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State & Region Briefs

  • FILE - In this June 7, 2017 file photo, Blake Shelton performs "Every Time I Hear that Song" at the CMT Music Awards at Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. Shelton recorded a minute-long message that was included in a longer tribute video to the Quaboag Regional Middle/High School students who died in a Nov. 6 car crash in West Brookfield, Mass. Shelton’s brother died in a crash nearly three decades ago.(Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP, File) Wade Payne


Friday, December 01, 2017
Country star Shelton comforts mourning school

WARREN — One of country music’s biggest stars is comforting a school mourning the deaths of three students.

Blake Shelton recorded a minute-long message that was included in a longer tribute video to the Quaboag Regional Middle/High School students who died in a Nov. 6 car crash in West Brookfield.

Shelton’s brother died in a crash nearly three decades ago.

Shelton said in the message: “I can understand how you guys feel. It’s the worst possible feeling. It’s confusion. It’s anger. It’s just an overall brokenness that’s just gonna take a lot of time to heal.”

Shelton learned of the deaths through his mother, who grew up with the father of a member of Quaboag’s school committee.

The crash took the lives of 14-year-old Jaclyn Desrosiers, 15-year-old Christian Congelos and the driver, 16-year-old Lena Noonan.

Driver in deadly pizza shop crash faces 2 years in jail

WOBURN — A judge has ruled that a man charged with driving the SUV that crashed into a pizza parlor, killing two people and injuring seven, faces two years behind bars if he pleads guilty.

The ruling released Friday appears to jeopardize a proposal by a defense attorney for Bradford Casler, who said his client would plead guilty if he is not sent to jail.

Casler’s attorney, Thomas Giblin III, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Boston Globe reports that in Friday’s decision, the judge rejected the prosecution’s request for a 5-year sentence and the defense’s request for six months of home confinement.

Casler crashed into the Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in Newton in March 2016. Giblin says Casler’s multiple sclerosis was to blame.

He’s due back in court Dec. 22.

Man dies in ATV crash at campground

BECKET — Authorities say a 56-year-old man who suffered serious head and neck injuries in an all-terrain vehicle crash at a Becket campground has died.

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Environmental Police said that officers along with local police responded to the Bonny Rigg Camping Club in Becket at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The victim was taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield where he was pronounced dead. Authorities did not release his name but said he was from Springfield.

The death remains under investigation.

The campground’s website says ATV riding is allowed year-round.

The facility’s manager says the victim owned a site at the campground.

Uber driver charged with sex assault on passenger

QUINCY — A driver for ride-hailing service Uber has been charged with sexually assaulting a passenger and locking the doors when she tried to get out of his vehicle.

Kastriot Naksi, of Boston, was held at his arraignment Thursday pending a Dec. 7 hearing to determine whether he’s a danger to society.

Prosecutors say the 46-year-old Naksi was driving the 22-year-old woman to Quincy on Wednesday when he touched her thigh, reached between her legs, and told her he loved her and wanted to marry her. He then allegedly locked his doors and continued driving when she asked to get out.

Naksi’s wife says she does not believe the allegations and stands by her husband.

Uber says Naksi passed a background check and his access to the company app has been blocked.

Holyoke woman gets probation in murder-for-hire plot

NORTHAMPTON — A woman who participated in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a woman who had accused her husband of rape has been sentenced to five years of probation.

Cynthia Coons, 50, of Holyoke, was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to first-degree conspiracy. The plot was never carried out.

Prosecutors say Coons’ husband was in jail on the rape charge when he talked to another inmate about having the victim killed. That inmate told authorities.

Investigators recorded several jailhouse conversations between Coons and her husband in which they discussed the plan.

Her husband previously pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced to up to 17 years in prison.

Coons’ lawyer says her client was diagnosed with a mental health disorder and was manipulated by her husband.

10-year-old arrested after firing BB gun at buses

METHUEN — A 10-year-old boy has been arrested after police say he shot a BB gun at two school buses full of children in Methuen.

Police say both buses had about 63 students aboard in grades K-8 when they were shot at Wednesday. The buses were leaving Marsh Grammar School in Methuen.

The impact of the pellets shattered multiple bus windows. No injuries were reported.

Investigators traced the pellets to a boy who police say fired them from his home. Authorities say the child is not a student of the district’s public schools. His name has not been released.

The boy is facing several charges, including malicious damage and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon for every student on board the bus.