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Judge Grants Tsarnaev Trial Delay


A federal judge has granted the Boston Marathon bombing suspect's request to delay his trial until January 2015, but denied his request to move the trial out of Boston.

Defense lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had requested moving back the federal trial to September 2015 and changing its venue to Washington, D.C., citing negative pretrial publicity. The judge's delay of the trial pushes it back only until Jan. 5, 2015.

The prosecution argued it would not be fair to the victims of the April 2013 attacks to move the Tsarnaev trial out of Boston.

Tsarnaev is accused of setting off two homemade bombs at the marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.

Stay with NECN and NECN.com as this story develops.

Former Cheshire Cop Accused of Stealing From Union Faces Judge


The former Cheshire police captain accused of stealing $21,000 from the police union he once served appeared in court on larceny charges Wednesday.

Authorities say 46-year-old Jay Markella, of Cheshire, stole more than $6,100 from the union’s money market account, $14,000 from its checking account and another $1,000 using a credit card issued for union use.

Markella, one of the first to respond to the deadly Cheshire home invasion in 2007, declined to comment on the case while leaving Meriden Superior Court on Wednesday, but his wife spoke for both of them.

"He's not guilty," she said.

Investigators believe the thefts occurred between April 2007 and October 2012, during his tenure as union treasurer, which spanned from January 2005 until September 2010, when he was promoted to captain.

"It's an unfortunate and disappointing incident," said Fred Jortner, president of the Cheshire Police Union, who said Markella was a friend and once served as his supervisor.

According to court paperwork, officials discovered the missing money while investigating an unrelated case of union fund theft.

"Bobby Anderson was arrested first," Jortner explained. "He made full restitution based onthe face number on the warrant, which we are pleased with."

Jortner said they expect the same from Markella if he is found guilty.

"From our end, we're not looking for palm and flesh. We're looking to recoup our fund and move on," Jortner said.

"We expect everyone to uphold the law, so certainly a police officer should be held to a higher standard," he added.

Markella resigned from the Cheshire Police Department in 2013, after Cheshire police and union leaders filed a complaint against him.

He faces one count of first-degree larceny and is due back in court Oct. 24.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

64-Year-Old Man Missing From Bradley Airport


State police have issued a Silver Alert for 64-year-old Edward Spirito, of California, who was reported missing from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks and may be headed to New York City.

Police said Spirito, who stands 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds, was reported missing after planning and failing to meet a friend at the airport. He was last seen Wednesday around 9:30 a.m. in the Newington area.

He has gray hair and brown eyes and was wearing a blue button-down shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes.

Police said Spirito may be driving a red 2014 Dodge Caravan with Massachusetts license plates 1WK-993 and could be headed to New York City to see a Yankees game.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call state police at 860-292-7400.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Mom, Sister of Fugitive Kick, Spit at Police in Enfield: Cops


The mother and sister of a Massachusetts fugitive attacked officers who arrived to arrest the suspect at a home in Enfield on Tuesday, then tried to kick out the windows of a police cruiser, according to police.

Two Enfield police detectives, along with U.S. Marshals, Springfield police and Massachusetts State Police arrived at 18 Central Street in the Thompsonville section of Enfield around 1:20 p.m. Wednesday to arrest 21-year-old Giovanni Oliver, who was wanted on felony charges in Massachusetts, police said.

According to police, Oliver’s mother and sister spat at officers and kicked them, then tried to kick out the windows of a police cruiser after authorities took them into custody.

Brenda Hernandez, 41, Oliver’s mother, was charged with breach of peace, interfering with an officer and resisting arrest.

Crystal Oliver, 20, the suspect’s sister, was charged with assault on an officer, breach of peace, interfering with and resisting arrest and hindering prosecution.

Police said Oliver is facing weapons, ammunition and burglary charges in Massachusetts. It’s not clear if he will face charges in Connecticut.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pumpkintown Crash Suspect Did Not Have License: DMV


East Hampton police have arrested a 29-year-old Middletown man who is accused of hitting a crossing guard at Pumpkintown USA, an annual fall festival in East Hampton, yesterday and leaving the scene.

The 29-year-old Middletown man accused of hitting a crossing guard at East Hampton's annual fall festival Tuesday never had a driver's license, nor did he have privileges to obtain one, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Jason Parent was arrested after crashing into a parked car, sending it spinning into oncoming traffic on Route 66 in East Hampton on Tuesday afternoon, then colliding with a crossing guard who was directing traffic, police said.

He was charged with two counts of evading responsibility, one count of operating with a suspended license, one count of following to close and one count of distracted driving.

DMV officials, however, said Parent never actually had a driver's license in Connecticut.

He was previously cited in February and March 2013 for driving without a license and did not take advantate of an opportunity to obtain one, according to the DMV. Those privileges were suspended following the second incident.

The crossing guard was controlling traffic on Route 66 on Tuesday afternoon when when Jason Parent, of Middletown, crashed into a parked car, sending it spinning into the eastbound lanes, police said.

The crossing guard was treated at Hartford Hospital and has since been sent home to recover, according to staff at Pumpkintown USA.

Police said officers found Parent's car not far from the scene.

East Hampton police have consulted with officials from the state Department of Transportation to discuss traffic control in the area. Since Route 66 is a state road, DOT officials said only officers should be directing traffic there.

Nonetheless, Pumpkintown employees have previously directed traffic.

Police have also met with company owners about safety plans, who will hire an off-duty officer or make modifcations so that everything associated with Paul’s & Sandy’s and Pumpkintown is on the same side of the road.

East Hampton police plan to have an officer at the site over the weekend.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/East Hampton Police Department

Loaded Gun Magazine Found Outside Elementary School


Police ramped up patrols at Bethlehem Elementary School after a loaded pistol magazine was found on the driveway to the school loading dock Tuesday morning, according to state police.

Troopers from North Canaan responded to the school around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday and found the magazine of a .45-caliber pistol, full of bullets.

They checked the school to make sure it was safe for students to be there and sent the magazine to the state forensic laboratory for examination, state police said.

District Supt. Dr. Frank Sippy sent an email to parents informing them of the incident.

"We will double the police presence at Bethlehem Elementary School," Sippy wrote in the email. "We will ensure all deliveries are closely monitored by law enforcement staff."

The school principal also sent home a letter reassuring parents that students were never in danger, but still, parents were rattled.

"As we saw not long ago in Sandy Hook, getting close to home is disturbing," said Annamarie Manosalva, of Bethlehem.

Police said troopers will continue to add patrols at the school as a precaution.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dems Unimpressed With Foley's Plan for Taxes, Education


Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Foley laid out his plans for education and taxes in front of New Britain City Hall on Wednesday.

Foley called the outline his "Urban Policy Agenda" and said the plan is specifically designed to improve Connecticut's cities and towns.

"Connecticut's future is no better than the future of our cities," Foley said during a press conference Wednesday.

On taxes, Foley said one of his first goals would be to cap personal property taxes 30 mils, which could help middle- and lower-income families save money, specifically on cars.

“The car tax is simply too high in our cities and distorts markets," Foley said. "People deserve to drive the kind of car they want and can afford and the car they own shouldn't affect where they choose to live.”

Foley's plan to cut car taxes could lead to savings of approximately 60 percent in Hartford and around 30 percent in places like New Britain, Bridgeport and New Haven.

Foley says his plan would cost the state about $30 million in tax revenue.

He said it wouldn't throw any wrenches into his plan to keep spending flat in Connecticut for two years if he's elected, even though the amount of money going in would decrease as a direct result of the tax cut.

"Thirty million dollars is a very very small amount in a $21 billion dollar state budget. I think we can run this state on $21 billion dollars and reimburse cities for the lost revenue by reducing the car tax,” Foley said.

Democrats say the plan doesn't make any fiscal sense.

Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat from Berlin who serves as the House Majority Leader, said tax cuts don't pay for themselves.

"What priorities are not important? What is willing to cut?" Aresimowicz asked. "What are the services that our residents need on a day to day basis that he’s going to get rid of to provide these cuts?”

Democrats said any tax plan that doesn't have details on how to pay for reductions is simply empty rhetoric.

On the issue of education, state Democrats came out firing against Foley earlier in the day after the release of a campaign political ad in which Foley says children in failing schools can't find opportunity once they leave.

Once again, Democrats criticized Foley for his lack of specifics in the 30-second ad.

"We need to see the facts and at some point in this election. I hope Tom Foley will start providing facts and not little soundbites that he thinks voters in the state of Connecticut will just buy and vote for him on," said Aresimowicz.

Democrats said they're concerned that a Foley administration could strip resources from urban schools.

Foley says he wants to inject free-market principles into some of the state's lowest performing school districts and would work to institute a student transfer program for some districts.

"We’re going to give them the choice" Foley said. "If they’re in a lousy school, we’re going to give them the ability to go to another school and if that’s hard on the school that’s leaving, that’s not the children, that’s the fault of the adults at that school and maybe other factors.”

Foley said parents would have a good idea about the performance of the schools based on a new A-F grading system he would propose.

He wants state and local education funds to "follow the child" but insists that if students leave failing schools, it's best for everyone, even if money leaves schools where the cash is needed.

Foley said he's not afraid to challenge some of the state's lowest-performing schools with what amount to threats when it comes to student achievement.

"Children will get moved from those schools and they will lose resources and eventually if they aren’t able to recover and fix it they’ll get reconstituted, just like we’ve reconstituted schools in Hartford," Foley said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bridgeport Police Find Stolen Copper Wire


Police are investigating the theft of a large amount of copper wire in Bridgeport.

According to police, three people used wire cutters to strip the insulation from industrial- or commercial-grade copper wire at a building on Martin Terrace on Sept. 20.

Police said the three people told officers they found the wires in a dumpster, but couldn’t remember the town or street where the dumpster was located.

Now investigators are working to identify the business from which the wiring was stolen.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Bridgeport police Det. Keith Bryant at 203-581-5239.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Cat Found Safe in Fire-Ravaged Apartment


Harley survived the fire and that was cause to celebrate on Wednesday, the day after a two-alarm blaze tore through a Waterbury apartment complex.

The pet cat was found hiding behind a couch in an apartment at the Deerfield Gardens and Sunset Gardens the day after a massive fire damaged six two-bedroom apartments.

Harley is wet and his fur's a bit scorched, but he looked happy to be cradled in loving arms and carried out of the apartment on Wednesday.

"He's alive. We found the cat," one of the residents yelled. "The kids are going to be so happy. They were crying all night."

The next stop for Harley will be a trip to the vet to make sure he is OK.

Authorities have been investigating and said on Wednesday that a plumber's torch caused the fire.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Community Raises Money for Bartender Struck by Car


A young bartender suffered severe injuries to her legs when she was hit by a car while standing on the sidewalk in Watertown late Friday.

Jenna Avoletta, 22, will be transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of injuries to her leg, ankle and a rib, according to her sister Jamie, who has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover medical costs.

Watertown police are investigating who is to blame. Police say one driver made a left turn from Route 63/Main Street onto Echo Lake Road and another driver swerved to avoid a collision.

Magenta marks on the sidewalk at the intersection show where Avoletta was standing before she was pinned against the column in front of the Lounge, a bar and music venue on Main Street.

Señor Pancho's in Thomaston, where Avoletta works, is planning to donate half its proceeds Monday to Avoletta, and the restaurant will match any employee's donation of up to $100, said owner Andy Adames.

"She's going to be struggling for a little while," he said. "We're hoping that the community can help us to help her, and spread the word. Whatever we can do to help Jenna and help her with some of the bills, we'll do."

Her manager remembered when he first met Avoletta.

"She was one of those types of people when I interviewed her originally for the position you just knew she was going to be hired," said Rich Volpe. "She has a really good personality, very good with customers."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Proposed Hartford Stadium Project Clears Another Hurdle


One day after suffering a setback, plans to bring the Rock Cats to Hartford are once again moving forward.

The Hartford Redevelopment Agency signed off on a proposal to transfer land for the project during a Wednesday night meeting.

The land includes the site of the old "Butt Ugly Building," the centerpiece of the corruption trial against Hartford's former mayor Eddie Perez. Developers hope to construct a supermarket, other retail space and apartments there.

"It's a step in the right direction. Certainly we needed this approval to move forward," said Yves Joseph, of Centerplan Construction, the development company selected to move forward with plans to build.

The transfer comes just one night after the city's Planning and Zoning Commission voted to give the project an unfavorable recommendation after members raised concerns about whether the project fits with the city's redevelopment plan.

The recommendation is non-binding and the Hartford City Council could ultimately override it if.

"Not everyone's going to be in agreement. Not all the different agencies are going to be in agreement. Ultimately, the council and I have an important responsibility of advancing this project forward," said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.

While the latest meeting did not include a public comment session, opponents of the project still attended.

"We would love to see the area developed. We just cannot understand why the stadium is the one thing that must be there," said Anne Goshdigian, of the Hartford Coalition to Stop the Stadium.

To address concerns raised by the Planning and Zoning Commission, the city plans to make revisions to its development plan soon.

Billionaire Loses Beach Battle


A judge ruled Wednesday that Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla illegally blocked access to a popular Bay Area beach and must open it to the public.

The news was greeted with excitement by the non-profit Surfrider Foundation and environmentalists involved in the legal fight over Khosla closing public access to Martin's Beach in San Mateo County.

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for all of the people of California," said Joe Cotchett of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, the firm representing Surfrider. "It affirms that great wealth cannot be used to circumvent and ignore the law. Everyone can again visit Martin’s Beach.”

Khosla and his attorney released a statement Wednesday afternoon expressing disappointment in the court ruling. They added that they will consider their options for an appeal.

Khosla, who co-founded Sun Microsystems, bought the property, located south of Half Moon Bay, for $37.5 million in 2008. At one point, the beach had a sign welcoming the public, but that sign has since been painted over and the public was warned to stay out.  According to the lawsuit, the gate to the beach was closed and locked in 2010 to keep the public out. The lawsuit states that since then, at least 100 people were kicked off the property for "trespassing."

When the county told Khosla he needed a coastal permit to close the gate, he never applied for one. His attorneys argued that no permit was required to simply close a gate that was already there. But Surfrider sued Khosla, claiming that he ignored the law. The non-profit contended that Khosla be required to pay the maximum fine of $15,000 per day, which would amount to something in the range of $20 million.

Khosla's attorney argued in court that the Coastal Commission was a run-away regulatory body that was violating Khosla's 5th Amendment property rights. Judge Barbara Mallach of the San Mateo County Superior Court listened to six days of testimony and even visited the beach along with attorneys from both sides.

Mallach ruled Wednesday that Khosla's failure to obtain a Coastal Development Permit before blocking access to the beach was illegal and that a permit was required to close the gate. [View the court's decision]

Mallach ruled that Khosla should stop preventing the public from accessing and using the water, beach and coast at Martin's Beach until a resolution of his permit application has been reached by San Mateo County or the Coastal Commission.

California's oldest surfer Rob "Birdlegs" Caughlan and other surfers plan to go surfing at Martin's Beach Thursday to celebrate the news.

“Today, the people of California can declare victory in the fight to restore public access to Martin’s Beach, said Eric Buescher, another attorney at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy. "Coastal access is a right of all the people of this state. Today’s decision affirms that right is more than a hollow promise.”

Mallach, however, ruled that Khosla's conduct "was in good faith" and that penalties and fines are not justified.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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West Hartford, Fairfield Among Best Places to Live: Magazine


West Hartford and Fairfield have found their way onto Money Magazine’s list of 50 top places to live in the country.

Fairfield is ranked 44th on the list, followed by West Hartford at 45th. McKinney, Texas, tops the list, followed by Maple Grove, Minnesota; Carmel, Indiana; Castle Rock, Colorado and Kirkland, Washington.

Cities and towns on the list have populations of between 50,000 and 300,000 and were chosen according to 50 factors, including local economy, housing market and schools, Money Magazine says.

In choosing Fairfield, the magazine noted the city’s convenient commute to New York City, lively downtown area, strong school system, solid job market and popular outdoor attractions, including Lake Mohegan and the beaches along the Long Island Sound.

West Hartford was noted for its bustling town center, complete with shopping, nightlife and entertainment selections ranging from the regional theater, Playhouse on the Park, to classical performances by the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

The list appears in the magazine’s September 2014 issue.

Photo Credit: Money Magazine

Governor to Discuss Future Commuter Rail Development


Governor Dannel Malloy will join other leaders in Enfield on Thursday to talk about the future of the commuter rail lines.

The meeting commences at 10:30 am, and will be held at 33 North River Street in Enfield.

Members on the Enfield Town Council and Economic Development Corporation will also be in attendance to discuss the plans for the Thompsonville Transit Center, which will operate on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line.

It comes a day after Metro-North announced schedule changes and plans for more trains to its New Haven Line.

NY, NJ to Coordinate Anti-Terror Efforts Amid Threat


New York and New Jersey have agreed to coordinate intelligence-gathering and information-sharing as part of a plan to step up security in the wake of terror threats overseas.

The "memorandum of understanding" signed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie comes nine days after the two met in New York with national, state and local law enforcement to map out an improved terror plan in response to ISIS' threats.

Last week, a post on an ISIS message board titled “To the Lone Wolves in America: How to Make a Bomb in Your Kitchen, to Create Scenes of Horror in Tourist Spots and Other Targets” encourages readers to attack sites throughout the country, including Times Square.

Earlier this week, the extremist group purportedly released a new audio this week that warned Americans "you will not feel secure even in your bedrooms." Officials have said there is no specific threat to the tri-state area, and are intensifying security out of an abundance of precaution.

The bi-state agreement to substantially increase security at transportation hubs and critical infrastructure in the metropolitan area is effective immediately. Over the next 100 days, law enforcement and military personnel will join forces within the metropolitan area to engage in counterterrorism operations by increasing visibility, inspections and surveillance on and at trains and train stations, airports, landmarks, and bridges and tunnels, according to the plan.

Specifically, the Port Authority will intensify its oversight of the areas it patrols, including conducting more regular security checks on PATH trains and in the stations, and running K-9 directed patrols twice daily. The National Guard's Joint Task Force presence will more than double to 500 military personnel in the area. New York State Police troopers will be assigned to train platforms and on trains, which authorities said has only been done sporadically in the past and never to the degree called for under the current plan. The MTA will increase uniformed officer presence by up to 50 percent at high volume stations, conduct more frequent bag checks and increase perimeter checks at stations; New Jersey Transit Police will employ similar tactics.

The two states will also participate in a joint emergency exercise in the coming months and continue to evaluate methods for increased intelligence and emergency coordination.

“The New York City area has always been a top target for terrorists wishing to spread hatred and fear, and we would be in a state of denial to say that what is going on internationally has not raised that danger,” Cuomo said.

"We know that our people and assets remain a target in the minds of depraved individuals around the globe, even in the homeland, and we are gravely committed to protecting and defending ourselves against the threat," Christie added.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Man Punched Police Dog: Police


Willimantic police have arrested a man accused of punching a police dog.

Police arrested John Bourgoin, 43, of Wauregan, on Wednesday and he is being held on $15,000 bond.

On June 13, Bourgoin called police and said creatures were slithering into his house through a window and there were computers in his chest, police said.

As officers were taking Bourgoin to the hospital for a mental evaluation, he punched Sasa, the police dog, police said. The dog did not require medical attention.

Bourgoin was charged with illegal injuring of a peace officer animal and interfering with an officer.

He is due in court on Oct. 8. It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

AT&T U-Verse Service Restored After Outages


AT&T U-Verse service has been restored following outages in several Connecticut towns Thursday morning.

Downdetector, a Web site that posts digital outages, says the outages occurred in Shelton, Hamden, Norwalk, Milford, Glastonbury, Waterbury, Southington, Bristol, New Haven and Trumbull.

Customers headed to the U-Verse Facebook page on Thursday, asking when service will be restored.

Several comments on the company's latest post are from Connecticut customers reporting outages.

Service has since been restored.

Photo Credit: AP

2 Hospitalized After Rocky Hill Crash


Two people are hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a crash on the Silas Deane Highway in Rocky Hill last night.

Police said one car was leaving a private driveway near Joiners Road and the other car was traveling south on Silas Deane just after 11 p.m. when they crashed.

One person was in each car and both were transported to the hospital.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fire at Vacant Willimantic Home Appears Suspicious


Fire tore through a vacant home at 18 Maple Ave. in Willimantic this morning and officials said it appears to be suspicious.

Firefighters responded just after 3 a.m. and the fire had already spread to all three stories of the home.

Crews had to evacuate around 15 neighbors because the homes were so close together, but those residents have been allowed to return home.

Tweets from the Willimantic Fire Department say the three-alarm fire started on the porch and extended to the house.

Officials are investigating the cause, but said it does appear to be suspicious.

The fire is now out and officials from the fire marshal's office are at the scene, according to fire department Tweets.

No injuries have been reported.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Woman Carjacked at Trumbull Hotel


A woman was carjacked in the parking lot of the Trumbull Marriott around 8:30 a.m. this morning and police are looking for the man who did it.

Police said a man with a gun walked up to the woman, who was inside a silver four-door 2013 Ford Fusion at 180 Hawley Lane in Trumbull, and took off in the car.

It's silver and has New Jersey license plate N73DAB, police said.

The man who stole  the car is around 5-feet-8, police said.

He was described as 35 years old and was wearing a dark red sweatshirt with a hood and gray pants.

Anyone who has information about the carjacking should call the Trumbull Police Department at 203-261-3665.

No injuries are reported.

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