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Woman Robbed at Plainville Gas Station


A woman was robbed by a man with a gun while she walked to her car at a gas station in Plainville on Friday morning.

The woman was walking alone in the parking lot of the Gulf station on Camp Street at Route 177 when the man approached her around 8 a.m., according to police.  He pulled a gun and demanded money, police said.

The woman was not injured.

She told police the man took off in a black, four-door Ford Focus with Connecticut license plates.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call Plainville police at 860-747-1616.

Judge Denies Motion to Delay Jury Selection in Boston Bombing Trial


On what is essentially the eve of the start of the trial of Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his attorneys are taking one last shot at both delaying the trial and moving it out of Boston.

Defense attorneys have asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to step in and overrule U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole's decisions to deny a change of venue and a continuance.

NECN Legal Editor Randy Chapman says while this is an extraordinary case and the appeals court could certainly delay the proceedings, it's not likely.

"The appeals courts generally give great deference to the trial court's decisions," said Chapman.

Pending a decision by the appeals court, the defense asked Judge O'Toole to at least delay jury selection, which is scheduled to start Monday.

But the judge even denied that, saying it would be a disruption to the 1,200 prospective jurors scheduled to report to court next week.

Chapman says at the very least, Tsarnaev's defense team could be laying the groundwork for appeals later on.

"This is a case that he is potentially going to be put to death," said Chapman. "There will be extraordinary scrutiny of every decision that the court makes in the course of the case."

But for the survivors of the marathon bombings, like Heather Abbott, who's been waiting nearly two years to see this case go to court, the sooner the trial can be over with, the better.

"I'm, I guess, anxious for it to kind of come and go, but I'm certainly interested in what will happen and we'll probably attend part of the trial," said Abbott.

The first phase of jury selection is scheduled to take place over six sessions Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

"A Necessity": Undocumented Immigrants Flock to DMV for Licenses Under New Law


Undocumented immigrants in California began applying for driver's licenses on Friday, and one office especially set up to help these soon-to-be drivers in San Jose was bustling with customers.

Starting at 5 a.m. about 30 people had lined up outside the office on Senter Road in the chilly temps to get their permits and take their tests. By 7:30 a.m., the line had grown to more than 100, with people snaking around the corner of the building, waiting for the office to open at 8 a.m. Each had a stack of papers in their hand; the new law requires valid ID from their home country's consulate.

One of those driver hopefuls was Roselio Nicholes, who said that fears of being stopped by the police will no longer scare her.

"It's a blessing," she said.

Hermenegilo Reyes also said is glad he won't be stopped when he gets behind the wheel. In an interview Thursday, he told NBC Bay Area in Spanish, "I have been studying. If God allows, it will be doable."

And Gilberto Flores drove away Friday morning from the San Jose office in his pickup - legally for the first time since coming to the United States from Mexico 15 years ago. "It's exciting," he said, noting that he can't wait to have ease of mind when he takes his daughter to school or go to work and "contribute to this economy."

The California Department of Motor Vehicles expects 1.4 million people to seek a license in the first three years of the AB 60 program, which was written by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas,) an agricultural town and home to a burgeoning population of migrant workers.

Immigrant advocates have cheered the licenses as a way to integrate immigrants who must drive to work and shuttle children to school. But critics have questioned state officials' ability to verify the identity of foreign applicants, citing security concerns. In fact, opponents planned to protest in Long Beach outside the office of state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) who is chairman of the Latino legislative caucus. The critics are supportive of those who have fallen victim to car accidents where undocumented drivers were behind the wheel.

And in San Jose, Ken Sligar, who was at the DMV to get his teenager a driving permit, said he had "mixed emotions" about the new law because he wants immigrants to become citizens "just like everyone else." As for giving the undocumented driver's licences? "No, no," he said.

Officials said they cannot predict how many people will line up immediately to apply, but the number of people making appointments for a license more than doubled when immigrants were allowed to sign up. In San Jose, authorities were bracing for up to 500,000 people who would eventually apply.

Appointments are required to apply for a license except at four newly-created DMV offices, including the one in San Jose, which features nearly 100 windows to process the expected rush of new applicants. There are three other such centers across California. In San Jose, applicants must take a 36-question test, and then take their road test elsewhere.

Undocumented immigrants interviewed over the past several weeks in San Jose said they have been studying for months and are ready to take the drivers license test. The San Jose Mexican Consulate also has been offering classes to help immigrants with the written exam.

“We have been doing, every 15 days, four hours teaching people how to take the exam,” Mexican consulate spokeswoman Nuria Marine said in an earlier interview. “We want people to pass the exam the first time, not second.”

California is one of 10 states that now provide licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. The licenses issued to immigrants without legal status will include a distinctive marking and are not considered a valid form of federal identification.

Law enforcement officials say the program will improve road safety because licensed drivers must be tested and insured. A DMV study based on 23 years of crash data found that unlicensed drivers were more likely to cause a fatal collision than licensed drivers. State insurance officials hope the change will increase the number of drivers holding auto insurance.

For Reyes, the undocumented resident of San Jose, road safety and insurance issues are not as important to him as simply being able to drive to work and get his errands done, without fear of getting arrested or deported.

"It's a necessity in this country," he said.

NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Photo Credit: Bob Redell
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Teen Charged With Online Threat Under House Arrest


The East Lyme teen charged with posting a violent threat to a social media site will remain under house arrest and has been ordered to stay off social media.

Tyler McKenzie, 18, faced a judge on Friday.

He was arrested on New Year's Eve, about a week after someone contacted police to report a disturbing comment posted on YikYak, a social media site that allows users to post anonymous comments.

"I've been bullied to (sic) long, after break East Lyme better be ready for the hail of bullets," the comment on YikYak read.

According to an arrest warrant application, police obtained an IP address and GPS coordinates that led them to McKenzie, a UConn student, as a suspect.

Police and the FBI applied for a search warrant and searched McKenzie's home on Cubles Drive in East Lyme on Wednesday. They seized McKenzie's cell phone and interviewed him about the posting on YikYak.

A judge agreed to release McKenzie after the teen's court appearance on Friday, with restrictions.

He has been ordered to stay off social media, he can only use a computer for school purposes, cannot use the internet for any purpose, he must stay away from East Lyme school property and cannot have any weapons.

McKenzie admitted to police he made the threatening comments, according to the arrest warrant application.

Police said McKenzie told officers when he made the post, he didn't believe he wanted to harm anyone, but he wasn't sure. He said he had no plans to carry out the threat, according to the warrant.

McKenzie has no prior criminal history and had no weapons, police said.

He faces charges of first-degree threatening and second degree breach of peace.

Norwich Fire Displaces Two Families


Six people are without a home after fire tore through a duplex on School Lane in Norwich on Friday.

According to a resident of 76 School Lane, at least four people, including a 13-year-old, were home when the flames broke out Friday afternoon. Family members have lived in one of the apartments for 30 years.

"I saw the smoke and I saw the flames go all the way up, and then the house immediately, in seconds, just went up in flames," said neighbor Luis Moncanez.

The American Red Cross is responding to the scene to help five adults and one child in two families. Fire officials said the home suffered significant damage as flames crept up through the walls and into the attic.

Officials are investigating to determine the cause of the blaze, but one resident said he suspects it started on the back porch.

"I came out on the porch and someone knocked on the window, and I ran from the outside in, and it was engulfed, and I tried to get everyone out of the house," Anthony Flanders explained. "I looked at the fire, I ran and grabbed a pot of water. I opened the door; it singed me, and I just got everyone out."

No one was hurt in the fire.

Check back for updates.

Person Falls Through Ice at Connecticut College: Fire Union


At least one person was rushed to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital on Friday afternoon after falling through the ice at Connecticut College in New London, according to the fire union.

Members of the New London fire union said the person fell through the ice at the Arboretum on Williams Street at Connecticut College. Mutual aid was called in from Waterford and the Groton Subase.

The person was taken to the hospital after being pulled from the ice.

Authorities have not identified the person or elaborated on his or her condition.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Amanda Watson

Police Arrest Suspect in Waterbury Murder


Police have arrested a suspect in the death of a man found in a driveway in Waterbury on New Year's Day.

Investigators said Johnathan Pape, 22, physically attacked and robbed the victim, 50-year-old Donald Curtis, as Curtis walked home from a nearby store around 5 a.m. on Thursday.

Curtis' body was found in a driveway at 34 Mitchell Avenue Thursday morning. The medical examiner ruled Curtis died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest.

Investigators developed information overnight that led them to Pape as a suspect.

Pape admitted to punching Curtis, knocking him to the ground and then kicking him in the head during the robbery, according to police.

Officers executed a search warrant at Pape's home at 23 Fairview Street and seized evidence connecting Pape to the crime, police said.

Pape is charged with felony murder, first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, second-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit second-degree larceny.

He appeared in Waterbury Superior Court on Friday and was ordered held on $1 million bond.

Police said they expect to make more arrests.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police

Teen Missing After Meeting Man Online Found Safe


A Naugatuck teen who was reported missing after going out on New Year's Eve with a man she met on social media has been found safe, according to police.

Police said 19-year-old Erika VonDwingelo left her family's home in Naugatuck around 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve to go out with a man named "Chris" whom she met online and had never seen in person.

VonDwingelo was reported missing after she failed to return. Police issued an alert asking Connecticut residents to be on the lookout for her and issued an update Friday evening to say she had been found.

VonDwingelo was unharmed, according to police, who have not yet released the details of where they found her.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

48-Year-Old Man Missing From New London


Authorities have issued a Silver Alert for 48-year-old Roig Cruz-Colon, and police in his hometown of New London said family members are concerned because they haven't heard from him since September.

According to New London police, Cruz-Colon last contacted family members on Sept. 30. Police said he normally checks in with family around the holidays, but this year, no one heard from him.

Police said Cruz-Colon has medical issues that are cause for concern and are therefore considering him endangered.

He stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds, according to police. Cruz-Colon has red hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call New London police at 860-447-5281.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

LifeStar Airlifts Skier Hurt at Ski Sundown


LifeStar was called to Ski Sundown in New Hartford on Friday afternoon to airlift a person in his or her 20s who was knocked unconscious during a skiing accident, according to emergency dispatchers.

The incident was reported around 3:50 p.m. Friday. The New Hartford Fire Department was also called to help bring the skier down off the mountainside. Dispatchers said the injured person was airlifted to Hartford Hospital for treatment.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Police Arrest Danielson Assault Suspects


State police have arrested two men wanted for seriously assaulting a man at a home on Maple Street in Danielson last month.

Joshua Whittington, 21, and Michael Papineau, 27, have been charged with first-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment.

Police said they got into an argument with the victim, who was found bleeding from the head in a common area of the multi-family home at 11 Maple Street the night of Dec. 22.

The fight turned physical and the suspects struck the victim over the head and pushed him into a "hole within the mill building," according to state police.

The victim was rushed to Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam and transferred to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, for further treatment, state police said. His condition is unknown.

Prior to their arrest, Whittington and Papineau were considered armed and dangerous. Police said they fled to Cape Cod and were taken into custody by police in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Dec. 29.

Whittington and Papineau were brought back to Connecticut on Jan. 2 and arrested on state charges at State Police Troop D barracks in Danielson.

Both are being held on $100,000 bond and are due in court Jan. 5.

Photo Credit: State Police

20-Year-Old Burned American Flag in Southington: Cops


A 20-year-old Southington resident is facing charges after setting fire to his neighbor's American flag two days after Christmas, according to police.

Police said Kyle LeBlanc, of Southington, was caught on home surveillance video burning the flag, which was attached to a mailbox on Sunnyridge Drive, the night of Dec. 27.

LeBlanc was charged with third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree breach of peace and mutilation of the flag.

He was released on a $1,000 bond and is due in court Jan. 5.

Meriden Police Mark Anniversary of Infant Death


On Jan. 2, 1988, Meriden police made a gruesome discovery.

“It was 1988. I was actually a Saturday morning I believe. I was at home. I got a phone call that we had found a deceased [person] in a parking lot,” described Meriden police Chief Jeffrey Cossette.

Chief Jeffrey Cossette later found out it was a 7.5-pound baby boy who had been abandoned in the cold and froze to death. To this day, no one knows who left him there.

“We checked the neighborhood, our people checked everywhere. We couldn't find the mom, whoever she was. I surmised that she went through some kind of trauma,” said Robert Kosienski, who was police chief at the time of the discovery.

“Most of the officers on the job couldn't understand how anyone could do this to a newborn child in the cold in January,” added Lt. Lawrence Guidobono.

Because they couldn't find the baby's mother, the Meriden Police Department took over and named him "David Paul,” which means, "God's Beloved Little Man."

“The police department adopted the child, so to speak, and we were able to get the proper burial and ceremony. Ever since then, our police department comes together and we have a gravesite ceremony on Jan. 2,” said Cossette.

They’ll continue the tradition every year to remember the child, who made a mark on the Meriden Police Department.

“I have three children of my own, and it's very, very important to come out here and remember this child who was abandoned and had to freeze to death, but we're his parents now,” said Guidobono.

The Meriden Police Department is still investigating the case and still searching for the baby’s mother.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Willimantic Police Probe Back-to-Back Armed Robberies


Police are investigating two armed robberies that occurred within 15 minutes of each other on Thursday night in Willimantic.

According to police, a man dressed in all black with a sweatshirt hood pulled over his head walked into the Sam's Food Mart on Lower Main Street around 8 p.m. Thursday. He pointed a handgun at the clerk, demanded money and took off with cash.

While police were investigating the robbery at Sam's, they received the report of a second armed robbery across town at the A-1 gas station on West Main Street.

Police said three men clad in black entered the gas station around 8:13 p.m. One pointed a pistol at the employee and the group got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

"We're asking anybody who might have been in the city of Willimantic last night, say between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., anywhere on that stretch of Route 32, which is Lower Main Street to West Main Street, to look at these photographs," said Willimantic police Cpl. Stan Parizo, Jr., referring to surveillance images captured at both scenes.

"If you can identify any of the four assailants, we're asking you, please contact the Willimantic Police Department Criminal Investigation Division," he added.

It's not clear if the robberies are connected, but police said they're conducted separate investigations into the two.

Photo Credit: Willimantic Police Department

Low Gas Prices Could Lead to Sagging State Revenues


While just about everyone in the country is enjoying some of the lowest gas prices in years, officials say they could take a toll on the state’s finances.

“We’re seeing a slight decrease in collections,” explained John Kutsukos, the director of Audit and Compliance at the state Department of Revenue Services.

He said that with the lower gas prices, more people are buying more gallons of gasoline. It's a good thing for tax collections happening at the pump.

"We have seen an increase in the usage of gasoline so with that being said the motor fuel tax could see a rise. We have seen a million so far," Kutsukos said.

The tax collection that could see some kind of hit is that applied to oil and petroleum distributors and wholesalers. They're taxed at 8.1 percent per gallon, which means the lower the price of gasoline, the fewer dollars coming in to the distributors, resulting in decreased tax collections.

Analysts at the Office of Policy and Management, a wing of the governor’s administration, took into account sagging gas prices and some tax collections when they made their budget projections six weeks ago.

Brian Tassinari with the OPM said it's too early to tell whether tax receipts will come in lower than expected with regards to petroleum and gasoline.

“We still only have one quarter of revenues for the fiscal year,” Tassinari said. “We are working on the premise that gas prices are lower than they were last year so that may factor in.”

Kutsukos said that even though the state may lose out on revenues specifically from oil distributors and wholesalers, the money may show up in sales tax collections as a result of consumers having more money in their pockets from gasoline savings.

'With lower gas prices we do anticipate some people traveling a little more, driving a little more,” he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/OJO Images

Masked Men Break Into New Haven Apartment


Police are searching for two masked men who broke into a first-floor apartment in New Haven and demanded money from the couple living there.

According to police, the 69-year-old couple woke up to the sound of breaking class coming from the kitchen of their apartment on Welton Street the morning of Dec. 29.

They got up to see what was happening and found two intruders, who had broken in through the back door. Both were armed with pistols, according to police.

Police said the men pointed their guns at the couple and yelled, "Where's the money?" One suspect forced the couple into a bedroom while the other looked for valuables.

The intruders ran from the home after taking only a cellphone. Police said the residents were not physically hurt.

Detectives are investigating and said they do not believe the attack was random.

Anyone with information is urged to contact New Haven police.

Honor Flight Veterans to Get Special TSA Screening


Honor Flight participants already receive rousing applause and thanks at every airport they travel through, but with a new law passed by Congress and signed by the president, they will soon get the same treatment when they go through security.

The Honor Flight Act, approved earlier this year, mandates that all American airports create separate processes for veterans to go through security.

"The airport screening process should never be a barrier for a veteran going on an Honor Flight, and now with the passage of this piece of legislation, it never will be again,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who helped secure the law’s passage.

Honor Flights will have special security screening lines to ensure easier experiences for veterans, many of whom may not have been on a commercial flight in years, traveling to see their monuments in Washington, D.C.

"We are going to get you through that screening line just as we do the biggest celebrities or politicians, or public officials and we're going to give you that respect” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the soon-to-be-ranking member on the Veterans Affairs Committee. “You deserve it. You've earned it and we're going to honor you and we're going to trust you."

Woman Attacked and Robbed While Walking From Car: Cops


Two teens in ski masks attacked and robbed a woman walking from her car to her apartment on Elsworth Avenue in New Haven on New Year's Day, police say.

The woman had parked her car and was walking home when she noticed two teens watching her, police say.

She told police the teens ran at her and knocked her down, kicking her and demanding her valuables. The woman handed over her wallet and iPhone, police said.

Police described the attackers as teenage boys clad in ski masks and all black clothing, with the exception of one of the boys' pants, which were camouflage-colored.

The victim was treated for a minor facial injury at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Police are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Tanger Pulls Out of Cheshire Outlet Project


After breaking off a partnership with Massachusetts-baded WS Development, Tanger Outlets no longer has a stake in the new outlet mall under construction in Cheshire, according to town economic development coordinator Jerry Sitko.

"WS Development informed us a few weeks back that Tanger pulled out of hte Outlets at Cheshire project," Sitko told NBC Connecticut on Friday. "However, WS told us that the project is still active and that it remains committed to the construction of the Outlets at Cheshire. All local approvals to construct the project are secured and we believe WS is working to obtain necessary permits from the state."

The Outlets at Cheshire, a 585-square-foot open-air shopping center along Interstate 691 in Cheshire, is slated to open this summer at 2037 Highland Avenue.

It's not clear what prompted Tanger, which operates an outlet mall in Westbrook, to pull out of the Cheshire project.

Person Hit By Car in New London


Police are investigating after a pedestrian was struck by a car on Bank Street in New London on Friday afternoon.

According to police, the crash happened around 5:30 p.m. in the area of 595 Bank Street. Police said the pedestrian and driver have both been hospitalized for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

New London police are investigating the crash and have not identified either person involved.

Anyone with information is urged to call New London police at 860-447-5269.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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