AP-NC Newswatch

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September 17, 2019
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September 17, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





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


US Army identifies Green Beret killed in Afghanistan
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) – A 41-year-old Green Beret who was on his fourth combat deployment has been killed by small arms fire in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman Loren Bymer at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg said in a statement that Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin died Monday.
Griffin was from Greenbrier, Tennessee. He served as a Special Forces communications sergeant and was based at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington state.
Bymer said that Griffin was engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province.
Col. Owen G. Ray, commander, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), said that Griffin was a “warrior” as well as a “respected and loved Special Forces Soldier.”
Griffin joined the Army in 2004. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.


NC man accused of stealing items from breast cancer charity
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have arrested a man who they say broke in to several churches and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of items from a breast cancer charity.
The Asheville Police Department says in a news release that 25-year-old Conner Lee Fewell was arrested on Sunday and charged with breaking into two churches, a dentist’s office and an aesthetic plastic surgery office. Police said he also is a person of interest in two other church break-ins.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports Fewell stole cash and electronics from a nonprofit supporting women with breast cancer that was located inside one of the churches. The items were valued at $7,500.
Warrants say Fewell also broke into a plastic surgery office and stole $3,000 in cash and checks and a credit card.


North Carolina legislators finalize more ‘mini-budget’ bills
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina budget veto has slowed state government for months, so lawmakers have sent Gov. Roy Cooper more stand-alone legislation containing popular provisions from that spending plan.
Cooper now has four spending bills on his desk that address school and prison safety, disaster relief and testing sexual assault evidence kits. All received unanimous support. The school and rape kit bills got final legislative approval with House votes late Monday.
Republican legislators have described these “mini-budgets” as a way to unlock spending for initiatives stuck since Cooper vetoed the two-year budget in June. The Democratic governor signed four other state employee pay bills in August.
More bills may be unnecessary if the Senate soon overrides the budget veto. The House overrode it last week in a vote that surprised Democrats.


Man sentenced for assaulting, kidnapping former girlfriend
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – A man who assaulted his former girlfriend with a knife and then kidnapped her has been sentenced to nine years in state prison.
Rudolf Szoradi will also have to serve five years of supervised release under the sentence imposed Monday. The 51-year-old New York man had pleaded guilty to kidnapping and interstate domestic violence.
Federal prosecutors say Szoradi assaulted the victim with a knife in the basement of a Newark home in December 2017, causing her serious injuries. Szoradi then confined the woman in a vehicle and drove her across state lines.
The two eventually reached North Carolina, where the woman was able to receive medical attention for her injuries.
Prosecutors say Szoradi and the woman had previously been involved in a romantic relationship, but did not provide further details.


NC sheriff charged with felonies over alleged threat to kill
OXFORD, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff has been indicted on felony justice obstruction charges over allegations that he discussed killing a former deputy.
News outlets report Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday, prompting county leaders to call an emergency meeting for Tuesday morning.
Prosecutors say Wilkins learned in 2014 that Deputy Joshua Freeman planned to publicly release a recording of Wilkins making “racially offensive” comments.
The indictment says Wilkins then spoke with a person about killing Freeman, even going so far as to coach the unnamed third party on how to avoid identification by law enforcement.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman says the indictment resulted from a 10-month investigation by state and federal authorities. Wilkins remains in the office he’s held since 2009.


The Latest: North Carolina Senate approves replacement map
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina state Senate has agreed to a new map of nearly half of its electoral districts to comply with a state court order that declared current boundaries partisan gerrymanders.
The Senate voted 38-9 on Monday night in favor of the new district lines, which were fashioned in committee last week. The plan now goes to the House, which already approved a replacement map of dozens of that chamber’s districts.
The maps will be enacted once each is approved by both chambers. A three-judge panel has ordered legislators to approve them by Wednesday, after which the judges will review the work.
The Senate proposal reworks districts in seven counties or multicounty groupings, including those in and around Raleigh and Charlotte. Monday’s Senate vote for approval was bipartisan, even as some Democrats complained about the process.


Judge’s stern barks at dogfighting defendants prompt appeals
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A federal appeals court is being asked to decide whether five men convicted in a North Carolina dogfighting case deserve new sentencing hearings because of their sentencing judge’s harsh words from the bench.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle gave the men sentences from just under four years to nine years.
Their lawyers claim Boyle’s comments about pit bulls and people who engage in dogfighting show he could not be fair and should have recused himself.
During their sentencing hearings, Boyle said people who engage in dogfighting are mentally ill and exhibit behavior from the “Stone Age.”
Prosecutors say the sentences were appropriate for the criminal conduct the men admitted to when they pleaded guilty.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Sept. 18.


North Carolina trooper injured in head-on collision
WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper has been injured in a head-on collision in which the other driver was charged with driving while impaired.
News outlets report the patrol cruiser driven by 31-year-old Trooper Jonathan Barnes was hit head-on Sunday night by a car driven by 37-year-old Luis Castillo. The accident occurred in Wilkesboro on N.C. Highway 115.
Investigators said Castillo was driving north on N.C. 115 when his car crossed the center line and hit the southbound patrol cruiser. Castillo was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and was listed in critical condition.
Authorities say Barnes, a five-year patrol veteran, suffered a broken ankle, broken knee and broken shoulder. He was also taken to Wake Forest Baptist.


AP-WF-09-17-19 1520GMT