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Hero Uses Ladder to Save SoCal Neighbor From Fire


A man who rescued his neighbor from a burning building in Southern California said it was one of his "best days."

Joe Magana sprang into action when he saw the man ready to jump from a third-story window to escape the flames consuming his Simi Valley home on Monday.

The painter told the 29-year-old, who asked not to be identified, to hold on, and went to fetch his 24 foot extension ladder.

"The look on his face was he was going over the edge, and so we said, 'Stay, don't jump,'" Mangana said. "It was take care of business now or face the consequences of him possibly jumping."

When he got back the man was hanging from a window, but he managed to erect his ladder just in time for the victim to climb down. He was checked for medical issues on scene at the 2700 block of Stearns Street and released.

"It was really tough, but to save him on the other end was one of the best days I've had for a long time," said Mangana.

And the man's father, Nima Vazirzaedh, was overjoyed Mangana had saved his son from the fire, which claimed the life of his three pet Chihuahuas.

"He saved my son. If it wasn't for him he probably would have fallen off," Vazirzaedh said.

It took a total of 39 firefighters to extinguish the blaze in 35 minutes at 12:13 p.m. 

"When we see someone step up like this, put their life in danger in order to get in there and save one of their neighbors, it's just really impressive," said Capt. Mike Lindbery, of the Ventura County Fire Department.

Magana will be nominated for a lifesaving medal for his efforts, Lindbery said.

2nd Suspect Arrested in Milford Shooting


Police have identified the second suspect in an armed robbery and shooting in a Milford garage earlier this month.

Police have identified Daniel "DJ" Spencer, 22, of Ansonia, as the second suspect in the robbery in the parking garage at 1 New Haven Avenue in Milford just after 1:30 a.m. on March 1 and they are searching for him.

Police said a group of people who had left Eli’s Tavern, at 21 Daniel Street, were walking into the parking garage when two men approached them and demanded their personal belongings.

One of the robbers pointed a handgun at the group and fired a shot in the neck of one of the victims, police said.

In self-defense, another victim grabbed his own licensed firearm and returned fire, striking one of the robbers, police said. The second person ran off.

Police said they recovered two firearms at the crime scene and the wounded suspect, identified as Rumone Richard, 23, of Bridgeport, and the victim were transported to a local hospital.

The victim was treated and later released. Richard, who police said was is in serious condition, has been charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, four counts of criminal attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree, criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a stolen firearm, unlawful discharge of a firearm and first-degree assault.

Police said they have also identified Spencer as a suspect and he is wanted in connection with the robbery. There are seven additional unreleated arrest warrants for Spencer.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call the Milford Police Department Detective Division at (203) 877-1465, email tbassett@ci.milford.ct.us
or submit a tip online.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com and Milford Police

Deadly Hit-and-Run Driver Charged in Cockfighting Bust: Sources


The driver involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed a 51-year-old New Britain woman in Newington was arrested after his involvement in a cockfighting ring out of East Windsor helped police identify him as the suspect, according to police sources.

Dennis Martinez, 35, of East Hartford, was charged with manslaughter after turning himself in to police shortly before 4:30 p.m. Police sources said Martinez is among 45 people arrested in connection with a cockfighting bust last month.

He's accused of hitting Sonya Atkins in February at the corner of Willard and Robbins avenues in Newington, then abandoning his car and running from the scene. Atkins died at the hospital that night.

"It just struck the car in front of me, and then just like, flew to the right," explained Newington resident Andrey Klebanov, who witnessed the crash. "I just saw like, a big spark, black smoke everywhere, and car parts."

Police said at the time that the Ford involved in the crash had a temporary registration plate in the back window and may have been involved in another crash in the Puerto Vallarta parking lot at 2385 Berlin Turnpike in Newington.

According to police sources, investigators searching the car found a bond form from Martinez's arrest in East Windsor.

Martinez has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, evading responsibility, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, driving an unregistered motor vehicle, driving without insurance and second-degree forgery.

He was held on $150,000 bond and is due in court Wednesday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Newington Police Department

Carjacking Suspect Arraigned Before Mall Incident


A man arrested after punching and elderly woman outside the Enfield Square Mall, stealing her car and crashing in Longmeadow, Massachusetts on Monday was in court earlier that day for another case that was thrown out on a jurisdictional technicality.

Months before Juan Raphael Ortiz was arrested in the Enfield carjacking and Longmeadow crash, Windsor police charged him with shoplifting in December and brought him to Hartford Hospital to be treated for a medical issue, according to court records. He escaped the hospital, so police obtained an arrest warrant from Enfield Superior Court and arrested him on an escape from custody charge on Friday,the court records stated. They held him in custody pending his Monday arraignment.

The judge dismissed the case, stating it was in the wrong jurisdiction and that it should have been addressed at Hartford Superior Court., according to court records.

Windsor police said that they followed the proper procedures.

"The police department feels that we did everything correctly. Unfortunately there was an error made somewhere," said Captain Tom LePore of the Windsor Police Department.

Soon after Ortiz left the courtroom, he attacked an elderly woman returning to her car outside the Enfield mall and drove off in her vehicle at about 2:15 p.m., police said. Monday, according to police. He fled and crashed into a snowbank in Longmeadow, where he was taken into custody, facing both Longmeadow and Enfield charges, according to police.

Ortiz is a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal record.

Photo Credit: Longmeadow Police

Home Health Aide Charged With Stealing From Patient


Police in Milford have arrested a home health aide accused of stealing nearly $800 from the bank account of a person for whom she was caring.

Gina Malady, 32, of Milford, is accused of illegally charging $783.80 to the resident's credit card between March and June 2014 while working as an independent home health care aide.

Malady was arrested March 10 and charged with illegal use of a credit card, criminal attempt at illegal use of a credit card, sixth-degree larceny, fifth-degree larceny, second-degree identity theft and criminal impersonation.

She's due in court April 7.

Man Paid Business With $21K in Bad Checks: Cops


Police have arrested a Farmington man accused of writing more than $21,000 in bad checks to a Glastonbury business.

Salvatore Germano, 53, of Farmington, was arrested March 9 after allegedly paying the company with seven bad checks.

He was charged with six counts of third-degree larceny, one count of fourth-degree larceny and seven counts of issuing a bad check.

Germano's bond was set at $20,000. He was released from custody and is due in court March 25.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

St. Patrick’s Day Events Across Connecticut


With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the luck of the Irish in Connecticut.

Bridgeport: Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Parade
On Tuesday, March 17 at 12 p.m. Bridgeport will be celebrating its 32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Join the parade committee and fellow Irishman to celebrate the day of Irish culture and heritage. Advance tickets are $20 before March 7 (reserved seating) and prices will go up to $25 after March 7.

Hartford: The 44th Annual Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day
The parade will be held on Saturday, March 14 at 11 a.m., where it will go on rain or shine. The parade starts at Capitol Avenue (near the State Capitol) and ends by the Memorial Arch. Towns marching in the parade include Hartford, Rocky Hill, Manchester, West Hartford, South Windsor, Glastonbury, East Hartford, Wethersfield and New Britain. Be sure to pack your coat just in case.

Mystic: Mystic St. Patrick’s Day Parade
On Sunday, March 22 at 1 p.m., the 12th annual Irish Parade will be held in Mystic, Conn. The parade begins at the Mystic Seaport, located on Greenmanville Rd (Rte. 27). Come down early for celebration of Celtic & Gaelic customs and traditions. Food and sanitary facilities will be available.

New Haven: St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Greater New Haven.
The largest spectator event in the state of Connecticut starts at 1:30 p.m., on Sunday, March 15. This year’s route starts on Chapel Street at Sherman Avenue, and ends on Grove Street at Orange Street. The New Haven Police Department will enforce open container violations.

Pub Crawls:

St. Patrick’s Day is all about quality time with friends and having fun, so what better way to celebrate than with a pub-crawl! There is no need to be cooped up in one bar all day, so the pub-crawl is the perfect solution! The bar scene in Hartford is one of the best, and will have drink specials until 2 am. You can purchase tickets online at PubCrawls.com.

Another Pub Crawl will be hosted in West Haven on March 14 and the 17. Be sure to get your tickets before they sell out!


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

U.S. Military Hopes to Learn From Victim of Stamford Chimp Attack


The U.S. military is keeping close tabs on Charla Nash, the former Connecticut woman who was mauled by a rampaging chimpanzee in Stamford in 2009.

In 2011, Nash went through 20 hours of surgery to receive a face transplant. The Pentagon paid for the transplant and is underwriting her recovery too, in hopes of learning things that might help young, seriously disfigured soldiers returning from war.

Around 50 to 60 soldiers might be candidates for a face transplant, the military says.

Nash, who lost her eyes, nose and hands during the attack six years ago, is about to participate in a Pentagon-funded experiment in which doctors in Boston will try to wean her off the anti-rejection drugs she has been taking.

Nash said she is glad to take part in research that might someday help thousands of people.

Photo Credit: AP

Mom Shot TV Kids Were Watching: PD


A woman in a northwest Chicago suburb fired a rifle at the television as her three kids watched it because she didn't like how much TV they were watching, police say.

Jennifer S. Ullery, 40, of Algonquin, pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony and three misdemeanors, the Northwest Herald reported.

Ullery told police she shot the television because was upset with how much TV her children were watching and because she didn't like the program they were watching at the time, police told the Herald. The children are 6, 11 and 15 years old.

Authorities told the Northwest Herald they did not know how many shots were fired at the television from the Ruger .22-caliber rifle.

Ullery, of the 3000 block of Talaga Drive, was charged with one felony count of discharge of a firearm and three misdemeanor counts of endangering the life of a child.

After Ullery was arrested, the children were placed in the care of another family member.

The incident allegedly happened Jan. 20, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services were first notified Feb. 9.

Photo Credit: Algonquin Police

State Offers Advice to Homeowners as Snow Thaws


As the first signs of spring become evident around Connecticut, the state is offering advice to homeowners whose properties could be affected by leaks from melting snow.

Officials are urging homeowners to check roofs both from the outside and the attic if possible. Look for signs of water damage to ceilings and walls, and clear all gutter spouts of snow so they can drain properly.

Regardless of whether you need repair work, seek out and research registered home improvement contractors so you know who to call in the event a problem arises.

All contractors should be registered with the Department of Consumer Protections and have proper liability and worker's compensation insurance, where applicable.

Ask subcontractors working on your home to sign lien wavers to protect you if they aren't paid, and avoid salesmen who offer to handle all insurance claims or promise there won't be a deductible.

Obtain a written contract before any work starts, and never pay in full up front. Pay enough to cover the start of the job and continue to pay as work progresses. Make a final payment only after the job has been finished and you're happy with the quality of the work.

You can verify a contractor license online or call the Department of Consumer Protection at 800-842-2649.

Anyone with problems, questions or concerns should call the DCP or email dcp.frauds@ct.gov. Insurance questions should be sent to cid.ca@ct.gov or 800-203-3447.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Branford High School Student Threatened by Boyfriend: Cops


Police have arrested a Branford man accused of threatening his girlfriend, a student at Branford High School, despite a protective order forbidding him to contact her.

According to police, David Maher, 18, made a threat against his girlfriend during the school day Tuesday. Maher was arrested at his home after school administrators called the police.

Police said Maher violated a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the girl.

Authorities have not released any information on the nature of the threat, but said Maher was never on school property and that the "incident had no impact on the students' academic day" despite a "coordinated response" by police and school administrators.

Maher was taken into custody at his house on Rogers Street in Branford shortly before 2 p.m. and was charged with first-degree threatening and violation of a protective order.

He was held on $5,000 bond and is due in court Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: Branford Police Department

Stamford Police Arrest Two in Graffiti Spree


Stamford police have arrested two men in an investigation into an increase in vandalism targeting businesses and residential properties over the past couple months and at least one suspect is yet to be located.

Michael Fanali, 22, was arrested on criminal mischief charges and Jeffrey Gilleski, 25, is facing marijuana charges.

Police have seized "hundreds of pieces of evidence of tagging" throughout Stamford since December, including "books, murals, drawings, and pictures of graffiti" on buildings. They have documented at least 39 graffiti incidents.

"These incidents are a nuisance to the public eye and cost hundreds of dollars to properly clean each location," Stamford police said in a news release. "Since this time the Stamford Police Department made it a top priority to combat this quality of life crime."

On Sunday, March 8, a homeowner called police to report witnessing a man spray painting a fence behind the post office on Camp Avenue and gave police a description of the vehicle the person left in. A police officer on patrol saw the car drive in the entrance to the Rivers Edge Condo Complex and a police officer stopped the driver, Fanali, on Haig Avenue while he was speeding, police said.

Fanali admitted to police he was behind the post office where the caller reported seeing the vandalism in action and police found a backpack with spray pain cans and tagging tools inside, police said. The evidence in the backpack led police to another suspect wanted for tagging in Stamford.

Stamford Police Department's Property Crimes Unit searched "the person" of Gilleski, a home at 177 High Clear Drive and the vehicle at the address the next day on March 9. During the search, police found and seized 14 ounces of marijuana and packaging materials for sale of the drug, a .25 caliber Bauer handgun and $4,336 in cash. Police seized his computer and phones and will also be executing further search warrants in the future, police said.

Back on Jan. 23, vandals left several cans of spray paint and other evidence at the scene of a 62 Viaduct Road business that was heavily vandalized. Police said they identified a suspect, but haven't been able to find him.

Police are examining evidence collected to tie "these suspects and several others to the crimes that were committed." Police believe "the crew" is responsible for tags, including "LUNA," "LUNAR," "SLICK," VLER and an expletive.

Police said they may "extend this list" to other tagging incidents.

Stamford police charged Fanali with second-degree criminal mischief and conspiracy to commit the crime and Gilleski was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to sell.

Fanali was issued a written promise to appear in court and Gilleski was issued a $25,000 bond. Both are due in court on March 23.

The graffiti incidents remain under investigation. Police ask the public to report any additional graffiti sightings to the department at 203-977-4407.

Photo Credit: Stamford Police Department

Promising New Autism Research


A blood-based measure could lead to a clinical test that could spot signs of autism in boys just 1 or 2 years old, a new study has found, a finding that could help children with autism get the help they need earlier on. 

The study, conducted by an international team led by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers and published in the current online issue of JAMA Psychiatry, found that certain genetic fingerprints might lead to an earlier method of diagnosing autism in male toddlers.

Researchers were able to identify those biomarkers, or genetic fingerprints, in blood samples from boys with autism as young as 12 months old.

Researchers analyzed two different blood samples with two groups of participants. The first group had 147 toddlers and the second group had 73 toddlers.

"The mean age of autism identification in the United States right now is four to five years so by that point, a lot of brain development opportunities have passed," said Eric Courchesne, Ph.D, professor of neurosciences and director of UCSD's Autism Center of Excellence. "What you really want to do is identify the child at the youngest possible age."

Autism is four times more common in males, researchers said, so the study started with looking at young toddlers because it would be easier to recruit young boys with autism for the study.

Because the causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are complex and can vary, it can be difficult to conclusively diagnose a child before the child turns four. 

One parent said an earlier diagnosis in her son could have had a positive impact on his development. 

"I thought I knew how to parent boys," said Karen Heumann. "And he came along, and he was wild and he was out of control, and I thought, 'Oh, he's just trying to keep pace with his brothers,' and instead, he's autistic."

Heumann said as soon as her family found out about her son's Asperger's syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, they were able to get him therapy. 

That was when her son was 5 years old. She said learning of the diagnosis earlier would have meant more services for him before he started school. 

In the study, researchers looked at blood-based genomic biomarkers that could lead to the development of a clinical test for ASD in boys as young as 1 or 2 years old.

Blood is expected to carry autism-relevant molecular signatures that can be used to detect early signs of autism, said the study's first author, Tiziano Pramparo.

The study found that the genes related to translation and immune/inflammation functions, as well as cell adhesion and cell cycle, were different in boys with ASD and boys without ASD. Genes such as those can have an effect on early brain development in toddlers.

The results of the study may lead researchers to diagnosing autism earlier than current methods. Early diagnosis methods could boost the efficacy of intervention and remedial treatments.

The study is co-authored by Karen Pierce, Cynthia Carter Barnes, Steven Marinero, Clelia Ahrens-Barbeau and Linda Lopez, from the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence; Michael V. Lombardo from the University of Cambridge and University of Cyprus; Sarah S. Murray from the Scripps Translational Sciences Institute; and Ronghui Xu from UCSD.

It was published in the current online issue of JAMA Psychiatry.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bassetts Bridge Road Closed in Mansfield Due to Crash


Bassetts Bridge Road is closed near the Hawthorne Lane intersection in Mansfield due to a minor crash.

The road is closed so the vehicles can be cleared from the road.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Local Fraternity President Condemns Racist Video


The president of the 60-man Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of New Haven said you won't find him or any of his brothers defending the group at the University of Oklahoma, where three students were expelled over a racist video.

"They're frauds," Michael Lombard said during an interview Tuesday.

Lombard is a junior at the University of New Haven studying sports management. He's also a former Marine who served a tour of combat duty in Afghanistan, and he's the captain of the UNH lacrosse team.

He said his chapter of SAE supports all the values stated by the national organization.

"Scholarship and diversity are what we're about here," Lombard said. "Racism and hate aren't synonyms."

The national organization echoed Lombard's sentiment. SAE headquarters condemned the Oklahoma chapter of brothers who were caught on camera chanting a song containing racial slurs and saying black men would never be allowed in their fraternity.

SAE apologized for the incident and supported Oklahoma President David Boren's quick decision to kick the chapter off campus.

The national office of SAE released a statement condemning the students' "unacceptable and racist behavior."

"Furthermore, we are embarrassed by this video and offer our empathy not only to anyone outside the organization who is offended but also to our brothers who come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. Our leadership acted swiftly to the video and closed the chapter within hours of learning about it," the statement says.

SAE chapters in Connecticut have had a rough year in their own right.

Just last month, the chapter at Yale University was banned from campus for a year for disobeying the school's sexual misconduct policy, and the chapter at the University of Connecticut was kicked off over incidents involving alcohol.

Lombard said it's now the duty of his chapter to repair some of the national damage done to the SAE brand.

"We still have a mission. We still have a job to do. We still pursue the highest means of scholarship at all times,” he said.

"Ed Brooke Didn't Back Down": Senator Mourned


Former Sen. Edward W. Brooke, the first black U.S. senator elected by popular vote, was remembered at his funeral as an inspiration to thousands of young Americans and a moral compass for fellow lawmakers before he was laid to rest Tuesday.

Lawmakers, former colleagues and family packed a ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington that paid tribute to the liberal Massachusetts Republican's life and trailblazing work. Brooke, first elected to the Senate in 1966, died Jan. 3 at the age of 95.

"Ed Brooke didn't back down," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a tribute at his funeral, praising the late senator's moral compass and calling him "the embodiment of a style of legislating that valued substance over rhetoric and public needs over public agendas."

"Brooke shunned the title of trailblazer, but that's what he was," Kerry added.

Washington, D.C., Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton called the Washington-born Brooke "a self-made senator," pointing out that when he was born in 1919, the District of Columbia didn't have a local government.

"He led a phenomenal life," Brooke's chief counsel Ralph Neas, who counted Brooke as his first-ever boss and his life-long mentor, told NBC outside the funeral. "His leadership was indispensable. He was my guidepost for the last 40-plus years."

Also attending the funeral were former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former Massachusetts Gov. Mo Cowan and many other lawmakers.

A former captain in the Army, Brooke was later buried with full military honors Tuesday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery, where his widow Anne was presented the flag.

Before he died, Brooke had told The Associated Press he was "thankful to God" that he lived to see President Barack Obama's election. And the president was on hand in October 2009 when Brooke was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress has to honor civilians.

Obama hailed Brooke as "a man who's spent his life breaking barriers and bridging divides across this country."

A Republican in a largely Democratic state, Brooke was one of Massachusetts' most popular political figures during most of his 12 years in the Senate.

Brooke earned his reputation as a Senate liberal in part by becoming the first Republican senator to publicly urge President Richard Nixon to resign. He helped lead the forces in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and was a defender of school busing to achieve racial integration, a bitterly divisive issue in Boston.

He also lent his name to the Brooke amendment to the federal housing act, passed in 1969, which limited to 25 percent the amount of income a family must pay for rent in public housing.

Brooke received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony in 2004. Five years later, when Brooke received the congressional honor in Washington, he cited the issues facing Congress - health care, the economy and the wars overseas - and called on lawmakers to put their partisan differences aside.

Photo Credit: AP

NY Kids Swing Bats, Brass Knuckles


Police on Long Island are investigating after high school students brawled with one another using baseball bats and brass knuckles following a lunchroom dispute.

A family member of one of the students involved tells NBC 4 New York the brawl over the weekend was a manifestation of ongoing racial tensions between the students.

The melee broke out Saturday afternoon in an industrial park in Ronkonkoma following a dispute at Connetquot High School in Bohemia, police and family members of those involved say. Authorities say about 10 students were involved in the fight, some bringing baseball bats and brass knuckles.

Video obtained by NBC 4 New York shows several teens standing in a street arguing before the fight breaks out. One person, who is black, accuses a white person of calling him a racial epithet. Then, one of the participants can be seen pulling a metal bat out and handing it to another person.

Then, a person can be heard saying, "Take the brass knuckles off, bro" to the teen who initially had the bat. That person is then heard yelling expletives and, "I'm from Queens, New York!"

The video shows a third teen run up and punch one of the other teens in the face. At that point, all the students begin brawling in the street. 

The fight lasted about 10 minutes, police say. Student Nicholas Abrahamson suffered a broken jaw and was taken to Stony Brook Hospital for surgery. No other students were seriously hurt. 

Abrahamson remains in fair condition, the hospital said on his family's behalf.

"We are very grateful and thankful for the care he is receiving," the family said in a statement issued by the hospital.

No arrests have been made. 

The school district said Tuesday that the students involved in the fight have been suspended from school pending a disciplinary review. It also said it tried to intervene following the lunchroom dispute Friday, the day before the brawl, and contacted the students' parents. 

"The intention was to make the parents aware of the school district’s concern that the verbal argument could grow into something more serious over the weekend outside of the school district’s jurisdiction," the school said in a statement.

It also said increased security measures were put in place following the fight and random bag checks were being conducted on students.

A board meeting was scheduled for Tuesday night.

Did Girl With Lighter Spark Blaze?


An ember that prosecutors say may have drifted from a San Marcos teen's backyard to spark last year's devastating Cocos Fire could be at the center of the girl's arson trial.

Attorneys debated in court Tuesday whether an ember from a branch the girl tried to light on fire could have floated close to half a mile to spark the blaze that ripped through nearly 40 homes last May.

The teen suspect, who is charged with four felonies and was just 13 when she was arrested, is accused of setting a tree branch on fire in her backyard. That fire, prosecutors say, left behind an ember that floated away to cause the Cocos Fire. 

Prosecutor Shawnaysa Ochoa said that last May, the girl had used a lighter to set a fire in her backyard and laughed when she told her sister about it.

The next day, prosecutors say, the girl posted photos of the Poinsettia Fire on Facebook. She then went into the backyard to set a second fire on a bigger branch and did not tell her mother, prosecutors said.

An ember from that fire traveled more than four-tenths of a mile from the backyard and sparked the Cocos Fire, which torched dozens of homes and businesses, Ochoa said. 

"Her willfulness was demonstrated through her planning, her clear intention through her actions," the prosecutor said. "Her maliciousness was established by starting a second fire less than 24 hours after the first fire, and doing so with a bigger branch, she told the detective. All these actions she took on May 13, 2014, will show her actions were willful and malicious." 

The teen suspect's defense attorney McGlinn said that "phantom ember" could not have spread to cause another fire. 

"We're talking about a phantom ember, a magic ember, one ember, which happened to travel .44 miles and cause one spot fire in the canyon," McGlinn said in court. "Not multiple spot fires, just one spot fire in this canyon."

McGlinn said he was glad there were photos presented as evidence in the trial. 

"We are lucky that we have photos from people are the scene, far away, close, of what the fire looked like what the smoke looked like," he said. 

San Marcos' fire chief Brett Van Wey testified that in his 29 years as a firefighter, he had seen embers travel to start other fires, especially in dry weather conditions.

But in his opinion, he added, it was a spot fire from the Washingtonia Fire that caused the Cocos Fire. 

"Because of the amount of smoke and direction of smoke from the Washingtonia fire where I witnessed, and by the time I drove and saw smoke from Cocos, there was no other source," Van Wey said. "It was in direct line of the smoke."

The accused teen's parents previously turned down prosecutors' offer of a plea deal last month when she appeared in juvenile court. That deal would have required her to admit responsibility for one count, plus the allegations; the DA's office told NBC 7 the teen's parents and attorney did not accept the offer. 

The girl faces four felony charges, including two counts of arson of an inhabited structure or property in which multiple structures were burned and two counts of arson of a structure or forest land in a reckless manner. She also faces a misdemeanor of unlawfully allowing a fire to escape from one’s control.

The fire that sparked near Village Drive and Twin Oaks Road in May 2014 forced the evacuation of Cal State San Marcos and hundreds of other homes. It scorched 1,995 acres and cost the city of San Marcos approximately $10.4 million in damage and firefighting expenses.

Officials have set up an information line for victims, where they can call for basic info on the case and leave messages with questions. That number is 858-694-4241.

"Sniper" Killer Sent to Psych Hosp.


Eddie Ray Routh, the former Marine convicted of killing former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, has been transferred to a correctional psychiatric facility near Houston.

Routh, who gunned down the "American Sniper" author and his friend in 2013 at a gun range, was transferred to the Jester IV unit in Richmond, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Earlier this month Routh, 27, had been sent to the Middleton Unit near Abilene to undergo an evaluation and psychological screening that would determine where he would begin serving out his sentence.

After jurors rejected his insanity defense, Routh was sentenced to life without parole for shooting Kyle and Littlefield at a gun range in Erath County in 2013.

An attorney for the former Marine filed an appeal and a motion for a new trial about a week after the verdict.

Man Shot in Subway Station: NYPD


A man was fatally shot inside a Brooklyn subway station at the height of the evening rush Tuesday, authorities say.

Law enforcement sources said a 29-year-old man was shot by a retired corrections officers near a stairwell inside the station at Borough Hall at about 6:30 p.m.

The victim was taken to Brooklyn Hospital where he died, the sources said.

It's not clear what led to the shooting; police were continuing to investigate. 

The 4 and 5 trains were bypassing the station in both directions. There were already widespread subway delays on at least a half-dozen lines due to signal problems. 

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