Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT:
REDUCED CHARGE PLEA:
North Carolina man pleads to reduced charge in 2015 shooting
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the 2015 shooting death of a man at a lounge.
Local media reported that 21-year-old Jermaine Marquel Couch of Greensboro pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder. Couch had been on trial on a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of 19-year-old Patrick Simmons.
Couch has been sentenced to at least 17 years in prison.
Police said the shooting happened following an argument between two groups of people just as the lounge was closing for the night.
Witnesses said Couch ran to a car and came back and fired one shot at Simmons.
Man arrested in death of pregnant woman in North Carolina
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) – A man has been arrested in the death of a pregnant woman in North Carolina.
Southern Pines police told local media outlets that 18-year-old Brian Lovon Little of Rockingham has been charged with murder in the deaths of the woman and her unborn baby.
The body of 18-year-old Aiyonna Clarice Barrett was found in a car Sunday night.
Police said Tuesday Barrett’s death was a homicide, but they did not disclose how she was killed.
Little was being held without bail in the Moore County jail. There is no indication yet whether Little has a lawyer.
Radio, TV hosts, elected officials fill conservative event
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Right-leaning media personalities along with several of North Carolina’s top Republican elected officials are on the speaker’s list for a conservative advocacy group’s annual conference.
More than 400 people were expected to attend the two-day Conservative Leadership Conference beginning Friday at a Raleigh hotel and organized by the Civitas Institute.
Radio show host Dennis Prager and Greg Gutfeld of Fox News Channel planned to address the group, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger. Current U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina also fill the conference agenda. A host of national and state conservative advocates also will speak to attendees.
The conference marks the first organized by new Civitas Institute CEO Donald Bryson.
SEA TURTLES-MAGNETIC FIELDS:
Study: Sea turtle genes show navigation by magnetic fields
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Research at the University of North Carolina shows genetic evidence supporting how loggerhead sea turtles use the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate back to the beaches where they were hatched.
A study published Thursday in the journal Cell Biology shows that magnetic fields are the strongest predictor of genetic similarity among nesting loggerheads, regardless of how far away or dissimilar their home beaches are.
Biologists Kenneth J. Lohmann and J. Roger Brothers have done previous research on turtles and magnetic fields. This genetic evidence, they say, shows that the genetic structure of migratory animal populations can depend not only on isolation and environmental factors, but by how they navigate as well.
Lohmann says the new research could be helpful in conservation efforts.
FLU DEATHS-NORTH CAROLINA:
Deaths from flu in North Carolina rise to 362
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina health officials say the death toll from flu-related illness this season has reached 362.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that four deaths were reported for the week that ended April 7, one week after the recognized end to the 2017-18 season. In addition to the four deaths, officials reported 10 more deaths from previous weeks were related to the flu.
Of the 14 deaths, 12 victims were age 65 and older. Two were between the ages of 25 and 49.
For the season, there have been 269 deaths among people 65 and older. There have been 64 deaths among ages 50 to 64 and 18 deaths among ages 25 to 49.
FORT BRAGG-BUILDING EVACUATION:
Fort Bragg evacuates 800 from building after safety alarm
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) – Fort Bragg authorities temporarily evacuated one of the largest buildings on the North Carolina Army post after safety alarms were triggered.
Normal operations resumed around 3:35 p.m. Thursday at the building that houses U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command.
Army spokesman Paul Boyce said alarms went off about two hours earlier, forcing about 800 people to evacuate.
Firefighters and law enforcement officers searched each floor of the building before giving an all-clear. Boyce declined to say what triggered the alarm.
Boyce said some people who work in the building were sent home, while others waited in adjacent buildings.
FOOTBALL PLAYER-FATAL SHOOTING:
Suspect arrested in North Carolina football player’s death
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have arrested a man wanted in the shooting death of a college football player in January.
Winston-Salem police said in a news release Thursday that 21-year-old Jakier Shanique Austin was arrested in the parking lot of a Charlotte apartment complex on Wednesday on a murder charge.
Austin is accused in the shooting death of Winston-Salem State football player Najee Ali Baker during a party outside an events center at Wake Forest University on Jan. 20. Austin is being held in the Mecklenburg County jail without bond pending his transfer to Forsyth County.
Police have already arrested a 16-year-old on charges of possession of a handgun by a minor, assault by pointing a gun and possession of a firearm on educational property in connection with the shooting.
Guard attacked by inmate at dangerous North Carolina prison
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A correctional officer at one of North Carolina’s most dangerous prisons is recovering after being stabbed or slashed with an inmate’s makeshift blade.
State Prisons Director Kenneth Lassiter said the correctional sergeant at Lanesboro Correctional Institution was injured early Thursday after rushing to respond to reports of an inmate being assaulted by other prisoners. Lassiter said the man was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.
Dozens of officers and inmates have been attacked at the maximum-security prison about 45 miles southeast of Charlotte since it opened in 2004. State officials said Monday that Lanesboro will be converted to a women’s prison as part of a shakeup prompted by the killing of five prison workers last year at the hands of violent inmates.