Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EST
Another voter ID law challenge filed in federal court
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina NAACP and several local chapters have sued in federal court challenging anew voter photo identification law. They contend it suffers the same discriminatory flaws as a 2013 voter ID law struck down previously by federal judges.
The civil rights groups filed the lawsuit Thursday and announced details at a Raleigh news conference. It came a day after Republican legislators overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of their voter ID bill. Some voters filed a separate state court lawsuit challenging it right after Wednesday’s override.
The new law implements details of a constitutional referendum mandating voter ID approved last month. It expands the qualifying IDs compared to the 2013 law and provides exceptions, but NAACP attorney Irv Joyner says the requirements are still tainted by racial animus.
SHOOTING DEATH-SUSPECT SOUGHT
3 arrested, 1 being sought in fatal North Carolina shooting
FREMONT, N.C. (AP) – Authorities have arrested three men in a fatal North Carolina shooting and are looking for a fourth suspect.
Fremont police tell news outlets they are looking for 30-year-old Brandon Demarcus Haynes. He is charged with first-degree murder in last weekend’s shooting death of 43-year-old Nacarsa Ronyell Ford. Investigators said Ford was shot multiple times late last Saturday and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers said Haynes should be considered armed and dangerous.
Police have arrested 31-year-old Brandon Lee Williams, 26-year-old Dequinta Laquell Horne and 26-year-old Tyheim Pitt and charged them each with first-degree murder. The three men are being held without bond in the Wayne County jail. It’s not known if they men have attorneys.
Skull found in North Carolina is that of man killed by train
ENFIELD, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a skull found along train tracks in North Carolina belonged to a man struck and killed by a train earlier this year.
News outlets cite a statement from Robeson County Sheriff’s Office that says the skeletal remains found Dec. 11 belong to 24-year-old Varcy Locklear, who was struck and killed in late October.
Authorities believe Locklear was a stowaway on an Amtrak train traveling from Charlotte to New York when he either fell or jumped from the train. He was decapitated, and the rest of his body was found more than 100 miles away in Enfield.
The sheriff’s office previously said the dental records of a deputy’s daughter missing since 2015 were sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office to see whether they matched the skull.
I-77 TOLL LANES
Contractor: Interstate 77 toll lanes won’t open until 2019
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The private contactor building toll lanes on Interstate 77 in North Carolina says they won’t be done until 2019.
The Charlotte Observer reports I-77 Mobility Partners said the northern section of the project from near Hambright Road in Huntersville to N.C. Highway 150 in Mooresville, will now open in the first quarter of 2019. The contractor said the entire 26 miles to Charlotte will open by summer 2019.
The Observer reported last month that an N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman said the contractor expected to finish the northern section by the end of 2018.
Javier Tamargo, CEO of I-77 Mobility Partners, said in a statement Wednesday that unforeseen weather helped delay the project timeline, but that a new timetable is still ahead of the October 2019 contract deadline with NCDOT.
ESCAPED INMATE CAPTURED
Escaped inmate captured within hours in North Carolina
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a minimum custody inmate was captured within hours after escaping in North Carolina.
A North Carolina Department of Public Safety release cited by news outlets says 35-year-old David W. Hinkle was last seen near Craggy Correctional Center around 7 p.m. Wednesday, and was reported missing three hours later. A second release says he was back in custody by 4:30 a.m. Thursday.
The department says Hinkle was admitted to the facility on Oct. 18 to serve a sentence for speeding and eluding arrest. He was scheduled for release in April, but now will be charged in connection with the escape.
It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer. The releases didn’t say how he escaped or where he was captured.
SEX CHARGES-HIGH SCHOOL
Former teacher, school volunteer plead guilty to sex charges
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A former teacher and former volunteer at a North Carolina high school have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from unrelated instances involving sex acts with students.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports 39-year-old Rebecca Carol Swinson pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges, including 16 counts of taking indecent liberties with a student.
A prosecutor said Swinson, who taught at East Forsyth High School, was accused of engaging in sexual acts with two 17-year-old male students during the 2017 fall semester.
Authorities said 44-year-old Jennifer Ann Pike, who volunteered at East Forsyth, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of crimes against nature. As part of a plea agreement, charges of sex acts with a student and taking indecent liberties with a student were dismissed. The alleged incidents occurred between January and August 2017.
Death penalty in play for Navy veteran in woman’s death
(Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com)
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – The death penalty is not off the table for a Navy veteran charged with killing a Virginia woman whose kidnapping inspired the creation of an Amber Alert-like system for missing adults.
Eric Brian Brown was arrested last year in connection with the September 2017 kidnapping of 19-year-old Ashanti Billie. Her body was found about 330 miles (530 kilometers) away from Norfolk, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The 46-year-old is charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death and assault resulting in serious bodily injury and theft. A murder warrant from North Carolina remains unserved.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney for Virginia’s eastern district tells The Virginian-Pilot no decision has been made regarding whether to seek the death penalty. Brown has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and isn’t currently competent to stand trial.
Power restored to N Carolina city after widespread outage
NEW BERN, N.C. (AP) – Power has been restored to a North Carolina city that suffered a widespread outage for about seven hours after a transmission line was cut.
News outlets report about 22,000 customers in New Bern lost power Wednesday afternoon. Duke Energy says a vegetation management crew damaged a transmission line while clearing an area. City police say power was restored later that night.
The power outage clogged the streets with undirected traffic and forced restaurants to close. Nine schools in the area were without power, and CarolinaEast Medical Center relied on a generator to continue its operations.
All Craven County offices closed early for non-essential personnel. Normal operating hours are expected to resume Thursday.