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Son Charged With Murder in Mom's Dismemberment: Police


A 23-year-old man was charged with murder and his friend arrested on lesser charges in connection with the gruesome killing of his mother, whose body was cut up with a power saw and scattered in bags throughout their Bronx neighborhood, law enforcement officials tell NBC 4 New York.

Both men have admitted to chopping up the body and using a shopping cart to dump the parts along the curb in Morrisania, but each is pointing the finger at the other for killing the mother, 45-year-old Tania Byrd, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Bahsid McLean, 23, has been charged with second-degree murder, police said. He and William Harris, 26, are both charged with unlawful dissection of a human body, among other charges. They were in custody and lawyer information was not immediately available.

Law enforcement officials tell NBC 4 New York that McLean has photos of himself cutting up the body.

Officials say the two men tell different stories. The son says he left the apartment he shared with his mother at about 3 a.m. Monday to go to the ATM. When he returned, he has told investigators, his friend had stabbed Byrd to death and threatened to kill him and his 6-year-old brother if he didn't help get rid of the body.

His friend, meanwhile, has told investigators that the son told him he killed his mother, and showed him a photograph of her, dead, asking for his friend's help in disposing of her corpse.

The two suspects agree that they went to a Bronx hardware store to purchase supplies for the job, including a power saw and gloves. Investigators say there are bloodstains at the apartment, and that it appears someone tried to clean up the mess with bleach.

An empty power saw box was also found there. The saw was found at the apartment of the friend's girlfriend, officials said.

Law enforcement officials say the pair cut up the body on Monday night and dumped it around 9:30 p.m. Surveillance camera video shows the son in the apartment building lobby, leaving the elevator with numerous bags, and then video outside the building shows two men wheeling away a shopping cart.

Officials say a man walking his dog along 158th Street in Morrisania early Tuesday morning came upon a plastic bag of what he thought were books. As he moved to open the bag, he noticed a vehicle circling the block and became nervous, so he took the bag around the corner and looked inside, finding two hands and a shoulder.

He sent his son to call police and continued walking the dog. About two blocks away on Eagle Avenue he and the dog came upon a suitcase, and the dog sat down next to it. The man opened the suitcase and found a woman's torso, wearing a bra, according to law enforcement officials.

Responding police found a plastic bag further down Eagle Avenue that contained a leg and a foot, and then nearby on Cauldwell Avenue, they found a black suitcase with a leg and the woman's head.

People who knew Byrd were stunned about the grisly killing.

"Every time you see her, she would have a smile on her face," said neighbor Chastity Agosto. "How could a son do that to his mother?


Sex Offender Tried to Assault Teen: Cops


Hartford Police have arrested a convicted sex offender in connection with the kidnapping and attempted assault of a teenage girl on Wednesday morning.

Hartford police said Shawn Jarrett, 37, of Gillette Street in Hartford, approached a 17-year-old girl who was walking to school around 8 a.m. and tried to talk with her.

When the girl refused to talk with Jarrett, he grabbed her and dragged her into the laundry room of his residence and tried to assault her, according to police.
The teen struggled with Jarrett and was able to get away when a witness walked into the laundry room, police said.

Police found the victim at Hartford Public High School and she was able to identify Jarrett as the suspect, police said.

Jarett was charged with second-degree kidnapping, second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace.

Other charges are pending.

Police said Jarrett is a sex offender, but he is not listed on the online Sex Offender Registry for Connecticut or the National Sex Offender Registry.

In December 1995, at the age of 19, he was arrested in Hartford and charged with first-degree sexual assault and unlawful restraint, police said.

Police said he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in a home in the North End of Hartford.

He was charged with first-degree sexual assault and unlawful restraint in that case, but his plea deal required him to be on the sex offender registry for only 10 years, from 1999-2009, so he is no longer listed.

Court records show that he was charged with second-degree unlawful restraint in Windsor in 2010. He was convicted on the charge in 2011 and sentenced to six months in prison.

20 Animals Killed in Berlin House Fire


Eighteen cats and two bird were killed and several other animals were rescued during a house fire at 62 Smoky Hill Road in Berlin, according to fire officials.

The blaze broke out just after 1:30 a.m. and firefighters said they had it under control in about 20 minutes.

The female homeowner was able to escape without being injured.

The surviving animals include seven cats and one sheep dog named Quigley. They are in the custody of Berlin Animal Control.

One other cat is missing. 

The fire appears to have started in mudroom and caused extensive fire and water damage, fire officials said.

The cause is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Liz Dahlem, NBC Connecticut

Authorities "Relieved" by Vegas Triple Slaying Arrest


The suspect in last week's triple slaying on the Las Vegas Strip has been arrested in the Los Angeles area, the Clark County District Attorney's Office said on Thursday.

Ammar Harris, 26, was taken into custody in the San Fernando Valley community of North Hollywood on Thursday morning after being followed by a task force of local, state and federal officials, police said.

Harris had been the subject of a manhunt since Feb. 21 when he allegedly fired a gun from a moving vehicle on the Vegas Strip, killing Oakland rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr. aka Kenny Clutch, officials said.

Cherry was behind the wheel of a Maserati when he was shot and crashed into a taxicab which subsequently exploded, killing the driver and the 48-year old passenger.

At a press conference in Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon, Clark County District Attorney Steven B. Wolfson said the case was the worst he had seen in his 32-year career.

“I can’t imagine anything much more serious than firing a weapon from a moving vehicle into another moving vehicle on a corner such as Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo," Wolfson said. "It is reckless. It disregards human life.

“Thank God only three people lost their lives … it could’ve been worse.”

Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said the suspect does not reflect the values of Las Vegas.

“If you live in this city, work in this city, visit this city and you act like this person, we will find you, we will prosecute you and we will send you to prison,” Gillespie said.

Harris is believed to have left Nevada after the shooting and was believed to have been hiding out in a friend's North Hollywood apartment, authorities said.

Police accuse the suspect of being the driver of a Range Rover from which gunfire erupted, killing the 27-year-old rapper.

Harris could be seen online boasting about the stacks of money that have come his way thanks to being a pimp, according to reports.

In one video, Harris "flashes a thick stack" of $100 bills.

In a Web posting, he boasts of the flock of women at his home, all of whom are working for him.

In another, he talks about the birthday party he is organizing on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, replete with a $1,000 bikini contest, the Associated Press reported.

Harris is expected to appear in court to face an extradition hearing to Las Vegas where he faces three counts of murder and other felonies, Wolfson said.

NBC4 Staffer Samantha Tata contributed to this report.

Paying More For a Quinnipiac Education


Quinnipiac University students will be spending more on their education this fall.

Tuition will increase by $1,330 for the new academic year, The Quinnipiac Chronicle reports.

Students can expect to pay $39,330 in tuition and fees alone, according to the Quinnipiac University website.

Incoming freshmen who plan on living on campus can expect to pay at least $53,380 including room and board.

“The process of setting tuition and room and board for the next fiscal year begins in the fall when the Cabinet officers and deans submit anticipated budgetary needs that are consistent with anticipated enrollment and necessary to meet their institutional goals,” Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.

The Quinnipiac Chronicle spoke to a few students to get their reaction on the tuition increase.

Teresa Santos, a junior at the university told The Quinnipiac Chronicle: “I rely on loans to stay here. This just means I will be paying off my loans for longer than I planned.”

In the statement Bushnell released, she said efforts were made to keep increases low. She also said that recommendations for appropriate level of financial aid are included in the cabinet meeting discussions.

Notwithstanding the accession in tuition, the university costs are still behind Connecticut College, Trinity College, Wesleyan University and Yale University in total cost per year of undergraduate study in the state, the Chronicle reports.

Undergraduate tuition cost for some colleges in Connecticut:

  • Yale University: 2012-2013 Tuition- $58,600 includes room and board, books and personal expenses.
  • Connecticut College: 2012-2013 Tuition- $56,790 includes room and board, lab fees, studio fees and other course expenses.
  • Quinnipiac University: 2013-2014 Tuition- $53,380 includes room and board.
  • Wesleyan University: 2013-2013 Tuition- $45,358
  • Trinity College: 2012-2013 Tuition- $43,570
  • Fairfield University: 2012-2013 Tuition- $41,090
  • Sacred Heart University: 2012-2013 Tuition- $16,890 per semester

Information on the tuition costs were found on the schools’ websites.





West Haven Man Faces Child Porn Charges


Police have arrested a West Haven man on child pornography charges.

The State Police Computer Crime Unit began an investigation in January after tracing child porn files being shared from a computer at 37 Nacca Road, according to police.

On Wednesday, state police and West Haven police executed a search warrant at the home, and gathered evidence. Investigators previewed a number of the seized items and found suspected child pornography, according to police.

Troopers arrested Erik Soderberg, 26, and charged him with first-degree possession of child pornography, promoting a minor in an obscene performance and obscenity. He was held on $100,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Wolcott Teen Now Selling T-Shirts With Anti-Gay Message


A Wolcott High School student who won a battle to wear a shirt with an anti-gay message to school, is now selling similar shirts to his classmates.

Seth Groody became the focus of a battle over his right to wear a shirt bearing a rainbow with a red bar through it. He wore the shirt last year during a "Day of Silence" at Wolcott High School. It was part of a national event to bring awareness to the problem of bullying of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students in school.

School administrators made him change the shirt and threatened him with suspension. The American Civil Liberties Union stepped in and threatened to file a lawsuit on Groody's behalf. Earlier this month, the school decided to allow Groody to wear the shirt.

"I just don't approve of gay marriage, and that us what I was advocating on that day," Groody said. "I was expressing my views I was against that."

Groody has sold 12 shirts so far. He says he and his classmates plan on wearing them to school on April 19, the next national "Day of Silence."

Photo Credit: Seth Groody

Little Girl Returns Two Sticks to Yosemite


California has many natural treasures, from our beaches to our redwoods to our supernaturally gorgeous national parks.

But the general rule of thumb is to keep your thumbs, and your other fingers, out of what's there. Visitors are asked, via signs and guidebooks and general wisdom, to let things be, from the smallest shells to the prettiest rocks to all of the plants and wildlife. "Take only memories" is the rallying cry for wilderness jaunts everywhere.

One young Yosemite National Park visitor, however, had a different experience, albeit an accidental one. A girl named Evie departed the famous destination with two sticks. Not large sticks, mind you, but sticks so small they could be easily taped to a ruled piece of paper.

We might even call them twigs.

The park office received such a piece of paper from Evie, with sticks attached, and this note, which was published on Yosemite's Facebook page on Feb. 27: "Dear Park Rangers I am a Junior Park Ranger. I went to Yosemite recently and accidentally brought home two sticks. I know I'm not supposed to take things from the park, so I am sending them back. Please put them in nature. Thank you, Evie."

Please put them in nature. If five words could ever melt a thousand Facebook users' hearts, simultaneously. If ever.

Perhaps Evie's honest and conscientious act will inspire those who do leave with national park plants and rocks and not so accidentally, either. We too often assume that monuments like Half Dome lend a park its main character, when it is truly the millions of smaller pieces in the wild puzzle that make up the whole picture.

Of course, Yosemite is not the first California park to receive returned items in the mail. Bodie State Historic Park on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada regularly opens up envelopes to find small bits of the ghost town. The senders? Former Bodie visitors who thought they'd just take a little nail or a brick. Only problem is there's a famous curse attached to the town and it says this: If you leave Bodie with something you found there, trouble awaits. Rangers say several objects have been mailed back, in haste, over the years.

Please put them in nature, indeed. Wise words, young Evie. Wise words.

Photo Credit: Kenny Karst/DNC Parks & Resorts

Two Hit-and-Run Deaths Remain Unsolved


Months after two hit-and-runs that killed two Connecticut teens, police still haven’t made arrests.

That’s agonizing for Stephanie Phillips, the mother of one of the victims.

“[Cailyn] would have been 16 today,” said Phillips.

Phillips’ daughter, Cailyn Bassett, was killed Dec. 7, while crossing Saybrook Road in Middletown.  

“It still doesn’t even feel real. I’m still waiting for her to pop through the door and say, ‘Hi, mom. Sorry.’ Unfortunately, I know that’s not going to happen.”

Days after Bassett’s death, police seized a car they believed was the one that struck her. But so far, no one has been arrested for the teen’s death.

The same is true for another unsolved hit-and-run death in New Britain.

On July 4, 2012, Jackson DeJesus, 17, took his last steps crossing the intersection on North and Tremont. He was hit by a tan Nissan Altima and died two days later.

Barbara Playa, Jackson's mother, wants justice for her son.

“I know somebody knows something out there. I know somebody knows the vehicle, something, please. This is not fair,” said Playa.

Police in New Britain and in Middletown continue their investigations into the incidents.

“We’re hoping that something will happen very soon. We can get closure,” said Phillips.

Anyone with information on either case is asked to contact police.  

Photo Credit: Family Photos

Sequester's Slow Fiscal Squeeze Starts


A wheelchair-bound woman in rural Illinois worries she'll no longer get a ride to the doctor.

A young teacher at a Head Start center in Los Angeles wonders if she'll lose her job — and what will come of the preschoolers who depend on her.

A major in the Pennsylvania National Guard girds for staff cuts that could hinder troops' ability to respond to a flood or snowstorm.

Small business owners in the Washington, D.C. area weigh the consequences of lost federal contracts.

So much uncertainty, and nothing to do but wait.

The slow squeeze of a federal budget sequester began to ripple across the country Friday, leaving thousands of workers in danger of unemployment, threatening social service organizations with less funding and throwing the future of military programs into disarray. The automatic across-the-board spending cuts began to go into effect after President Barack Obama signed an order enacting them Friday night, and they will leave few corners of government untouched.

The sequester won't seem like that big of a deal at first, because it will take time for the downsizing to impact everyday life, analysts say. Federal agencies will try to deal in ways that will minimize impact: canceling training sessions, postponing repairs, delaying payments on contracts. But if the sequester is allowed to completely unfold, within weeks federal workers could be forced to take unpaid time off and businesses that rely on government cash could be left scrambling.

Federal courthouses could close one day a week. FBI agents may have to take time off their investigations, and air traffic controllers may be told to stay home. National Historic Sites and federal parks may limit hours.

The looming cuts have Monica Guerrero, a recent college graduate who teaches at the Little Stars Head Start program in the Westlake section of Los Angeles, scared that her employer won't have enough money to keep her on its payroll.

"Without a job, owing those loans, my payment of my home, and the children, you know, they won't be as prepared for kindergarten," Guerrero told NBC Southern California.

In 2013, the sequester will extract more than $85 billion from the federal budget, including $42 billion from defense, $28 billion from domestic discretionary spending, and nearly $10 billion from Medicare. The White House has prepared a list of what those initial cuts will look like.

Major Angela King-Sweigart of the Pennsylvania National Guard has been watching the failed negotiations in Washington with growing anxiety. The sequester could mean furloughs for 26,000 of her agency's civilian workers, which could leave her short of enough support staff to effectively deal with a disaster.

"We're ready to be prepared to serve our country," King-Sweigart told NBC Philadelphia. "But I think people personally have some anxiety as far as what's going to happen with their jobs and the impact it'll have on their families."

And that's just year one. The sequester mandates a total of $1 trillion in cuts through 2021, although few analysts believe that politicians will allow it to go on that long.

For Carol Beaney of Crescent City, Ill., the downsizing means that a local nonprofit agency may not be able to send the medical van that carries her in her wheelchair to the doctor.

"I sincerely hope (the White House and Congress) are never in my position and have to listen to their future being debated like that," Beaney told the Associated Press.

At a forum with federal lawmakers this month, small business owners in Prince George's County, Md., expressed concern about being able to stay solvent through a protracted sequester.

"If funding for government contracts, for example, should become scarce, or disappear, then that certainly would reduce our opportunities to continue to operate, not to mention growth and expansion," one of those owners told NBC Washington.

On the New Jersey shore, communities wrecked by Hurricane Sandy last year hope to rebuild with help from the federal government, but the sequester could delay funds that could be used to raise homes in flood-prone areas, NBC New York reported.

All of this is happening because of a battle in Washington over the federal deficit, which is projected to skyrocket in coming decades. In 2011, Congress settled a fight over raising the country's debt limit by passing the Budget Control Act, which set a Jan. 2, 2013 deadline to find ways to cut $1.5 trillion from the deficit. That failed.

Faced with the combination of the sequester, the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and a scheduled reduction in payroll taxes — a confluence of events known as the "fiscal cliff" — President Barack Obama and lawmakers struck a deal at the end of 2012 that let the payroll tax lapse, raised tax rates for wealthy households and delayed the sequester deadline to March 1.

Since then, negotiations have gone nowhere. Obama asked for a more "balanced" reduction plan that included eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy, while Congressional Republicans said they were not going to give in on any more tax increases, and seemed willing to allow the defense budget to suffer if it means forcing the rest of government spending to shrink.

Obama and key lawmakers failed to strike a deal in meeting one last time Friday, and Obama was set to sign an order executing the sequester.

In his opening prayer Thursday, the Rev. Barry Black, the Senate's chaplain, invoked the stalemate.

"Rise up, oh God, and save us from ourselves."

God, it appeared Friday night, declined to intervene.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com

Firefighters Accused in Sex Slavery Case


A current and former firefighter from the West Haven Fire Department were arrested, accused of forcing a 12 year-old boy into sex slavery in Vermont until he was 25, according to a spokesman for the West Haven Police Department.

Vermont State Police arrested Frank Meyer, 39, and Brett Bartolotta, 42, in Ludlow, Vermont on Wednesday after a sting operation in which the victim wore a wire.

Police said the firefighters bribed the boy with money and gifts, including a dirt bike and a hunting bow, since 2001 to get him to perform hundreds of sexual favors over the 12-year span.

The boy first met Bartolotta when he went to a friend's house to ride dirt bikes and Bartolotta approached the teen to join his racing team, according to documents filed with Superior Court in Vermont.

Soon after, Bartolotta offered to sell the teen a dirt bike, which he could pay off in weekly installments, according to documents.

The interaction turned sexual when the teen was unable to make a payment, according to officials. 

Bartolotta offered himself as someone for the boy to speak with about problems and also to teach him about sex, court reports states.

Bartolotta paid the teen for sex acts until he paid off the bike, according to court records.

About two weeks after the bike was paid off, it was stolen.

The victim told police that he thought, in hindsight, that Bartolotta might have stolen the bike to continue meeting at his house.

When Bartolotta eventually got married and sold his condo, Bartolotta would take the teen to houses of construction clients in the Ludlow area, according to court documents.

A year after the first meeting, Bartolotta introduced the victim to Meyer, and the sex acts would occur on Friday nights, prior to Saturday races, according to court documents. 

Meyer is currently a volunteer firefighter for the West Haven Fire Department at Engine 23 and a 911 dispatcher for the city of West Haven, Fire Chief James O'Brien said.

He is also the captain of the explorer program, a department program for youths, and photos online show him standing in front of Explorer Post 3.

As time passed, Meyer brought teens from Connecticut to Vermont and once asked the victim to perform a sex act on another 17-year-old boy, according to court documents, but the teen refused.

Police said Meyer also asked the teen to alter his appearance to look young and boyish and offered to pay for a new hunting bow in exchange for sex.   

Bartolotta was a former volunteer firefighter for the department several years ago and now lives in Cavendish, Vermont, according to O'Brien. He also served as a past president of the Explorers, according to the department's Web site.

Police made the arrests on Wednesday after the victim recorded a conversation with Meyer at a Vermont restaurant. On the recording, Meyer acknowledged knowing the victim since he was 12, and alluded to sexual acts, police said. After Meyer was taken into custody, police searched Bartolotta's home and took computers and a gray box into evidence.

When police interviewed Bartolotta. he admitted to a "minor sexual relationship" with the victim over a five-year period, according to police, then later admitted to a more in-depth relationship that involved bondage and sex toys.

He also told police that the sexual encounters happened when his wife was at work and out of the house so they would not be discovered, according to court records.

Meyer and Bartolotta are charged with aggravated sexual assault and slave trafficking. Their bail is set at $50,000 and both are being held.

They each pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.

Two weeks ago, two volunteer firefighters from Coventry were arrested, accused of having sexual relations with members of the junior firefighter program, a program for teens between 14 and 17 years of age.

Joseph Michael Carilli, 55 of Coventry, the department’s training officer, was charged with sexual assault in the second degree and risk of injury to a minor. No court records are available on Carilli's next court date.

Joe Fragoso, 35 of Coventry, a second lieutenant, was charged with second-degree sexual assault.

Fragoso is due in court on March 21.

Hartford Police Issue Warning About iPhone Thefts


Hartford Police issued a warning for the public about crooks targeting teens who have iPhones.

Authorities told NBC Connecticut thefts had gone up significantly in the last few months, and they had investigated dozens of cases.
“All of the sudden this guy with a black hoodie on just came up,” said Dominic Bonitto.  He said he recently watched that guy steal his friend’s phone on a city bus.  They were on the way to school downtown. “He just snatched his phone and ran,” he explained.
Hartford Police said in the last few weeks, crooks started to target teens before and after school on the streets, even at bus stops.  In many cases, police said victims had been talking on the phone or texting, and were caught off guard.

“They're having  them out they're getting ripped out of their hands sometimes by surprise sometimes by force,” Lt. Brian Foley explained.
Hartford Police just sent a warning to the schools, to warn students about the crimes and to be aware. “Try to get everyone to pay attention when they're walking with their iPhones or iPads,” said Lt. Foley.
Police said adults had been recently victimized in Hartford as well.  There were dozens of cases in recent months. 

In some instances, the victims wore earphones and kept the phones in their pockets. “Wearing those headphones lets people know you have an electronic device on you,” Lt. Foley added.
Police also warned the major employers about the crimes of opportunity, to make sure cell phone users weren’t robbed. They advised users to turn on the GPS tracker, so if it was stolen, investigators could possibly track it down.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hundreds of Acres Burn Near Calif. Cities


Light winds and cool temperatures allowed firefighters in southern California to make progress on a wildfire that caused power outages and prompted evacuations Thursday near Riverside.

By 4 a.m., the Jurupa Wildfire burned about 200 acres and containment was at 30 percent.

Power was restored early Friday to Riverside residents, some of whom watched as flames neared their homes. Wind gusts tossed embers over a wide area Friday evening, sparking small brush fires.

"It was way too close," said homeowner Matt Kolstad.

The vegetation fire was reported about 4:43 p.m. near Rio Road and Calle Hermosa in Jurupa Valley, at the south end of Santa Ana River Regional Park (map). The fire grew from 10 acres to 50 acres by 5:45 p.m., according to the Riverside County Fire Department's online incident report. The fire scorched between 50 and 75 acres by 6:50 p.m.; and grew to consume 150 acres by 8:45 p.m.

Angelenos in Griffith Park reported seeing smoke, 50 miles west of the fire. And while flying in the San Fernando Valley, NBCLA's NewsChopper 4 spotted plumes about 60 miles away from the blaze.

Firefighters used deliberately set blazes, known as backfires, to help control the fire. The tactic is meant to burn possible fuel in the fire's path.

No injuries were reported and it was not immediately known if any structures were damaged.

More: Resident Near Riverside Fire: "I'm Scared to Death"

Cop Fired for Shooting 41 Times at Suspect


A Garland, Texas, police officer who fired 41 shots at a chase suspect in August has been fired.

The Garland Police Department confirmed that it fired Officer Patrick Tuter after an internal investigation into the Aug. 12, 2012, shooting.

Michael Allen, 25, was shot and killed after a high-speed chase that began in Garland and ended in Mesquite. Allen was wanted on suspicion of eluding police in Sasche a few days earlier.

Garland police spokesman Officer Joe Harn said Tuter violated the department's general order of use of force and pursuit protocol.

The department at first said that Tuter opened fire in fear of his life, but dashboard camera video raised concerns after it showed that Tuter had rammed Allen's truck and fired 41 shots after he cornered Allen. Tuter reloaded twice, police said.

"He did not deserve the death sentence," said Allen's mother, Stephanie Allen. "Patrick Tuter was not judge and jury, and that's what he made himself out to be."

Allen's father, Randy Allen, said he is glad the department finally acted on the matter because he doesn't want any other families to feel what he, his wife and his son's 4-year-old daughter feel every day.

"Maybe the streets are safer now," he said.

The Allens have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tuter, seeking damages in their son's death.

The lawsuit says that Michael Allen did not have a weapon and did not pose a threat to officers. The lawsuit also says that Tuter's use of force was excessive.

"That's what tears me up -- that they weren't only just excessive, it was excessive on top of excessive," Randy Allen said.

The Allens said their son should not have run from police but also know that nothing can bring him back.

Tuter's attorney said his client does not agree with the department's decision to fire him and will appeal.

"The indefinite suspension was based upon alleged violations of the Garland Police Department's internal, administrative policies," the attorney said in a statement. "However, Officer Tuter's actions were justified under this state's penal code, and the indefinite suspension will be appealed under state civil service law."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Great Whites Protected Off Calif. Coast


Great white sharks off the coast of California will be protected by the California Endangered Species Act beginning March 1.

Three environmental groups asked the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect the fish at the beginning of February. The groups said there are only around 340 great whites in the Northwestern Pacific region, making them in danger of extinction.

Beginning March 1, great whites may not be hunted, pursued, or killed under CESA. Anyone caught harming or killing a shark could face criminal prosecution. 

Commercial fishing for great whites has been banned in California waters for nearly 20 years, but some exceptions previously existed for research purposes. Starting March 1, the Fish and Wildlife department will issue permits for scientific research. Fishers will also have to obtain a permit in case of accidental capture of great white sharks. 

With CESA protection for great whites, Fish and Wildlife may also decide to deem the species endangered. The department will conduct a status review of the sharks to determine whether or not it is threatened and expect to make a decision by early 2014.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Conn. Firefighters Arrested for Sex Slavery: Police


A current and former firefighter from the West Haven Fire Department were arrested, accused of forcing a 12 year-old boy into sex slavery in Vermont until he was 25, according to a spokesman for the West Haven Police Department.

Vermont State Police arrested Frank Meyer, 39, and  Brett Bartolotta, 42, in Ludlow, Vermont on Wednesday after a sting operation in which the victim wore a wire.

Police said the firefighters bribed the boy with money and gifts since 2001 to get him to perform sexual favors.

The victim had been in a sexual relationship with the two men for the past 12 years, police said.

Meyer is currently a volunteer firefighter for the West Haven Fire Department at Engine 23 and a 911 dispatcher for the city of West Haven, Fire Chief James O'Brien said.

He has also been involved with the explorer program, a department program for youths and photos online show him standing in front of Explorer Post 3.

The Engine 23 company has been shut down as a precaution, officials said.

Bartolotta was a former volunteer firefighter for the department several years ago and lives in Cavendish, Vermont, according to O'Brien said.

Meyers and Bartolotta are charged with aggravated sexual assault and slave trafficking. Their bail is set at $50,000 and both are being held.

They each pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.

Two weeks ago, two volunteer firefighters from Coventry, Conn. were arrested, accused of having sexual relations with members of the junior firefighter program, a program for teens between 14 and 17 years of age.

Joseph Michael Carilli, 55 of Coventry, the department’s training officer, was charged with sexual assault in the second degree and risk of injury to a minor. No court records are available on Carilli's next court date.

Joe Fragoso, 35 of Coventry, a second lieutenant, was charged with second-degree sexual assault.

Fragoso is due in court on March 21.

Family Sees Up Close Henrietta Lacks' Contribution to Science


Henrietta Lacks has saved a countless numbers of lives, and that was after she died from cervical cancer in 1951.

More than six decades ago, cells from Lacks’ body became the first human cells to ever flourish in a lab.

Her descendants on Thursday visited the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte to see close up the impact their ancestor’s contribution continues to make.

Lacks was 31 years old when she died. At the time, she had no idea that her cells would be harvested for research.

Dr. Linda Malkas, of City of Hope, launched her career studying what are known as "HeLa" cells, a name with a nod to their origin. On Thursday, she gave Lacks’ relatives a tour of the lab.

Lacks’ son David and granddaughter Kim flew to Los Angeles from Baltimore, and were eager to learn more about the legacy of their long lost relative.

Kim Lacks said she is proud "to know that the same blood tissues they’re using for this research is actually flowing in (my) body."

David Lacks was 4 years old when his mother died.

"I have heard she was a giving person, she was a loving person," he said. "So, I’d imagine she would’ve given her cells to science."

Since 1951, HeLa cells have helped in creating the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning and in-vitro fertilization.

In 2010, journalist Rebecca Skloot wrote a bestselling book about the history of experimentation on African Americans called "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

Doctors treating Lacks’ cancer gave a sample of her tumor to Dr. George Gey, a researcher at John Hopkins Hospital. He had until then been searching in vain for cells that would live indefinitely in culture so researchers could experiment on them.

Lacks’ cells did just that.

Neither Lacks nor her relatives knew this had happened.

"These cells are not just important for research in the United States, they’re used around the world," Malkas said.

Malkas and her colleagues are using HeLa cells to develop possible cancer fighting therapies. She told the Lacks that their mother and grandmother is the ultimate example of how we're all connected.

Radio Shack Burglary Could Be Part of Spree


Three armed robbers stole iPhones and other electronic items from the Radio Shack on North Colony Road in Wallingford on Thursday night and police are looking into whether this could be connected to burglaries at Radio Shacks in East Haven, Hamden and Trumbull.

The three robbers were masked and wore hooded sweatshirts when they robbed the shop at 8:45 p.m., police said.

Little information is available, but police said they got away in a gray vehicle.  

Wallingford Detectives are investigating and ask anyone with information to call Sergeant John Ventura at 203-294-2848.

The Jets Are on the Hunt for Quarterbacks


The Jets have started looking for their new quarterbacks. 

Former Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was in town for a workout on Thursday and told Manish Mehta of the Daily News that it went well. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Garrard expects to sign a deal with the team once they've worked through some of the mess that is their payroll. 

We'll see if that's true, but it does fit with what they've said about adding competition at quarterback this offseason. The team has indicated that they want to sign two quarterbacks to the roster and the Garrard meeting was preceded by word that the team has interest in Chiefs backup and impending free agent Brady Quinn. 

And therein lies the rub. You'll notice that neither of those names make you jump up and exclaim that John Idzik would be some kind of miracle worker to bring this kind of talent to the team. 

They are bargain basement choices for a team that can barely afford to pay bargain basement prices. Welcome to the Jets of 2013, ladies and gentlemen. 

There was a point when Garrard would have been a clear step up from Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Unfortunately, that time was when George W. Bush was still in the White House and Garrard hasn't taken a snap in the NFL in the last two years. 

Quinn doesn't even have the shine of the good old days to make you think there's a chance he could make the offense into something that didn't produce nausea more often than points. This is a guy who has been beaten out on depth charts by the likes of Derek Anderson, Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel over the course of his massively disappointing career. 

Say whatever you want about Sanchez, but he's been better than most of the guys on that list and Orton's superficially better stats haven't landed him any kind of regular work around the NFL. The idea that Quinn (or Garrard, for that matter) is anything more than a threat to Greg McElroy as the backup is hard to swallow. 

There are so many holes on this Jets team and so little money to fill them that it is probably silly to even bother worrying about who plays quarterback since they're unlikely to have blockers or skill position players who could help them win. It would also be easier since worrying about their choices now will lead to caring about their results come September and that feels like nothing so much as a recipe for disaster. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Nothing Suspicious Found After Ellis Tech Bomb Scare


Ellis Tech in Danielson was evacuated as a precaution after a bomb threat was found and classes have been canceled for the day.

A note on the bathroom wall said there was a bomb in the school, according to state police.

Police brought in bomb detection dogs and said nothing suspicious was found.


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