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Judge to Consider Release of "Pillowcase Rapist"


A hearing to decide whether to lock up "Pillowcase Rapist" Christopher Hubbart in a state mental hospital was held Wednesday in a Santa Clara County courtroom, amidst a handful of protesters who came out to say they wish he would be put behind bars again.

"We're very hopeful and excited, hoping he gets sent back to Coalinga where he belongs under lock and key, where someone is watching him," said Norma Valenti of Palmdale, one of five women who drove from Southern California to San Jose for the hearing. "We'd feel safer again. Our kids could come out and play."

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Richard Loftus was set to listen to several hours of testimony after the Los Angeles District Attorney requested  to consider revoking 64-year-old Hubbart's conditional release. A ruling is not expected to be issued on Wednesday.

At issue: Whether Hubbart violated the terms of his release by not charging his GPS ankle bracelet on two occasions and whether he took out the trash without the supervision of security guards.

Hubbart testified for about an hour, acknowledging under cross examination that he never fully charged the unit after his second violation letter was sent to him, because he wasn't aware that plugging it in for longer would result in a full charge. He said it was a simple mistake. And his Santa Clara County public defender argued that the public was never in any danger since there are plenty of other safeguards in place.

Hubbart admitted to raping 38 women in California between 1971 and 1982, about two dozen of which occurred in Los Angeles County. He was released to the Bay Area in 1979, where he raped 15 more women. He became known as the "Pillowcase Rapist" because he muffled victim's screams with pillowcases. His last-known victims were in Santa Clara County.

When Hubbart's prison term ended in 1996, he was deemed a sexually violent predator and confined to a state mental hospital. Doctors at the hospital recently concluded he was fit for release.

In July 2014, Santa Clara County Judge Gilbert Brown granted Hubbart's motion for conditional release from a state hospital and allowed him to live in Lake Los Angeles, where Hubbart was born and raised. Brown has since retired.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office declined on Wednesday to discuss its reason for seeking Hubbart's revocation, saying the paperwork was sealed and there was a gag order placed on the case. Hubbart's public defender didn't respond to email and phone requests for comment.

 “Yeah, this is an unusual hearing,” said Steven Clark, a legal analyst and former Santa Clara County deputy district attorney.

He said the prosecutors would have to convince a judge based on two things: That they have new evidence, such as a mental health expert, who would say that Hubbart is not fit for release anymore, or that he violated a term of his release.

And that second matter, Clark said, would likely be very easy to show. “The Mr. Hubbarts of the world are under a microscope. It’s very easy to violate your terms, even if you’re trying. And there is a tremendous outcry over this case, with people saying, ‘Tthis man is just not safe because he’s not locked.’ ”

The move on Wednesday is a change for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. When she announced the hearing would be taking place earlier this month, DA Jackie Lacey said it was a positive step.

"We believe this violent predator continues to pose a serious danger to our community," Lacey said. "My office is committed to protecting the public."

Hubbart was said to be being monitored around-the-clock, and attending twice weekly therapy sessions. He is also required to wear a monitoring device around his ankle, undergo polygraph exams and submit to random searches of his house. He also lives with an around-the-clock security guard.

There has been strong resistance in Lake Los Angeles to Hubbart's release to the area.  Community protests, and local elected officials have called for a revocation of his freedom. Local law enforcement officials say they are concerned with public safety. Many neighbors of Hubbart's post angry social media comments about his residency, and protesters turn up nearly every day outside Hubbart's property.

Several of Hubbart's neighbors from Acton, Palmdale, Lake Los Angeles, Little Rock and Rosamond drove the 350 miles to attend the hearing in San Jose.

"I'm not willing to risk anybody else's life or their well-being in order to say, 'Well, the guy served his time, let him go,' " said Beth Bagley of Acton. "That's not acceptable."

NBC Los Angeles' Michael Larkin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

$2M Bail for Accused Stabber


A man accused of stabbing a man to death and later telling the babysitter of that man's kids he "slayed the beast" was held on $2 million bail in court Wednesday. 

David Anthony Strouth, 34, is accused of fatally stabbing his friend, 49-year-old Bradley Thomas Garner, in Oceanside. 

Strouth pleaded not guilty to a murder charge and a special knife use charge at his arraignment. He faces a maximum of 26 years to life in state prison. 

Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza, outlining the basics of the incident, said Strouth and Thomas walked into Thomas' house Friday night and greeted the babysitter. The next time the babysitter saw Strouth, she noticed blood stains on his shirt. 

"He made a statement, 'I slayed the beast,'" said Espinoza. 

It was then the babysitter decided to leave when, on her way out, she looked back inside the garage and saw Strouth lying over a man's body on the floor of the garage, the prosecutor said. An examination later revealed he had stab wounds to his chest and the back of his neck. 

When Strouth saw the babysitter peering into the garage, he chased her to her car, where he tried to accost her, Espinoza said. She successfully got away and flagged down neighbors, who returned to the house to subdue him out of concern for the kids, who were still inside. 

Oceanside police said the neighbors grabbed a knife and a handgun and went to the home to get the children to safety.

When the neighbors found him, Strouth was inflicting wounds to his neck and wrist. 

Law enforcement later arrived. It took five Oceanside Police officers to subdue Strouth, who was found inside an open garage on Santa Rosa Street at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Strouth was airlifted to a Scripps Hospital La Jolla with non-life threatening injuries. He was later booked on homicide charges.

"When law enforcement arrived at the scene, they took Mr. Strouth into custody and he was making statements like, 'kill me' and 'put me out of my misery,'" Espinoza said. 

Strouth was airlifted to a Scripps Hospital La Jolla with non-life threatening injuries. He was later booked on homicide charges.

The babysitter and the children, ages two and four years, were not injured.

The investigation is ongoing. 

Hartford Shooting Leaves Woman in Critical Condition


A 26-year-old woman is in critical condition after she was shot in Hartford on Wednesday evening, according to police.

It happened around 6:30 p.m. at 697 Windsor Street, near a park where neighbors say children were playing.

"I just heard five shots and my kids were over at the park playing. I drove down to the park to see what was going on, and as I pulled up on the scene, a... girl was bleeding heavily from the neck area. I just witnessed her take her sweater off and try to stop the bleeding by herself," said Shani Richardson.

It's not clear what exactly led up to the shooting, but police said the woman may have been caught in the crossfire.

"It seems there was some sort of dispute before the shots were fired," said Hartford police Lt. Brandon O'Brien. "We don't think the victim was part of that dispute."

Bullets also ricocheted off a nearby car. Police said they have yet to identify a suspect.

"I seen boys running, cars spinning off, but I didn't see anything," said Dawn McGee, who has lived in the area for 22 years. "I wish I had; I wish I was able to get a license plate and faces."

Richardson, who has children of her own, said the shooting "terrified" her made her fear for the safety of her kids.

"I have five children and we live on the streets of Hartford, and this is something that's very common now," she explained. "I just told them they're going to take a break from over here. I'm very terrified just to let them go to the park."

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, is listed in critical condition at St. Francis Hospital, according to police.

"I was trying to coach her as she was holding her neck," Richardson said. "I was trying to make sure she was still alert. She wasn't responding with words; she was responding with nods."

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

3 Taken to Hospital After Hartford Apartment Fire


Three people, including a mother and infant, were taken to St. Francis Hospital after escaping a two-alarm fire at an apartment building in Hartford on Wednesday night, according to emergency officials at the scene.

A fire department spokesperson said firefighters used a ladder truck to bull the mother and child from the burning building at 196 Sigourney Street.

An ambulance brought them to the hospital, along with a third person managed to get out on his or her own. Fire officials said everyone out made it out safely and was uninjured.

The city's Office of Licenses and Inspections was called to the scene to investigate the fire, which fire officials said was confined to the stairwell. They're still evaluating damage to the building.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Ground Beef Spills from Truck onto Highway


A tractor-trailer carrying ground beef spilled cargo on Interstate-84 East in Manchester on Thursday morning.

The incident happened between exits 61 and 62 and the state Department of Consumer Protection was called out to assess the situation.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Pedestrian Hit on I-84 Onramp in Manchester


A pedestrian has been hit by a car on an onramp to Interstate 84 in Manchester.

Manchester Police said the person was struck on the onramp at exit 60, which leads to West Middle Turnpike.

No information was available on injuries, but emergency crews, including an ambulance, responded,

The scene is now clear.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation Cameras

Motorcycle Crash on Route 9 South in Cromwell


A motorcycle has been involved in a crash on Route 9 South in Cromwell.

Police said the crash is in the area of exit 20 and no injuries are reported.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

4 Arrested After Man Is Shot at City Park in Meriden


Four people have been arrested after a 22-year-old man was shot at Meriden's City Park, then airlifted to a trauma center for emergency surgery, according to police.

Meriden police said the victim, Taiyron Cruz, of Meriden, was shot twice in the calf and buttocks on the basketball court at City Park around 4:15 p.m. Witnesses said they heard four gunshots.

"I'd say the basketball court was filled. The park was filled. As soon as they heard that, it's like the whole basketball court just swarmed under the tunnel," Timothy Gary, who lives nearby, said.

Police said someone driving by watched the scene unfold, then followed the car as it left the scene, feeding dispatchers information about the vehicle.

"They had followed the vehicle around our city and got on the phone with our dispatchers and were trying to provide information," said Meriden police spokesman Sgt. Darrin McKay.

Officers began scouring the city in search of the suspect car but couldn't find it until the vehicle crashed in the area of East Main Street and Pomeroy Avenue, according to police. No one was hurt, but the four suspects took off running.

Police chased them and took them into custody.

Joerael Bratten, 22, of Meriden, was charged with first-degree assault, first-degree conspiracy to commit assault, having no pistol permit and criminal possession of a firearm. He was held on a $250,000 bond and is due in court on May 13.

Teharmon Techer, 22, of Meriden, was charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit assault and held on a $250,000 bond. He is due in court on May 13.

Denzel Byrd, 23, of Meriden, was charged with reckless driving and held on a $50,000 bond. he is due in court on May 13.

Kyshone Jackson, 18, of Waterbury, was charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit assault and held on a $25,000 bond. He is due in court on May 13.

LifeStar airlifted Cruz, from Midstate Medical Center to a trauma center, where is undergoing emergency surgery, according to police.

Police said they have found a handgun, but cannot yet confirm if it is the one used in the shooting.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Sister’s Plea: Don’t Deport My Brother Before Kidney Donation


A 21-year-old woman suffering from kidney failure says her brother may be her last hope at survival and she’s pleading with the U.S. government not to deport him.

“Is there time for me? I don’t know. I could die any day,” said Jazmin Longoria-Lara. “I’ve seen so many people pass away that started at the same time I started dialysis and they’re gone and it scares me.”

Longoria-Lara’s mother donated an organ to her daughter after a childhood disease resulted in kidney failure, but that kidney failed four years ago. Since then, she’s had to undergo dialysis for several hours, three times a week.

Longoria-Lara’s brother, 27-year-old Argenis, is a match and wants to donate to his sister, but he’s in custody and could be deported back to Mexico by the end of the week.

“I think that’s unfair, like how the system is,” Longoria-Lara said.

Her brother pleaded guilty to a burglary charge and his U.S. citizenship was revoked. The family hopes that his sister’s extreme circumstances will convince a judge to reconsider or delay the deportation until after she’s had the life-saving surgey.

“I know they’re humans,” said Martha Jeschke, Longoria-Lara’s aunt. “She doesn’t have that much time. It’s something we have to do soon.”

Longoria-Lara’s heart is now enlarged and doctors say she’s also at risk of having a heart attack.

“Every hour that passes by, it’s critical to me,” she said.

Her brother is scheduled to appear in customs court in Chicago Friday for a hearing and possible deportation. The family plans to be at the hearing and hopes to change the judge’s mind.

Crews Respond to Fire at East Haven Flower Shop


Firefighters are responding to a fire at a florist shop in East Haven.

Police said the fire is at Flowers By Lisa, at 33 Hemingway Ave.

No additional information was immediately available.

Shot Fired in New London School, Gun Found in Bathroom


Police are investigating after someone fired a handgun inside a New London middle school and left it in a bathroom and believe they know which student brought the gun to school.

Police said school administrators contacted them around 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday after someone found the gun in a second-floor boy's bathroom at Dover Jackson Middle School on Waller Street.

Investigators arrived at the school and determined that the gun had fired a shot inside the building.

Students were still at school, so police moved them to a secure location while they searched the building. Police said they did not find any other weapons inside.

Police said on Thursday that a formal interview led to a confession and several charges are possible.

Check back for updates.

U.S. Firefighters Save Nepal Boy


Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters helped rescue a teenage boy trapped in rubble in Nepal for five days Thursday, authorities said.

Pemba Lama, found under rubble from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the country Saturday, was rescued by the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team. Members worked for around six hours, using an excavator, jacks, saws and shovels to free the 15-year-old, the group said.

The LA firefighters worked with counterparts from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, who hail from Virginia, during the rescue.

Team leader Andrew Olvera told NBC News that the teen wasn’t crushed by the rubble. The boy had been trapped in a concrete "box" between floors of a collapsed building. He suffered no major injuries, and has been taken to an Israeli field hospital for treatment.

"Search dogs located (the) boy in rubble. He was treated by (the) team doctor and taken to hospital," a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman said.

He was pulled from a small hole and was immediately put onto a backboard and moved a few feet away. He was given water and an intravenous drip before being placed in an ambulance. Rescuers told NBC News the teen was conscious and talking.

"It's a miracle, a true miracle," a police force general at the scene told NBC News. "He came out and he's okay!"

The rescue came as the official death toll from Saturday's disaster rose above 5,500.

Over the weekend three Pasadena firefighters and an elite team of 57 LA County firefighters left for Nepal to help in search and rescue operations.

Other local agencies, including the Los Angeles Fire Department, are on standby and ready to go if needed.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles County Fire Department

"White Lives Matter" Fliers Found in Milford


Police are investigating after someone plastered racially charged fliers around a Milford neighborhood.

Two things came to mind the moment Milford resident Matthew Koziol noticed the "White Lives Matter" leaflets strewn about.

"Everybody’s life matters; and stop littering," he said.

Several of the fliers, which call on people to "stand up for the white race," have turned up yards along Herbert Street.

"Black lives matter. White lives matter,” said Koziol. “Whatever color you are, every life matters."

The notice references recent riots – presumably in Baltimore – and urges people to visit the website of a self-proclaimed white nationalist organization based in Mississippi.

"It’s disturbing because everyone around here is very peaceful," said John Maloney, a Milford resident who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years.

A spokesperson for Milford police said the department has fielded several calls from concerned residents. The right to free speech protects such language, but officers said a city ordinance prohibiting the distribution of fliers may be enforceable.

This is not the first time this neighborhood has seen a situation of this sort: A flier touting the United Klans of America turned up in July 2013. In both instances, the notes came folded inside small plastic bags weighed down with rocks.

Residents who were baffled back then are baffled again now.

"Everybody gets along and there’s never been any problems around here," said Maloney.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the organization listed on the flier to see if the group knew about how or why the material was distributed in Milford. The group has yet to comment.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Man Killed in I-95 Wrong-Way Crash


A 69-year-old New Haven man is dead after a wrong-way crash on Interstate 95 North in Branford this morning, according to state police.

State police said Peter Hall, 69, of New Haven, was driving a Dodge Caravan south in I-95 North and collided, head-on, with a Ford F150 pickup around 3:30 a.m., between exits 54 and 55.

Hall was pronounced dead at the scene, state police said.

Blair Hopeton Kerr, 43, of Lake Worth, Florida, was driving the pickup and suffered minor injuries, according to state police. He was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to state police.

The passenger in the pickup, Frank Poppa, of Casa Grande, Arizona, is believed to have serious injuries and was also taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital. 

The highway was closed and traffic was diverted, but it has reopened.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

North End Fire is Hartford's Second Case of Arson in 24 Hours


Fire officials in Hartford are investigating the city's second case of arson in 24 hours.

According to a spokesperson for the fire department, someone set fire to a boarded-up home on Cleveland Avenue in the city's North End on Thursday afternoon.

No one was inside and no one was hurt, but it took 50 firefighters to control the flames, which were heaviest on the home's back porches, according to the fire department.

NBC Connecticut Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan said smoke from the blaze on Cleveland Avenue was picked up on radar at 5,000 feet.

Officials said Thursday evening that the city fire marshal determined the cause to be arson.

It's the city's second case of arson in two days. A two-alarm fire on Sigourney Street that sent a mother, infant and blind man to the hospital Wednesday night has also been deemed arson.

Hartford police said at this point, it doesen't appear the two cases are connected.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspect in Hamden Assault and Robbery Arrested


Hamden police have arrested a suspect in a car theft and assault case that spanned from Mohegan Sun Casino to Hamden.

Annika Ekbergh-Peek, 30, of Naugatuck, was arrested in Waterbury earlier this month on unrelated charges and was turned over to the custody of the Hamden Police Department.

Ekbergh-Peek was charged with conspiracy to commit assault in the second degree, conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree, conspiracy to commit robbery involving an occupied motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit larceny in the thid degree and arraigned in Meriden Superior Court earlier this month.

The arrest comes after a 33-year-old Wolcott woman was assaulted in her car and pushed her out of the moving vehicle on January 8.

Police said they responded to the 3700 block of Whitney Avenue around 2 a.m. on Jan. 8 to investigate a suspicious person report and met with the victim, who told police she’d been attacked and pushed from her car.

She told officers that she had earlier met two people at Mohegan Sun Casino – a bald man with tattoos on the back of his hands and a blonde woman, identified since as Ekbergh-Peek, police said.

The victim, who allowed the man to drive her vehicle, sat in the front passenger seat, and Ekbergh-Peek was seating in the backseat, police said.

The victim told investigators she was assaulted as she sat in the car and was pushed out of the moving vehicle in the area of 3700 Whitney Avenue.

Her face, eye, hand and ankle were injured and she was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital to be treated.

"I'm Just a Regular Guy From Baltimore": Amateur Photographer Shot Time's Poignant Protest Cover


The amateur photographer whose iconic image from Baltimore's protests was chosen as Time magazine's latest cover said he has mixed emotions about the accolades he's received.

"This is a tragedy. It’s sad that I’m getting recognition off this," said Baltimore photographer Devin Allen, 26.

Before Time picked up one of his photos, his images on Instagram had gone viral and were noticed by Ice Cube, Beyonce and Rihanna, among others.

"My goal was always to make history and I never thought it would come until I was 40 years old," he told NBC Owned Stations. "I’m just a regular guy from Baltimore city who loves the city with a passion."

Allen took to the streets at the start of the Baltimore protests that followed Freddie Gray's death, he said.

Gray was arrested by Baltimore police on April 12 and died a week later from spinal cord injuries he suffered while under police custody. Baltimore police completed an investigation and the state's attorney's office is now tasked with determining whether charges are warranted in Gray's death. The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation, NBC News reported.

Allen's iconic image featured on Time's May 11 cover was shot on April 25 -- two days before the riots that followed Gray's funeral. Allen's Fugi mirror camera captured police as they advanced up Pratt Street in response to rioting and destruction of police property, he said. 

The cover photograph shows a masked man running in front of dozens of police officers carrying batons. The magazine's text crosses out the date 1968 to read "America, 2015," in a reference to riots in Baltimore that followed Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. 

When Allen found out that his photo was selected for Time's cover, he said he was at work and began to cry.

His clients who have intellectual disabilities looked at him and wondered what was wrong.

“I was so happy but I’m stressed," he said. "It’s a lot of mixed emotions."

Most of Allen's images posted to his Instagram account are black and white and depict his hometown grappling with Gray's death and the oppression the community face, as he explained in his Instagram and Twittter posts.

In one Instagram post that captures two men singing, Allen wrote: They say singing will heal the heart so brother sing on ::: #welovebaltimore #RIPFREDDIEGRAY ::: #DVNLLN

Photo Credit: Time Magazine
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Teen Robbed 18-Year-Old at Gunpoint: Police


Hamden police have arrested a 15-year-old New Haven boy accused of robbing an 18-year-old woman at gunpoint and stealing her cell phone and credit card.

Police said the armed robbery happened at Goodrich and Newhall streets on Feb. 12 as the victim was walking by the intersection.

Someone with a gun approached her, pointed it at her chest and demanded her personal belongings.

Police said the robber is a 15-year-old New Haven boy who was with three other males.

Police said they obtained a warrant for him, charging him with first-degree robbery and second-degree larceny.

He was scheduled to appear at Juvenile Court in New Haven.

Police Arrest 11-Year-Old Who Brought Gun to School


An 11-year-old New London student has been arrested and suspended after bringing a gun to the middle school and firing it inside the building, according to police and school administrators.

School officials said an 11-year-old boy brought a gun to Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School on Wednesday. 

When the weapon was found in a second-floor boys' bathroom around 4:20 p.m., school administrators called police and moved any students who were still in the school to a safe location.

Investigators determined that a gunshot had been fired in the building.

Police said Thursday that a formal interview prompted the student to confess. The boy has been charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds, carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a firearm and reckless endangerment.

School officials said there was no intentional threat to students or staff.

Superintendent Dr. Manuel Rivera believes the incident was the result of a careless decision on the part of the 11-year-old, but he's calling on parents to help prevent another scare.

"Parents, if you own a firearm, keep it locked up if you're not going to sell it, but please, we need to keep weapons away from our young people," he implored.

Police called it an isolated incident but have stepped up patrols to make sure students feel safe.

"The students know that police will be at our school for the remainder of the week in order to provide a heightened sense of safety," school administrators said in a phone message to parents on Thursday.

School psychologists are available to provide counseling as needed.

"As with all matters of student safety, we have taken this incident most seriously. A great learning environment goes hand in hand with the assurance of safety for our students and staff. We work hard as a school community to make sure everyone feels safe and specifically advise students of the consequences of bringing a weapon onto our campus," Principal Alison Burdick wrote in a letter to parents Thursday afternoon. "In addition, we met with students today to discuss the impact of the incident on our school community, answer questions and address the incident."

Brush Fire Breaks Out in Wallingford


Firefighters responded to a "fairly large" brush fire along railroad tracks off Route 68 in Wallingford, according to the fire union.

Crews said it happened in a remote area of town.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Wallingford Fire Union
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