Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EDT
North Carolina officials emphasize voting security efforts
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina elections and government security officials want to know they’ve got the backs of voters concerned about the integrity of casting and counting ballots today and entering the 2020 elections.
The State Board of Elections on Thursday unveiled the start of a “voter confidence campaign.” It will rely heavily on social media to get the word out about efforts and procedures already in place to protect free elections from hacking and other interference.
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.
A 2018 North Carolina congressional election also had to be redone this year, as last November’s results were invalidated following absentee voting fraud allegations.
BILLIONAIRE GOVERNOR-SUBSIDIES-THE LATEST
The Latest: Dems slam West Virginia governor for subsidy
LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) – The West Virginia Democratic Party is slamming the state’s billionaire governor after The Associated Press reported that one of his family businesses took in a $125,000 federal subsidy meant to help farmers through the U.S. trade war with China.
Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore issued a news release Thursday saying “many of those farmers desperately need subsidy money to feed their families, but Governor Jim Justice does not.”
The statement comes after records reviewed by the AP show Justice Farms of North Carolina received $121,398 for soybeans and $3,602 for corn earlier this year.
A spokesman for Justice’s companies says many businesses received the subsidies and that “it’s absurd for anyone to use this important program as the basis for cynical political attacks.”
Justice has a net worth estimated at $1.5 billion and is considered to be West Virginia’s richest man.
3 pedestrians killed in separate accidents in North Carolina
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say three pedestrians died in separate accidents within an hour of each other.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports police say a man was struck and killed at an intersection in north Raleigh on Wednesday night.
Police said in a news release that the driver was taken into custody, but no charges have been filed so far.
In Holly Springs, police say a 14-year-old girl was struck and killed by an SUV as she tried to cross N.C. Highway 55, and Garner police report a man was killed after being hit by a car near U.S. Highway 70.
North Carolina teacher accused of rubbing genitals on girls
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina elementary school teacher is accused of rubbing his genitals against two fifth grade girls.
News outlets report 39-year-old Peter Moody, of Knightdale, is charged with four counts of indecent liberties with children at Beaverdam Elementary School in Wake County.
A Raleigh police statement says it involved “forcible fondling.” At his first court appearance on Wednesday, the prosecutor said Moody rubbed his genitals on children. The prosecutor also said he is accused of telling students that he was going to “hook up” with them when they turned 18.
Moody, who joined the school in 2017, resigned in August after the school learned of the allegations and went to police. His bond was reduced to $150,000 after his lawyer said he had no criminal history.
State fines utility, subcontractors in deadly gas explosion
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Department of Labor has issued more than $21,000 in fines to three companies involved in a deadly natural gas explosion.
News outlets report PSNC Energy and two subcontractors were cited for the April 10 explosion in Durham that killed two people, injured 25 and destroyed buildings.
Optic Cable Technology was fined $14,000 for two safety violations. The department says Optic didn’t locate underground pipes before drilling and didn’t immediately call authorities after the gas line ruptured.
PS Splicing LLC was fined $2,100 for not performing regular inspections of the site.
PSNC, part of Dominion Energy, was fined $5,000 for “ineffective response procedures.” The department says the responding employee wasn’t wearing protective gear and parked his vehicle near the leak.
The utility says they disagree with the findings.
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.
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.