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This Hour: Latest Massachusetts news, sports, business and entertainment

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MASSACHUSETTS UNEMPLOYMENT

Report: State gains more than 8K jobs in March

BOSTON (AP) - The state is out with an upbeat monthly jobs report. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development says preliminary estimates show Massachusetts gained more than 8,000 jobs in March and the state's unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent from 6.5 percent the previous month.

The national unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in March.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised upward its February jobs estimates for Massachusetts, saying the state picked up 5,500 jobs in the month, compared to the earlier estimate of 3,800 jobs gained.

State officials say there has been a net gain of more than 50,000 jobs since March 2013, and the unemployment rate has dropped six-tenths of a percentage point in the last year.

MASSACHUSETTS CHIEF JUSTICE

Patrick names Gants state's chief justice

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick is elevating Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants to serve as chief justice of the state's highest court.

Gants will succeed as chief justice Roderick Ireland, who announced last month that he would be retiring in July.

Patrick will announce Gants' nomination later Thursday at the Statehouse.

If the governor's council approves the nomination, Patrick would then be in position to name a new associate justice to the seven-member court.

Gants was appointed to the state's high court by Patrick in 2009 after having serving as a Superior Court judge since 1997.

He is a one-time federal prosecutor who also worked as a special assistant under then-FBI director William Webster.

MASSACHUSETTS GAMBLING

MGM asks provisional Massachusetts casino license

BOSTON (AP) - Casino giant MGM is asking Massachusetts gambling regulators to award it a provisional license so it can begin construction on an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield.

MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said at a Thursday hearing of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that the casino operator risks losing about $200 million in state fees and other payments because of uncertainty around efforts to repeal the state's 2011 casino law.

He suggested the commission grant MGM a temporary license that did not require the initial state fees but effectively gave it the rights of a full license holder.

The request comes as the state's highest court is set to hear arguments May 5 in an appeal brought by a local group seeking to place an anti-casino referendum on the November ballot.

AARON HERNANDEZ-ASSOCIATE

Aaron Hernandez associate accused of lying to feds

BOSTON (AP) - An associate of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been arrested on charges of obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to a federal grand jury.

Oscar Hernandez Jr. was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury in Boston. Authorities say he is not related to Aaron Hernandez.

Aaron Hernandez and two other men are charged in the June 17 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was found dead about a mile from Aaron Hernandez's North Attleborough home.

Oscar Hernandez is accused of lying to a grand jury investigating the transportation of guns from Florida to Massachusetts. The inquiry was focused on three guns recovered in connection with Lloyd's death.

Oscar Hernandez is 23 and lives in Orlando. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Orlando on Thursday.

PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL-REVIEW

Massachusetts psychiatric prison under scrutiny

BOSTON (AP) - A nonprofit watchdog group has launched an investigation into the treatment of inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital psychiatric prison.

The state Department of Correction confirmed Wednesday that lawyers from the Disability Law Center arrived at the medium-security prison Tuesday to meet with administrators, gather records, and meet with patients.

Department spokesman Darren Duarte tells The Boston Globe the visit was "a positive meeting."

The investigation comes in the wake of reports that guards and clinicians are illegally putting mentally ill inmates and patients into physical restraints and isolation cells.

The Disability Law Center, which gets a significant portion of its funding from the federal government, is designated under federal law to investigate complaints of abuse of disabled people. It said in a letter to state officials it has "deep concern about the amount of restraint and seclusion."

BOSTON MARATHON-POLITICAL RESPONSE

Little government response to bombing a year later

BOSTON (AP) - There's little evidence of any lasting impact on the political world a year after the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon.

The attack a year ago Tuesday has been little more than an afterthought in subsequent elections across the country. State and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260. And federal funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be cut.

The politics of terrorism have changed dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Polls suggest voters have little appetite for a renewed focus on national security after a decade of anti-terrorism efforts - plus wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - that consumed tremendous public resources.

HIGH SCHOOL STABBINGS-MARATHON

3 to run marathon to help school stabbing victims

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Three people from the western Pennsylvania town where 21 students and a security guard were wounded in a high school stabbing rampage are hoping to raise money for the victims by running the Boston Marathon.

Kim Pekarcik, one of the three runners, says Murrysville residents have come to understand some of what Boston experienced when a boy stabbed and slashed other students April 9 at Franklin Regional High School.

That's why she and friends Marlo Ayres and Jason Jelovich plan to run the marathon Monday.

They're looking for sponsors to donate $1 for every person who goes online to track their progress along the 26.2-mile course.

WPXI-TV says money raised will go to a bank account set up for the stabbing victims, four of whom remained hospitalized Thursday.

TROOPS-SHADOW MARATHON

US troops in Afghanistan hosting 'shadow' marathon

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) - The Fort Drum-based 10th Mountain Division will host what will be the last Boston Marathon "shadow run" to be held at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

The 26.2-mile shadow runs are held by deployed U.S. military personnel on or around Patriots Day, when the Boston Marathon is run. This year's Boston Marathon is Monday, but the Bagram race is being held Friday.

Some 600 military members and civilians are expected to run in Bagram's shadow Boston Marathon.

The Boston Athletic Association has provided Boston Marathon start and finish banners, bibs, T-shirts, medals and finisher certificates for participants in the shadow marathons.

With U.S. troops pulling out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, Friday's race will be the last Boston Marathon shadow run held at Bagram, the country's largest U.S. military base.

APARTMENT DEATH

Springfield woman denies murder charge

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A Springfield woman has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in connection with the death of a city man found in his apartment last month.

Diomaris Valentin was ordered held without bail at her arraignment Thursday in Springfield District Court.

The 28-year-old Valentin is charged in connection with the death of 61-year-old Craig Sheridan.

Sheridan was found dead in his sixth-floor apartment on March 22 after neighbors said he had not been seen in days and detected an odor. Police say he may have been dead a week before the body was discovered.

Police did not say how Sheridan died or what led them to Valentin as a suspect.

DOG HANGED

Winchendon family shocked after dog found hanged

WINCHENDON, Mass. (AP) - A Winchendon family is heartbroken and outraged at the same time after finding their dog hanging from a tree from their yard.

Allyson Clark calls the death of Snoopy, a 14-week old beagle, "murder."

Clark says the family, with four kids, has had Snoopy for just six weeks.

They put him outside Monday afternoon, tying him to the dog house with a rope.

Clark's 10-year-old daughter went out about 25 minutes later and found Snoopy with a rope around his neck hanging from a tree about four feet off the ground.

She says there is no way it could have been an accident.

Winchendon police and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are investigating.

CAPE COD SHOOTING

2nd man charged with murder in Bourne slaying

(Information in the following story is from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodonline.com )

FALMOUTH, Mass. (AP) - Authorities have charged a second person with murder in connection with a fatal, drug-related shooting in Bourne this week.

The Cape and Islands district attorney's office announced that 20-year-old Amonty Amado of Wareham is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on a murder charge in connection with the shooting Tuesday of Antone Gutierrez. It's not clear of Amado has a lawyer.

Sonny Tavares was held without bail at his arraignment Wednesday on a murder charge stemming from Gutierrez's death.

The 22-year-old Gutierrez, found lying in the middle of a road, died later at a hospital.

Prosecutors allege Gutierrez was shot during a heroin transaction.

The Cape Cod Times reports that Tavares' attorney said outside court that the victim's violent and criminal past may play a role in his defense strategy.

MISSING MEN

Judge allows testimony in triple killing trial

(Information in the following story is from: The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, http://www.berkshireeagle.com )

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A judge has ruled that the testimony of two jailhouse informants can be heard at the trial of a North Adams man charged with killing three Pittsfield men.

David Chalue (shuh-LOO') is scheduled to face trial later this month in the August 2011 deaths of David Glasser, Robert Chadwell and Edward Frampton.

Two inmates allege the 47-year-old Chalue admitted to the killings.

Chalue's attorney argued that the informants elicited the allegedly incriminating statements while acting as government agents in violation of Chalue's rights. The defense attorney said both men have a history of working with police.

The Berkshire Eagle reports that the judge ruled the testimony admissible because there's no evidence of an agreement between law enforcement and either man, but they went to police after the statements were made.

CHILD SEX ASSAULT

Framingham man charged with raping relative

(Information in the following story is from: MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.), http://www.metrowestdailynews.com )

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) - A Framingham man charged with sexually assaulting a 5-year-old relative he was baby-sitting has been held on $200,000 bail.

Erick Figueroa was held after pleading not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday to charges of rape of a child, indecent assault and battery on a child younger than 14 and disseminating obscene matter to a child.

The MetroWest Daily News reports he was also ordered to have no contact with the girl or her parents and to stay away from anyone younger than 18 if he makes bail.

Prosecutors say the girl reported the assault to her parents Saturday, and also said Figueroa had shown her an explicit video on his cellphone.

The suspect's lawyer argued for lower bail, saying his client has no criminal record and a steady job.

AMBULANCE SERVICE THEFT

Ex-ambulance service GM pleads guilty to larceny

(Information in the following story is from: The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, http://www.berkshireeagle.com )

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) - The former general manager of a Berkshire County ambulance service has pleaded guilty to his role in stealing nearly a quarter million dollars from the nonprofit.

The Berkshire Eagle reports that Albert Miller was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to repay the money after pleading guilty Wednesday to a single count of larceny over $250.

Prosecutors say the 59-year-old Miller, with the help of his wife who oversaw payroll, stole about $240,000 from Village Ambulance Service between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2011, mostly by overpaying themselves and using a company credit card for personal expenses.

The company provides service for Williamstown, Hancock, New Ashford, daytime service for Pownal, Vt., and mutual aid for Adams and North Adams.

Charges against Miller's wife are pending.

APARTMENT FIRE-CAMBRIDGE

6-alarm fire damages Cambridge apartment block

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - A six-alarm fire caused extensive damage to a Cambridge apartment building, but authorities say all the residents escaped unharmed.

The fire on Massachusetts Avenue was reported just after midnight Thursday.

Fire Chief Gerald Reardon says it appears as if the blaze started in the basement of the six-floor building but quickly moved floor to floor up a utility shaft, making it difficult to battle.

The older 57-unit building did not have a sprinkler system.

Reardon says 125 firefighters responded, and some suffered minor injuries.

The cause remains under investigation.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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