Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
MISSING WOMAN-GUILTY PLEA
North Carolina man pleads guilty in missing woman’s death
(Information from: News & Record, http://www.news-record.com)
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A man has pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend and cutting up her body before dumping it beside a road in North Carolina.
The News & Record of Greensboro reported 26-year-old Desmond Laquan Pendergrass of High Point pleaded guilty Monday in Greensboro.
Pendergrass had been charged with killing 26-year-old Cree Asia Smith in June of 2016.
Guilford County Superior Court Judge David Hall sentenced Pendergrass to life in prison. Ten other charges against Pendergrass were dropped in exchange for the plea.
Investigators said Pendergrass drove Smith’s car when he turned himself in to officers. Parts the woman’s vehicle tested positive for blood.
Police found Smith’s body in October of 2016 in black garbage bags beside U.S. 421.
Medical examiners were not able to determine how Smith died.
AMAZON EXPANSION-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina city approves tax breaks for Amazon center
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s largest city has approved a tax incentive package for a new Amazon distribution center that is expected to add 1,500 jobs.
News outlets reported Charlotte City Council voted Monday for $13 million in incentives for the distribution center expected to open next year.
Mayor Vi Lyles said before the vote that the tax breaks for the project near Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is for Amazon.
Amazon is expected to spend $200 million setting up the distribution center.
Councilman James Mitchell said the jobs will pay between $25,000 and $45,000 annually.
North Carolina town fires police chief after complaints
SHARPSBURG, N.C. (AP) – A town council in North Carolina has fired its police chief, just days after the mayor had given the chief sole authority over the department.
The Sharpsburg Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to fire Chief John Hunt. The mayor and one council member were not at the meeting.
News outlets reported one of Hunt’s officers had stopped Mayor Robert Williams last month and charged him with driving while impaired, carrying a concealed gun and resisting an officer. Williams was upset when that happened but later gave Hunt sole authority over the department.
The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association criticized that decision.
Williams said he could not comment because it was an administrative matter.
Sharpsburg is about 55 miles (88 kilometers) east of Raleigh.
Former Florida Gov. Bush talking education in North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Former presidential candidate and ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is visiting North Carolina to discuss education reform with the state’s top public schools administrator.
Bush plans to participate in a lunch-time conversation Tuesday with Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson inside a downtown Raleigh skyscraper. Their discussion is supposed to focus on how to help K-12 education make students get prepared to meet current and future workforce demands.
Bush is the founder of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which advances policies such as school-choice and early literacy programs, personalized learning and course access.
The event is being hosted by the nonprofit Grow Great NC, which backs education reform efforts.
The Latest: Early voting, farm bills among 7 Cooper vetoes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed seven bills on his desk approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly earlier this month. Those include legislation that would alter early in-person voting in North Carolina and that would restrict nuisance litigation that neighbors of big livestock operations could file.
Cooper had 45 bills on his desk that needed to be acted upon by midnight Monday or they would automatically become law. His office says he signed 32 of them.
The House and Senate are expected to try to override the vetoes later this week before they adjourn for the year.
The early voting measure would adjust the current 17-day schedule by eliminating the final Saturday before a primary or Election Day. The early voting period would now begin one day earlier. Cooper says similar previous legislation designed to manipulate the voting process have been struck down by courts.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS-THE LATEST
The Latest: House gives initial OK to photo ID amendment
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The House has given initial approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would mandate registered North Carolina voters to show photo identification while casting an in-person ballot.
The chamber voted 74-44 on Monday night to submit the amendment in the form of a referendum in November. The proposal must be given another affirmative House vote Tuesday before it moves to the Senate.
The House debated for two hours, revisiting similar passionate discussion like five years ago, when the GOP-controlled legislature passed an election law that required photo ID. That law was struck down by a federal appeals court in 2016 as racially discriminatory.
GOP legislators contend voter fraud exists and putting the requirement in the constitution will build public confidence in elections. Democrats say the fraud problems are minuscule and that photo ID will disproportionately prevent black residents who lack ID from voting.
MUSLIM DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT
Muslim worker says NC discriminating against him for beard
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A civil rights group has filed a discrimination complaint against a North Carolina state agency, saying a Muslim employee was targeted because he requested a religious accommodation for his beard.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a news release Monday that it filed the federal and state employment complaint on behalf of Keith Hyman, who works at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner. CAIR says the Department of Public Safety allowed Hyman to keep his 2- to 3-inch beard for eight months after he was hired in September 2017.
When a new superintendent was hired, Hyman submitted his religious accommodation request again. The release says DPS rejected the request in May and began disciplinary proceedings.
A DPS spokesman says the agency will cooperate with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
APARTMENT SHOOTING DEATH
1 man shot to death in North Carolina apartment complex
KENERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A man has died after being shot at an apartment complex in North Carolina.
News outlets reported Kernersville police were called to an apartment around 2 p.m. Saturday.
They found Kenneth D. Kelly of Kernersville with a gunshot wound. Kelly was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Hospital Winston-Salem where he died from his injuries.
Kernersville police are investigating Kelly’s shooting as a homicide.
No arrests have been reported.