Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EDT
MUSLIM STUDENTS SLAIN-THE LATEST
The Latest: Authorities didn’t have enough for hate charges
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – An attorney who has worked with the families of three Muslim students gunned down in February 2015 says federal authorities decided they did not have a strong enough case to pursue hate-crime charges against their killer.
Joe Cheshire is a defense attorney in North Carolina who has been working with the victims’ families and guiding them through the legal process over the past four years.
He said at a news conference Wednesday that federal authorities could not satisfy themselves that 50-year-old Craig Hicks’ actions met all the required conditions of bringing a successful hate crime prosecution. He says they couldn’t discount Hicks’ initial explanation that the violence was provoked by a dispute over parking spaces.
Hicks pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of 23-year-old Deah Barakat; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and Abu-Salha’s 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison without parole.
Cheshire says federal authorities’ decision not to pursue hate-crimes charges “hurt a lot of feelings and it added to the false narrative.”
He says the federal government “failed this family and our multicultural democracy.”
ROTC CADET REMOVED
Cadet to be removed from Army ROTC for ‘pro-Nazism’ tweets
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A cadet will be removed from the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps for posting racist, anti-Semitic and “pro-Nazism” messages on social media.
U.S. Army Cadet Command spokesman Maj. Robert Carter said Wednesday that Martha Gerdes is on a “leave of absence” from the program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte pending her disenrollment from the ROTC.
UNC-Charlotte spokeswoman Buffie Stephens says federal law prevents the university from commenting.
Gerdes was a student at Davidson College when the Army began investigating in November. Carter says ROTC officials learned of Gerdes’ online activities when a group called Carolina Workers Collective posted screenshots of tweets it attributed to her.
Carter says Gerdes’ online activities were “inconsistent with the high moral expectations of a future Army officer.”
Child abuse victims get more time for civil cases in bill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Child sexual abuse victims would have until they are nearly 40 years old to sue for civil damages in North Carolina in legislation advancing in the state House.
While felony child abuse crimes have no statute of limitations, young adults currently have until they are 21 to sue alleged perpetrators. The measure approved overwhelmingly on Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee would extend the deadline until age 38.
Sponsor Rep. Dennis Riddell of Alamance County says limitations now don’t take into account that victims often are well into adulthood before they come to terms with their abuse. Civil cases require lower levels of proof than criminal matters.
The measure advanced to another committee after members rejected an amendment to lower the proposed age limit to 28.
Teacher identified as woman who accidentally killed herself
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina police have identified an elementary school teacher as the woman they say accidentally fatally shot herself in the stomach inside a Ruby Tuesday restaurant.
News outlets report police have confirmed the victim as 28-year-old Madison Moore. The Charlotte Observer reports Moore was a third-grade teacher in a school district north of Charlotte.
Investigators said last week that Moore was storing a 9mm gun she owned in her purse when it fired and killed her.
In a news release, police called the death “accidental.”
Judge rules federal prison must treat inmate’s breast cancer
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A judge has ordered the federal prison system to make sure a North Carolina woman gets timely treatment for breast cancer while she is incarcerated in Alabama.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that a judge admonished federal officials for what she called a ‘longstanding failure’ to make sure 47-year-old Angela Beck gets the cancer treatments she needs.
The Monday order would require prison officials to coordinate with medical providers to get tests and treatment for Beck, who is serving almost 14 years for drug and firearms offenses.
Beck filed a federal lawsuit, saying her prison in Alabama waited over eight months to get a biopsy after she found a lump in her breast in August 2017, then another two months to schedule surgery.
This story has been corrected to show that the story is from The Winston-Salem Journal.
Senate considers bill directing NC sheriffs on ICE requests
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislation designed to address recent decisions by some new North Carolina sheriffs to stop assisting federal immigration agents is resurfacing in a committee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled debate Wednesday on a House bill that passed that chamber in April. The House legislation required sheriffs in all 100 counties to fulfill detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A few sheriffs elected late last year have said they wouldn’t.
The bill authors say it would only put into law the cooperative approach that sheriffs have had with federal law enforcement for decades. Critics are worried that directive would undermine community safety because immigrants in the country unlawfully would fear reporting crimes.
Advocates for immigrants have held several rallies opposing the bill.
SEA TURTLE NESTING
Sea turtles nest at record pace along Georgia coast
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – The number of sea turtle nests along the Georgia coast is on pace to set a record this year.
Kris Williams is director of Caretta Research Project, a sea turtle conservation organization. She told the Savannah Morning News that beach patrols along the Georgia coast between Tybee and Cumberland islands had recorded 1,726 nests by Tuesday. Last year’s season total was 1,742.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Mark Dodd said if nesting continues increasing, he expects up to 4,500 nests by the end of the season. The previous record, set in 2016, is 3,289 loggerhead nests. Loggerhead sea turtles are the species seen most often in Georgia.
Nesting season usually reaches its peak in June and continues into early July. Less intense nesting usually lasts through August.
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.