AP-NC Newswatch

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August 20, 2019
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August 20, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





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



Daughters of Confederacy asked to remove N Carolina monument
PITTSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Commissioners in North Carolina say the United Daughters of the Confederacy must soon come up with a plan for removing a Confederate monument from a county courthouse’s grounds.
The News & Observer reports Chatham County commissioners voted 4-1 Monday to ask the chapter to bring a removal plan by Oct. 1. If the deadline isn’t met, the county said it would declare the monument public trespass and take steps to remove it. Monument supporters shouted that the board members were “traitors.”
The county’s efforts could be complicated by a state law that largely restricts removal of such monuments on public land.
The monument was placed at the Pittsboro courthouse in 1907. Commissioner Karen Howard says nobody has suggested destroying it, but she proposed moving it and forming a reconciliation panel.



Democrats spending millions to take back statehouses
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Democrats are mounting a comeback in statehouses across the country, pouring millions of dollars into state-level races that the party has often ignored.
The cash deluge shows how the consequences of next year’s elections run far deeper than President Donald Trump’s political fate. The party that controls state legislatures will take a leading role in the once-in-a-decade redistricting process that redraws congressional maps. Newly empowered Republicans used that process to their favor following the tea party victories in 2010 and Democrats want to use the same playbook.
The stakes are particularly high following a recent Supreme Court ruling that decided federal courts have no business policing political boundary disputes in many cases.



Immigration bill responding to dissenting sheriffs reappears
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Immigration law-enforcement legislation that North Carolina Republicans have idled for months in the General Assembly is back in gear.
A House committee scheduled discussion on Tuesday about a measure that’s responding to a handful of county sheriffs refusing to cooperate with federal immigration agents. In particular, they haven’t been complying with detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold inmates it believes are in the country unlawfully.
The bill would make all sheriffs recognize those requests, although a judge would order a detainer subject be held. Dissenting sheriffs say complying with detainers would actually harm community safety.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has signaled his likely veto of the bill already approved by the Senate in June. The House could take a final vote later Tuesday on accepting the Senate changes.



NC gov brings in teachers to build budget pressure
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is meeting with North Carolina public school teachers to try to build additional pressure upon Republicans to resolve the two-month budget stalemate to his liking.
Cooper planned a roundtable discussion with teachers at the Executive Mansion on Tuesday. Most traditional public schools begin next week.
There’s no current state budget law in place because Cooper vetoed the GOP’s spending plan in June.
While he’s largely emphasized the absence of Medicaid expansion in the Republican budget, Cooper also said he vetoed it because it contained small raises for teachers. He said his budget offer would more than double the average raises for teachers compared to the GOP proposal.
Republican lawmakers say Cooper is extending the impasse because he’s demanding Medicaid expansion before other negotiations begin.



Innocence hearing to begin for NC man serving life sentence
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man who confessed to a fatal stabbing in 1979 is getting a chance to prove his innocence during a hearing before three judges.
The hearing for 66-year-old James Blackmon is scheduled to begin Tuesday in a courtroom in Raleigh. In November, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission found enough evidence of Blackmon’s innocence to forward his case to a three-judge panel for review.
Blackmon’s attorneys argue that their client is a mentally ill man who wore a Superman-like cape during his confession and compared himself to Dracula. The prosecutor agrees Blackmon has mental health and cognitive issues. However, the prosecutor says a trial judge and the state Court of Appeals determined decades ago that Blackmon was competent to stand trial in the death of Helena Payton at what’s now St. Augustine’s University.



Storm knocks down trees at health department campus
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Severe weather has knocked down trees on the campus that is home to North Carolina’s health department.
The department says 15 to 20 trees and large limbs fell Monday at the Dorthea Dix Campus as a result of the weather.
One tree fell on the Haywood Building, which houses the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. There were no reports of injuries.
The department is asking employees who work in the building to check Tuesday morning on plans for the workday, because the building is now being assessed for damages.



Shooting death of 9-year-old prompts calls for action in NC
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A drive-by shooting in North Carolina has killed a 9-year-old boy and injured an 8-year-old boy, motivating some leaders to speak out against gun violence.
News outlets report 9-year-old Zion Person was shot and killed Sunday night in Durham. Police say the unidentified 8-year-old suffered an arm injury that wasn’t life threatening.
Police say someone in a car fired shots into the SUV the children were riding in. Investigators don’t believe the shooting was random. Durham police Chief C.J. Davis says the department is working aggressively to identify the people involved.
WRAL-TV quotes Durham City Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton as saying he plans to bring up gun violence at a council meeting Monday evening. Durham activist Paul Scott called the city’s streets “a battle zone.”



NC man wrongfully convicted, imprisoned for 17 years dies
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man who was wrongfully convicted for murder and imprisoned for 17 years has died.
The Innocence Project, a Duke University legal program that helped gain LaMonte Armstrong’s freedom, confirmed in a Friday post that Armstrong had died at 69. It did not list a cause of death.
Armstrong was convicted seven years after the 1988 killing of Ernestine Compton, but won his freedom in 2012 when evidence emerged showing he was not involved.
News outlets report flawed police work may have led to the false conviction.In 2013, Armstrong was issued a state “pardon of innocence” and paid $750,000. He later won $6.42 million from the city of Greensboro.
News outlets report Armstrong was a founding member of a nonprofit group to help “all harmed by wrongful convictions.”



AP-WF-08-20-19 1520GMT