New England in brief

Repeal of income tax to top fall ballot

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July 11, 2008

The ballot question proposing to repeal the state income tax will appear on the November ballot as Question 1. Secretary of State William F. Galvin also announced yesterday that a petition making marijuana possession a civil, not criminal, offense will be Question 2, while the third question will be whether to ban dog racing. Galvin, who oversees state elections, has discretion over the order of questions on the ballot. Question 1 would eliminate the state's 5.3 percent income tax, which would cost the state about $12 billion annually. (AP)

2 plead guilty in falsely billing Big Dig
Two former managers of a Big Dig contractor have pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to submit false bills for workers' time. Ryan McCourt of Quincy and Kenneth Hartley of California pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to a single count of conspiracy to commit fraud on a federal highway project. Prosecutors said they falsely categorized apprentice ironworkers as higher-paid journeymen, overbilling the project by about $300,000 between 2002 and 2005. Both men worked for the McCourt Construction Co., which pleaded guilty earlier to the scheme. The company said the problem was isolated and not consistent with its commitment to integrity. (AP)

Convicted murderer, 40, gets life in prison
A 40-year-old man was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without parole in the slaying of a Jamaica Plain man, plus a consecutive nine-to-10-year term. Terry Gray was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Charles Wilson, 65, in a Jamaica Plain senior citizen complex on July 9, 2005. Gray received the additional term for putting a gun to his elderly uncle's head on June 16, 2005, and asking, "Who do you want to meet first, God or the devil?" The jury was deadlocked on a second murder charge, alleging that Gray killed his stepfather, James Gray. Another hearing on that charge is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Man in police chase dies after a collision
A 25-year-old man was killed during a police chase in Hingham last night, according to the Plymouth County district attorney's office and Hingham police. The unidentified driver of an allegedly stolen minivan was killed after a collision with another car on Rockland Street, said Bridget Norton Middleton, spokeswoman for the district attorney. The man was taken by ambulance to South Shore Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the other car was also taken to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. Neither police nor the district attorney's office were releasing details last night.

School to be powered by a wind turbine
Holy Name Central Catholic Junior Senior High School is installing the city's first energy-generating wind turbine. It is expected to be operational by the start of the new school year. Holy Name president Mary Riordan said the 242-foot turbine is expected to generate enough electricity for the entire school. The school may have to buy supplemental power in the winter, but could sell surplus energy in the summer. (AP)

Hopedale man denies child rape charge
A Hopedale man, 38, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of raping a 4-year-old girl. Authorities say Douglas Erickson was arrested Tuesday following a two-week investigation. A spokesman for the Worcester district attorney's office said bail for Erickson was set at $25,000 following his arraignment yesterday in Milford District Court. According to police, the alleged rape occurred on June 25 and was reported to police five days later by the child's mother. (AP)

Teacher in porn case sentenced to 1 year
A former teacher convicted of 11 counts of possessing child pornography has been sentenced to one year in jail. Edgar Selavka, 50, of Easthampton, was also sentenced Wednesday in Hampden Superior Court to seven years' probation. Selavka, a former preschool and Sunday school teacher, was charged in January 2007 after the contents of his stolen backpack were found in a restroom in Northampton. Prosecutors say his collection included nine photographic collages of children. Pornographic images were also found on two computer discs and on his computer. (AP)

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