Prom day stabbing, election among nation's top 2014 stories

Prom day stabbing, election among nation's top 2014 stories

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The triumph and disgrace of political leaders dominated Connecticut headlines in 2014 as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy won re-election to a second term and former Gov. John G. Rowland became a two-time felon with a new federal conviction.

The state celebrated twin national championships for the University of Connecticut men's and women's basketball teams — a feat that no other school has pulled off and one that UConn has now accomplished twice. And as the recovery continued in Newtown, the year brought its share of tragedy, including a fatal prom day stabbing at a Milford high school.

Here is a look at some of the year's top stories:

Malloy wins re-election

In a rematch of the 2010 contest, Malloy edged out his Republican challenger, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, despite unpopular tax increases and a personal style that the governor himself described as prickly. Malloy said his priorities for his new term, which begins Jan. 7, include a continued focus on his economic development, education and affordable housing initiatives. He has also proposed a new student loan tax credit, stronger domestic violence laws and a new work program targeting the unemployed.

Prom day stabbing

A 16-year-old high school student, Maren Sanchez, was stabbed to death in a school hallway April 25, the day of her junior prom. She had turned down her assailant when he asked her to be his date, police said. The defendant, Christopher Plaskon, has pleaded not guilty to murder. His attorney said his client has shown signs of psychosis.

Rowland is convicted, again

This time, Rowland faces the possibility of a much stiffer sentence. Back in 2004, Rowland resigned in a corruption scandal and served 10 months in prison for taking illegal gifts. The Republican who was once seen as having a future in national politics was convicted in September on new charges stemming from a scheme to hide payment for work on a congressional political campaign. With sentencing set for Jan. 7, prosecutors are seeking more than three years in prison.

Hot car death

A 15-month-old boy, Benjamin Seitz, died after he was left inside a car parked outside his father's office on a hot July day. Authorities say the father, Kyle Seitz of Ridgefield, forgot to take his son to day care. Seitz, whose wife has been working to prevent other such cases through an awareness campaign, was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide. He faces a year in prison if convicted.

Newtown child advocate report

A report released in November detailed missed opportunities to provide more appropriate mental health treatment for Adam Lanza, the deeply troubled 20-year-old who massacred 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The state's Office of the Child Advocate concluded that his parents and the school system contributed to his isolation by accommodating his difficulties in engaging with the world. A panel appointed by the governor to develop policy recommendations in the wake of the shooting is expected to issue its report early in 2015.

UConn basketball championships

The dominance of the women's team was unsurprising — they have won a record nine NCAA championships under coach Geno Auriemma — but the men's win was stunning, an unexpected run with neophyte coach Kevin Ollie. UConn is the only school to ever win the NCAA Division I men's and women's titles in the same year, a feat it also accomplished in 2004. More than 200,000 fans jammed the streets of Hartford on a Sunday in April for a parade honoring both championship teams.

Misbehaving fraternities

Universities in Connecticut took steps to rein in misbehavior at fraternities, with UConn banning five Greek organizations for hazing and Wesleyan ordering fraternities with houses on campus to become coeducational within three years. UConn said its fraternities and sororities had forced students to eat pet food, bob for mini-bottles of alcohol from toilets and lie on the floor with instructions to "sizzle like bacon." Wesleyan cited problems with drinking and drug use in Greek organizations.

Connecticut adopts $10.10 minimun wage

The minimum wage approved by the legislature in March was the highest for any state. The law, signed by Malloy, incrementally increases the current wage of $8.70 an hour to $10.10 by Jan. 1, 2017. The measure brought political dividends for the Democrat as President Barack Obama, who sought the rate for the federal minimum wage, stressed their common ground on campaign visits to Connecticut.

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