AP-NC Newswatch

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February 4, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





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



North Carolina ax murderer to be freed on parole in 2 years
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A killer who crushed a man’s head with an ax while robbing his North Carolina home will go free despite his life prison sentence.
The state’s parole commission said Monday it will free Jeffery Short in July 2021. He was convicted of burglary and first-degree murder in 1985.
Court records show Short and another man broke into a Gastonia house looking for a rumored $100,000 stash. When Robert Steele came home and surprised the burglars, Short hit him in the head with an ax.
The commission said it also planned to release Sticardo McCuller on parole in 2022. He was serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder in Wake County in 1993.
North Carolina allows parole for crimes committed before the state ended the practice in 1994.



41 Virginia student-athletes escape bus before explosion
WILSON, N.C. (AP) – Dozens of athletes from a Virginia college were able to evacuate a charter bus before it exploded in North Carolina.
News outlets cite a statement from Wilson County Emergency Management that says 41 track and field athletes from Hampton University were traveling home on Saturday night from a meet at the University of South Carolina when the bus went up in flames.
The release says the bus driver “did an excellent job” evacuating the students before the bus exploded. Wilson County Emergency Management Director Gordon Deno said it took about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire, as around 100 gallons of diesel fuel burned .
The students were taken to a high school, where they waited for a new bus.
University spokesman Jim Heath says the team reached home early Sunday.



Oral surgeon accused of sex abuse of anesthetized patients
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – An oral surgeon in North Carolina is accused of sexually abusing at least four patients between the ages of 17 and 21 while they were under anesthesia.
Citing a Wilmington police statement, news outlets report 55-year-old Michael Lee Hasson was arrested Thursday on three counts of sexual battery and one count of second-degree forcible sexual offense.
Hasson works at Wilmington Oral Surgery. Police say he’s accused of sexually abusing his patients between 2017 and the present.
His bail was initially set at $1.25 million, but a judge on Friday lowered it to $600,000. Defense attorney Woody White argued the bond for the class C misdemeanor sexual battery charges was excessive because of a lack of evidence.
Prosecutor Connie Jordan said two sexual assault kits were pending. Additional charges are expected.



Boy, 4, who brought gun to class suspended for rest of year
MOUNT GILEAD, N.C. (AP) – A 4-year-old boy who authorities in North Carolina say showed off a loaded gun to his pre-kindergarten classmates has been suspended for the rest of the school year.
News outlets cite a Mount Gilead police statement, saying a teacher confiscated a book bag holding the 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun Jan. 31. Officers responding to Mount Gilead Elementary School found it contained a fully loaded magazine.
The weapon was turned over to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Police say the investigation’s results will be forwarded to the Juvenile Court Counselor.
Mount Gilead Police Pat Preslar says the boy didn’t give a clear explanation as to why he brought the gun to class. Preslar says he doesn’t think he wanted it for protection.
Reports indicated the boy’s mother would be charged.



Sheriff: Case of missing baby, mom was scheme for donations
LAURINBURG, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff’s office says a multi-agency search for a missing woman and her newborn were based on false reports meant to solicit donations.
News outlets report the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office says 30-year-old Danilla Mitzia “Missy” Bethea was arrested Friday and charged with offenses including obtaining property by false pretenses.
Deputies were told Thursday that newborn Lee Ann Morrison was missing and mother April Morrison may have been deceased or was being held against her will.
The sheriff’s office says authorities were led to believe the Morrisons were victims of human trafficking, but an investigation concluded that April Morrison and her baby didn’t exist.
Investigators say Bethea told them the pair was safe, but gave inconsistent details. It’s unclear if she has a lawyer.



2 climbers rescued from Looking Glass Rock in North Carolina
BREVARD, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina say a climber injured in a fall of more than 100 feet and another person were rescued from Looking Glass Rock in Pisgah National Forest.
Multiple media outlets report the two were airlifted late Saturday to Mission Hospital in Asheville.
The Transylvania County Rescue Squad said on its Facebook page that its members responded around 5 p.m. Saturday to a report of one fallen climber and another potentially stuck on the rock.
Authorities said the climber took more of a “tumbling fall” than a free fall. The person on the side of the rock was able to lower himself or herself to the base safely.
Looking Glass Rock is about 5 miles northwest of Brevard and reaches an elevation of almost 4,000 feet.



As expansion debate grows, major changes soon for Medicaid
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina politicians are gearing up for a big debate this year over Medicaid expansion, and the state is already prepping for other big changes in how it pays for and treats most current enrollees.
The state Department of Health and Human Services is expected to announce this week which groups won managed-care contracts to serve about 1.6 million Medicaid recipients.
The switchover is likely to influence the debate over whether it makes sense to bring another 300,000 to 500,000 low- and middle-income enrollees on board though the Affordable Care Act at the same time.
Lawmakers agreed in 2015 to shift most Medicaid programs from traditional fee-for-service coverage to those in which companies or medical networks get flat monthly amounts for each patient covered.



Small plane crashes in NC marsh after taking off in Virginia
(Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com)
KNOTTS ISLAND, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say no one was injured when a small private airplane crashed in the marsh of a North Carolina island.
The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Virginia, reports that the Currituck Fire and EMS said in a news release that pilot got out of the plane uninjured after the crash Saturday on Knotts Island. Chief Ralph Melton says rescuers used a ladder to get the pilot to dry land.
The plane experienced mechanical trouble after taking off from Suffolk Executive Airport in Virginia, about 35 miles from Knotts Island by air.
The Cessna was found flipped over after it crashed into the marsh about 5 p.m. Saturday.
The crash is under investigation. Authorities didn’t identify the pilot.



AP-WF-02-04-19 1620GMT