while bringing evidence to the state lab to be analyzed after she said a police officer asked her to bring items there for processing, however she didn't log out the evidence and threw out the drugs in a Dunkin' Donuts bag, police said. When investigators drove her to the area she said she disposed of it, she couldn't provide further information.

A full audit conducted by Internal Affairs officials revealed two more bags were gone. Police said all three contained small amounts of marijuana. One also contained an unknown type of pills.

Hartford police said all three bags had been submitted as "found property" and were not connected to any criminal investigations or proceedings.

Video surveillance showed Aponte take the first evidence bag in question from the drug vault July 6, appearing to look around to see if anyone was watching, police said. It didn't take her long to retrieve it, so police said it seemed clear she knew where it was. She put the evidence bag into the box she was preparing for her trip to the lab, appearing to place the bag at the back of the box, police said. Video showed her entering and exiting the drug vault three other times on July 27, carrying at least one evidence bag with her, police said.

When police requested a list of evidence Aponte brought them, they learned she had only take three items to the lab on July 6 and she didn't bring any drug evidence to the lab on July 27, police said.

She denied to police in another interview that she intentionally took evidence and denied knowledge of the July 27 drug vault visit even when shown surveillance images, police said.

Investigators said found evidence doesn't normally go to the lab and that police don't normally call to request items be taken to the lab like Aponte described, police said.

Aponte called investigators several times on Aug. 31 and she "came clean" about what really happened, police said. She told police she uses marijuana and that she did take the drugs from the property room, police said.

In a follow-up interview, she said she lied because she was scared and embarrassed, police said. She told police she had smoked pot on and off for several years, but that she quit before getting her job as administrative clerk for the city of Hartford. Smoking again in June and smelling marijuana in the property room brought back cravings, she told police. She knew found property drugs are destroyed after six months, so she took the marijuana for personal use, police said.

Aponte destroyed the police reports and evidence bags to conceal what she had done and flushed the pills in one of the evidence bags down the toilet, police said. Remaining evidence taken has been destroyed, she told police.

Aponte was transferred during the investigation and was fired Sept. 3 "after the appropriate administrative process," according to police. Authorities said surveillance footage and logging records linked Aponte to the crime.

Police obtained an arrest warrant for Aponte on Sept. 21. She turned herself in two days later, and a judge set her bond at $10,000. It's not clear if she has an attorney.

Hartford police said "further safeguards have been put in place to prevent civilians from misappropriating evidence."

She appeared in court to be arraigned on Sept. 30.

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