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RAPE CONVICTION EXONERATION
N. Carolina man absolved of rape conviction gets settlement (Information from: Rocky Mount Telegram, http://www.rockymounttelegram.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man who was exonerated after serving nearly four years in prison on a rape conviction has received a financial settlement from the state.
The Rocky Mount Telegram reports that the North Carolina Industrial Commission awarded 47-year-old Knolly Brown statutory damages during a hearing on Monday.
Brown pleaded no contest to a second-degree rape charge in October 2009 in connection with the January 2008 attack on a 12-year-old girl who identified him as her attacker. The state forensics determined a hair sample found on the girl’s body matched Brown.
Brown was released in June 2013. A three-judge panel voted unanimously that Brown had proved he was innocent after testing of DNA samples excluded Brown as the culprit.
Brown’s lawyers have not disclosed the settlement amount.
FATAL BUS CRASH-LAWSUIT
Tire company settles lawsuit in 2013 bus crash that killed 8
(Information from: Statesville Record & Landmark, http://www.statesville.com/index.htm)
STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A lawsuit over a 2013 crash that killed six members of a North Carolina church and two others has been settled, just before opening statements were set to begin.
The attorney for the 12 survivors of the crash and the estates of five victims, Brandon Peak, tells The Statesville Record & Landmark attorneys for Hankook Tire Co. called him around 6 a.m. Tuesday and agreed to a private settlement.
The plaintiffs filed suit in September 2014 over the Tennessee crash involving a Front Street Baptist Church bus, SUV and tractor-trailer after a bus tire blew out.
The plaintiffs will drop claims against the estate of driver Randy Morrison, who was also killed. Peak says Morrison’s estate was only a party because Hankook blamed him.
Morrison’s family has also sued Hankook.
Veteran, former deputy sues sheriff for discrimination
(Information from: Times-News, http://www.blueridgenow.com)
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A former sheriff’s deputy is suing a North Carolina sheriff who he says discriminated against him for his disability and military background and wrongfully terminated him.
The Times-News of Hendersonville reports Geoffrey Turner’s lawsuit contends Henderson County sheriff’s employees harassed him for his hearing loss and military record, which included three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq with the U.S. Army National Guard.
Turner became a reserve deputy in 2012, the same year he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He says he was threatened with firing if he spoke of his military experience, and the harassment worsened his PTSD. Turner says he was forced to resign in 2015.
In a Monday statement, Sheriff Charles McDonald denied the claims, and says he’ll respond in further detail if Turner provides a release.
Cooper seeks fast movement following elections board ruling
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper wants the legal wheels to spin faster after a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling threw out laws addressing membership of a combined state elections and ethics board.
Cooper’s attorneys asked justices Tuesday to speed up the process by which last Friday’s split decision favoring Cooper otherwise reaches a three-judge panel Feb. 15. That panel is to enter an order based on the Supreme Court ruling.
The governor’s lawyers say quicker resolution is needed because candidate filing begins Feb. 12 and there’s currently no board in place, so formalizing the ruling could help create one sooner.
The lower-court judges could say something about what if any part of the elections and ethics law can remain intact. The General Assembly likely would approve changes in light of the rulings.
ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES
2 charged in injuries that led to dog’s euthanasia
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Two North Carolina men who adopted a dog that had to be euthanized because of its injuries have been charged with animal cruelty.
A New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office release says Keaton Alexander Messina Miller and Joshua Ryan White adopted a dog, Charlie, from animal services on Oct. 20 and surrendered him Dec. 29 because of an injury.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports X-rays revealed both femurs in his back legs were broken just above his knee joints and the femoral head and ligaments were torn away from his left hip.
Miller is accused of being directly responsible for Charlie’s injuries, and is charged with felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty. White is charged with a misdemeanor for failing to get the dog medical attention. It’s unclear if they have lawyers.
Disputed duck blind: Man assaulted for hunting in duck blind
SWAN QUARTER, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a man assaulted a cousin of Gov. Roy Cooper and a North Carolina wildlife official, ranted at them with slurs and threats and accused them of hunting in his duck blind.
The Hyde County Sheriff’s Office said 29-year-old Jarrod Thomas Umphlett faces multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
An incident report says Umphlett’s boat rammed a boat carrying John Clark Purvis Sr. and Wildlife Resources Commission member Richard Edwards on Dec. 16. The report says Umphlett boarded the boat, hit Purvis in the head and yelled racial slurs. All three men are white. The report says Umphlett threatened to “crush your skull in this lake.” It said Purvis was bruised but not seriously injured.
It’s not known if Umphlett has an attorney.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina agency opens online comment on monument move
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – People can give written comments to a special committee assigned to make recommendations on a proposal to move three Confederate monuments on North Carolina’s old Capitol grounds to a Civil War battlefield.
The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources this week announced a web portal to send information and opinions to a five-member panel comprised of members of the North Carolina Historical Commission. People can also send statements by regular mail. Committee members also agreed last week they would have at least one public hearing.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration wants to move the monuments to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site in Johnston County.
The historical commission, which will make the monument decision, asked the committee to report back for its April meeting.
ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE-LAWSUIT
Another legal challenge filed over Atlantic Coast Pipeline
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A coalition of conservation groups has gone to court to challenge federal regulators’ decision to approve the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The groups announced Tuesday that they had filed a petition with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond contesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to permit the approximately 600-mile natural gas pipeline.
Opponents of the pipeline, which would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, say the agency’s approval process is flawed and didn’t adequately determine the true need for the project.
Lead developer Dominion Energy has said FERC conducted an exhaustive and thorough review.
The commission has a standing policy not to comment on court cases.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed the lawsuit on behalf of 11 conservation groups.