BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – A 26-year-old New York woman has pleaded guilty to helping plan the murders of a Connecticut couple in their Fairfield jewelry store nearly four years ago.

Nicole Pearce pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of felony murder in the February 2005 shooting deaths of Timothy and Kimberly Donnelly.

Pearce’s boyfriend, Christopher DiMeo, faces murder, robbery and handgun charges in the case and could receive the death penalty if convicted. His trial is not expected to start until 2009.

Prosecutors say Pearce, who lived in Queens with DiMeo, admitted scouting out the Donnelly store for him one day before the couple were killed.

Judge rejects plea deal in poisoning

COVENTRY, Conn. (AP) – A judge has rejected a plea deal that would have sent a Coventry woman to prison for 10 years for trying twice to kill her husband.

Rockville Superior Court Judge Terence Sullivan said Friday that the severity of 28-year-old Jennifer Ratti’s crime calls for more time in prison.

Ratti pleaded guilty in September to attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and inciting injury to a person.

Prosecutors say she put bug killer in Joshua Ratti’s food and antifreeze in his soda, and later tried to hire a hit man.

He was hospitalized after ingesting the poisonous substances, but has recovered.

Jennifer Ratti has said she was upset because he wanted to end their marriage. Their divorce became final in late 2007, about six months after her arrest.

Ratti returns to court Dec. 5. She must either reach a plea deal with a longer prison sentence, or withdraw her guilty plea and go to trial.

She already is serving a 20-year term for helping DiMeo rob and murder a jeweler in Glenhead, N.Y. DiMeo is serving a life term in that case.

Arrests in attack on black teen

NEW YORK (AP) – Two white teenagers have been arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime in an Election Night attack on a black teenager on Staten Island.

The two 18-year-olds also face weapons charges in the attack on 17-year-old Ali Kamara, a black Muslim who moved to the borough from Liberia in 2000.

Kamara has said he was walking home when he was assaulted by four white men who looked at him and said “Obama!”

After the attack, Kamara needed staples for a gash on his head. The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for an FBI investigation into the attack.

Baby sitter held in shaking incident

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – An Essex woman accused of critically injuring a baby in her care will remain jailed without bail.

Twenty-two-year-old Taryn O’Connor has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and cruelty to a child younger than 10.

Court records show that on Friday her lawyer dropped a challenge to presecutor’s request to keep her jailed without bail.

O’Connor, who advertised child care services on the Craiglist web site, had been caring for the the 13-month old boy daily for three or fourth months when authorities say she violently shook him while changing his diaper on Nov. 6.

The child was listed in fair condition with head and brain injuries at Fletcher Allen Health Care on Friday.


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