Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
GREEN PARTY-THE LATEST
The Latest: Green Party now official party in North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Green Party has become North Carolina’s fourth official political party thanks to a new law offering more options to qualify, giving more candidate choices to some voters this fall.
The state elections board unanimously accepted the application of the Green Party of North Carolina on Tuesday. Its candidates can now automatically be put on state ballots through at least 2020. They join the Democrats, Republicans and Libertarian as official state parties for federal, state and local offices in North Carolina.
The decision also means registered voters can now officially affiliate with the Green Party.
It’s been difficult for smaller groups to become official parties because they had to collect more than 90,000 signatures of voters. A law approved last October lowers that threshold and also approves a new method based on whether the party has fielded candidates in at least 35 other states.
Election panel leaves US Rep. Meadows’ aide off county board
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A Republican member of a North Carolina county elections board didn’t get re-appointed after a closely divided state elections board chose two other GOP nominees.
The state board Tuesday appointed board members to all 100 counties , but Cleveland County board Chairman Wayne King was left out. King is U.S. Rep Mark Meadows’ deputy chief of staff and a former state Republican Party vice chairman.
Democratic state board member Josh Malcolm said he opposed King because of how the Cleveland board and King carried out responsibilities while Malcolm served on the state board earlier this decade. Malcolm didn’t provide details. The Cleveland board has been criticized for merging voting precincts.
The state board voted 5-4 for Malcolm’s motion. Republican board member John Lewis called it a partisan move to remove King.
Chickasaw tribe to expand company in NC, not OK home turf
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – An American Indian tribe plans to expand a subsidiary in North Carolina with more than 350 jobs over five years rather than moving company headquarters to its Oklahoma home turf.
North Carolina officials said Tuesday that engineering design company Corvid Technologies LLC will stay in the Charlotte-area town of Mooresville, where it now employs around 90. Corvid was acquired in 2015 by Chickasaw Nation Industries, and the Norman, Oklahoma-based tribal enterprise also weighed moving the company’s headquarters.
The modeling and simulation firm for Pentagon clients including the Missile Defense Agency and Special Operations Command could receive up to $13 million in North Carolina and local tax breaks and other benefits as it expands.
Corvid’s average wage of more than $110,000 will be double the Iredell County average of nearly $48,000.
FATAL SHOOTING-GUILTY PLEA
Ex-Marine sergeant pleads guilty in wife’s shooting death
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A former Marine Corps sergeant has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the shooting death of his wife in 2014.
Local news sources report 36-year-old Christopher Michael Skaggs pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Tuesday in an Onslow County courtroom. Skaggs received a mandatory life sentence without parole. Had he gone to trial as scheduled next week, prosecutors could have sought the death penalty against him.
Deputies say Jordan Skaggs was shot at the couple’s home outside Richland in July 2014. In court, District Attorney Ernie Lee said Christopher Skaggs admitted firing 10 to 15 rounds at his wife when she was 10 yards or less from him. Lee said an autopsy showed she was shot 15 times.
The couple’s three children were inside the family’s home when the shooting occurred.
TROOPER OF YEAR
Female among South Carolina trooper of the year winners
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A female has been selected as trooper of the year in South Carolina for 2017.
The S.C. Department of Public Safety announced Tuesday that Trooper Stevi J. Price won its overall trooper of the year award. It’s believed she’s the first female to win the honor.
Price, who works in Troop 1, Post D, was selected for her efforts to save a motorist from a burning vehicle last August. With help from another trooper and a Columbia police officer, she freed a passenger whose legs were pinned under the dashboard and pulled her to safety moments before flames engulfed the vehicle.
Price is a native of Statesville, North Carolina.
In addition, Trooper Jennifer M. Ross of Troop Six was among 11 trooper of the year award winners for each troop.
FATAL WRECK-MURDER CHARGE
North Carolina man gets 13 years in prison in fatal wreck
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man has been convicted of second-degree murder in a wreck that killed a teen.
Local media reported 37-year-old Matthew Schmieder was convicted in Hendersonville on Monday and sentenced to between 13 and 16 years in prison.
Prosecutors say Schmieder crossed the center line in a no-passing zone and hit a truck driven by 17-year-old Derek Miller in December 2016.
Investigators said Schmieder was driving between 10 mph (16 kph) and 20 mph (32 kph) over the speed limit and had a revoked driver’s license.
Defense attorney Beth Stang had argued the evidence did not support the murder charge, saying a lesser felony or misdemeanor was more appropriate.
District Attorney Greg Newman said there was plenty of evidence to show Schmieder acted with malice, justifying a murder conviction.
COLD DEAD HANDS
Sheriff candidate apologizes over “joke” about seizing guns
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A candidate for sheriff who supports gun restrictions has apologized after shrugging his shoulders and saying “OK” in response to gun control opponents who say their weapons would have to be taken from their “cold, dead hands.”
A video of Buncombe County sheriff’s candidate R. Daryl Fisher delivering the line on March 7 has been shared more than 5,000 times and seen more than 285,000 times since it was posted by a conservative site on Saturday.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Fisher apologized Monday and said the one-sentence clip posted online stripped the joke’s context.
Some people responded to the post saying Fisher is the reason the United States has the Second Amendment.
North Carolina will stop shackling pregnant inmates in labor
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s prison system will no longer shackle pregnant inmates to their hospital beds while they are giving birth.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the change comes in response to a complaint about two women whose names were not released.
Prisons director Kenneth Lassiter signed the new policy Monday, preventing the use of leg or waist restraints on pregnant inmates and removing wrist restraints once the inmate is in labor, unless she’s clearly a threat to herself or others or poses an immediate risk of escape.
The policy does allow handcuffs while a pregnant inmate is being transported, however.
Last year, 81 inmates gave birth while imprisoned in North Carolina.