New England in brief

Housing to get $45.5m in stimulus funds

August 19, 2009

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Massachusetts plans to spend $45.5 million in federal stimulus funds on eight stalled affordable housing developments. Governor Deval Patrick said yesterday that the infusion of cash will also help generate hundreds of jobs. The eight developments are in Beverly, Framingham, Greenfield, Holliston, Springfield, and the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. The projects include renovation of an existing 60-unit single room occupancy facility in Springfield and construction of a 48-unit family development on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury. (AP)

Light fixture blamed in fire that killed one
The cause of a basement fire in Waltham this month that took the life of a 22-year-old man was electrical, state and local officials said yesterday. Investigators traced the source of the Aug. 12 blaze at 187 Adams St. to a fluorescent light fixture on the basement ceiling, state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in a statement. The victim, Muthukumar Karthikeyen, was living in what is believed to be an illegal basement apartment with no smoke alarms, officials said. Further inspection of the other apartments in the building found smoke alarms that did not work because the batteries were missing.

Dog owner faces manslaughter case
Michael J. McGunigle, an Abington man accused of punching and killing another man for complaining about his barking dog, was indicted on manslaughter charges yesterday, Plymouth County prosecutors said. A grand jury heard allegations that McGunigle, 49, punched Brian Cherry, a 48-year-old former Marine from Abington, on July 6 after Cherry asked that McGunigle restrain his dog, which was barking at passersby from a vehicle. Cherry hit his head on the pavement and died six days later at Massachusetts General Hospital with severe brain injuries.

Marine dies in combat in Afghanistan
A Marine killed in Afghanistan wanted to help others and was an active member of the youth group at his church back home in Maine. A close friend said that Lance Corporal Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, was known as “The Holy Man’’ to fellow Marines because of his faith. Bernard was a rifleman assigned to the Second Battalion, Third Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, Third Marine Expeditionary Force, based at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. The Defense Department said Bernard died Friday while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province. He was deployed to Iraq in January 2008. (AP)

Second trial for Beverly officer begins
A Beverly police officer convicted of negligent vehicular homicide when a 61-year-old woman died after he crashed his cruiser into a parked car is facing a new trial. The crash in January 2007 killed Bonney Burns, and Merry was sentenced to probation. Officer Stuart Merry’s second trial started in Peabody District Court yesterday with jury selection. Suffolk County prosecutors are trying the case to avoid any conflict of interest. The Supreme Judicial Court threw out Merry’s conviction in April and ordered a new trial after finding prosecutors failed to turn over evidence favorable to Merry. Merry contended he should not have to face a second trial because there was not enough evidence to establish that he was negligent. (AP)

Man charged in fatal Wrentham crash
A Mendon man has been charged after a crash last week on Interstate 495 North in Wrentham that killed a passenger in his car, State Police said. Joseph Mele, 22, was driving a Toyota Scion about 1:30 a.m. Friday when he struck the median guardrail and rolled over into the median. Mele suffered serious injuries but escaped the car; the fiery crash killed Adam Palmer, 22 of Mendon. Mele faces charges of motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence, negligent motor vehicle homicide, operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation, and a marked lanes violation.

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