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Drug overdoses, Lamont win among top 2018 Connecticut news

December 26, 2018
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2016, file photo, Michael Skakel leaves the Connecticut Supreme Court after his hearing in Hartford, Conn. The state Supreme Court in May 2018 vacated Skakel's conviction in the bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood in 1975 when they were teenagers. The turn in Skakel's decades-long legal saga was among the state's top stories in 2018. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Democrat Ned Lamont prevailed in a tight contest for governor, dozens of people fell ill in a mass overdose on the New Haven Green and Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel saw a ruling go his way in a decades-long legal saga.

The top stories of 2018 included lots of politics as well as a dose of heartache and tragedy, including the fatal shooting of a young woman killed for trying to break away from an incestuous relationship with her father.

Here is a look at some of what made headlines this year in Connecticut:

LAMONT WINS

In a contest between two businessmen with little government experience, Democrat Ned Lamont edged out Republican Bob Stefanwoski to win the Connecticut governorship. Lamont rode a wave of support for Democrats who will also control the state House, the state Senate and once again hold all seven of the state’s congressional seats. Lamont will be sworn in on Jan. 9, succeeding Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who did not seek a third term.

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INCEST KILLING

A gunman shot up a pickup truck in New Milford in April, killing 20-year-old Katie Pladl and her adoptive father, Tony Fusco. The tale only became darker from there. The gunman was Pladl’s birth father, Steven Pladl, who had been angered by his daughter’s decision to end their incestuous relationship. Steven Pladl had killed the baby he had with Katie before driving from North Carolina to Connecticut to carry out the shooting and then kill himself. Katie Pladl had sought out her biological parents after turning 18 and ultimately married her father.

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DRUG OVERDOSES ON NEW HAVEN GREEN

One after another, the victims fell unconscious. Some people who overdosed returned to the green and overdosed again. All told, over 100 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana in the August episode, many of them in the park outside the gates of Yale University. Officials blamed a potent batch of K2. No deaths were reported. President Donald Trump’s nominee for drug czar visited New Haven to shine a light on the dangers of drugs.

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ESTY HANDLING OF HARASSMENT CASE

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty resisted calls to resign over her handling of a harassment case in her office, but under heavy criticism she announced in April that she would not be seeking a fourth term . She had apologized days earlier for not acting sooner in the case of a former chief of staff accused of harassment, threats and violence against female staffers in her congressional office. Esty, a Democrat, was an outspoken #MeToo advocate and apologized for not protecting her employees from the male chief of staff.

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YALE AND KAVANAUGH

Yale University figured prominently in one of the year’s biggest national stories, the allegations of sexual misconduct that nearly sank the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. One accuser said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were undergraduates at the Ivy League school in the 1980s. Kavanaugh denied all of the accusations, including that he assaulted another woman while they were in high school. There were protests against the nomination on campus and the dean of Yale’s law school, which Kavanaugh also attended, called for a thorough investigation into the allegations.

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JAHANA HAYES’ POLITICAL STAR RISES

Into the race opened up by Esty’s departure stepped Jahana Hayes, a former national teacher of the year whose candidacy quickly gained national attention. She won the seat , making her the first black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. Her story of overcoming poverty after growing up in Waterbury’s housing projects resonated in a year when many Democratic voters embraced non-traditional congressional candidates.

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COAST GUARD ACADEMY’S RACIAL CLIMATE

At the service academy on the Thames River, a series of investigations brought new attention to complaints by black cadets that they have faced racism and hostility. The academy announced in January that two white cadets had been punished for harassing a black classmate. Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that academy officials had retaliated against a faculty member who had complained of harassment and bullying based on her gender and race.

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REVERSAL IN SKAKEL CASE

The decades-long legal saga surrounding Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel took yet another turn in May when the state Supreme Court overturned his murder conviction in the 1975 slaying of a teenage girl, Martha Moxley. The court determined that the trial attorney for Skakel, who was convicted of murder in 2002, failed to present evidence of an alibi. Connecticut prosecutors have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their appeal of the ruling.

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