AP-NC Newswatch

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October 2, 2019
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October 2, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





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


Murder defendant’s behavior in court may force mistrial
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina judge is considering declaring a mistrial in a murder case because the defendant refused to answer the prosecutors’ questions in court.
Brandon Lee already confessed to police that he killed his mother and hid her body in an ice bath for days before strangling his ex-girlfriend as well. Lee’s lawyer says he “snapped” after years of childhood trauma and abuse by his mother. Lee says she provoked his attack that day.
The News & Observer reports that Lee took the stand Tuesday, demonstrating how he choked them even telling jurors that he screamed “Die! Die!” as he did it.
But when prosecutors tried to cross-examine him, he refused to cooperate, saying “I’m not scared of you!”
Judge Graham Shirley sent jurors home and may declare a mistrial.


Dietician’s nightmare: NC State Fair announces 2019 menu
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina State Fair, where diets meet their demise, has released its belly-busting menu for 2019, and it includes some new concoctions.
About two dozen creations have made the list for the first time. One vendor is offering a red velvet funnel cake topped with cheese and enchilada sauces. Another will sell a jalapeno pepper stuffed with cheese and brisket, frying it up and serving it on a stick.
Fair goers can also enjoy a golden fried chicken breast nestled in a cinnamon bun, topped with pepper jack cheese and crispy bacon and drizzled with a zesty honey sauce.
This year’s fair runs from Oct. 17 through Oct. 27.


Former North Carolina GOP chair expected to plead guilty
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A former North Carolina Republican Party chairman is expected to admit in court that he lied to federal agents conducting a bribery investigation of a major political donor.
Documents filed in federal court last week show Robin Hayes is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Wednesday in federal court in Charlotte.
Prosecutors said in his indictment that Hayes agreed to use the party as a conduit of $250,000 to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey’s reelection campaign. Prosecutors said Hayes agreed to funnel the money to Causey at the request of insurance magnate Greg Lindberg and an associate.
Court documents say Hayes lied to FBI agents in August 2018 by denying speaking to Causey about replacing the state official examining Lindberg’s company.


Virginia doctor faces up to life in prison in opioid case
ABINGDON, Va. (AP) – A Virginia doctor who was convicted of more than 800 counts of illegally prescribing opioids faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
Dr. Joel Smithers, of Greensboro, North Carolina, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon.
Smithers was convicted in May of illegally distributing opioids, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman.
Authorities say Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids to patients from five states during the two years he ran a medical office in Martinsville, Virginia.
During his trial, Smithers testified that he was a caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients.
Smithers faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, but could get up to life.


2 teenagers arrested after shots fired at police officers
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have arrested two teenagers who they say shot at officers responding to a call.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say in a news release that the officers were fired at by two suspects who themselves had been shot at by a woman last month. That shooting stemmed from what investigators described was a dispute over a designer belt after people had used rocks to break windows at a home.
The officers didn’t return fire. The suspects were identified as 18-year-old Jamari Xavier Young and 18-year-old Chris’Tavious Xaviour Caldwell. They’re each charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer and shooting into occupied property.
Authorities say the investigation is continuing and more charges are forthcoming.


Fire destroys North Carolina campground dating back to 1853
HICKORY, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a fire that destroyed a North Carolina campground dating back to 1853 is suspicious.
A Tuesday statement from Catawba County Emergency Management says the fire erupted last Sunday at Balls Creek Campground in Catawba, and officials say 40 cabins were destroyed and nine more were damaged.
Officials said that because of the historic and religious significance of the campground, the investigation is being handled by a joint task force of local, state and federal authorities.
The task force said it considers this fire to be suspicious and the cause is currently undetermined.
The Hickory Daily Record reports that the campground has served as the site of revival meetings since it was first established in 1853. The revival is a two week-long event held in August.


N Carolina police officer charged with assaulting woman
KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) – A police officer in North Carolina has been charged with assaulting a woman.
Dare County sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Duprey tells news outlets that Kill Devil Hills police Lt. Allen Holland surrendered to authorities Monday. The veteran police officer was later released from custody after posting bail.
WAVY-TV reports Dare County records say Holland threw his wife to the ground and tore off her clothes. The station says the 47-year-old has been ordered to not have any communication with his wife.
It’s unclear why there was a nearly eight-week gap between the reported assault and Holland’s arrest.
The Virginian-Pilot reports Kill Devil Hills police Chief Gary Britt had no comment.
WAVY-TV says Holland is on paid administrative leave and may appear in court next month.


2 Illinois men sentenced for transporting stolen firearms
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Two Illinois men have been sentenced to federal prison for transporting and possessing hundreds of stolen firearms.
U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant said in a news release Tuesday that 25-year-old Roland Jackson and 19-year-old Taveyan Turnbo, both of Chicago, were sentenced in connection with a September 2018 theft at a UPS in Memphis. Court documents said Jackson is to serve 7 1/2 years, and Turnbo was sentenced to 1 1/2 years.
The release said 322 Ruger .380 caliber pistols and 44 Ruger .22 caliber pistols were taken from a shipment of firearms. Almost all the firearms were recovered in the Chicago suburb of Midlothian a few hours later.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the guns were being shipped from a Ruger factory in North Carolina.


AP-WF-10-02-19 1520GMT