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June 13, 2019
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June 13, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





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



Rep. Walker won’t challenge Sen. Tillis in NC GOP primary
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Rep. Mark Walker announced Thursday that he won’t challenge Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina’s Republican primary next year, a move that shows President Donald Trump’s influence on state politics and the high stakes in the 2020 congressional elections.
Walker said he’ll focus on remaining in the House, rather than trying to move over to the Senate, even though he says Trump and conservatives had encouraged him to switch.
Walker’s name surfaced after GOP activists complained Tillis wasn’t supporting Trump enough. Some were particularly unhappy with Tillis’ initial opposition to Trump’s emergency declaration for the wall at the Mexico border. Tillis later changed his mind and has since intensified his public support for the president.
Raleigh financier Garland Tucker got into the Senate primary race last month.



North Carolina fights rising hepatitis C infections
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina launched a multi-million dollar initiative to fight a dramatic spike in statewide hepatitis C infections fueled by the opioid crisis.
The HepConnect launch in Raleigh on Thursday followed launches in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana, which also saw increased infections.
The state’s health department estimates over 100,000 North Carolinians live with hepatitis C, many of whom are unaware they’re infected. The virus can spread through sharing needles and can cause severe liver damage, or death. But virus symptoms often don’t show up for years.
The initiative aims to increase hepatitis C screenings and treat those infected with the virus.
Democratic Rep. Gale Adcock spoke at the event and later said the initiative is just one step in addressing all the problems caused by the opioid epidemic.



Golden LEAF Foundation begins search for new president
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) – The Golden LEAF Foundation board of directors is searching for a new president after its previous leader accepted a position as interim chancellor of East Carolina University.
The foundation said in a news release that it’s hired Raleigh-based firm Elinvar to search for someone to succeed Dan Gerlach, who’s now at ECU in Greenville.
Elinvar will accept applications through July 15th. The board is expected to choose a new president in the fourth quarter of this year.
The foundation awarded more than 1,700 grants totaling over $870 million during its 20 years of operation. The nonprofit was established in 1999 to receive part of North Carolina’s funding from a 1998 settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers.
Its grants are awarded to tobacco-dependent, economy distressed and rural areas of North Carolina.



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.”



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.”



Earthquake tests new wireless network in far-flung Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A major earthquake that rocked Alaska proved to be a trial run in the state’s largest city for a new national wireless network dedicated to first responders.
Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll and other commanders had just signed on to test the FirstNet network on their personal cellphones when the 7.1 magnitude quake struck last year.
After it caused widespread damage and knocked out phone lines, Doll says officials with FirstNet were the only ones who could communicate without problems.
Public safety agencies nationwide are tapped into the network established by Congress in 2012 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It launched last year.
The network is secure, encrypted and off limits to the public. It’s raised concerns among media advocates that the secrecy shields police from scrutiny.

Follow Rachel D’Oro at https://twitter.com/rdoro



Virginia Lt. Gov. lawyers ask for sex assault investigation
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Lawyers for Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax have sent letters to prosecutors in three states asking them to open a criminal investigation into sexual assault allegations against him.
In copies of the letter obtained Wednesday by news outlets, Fairfax’s lawyers asked district attorney’s offices in Virginia, Massachusetts and North Carolina to investigate “public and serious criminal” allegations made against Fairfax. He has denied the allegations and says any investigations will find no wrongdoing.
In February, two women accused Fairfax of sexual assault. One of the women said he made unwanted sexual contact with her at a 2004 Democratic National Convention. The other says he raped her at Duke University in 2000.
Fairfax previously asked the FBI to investigate the allegations. News outlets report the prosecutors have yet to respond.



SBI: 3 charged with fraudulent voting in 2018 NC primary
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) – State investigators say three people from eastern North Carolina have been charged with fraudulent voting during last year’s primary elections.
The State Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday’s arrests of two Goldsboro residents and one New Bern resident. All three were charged with using fraudulent addresses to vote while one of the three also was charged with voting twice.
An SBI release says the investigation began in May at the request of the State Board of Elections.
The SBI identifies the defendants as Terrell William Graham and David Edward Williams of Goldsboro and Keymonti Winn-Hocutt of New Bern. The SBI says Winn-Hocutt faces two counts. The other two face one count each.
Attempts to reach the defendants by phone were unsuccessful. It wasn’t clear Wednesday whether they had attorneys.



AP-WF-06-13-19 1520GMT