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The Connecticut Supreme Court will start the fifth term of the 2016-17 court year today, and conclude the term on January 26th.  One of the cases being heard on Monday morning is the State of Connecticut v. Roberto Acosta, from the Danbury Judicial District.  The question is of whether evidence of uncharged Sexual Misconduct occurring 13 years before the charged crimes was properly admitted under State v. DeJesus.


The 49-year old defendant was charged with sexual assault and risk of injury to a child in connection with a 2009 incident involving his niece.  At trial, evidence was admitted that, in 1997, the defendant had engaged in uncharged sexual misconduct with another child. The defendant was convicted and he appealed, claiming that the court improperly admitted the uncharged misconduct evidence because it was too remote in time and not sufficiently similar to the charged misconduct. 


The Appellate Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction. 


State v. DeJesus holds that evidence of uncharged sexual misconduct properly may be admitted in sex crime cases to establish that the defendant had a propensity to engage in aberrant and compulsive criminal sexual behavior if the trial court determines, among other things, that the evidence is relevant to the charged crime in that it is not too remote in time.


The Appellate Court reasoned that the remoteness in time of a prior incident is rarely determinative of the admissibility of the evidence and emphasized that the evidence here was relevant because there was a significant similarity between the uncharged and charged misconduct.


The Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.

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There's been some discussion in the last few weeks about freedom of speech, even if you disagree with what is being expressed.  There's also been calls for transparency from elected officials.  The Congress though has adopted rules that would sanction members for using electronic recording devices on the House floor. 


5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says there was talk last year of potential sanctions against members who participated in the sit-in to protest refusal to take up gun safety legislation.  Esty says they knew they were not permitted to use electronic recording devices, but wanted to get their message out to constituents.  The sit-in was led by civil rights activist Congressman John Lewis and Connecticut Congressman John Larson.


Esty says it's worth considering new ways for government to be as transparent as possible, especially as technology makes that possible.  Esty notes that technology is changing and people expect more candid interaction with their elected representative.  She says younger constituents, students specifically, have come to rely on Facebook Live, Periscope and other video streaming services to keep up with events.


The fine taken out of a member's paycheck is $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for the second offense of using an electronic recording device on the House floor.

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A New Milford High School student has been arrested for a fight at the school.  New Milford Police said in a press release that the juvenile male was arrested on Thursday and charged for a minor physical altercation at New Milford High School.  The teen was charged with breach of peace, 3rd degree assault and criminal mischief.  No further details about the incident were immediately released by police.

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A man was rescued from the Housatonic River over the weekend when his car went off the road in Kent.  Police say the Massachusetts man ran off the road shortly before 11pm Saturday near Macedonia Road.  The man, Brian Zingwe, climbed onto the roof of his car when it started to sink and was rescued by the Goshen Fire Department Dive Team.  The car was eventually pulled from the Housatonic River.  The man was uninjured, but transported to the hospital for evaluation.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Monroe state Rep. J.P. Sredzinski, a public safety dispatch supervisor, knows firsthand the challenges of fielding misdirected 911 emergency calls from cellphone users.


While some calls are easily rerouted to the correct dispatch center, others become tricky when the person isn't sure where he or she is located and the call has been routed through the nearest cellphone tower that may be in another community.


"They don't know where they are. You don't know where they are," said Sredzinski, who works in Stratford. He said calls have to be transferred to another emergency call center numerous times each day.


"Dispatchers do spend valuable time on the phone," said the Republican lawmaker.


Recently named the new top House Republican on the General Assembly's Public Safety Committee, Sredzinski has submitted legislation that requires 911 calls to be routed to the nearest "public safety answering point," a 24-hour emergency call center. Sredzinski acknowledged he's unsure whether such legislation is absolutely necessary or possible, given the technological challenges, but said he wants to bring the issue to light.


"It's something that needs to be addressed," he said, expressing frustration that "we live in in a society where, with a phone app, Domino's knows exactly where you are" but not a 911 dispatcher. He noted that California lawmakers last year passed legislation requiring a comprehensive statewide review of that state's 911 routing decision-making process.


According to the Federal Communications Commission, an estimated 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones. The FCC notes how the phones are mobile and therefore not associated with a fixed location like a landline phone, when the caller's number and address automatically appears on the 911 operator's screen.


"While the location of the cell site closest to the 911 caller may provide a general indication of the caller's location, that information is not always specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance to the caller quickly," the FCC notes on its website.


Of the nearly 2.2 million emergency calls made in Connecticut last year, state records show 332,287 were made using a traditional phone line, 119,66 using an internet-based phone service and more than 1.7 million using a wireless device.


Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore, president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, said his department has had a few instances in which it was difficult to determine where a 911 caller was located. He said he welcomes the legislation if there is something that can be done.


"We spend a little bit of time trying to identify the location of a caller and that has delayed our response, but thankfully it's not a life-threatening thing," he said. "But how many times can you roll the dice?"


The FCC has been working on the issue of transitioning 911 services from landline only to wireless and cellular technologies since 1996. According to an April 2015 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the first phase focused on allowing emergency dispatchers to view a wireless caller's number and identify the cell tower nearest to the caller's phone. The second phase is supposed to increase the accuracy of the caller's location by providing their longitude and latitude.


This comes amid efforts to also expand the number of public safety answering points that can accept 911 calls via text messaging, an initiative known as Next Generation 911. Connecticut is among the states pursuing such an upgrade.

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Bethel officials haven't heard much, but area aware that some residents are hearing what sound like loud explosions or firecrackers.  Police were dispatched once or twice, but they have been unable to locate any evidence.  Bethel officials haven't found a reason for these sounds.


There was a report Thursday night.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the investigating officer did hear another boom of some kind a distance away and saw a flash on the horizon behind the trees.  The officer went seeking out a cause, but couldn't find anything.


Knickerbocker says it could be a transformer exploding, but that usually that results in a power outage.  That hasn't been the case after these incidents.  He is speculating that it could be someone with left over fireworks.


Most of the comments about these sounds have been made on Facebook, and Knickerbocker says it's not widespread.  But he added that people are curious to find out what it is because it sometimes frightens pets.  The booms are not a figment of people's imagination, but they haven't identified a cause.

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The exit 6 westbound off ramp in Danbury will eventually be aligned with Padanaram Avenue, where the new Starbucks building is located.  When construction work is finished, the whole intersection will be realigned for a better flow of traffic.


State Department of Transportation Project Manager Charles Murad says crews have been out there at least twice in the last month to repaint the lines on the road.  But he says they can't get the paint to adhere and dry in these weather conditions, it just flakes off quicker in winter.


It will still be months before the Route 37/North Street/Exit 6 widening project in Danbury is completed.  Murad says utility relocation took longer than anticipated.  They are hoping to finish by this winter.  But he notes that it does depend on weather conditions and if crews come across any thing that unforseen in the original contract drawings.


He has heard the complaints about traffic.  The traffic light signals are timed now to clear the exit 6 westbound off ramp first.  If cars back up onto the highway, that creates a big safety problem.  Murad says drivers can help by taking alternate routes, alleviating some of the congestion. 


During the winter shut down period, the DOT plans to work on the concrete retaining wall in the North Street Shopping Center parking lot.

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There will be a traffic shift in Ridgefield because of a bridge construction project.  Ridgefield Police say travel lanes on Route 35, Danbury Road, will go into a new construction configuration beginning Monday.  Northbound traffic will be directed over the temporary bridge while southbound traffic will be directed onto a shifted southbound lane.  The southern Fox Hill driveway will be used as an entrance only.

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Another car has been stolen in Newtown after the keys were left inside the unlocked car.  Newtown Police also received reports Friday morning from residents saying that their vehicles were entered into and valuables stolen.  All of the victim vehicles were left unlocked. 


The car was stolen from Pocono Road.  The streets where the vehicles were entered include West Street, King Street, and Taunton Lane.  The thefts happened between 2am and 6am yesterday.


Newtown Police offered several tips on how to prevent vehicle break ins.  With the recent rash of larcenies, the Department is reminding all residents to take safeguards to protect themselves and their property from being a victim of these types of crimes.


As simple as it sounds, lock your vehicle.  Police say residents would be surprised at how much is stolen from cars with unlocked doors.  Locked doors don't do much good if you leave the windows down, so roll up all windows as well.


Remove all valuables. If you have to leave items in the car, put them out of sight and in the trunk.  Never leave anything visible in your car especially electronic items such as a GPS units, music players or laptop computers.


Park in a well-lit area.  Light removes the cover of darkness which is important to thieves.  Police say motion activated lights are a great deterrent to thiefs and should be installed in your driveway.  Avoid parking on the street if possible to will help to reduce the opportunity for access to your vehicle.


Report suspicious activity or a crime in progress immediately by calling Newtown Police at 203-426-5841. Try and take notes such as clothing descriptions, vehicle make/color/license plate and direction of travel. Give all this information to the police officer answering the call. In the case of an emergency call 911.

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A New York man wanted for the August Bridgewater home invasion has been transported to Connecticut to be charged.  Dustin Holst-Grubbe waived extradition from New York on Monday.  Connecticut State Police completed extradition Friday.  The 20-year old was unable to post the more than $1 million bond and was transported to court for immediate arraignment.


One of the warrants charged Holst-Grubbe with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and larceny.  The other warrant were for charges of home invasion, assault on an elderly person, assault with a deadly weapon, stealing a firearm, credit card theft, three counts of burglary and two counts of larceny.


Troopers responded to a South Main Street home early on an August morning last year on a report of a man entering the house and shooting the resident. The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and his wife was uninjured. 


Holst-Grubbe was arrested by Dutchess County Sheriff's Deputies shortly after the home invasion.  He was wanted for burglarizing a Diner in Millerton. New York State Police say he stole a car early the next day.  The vehicle was pursued by New Milford Police for speeding, but officers stopped the chase.  Holst-Grubbe was allegedly fleeing New Milford Police in a stolen car and came to the Route 133 road block, likely thinking the state police cruiser was there for him, and not traffic control. 


The stolen car was found at the Bridgewater home.


The focus of the investigation quickly turned to other stolen cars, including two recovered in Waterbury.

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A Connecticut man wanted for stealing from a Monroe home in 2012 has just been arrested.  Monroe Police say a homeowner reported more than $93,000 worth of jewelry stolen from their house in April 2012.  Police say new information provided in 2016 led them to 39-year old David Sullivan of New Haven.  He was charged with larceny and burglary and ordered held on $50,000 bond.

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WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) -- Police say a Connecticut man intentionally ran down his girlfriend and another man, then walked to a bar where he had a couple of drinks and played video games. One of the victims later died.


The Republican-American reports that Stefan Scerba, of Oxford, was held on $3 million bond after his arraignment Thursday on charges including murder.


Police say Scerba and his girlfriend were helping Alford Craine with a car issue Wednesday when an argument ensued.


Witnesses told police Scerba aimed a gun at both of them, then jumped in his pickup truck and reversed it into them. Craine died at a hospital. Scerba's girlfriend's arms were broken.


Scerba was arrested at a friend's house after he left the bar.


He told police Craine threatened him with a gun

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Special elections have been announced to fill three vacancies in the General Assembly.  On February 28th residents who live in the 32nd Senate District will have to vote on a new state Senator.  The District consists entirely of Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Oxford, Roxbury, Southbury, Washington, Watertown, and Woodbury, and portions of Middlebury and Seymour.  Republican Rob Kane won reelection in November, but chose not to be sworn into office and vacancies were declared.  Kane is applying to be a Republican state auditor.

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New Milford's Mayor is answering questions about free sand that used to be available to residents in the winter at the Public Works Department.  David Gronbach says Public Works decided this witner to discontinue the free sand pile, because $12,000 to $20,000 worth of sand was being lost. 


Public Works officials described the situation to him.  They said that sand was made available on an honor system in recognition that sidewalks need to be maintained by residents and business owners.  But the department says in recent years, use of the sand was put toward private property not benefitting the public at large.  Some people were reportedly seen loading pick up trucks with the sand. 


Gronbach says people can request a 70-pound bag from Public Works, and it will be provided to them.  He called it a reasonable compromise.

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A Masuk High School student has reportedly been suspended after concerns were raised over social media postings.  A petition was started Tuesday by a Monroe student calling for their peer to be expelled over the postings, some of which were aimed at disabled people, others making fun of African Americans and two making fun of the shootings at Sandy Hook School. 


As of Friday afternoon, the petition has gained 2,800 signatures on


The school's principal emailed parents today about what he termed disturbing social media posts that have cast the high school in the media spotlight.  School officials are working with the Monroe Police Department to ensure student safety and have not determined any direct threat to the Monroe schools. 


The petition acknowledged the right to free speech, but says that right has been abused and created a hostile environment in school.

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Four New York men have been arrested for firing a gun in Tarrywile Park in Danbury.  Police were called to Southern Boulevard around 4:30 yesterday afternoon by someone who heard six or seven shots being fired near the water tower.  The men were located, and initially failed to comply with officers instructions to raise their hands. 


A 9mm Handgun was found in the waistband of one suspect. 


All four admitted to firing the handgun in the park.  18-year old Leonardo Leon, 21-year old Ricardo Nunez- Espinosa, 18-year old Eduard Gutierrez-Ocampo and 22-year old Julio Cesar Santillan, all of New Rochelle, were taken into custody without further incident. 


(Leon, Gutierrez-Ocampo, Nunez- Espinosa, Santillan)


One of the men, Gutierrez-Ocampo, had Xananx pills in his possession.  Another suspect, Santillan, was found with pot.


Leon, Gutierrez-Ocampo, Nunez-Espinosa and Santillan were all charged with breach of peace, interfering with an Officer, criminal possession of a pistol, carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a firearm, and reckless endangerment. They were each held on $40,000 bond.


Gutierrez-Ocampo was also charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance within 1,500 feet of a school.


Santillan was also charged with possession of less than one half ounce of marijuana.

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Danbury Public Schools have appointed a new Director of Student Services.  Kelly Truchsess has been named the district’s director of Student Services.  As director, she will oversee the district’s special education programming, in addition to the provision of related services by school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and occupational and physical therapists. 


Truchsess received both a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education and master’s degree in special education from UConn, and she earned an administrator’s certificate from Sacred Heart University. 


She joined the Danbury School District in 2005 as an elementary special education teacher.  In 2012, Truchsess assumed the role of supervisor of secondary special education, overseeing the provision of student services specifically in the middle schools, Danbury High School and the Alternative Center for Excellence.

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Two bills authored jointly by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty have passed the U.S. House of Representatives.  Both bills aim to help women launch careers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields where they are under represented and encourage women to start their own STEM-focused small businesses.


Both H.R. 255, the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, and H.R. 321, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act, passed the House by unanimous voice vote. The bills now head to the Senate for consideration.


Esty says the passage of these bills will help build a stronger, more inclusive economy and help women break into fields where they are under represented.


The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act expands the mission of the National Science Foundation to include supporting entrepreneurial programs for women that extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.


The INSPIRE Women Act calls on NASA to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in aerospace.  Esty says NASA can do that through three existing programs: NASA Girls, Aspire to Inspire, and the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.


Esty is a member of the House Science and Technology Committee. Two years ago, she convened a Connecticut STEM Advisory Board comprised of educators, workers, and industry leaders to identify strategies for strengthening the state’s high-tech workforce and connect more students with career opportunities in the STEM fields.  In 2015, Esty worked to pass the STEM Education Act, which supports training for STEM teachers and includes computer science for the first time as a focus of STEM education initiatives. President Obama signed the STEM Education Act into law.

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Wilton's Police Chief will be retiring this year.  Chief Robert Crosby has been the chief since September 2015, but began his career with the Wilton Police Department in 1983.  His retirement will take effect in April.  Crosby said in a written statement that it's been an honor and privilege to serve the Town of Wilton and its Police Department for over 33 years.  The Police Commission will form a committee to make a recommendation about who will be the next Chief to the Commission, who will in turn make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen.

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Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is expressing concerns with the closing of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in neighboring Westchester.  She says union workers and their families will be particularly affected as they are employed by Entergy.  Adding to potential unemployment, Odell says the County currently sources a portion of its power from Indian Point’s nuclear generators.  She says it remains unclear how Putnam County will replace this power and at what cost to the taxpayers.  The aging plant will close in 2021 under a deal with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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