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OBIT-FORMER JUSTICE-NORTH CAROLINA
Former chief justice who pushed for innocence process dies
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The conservative North Carolina chief justice who led the way for the state’s unique innocence process has died at age 85.
His son-in-law, Tom Neal, said I. Beverly Lake Jr. died Thursday at the retirement center where he lived.
Lake was chief justice when a string of high-profile wrongful convictions in North Carolina caught his attention. In 2002, he convened a commission to review how innocent people are convicted and how to free them.
That led to the establishment of the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission, whose work has resulted in exonerations of 12 people.
Chris Mumma is executive director of the private, nonprofit N.C. Center on Actual Innocence. She says Lake had a courage to do the right thing that few politicians have.
NC officer won’t face charges in fatal suspect shooting
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina district attorney has announced that a police officer accused of shooting and killing a suspect said to be wielding a knife won’t face criminal charges.
WRAL says a Wednesday report by Wake County District attorney Lorrin Freeman concluded that Raleigh officer W.B. Edwards feared for his life when 30-year-old Soheil Antonio Mojarrad ignored commands to drop a knife and approached Edwards with it.
Raleigh police have said Edwards was responding to a possible theft in April when he shot and killed Mojarrad. July autopsy results showed Mojarrad was shot eight times.
The shooting drew scrutiny after it was revealed Edwards’ body-worn camera wasn’t activated and his vehicle camera was pointed away.
Mojarrad’s parents say their son was mentally ill and have questioned if the shooting was justified.
FATAL LIGHTNING STRIKE
Columbia Univ student fatally hit by lightning off NC coast
KITTY HAWK, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a 23-year-old Columbia University student was fatally struck by lightning while swimming off the coast of North Carolina.
News outlets report the police department of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, says Matt Summerill, of Northern Virginia, was hit by lightning late last month. It’s unclear exactly when he died. A medical examiner’s office recently released his cause of death, which is listed as complications from drowning due to collapsing into the ocean after being hit by lightning.
Police said Summerill had been hospitalized in Nags Head. A crowdfunding page set up to help cover Summerill’s medical expenses says he was later hospitalized in Greenville and put into a medically induced coma. Summerill’s family, friends and the crowdfunding page organizer did not respond to The Virginian-Pilot ‘s requests to comment.
MAN DIES-POLICE CUSTODY
NC man dies in patrol car after encounter with officers
(Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina say a man died in the back of a police car following an encounter where he was handcuffed and detained by officers.
WRAL reports Fayetteville police responded to calls of a man going door-to-door acting strangely Thursday morning. A Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy says they later spotted the man jumping on a car’s hood.
Officers say the man began beating on the hood of a patrol car when they arrived. The outlet reports officers took him to the ground and handcuffed him.
Officers later noticed the man wasn’t breathing and attempted CPR. But the sheriff’s office says he died in the back of the patrol car.
The State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the incident and involved officers have been placed on administrative duty.
COLD CASE-REMAINS FOUND
Remains found believed to be man missing for 24 years
BOILING SPRING LAKES, N.C. (AP) – State investigators say skeletal remains found buried in a wooded area in North Carolina may be a man who went missing 24 years ago.
News outlets report 25-year-old Timothy Jason Smart disappeared from Boiling Spring Lakes in 1995. WWAY-TV aired a special on the case in May 2018. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation says in a news release that the special inspired an anonymous tip. Investigators tracked the call and spent months interviewing witnesses who helped lead them to where the remains were buried.
A medical examiner will confirm whether the remains are Smart and determine cause of death.
Authorities arrested 44-year-old Bryan Lee O’Daniels on July 1. He’s been charged with murder in the case. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak for him.
Man arrested after police response to Pittsboro credit union
PITTSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Police in Pittsboro say one man is in custody after authorities responded to a situation at a credit union.
WRAL-TV reports officers on Thursday responded to a call of an armed individual inside a branch of the State Employees Credit Union.
WTVD-TV reports Pittsboro Police Chief Percy Crutchfield in a statement said nobody was injured. He did not provide details of the situation or the suspect’s name.
Crutchfield said the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the FBI assisted in the response.
Mary Schober told the station she works across the street from the credit union and saw employees and clients leave the building “with their hands behind their heads” as “law enforcement had their guns drawn.”
Facebook expands new tool aiming to shrink ‘news deserts’
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Facebook is trying to coax “news deserts” into bloom with the expansion of a tool that provides people with local news and information, but says it still has a lot to learn.
The social media giant said Thursday it is expanding its “Today In” service to 6,000 cities and towns across the U.S., up from 400 previously. Launched in early 2018, the service shows people local news and information, including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements.
The tool lives within the Facebook app, where users can turn it on if they want to see local updates in their regular news feed. Facebook says in areas with a dearth of local news, it supplements with articles from surrounding areas.
‘That was my child’: Transgender deaths take toll in US
LUMBER BRIDGE, N.C. (AP) – A slaying in eastern North Carolina this summer left another victim in a deadly year for transgender people.
The Human Rights Campaign says 23-year-old Avery Scurlock of Lumber Bridge was one of 18 transgender people killed in the U.S. so far this year. Seventeen were black transgender women like Avery. Friends and family in Robeson County accepted Avery as a transgender woman named Chanel, but still called him Avery and used male pronouns unless he was dressed as a woman in public.
They say Avery was meeting a man he met on a dating website when he was shot eight times in early June. A 20-year-old man is charged with murder in the death.
The campaign says black transgender women have also been killed this year in 10 other states.