Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
MISSING WOMEN-CONVICTED MURDERER:
N. Carolina man convicted of murder in missing woman’s death
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man convicted of killing his stepdaughter and a missing woman whose body has never been found has now been convicted in another slaying.
The StarNews reports U.S. Army veteran James Opelton Bradley was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder in the 2013 death of Elisha Tucker. He’s set to be sentenced Thursday.
Bradley served 23 years in prison in the slaying of his 8-year-old stepdaughter and was released from custody in March 2013. Tucker was reported missing that August.
Another woman, Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk, was reported missing nearly a year later in April 2014. Authorities searching for Van Newkirk’s body instead found Tucker’s, which had been stuffed in trash bags and buried in a field. Bradley was convicted in Van Newkirk’s presumed death in 2017.
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians signs harvest agreement
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have signed an agreement that will allow tribal members to gather sochan in the park. Sochan is a leafy green vegetable that is a traditional part of the Cherokee diet.
Park Superintendent Cassius Cash and Principal Chief Richard Sneed signed an agreement on Monday that allows up to 36 enrolled tribal members to gather 1 bushel of sochan leaves per week between March 29 and May 31.
According to the park, an environmental assessment has determined the harvest will have no significant impact, although monitoring is planned.
Park officials and tribal members will meet regularly to discuss the monitoring results. If necessary, they will adjust the agreement to limit any unforeseen impacts.
NORTH CAROLINA-DISPUTED ELECTION:
Investigators followed money in tainted N. Carolina election
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Top North Carolina elections officials say the ballot-rigging investigation that voided a congressional election and forced one of the country’s few do-over races simply followed the money.
State elections attorney Josh Lawson said Tuesday during a discussion at Davidson College that investigators weren’t targeting Republican Mark Harris’ campaign in the 9th Congressional District. Lawson says investigators followed tips that a political operative in rural Bladen County was illegally collecting ballots and then found that Harris’ consultant was paying him.
The operative was charged last month for similar activities in 2016 and for his work for Harris in the 2018 primary.
The election last month was declared tainted and another ordered.
Harris isn’t running again. Ten others are seeking the Republican nomination in May’s primary election. Democrat Dan McCready faces no primary opponent.
SC lawmakers debate professional sports bill on House floor
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina House lawmakers are closer to passing legislation to offer job tax credits and other incentives to professional sports teams.
Legislators debated the Professional Sports Team Investment Act on the House floor Tuesday. Lawmakers voted 90-25 to give the legislation preliminary approval.
The bipartisan-backed proposal comes after talks between state officials and Carolina Panthers’ owner David Tepper who has expressed interest in expanding the team’s operations into the Palmetto State.
The proposal would allow the NFL team to be eligible for tax credits and exemptions, incentives they wouldn’t have been eligible for under current laws. Football players don’t practice enough hours to be considered full-time employees in the state.
The bill’s author, House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, said the possible move is emblematic of what South Carolina is becoming.
Senate GOP health bill seeks access without broad expansion
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Senate Republicans are floating legislation they say would offer medical access to more people in North Carolina without expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults through the federal health care law.
The legislation unveiled on Tuesday from Sens. Joyce Krawiec and Dan Bishop would set aside $41 million to help 2,000 more people with developmental disabilities receive assistance through a current state Medicaid program.
The omnibus measure also would repeal certificate of need laws that require state approval before operating a new hospital, nursing home or hospice, or adding new services or equipment. The bill also attempts to provide more mental health service access.
The measure could illustrate what Senate Republicans will be seeking as Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, legislative Democrats and even some House Republicans negotiate to expand Medicaid broadly.
North Carolina Rep. Henson won’t seek re-election in 2020
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina state lawmaker charged recently with cyberstalking related to a domestic case won’t seek re-election next year.
Second-term Republican Rep. Cody Henson of Transylvania County announced his decision on Tuesday.
Henson wrote it was in the best interest of his young children “to step away from the political scene for now” and be there for them. His social media post didn’t mention legal problems.
The Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office issued the misdemeanor criminal summons for Henson earlier this month. It named his estranged wife as the victim. Last month, a judge issued a long-term protective order against Henson after determining texts his wife received amounted to “mental harassment.”
News outlets report Henson’s next court appearance is Thursday.
Henson represents Transylvania and Polk counties and part of Henderson County.
MONEY LAUNDERING-GUILTY PLEA:
Ex-football player admits running business to bribe athletes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A federal court document says a former N.C. State football player admits operating a business which bribed college athletes.
News outlets say a plea report says Eric Leak pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit promotional money laundering.
A bill of information filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte says Leak and others moved money from his mental health business to his sports management company, which between 2012 and 2015 “provided and caused to be provided things of value” to student-athletes and a student-athlete’s family member to steer them toward the company.
Leak is serving an 18-month prison term for Medicaid fraud linked to the mental health company. He’s banned from contacting N.C. State for 10 years after the NCAA determined he provided illegal benefits to two basketball players.
Pioneering medical drone program takes off in North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A pioneering use of drones to fly blood samples across a North Carolina hospital campus has launched in the latest move to expand their roles in business and health care.
The short trips between medical buildings announced Tuesday mark the first time the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed regular commercial flights of drones carrying products. That’s according to UPS and drone company Matternet, which partnered with Raleigh’s WakeMed on the program.
Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos says the WakeMed program will start by flying patients’ medical samples from a clinic to a separate lab for testing at least six times a day five days a week.
Experts say medical deliveries by drones are in their early stages and it could be some time before they’re widely rolled out.