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MUSLIM STUDENTS SLAIN
North Carolina: Plea expected in 3 Muslim students’ slayings
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina man charged with killing three much-admired Muslim university students is expected to enter a plea more than four years after the slayings, which the victims’ families blamed on bigotry.
Craig Hicks was expected Wednesday in court in Durham.
A judge could hear evidence about what prompted the February 2015 shootings in Chapel Hill. Police said Hicks claimed the confrontation stemmed from competition for parking spaces at the condominium complex where they all lived.
The families of 23-year-old University of North Carolina dental student Deah Barakat; his 21-year-old wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha said they believe Hicks acted with anti-Muslim hatred.
The victims were planning to visit Turkey later in 2015 to volunteer in a dental clinic at a camp for Syrian war refugees.
North Carolina panels retooled in bill heading to governor
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The General Assembly has cleaned up the composition of six boards and commissions that North Carolina judges ruled were unconstitutional because the governor lacked enough control over them.
The legislature gave final approval on Tuesday to legislation that began when judges last summer declared the panels didn’t comply with state Supreme Court opinions. Legislative leaders previously could select a majority of members, and the governor could neither easily remove them nor overturn panel actions.
Gov. Roy Cooper sued to challenge the boards’ makeup. The bill headed to his desk now gives the majority of seats on each board to him.
The reconstituted boards are the Private Protective Services Board, Child Care Commission, Clean Water Management Trust Fund board, State Building Commission, Parks and Recreation Authority and Rural Infrastructure Authority.
Environmental groups sue over offshore drilling rule changes
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Environmental groups are challenging what they view as the Trump administration’s decision to weaken critical safety rules created after the nation’s worst offshore drilling disaster.
National groups including Earthjustice and the Sierra Club and groups on the Gulf and Carolina coasts filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday in San Francisco.
They say the federal agency created to oversee offshore drilling safety acted before some rules took effect.
Federal spokeswomen did not immediately respond to phoned and emailed requests for comment.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in March that the changes would eliminate unnecessary regulation while keeping safety and environmental protection.
The rules were imposed after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 workers and spewed an estimated 130 million gallons (493 million liters) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Senators want tougher language returned to driving phone ban
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Some North Carolina state senators plan to try restoring robust language prohibiting handheld cellphone use while driving in legislation that got watered down before leaving the House last month.
Sen. Jim Burgin of Harnett County said Tuesday he intends to propose wording that’s close to the bill’s original version when it gets debated in a Senate committee soon.
That original measure made it illegal for nearly all drivers to hold wireless devices or face $100 fines that grow to $200 for repeat offenders. The House altered that measure to make handheld cellphone use unlawful when authorities determined it contributed to careless or reckless driving.
Parents of children who died from distracted driving spoke at a Legislative Building news conference and urged passage of a strong “Hands Free NC” law.
DEMENTIA-MISSING WOMAN FOUND
Missing for days, woman with dementia found alive in woods
WHITEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – An 85-year-old woman with dementia was found alive but dehydrated in North Carolina four days after she went missing in South Carolina.
News outlets report a caregiver for Jaxie Rogers left the woman in a car Friday while she went inside a grocery store in Latta, South Carolina. The caregiver last saw Rogers driving away at a slow speed.
Utility crews in Columbus County, North Carolina, spotted Rogers’ abandoned car on Tuesday near the Lumber River. Sheriff’s deputies from two counties then searched for her, finding Rogers in woods about a half mile (0.8 kilometers) away. Officials believe she traveled through high water to get to the spot where she was found.
Deputies say Rogers, though dehydrated, was in good spirits. She was checked out at a hospital.
Murder conviction overturned: North Carolina man released
STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man who received a life sentence for murder in 2011 is no longer behind bars.
News outlets report 51-year-old Mark Carver left the Gaston County Jail on Tuesday.
A Superior Court judge last week overturned Carver’s conviction for the 2008 slaying of a 20-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, citing ineffective assistance by Carver’s trial attorneys and questions about DNA evidence.
Carver testified at a hearing in April that he didn’t kill Ira Yarmolenko, the woman whose body was found on the banks of the Catawba River.
Carver must wear an ankle monitor while he’s out of jail.
Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell says he plans to appeal the judge’s decision. Carver would get a new trial if the DA’s appeal fails.
BIG FLAG FLAP
Board in N Carolina city recommends bigger flags be OK
STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina city taking heat for its restrictions on the size of American flags has taken a step toward changing its regulations.
The city of Statesville said Tuesday in a news release that the planning board has unanimously approved a recommendation to increase the size for flags to 40 feet by 80 feet. It’s now 25 feet by 40 feet.
Monday’s recommendation goes next to the city council, which will take the first of two votes on June 17.
The size of flags became an issue when the man known as “The Profit” on CNBC challenged the restrictions. Marcus Lemonis owns Gander RV, the recreational vehicle store where an enormous flag flies.
Lemonis has said he opposes any restrictions on the size of an American flag.
HEROIN OVERDOSES-NALOXONE DECREASE
Record week of overdoses has city running low on naloxone
(Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com)
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) – First responders say a record number of heroin overdoses in a North Carolina city is depleting the supply of a drug used to revive patients.
The Virginian-Pilot reports that as of Monday, 12 people had overdosed in a week in the Elizabeth City area, including two people who died. Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services Chief Jerry Newell says crews delivered doses of naloxone in each case. Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.
Elizabeth City Criminal Intelligence Agent Lamont Butts says the city’s naloxone supply is drastically reduced. Newell says there are 30 doses in ambulances, and cases typically require three or four doses to save someone’s life.
It costs emergency agencies about $60 to buy one dose of naloxone.