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Court Upholds Drew Peterson's Murder Conviction


Drew Peterson is not leaving prison. At least not anytime soon.

In a unanimous ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court said Thursday that the use of hearsay testimony to convict Peterson in the death of his third wife was proper.

Specifically, the Illinois court, in a unanimous decision, found that hearsay testimony from Peterson's dead third wife and missing fourth wife did not violate his constitutional right to confront his accusers.

The 63-year-old former police sergeant from the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook is serving a 38-year sentence in the 2004 death of ex-wife Kathleen Savio. He's also serving a 40-year sentence after a conviction last year for soliciting the murder of James Glasgow, the Will County prosecutor who put him behind bars.

“This is the ultimate vindication for what we did,” Glasgow said Thursday. “When Drew Peterson was telling these women, ‘I could kill you and make it look like an accident’, he never imagined that those statements would survive, once he killed them.”

Savio's body was found in a dry bathtub in 2004. Her death was initially ruled accidental, but the case was reopened after the 2007 disappearance of Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. Savio's body was exhumed, an autopsy was conducted and her death was ruled a homicide.

Prosecutors had no physical evidence tying Peterson to Savio's death and no witnesses placing him at the scene, so they relied on hearsay statements Savio made to others before she died and that Stacy Peterson made before she vanished.

Hearsay is any information reported by a witness that is not based on the witness' direct knowledge. The U.S. Supreme Court has carved out exceptions for hearsay in cases where a defendant's actions likely prevented the witness from testifying. Illinois passed a hearsay law in 2008 tailored to Drew Peterson's case, dubbed ``Drew's Law,'' which assisted in making some of the evidence admissible.

Not everyone was pleased with the high court’s decision.

“There are two bodies of law in this state,” said Peterson’s defense attorney Steve Greenberg. “The law applied to most, and the law as applied to Drew Peterson.”

“When it comes to Mr. Peterson, the laws were changed, the rules were broken, and in some respects, trial counsel was deficient,” he said. “The ruling today demonstrates that courts are willing to overlook the obvious to achieve a certain result.”

Stacy Peterson is presumed dead, though her body has never been found. Drew Peterson remains a suspect in her disappearance, but he has never been charged. On Thursday, Glasgow indicated that could change.

“There is evidence that could potentially reach the level that we would need to bring a charge,” he said.

Specifically, the Will County prosecutor pointed to comments by Peterson’s son Stephen in the Lifetime network documentary, where during a paid interview, he expressed the feeling that his father “probably” killed Savio.

“You never could have enough murder convictions on a murderer,” Glasgow said.

In an unrelated note, Glasgow confirmed that he is at least entertaining the idea of a run for Illinois Attorney General, after the decision this week by incumbent Lisa Madigan not to seek re-election.

“I certainly am very qualified,” he said. “I haven’t made any decisions about the attorney general’s office but it certainly has been something I’ve thought about over my career.”

Drew Peterson was transferred from a state prison in Chester, Illinois, to a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, in February, after state prison officials cited concerns that he posed a security threat.

Photo Credit: M. Spencer Green/AP, File

Drew Apologizes After Asking City Workers for Contributions


Middletown Mayor Dan Drew apologized to city workers after hitting them up for campaign contributions.

In a note to staff and posted on Facebook today, the Democrat - who is vying to be governor - calls this all a “mistake.”

Last weekend city staff received a letter from his campaign requesting a political donation.

Drew explained that he had asked HR for the employees’ addresses.

“While I don’t think the campaign broke the law at all and we always operate within the bounds of the law, I think it was an error in judgment,” Drew told NBC Connecticut.

Drew says the worker information was later destroyed.

The mayor says he will return all contributions he received connected to the letter.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Gales Ferry Man Arrested on Home Invasion Charges


Connecticut State Police arrested a man accused of entering a Lyme home armed with a hammer and robbing the female resident of her cell phone.

Police said that around 2:45 p.m. Thursday troopers responded to a reported home invasion. The victim told police a man armed with a hammer came into her home, shoved her over and stole her cell phone. The suspect also stole money from the victim’s purse. She was not hurt and was able to provide police with a description of the suspect.

A 2003 GMC Sierra was found parked nearby. The car was registered to 39-year-old Christopher Levesque, of Gales Ferry, who matched the description the victim had given police.

A short time later an off-duty Old Lyme police officer saw a man matching the suspect’s description on Town Woods Road. The suspect, identified as Levesque, was found with the victim’s cell phone and money.

Levesque was arrested and charged with home invasion, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, third-degree larceny and disorderly conduct. He was held on a $250,000 bond and is due in court Friday.

Malloy Says GOP Budget Will Hurt CT Jobs


Governor Dannel Malloy is ramping up his fight against a Republican budget passed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle last week. He believes the spending plan would be devastating to the state’s effort to increase jobs.

Following the governor’s speech Thursday, he toured the inside of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, a facility that receives funding from the state and helps manufacturers with technology. He said the Republican budget is taking the state in the wrong direction, particularly when it comes to economic development.

“Attacking these kinds of programs is a dramatic mistake for manufacturing in CT which is one of the bulwarks in our economy,” Malloy said.

The governor stressed the importance of workforce training programs. He says the budget that passed last Saturday would threaten the state’s commitment to growing good manufacturing jobs.

“Plain and simple this budget pulls the rug out from under our economic and workforce development efforts at a critical juncture for our state,” he said.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano quickly responded, saying the governor’s concerns are misplaced and that reductions under the Republican budget are simply about creating a more efficient system with consolidation and small restructuring cuts – adding that “ All of a sudden, this governor, who has chased businesses out of the state and has made it virtually impossible for businesses to thrive in Connecticut, is now picking on workforce development. For the governor to lecture anyone on job creation is absurd.”

Malloy did say there are aspects of the Republican budget that he likes, but has still said he will veto it.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Motorcyclist Dead After Crash in Vernon


A motorcyclist is dead after a crash on Bolton Road in Vernon Thursday night, according to police.

Tolland County emergency dispatchers said the crash was on Bolton Road near Bread and Milk Road around 10 p.m. and the rider was reported to be unresponsive.

LifeStar was initially requested but then canceled and the man was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

They have not released the motorcyclist’s name because they are identifying his family.

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West Haven Mayor Continues to Run After Defeat in Primary


After a close defeat, West Haven Mayor Ed O’Brien is hoping voters who didn’t turn out for him on primary night will go to the polls and write in his name.

The Democrat who defeated him says she’s gearing up for a fight to make sure that won’t happen.

“Nancy Rossi has no vision. She has no compassion. And she has stood in the way of progress of the city for years,” O’Brien argued during a speech Thursday.

“Do they want a jewelry store owner - because that’s what he did as a profession - or do they want a certified public accountant to take care of their finances?” Mayoral Candidate Nancy Rossi retaliated.

After losing the Democratic primary, O’Brien tonight announced he still wants to be mayor and asked his supporters to write him in on election day.

“Now is not the time to give the city over to someone who has zero experience in leadership and has blocked the city’s progress for many, many years,” O’Brien said.

It’s a reversal from last Tuesday when he conceded the race to former Councilmember Nancy Rossi. And Rossi isn’t taking too kindly to her opponent’s change of heart.

“If he’s a true Democrat, then you accept defeat that you lost the democratic primary. You walk away and in two years you come back if you feel that things are not being done the way they should be,” Rossi said.

At Thursday’s announcement O’Brien said a general expectation by residents that he would win in a landslide led to low voter turnout and Rossi’s win.

“They thought we were doing good. They thought I didn’t need it,” O’Brien said.

But Rossi said voters had their chance to support O’Brien and didn’t, and now she’s looking ahead to victory in November.

“To me it doesn’t change the campaign in any way shape of form. His name was printed on the ballot the last time. Now they have to write it in,” Rossi said.

Voters will be able to make their decision on election day on November 7.

5-Year-Old Seriously Hurt After Dog Attack in Manchester


A 5-year-old child was seriously hurt after being attacked by a family dog Thursday night, according to Manchester police.

Police said the incident took place on Patriot Lane.

The child was taken to the hospital with serious injuries and required surgery, police said.

No other details were immediately available.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Crash Closes Lane of I-95 South In West Haven


There is a lane closure on Interstate 95 South in West Haven this morning after a crash that sent two tractor-trailers down an embankment. 

Police said the right lane of I-95 South is closed between exits 42 and 41 and a light pole was knocked down. 

Minor injuries are reported.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Police Investigating Shooting in West Haven


West Haven police are investigating after someone who was shot several times was found in the stairwell of an apartment building on Coleman Road Thursday night.

Police responded to the building at 10 p.m. and said the victim was taken to a local hospital.

Authorities have a suspect and they are pursuing leads.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Puerto Rico's Vast Outages Leave Distant Relatives Worried


The last time Philadelphia resident Kareem Anthony heard from his Aunt Zulma, who lives in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, was 6 a.m. Wednesday, just as Hurricane Maria made landfall.

“We haven’t heard anything from our family, and we are worried,” Anthony said one day later. “My ‘titi’ Zulma said the mayor just said to them, 'do the best you can and try to survive.'”

Maria was one of the strongest storms on record to hit Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory home to 3.4 million people. And that came less than two weeks after another massive storm, Hurricane Irma, sideswiped the island, leaving 70 percent without power and killing dozens on nearby islands. Puerto Rico was spared any fatalities from Irma, but at least 13 deaths have been attributed to Maria so far, Puerto Rico's governor said on Friday. 

Maria’s powerful force winds ravaged what remained of the island’s state-owned power grid – which was in sorry shape long before the most recent storm season. All counties in Puerto Rico had more than 75 percent of their cell sites knocked out of service, with nearly two-thirds of the island's counties having their sites totally wiped out by Maria, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

The territory's $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. It abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island, whose residents gained U.S. citizenship 100 years ago, subject to regular blackouts.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello has said it could be months before Puerto Rico fully regains power.

"We knew this was going to happen given the vulnerable infrastructure," Rossello said. 

On Thursday, Rossello said he hadn't yet made contact with officials in 85 percent of the island or even been able to reach to his parents, The New York Times reported

President Donald Trump spoke to Rossello Thursday evening, saying Puerto Rico was "absolutely obliterated" by Maria.

Trump said the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other emergency responders are helping the territory begin the recovery process. He added that he will visit Puerto Rico soon.

FEMA said it would open an air bridge from the mainland on Friday, with three to four military planes flying to the island every day carrying water, food, generators and temporary shelters.

Anthony, who saw images of the floodwaters inundating entire neighborhoods, described the aftermath of the hurricane as “gut-wrenching.” He said his family in Juana Diaz lives on a hill, so it's less likely floodwaters will reach them. But he said he expects the damage to be a "catastrophe."

“I care about the safety and well-being of our loved ones. Material things can be replaced,” Anthony said.

Yovani Baez-Rose, of Lowell, Massachusetts, posted on Twitter that she had not heard from her parents, who live in Rio Hondo Comerio, Puerto Rico. Baez-Rose said she exchanged text messages with her mother until 9 p.m. Tuesday and hasn’t heard from her since. At 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, her mother posted a Facebook status sharing her concerns over the harsh winds and rain, making Baez-Rose anticipate the worst.

“It’s awful. I feel so helpless,” she said. “In my mind they are fine … but the inability to confirm that is unnerving. I just want to hear something.”

Jarrod Childs, from Sacramento, California, last spoke to his wife, who is in Carolina, Puerto Rico, early Wednesday. Childs told NBC via Twitter that he feels “helpless, worried and sick,” and just wants to hear her voice saying she’s okay.

Even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose parents came originally from Puerto Rico, was struggling to touch base with her loved ones there. The high court's first Hispanic justice was speaking at an event Thursday in Washington, D.C., and said she had yet to hear from half her family, NBC Washington reported

Cellphone and internet service collapsed over much of the island. The only radio station that remained on the air during the hurricane — WAPA 680 AM — was relaying messages to help connect friends and families, the Associated Press reported.

Major cellphone carriers including AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are temporarily offering free calls, data and texting to those affected by the storm.

Yet as of Thursday, 95.2 percent of wireless sites were out of service, with 48 of Puerto Rico's 78 counties' cell sites totally inoperable, according to the FCC.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the commission is reaching out to communications providers in Puerto Rico for more information on the ground and working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

"Unfortunately, getting Puerto Rico’s communications networks up and running will be a challenging process, particularly given the power outages throughout the island," Pai said in a statement. "But the FCC stands ready to do whatever we can to help with this task. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico.”

Some have had success reaching their loved ones in Puerto Rico online, sometimes with the help of friends and even strangers. Many took to Twitter using hashtags of the towns their loved ones are from, desperate for any information about the extent of devastation there. Worried relatives also shared messages on the walkie-talkie app Zello, as others did when hurricanes Irma and Harvey struck

Nicole Acevedo, a graduate student in New York City, was able to communicate with her parents, grandparents and uncle in San Juan through Facebook statuses and text messages.

“They are okay. The rest of the losses can be replaced,” Acevedo said.

A chain of Facebook statuses have also been copied and pasted on various users' accounts, stating that they are willing to reach out to families by calling from their own personal phones under the hashtag #PRStrong.

A growing Facebook group called “Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico” had at least 41,000 active members as of Thursday. The group is meant to help Puerto Ricans locate family by posting photos, captioned with their names and possible locations. 

Puerto Rico's government has asked people who have not been able to determine the status of friends and family who live on the island to reach out to its staffers. The territory's Federal Affairs Administration on Thursday provided a phone number (202-800-3133) and an email address (maria1@prfaa.pr.gov). The phone line was full as of Friday morning. NBC has reached out to the government in Puerto Rico to ask when it will be re-opened. 

People using the service are asked to provide contact information and as many details about their loved one as possible, including name, age and their possible locations.

If you are struggling to connect with relatives and loved ones in Puerto Rico, click here for more information on resources that could help.

--Daniel Macht and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Carlos Giusti/AP

3 Taken to Hospital After Honda and Transit Bus Collide in Hartford


Three people have been taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries after a Honda and a CT Transit bus were involved in a crash in Hartford this morning, police said.

The crash happened at Pleasant and Main streets and Pleasant Street is blocked from Main Street to Market Street.

Two men in the Honda sustained bumps and bruises and someone on the bus fell forward, hit his or face on a railing and sustained scratches.

Police said the preliminary investigation indicates that the driver of the Honda crossed the double lines heading toward Main Street, hit the bus and spun out of control.

No additional information was available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Shot Landscapers With Pellet Gun Over Noise: Police


A Shelton man is accused of shooting his neighbor’s landscapers with a pellet gun because he thought they were too noisy when he was trying to sleep, according to police. 

Police responded to Tuckahoe Drive around 10 a.m. Thursday after receiving reports that people had been shot with a pellet gun and spoke with the landscapers who were working on the street. 

They said they had been shot several times with a pellet gun, showed their injuries to the officers and told them they saw a man without a shirt in a window who had what appeared to be a rifle, according to police. 

Officers responded to the address and said they learned that 48-year-old Jeffery Pate was sleeping and was upset that the landscapers were making too much noise, so he shot them with his .177 caliber pellet gun rifle, striking them several times, police said. 

Pate was arrested and charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, third-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace. 

He was released and is due in Derby Superior Court on Oct. 3. 

Photo Credit: Shelton Police

Police Investigating Armed Robbery at Bristol Market


Police are investigating an armed robbery at Jay’s Market in Bristol on Thursday night.

Police said a man with a gun robbed the market at 238 King St. around 8:18 p.m., then ran out of the store with the money and headed north.

A cashier said the robber demanded money, then displayed a handgun, according to police. The cashier complied and was not injured.

The robber was thin and around 6-feet tall.

It’s not clear how much money he took from the cash register.

Anyone with information about the robbery should call Bristol Police at 860-584-3011.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Ex-FBI Director Comey to Speak at Howard U. Convocation


Former FBI Director James Comey is giving the keynote address for Howard University's convocation Friday.

The convocation is set to begin at 11 a.m. ET. This page will host a live stream.

The school announced last month that Comey would be giving the speech and taking on a special lecturing position at Howard. It's one of Comey's first public appearances since he was fired from the FBI by President Donald Trump in May, which sparked the appointment of a special counsel to take on the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling.

In his role at Howard, Comey will give five lectures on several topics, officials have said. The topics have not yet been announced. Comey will donate his $100,000 compensation to a scholarship fund that helps Howard students who come from foster homes.

"Howard has a longstanding history of being a vibrant academic community and the perfect place to have rich dialogue on many of the most pressing issues we face today," Comey said in a statement in August. "I look forward to contributing to this remarkable institution and engaging students and faculty alike."

Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP, File

Stand Down Event Provides Services to Veterans


Transitioning from military life to civilian life can be challenging, but dozens of organizations worked with veterans at the 24th annual Stand Down event in Rocky Hill Friday to give them the benefits they deserve. 

Edward Morgan, of Waterbury, a veteran of the wars in Vietnam and Korea, collected food, clothing and water. 

Morgan said he comes to the event at the Department of Veteran Affairs in Rocky Hill every year. 

“And I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember. It’s been a big help. I live alone, and this cuts down on food, water, a lot of expenses, and other things,” he said. 

A quarter million veterans living in Connecticut were given access to these supplies at the event. 

Jonnie Wright, a veteran, said the event makes a big difference. 

“A lot of vets are homeless and they’ve got a lot of stuff to give you,” Wright said, “to help you out, help you on your way.” 

More than 100 vendors created this one-stop resource shop with a crew of nearly 230 volunteers, most of whom are veterans themselves. 

Elliott Donn, who served in the Navy, handed out free shirts at the event. 

“Fortunately, I don’t need the help,” he said, “but there are a lot of people who do and we’re here to help them.” 

Veterans received housing referrals, foot massages and medical and dental screenings. 

“We hope to see about 70-75 people for dental hygiene, or preventative services,” Lori Clavette, the clinical hygienist manager, said. 

“All health is important for them,” said Dr. Sheela Tummala, who acted as the chief dental officer on site. “So that’s why we’re here. So we really want to take care of them today and help them in any way that we can.”  

Twenty-four years and counting, Stand Down leaves a lasting impression. 

“This is a great thing to have,” Wright said. “Too bad it’s only once a year.” 

French to Skip 2018 Olympics If N. Korea Tensions Continue


France has become the first nation participating in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to express doubts about going, given the ongoing tensions with North Korea, Reuters reported.

If the nuclear crisis deepens and "our security cannot be assured, the French Olympics team will stay at home," French Sports Minister Laura Flessel said Thursday on French radio. But "we're not there yet," she added.

The games are being held in February just 50 miles from the heavily armed demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, currently trading threats — also involving the United States — after the north's recent nuclear and missile tests.

"Safety and security is one of the most important aspects of Games preparations," a spokesman for the organizing committee told Reuters in a statement.

Photo Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images, File

Could You Get a Visa Under Trump's Immigration Overhaul?


A wall along the Mexico border isn’t President Donald Trump’s only proposal to curtail immigration into the United States. 

Trump also wants to limit legal immigration into the U.S. by, among other revisions, making it more difficult for immigrants to qualify for a visa. The proposed changes to current immigration law are outlined in a bill called the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which was first introduced by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue in February. 

Under the proposed bill, qualifying for a visa would move to what’s called a points-based system. An applicant would earn points for achievements in six separate areas, including age, English-speaking proficiency and whether or not he or she has a lucrative job offer in the United States.

English proficiency is measured by a score an applicant receives on a pre-approved language test. The higher the test score, the more points earned toward the visa. Similarly, the more lucrative a job offer an applicant has, the more points he or she will receive. The job-offer points are measured in relation to the median household income of the state where the job is being offered. Applicants who have a job that is three times the state's median income, for example, will earn the most points toward the visa application. 

Take this quiz to see if you'd be able to apply for a visa if the RAISE Act was signed into law. A total of 30 points are needed to apply.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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Intruder in Girl's Room Had Brass Knuckles, Child Porn: PD


Police have arrested a man who is accused of breaking into a Fairfield home Friday morning, wearing only a bathrobe and T-shirt, and going into a girl’s bedroom. Police said they later found child pornography on his phone.

Police responded to a home Tunxis Hill Road after a resident called 911 and said an intruder was in their home and her family had him trapped.

Officers responded and said they found 36-year-old Eric Kusheba, dressed only a bathrobe and a T-shirt.

They said he’s accused of cutting a window screen, breaking into the home, going into the bedroom of a sleeping girl and watching her sleep, police said.

Kusheba had no pants or underwear on, police said, and when officers searched him, they found a set of brass knuckles in the pocket of his robe.

Police said they searched Kusheba’s smart phone at police headquarters and found images containing child pornography.

Kusheba has been charged with home invasion, carrying a dangerous weapon, voyeurism, second-degree stalking, third-degree criminal mischief and possession of child pornography.

Police are investigating and ask anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call the Fairfield Police Detective Bureau (203)254-4840.

Photo Credit: Fairfield Police

No Injuries in Rough Landing at Danbury Airport


A small plane made a rough landing at Danbury Airport around 10:30 a.m. Friday, but no one was injured. 

Officials from the airport said the weight of the single-engine Cessna 180 A was not evenly distributed upon landing and the aircraft went forward onto its propeller. 

One person was on the plane.

Danbury Airport was closed for a brief period of time and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Photo Credit: Danbury Fire Department

Police Reunite Man and Pet After Car With Dog Inside Is Stolen


Hartford police have reunited a man and a dog after someone stole the victim’s car with his dog, Lucky, inside, according to police.

Officers responded to Park Street around 7:12 a.m. Wednesday to investigate a car theft and the man said his car and keys were stolen from the parking lot of 7-Eleven and the man’s tan Boxer Mastiff, Lucky, was in the vehicle. 

Hartford police started searching for the car and the dog and found the car on Flatbush Avenue around 8:30 a.m., police said. 

They caught the suspect, 28-year-old Michael Mercado, of Hartford, but Lucky got away while police were making the arrest. 

Police then found Lucky across the street and reunited him with his owner.

Mercado was charged with second-degree larceny and operating without a license.

Police Tweeted video sharing news of the reunion that shows the dog, Lucky, getting out of the police car. 

Photo Credit: Hartford Police
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