AP-NC Newswatch

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AP-NC Newswatch






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



‘Pay to play’: Officer accused of trading cash for freedom
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina probation officer has been fired over allegations that he had offenders on house arrest pay for additional time outside, saying they had to “pay to play.”
The Charlotte Observer reports a state Department of Public Safety dismissal letter says Thomas Darnell Aker was fired in January.
The letter says one offender told authorities Aker had him pay for extra time out of the house to work and see his family last summer. It says an investigation found that the offender initially thought the money was going toward court fines and fees.
Aker’s one of 30 state probation officers terminated over inappropriate activities since 2016, including one who sold a gun to a man under a domestic violence protective order. Authorities say that man later killed his wife.



Republicans in runoff for US House seat in NC are endorsed
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – New endorsements are accumulating for the two Republican candidates advancing to a runoff for the party’s nomination in the eastern North Carolina special election to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr.
Greg Murphy’s campaign scheduled events for Wednesday in the 3rd Congressional District with the Women for Trump PAC, which endorsed the Greenville physician and state legislator. Organization co-founder Amy Kremer is quoted saying Murphy would be a staunch ally for President Donald Trump.
Murphy led the 17-candidate GOP primary last week but failed to get enough votes to win. Second-place candidate and Kinston pediatrician Joan Perry requested a runoff.
The conservative group FreedomWorks for America endorsed Perry on Tuesday.
The July 9 runoff winner takes on Democrat Allen Thomas and Libertarian and Constitution party candidates in September.



More bills debated as NC ‘crossover’ deadline nears
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly has almost completed its biennial process of separating policy legislation between those with a chance of becoming law and those probably going back to the drawing board.
Senate and House leaders set a Thursday deadline in which bills unrelated to spending or taxes must pass one chamber. Although there are ways around the “crossover deadline,” these leftover ideas generally are off the table until 2021.
The House completed its “crossover” work on Tuesday by passing nearly 30 bills. The full Senate prepared to debate at least 16 bills on Wednesday. Some Senate proposals would try to put retired teachers back in classrooms at low-performing schools and raise income limits for families who can apply for taxpayer-funded scholarships to attend private or religious schools.



Oil drilling risks N Carolina coastal economy, mayors worry
MANTEO, N.C. (AP) – Mayors from along the North Carolina coast are discussing the costs of offshore oil drilling if something goes wrong.
About a dozen mayors from Duck to Topsail Beach are meeting Wednesday in Manteo to discuss their worries about offshore oil and gas exploration. Opponents say that one future oil spill could destroy the state’s $4 billion fishing business and badly dent the state’s $20 billion tourism industry.
The Trump administration is pushing to expand drilling off the U.S. coast, although court challenges and opposition from many coastal states have slowed those efforts. The administration this month moved to give oil and gas companies more flexibility in meeting safety requirements imposed after the deadly 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, the worst offshore oil disaster in U.S. history.



University receives $5M grant to expand Duke Gardens
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Duke University has received a $5 million grant to improve the 55-acre Sarah P. Duke Gardens on campus, which attracts about 400,000 visitors each year.
University President Vincent Price said in a news release that The Duke Endowment is providing the grant for the Garden Gateway Project, a fundraising campaign. The grant brings the total raised to $16 million of the $30 million goal for the project.
The project will revitalize the gardens’ front entrance and fund new and improved facilities and classrooms. The plan also calls for a new performance lawn and expanded indoor event hall.
The Duke Endowment is a private foundation based in Charlotte. The university, the foundation and Duke Energy are separate organizations although they share the same name.



Mississippi hires experienced executive for its new lottery
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The Mississippi Lottery Corporation is hiring an experienced executive as its first president.
The corporation board said Wednesday that Thomas N. Shaheen is its unanimous choice for the job. He begins June 1.
Shaheen was among about 20 applicants and was one of three finalists interviewed. He has most recently worked as vice president of a lottery technology company.
He previously worked as director the North Carolina Education Lottery and chief executive officer of the New Mexico Lottery. He also worked for lotteries in Georgia, Texas and Florida.
Shaheen will move from Arizona to Mississippi for the job with a base salary of $225,000 a year.
He says Mississippi could start selling lottery tickets by the end of this year.



Suspect in shooting at North Carolina university indicted
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A grand jury has indicted a 22-year-old man on murder and other charges in the shooting attack at a North Carolina university that left two students dead and four others wounded.
The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office says the indictments handed down Monday charged Trystan Andrew Terrell with murder, attempted murder and assault in last week’s shooting at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The indictments made public Tuesday offered no additional details.
The website of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office says bond has not been set on the murder charges.
Authorities said the shooting occurred last Tuesday in a lecture hall, but detectives haven’t determined if the particular class or individuals were deliberately targeted. Officials have described Terrell as a former student who withdrew before the end of this semester.

This story has been corrected to show Terrell is 22, not 21.



New trial ordered for white homeowner in death of black man
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s second-highest court says a white homeowner who reported “hoodlums” in his neighborhood before he shot and killed an unarmed black man should get a new trial.
In a 2-1 ruling Tuesday, the state Court of Appeals said 42-year-old Chad Copley of Raleigh deserves another trial because the prosecutor gratuitously injected race in his closing argument.
Copley was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison last year for killing 20-year-old Kouren Thomas outside Copley’s home in August 2016.
Although the prosecutor said in closing arguments that evidence showed Copley was “scared of these black males,” the appeals court said no such evidence was presented to the jury.
State prosecutors can appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. A spokeswoman says prosecutors are reviewing the decision.


Follow Martha Waggoner on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc