Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. EDT
Heavy rain in NC mountains triggers mudslide that killed 1
TRYON, N.C. (AP) – At least one resident of the North Carolina mountains is dead after heavy rains triggered mudslides and flooding.
Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said Saturday that searchers have recovered the body of a woman whose home was crushed by a mudslide in an area of rolling hills near the town of Tryon. The area is along the South Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills.
Pittman says searchers are checking whether mudslides have damaged other structures, but flooding made some areas are impassible.
North Carolina highway authorities say Interstate 26 was closed for about seven hours overnight until water flooding the highway receded.
Pittman says the area has seen rain off and on for most of the past week before heavy rain hit Friday evening.
Express ferry along North Carolina Outer Banks slowed
MANNS HARBOR, N.C. (AP) – A new passenger-only ferry linking two favorite locales for vacationers on North Carolina’s barrier islands won’t be making its maiden voyage this summer after all because of boat construction delays.
The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division now says service by an express ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke villages won’t begin until the end of the year.
Division spokesman Tim Hass told The News & Observer of Raleigh the ferry builder has faced a shortage of workers in specialized trades, particularly certified marine welders. Now it’s aiming to complete the boat in the fall.
The nearly 100-seat ferry will bring people and bikes directly into Ocracoke Village, where free trams will run on a half-hour loop. The division says the trams will begin operating before the ferry comes online.
North Carolina man arrested in fatal shooting
KINSTON, N.C. (AP) – Law enforcement officials have apprehended a man wanted in a fatal shooting last month.
Kinston police said in a news release Friday its officers, along with the U.S. Marshal Service Fugitive Task Force, arrested 25-year-old Jamari Davis on Friday.
Davis is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Cleo Majette Jr., who was found shot to death in a car on April 22.
Authorities also charged Davis with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Davis is being held in the Lenoir County jail. His status couldn’t be determined Friday.
Plaintiff in North Carolina same-sex marriage case dies
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) – Pearl Berlin, who challenged North Carolina’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages, has died. She was 93.
Berlin died Thursday, said Matt Hirschey, head of special projects for Equality NC.
Berlin married Ellen Gerber in a synagogue in Greensboro in 2013 and followed with civil ceremony in Maine that year, but their marriage remained legally invalid in North Carolina. With Berlin suffering health problems in 2014, the couple rushed to join the vanguard of efforts to strike down the state ban, so that Gerber could have spousal rights over decisions about her care.
The American Civil Liberties Union urged a federal judge to quickly negate the ban, which was deemed unconstitutional that same year.
Berlin’s memorial service will be held at UNC Greensboro on June 14.
Sen. Tillis testifies in N Carolina legislative bias case
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis left his seat on Capitol Hill briefly for one on a witness stand in an employee discrimination case from his time as a top state legislative leader.
Tillis testified under oath Friday in a federal courtroom about why as state House speaker in 2011 he decided to force out the director of the General Assembly’s nonpartisan fiscal analysis office.
Marilyn Chism is a black woman who accused legislative leaders of illegally sacking her because of her race and gender. An administrative law judge could direct the legislative branch to pay her monetary damages.
Tillis says Chism was asked to resign because she wasn’t doing a good job leading the agency. He says the decision came after input from staff and fellow House Republican lawmakers.
SHOOTING DEATH CONVICTION
Man convicted in North Carolina shooting death
BURGAW, N.C. (AP) – A man has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a shooting death in North Carolina nearly three years ago.
Media outlets reported that 37-year-old Dennis Westberg of Hampstead was convicted Thursday in Pender County court in Burgaw.
Investigators said 35-year-old Larry Joshua Goodson was shot in June 2015 at a home in Hampstead.
Superior Court Judge Josh Willey sentenced to Westberg to at least one year in prison. Westberg would not be required to serve more than two years.
He’s also been ordered to take alcohol counseling.
Defense attorney Rick Miller asked for probation, pointing out Westberg had no criminal record. But Willey said he couldn’t ignore the jury decision and Goodson’s death.
Standards panel requiring training by school-based officers
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The panel that sets education standards for North Carolina law enforcement has decided all officers assigned to public schools must complete training about their on-campus work.
Attorney General Josh Stein’s office said the state Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission voted Friday to require the specific training for all school resource officers.
Stein’s Department of Justice provides staff to the commission. Stein asked the panel to consider mandatory training, the details of which will now be worked out by a committee within the commission, then carried out by the North Carolina Justice Academy.
Training is already provided to school officers but local law enforcement agencies don’t have to require it for them.
A state House committee examining school safety improvements also recommended this month legislation with a training mandate.
SEX OFFENSES-MAN CHARGED
Man returned to North Carolina to face 2005 sex charges
CARY, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a man who once lived in North Carolina has been returned to the state from Florida in connection with sex offenses involving a teenager in 2005.
Local news outlets report police in Cary say they took out arrest warrants in March 2005 charging Eleuterro Marcos Gome Ortiz, who is now 42. The child in the case was under 13, a condition for a charge of first-degree sex offense with a child.
A second arrest warrant says Ramirez-Ortiz took indecent liberties with the child.
Capt. Randall Rhyne wouldn’t say if the victim was a boy or a girl.
Ortiz, who was living under a different name in Apopka, Florida, was booked into the Wake County jail Thursday on a $500,000 bond. It’s not known if he has an attorney.