Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST
SCENIC INN-WORKER KILLED
Prosecutors: Sex assault was motive for scenic inn killing
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A new indictment alleges sexual assault was the motive for the killing of a cook at a scenic North Carolina mountain inn last summer.
Federal prosecutors announced Thursday they filed a superseding indictment adding two counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death against Derek Shawn Pendergraft. The new indictment also upgrades a murder charge against him to first degree.
Prosecutors say the charges carry a maximum sentence of death.
The indictment says Sara Ellis was killed July 24 in the course of sexual assault by Pendergraft. A defense lawyer didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Pendergraft had initially told authorities the two went for a hike near the Pisgah Inn where both worked, and that he lost track of Ellis after she turned back during rain.
Family of North Carolina teen found dead gets new home
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) – The family of a North Carolina teen who was kidnapped and killed has been given a new home.
Mitchell Hunt with Time Out Communities tells the Fayetteville Observer the property management company wanted to give Hania Aguilar’s family a new start. They got keys Tuesday to a new, double-wide mobile home about a mile from Rosewood Mobile Home Park.
It was at Rosewood that the 13-year-old was kidnapped before school on Nov. 5. Her body was found three weeks later. No arrests have been made.
Hunt says Hania’s siblings won’t have to change schools. The lot rent has been waived for six months, and community donations will help furnish the home.
GIRL SCOUT-COOKIE EMBEZZLEMENT
Girl Scout cookie manager accused of stealing $7K from troop
KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman is accused of stealing more than $7,000 from a Girl Scouts troop’s cookie sales.
News outlets cite a Winston-Salem police release that says 43-year-old Debbie Jo Davison was charged Wednesday with obtaining property by false pretense.
Police received a fraud report from the organization Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont on Aug. 30. Detectives investigating the possible misuse of funds in Girl Scouts Troop 2819 identified Davison as the troop’s 2018 cookie manager.
Police say she took the sum from cookie sales and converted it for her personal use.
Davison has paid her bail of $10,000. She’s scheduled to appear in court Jan. 31. Reports didn’t include comment from her.
According to the Girl Scouts website, cookie revenue is used to fund activities and community projects.
ENDANGERED RED WOLVES
Endangered red wolves moved to North Carolina nature center
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A pair of endangered red wolves has been moved to a nature center in North Carolina.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports the wolves were moved to the Western North Carolina Nature Center as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan program. Center animal curator Erin Oldread says staff hopes the wolves will mate and produce offspring that can be released into the wild.
Less than 50 red wolves remain in the wild. Thirteen red wolf pups have been born at the center through the program.
One wolf from Georgia named Karma was moved to the Asheville center in October. Another wolf from Tennessee named Garnet was moved there last week. The center plans to introduce them to each other in January.
3 charged, 4 officers injured in North Carolina jail melee
STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff says four officers were injured in a melee at the county jail.
News outlets cite a Wednesday release from Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell that says three inmates are charged in the Tuesday night altercation.
The release says 23-year-old inmate Martevis Jashawn Simpson hit and injured an officer who escorted him back from family visitation, while other inmates shouted and banged a glass door. Inmates 25-year-old Shyheim Fitzhugh Millsaps and 26-year-old Rick Rashond Cambers are also charged with attacking officers.
The release says the inmates had “makeshift masks on their faces in an attempt to shield themselves from pepper spray.”
Millsaps was treated at a hospital for exposure to pepper spray. No officers were reported as hospitalized.
Latest voter ID bill tries to address absentee ballots
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A key North Carolina legislator says a voter identification bill given House approval also would take a step toward improving mail-in absentee ballot security in light of fraud allegations in a congressional district.
The House voted Wednesday for legislation detailing how a new constitutional amendment mandating photo ID to vote in person is carried out. The measure now returns to the Senate, which approved an earlier version last week.
The House version directs the state elections board to figure out how people requesting absentee ballots also provide ID. Election officials are investigating claims of fraudulent absentee ballot activities in the 9th Congressional District. The 9th District election results haven’t been finalized.
GOP Rep. David Lewis says the 9th District problems are an “embarrassment and impediment” to the election system’s integrity.
North Carolina governor wins again in balance-of-power case
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina court has struck down more legislation Republicans approved for their lame-duck governor’s signature to erode the powers of an incoming Democrat.
A Wake County judge ruled that the General Assembly unconstitutionally allowed outgoing GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, not Roy Cooper, to pick the leadership of the Industrial Commission, which rules in workers’ compensation cases. The lawmakers also let McCrory’s appointment to a commission vacancy be extended until 2025. McCrory appointed his chief of staff’s wife, Yolanda Stith, and named her vice chairman.
The judge’s Monday ruling ends her appointment next year instead. Cooper’s office named a new chairman and vice chairman Tuesday from the board’s membership.
Many of the moves Republicans made in 2016 to limit the next governor’s powers are still being challenged in court.
This story has been corrected to reflect that McCrory, not Cooper, appointed Stith.
North Carolina sheriff ends county’s agreement with ICE
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff says he’s ending his county’s agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
News outlets report that on his first day at work, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said in a news release Wednesday that deputies will stop performing immigration duties when the agreement ends. The program allowed sheriff’s deputies to perform immigration enforcement duties inside the jail with supervision from ICE.
McFadden also said ICE officials will need court-issued warrants or detainers to access the jail while he’s sheriff.
An ICE spokesman confirmed McFadden’s decision.
The 287(g) program has sent thousands of people into deportation proceedings since 2006. Ending it was a major part of McFadden’s election campaign. Former sheriff Irwin Carmichael defended his office’s participation in the program. McFadden defeated Carmichael in May’s Democratic primary.