Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EST
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA-THE LATEST
Candidate in undecided House race meets with investigators
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Republican candidate in the country’s last undecided congressional contest says he had a “great meeting” with North Carolina election board investigators examining absentee ballot irregularities in his race.
Mark Harris and his attorneys met with board staff for about two hours Thursday in Raleigh.
Board workers are collecting evidence about alleged fraud in the 9th Congressional District, where unofficial results show Harris holds a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready. Harris told reporters after the meeting he’ll continue to cooperate with investigators.
Harris’ chief campaign consultant hired a Bladen County man who is a focus of the board’s probe. Harris has said he’s done nothing wrong.
The interview came the same day Harris asked a state judge to declare him the winner because the now-defunct board didn’t act. The board’s staff members are still working. Congress also convened its two-year session Thursday, with the 9th District seat empty.
DRUGS IN BIBLE
Sheriff: Fake pastor carrying drug-filled Bible visited jail
LAURINBURG, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a man posing as a pastor tried to smuggle drugs into a North Carolina jail by hiding them in a Bible.
News outlets cite a Facebook post from the Scotland County Detective Division that says 28-year-old James A. Morman III visited the Scotland County jail on Dec. 31 in the guise of a minister.
A search of the Bible he toted revealed Suboxone strips inside.
Authorities then conducted a sweep of the entire detention facility, and a number of illegal substances and contraband were located. It’s unclear whether Morman had visited the jail before with other drug-filled Bibles.
Morman and jail inmate Bryson Brown have been charged in connection with the operation. Authorities say additional charges are expected.
It’s unclear whether they have lawyers to speak for them.
TEENS-INTERRACIAL COUPLE-HATE CRIME
Sheriff: Vandals targeted teen for interracial relationship
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff says the vandalism of two vehicles is being investigated as a hate crime stemming from an interracial relationship between two teens.
A Wednesday release from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office says that on Dec. 27 a white family’s minivan was found spray-painted with a swastika and several racial slurs, while another vehicle was set on fire.
The sheriff’s office believes the family was targeted because their 14-year-old daughter was in a relationship with a black teen.
The girl’s mother, Amanda Miller, tells news outlets the couple met in church. She says they’ve since amicably broken up, and the boy’s parents have been supportive following the vandalism.
Miller says her daughter previously dated a black student in middle school, and has received threatening messages on social media.
SUPREME COURT-NEW JUSTICE
New justice to be sworn in on North Carolina Supreme Court
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A civil rights attorney elected to North Carolina’s highest court is taking office.
Anita Earls is being sworn into office as a state Supreme Court associate justice on Thursday. The Democrat defeated Republican incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson in November.
Earls founded and led the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. She was a deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Justice Department during the Clinton administration. Earls also served the state elections board and taught at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland.
She earned her law degree from Yale.
STRIP CLUB SHOOTING DEATH-LAWSUIT
Family that won $4.7M in shooting death won’t get anything
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Months after a judge set aside a nearly $5 million judgment in a wrongful death lawsuit, another judge has dismissed it and it can’t be filed again.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports 41-year-old Eric Pigues was shot and killed while standing in the parking lot of Paper Moon Gentlemen’s Club in 2016. His widow, Toni Lorraine Ravinell, sued operator Salisbury Ridge Ventures and owner John D. Boyd.
The lawsuit asserted the strip club didn’t provide adequate security. In May, a judge granted a default $4.7 million judgment, but it was later set aside because the lawsuit was never properly served.
On Dec. 27, another judge dismissed all claims with prejudice. Boyd’s attorney, Amiel Rossabi, says his client was sorry for Pegues’ family, but wasn’t liable for his death.
Ravinell’s attorney couldn’t be reached.
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina ballot fraud hearing postponed
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina elections staffers are postponing a hearing next week into allegations of possible ballot fraud in the country’s last undecided congressional race after last week’s disbanding of the state elections board authorized to subpoena witnesses and hold hearings.
The announcement Wednesday came after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he won’t try to ram ahead with a Democrats-only elections board, raising doubts the Jan. 11 hearing could take place.
Republicans refused to nominate GOP members for a temporary elections board to fill in until a new law creates a new board at the end of the month.
The elections board was dissolved on Friday by state judges who in October declared its form unconstitutional. A revamped board takes effect Jan. 31.
Deputies fired 8 gunshots to subdue lion after fatal attack
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff’s report says three tranquilizer darts and eight gunshots were needed to subdue a lion that fatally attacked a zoo intern.
A newly released Caswell County Sheriff’s Office incident report details deputies’ response to the fatal attack Sunday at the Conservators Center near Burlington. The lion killed 22-year-old intern Alexandra Black as she helped staff members clean an animal enclosure.
The sheriff’s report says center CEO Doug Evans shot the lion with three tranquilizer darts that failed to put the animal to sleep. Deputies then shot the lion six times as it continued to move around its enclosure. A seventh shot appeared to fell the lion, and Evans advised deputies to fire a final shot into the animal’s heart to ensure it was dead.
Suit over N Carolina legislative maps stays in state court
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Litigation challenging North Carolina legislative districts on arguments they excessively favor Republicans to the point of violating the state constitution will remain in state court.
A federal judge Wednesday ordered the case stay in Wake County Superior Court, where Democrats and election reform advocates filed their partisan gerrymandering lawsuit in November. U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan wrote she’d explain her reasoning later.
Last month, Republican lawmakers sought to move the lawsuit to federal court because they said the way plaintiffs wanted House and Senate maps redrawn conflict with federal laws. The plaintiffs said no such conflict exists and seek a state trial in April.
One GOP senator said last month Democrats ultimately want the case heard before the state Supreme Court, where five of the seven justices will be registered Democrats.