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Man Chokes Boy, 13, Beats Girlfriend in XBox Argument: Cops


A 13-year-old stepped in to defend his mother when her boyfriend attacked her as an argument over XBox turned violent in Middletown, police said.

Bernardo Nunez-Rivera, 33, of Middletown, is facing multiple charges including assault, strangulation and risk of injury to a child after assaulting his girlfriend and then fighting her teenage son, police said.

Police responded to a home on Summer Hill Road at 12:44 a.m. on Jan. 5 after the 13-year-old called 911 to report that his mother's boyfriend was assaulting her.

Nunez Rivera and his girlfriend, who have lived together with her three children ages 9 to 13 for about a year and a half and have been together three years, both told police they got into an argument over the video game system, according to police. Her son walked into the bedroom after hearing them fighting and saw Nunez-Rivera on his mother hitting her in the face, police said.

The boy tried to pull them apart to stop the beating, but then Nunez-Rivera grabbed his neck, choked him and called him names before smashing his PlayStation 3 gaming consul, police said. The $175 video game system was damaged beyond repair, according to police.

The teen told police that his throat hurt, but that he didn't have trouble breathing.

The boy's mother denied that her boyfriend attacked her and said that a visible injury to her mouth and lip might have been the result of falling into the wall, police said.

Nunez-Rivera told police that he drank about 10 beers before the incident and responding officers said they could smell alcohol on his breath.

Police charged him with disorderly conduct, two counts of third-degree assault, second-degree strangulation, risk of injury to a minor and third-degree criminal mischief.

Nunez-Rivera was held in custody on a $20,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Missing New Hartford Kayaker Identified


A 53-year-old New Hartford woman has been identified as the kayaker reported missing the day after New Year's Day.

Patricia Cole went out on West Hill Pond in New Hartford at about 8 p.m. on New Year's Day and a friend called police at 6 a.m. Friday to report she never returned.

Search crews found the yellow kayak and a paddle glove, but have not found Cole at this time.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) environmental conservation police responded Friday morning to look for Cole and have suspended the search because of treacherous conditions on the ice.

The search will be "resumed as soon as possible" when it's safe enough for crews to continue looking on the water, EnCon police said.

Neither police nor DEEP are releasing further information at this time.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Hamden Police Mourn K-9 Titan's Passing


The Hamden Police Department is mourning the passing of one of its retired police dogs.

K-9 Titan died on Dec. 30. The dog was born on March 3, 2002 in Slovakia and became a Hamden police dog in September of 2003, Hamden police said on its Facebook page. He worked alongside his handler Sgt. Jason Venditto for just over 10 years with the department until his retirement in October 2013, police said.

Titan "enjoyed retirement with the Sergeant Venditto and his family and took one final tour on Dec 29th," Hamden police said on the department's Facebook page, thanking Titan for his dedicated service.

Titan mostly worked as a patrol dog, but he also had training in detecting explosive devices. He received the Day Spring Lodge Police Officer of the Year Award in 2009 and the Daniel Wasson K-9 awards in 2006, 2010 and 2011 from the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association, police said.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police Department

Waterbury Homicide Suspect Held on $1 Million Bond


A suspect in the death of a man found in a driveway in Waterbury on New Year's Day is being held on $1 million bond after being arraigned on Monday.

Joseph Pape, 20, the brother of another suspect, Jonathan Pape, was arrested in connection with the homicide of 50-year-old Donald Curtis and was charged with felony murder, first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, second-degree larceny and second-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, police said.

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

Investigators previously said Jonathan Pape, 22, physically attacked and robbed Curtis as he walked home from a nearby store around 5 a.m. on Thursday.

Joseph Pape is due back in court on January 21.

NY Times Film Tells Love Story of 2 CT Patients


Chris Plum, 37, and Margaret "Muffi" Lavigne, 42, went to Hospital for Special Care in New Britain separately to be treated for muscular dystrophy, but they'll forever remember their time there for another special reason.

They met each other there in 2011 and got married two years later – and now their love story has been immortalized in a New York Times documentary, "Good Night, Margaret" that the esteemed newspaper featured in its Best of 2014 video section just before the New Year.

Here is their story featured in the 11-minute documentary.

After graduating from UConn, Muffi lived in Washington D.C. for 10 years and was forced to stop her pursuit of a master's degree in architecture in Illinois  when she grew ill and had to fly back to Connecticut in January 2008 to be treated for muscular dystrophy at Hospital for Special Care, according to a news release.

But things turned around when Muffi, a Somers native, met Chris, of Ridgefield, sitting at a nearby table at dinner at the hospital a few years later. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was a kid, Chris came to Hospital for Special Care for treatment in March 2011. They saw each other at dinner and starting talking.

Then they began dating, watching a movie for their first date in a hospital media room. The movie dates continued and they also ordered takeout food for many dinners. They even found a romantic view in the hospital, wheeling themselves in their wheelchairs to a glass deck to gaze upon the gardens on the property. 

On St. Patrick's Day in 2013, their relationship grew serious and they began talking about getting married. They tied the knot on Oct. 5, 2013 at the hospital where they first met and the hospital provided them with a private room.

Click here to watch the full Times documentary.

Photo Credit: Mike Allen

Supermarket Employee Accused of Credit Card Fraud


A Glastonbury supermarket employee has been arrested, accused of making around $900 in unauthorized charges on a customer’s credit card, according to police.

Police said Nelson Morales Jr., 23, of Glastonbury, was an employee of Stop & Shop at 55 Oak Street and the victim had bought something at the market before the fraudulent charges showed up.

How Morales allegedly got the credit card from the victim is not clear.

Morales was arrested on Jan. 1 and charged with credit card theft, illegal use of a credit card, third-degree identity theft and fifth-degree larceny.

Bond was set at $10,000 and he was released. Morales is due in court on Jan. 14.

It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Sentencing Date Postponed for Former Governor Rowland


Former Gov. John Rowland was due in court on Wednesday to be sentenced on convictions for election fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, but the sentencing has been postponed.

According to officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, the court date has been postponed to give the parties involved, as well as the court, time to address issues raised after Rowland's defense team filed a Motion for Extension of Time on Friday.
Prosecutors said former Congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley; her husband, Brian Foley; and Rowland conspired in 2011 to hide Rowland's role in the campaign. Rowland was paid about $35,000 for the unsuccessful campaign.

Lisa Wilson-Foley and Brian Foley, pleaded guilty to federal charges in March.

Brian Foley will be sentenced on Jan. 9 and Lisa Wilson-Foley will be sentenced on Jan. 13.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

I-84 East Reopens in Hartford


Interstate 84 eastbound has reopened in Hartford after four cars collided just before rush hour Monday afternoon, shutting down the highway, according to state police.

Traffic was diverted off the exit 48B to Capitol Avenue as police and fire officials responded to the crash and worked to clear the scene.

There has been no word on injuries.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Car Theft Leads to Shooting in New Haven


Police in New Haven are investigating after a 22-year-old man reported that his car had been stolen, then opened fire on the driver overnight Saturday into Sunday.

According to police, Carlos Catalon, 22, flagged down an officer around 2 a.m. Jan. 4 to report that his red Acura Integra had been stolen and may have his Glock handgun in the glove compartment.

Police left to investigate, and shortly thereafter, Catalon got the attention of another officer and said he had found the car near an entrance ramp to Interstate 95. Officers found the car heavily damaged with blood on the steering wheel, according to police.

Catalon admitted that his gun had been in his girlfriend's car all along, and said he had opened fire at the man driving his Acura when he encountered it in the area of Howard Avenue and Sea Street in New Haven. Police said Catalon claimed the car had sped at him and he thought he'd been hit.

Meanwhile, the driver, 24-year-old Hector Miranda, was receiving treatment at Yale-New Haven Hospital after being shot in the head.

Miranda originally lied but eventually told investigators a man named "Jose" had offered to sell him the car for $800 and that someone had fired a spray of bullets at the car while he was taking it for a test drive after midnight, according to police.

He told police that "Jose" told him to drive away and he panicked, eventually losing control at the I-95 ramp. Miranda said he lost consciousness when his head hit the steering wheel, and when he woke up, "Jose" was gone, according to police.

Miranda told police he ran all the way to the hospital.

Police are investigating and said no charges have been filed. Both the gun and the car have been confiscated and are being examined as evidence.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Rahm's Son "Fine" After Mugging


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's teenaged son is "doing fine" after he was mugged last month, the mayor said Monday — though he said he can't say the same for himself and his wife.

The mayor first thanked everyone who had expressed concerns about his 17-year-old son Zach’s well-being since he was punched in the face and robbed near the family’s Ravenswood home.

“Zach is doing fine. I can’t say the same for his parents, but Zach is doing fine, and that says something about the resilience of teenagers,” he said, adding, “and that is meant to be both tongue-in-cheek as well as serious.”

Police say Zach Emanuel was walking on the 4200 block of North Hermitage talking on his cell phone around 10 p.m. when a man put his arm around the teen’s neck, putting him in a “rear chokehold.”

A second man then punched the teen in the face, knocking him to the ground and forcing him to drop his phone.

The pair took the phone and patted the teen down, asking, “What else you got?” according to the police report. They then told him to enter his security code in the cell phone and fled southbound on Hermitage.

Rahm Emanuel also addressed reporters' questions about the robbery Monday, including one about whether the person with whom Zach was on the phone at the time had heard anything.

“He was on the phone with his college counselor. They obviously heard stuff, and they’ll do the proper work with the police department to do what they need to do,” the mayor said.

New Efforts to Revive Hospital Deal


Connecticut Senate leaders are in talks with executives from Tenet Healthcare in an effort to breathe new life in a proposed hospital purchase that was presumed dead last week.

Incoming Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, said staff members were communicating with Tenet, and he had not yet been directly involved.

"We just wanted to let it be known that we would be available to reconvene a meeting if that should prove useful," Looney said. "We expect to hear from Tenet with affected interest from the hospitals and the unions that are involved representing the employees in the Waterbury hospitals as well.”

The hospitals include Waterbury Hospital, Saint Mary's, Manchester Memorial, Bristol Hospital, and Rockville General Hospital. The sale would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars and immediately inject needed cash into the struggling facilities' coffers.

Officials at several hospitals said they need money to pay for infrastructure and technology upgrades that they can't afford now.

Looney said the state needs to adapt to these new kinds of hospital mergers and create a regulatory environment that could allow them to exist in some form.

Strict regulations were what killed the deal in the first place.

Proposed restrictions on the sale that included limitations on hiring and firing and changes to operating hours.

"I'm surprised that was the issue since they were just proposals in nature," Looney said of the regulations.

Tenet Healthcare didn't respond to an email Monday asking for comment on the future of the deal.

Background Checks on the Table at Waterbury Schools


Criminal background checks could soon be coming for people who volunteer to help in Waterbury's public schools.

"I think there should be background checks," said Tina Campbell, the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 4. "I came from the military and in order to volunteer in our classrooms there, you had to have a background check done. It's safer."

Currently, authorities are supposed to crosscheck volunteers' names with the state government's sex offender registry.

"That's a start," said Bob Zaborosky, "but I mean, anybody who does enter the schools... they checked me when I had to pick up my son when he was in the high school."

Enhancing school security policy is among the school board's objectives this winter.

"I think it's good to know who's around your kids," said Matt Gallagher, who attended Waterbury Public Schools and sends his children to Catholic school in Waterbury.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Employee Stole More Than $2K From Salon: Police


A Glastonbury hair salon employee was arrested after pocketing customer payments, according to police.

Patricia Meehan, 49, of Ellington, turned herself into police on an arrest warrant for a larceny charge.

She is accused of stealing more than $2,000 in cash payments from customers while working at The Image Company Hair Salon at 103 New London Turnpike in October. She would take the cash instead of entering it in the register, police said.

Police charged Meehan with third-degree larceny.

She was issued a $75,000 court-set bond and is due in court on Jan. 21.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pet Shop Owner Tortured Lizard: PD


A South Florida reptile store owner is facing battery and animal cruelty charges after authorities say he struck employees with a bearded dragon lizard and put it in his mouth.

Benjamin Herman Siegel, owner of Siegel Reptiles, was arrested Friday at the business on West Hillsboro Boulevard in Deerfield Beach, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest report.

Siegel, 40, remained behind bars without bond Monday, jail records showed. It was unknown if he has an attorney.

According to the report, video surveillance captured Siegel throwing the animal in the air and swinging it in the air multiple times. He also hit employees with the bearded dragon multiple times and threw Gatorade on them, the report said.

"The defendant did unnecessarily torment the animal, handling the animal in a cruel and/or inhumane manner and intentionally committed an act to the animal which results in excessive and repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to the animal," the report said.

The reptile store made national headlines in 2012 when a man died after consuming dozens of insects and worms during a roach-eating contest at the shop.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office

Cops Speak Out for Gay Colleague


Ahead of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tackling Texas' ban on gay marriage later this week, a group of Fort Worth police officers are speaking out in support of marriage equality on behalf of a gay colleague.

In the ad, three employees of the Fort Worth Police Department say Chris Gorrie, a police officer since 2006, should be allowed to marry whomever he wants and that those who support freedom and liberty should also support his freedom to marry.

The 30-second ad, placed by Texas for Marriage, a joint campaign by Freedom to Marry and Equality Texas, began airing Sunday in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso, among other cities, and will run through Monday.

“Our ad shows Ft. Worth police officers standing up for their gay colleague‘s freedoms,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. “With poignancy, they remind Texans that anyone who puts their life on the line to protect other Americans should not be treated unequally or be denied the ability to protect their own family by being barred from marrying.”

A transcript of the ad can be read below:

Chris Gorrie: I became a police officer in 2006.
Monica Jackson: Chris makes a sacrifice everyday along with the rest of us.
Jay Doshi: He puts his life on the line just like I do.
Chris Gorrie: My partner Justin and I — we live together. Eventually one day we’d like to get married just like everybody else.
Allison Fincher: A lot of people think gay people shouldn’t be able to get married — that makes no sense.
Chris Gorrie: Freedom is a big deal; the freedom to marry, the freedom to say what you want to say, and the freedom to do what you want to do.
Jay Doshi: Texans believe in freedom and liberty and part of that is to be able to marry who you love, so Chris should be able to marry whoever he loves.

The ad, above, can also be seen here on YouTube.

George W. Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon serves as a chair of the campaign, which hopes to win bipartisan support for marriage equality ahead of Friday's court date.

On Friday, the New Orleans federal appeals court will hear the state defend a ban on same-sex marriage. A San Antonio federal judge has ruled the law unconstitutional but let the ban remain in effect pending appeal. The same court will also hear cases on same-sex marriage from Louisiana and Mississippi.

Photo Credit: FreedomToMarry

Reward for 3-Week-Old Girl's Killer


Police on Monday urged the public to help find the "coward" killer of an abducted 3-week-old girl, whose body was found in a dumpster and whose parents and uncle were shot in their Long Beach home.

"To take a precious child from her home and throw her in a dumpster, like a piece of trash, is something a heartless person would do," said Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna at an afternoon news conference, where he said a $10,000 reward was set to be offered Tuesday. "We need to get the coward who committed this violent and senseless act off the street, but we absolutely need the public's help."

The body of Eliza Delacruz was found Sunday afternoon in a dumpster at a commercial strip mall in the 600 block of Palm Drive in Imperial Beach, said police spokeswoman Marlene Arrona.

San Diego County authorities said the body was found shortly before 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Long Beach police were notified of the discovery around 4:30 p.m., she said.

Family members and friends were heartbroken.

Three weeks ago, just before Thanksgiving, Aaron Cruz's good friend Eddie Delacruz was beyond excited to welcome home his baby girl Eliza.

"As soon as he had his daughter, he was sending pictures of what the weight was," Cruz said. "We were excited for him. He was going to be a brand new father."

Cruz has not slept since he learned detectives found Eliza.

"Three weeks old, 21 days of living ... She couldn't defend herself. She couldn't call for help ... this is just, this is just wrong," Cruz said.

According to family friends, the gunman shot the mother and uncle each in the face and the father in the leg.

Well-wishers dropped off flowers at memorials in Long Beach and San Diego through the day Monday to pay their respects for the girl in the disturbing crime.

Cruz said he suspects the Saturday night shooting that left Eliza's father, mother and uncle wounded was not random, nor do detectives with the Long Beach Police Department.

"We haven't received any tips thus far," said Arrona.

Anyone with information about the case was urged to call Long Beach homicide detectives Donald Goodman and Mark Mattia at (562) 570-7244. Anonymous tips can be provided by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Residents Petition to Save Shuttered New Haven Restaurant


After a popular bar and restaurant in downtown New Haven abruptly closed its doors, locals launched a petition to breathe life back into the iconic eatery.

Calls placed to The Anchor went unanswered Monday amid reports that landlord Yale University Properties shut down the venue due to financial problems.

Within hours of the New Haven staple serving its last drink Sunday night, the lock had been changed and white paper plastered the windows of the College Street eatery.

Yale University Properties said the beginning of the end came when the restaurant changed hands at the end of 2012.

"Although University Properties made every effort to allow the operation to continue, the new owner continuously failed to meet its obligations under the lease," deputy university press secretary Karen N. Peart said in a statement Monday, adding that DWN Enterprises' "rent payments became sporadic" shortly after the company took over.

Peart said the restaurant owner failed to honor a 2014 court judgment that would have allowed it to continue renting the space, at which point University Properties notified the company that it needed to move out.

"As requested by DWN, University Properties agreed that closure would be in early January 2015, after the holiday season, in order to allow them ample time to inform employees," Peart said.

But according to New Haven residents, it wasn't ample time for the public. Locals describe The Anchor as a mainstay in the city and said the closure has dealt a blow to downtown New Haven.

"It's really a time capsule, and there are very, very few places like it left in New Haven," explained Robert Greenberg, who has frequented the restaurant for 30 years. "It's an institution and needs to be saved."

Now a change.org petition is circulating, urging Yale to reconsider.

"The Anchor Bar and Restaurant has been one of the few remaining and well-loved local establishments in New Haven, and a place that most of us thought was safe from the slow homogenization/gentrification that Yale University has been imposing on our hometown," the petition reads.

"Yale seems to think that trading local businesses for another Starbucks or frozen yogurt chain will make Yale students more comfortable, and feel safe in our apparently frightening, terrible city- but in fact, the result has been a decline in town/gown goodwill, Yale alums no longer recognizing the place they lived in and loved, and a once culturally thriving, unique city now resembling little more than a strip mall," it continues.

The petition links out to a GoFundMe page endeavoring to raise $7,200 to help the now-unemployed staff of The Anchor. According to the fundraising site, the restaurant served its last drink Sunday evening.

The Yale Alumni Magazine reports that The Anchor, which has been listed as one of the 25 best bars in the country, "has been a fixture in New Haven since the 1940s" and once served Thornton Wilder.

"I think it needs to transition into new management, new owners, and I think it needs to carry on," Greenberg explained. "And I think the people who own the structure itself should look at it as a more valuable, historical place to go to."

For now, The Anchor's future remains uncertain.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Stamford Mall Closed After Woman Falls to Death


Most of the Stamford Town Center mall closed early Monday evening after a 25-year-old woman fell seven stories to her death.

Police said they are investigating the woman's death as a possible suicide. According to mall security, the mall closed ahead of schedule, with the exception of Macy's.

The mall is located at 100 Greyrock Place in Stamford.

An NBC Connecticut crew is heading to the scene.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Christopher Caldwell/Flickr

Rabid Raccoon Bites 79-Year-Old Berlin Resident


The deep, jagged bite marks left on Herbert Speer's leg are a frightening reminder of what took place early Friday morning and how lucky he is.

The 79-year-old was cleaning up in his garage unaware of what lurked just feet away underneath his son's pickup.

"There was this gosh awful scream, and it scared me," said Speer. "By the time I got to the back of the truck it came out from under the truck and nailed me right in the leg."

Speer found himself fighting off a 30-pound raccoon, and after kicking it off Speer says it launched itself at him again and gripped on, refusing to let go.

Causing deep cuts to his hands, Speer says he pried the animal's jaws apart and threw it.

"It came back at me this time, and I happened to see my grandson's wiffle bat, and I hit it," said Speer. "I think I stunned it, and it walked out the garage and across the front lawn."

"The first thing I thought to do is you have to get the raccoon. I've got to capture it and euthanize and test it," said Berlin Assistant Animal Control Officer Kate Murdock.

With Speer being treated, animal control captured the vicious raccoon and tests came back positive for rabies.

Speer says he's always feared being bit by a rabid animal, but looking back, he's grateful he was the one in the garage that morning.

"I've got two young grandchildren. They're here all the time. It could have been them," said Speer.




The Central Connecticut Heath District issued a statement on Monday, warning that rabies can be deadly in humans and any mammal can get rabies, whether wild or domesticated.

If you notice any animal acting strangely in your neighborhood, call your local animal control officer for assistance.

Signs of possible rabies infection in animals include:

  • Shyness of a normally friendly pet
  • Wild animals acting fearlessness of humans
  • Uncharacteristic excitability, aggressiveness, or restlessness
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abnormal activity during the time of day the animal is usually inactive
  • Eating substances that are not normally eaten
  • Paralysis

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Tsarnaev Defense Will Fight Death Penalty


As the federal trial for Boston Marathon Bomber Jahar Tsarnaev gets underway, there aren't many who are expecting the outcome to be about guilt or innocence.

Michael Coyne, Dean of the Mass School of Law says, "What this case will really focus on, at the end of the day, is... whether the death penalty should be imposed or not."

With that in mind, most legal experts say Tsarnaev couldn't have a better defense attorney.

San Diego based Judy Clarke has represented Unibomber, Ted Kaczynski, Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph and Tucson shooter Jared Loughner.

All those defendants were found guilty, but escaped the death penalty with the help of Clarke, a former public defender known for tackling some of the nation's most high profile, complex and emotional capital cases.

Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense and civil liberties attorney says of Clarke, "She's an expert on death penalty matters. She has enormous skill."

Silverglate says Clarke has become one of the top lawyers in this specialized field through relentless research and preparation and with a fearlessness when it come to facing highly skilled, capital case prosecutors.

He says, "We all try to be good at what we're doing. Well, she has to be better than good at what she's doing because life and death is at stake.

Coyne further describes the challenges facing Clarke, "You need to personalized the defendant. You need to remove him from the terrorist and extremist acts that are the underlying charges here and what you want the jury to be able to do is connect with him as a person."

Clarke along with Lawyers David Bruck and Miriam Conrad creates representation that renown Boston Criminal Defense Attorney J. Carney describes as the Tsarnaev dream team.

Overseeing it all is US District Judge George O'Toole whose style is described as unflappable, no-nonsense and fair.

He also has experience in high profile cases, including that of Tarek Mehanna, the Sudbury man convicted of supporting Al Quaeda.

Photo Credit: AP
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