AP-NC Newswatch

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January 4, 2019
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January 4, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST



Police: Missing man was put in dog cage after fatal beating
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a North Carolina man missing for months was fatally beaten and stuffed into a metal dog cage.
The Fayetteville Observer reports 23-year-old Ryan Dewain Chavis was charged Thursday with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the death of Charles Anthony Fuentes.
Fuentes was last seen leaving a sports bar with Chavis and 42-year-old Mark Allen Verhasselt in March. According to a detective’s statement, a witness said Fuentes was beaten to death after a disagreement with the pair. The witness saw Fuentes’ body inside a dog cage shortly after he was killed.
Verhasselt left town and was shot to death in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in July. Two Fayetteville men are charged in his death, but police believe it’s unrelated to Fuentes’ disappearance.
It’s unclear whether Chavis has a lawyer.



Off-duty officer accused of drunkenly crashing car, fleeing
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say an off-duty police officer in North Carolina drove while drunk, wrecked his car and then fled the scene.
News outlets report that state troopers arrested Andy Massey early Saturday, after finding a car registered to him wrecked in a ditch. Massey has been with the Hendersonville police department since 2012.
City of Hendersonville spokeswoman Allison Nock says the wrecked vehicle was not Massey’s patrol car. He’s been place on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Massey is charged with driving while impaired and hit-and-run. Nock couldn’t say whether police believe Massey hit anything or anyone before crashing into the ditch.
Reports didn’t include comment from Massey or a representative.



2-year-old hurt in North Carolina fire dies from injures
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A 2-year-old girl injured when a fire broke out in her North Carolina home has died.
Clementino Mendez Domingo tells The Charlotte Observer that his daughter Aranza Santa Mendez Sanchez died Wednesday night.
The newspaper says the Charlotte Fire Department has determined that an unattended candle caused the Wednesday blaze that also killed Mendez Domingo’s 9-year-old stepson, Leonel Alexander Villagrez Sanchez.
Mendez Domingo says his wife, 3-month-old son, 7-year-old stepson and two adult relatives still are being treated for life-threatening injuries at area hospitals. He says he’s planning to send his children’s bodies to their ancestral homeland of Guatemala.
Fire officials say the fire was brought under control within 30 minutes and caused about $120,000 in damages.



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.



Federal shutdown prompts judge to freeze hog nuisance trials
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The partial government shutdown is prompting the postponement of a trial by a federal judge managing lawsuits accusing the world’s largest pork company of creating nuisances for rural North Carolina neighbors.
U.S. District Judge Earl Britt ordered Thursday that a jury trial scheduled to start Tuesday must be postponed because jury pay couldn’t be guaranteed beyond next week. Britt said the fifth of more than two dozen lawsuits by more than 500 neighbors of intensive animal operations will be rescheduled once funding is appropriated.
Jurors in four previous cases decided Smithfield Foods should pay nearly $550 million in penalties.
Last week, the shutdown forced the chief judge of Manhattan federal courts to suspend work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers. A similar order affects federal courts in northern Ohio.



Johnson C Smith delays classes 2 weeks for mold remediation
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Johnson C. Smith University students will wait two more weeks to go back to class while mold is removed from the North Carolina school’s residence halls.
News outlets report the university sent students a letter Thursday announced that the start of spring semester classes has been delayed until Jan. 22 as the evaluation of suspected mold took longer than expected.
Residence halls will now not reopen to students until Jan. 18. However, students who return early for specific programs and projects will be accommodated.
The historically black university enrolls around 1,600 students.



Former county manager reaches plea deal in corruption case
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Court records show a former county manager in North Carolina has reached a plea deal on federal charges and has agreed to repay $750,000 of taxpayer money illegally spent on life insurance, shopping, vacations and other items.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that court records filed Thursday show Wanda Greene reached the agreement on four charges, including one count of receipt of kickbacks and bribes.
A judge must approve the deal. Greene faces up to 33 years in prison and $1 million in fines for the four counts.
Greene is the last of the indicted Buncombe County officials to agree to a plea deal. Former managers Mandy Stone and Jon Creighton pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, as did Greene’s son and former county employee, Michael Greene.



Officers to be charged after 2 patients drowned in van
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Charges are expected to be filed against two South Carolina law enforcement officers who were transporting two mental patients who drowned while locked in the back of a van during Hurricane Florence.
Solicitor Ed Clements tells media outlets that Stephen Flood will be charged Friday with two counts each of reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter. Joshua Bishop will face two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Flood and Bishop were fired from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office in October as part of an internal investigation. They were driving 45-year-old Wendy Newton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green to a mental-health facility as part of a court order when their van was swept away by rising floodwaters.
Green and Newton drowned in the back of the van Sept. 18. Flood and Bishop have said they tried unsuccessfully to rescue the women.