Life without parole for guy convicted of gunning down Afghanistan vet in the Theater District

A Suffolk Superior Court jury today found Peter Castillo guilty of first-degree murder for the shooting death of Stephen Perez on Tremont Street in 2012, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

Castillo will be formally sentenced Monday, but the verdict means an automatic sentence of life without possibility of parole for shooting Perez in the back during a dispute in a Tremont Street garage.

Castillo was arrested in the Dominican Republic last year after fleeing Boston.

Castillo was convicted of first-degree murder under "the theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty and unlawful possession of a firearm," the DA's office reports.

At the time of his death, Perez, 22, had just returned home to Revere after two tours of duty with the Army in Afghanistan and was hoping to become a Revere police officer. He was a 2007 graduate of Revere High School.

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Man wanted on rape charges arrested as Porter Square upskirter

Transit Police report arresting a Boston man on charges he took a video up a woman's skirt at the Porter Square Red Line stop around 3:30 p.m. yesterday.

During booking, police say, they discovered that James Cullers, 51, was already wanted in the Wareham area on one count of rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery.

Police say a male bystander noticed what James Cullers was doing at Porter Square and told the woman, who immediately confronted him and demanded he delete the video - which he did. A Transit officer arrived soon after:

Upon approach of the officer Culler began to manipulate the phone and apologize.

Now, in addition to the rape and indecent assault and battery charges, Cullers faces a charge of making a secret video under the state ban on upskirting.

Innocent, etc.

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Bad crash shuts Warren Street at Townsend in Roxbury

Update: WBZ reports the SUV was stolen in JP and several teens were in it and injured.

A roll-over with entrapment around 2 p.m. Aerial video of the scene.

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Being a church-going old lady doesn't mean you get a pass for pushing a Muslim tenant down the stairs, court rules

The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld the six-month jail sentence of a Christian landlord who pushed a Muslim tenant down the stairs of her Somerville triple decker after harassing the tenant and her children for weeks about their faith.

Daisy Obi, at the time a pastor of a local church, argued the six-month sentence - actually two years but with 18 months suspended - was cruel and unusual punishment given that she was 71 at the time, had never been in trouble with the law before and besides, the tenant's injuries were "relatively minor." She also objected to a judge's requirement she tell prospective tenants she had been convicted of attacking one tenant and served harassment orders by others and that she attend an introductory class on Islam.

Sorry, but nope, the state's highest court said. The Somerville District Court judge who sentenced her was acting appropriately when he decided she had to spend some time in jail "so that you can reflect on what you have done and what you will be doing in the future, that this shall never happen again:"

During the sentencing hearing, [the tenant] explained that the defendant's assault and battery has had a "deep physical impact" on her, that she has been unable to sleep at night, and that she does not trust people in the same way she did before the incident. She added that her children are now afraid of going outside, and that her six year old son had started wetting his bed. ... The sentence was within the maximum permitted by statute. See G. L. c. 265, § 13A (authorizing sentence of up to two and one-half years in house of correction for conviction of assault and battery). Simply put, the defendant's sentence does not "shock[] the conscience and offend[] fundamental notions of human dignity."

The court continued that notifying tenants of her tenant-related record did not violate her rights because the judge's ruling did not prohibit her from speaking about her record - and that any rent she might lose from tenants thinking twice was more than balanced by protecting public safety.

The court tossed her argument that the First Amendment protects her from having to learn about Islam, because her lawyer only raised it for the first time in the appeal, not before the initial judge.

This is not the first time a Massachusetts court has dealt with the issue of violence and religion. In 2011, the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld a man's conviction for pushing two Jehovah's Witnesses who had rung his doorbell.

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Oh my God, the old lady trapped on the stairs between the two wings of the Copley Square library finally escaped!

Not long after the Johnson wing of the BPL's main library went up, the story goes, an old lady became forever trapped in the stairs that were the only way to get between the new and old wings. The new renovations have finally fixed that.

UPDATE: When I originally posted this, I thought this was just one of those urban legends. But it turns out an elderly woman actually did die in a BPL corridor, although not one connecting the two wings, in 1977.

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Defunct downtown club could become large steakhouse - run by two local guys, not a national chain

Christopher Coombs and Brian Piccini hope to replicate the success of their Boston Chops steakhouse in the South End in the large space in Downtown Crossing where Mantra used to be.

At a Boston Licensing Board hearing this morning, the pair, who also own dbar in Dorchester and Deuxave in the Back Bay, said they're looking at putting upwards of $1 million into transforming the troubled old space on Temple Place into a large neighborhood steakhouse for the thousands of people who now live downtown.

The two are seeking one of the five unrestricted liquor licenses the board has to dole out. If they don't get one, they might have to spend more than $300,000 on the open market for one.

Their attorney, Joseph Hanley, said the public need for them to get a license is partly because the burgeoning neighborhood needs a good restaurant. But he continued that the two specialize in taking run-down spaces in forlorn corners and turning them into successful neighborhood-transforming restaurants.

Residents from Dorchester, the South End and the Back Bay all attended the hearing to testify to the changes that had happened with their other restaurants. Back Bay residents and merchants in particular said the pair basically opened up a once ignored stretch to other new restaurants and businesses.

Hanley said that aside from the problems Mantra caused, the space itself is not really attractive to most restaurant operators, because it's so large and mainly bereft of windows. Coombs said the only things that would really work in the space would be another club - which he said nobody in the neighborhood would support - or a large steakhouse.

Without naming specific companies that have recently moved into Boston, their attorney, Joseph Hanley added another reason the board should favor his clients: They're making investments in the city all by themselves. "They're not getting tax breaks, they're not a national company."

The board will not act on any license requests until at least next week, after it holds another round of hearings.

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New hotel could help transform Dudley Square but will carry South End name

Proposed Roxbury hotel.

The Boston Licensing Board could decide next week whether to grant a Roxbury-specific liquor license to the impending Residence Inn by Marriott South End Boston - and to new hotels downtown and in the actual South End.

The new six-story, 135-room Marriott will be at Washington Street and Melnea Cass Boulevard; ground could be broken by year's end, with construction expected to take a year.

Among those who spoke in favor of it getting a full liquor license at a board hearing today was City Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury), who called it a "transformative project" for the Dudley Square area. He noted hotel operators have agreed to set minimum hourly wages at $18 and to spend $400,000 on a training program "for a neighborhood that can sorely use it."

The hotel's attorney, Karen Simao, added that, in general, Boston has a desperate need for new hotel rooms.

If granted, the hotel would get a Roxbury-specific license that it would have to return to the city should it go out of business. The board has a total of 20 of these licenses to dole out in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and various "Main Street" districts.

In contrast, a proposed hotel on Beverly Street, near North Station, is seeking one of five "unrestricted" licenses, which become assets that can be borrowed against or sold, to service a proposed 241-seat bistro-style restaurant, meeting rooms and guests.

Simao said the public need for the hotel is partly because of Boston's shortage of hotel space - especially near North Station. Simao said Boston is now losing visitors to hotels in Cambridge and Somerville because people coming here for events at the Garden can't find a nearby place to stay.

But her partner, Stephen Miller, added another public need: Developer Related Beal will use profits from the hotel to support the adjoining $250-million affordable-housing building now under construction. In stark contrast to all the other development around North Station, that 239-unit project will be entirely aimed at people who are not wealthy.

The board will have to decide whether the third hotel, a 200-room AC Hotel by Marriott on Albany Street near the Ink Block, will need an unrestricted license or whether it can get a neighborhood-specific one because of its proximity to the Washington Gateway Main Streets area.

As with the other two hotels, Simao, said the public need for a liquor license is partly because "we desperately need more hotels and hotel rooms" in Boston. But also, that section of the South End is particularly bereft of hotel rooms, she said.

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JP restaurant spends a year getting ready to open, closes after a couple weeks

Boston Restaurant Talk reports the Pink Samurai dumpling place shut yesterday. People in desperate need of some dumpling action will have to head over to JP Seafood for some gyoza.

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Orange Line train's a no-go, that's why the ride is so slow

A train that met the prophet Elijah at Haymarket - and problem switches at Wellington - are causing "moderate" delays, the T says.

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Red Line service again showing cracks; train from Braintree can't get up the tracks

The MBTA reports "moderate" delays due to a little Red Line train that couldn't, just before Wollaston.

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