HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has nominated state Appellate Court Judge Richard Robinson to serve on Connecticut's highest court.
Robinson was nominated by the governor on his 56th birthday Tuesday to succeed Justice Flemming L. Norcott Jr., who left the court after reaching the mandatory judge retirement age of 70 in October.
Robinson is the only black judge on the Appellate Court, the state's second-highest court, and would be the only black justice on the Supreme Court if he's confirmed by the General Assembly. Norcott also is black.
Robinson was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 2000 and the Appellate Court in 2007. He was a member of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities from 1997 to 2000 and the commission's chairman in 1999 and 2000.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A former employee has testified in a lawsuit against Greenwich Hospital that she was pressured to resign after she discovered contaminated blood vials.
The Connecticut Post reports that Isabel Modaffari told a state Superior Court jury on Tuesday that Greenwich Hospital forced her to quit in January 2012 after she talked to the FBI about contaminated vials she said that she discovered.
The 44-year-old Bridgeport woman says her supervisors yelled at her constantly to the point where she couldn't take it anymore.
Modaffari was a phlebotomist, someone who collects blood samples.
The hospital's lawyer, David Poppick, characterized Modaffari as a disgruntled worker who had poor performance reports and didn't easily adapt to new technology.
He said no problems were found after investigations by the FBI and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) Bristol officials say they are undeterred in enforcing property code banning blight after an out-of-town landlord was arrested on charges of threatening to blow up City Hall in a dispute over grass that was not mowed.
The Bristol Press reports that police say Robert D'Aprile was arrested at his Stamford home and charged with threatening and breach of peace. Authorities say D'Aprile suggested he'd blow up city hall with a bomb.
D'Aprile's lawyer says his client was frustrated and had no intention of hurting anyone.
Chief Building Official Guy Morin says Bristol has zero tolerance for lack of property maintenance.
He says the dispute was tied to a $1,600 bill from the city to D'Aprile for cutting the grass and removing debris after the landlord failed to do so.
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) A Stamford homeowner credits a bird for saving his life as his house exploded.
Giuseppe Cardillo tells The (Stamford) Advocate that just after he lit a cigarette the day of the explosion on Sept. 17 a cardinal flew about a foot over his head and landed near a bush.
Still holding the cigarette, he went to get a better look at the bird and walked about 20 feet when he heard a tremendous boom. The next thing he remembers is seeing firefighters with smoldering pieces of his house all around him.
A large part of his roof landed right where he was having his sandwich next to the pool, he said.
``I should be dead,'' Cardillo said.
Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) The Department of Defense says the remains of an Air Force colonel from New Haven missing during the Vietnam War have been identified and will be buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Pentagon says Col. Francis J. McGouldrick Jr. was on a night strike mission on Dec. 13, 1968, when his aircraft collided with another in Laos. He was never seen again and was listed as missing in action and presumed dead. He was 39.
Between 1993 and 2004, efforts by the United States and Laos tried to locate the crash site.
A possible site was found in 2007 and teams excavated it three times and recovered human remains and aircraft wreckage consistent with McGouldrick's plane.
His remains were identified using DNA.
Burial is set for Friday.
NEW HAVEN, Conn (AP) New Haven police say they have arrested on unrelated charges a ``person of interest'' who may have information about a Nov. 25 phone call that said an armed man would shoot up the Yale University campus.
Police said Monday an unidentified woman was arrested for two warrants unrelated to the Yale case that prompted a six-hour lockdown of the campus.
Police say she may be able to provide valuable information to investigators.
Police also released a photo of the woman, but no other details.
SWAT teams didn't find a gunman after a room-by-room search. No one was injured.
A 911 call was received from a man at a pay phone about a mile from the campus who said his roommate was on the way to the university to shoot people.
GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) A multi-vehicle crash closed part of Interstate 95 in southwestern Connecticut for about two hours as road conditions turned slippery with the arrival of a wintry storm.
The crash happened late Sunday night in the southbound lanes between exits 4 and 5 in Greenwich. State police dispatch said early Monday that about 20 vehicles were involved with six injuries reported. None of the injuries appeared to be serious.
The National Weather Service says snow changing to sleet and freezing rain would move through the area overnight and into Monday morning. Up to an inch of snow and ice is possible in southern Connecticut with more accumulation likely further north into New England.
WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) A New York man has been charged with attempted assault against two Waterbury police officers who tried to stop him after a home invasion and robbery.
Edward Blancaneaux of the Bronx was arrested Saturday night after police say he tried to strike two approaching officers with his car.
An injured officer was treated and released from a hospital.
Corbett said the second officer fired at the car, but missed the driver.
Octavious Williams of Waterbury also was arrested. Police say he was involved in the home invasion and armed robbery.
The 38-year-old Blancaneaux and Williams were each held on $750,000 bond and are to be arraigned in Waterbury Superior Court on Monday.
Both are charged with home invasion, robbery and other charges.
It was not known Monday if they are represented by lawyers.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A former colleague of a Yale University professor who died in police custody is organizing a protest, calling it a ``political death.''
The New Haven Register reports that Nathan Brown, an assistant professor of English at the University of California at Davis, questions the circumstances of the death of Samuel See, who was an assistant professor of English and American studies.
Police detained See last month on a report of a domestic dispute. Police say See's husband, Saunder Ganglani, was charged with violating a protective order.
Brown says a death in jail is political and is especially the case with a gay man. He says police and the U.S. legal system have shown ``historical homophobia.''
He has scheduled a march in New Haven and at the Yale campus on Tuesday.
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Job security remains a top issue for the Pratt Whitney machinists union as it heads into the final days of contract negotiations with management.
The union says on its website it's not close to recommending a contract to members. A vote is scheduled for Sunday.
The machinists said the subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. intends to cut 190 jobs. About 3,000 workers are covered by the contract.
A spokesman said Pratt Whitney will not comment on bargaining.
Pratt Whitney's military program is vulnerable to Pentagon cuts, but engine orders are expected to pick up with an increase in joint strike fighter production.
Manufacturing jobs have been an issue for years as companies squeeze out productivity from fewer workers and use cost-cutting to boost profit.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport has sold a massive bronze statue for $300,000 to finance a major upgrade to its science education program for schoolchildren.
Board Chairman Joe D'Avanzo said the 15-foot sculpture, ``Torch Bearers,'' was sold to an unidentified Houston, Texas, buyer on Friday. The statue was to sell for at least $325,000 but was sold in a settlement because the purchase price fell short.
The museum is raising money to outfit and program a small satellite attached to a NASA rocket beaming back data on space dust. The material will be analyzed by students in high-school and younger at the museum's Challenger Learning Center.
D'Avanzo said that because the museum can expand its science education officials are not ``totally disappointed'' the statue did not sell at a higher price.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The families of a woman and three children who drowned when a van rolled into a Bridgeport pond in 2007 have settled a lawsuit against the dealership that sold the van.
The van was parked at Beardsley Park on July 4, 2007, when it began rolling down a hill. Thirty-nine-year-old Michelle McIntosh ran after the van but couldn't stop it and drowned with the children inside. An investigation determined one of the children had shifted the transmission into drive.
An attorney for McIntosh's family, William Bloss, tells the Connecticut Post that all sides agreed to keep terms of the settlement with the Loman Auto Group of Woodbridge, N.J., confidential.
Bloss said McIntosh's 1999 Plymouth Grand Voyager was sold without a device to prevent the transmission from being shifted into drive without the brake being depressed.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A Florida flight attendant has been acquitted in Connecticut of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy more than 100 times.
Connecticut Superior Court Judge George Thim on Thursday found Rafael Padilla-Cruz of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., not guilty of first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. There was no jury.
The Connecticut Post reports that Thim said he could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Padilla-Cruz sexually abused the youngster.
Padilla-Cruz's lawyer said he was vilified because he is gay.
The boy, who is now 16, testified that Padilla-Cruz, a family acquaintance, raped him almost daily between 2007 and 2008 while he was living with the boy's family.
Trial testimony says the boy was expelled from school in 2008 for drug abuse and violent behavior. He underwent mental health therapy.
TORRINGTON, Conn. (AP) A federal judge has sentenced to five years in prison a Torrington man convicted of bank fraud and described by federal prosecutors as a ``recidivist of the worst order.''
The Republican-American reports that Steven Finkler also was sentenced for violating the conditions of his supervised release from a previous federal conviction.
The 49-year-old Finkler was out of prison for a few weeks in July 2012 following a seven-year sentence when prosecutors say he deposited a bogus $10,000 check and withdrew $9,828 before the bank realized the check was counterfeit.
Authorities say he deposited forged checks and forged a check from the federal prison where he was being held.
Prosecutors say Finkler defrauded his mother with credit card charges totaling nearly $413,000.
The U.S. attorney said he should be jailed for as long as possible.
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) A Hartford Superior Court judge has ordered a new election in New Britain to correct an Election Day ballot mix-up.
The New Britain Herald reports that 17 ballots used in Ward 5 in voting on Nov. 5 presented the names of candidates for alderman in Ward 2.
Democratic Aldermen Carlo Carlozzi Jr. and Roy Centeno, the top vote-getters who won the election, could appeal to the state Supreme Court. Their lawyer, Thomas McDonough, said a decision has not been made.
Carlozzi was outraged at the ruling, saying turnout next month will be tiny and the election decided by few voters.
Centeno said he's disappointed and that a re-vote will cost taxpayers $15,000.
The new election is set for Jan. 7.
WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Authorities say a Connecticut college student arrested carrying two handguns on campus also had an assault rifle in his car, and police found 2,700 rounds of ammunition and newspaper clippings of the Colorado theater shooting at his home.
Twenty-two-year-old William Dong was arraigned Wednesday. A state judge ordered a mental health evaluation. Dong is detained on $500,000 bail on charges including illegal possession of an assault weapon.
No shots were fired in Tuesday's scare on the University of New Haven campus in West Haven. Police aren't sure why Dong brought guns to campus but say he had permits for the handguns.
Police say that in Dong's padlocked bedroom at his Fairfield home, they found the ammunition and newspaper stories about the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 70 last year.
DARIEN, Conn. (AP) Darien police are re-examining a 35-year-old homicide, relying on advances in DNA testing.
Greg Sjolander, a Montreal hairdresser and parolee, was found dead behind an abandoned building in December 1978. The last confirmed sighting of Sjolander was in November 1978 when he was seen in Stamford.
The News-Times reports that police say the case was last examined in the early 1980s. Police say evidence from the Sjolander homicide was processed by the FBI forensic lab in 1979. Some evidence is being sent to the FBI Lab in Quantico, Va., for re-analysis.
Evidence also is being sent to the Connecticut State Forensic Lab for DNA testing.
Darien investigators believe Sjolander's death is connected with another unsolved 1978 killing of Darien native Ronald Poole. He was found fatally shot in Dutchess County, N.Y.
HOLYOKE, Mass. (AP) New England's electric grid operator says consumers can expect to have enough electricity to run their heating systems this winter.
But ISO-New England said Wednesday that the region's increased reliance on natural gas is making the region vulnerable to delivery problems during periods of extreme cold.
ISO says most natural gas-fired generators do not hold long-term fuel-delivery contracts but instead rely on local gas companies that may not have gas available when demand is high. The ISO then dispatches oil- and coal-fired power plants, which are more costly and run infrequently.
For this winter, ISO has secured nearly 2 million megawatt-hours of energy from oil-fired generators, oil- and natural gas-fired generators and energy-saving agreements with companies to reduce power if asked. ISO calls it an insurance policy for New England.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A lockdown was lifted at the University of New Haven hours after a report of a man near campus with what appeared to be a rifle.
The school and police said earlier Tuesday a person was taken into custody and weapons recovered. No one was injured. West Haven police say 22-year old William Dong of Fairfield has been charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon, transporting an assault weapon, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle and breach of peace.
West Haven Police say guns, ammunition and clippings of stories about mass murders were recovered from the man's Fairfield home.
After the report came in just before 1 p.m., the university urged students and staff to stay inside, and several police officers responded to the West Haven school.
The university lifted the lockdown around 5:30 p.m. after police searched the main campus. Restrictions on the north and south campuses had been lifted earlier after searches there. Evening classes were canceled.
The report of an armed man marked the third scare at a Connecticut university in the last several weeks.
YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) The head of the Federal Railroad Administration is blasting Metro North railroad following a derailment that killed four people and injured more than 60.
Joseph Szabo says in a letter that his administration and the U.S. Transportation Department ``have serious concerns'' following by Sunday's Bronx train accident and three others that occurred in New York and Connecticut from May through July.
Szabo notes that a federal team has been working closely with Metro-North Railroad and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But he says ``immediate corrective action is imperative.''
The MTA says the safety of its customers ``has always been, and will always continue to be'' its top priority.
It says a panel is conducting a comprehensive probe of the ``safety culture'' throughout the MTA and it looks forward to further work with federal officials.
An engineer whose speeding commuter train ran off the rails along a curve, killing four people, experienced a hypnotic-like ``daze'' and nodded at the controls before suddenly realizing something was wrong and hitting the brakes, a lawyer said.
Attorney Jeffrey Chartier accompanied engineer William Rockefeller to his interview with National Transportation Safety Board investigators Tuesday and described the account Rockefeller gave. Chartier said the engineer experienced a nod or ``a daze,'' almost like road fatigue or the phenomenon sometimes called highway hypnosis. He couldn't say how long it lasted.
What Rockefeller remembers is ``operating the train, coming to a section where the track was still clear then, all of a sudden, feeling something was wrong and hitting the brakes,'' Chartier said. ``... He felt something was not right, and he hit the brakes.''
He called Rockefeller ``a guy with a stellar record who, I believe, did nothing wrong.''
``You've got a good guy and an accident,'' he said. ``... A terrible accident is what it is.''
Rockefeller ``basically nodded,'' said Anthony Bottalico, leader of the rail employees union, relating what he said the engineer told him.
``He had the equivalent of what we all have when we drive a car,'' Bottalico said. ``That is, you sometimes have a momentary nod or whatever that might be.''
NTSB member Earl Weener said it was too soon to say whether the accident was caused by human error. But he said investigators have found no problems with the train's brakes or rail signals.
Alcohol tests on the train's crew members were negative, and investigators were awaiting the results of drug tests, the NTSB said.
Federal investigators wouldn't comment on Rockefeller's level of alertness around the time of the Sunday morning wreck in the Bronx. They said late Tuesday they had removed Bottalico's union, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, as a participant in the investigation over a breach of confidentiality after he publicly discussed information related to it.
Two law enforcement officials said the engineer told police at the scene that his mind was wandering before he realized the train was in trouble and by then it was too late to do anything about it. One of the officials said Rockefeller described himself as being ``in a daze'' before the wreck.
The officials, who were briefed on the engineer's comments, weren't authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Questions about Rockefeller's role mounted rapidly after investigators disclosed on Monday that the Metro-North Railroad commuter train jumped the tracks after going into a curve at 82 mph, or nearly three times the 30 mph speed limit.
Rockefeller, 46, has worked for the railroad for 15 years and has been an engineer for 10, Weener said. He lives in Germantown, 40 miles south of Albany.
On the day of the crash, Rockefeller was on the second day of a five-day work week, reporting at 5:04 a.m. after a typical nine-hour shift the day before, Weener said.
``There's every indication that he would have had time to get full restorative sleep,'' he said.
Weener didn't address specifically what the engineer was doing in the hours before his shift started but said part of the investigation will be creating a 72-hour timeline of his activities.
Chartier said Rockefeller had gotten ``a proper amount of sleep,'' having gone to bed at 8:30 the previous night to wake up at 3:30 a.m. for his shift. He said Rockefeller, before going to bed, had been spending time at home.
Rockefeller had begun running that route on Nov. 17, two weeks before the wreck. Bottalico said Rockefeller was familiar with the route and qualified to run it.
He said Rockefeller had switched just weeks earlier from the night shift to the day shift, ``so he did have a change in his hours and his circadian rhythms with regard to sleep.''
The New York Police Department is conducting its own investigation, with help from the Bronx district attorney's office, in the event the derailment becomes a criminal case.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the engineer could be faulted for the train's speed if nothing else.
``Certainly, we want to make sure that that operator is disciplined in an appropriate way,'' he said. ``There's such a gross deviation from the norm.''
A former supervisor, Michael McLendon, who retired from the railroad about a year ago, called Rockefeller ``a stellar employee.''
McLendon said he was stunned when he heard about the crash, shortly after opening his mail to find a Christmas card from Rockefeller and his wife.
``I said, `Well, I can't imagine Billy making a mistake,''' McLendon said. ``Not intentionally, by any stretch of the imagination.''
University of Dayton professor Steven Harrod, who studies transportation, said trains typically don't have a speed or cruise control but a power control, and once it's set a train can pick up speed on its own because of the terrain.
``Thus, if the engineer loses attention, the train can gain speed without intervention,'' Harrod said.
In case of an engineer becoming incapacitated, the train's front car was equipped with a dead man's pedal, which must be depressed or the train will automatically slow down.
Trains also can have alarms, sometimes called alerters, which sound if the operators' controls haven't been moved within a certain timeframe. If an engineer doesn't respond, often by pressing a button, brakes automatically operate. But the train that derailed didn't have such a system, a Metro-North spokeswoman said.
Congress has ordered commuter and freight railroads to install technology called positive train control, which uses electronics to monitor trains' positions and speed and stop derailments and other problems, by the end of 2015.
Crews are rebuilding the damaged track where Rockefeller's train crashed. Officials expect 98 percent of service to be restored to the affected line Wednesday, Cuomo said.