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NEW ENGLAND IN BRIEF

Petition to ban gay nuptials due today

Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would outlaw gay marriage in Massachusetts said yesterday that they have gathered almost twice the number of signatures needed to ensure it goes on the 2008 ballot. The Massachusetts Family Institute and its online counterpart, www.voteonmarriage.org, said they will submit more than 120,000 signatures to city and town clerks before today's 5 p.m. deadline. An initiative petition needs the support of 65,825 registered voters to make the ballot. The proposed amendment defines marriage as that between a man and a woman. Unlike a previous proposed constitutional amendment given initial approval by the Legislature, this ballot question would not legalize civil unions. It seeks to undo a November 2003 ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court that it was unconstitutional in Massachusetts to deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians. (AP)

Judges to be judged in online survey

For the first time electronically, Suffolk County lawyers and court employees are being surveyed on judges' conduct and performance. Nearly 900 of the roughly 4,000 lawyers selected to participate -- those who have provided their e-mail addresses -- will be able to answer the survey online, evaluating 48 judges on their knowledge of the law, treatment of litigants and witnesses, and impartiality in overseeing cases. The deadline for the evaluations is Dec. 21.

Brockton

Man, 24, arraigned in stabbing death

A Brockton man was arraigned on a murder charge in Brockton District Court yesterday in connection with a stabbing, said Bridget Norton Middleton, spokeswoman for the Plymouth district attorney's office. Joseph A. Bebo, 24, allegedly stabbed 28-year-old Carl J. Schirmer of Brockton in the chest during a confrontation at Pine Estates Nov. 14. Bebo, who has been charged with first-degree murder, turned himself in to Brockton police Monday afternoon. He is being held without bail. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Dec. 21.

EVERETT

Man charged with attempted abduction

An Everett man was arrested yesterday, accused of trying to abduct a minor in Boston, police said. Kenneth Hyland, 46, was charged with unlicensed driving and attempted abduction. Police said the suspect approached a 13-year-old male who was walking home from school about 3 p.m. at Marion and Bennington streets in Boston, identified himself as a Chelsea police officer, and grabbed and frisked the victim's backpack, saying he was searching for weapons. The victim told the man to stop and called for his father, who exited a nearby home and saw the suspect run down Marion Street and flee in a yellow van. Everett police stopped a similar vehicle on Broadway, and Boston detectives and the victim and his family identified Hyland at the scene. He is to be arraigned this morning in Malden District Court.

NASHUA

Sex charges against officer dismissed

A judge yesterday dismissed charges against a former Cape Cod police officer accused of soliciting oral sex from a minor over the Internet. Michael Caico, who resigned from the Sandwich Police Department in February, won his motion to dismiss the case. Judge Bernard Hampsey granted the motion in Hillsborough County Superior Court moments before trial was scheduled to start. Prosecutors had said Caico, 43, sent messages from his police-issued laptop computer to a Hollis, N.H., police officer posing online as a 14-year-old girl, in February and March of 2004. The judge called Caico's messages ''neutral chatter" and ''idle chatter" that didn't explicitly say he wanted sex. Prosecutor Marguerite Wageling said she will appeal the ruling. (AP)

Cambridge

Suspect in September rapes is indicted

A Middlesex Grand Jury indicted an Arlington man on rape charges relating to two assaults in September, said Emily LaGrassa, spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney's office. Kevin Bennett, 33, faces charges of assault, rape, and kidnapping in connection with the two assaults, which took place a week apart in September, LaGrassa said. Authorities said that in both cases, Bennett offered women rides from Faneuil Hall Marketplace well after midnight, then drove them instead to One Alewife Center in Cambridge, where he allegedly raped them. Police arrested Bennett in Maine last month, after linking his DNA to evidence recovered from the victims. On Oct. 12, he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and was ordered held on $2 million cash bail. A Superior Court arraignment date has not yet been scheduled.

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