State news

Court dismisses appeal of gag order in missing mom case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal of a gag order that a judge imposed in the case of a man accused of killing his estranged wife. Fotis Dulos, of Farmington, died last month after attempting suicide while charged with murdering Jennifer Dulos last May. Fotis Dulos' lawyer, Norman Pattis, argued the gag order violated Dulos' constitutional rights by preventing him from telling his side of the story and thwarting his attempts to clear his name. The Hartford Courant also said the order will set a "dangerous precedent" for future criminal cases. Justices did not provide detailed reasons for dismissing the appeal Wednesday.
 


Man pleads guilty to defrauding nonprofit of $240,000

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to stealing $240,000 from the nonprofit he worked for as well as some of the organization's clients. Federal prosecutors said Thursday that Michael Verzella stole the money while he was the supervisor of recreation and operations at New Haven-based Chapel Haven Schleifer Center, which provides services and housing to people with developmental and social disabilities. Prosecutors say he misused a credit card issued by the nonprofit and kept money collected from the center's students. Verzella pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison at sentencing on May 22.
 


Prosecutor: Man in police custody died from heart disease

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's top prosecutor says a man who lost consciousness after being taken into police custody on his 23rd birthday died from coronary artery disease and his death was natural. Chief State's Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. also said Thursday that a review of data from Stamford police stun guns showed none were used on Steven Barrier before he became unresponsive in a police car in the early morning hours of Oct. 23, 2019. Stamford police detained Barrier after a foot chase following a report by a relative who accused him of domestic violence.


Court sides with Trump in 'sanctuary cities' grant fight

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal appeals court in New York says the Trump administration can withhold law enforcement grants to force states and cities to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. The ruling overturned a lower court's decision that ordered the release of federal funding from 2017 to seven states and New York City. The states are New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Rhode Island. The Justice Department called it a major victory for Americans. An ACLU attorney said it was the first such ruling to side with the Trump administration on the issue.
 


Clean slate bill to include all misdemeanors, some felonies

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A new bill would go further than a previous proposal and expand the kinds of convictions that can be erased from criminal records in Connecticut. The legislation was announced Wednesday by lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. It would allow some low-level felony convictions and all classes of misdemeanor convictions to be expunged after a period time as long as the offender has no new convictions. The bill differs from similar legislation first introduced by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont during his State of the State speech on Feb. 5. That bill would only automatically erase convictions for Class C and D misdemeanors, if, after seven years, the offender had no new conviction.


Lamont: Connecticut ready for virus, infections expected

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Ned Lamont is trying to assure Connecticut residents the state is ready to handle anticipated cases of the COVID-19 virus. But the Democrat on Wednesday acknowledged the situation is changing fast. The governor appeared at a news conference with various officials, including State Epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Cartter, who said "it's no good pretending it's not going to come." Cartter said there is now a window of opportunity to prepare for possible transmission in the state. So far, there have been no confirmed cases in Connecticut. Cartter said a reasonable planning target for infections is a flu season with no vaccine.


'A world of hurt': 39 states to investigate Juul's marketing

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A lecturer at Harvard Law School says an investigation by 39 states leaves Juul Labs with little choice but to change its marketing practices. James Tierney said Tuesday that "when you see these kinds of numbers, it means they're in a world of hurt."Attorneys general from Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Oregon and Texas say they will lead the multi-state investigation into San Francisco-based Juul. The company also is facing lawsuits from teenagers and others who say they became addicted to the company's vaping products. Juul says it has halted television, print and digital advertising and eliminated most flavors.


Lawmakers, advocates call for end to solitary confinement

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Advocates and state lawmakers are calling for the end of solitary confinement in Connecticut's prisons and jails. The group Stop Solitary: Connecticut held a news conference Tuesday with lawmakers to express support for ending the practice. A replica solitary cell was also on display in the lobby of the Capitol building. New Haven Democratic Sen. Gary Winfield said a bill ending the practice could be coming to the Judiciary Committee. James Tillman was wrongfully convicted and spent time in solitary. He said it was hard being around the cell because of his memories.


Connecticut man convicted in 2011 drug dispute killing

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man charged with killing another man in what authorities said was a drug-dealing turf dispute nearly nine years ago has been convicted of murder. The New Haven Register reports that 28-year-old Christopher Calhoun, of New Haven, was found guilty by a Superior Court jury on Tuesday of shooting Isaiah Gantt on April 20, 2011. Gantt was shot in a housing complex that has since been demolished. Two key witnesses for the prosecution didn't come forward until several years later. Calhoun's attorney said the witnesses were not credible and there was no other evidence against her client.
 


Police search for suspect in double homicide

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Police have released the name of a man suspected of fatally shooting two people at a Connecticut bar over the weekend. Bloomfield police said Monday that 44-year-old Russell Smith, whose last known addresses are in Windsor, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts, remains on the loose and should be considered armed and dangerous. He faces two counts of murder in connection with the shooting early Saturday morning at Elizabeth's Bar & Restaurant in Bloomfield. The victims were identified as Aaron Walker, of Windsor, and Franklin Spencer, of East Hartford. Police say what started as an argument at the bar spilled into the parking lot.


OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma starts ad campaign for claims

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is rolling out an advertising campaign to let people know they can file claims against the company over the toll of its opioids. The effort starting Monday is part of Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue's bankruptcy proceedings, which it is using to attempt to settle nearly 3,000 lawsuits. Most were filed by state and local governments. Efforts to notify people who might have a claim are a normal part of a bankruptcy. But Purdue's $23.8 million campaign is unusually expansive. It was worked out with input from a committee of creditors and others and approved by a New York-based judge.


Religious exemption vaccine bill clears Connecticut panel

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut legislative committee has advanced legislation that would eliminate the state's religious exemption for certain childhood vaccines. Monday's narrow vote of 14-11 came despite vocal opposition from hundreds of parents and children who packed the Connecticut Capitol complex. After the bill cleared the General Assembly's Public Health Committee, parents chanted "we will remember in November." Some opponents of the bill booed and shouted at the state legislators as they left the hearing room. Lawmakers passed what they hoped would be accepted as a compromise, grandfathering students who already have a religious exemption. But opponents still oppose the legislation.


Former police officer charged with giving guns to felon

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) - Authorities say a former Connecticut police officer has been charged with giving guns to a convicted felon who had helped him buy heroin. Former Greenwich Police Officer Joseph Ryan was arrested Friday and released on $100,000 bond. An email seeking comment was sent to Ryan's attorney on Saturday. Ryan came under scrutiny after authorities used a confidential informant to buy guns from another man who was under federal investigation.


School board member accused of assaulting teen won't resign

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) - A school board member in Connecticut who was accused of sexually assaulting a teen is resisting calls to resign from his post. Stratford Board of Education Member Robert DeLorenzo took a plea deal in the case and was convicted of first-degree reckless endangerment. Democratic Town Committee Chair Stephanie Phillips and others have called on DeLorenzo to resign from the board. But DeLorenzo says he has no plans to step down and insists the calls for him to resign are politically motivated. DeLorenzo denies ever assaulting the 13-year-old girl and says he took the plea deal to spare his family the pain of a trial.


Runner suing to stop transgender competitors wins on track

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A runner suing to stop transgender athletes from participating in girls track in Connecticut won a head-to-head race for the second time against her transgender opponent. Chelsea Mitchell won the 55-meter dash Saturday at the Connecticut State Open track meet. Terry Miller, who is transgender, came in third. Mitchell last week beat Miller in the Class S championship race. Mitchell and two other runners filed a lawsuit this month seeking to block a state policy that allows high school athletes to compete based on the gender with which they identify, arguing transgender girls have an unfair physical advantage.


Dulos friend pleads not guilty in missing mother case

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut attorney charged in connection with the disappearance and presumed death of a mother of five has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. Kent Mawhinney will continue to be held on $2 million bond after a brief court appearance Thursday. His attorney did not comment while leaving the courthouse. Mawhinney was a friend and attorney who represented Fotis Dulos in civil matters. Dulos' estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos, has not been seen since May when when she dropped her children off at school in New Caanan. Fotis Dulos was charged with her murder but died last month.


Police: Man showing off gun accidentally shoots himself

KILLINGLY, Conn. (AP) - A Maine man visiting his sister in Connecticut is facing numerous charges after police say he accidentally shot himself in the thigh while showing off his gun. Mountain Robicheau, of Wesley, Maine is free on $50,000 bond, according to court records. He appeared in court Tuesday where he faced charges including three counts of carrying a pistol without a permit. Police responded to the hospital for a report of a person with a gunshot wound to his left thigh. Robicheau told police he was at his sister's Killingly home and showing her the handgun when his finger slipped.


Jury clears hospital in controversial medical abuse case

BOSTON (AP) - A Massachusetts jury has ruled that Boston Children's Hospital wasn't medically negligent in its treatment of a Connecticut teen who spent nearly a year in state custody after doctors suspected her parents of medical child abuse. Thursday's verdict in the malpractice lawsuit brought by the family of Justina Pelletier capped a high profile dispute that drew national media attention and sparked a broader debate over parental rights. Doctors and Pelletier's parents disagreed on whether the cause of her numerous health problems, which included an inability to walk, talk or swallow, were medical ailments, as her parents maintained, or largely psychological.


Connecticut governor drops proposal for highway tolls

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says he is dropping his plan for highway tolls for trucks. He expressed frustration Wednesday with legislative leaders who've delayed a vote on the issue. The General Assembly had planned to vote Thursday on a wide-ranging transportation improvement plan that included truck-only tolls. But the Democratic governor said the Senate needed more time. He said at a news conference that he thought it was time for a "pause." Senate Democrats still say they hope to hold a vote next week on a plan with 12 toll gantries on 18-wheeler trucks. GOP lawmakers question whether that will happen.


State trooper says in lawsuit reassignment was retaliation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut State Police sergeant says in a lawsuit that state public safety Commissioner James Rovella retaliated against him because the sergeant reported the sexually inappropriate lunch conversation of a colleague. Sgt. Timothy Begley says in his suit he was reassigned from the state police counterterrorism unit to a midnight patrol shift last March in apparent retribution for his role in filing the complaint on behalf of a female member of the unit who complained of a colleague's sexually inappropriate remarks. Rovella's aide said the department would not comment on a pending lawsuit.


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