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August 21, 2018
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August 21, 2018
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT


The Latest: UNC leaders condemn Confederate statue toppling
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – A Confederate statue in the heart of North Carolina’s flagship university is no longer standing.
The memorial known as “Silent Sam” was toppled Monday night during a rally by hundreds of protesters who decried it as a symbol of racist heritage.
The bronze figure of a Southern soldier atop a tall stone pedestal was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1913. It had been under constant police surveillance after being vandalized in recent months, costing the university hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Protesters appeared to outwit officers by splitting into two groups. Most marched away from the statue while a smaller group surrounded it with banners on bamboo poles, concealing efforts to tie a rope or cable around it. Videos show the groups converged and yanked it down.



Crime victims’ amendment backers planning to spend $5M
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Backers of a proposed crime victims’ amendment to North Carolina’s constitution are preparing to spend $5 million leading up to the referendum this November.
The leader of efforts to approve a North Carolina version of a victims’ rights amendment, similar to what’s known as “Marsy’s Law” in other states, identified the amount in an interview.
The group announced it started airing its first commercials on the radio Tuesday promoting a “yes” vote.
North Carolina voters approved a crime victims’ amendment two decades ago, but the update would expand those rights and make clear victims can seek redress in court.
Chris Sinclair directs the North Carolina campaign. He said its money would come from the national Marsy’s Law group, which was started by a wealthy tech company founder.



Man admits wife’s murder, blames her for daughters’ deaths
DENVER (AP) – A Colorado man is due back in court Tuesday to formally learn that he has been charged with the murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters.
Christopher Watts also faces charges of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body. It is not clear whether he will enter a plea during the court appearance.
A court filing unsealed Monday say Watts admitted to police that he killed his wife. But he said he strangled her in “a rage” when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation.
The document says the 33-year-old man then drove his wife and daughters’ bodies to an oil work site where he buried 34-year-old Shanann Watts and put the bodies of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste inside an oil tank.
Watts is being held without bail.



1959 racial slaying of Mississippi teen could get fresh look
CORINTH, Miss. (AP) – The 1959 killing of a black Mississippi teenager by a shooter in a pickup full of white teens brought less than a year in prison for the boy who pulled shotgun trigger.
Six of the seven others in the truck got a year’s probation through youth court, and an 18-year-old walked free.
Now, the U.S. Justice Department has referred the case to Mississippi “for potential prosecution.”
Fifteen-year-old William Roy Prather was fatally wounded on Halloween night 1959 when white teenagers in a pickup cruised through a black neighborhood. One of the white boys shot Prather in the face, and Prather died the next day.
It’s unclear whether a district attorney will pursue charges against any aging defendant. Witnesses’ memories may be fading, and some evidence has disappeared.



After reported sighting, N Carolina town embraces Bigfoot
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
MARION, N.C. (AP) – He goes by many different names and is feared by some, but in one North Carolina mountain town, Bigfoot is celebrated.
The Charlotte Observer reports the town of Marion has proclaimed the elusive creature its “official animal,” following a reported sighting last year.
The largely ceremonial proclamation takes effect Sept. 8, the day of a Bigfoot festival that intends to assemble proof of the creature’s existence.
John Bruner is the founder of Bigfoot 911. He says he was with the group last August when they spotted a large creature “covered in hair” in a forested area. He pitched the proclamation to town officials after Whitehall, New York, did something similar in July.
Mayor Stephen Little says he has yet to catch sight of Bigfoot, but anyone who visits Marion might see one.


Members of North Carolina synagogue receive mailed threats
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina synagogue says several members have received threatening letters.
Temple Beth Or Executive Director Robert Gleiberman tells The News & Observer that board members and a staff member received copies of the same letter containing “threatening language” Saturday.
Gleiberman says the letters had no return address and were sent through the U.S. Postal Service.
Religious school was canceled the next day in response, but Gleiberman says “right now we’re just moving on.”
Raleigh police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan says the FBI is assisting with the investigation.


Violent crime in Durham drops in first half of 2018
(Information from: The Herald-Sun, http://www.herald-sun.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – After five years of steady climb in violent crime, a North Carolina city is poised to reverse the trend.
The Herald-Sun reports that Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis told the City Council on Monday that violent crime in Durham dropped 28 percent in the first six months of 2018, compared to the same period last year.
Her announcement was met with congratulation from Mayor Steve Schewel, who commended the “tremendous achievement.”
Davis cited renewed focus on uniform patrol staffing, apprehension of repeat offenders, coordination with prosecutors and increased community support as factors.
She also said citizen complaints had dropped by 80 percent.
Schewel also credited reducing the criminalization of small acts and requiring authorization for consent searches as factors in increasing community trust and decreasing crime.


States aim to stop internet release of 3D-printed gun plans
SEATTLE (AP) – A federal judge in Seattle is scheduled to hear arguments on whether to block a settlement the U.S. State Department reached with a company that wants to post blueprints for printing 3D weapons on the internet.
The federal agency had tried to stop a Texas company from releasing the plans online, arguing it violated export regulations. But the agency reversed itself in April and entered an agreement with the company that would allow it to post the plans.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia sued and last month secured a restraining order to stop that process, and now they want to make it permanent.
The U.S. Justice Department says federal law already prohibits the manufacture or possession of undetectable plastic guns.
The states say the government’s actions could cause “drastic, irreparable harm.”