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    Bill Bontempi, an oral surgeon, was picked to serve as chairman of the two-town school board.

    WILBRAHAM -- Now that Lisa Morace, former chairwoman of the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee, is off the school board, the panel set out to pick a new leader at its first meeting of the 2017-2018 academic year.

    At the July 11 meeting, Michelle Emirzian, the board's vice chairwoman, nominated Bill Bontempi to serve as chairman, a motion seconded by Sean Kennedy. Newcomer Mary Ellen Glover nominated Emirzian to be chairwoman, citing her tenure on the board and status as the board's second-ranking official.

    "I'd like to decline my nomination," Emirzian said.

    With one nominee left on the table, board members then appointed Bontempi as chairman for one year.

    Board members also reappointed Emirzian as vice chairwoman and picked Lena Buteau as secretary.


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    Judge Douglas H. Wilkins ruled a 20-day deadline prior to elections "deprives individuals of their right to vote."

    BOSTON - A ruling Monday by the Suffolk Superior Court has determined that the statewide practice of setting a 20-day registration deadline prior to election day is unconstitutional, arbitrary, and has needlessly prevented thousands of citizens from exercising their right to vote.

    "The court concludes that the Commonwealth has shown no real reason, grounded in data, facts or expert opinion, why election officials need to close registration almost 3 weeks before the election to do their job," Associate Justice Douglas H. Wilkins wrote in his ruling. "Instead, the plaintiffs have shown that there is no compelling reason for a 20-day deadline that deprives individuals of their right to vote."

    The ruling declared that registration deadline has resulted in thousands of Massachusetts citizens being denied the chance to participate on election day. In the last three presidential elections, the number of registered voters not allowed to vote totaled 7,300 in 2008, 7,606 in 2012 and 5,567 in November.

    The ruling was in favor of a claim filed in November on behalf of the Chelsea Collaborative and MassVote, two nonpartisan organizations dealing with voter registration. The suit named three plaintiffs, Edma Ortiz of Chelsea, Raphael Sanchez of Somerville and Wilyeliz Leon of Revere, who each were not allowed to vote in the Nov. 8 election because they registered after the Oct. 19 deadline.

     The suit named Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin and the election commissioners for the cities of Revere, Chelsea and Somerville as defendants.

    In his 93-page ruling, Wilkins wrote the voter-registration cut-off serves little purpose beyond prohibiting otherwise qualified citizens from casting ballots.

    "Disenfranchising a qualified citizen (from voting) because he or she did not register at least 20 days before the election exceeds the bounds of the Legislature's authority and violates the Massachusetts Constitution," Wilkins wrote in his ruling. "Enforcing the Constitution here is not a judicial 'policy' choice."

    For the last 20 years, Massachusetts has had the 20-day registration cut off for all elections. The deadline was set by an act of the Legislature.

    Wilkins wrote the state constitution dictates that all citizens who meet certain qualifications for age and residency "shall be entitled to vote," but there is nothing in the constitution about a voter registration deadline.

    The decision, he wrote, simply applies "the basic rule of our constitutional democracy that, in the cases of conflict, a statute...must yield to the higher commands of the Massachusetts Constitution."

    The state has maintained the 20 days are needed prior to the election to finalize voter rolls used by town and city clerks on election day. But Wilkins noted "More than two decades of significant technological change have passed since the Legislature adopted the 20-day deadline."

    He also said that under early voting, it is possible for someone to register to vote on the day of the registration deadline and then be certified to cast an early ballot within five days.

    In this past election on Nov. 8., the last day to register before the deadline was Oct. 19. Under early voting, people were eligible to cast ballots between Oct. 24 and Nov. 4.  

    In theory, if someone registered to vote on Oct. 19, they could cast an early ballot five days. But someone registering one day late on Oct. 20 would be turned away from the polls when the election rolled around 19 days later.

    Also, he wrote, the state voter rolls on election day already contain the names of people who properly registered after the cut-off date, and officials need to use a program to exclude the names of the late-registering people from the final print out.

    The Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU issued a statement praising the decision and calling it "a major victory for Democracy" in the state.

    "Voting is the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rests," said Massachusetts ACLU executive director Carol Rose. "Today is a major victory for democracy in Massachusetts, as the court agreed that the arbitrary 20-day voter registration cutoff law is unconstitutional and disenfranchises thousands of potential voters throughout the Commonwealth every election."

    With the Trump administration signaling it is interested limiting accesses to elections, Massachusetts should be leading the way in ensuring voting rights, she said.

    A spokeswoman for the office of State Attorney General Maura Healey said Healey had no comment on the ruling.  Healy has previously expressed support for same-day voter registration but said she favored it being enacted through an act of the legislature, not the courts.

    Mass. court ruling declares voter registration deadline unconstitutional uploaded by Patrick Johnson on Scribd


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    Joseph Malachi, 43, had a criminal history in Connecticut and had been incarcerated a number of times for assault, drug and larceny crimes, the prosecutor said.

    SPRINGFIELD -- A 43-year-old city man has been sentenced to 12 to 13 years in state prison after pleading guilty to domestic violence assaults that left the victim on life support at a Springfield hospital.

    Judge Mary-Lou Rup sentenced Joseph Malachi on Monday in Hampden Superior Court to the prison term plus five years probation.

    Malachi pleaded guilty to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery causing serious bodily injury and assault on a family member.

    Assistant District Attorney Melissa G. Doran said that on Sept. 13, 2016, police were called to an Allen Park Road apartment for a report of an unconscious victim. Malachi's wife was found unresponsive and bleeding from her head.

    A security officer had seen the woman's young children outside and was told, "My dad just killed my mom," Doran said.

    Malachi stomped on and kicked the victim, Doran said.

    The victim, who was in the courtroom with a group of family members, was treated at Baystate Medical Center, where it was unclear whether she would survive and where she was on life support for a period of time, the prosecutor said.

    She had to learn to walk again, as well as other functions, and still uses a cane, Doran said.

    "She had a very long road once she did wake up," Doran said.

    Another incident happened on July 26, 2016, in which Malachi slapped the victim and smashed her phone against a wall when she tried to call police, Doran said.

    Malachi pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and battery, intimidation of a witness, assault on a family member and violation of a restraining order for the July incident.

    If the case had gone to trial, the children would have had to testify about the attack they saw, Doran said.

    She said Malachi had a criminal history in Connecticut and had been incarcerated a number of times for assault, drug and larceny crimes.

    Defense lawyer Mary Anne Stamm asked for a sentence of five years, saying the September incident, although the most violent, wasn't premeditated.

    She said Malachi had a lot of pressure on him and just "snapped." Stamm said neither alcohol nor drugs were involved and Malachi has no history of mental illness.

    Malachi's plea was the second domestic violence plea heard by Rup and prosecuted by Doran on Monday. 

    Dennis Ramirez, 27, of Springfield, pleaded guilty to 10 charges including armed assault with intent to murder in the case in front of Rup. 

    She sentenced him to 12 to 13 years in state prison followed by five years probation. 

    In that case, Doran said it was a "shock and surprise and miracle" the victim survived a series of brutal beatings over two days, according to medical staff that treated her.

    Danielle Hultgren was the victim witness advocate on both cases.


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    The trial of the man charged with abusing and leaving for dead the dog known as "Puppy Doe" has been pushed back into August.

    The trial of the man charged with abusing and leaving for dead the dog known as "Puppy Doe" has been pushed back into August.

    The trial of Radoslaw Czerkawski, who faces animal cruelty charges, was slated to start on Tuesday.

    Czerkawski, a 35-year-old Polish national who already serving since 2015 a state prison term for stealing from a grandmother, has pleaded not guilty to the animal cruelty charges and pointed the finger at youths he saw at the scene of the alleged crime.

    Prosecutors on Monday filed an emergency motion to postpone the trial start and jury selection due to an assistant district attorney's medical issue.

    According to NBC Boston, the assistant district attorney had surgery for a detached retina.

    The case has been continued until Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham.

    "Puppy Doe" was found abandoned in Quincy, Mass., in 2013. The young pit bull had to be euthanized due to the severe injuries, which included a fractured skull, a spine and multiple rib bones.


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    Starbucks is opening a storefront in Monarch Place, the 25 story office building on Main Street connected to the 325-room Sheraton hotel.

    Visitors to downtown Springfield will have a new place to get their caffeine fix.

    Starbucks is opening a storefront in Monarch Place, the 25-story commercial building on Main Street connected to the 325-room Sheraton hotel.

    The Springfield Business Improvement District confirmed Monday that Starbucks would be Monarch Place's newest tenant, after teasing the coffee chain's arrival in a Facebook post on Friday.

    "What's green and white and is the hallmark of every successful city?" the BID's post said. "Comment below and guess what famous storefront is coming soon to downtown Springfield. One lucky winner who guesses right will receive a gift card to our new neighbors."

    Monarch Place is owned by Paul Picknelly, the brother of Peter Pan Bus Lines CEO Peter Picknelly and a major player in Western Massachusetts real estate. In recent years, Paul Picknelly has partnered on some of Springfield's highest profile projects -- including the MGM Springfield casino and the Springfield Thunderbirds AHL franchise.

    Additional information about the store, including when it may open or its exact location, is not yet known. Monarch Place's management and Starbucks declined to comment, and the BID did not release any details about the deal that is bringing the coffee mega-chain to downtown Springfield.

    Monarch Place's street-level commercial footprint has seen recent turnover. The Bank of America branch at the site closed in August of last year, and in April United Bank announced plans to move in during the fall of 2017.

    Starbucks currently operates one store in Springfield, at 1089 East Columbus Ave.


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    Owner E. David Knapik said shooters will be able to fire up to a .50-caliber round. Watch video

    WEST SPRINGFIELD -- Gun shop Guns Inc. will open its new Hot Brass Indoor Firearm & Bow Range in March with 15 indoor firearms lanes and two archery shooting lanes.

    E. David Knapik, president of Guns Inc., and his family -- including daughter Kendall Knapik, who serves as vice president of Guns Inc. and will run the range business -- hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday afternoon at 1050 Main St., site of the former West Side Auto Body building next door to the White Hut hamburger restaurant.

    It'll be the only range in Greater Springfield run by a gun shop offering rentals and sales and not by a club, E. David Knapik said.

    Springfield's Smith & Wesson closed its range, which offered the service, to the public in 2012 after an accused killer was arrested on a federal gun charge stemming from a round of target practice at the facility.

    There are active rent-and-shoot ranges at Hoffman's Gun Center in Newington, Connecticut, and the Gun Parlor in Worcester.

    Kendall Knapik said the Guns Inc. shop will move from 738 Main St. to the Hot Brass site when the range opens. Hot Brass will be a separate but related business to Guns Inc., which E. David Knapik bought six years ago.

    It's about a $4 million project, E. David Knapik said, which includes the $150,000  he paid for the site in 2013.

    Plans call to expand the 12,000-square-foot building by 3,000 square feet on the north side to create the shooting lanes.

    E. David Knapik said range time will start at $28.95 an hour. Memberships will be available, and they've already gotten a lot of interest.

    "Anything you rent will also be available to buy in the shop," he said.

    He said there will be 10 rifle/pistol lanes, each 90 feet long, five 50-foot pistol lanes and two 50-foot archery/bow lanes.

    Shooters will be able to fire up to a .50-caliber round with advance notice.

    Kendall Knapik said membership costs will vary, and the prices have not been set yet.

    E. David Knapik said safety will be paramount. No one will be able to use a gun at the range without a license to carry. Range staff will wear bullet resistant vests.

    He expects to hire as many as 23 people full- and part-time to staff the expanded facility.

    Kurtz Inc. of Westfield is the general contractor.


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    First responders found the bodies inside a Harryel Street home after forcing entry.

     

    PITTSFIELD - The medical examiner will conduct autopsies of two people found dead in a Harryel Street home on Monday afternoon.

    The Berkshire County District Attorney's Office said police conducted a well-being check on John Kordana, 53, and Celeste Kordana, 39, at around 2:50 p.m.

    First responders found the bodies inside the home after forcing entry.

    The circumstances of their deaths are not clear. The date and time of the autopsies has not been determined.

    The deaths are under investigation by Pittsfield police, state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office and troopers assigned to the Crime Scene Services Section.

    This is a developing story. Stay with The Republican/MassLive for more information as it becomes available.


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    Motorists will have the opportunity to test-drive a variety of electric vehicles.

    NORTHAMPTON -- Those hankering to test-drive electric cars from a variety of manufacturers will have a convenient opportunity on Saturday.

    The Mass Drive Clean Expo -- a free, no-sales-pressure event -- will be held rain or shine in the parking lot of the Northampton Radio Group. The educational event offers licensed drivers the chance to test up to five brands of electric vehicles from Ford, Nissan, Volkswagen, and more.

    The Bistro Bus food truck will be on hand, and information about federal and state rebates and incentives will be available, said event organizer Mark Lattanzi.

    The expo is supported by the state's Mass Drive Clean initiative, National Grid, the Northampton Radio Group, Northeast Solar, and Ford of Northampton.

    Massachusetts is advancing the adoption of electric vehicles through various incentives, and charging stations are available in more and more communities, said Martin Suuberg, state environmental commissioner.

    Governor Charlie Baker in January signed legislation designed to support zero-emission vehicles. Northampton has had electric vehicle chargers since 2012.

    If you go:

    What: Mass Clean Drive Expo
    Where: 15 Hampton Ave, Northampton
    When: Saturday, July 29, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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    The 49-year-old woman from Hadley was standing on the side of the road outside 157 Smith Ave. when the tree fell on her

    EAST LONGMEADOW - A woman was seriously injured when a tree fell on her Monday afternoon.

    Police Sgt. Daniel Manley said the 49-year-old woman from Hadley was standing on the side of the road outside 157 Smith Ave. at around 3 p.m. when the tree fell on her.

    The woman was taken to a hospital. The tree also caused severe damage to one car, and moderate damage to another, said Manley.

    The DPW cleared the tree from the road. Smith Avenue is a small side street, so the incident did not have a major impact on traffic.

     

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    View obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.


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    Faizul J. Sibdhanny Jr., 19, of 65 Taylor St. in Holyoke, Massachusetts, who intends to run for School Committee, was charged with breaking and entering into a building in the nighttime to commit a felony on July 18, 2017 at 9:52 p.m., police and court records said.

    HOLYOKE -- A resident who plans to run for School Committee was arrested for breaking and entering after a woman arrived home at 66 Ely St. and found a side gate open and a window screen on the ground, police and court records said.

    Faizul J. Sibdhanny, 19, of 65 Taylor St. was charged with breaking and entering into a building in the nighttime to commit a felony in the incident on July 18 at 9:52 p.m., police and court records said.

    Sibdhannny was arraigned in Holyoke District Court on July 19 and the case was continued to a pretrial hearing Sept. 21, court records said.

    Sibdhanny, who is identified as Faizul J. Sibdhanny Jr. on the city website and on Facebook, has taken out nomination papers to run for the Ward 4 School Committee seat in the Nov. 7 election. He hadn't returned the papers with the required signatures of at least 50 registered voters as of Monday to become certified as a candidate and place his name on the election ballot.

    Candidates have until Aug. 8 to submit nomination papers to run for municipal seats.

    According to the police report, a woman who lives in an upstairs apartment arrived home to find a gate on the side of the house that leads to the backyard open. In the back of the house she noticed a first-floor window screen broken and laying on the ground and the window open, the report said.

    She went to the front of the house and upstairs to her apartment. She then returned to the first floor and saw Sibdhanny standing in the first-floor apartment with the door open. She went outside and saw Sibdhanny come out from behind the house and get into a black Mercedes, which drove away, the report said.

    The woman called the man who lives in the first-floor apartment who arrived shortly after police did. The man said he was friends with Sibdhanny but didn't give him permission to enter his apartment, the report said.

    The man "was in contact with Mr. Sibdhanny after he left the apartment and was able to get him to return. At this time (the man) was not sure if there was anything missing from his apartment." Police placed Sibdhanny under arrest at 66 Ely St., the report said.


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    When the CTrail Hartford Line service launches, 12 round-trip trains will operate daily from Springfield to New Haven, nine on weekends.

    HARTFORD -- A a joint venture of TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts will operate and manage Connecticut's new commuter rail service linking Springfield's Union Station with Hartford and New Haven.

    The service is expected to launch in May 2018.

    Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday that TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts have entered into a $45 million contract with the Connecticut Department of Transportation  for five years, plus approximately 10 months of preliminary mobilization work that is required to prepare for the launch of the service.

    Called CTrail Hartford Line, the service will offer 17 round-trip trains between New Haven and Hartford each weekday, with 12 of those round trip trains continuing to Springfield, according to Malloy's office.



    On weekends, 13 round-trip trains will operate between New Haven and Hartford, with nine of those trains continuing on to Springfield.

    Train schedules and additional service information will be announced later this year.

    This will double rail service on the line, Malloy said.

    From New Haven, passengers will be able to continue to New York City's Grand Central Terminal via Metro-North, a rail service run by New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

    Metro-North tickets will be available at Union Station in Springfield, which reopened in June following a $95 million rehabilitation.

    Stations stops along the line will be in New Haven at both Union Station and State Street station, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield, Malloy's office said.

    Upgrades were recently completed at New Haven's State Street Station and are underway at Hartford's Union Station.

    Brand new stations are currently being built in Berlin, Meriden and Wallingford, according to the news release

    Future stations are under design for North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield, and upgraded stations are also under design for Windsor and Windsor Locks.


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    Holyoke Hummus Cafe at 285 High St. in Holyoke, Massachusetts now is is open until 7 p.m. for dinner Tuesday to Thursday and is serving craft beer, wine and other spirits, the co-owner said in an email July 19, 2017.

    HOLYOKE -- Holyoke Hummus Cafe at 285 High St. now is open until 7 p.m. for dinner Tuesday to Thursday and is serving craft beer, wine and other spirits.

    "Since we've opened people have asked us to be open later so they can grab dinner on the way home or eat at the cafe," co-owner John L. Grossman said. "We have outdoor seating and 'AC' so people can enjoy alfresco dining or cool off inside from the heat." 

    The hours now are Monday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., he said.

    The Holyoke Hummus Cafe has been serving sit-down meals at 285 High St. since a March 23 grand opening nearly a year after introducing the Holyoke Hummus Co. "Great Garbanzo" food truck.

    The 30-seat restaurant serves Middle Eastern treats such as falafel sandwiches, hummus snacks and baklava along with soups, salads, latkes (potato pancakes), fried cauliflower, french fries, Dean's Beans Coffee and Hot Chocolate and Tea Guys Tea. Cushion chairs, booths and bistro seating are available.

    Also, Grossman said, "We are so lucky to have so many great choices of craft beer and cider in the valley." Options include beverages by Artifact Cider, Abandoned Building Brewery and Artisan Beverage Company, he said in a press release.

    Hummus is a paste or spread made from ground garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, and other ingredients like sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon and garlic.

    Falafel is a deep-fried ball of chick peas and other ingredients. Falafel sandwiches came with tomato cucumber salad, pickled turnip and tahini sauce rolled in a pita, for $8.


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    Users who search for such content will now be directed to videos that show victims of terrorism and clerics refuting violent religious narratives.

    YouTube unveiled its latest weapon in its effort to combat terrorist propaganda on its site: redirection.

    Users who search for such content will now be directed to videos that show victims of terrorism and clerics refuting violent religious narratives.

    Social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have been rushing to respond to the wave of hate speech and terrorist propaganda flooding their platforms where it can be accessed by people with a penchant for violent behavior.

    "When people search for certain keywords on YouTube, we will display a playlist of videos debunking violent extremist recruiting narratives," YouTube announced in a blog post last week explaining the new system. "This early product integration of the Redirect Method on YouTube is our latest effort to provide more resources and more content that can help change minds of people at risk of being radicalized."

    YouTube, which is owned by Google's parent company, already prohibits users from uploading videos that include violent or racist content -- such as Jihadi and white supremacist propaganda -- but users circumvent the video sharing site's rules by overwhelming the site with hundreds of links. Propaganda videos are also uploaded as "unlisted," which means that the videos are hidden from searches, but easily posted on social media or disseminated with direct links to the video.

    Major companies, such as AT&T, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson, pulled advertising from YouTube in March as a long-standing dispute about the site's approach to policing offensive videos boiled over, according to Adweek.

    But some digital privacy experts raised questions about the new effort by YouTube and the growing role tech companies are playing in determining what users see on the Internet.

    Jeffrey Chester -- Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy -- said the Redirection Effort might be an effective tool for combating propaganda, but he's concerned about the role advertisers may have played getting the system implemented.

    "The advertisers took advantage of this controversy over hate speech to assert their interests over how Google and Facebook operate," Chester said. "Independent sites -- sites that fund the controversial ideas -- know that there's a slippery slope here.

    "The danger here is that Google and Facebook are making decisions about how the future of the digital media system operates without public oversight and accountability," he added.

    The Redirect Method was developed by Jigsaw, a company owned by Alphabet, Google's parent company, to target Isis-focused videos in particular, according to YouTube. Jigsaw says the method was developed with research partners who interviewed ISIS defectors and explored the major narratives that the group promoted for recruitment.

    Those narratives include ideas like ISIS is an unstoppable military force, one that has been legitimized by Islamic faith and that leads to effective government rule that improves people's livelihood.

    Along the way, Jigsaw says, researchers discovered that effectively undermining ISIS propaganda does not always mean overtly attacking the group.

    "We found an abundance of videos to support our project and our focus of the research was on seeking out videos that appeared to be neutral in intention -- including documentaries or citizen journalist footage that portray the world as the creators found it, rather than materials that appear specifically designed to counter ISIS," Jigsaw writes.

    An example, Jigsaw offers, is a video of a bold elderly woman belittling ISIS fighters and telling them to "return to the way of God." The video has racked up nearly 600,000 views.

    Another example of a video someone might be redirected to is an interview with a captured ISIS fighter discussing the perils of life as a terrorist and how the group betrayed him.

    "ISIS pays $100 as a monthly salary, for example, and I used to spend five times that amount," he explains.

    In its blog post, YouTube said that as the company implements the Redirect Method users can expect to see other changes as well:

    - Expanding the new YouTube product functionality to a wider set of search queries in other languages beyond English.

    - Using machine learning to dynamically update the search query terms.

    - Working with expert NGOs on developing new video content designed to counter violent extremist messaging at different parts of the radicalization funnel.

    - Collaborating with Jigsaw to expand the "Redirect Method" in Europe.

    "As we develop this model of the Redirect Method on YouTube, we'll measure success by how much this content is engaged," YouTube added. "Stay tuned for more."

    (c) 2017, The Washington Post. Peter Holley wrote this story.


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    The 56-year-old victim was traveling south on Route 1 when his Harley Davidson struck the rear right side of a car.

    FOXBOROUGH - State police have identified the man killed Friday morning when his motorcycle crashed into a car.

    Stephen Boyd, 56, of Millis, was traveling south on Route 1 near Main Street when his Harley Davidson struck the rear right side of a car driven by a 20-year-old woman from Plainville, state police said. 

    The woman, traveling north, was turning left across the southbound lane to enter a parking lot when the crash occurred at around 8:50 a.m.

    Boyd was pronounced dead at Norwood Hospital.

    The woman was taken to Sturdy Memorial Hospital. Information about her condition and any injuries was not available.

    The cause of the crash is under investigation.