Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
OPIOID CRISIS-LAWSUITS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Day 1 of opioid lawsuit jury selection concludes
CLEVELAND (AP) – The first day of jury selection in a landmark federal opioid lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland has concluded.
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster said both sides on Thursday will find one additional juror to bring the pool to a total of 24 that attorneys can then question and challenge in winnowing the list to 12.
Lawyers for the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit counties and those for six drug companies who are defendants in the first trial filed by more than 2,000 local government plaintiffs and tribes will have the opportunity to strike as many as six jurors each.
Opening statements in what is expected to be a trial lasting more than two months are Monday.
NC woman charged in kidnapping now accused in another case
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman charged with kidnapping a 3-year-old girl is now accused of kidnapping another toddler.
News outlets report 22-year-old N’denezsia Lancaster, of Greensboro, is now charged with second-degree kidnapping in addition to first-degree kidnapping.
She’s accused of snatching 3-year-old Ahlora Lindiment from an apartment merry-go-round last week. The girl was found safe the next day. Prosecutors say Lancaster previously took a 2-year-old girl from the same spot and returned her safely.
A judge refused to lower Lancaster’s $1 million bond Monday. Lancaster’s attorney, Daniel Harris, says Lancaster has bipolar disorder and requested a mental evaluation. One was set for this week.
Lancaster may appear in court Nov. 14. She’s also charged with assault in another case in which she’s accused of attacking a man with a box cutter.
North Carolina election leaders begin voter confidence drive
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – State and federal agencies in North Carolina are trying to allay the public’s concerns about elections security and accuracy after recent worries over hacking and ballot-casting methods.
The State Board of Elections planned a Thursday news conference to begin a “voter confidence campaign” that runs through the 2020 elections. The multimedia campaign is designed to let voters know what the board and other government entities do to ensure elections are protected from interference and that results are correct.
A U.S. Senate committee’s report released this summer found that the Russian government directed “extensive activity” against U.S. election systems ahead of the 2016 election. The North Carolina board also has taken heat for certifying the use of certain ballots that digitize a voter’s choices into bar code data for counting.
Lawsuit challenges NC’s use of solitary confinement
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Four prisoners being held in solitary confinement are suing the state of North Carolina over its use, saying the punishment is unconstitutional because it’s cruel or unusual.
North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the class-action lawsuit Wednesday in Superior Court. It’s filed on behalf of the four men and others held in solitary confinement for 22 hours to 24 hours a day in cells described as no bigger than a parking space with little human contact.
The groups say about 3,000 people were being held in some form of solitary confinement in North Carolina as of July and that hundreds are held for months or years.
The state Department of Public Safety didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
ELECTION 2020-US SENATE-NORTH CAROLINA
Tillis, Cunningham raise most for US Senate in last 3 months
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republican incumbent Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham have raised the most money for next year’s U.S. Senate race in North Carolina during the past three months.
Federal campaign reports due this week show Tillis had the most cash in his campaign account on Sept. 30 with $4.9 million. He raised $1.2 million during the third quarter. Cunningham reported raising $1 million and having $1.1 million in cash on hand.
Among other announced Republican candidates, Garland Tucker collected $691,000, of which over half came from his personal loans. Tucker had $107,000 in cash on hand. Sandy Smith reported raising $133,000, with $66,000 on hand.
Among other Democrats, Erica Smith said Wednesday there’s an error in her report that appears to reduce third-quarter contributions below $50,000. Trevor Fuller reported little activity.
BIRDS CRASH INTO BUILDING
Hundreds of birds crash into NASCAR Hall of Fame building
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – An animal rescue group says more than 300 birds crashed into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte, killing some 100 of them.
Carolina Waterfowl Rescue says on its Facebook page that 100 of the chimney swifts are severely injured with broken legs, wings and other fractures. They say the rest of the birds were stunned by the impact and it’s hoped they can be released in a few days.
The agency says it received a call around 11 p.m. Tuesday reporting birds diving straight into the building’s windows. A Charlotte woman’s video aired by Fox 46 shows the birds crashing into the windows and lying near the building’s entrance.
State biologists say birds are most likely to fly into buildings in the fall when they begin migrating.
Death penalty trial begins for NC inmate in prison attack
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A death penalty trial has begun for the first of four North Carolina inmates accused of using scissors and hammers from a prison workshop to kill four workers and hurt eight others during a failed escape attempt.
The Virginian-Pilot reports that armed police surrounded inmate Mikel Brady as video of the gruesome aftermath was replayed in court.
Former Pasquotank Correctional officer Scott Stormer testified that he and other responding guards found the inmates attacking an officer in October 2017. Stormer said he felt a punch to his back during a scuffle with an inmate, only to later realize he’d been stabbed.
The inmates were ultimately surrounded and caught. WTKR-TV reports an Elizabeth City police officer testified he was hit with the “odor of pure blood” upon arriving.
Democrats seek debate on legislature’s sex harassment bill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democrats are trying to revive legislation this year to create an updated process to investigate sexual harassment claims involving North Carolina legislators and General Assembly workers.
Sen. Erica Smith of Northampton County is attempting a parliamentary maneuver to move a bill she sponsored and is sitting in a committee to the Senate floor. She’ll need the signatures of several Republicans to do it in the coming days.
Smith said at a Legislative Building news conference on Wednesday that the current anti-harassment policy is flawed and the process for adjudicating claims doesn’t serve victims well.
The bill would set clear sanctions for sexual harassment and misconduct, develop a confidential filing process and direct an outside party be hired to help with investigations. She says the proposal promotes equity, protection and opportunity.