Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
STORE OWNER KILLED-PLEAS
3 North Carolina men plead in South Carolina man’s death
FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) – Three North Carolina men have pleaded guilty to the 2016 shooting death of a convenience store owner in South Carolina.
News outlets reported that Jim Tracy Miller, Demetrius Altman and Jonathan Stefan Vanderhorst of Tabor City, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Florence.
Edy Boudagh was shot and killed in 2016 at his store in Loris during a robbery.
Miller and Altman face up to 40 years in prison when they are sentenced later for their plea to a robbery that crossed state lines. Prosecutors say Vanderhorst fired the fatal shots and faces a life prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to the same robbery charge, firing a gun during a violent crime and possession of ammunition during a violent crime.
North Carolina drug overdose death brings murder charge
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The drug overdose death of a North Carolina man last year has brought a murder charge.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that 27-year-old Benjamin Franklin Steele Jr. of Durham has been charged with murder in the June 23 death of 19-year-old Bryan Spain.
Steele was indicted on a murder charge last month, along with charges of selling deadly drugs.
Investigators say Spain had stopped at a friend’s house in Raleigh last summer while traveling from Appalachian State University to his home in Pamlico County. Spain was found dead on a couch the next morning.
Spain’s death was originally listed as an accidental overdose of fentanyl, an opioid.
Steele was in jail on a robbery conviction. It was not known if he has an attorney for the new charges.
RAT POISONING-PIZZA TOPPING
N. Carolina pizza cook accused of adding poison in cheese
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A former employee at a North Carolina pizza restaurant has been arrested and charged with putting rat poison into the cheese topping.
News outlets report a manager at Primo Pizza in Fayetteville spotted the contaminated topping before it was served to customers.
Police said in a news release Wednesday that 59-year-old Ricky Lee Adami of Fayetteville has been charged with distributing food containing noxious material.
The police report said the manager spotted the unknown material mixed in with shredded cheese June 1 and checked surveillance footage to determine who had prepared the cheese.
Adami was being held in the Cumberland County jail. It was not known if he has an attorney yet.
No word when North Carolina landslide-blocked road to reopen
(Information from: Times-News, http://www.blueridgenow.com)
BAT CAVE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Department of Transportation says it will probably be next week before there’s an estimate on when a road blocked by a landslide will reopen.
The Times-News of Hendersonville reported the agency said the landslide blocking N.C. 9 just north of Bat Cave must be cleared from the top down to the road.
The landslide covered nearly 100 feet of N.C. 9 with mud and debris Tuesday. A 50-mile (80-kilometer) detour has been set up taking drivers around U.S. 74 and Interstate 40 to travel between Bat Cave and Black Mountain.
Transportation department spokesman David Uchiyama says the slide is still active, with material and trees continuing to move. He says it would be too dangerous to clear the road before the top of the landslide is removed.
Tornado-damaged schools will not reopen for next school year
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Officials say schools damaged by a tornado in North Carolina will not reopen for the next academic year.
Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras told families at meetings Wednesday that students will not return next academic year to three elementary schools damaged in the April tornado.
News outlets report school officials are working with the district’s insurance company to determine what it will pay for the damage. School officials didn’t say what work needs to be done to the buildings.
Contreras says a process that includes soliciting proposals from contractors would extend any project longer than the time remaining before school starts.
Staff and students from the three elementary schools have been relocated to three others. The district is unsure where those displaced will be for the 2019-20 school year.
N Carolina Constitution Party recognized as official party
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – There’s another new official political party in North Carolina that can field candidates in November’s general elections.
The state elections board voted Wednesday to recognize the Constitution Party of North Carolina after group members collected more than 12,000 valid signatures from registered voters. The Constitution Party joins the recently recognized Green Party in North Carolina.
The General Assembly passed a law last fall lowering the signature threshold, which had been at more than 90,000. The Green Party was recognized because of a new option linking recognition to whether the party had candidates on ballots in at least 35 states in the last presidential election.
The two parties are holding conventions later this month to choose nominees for this fall.
Road debt authority gets unanimous Senate approval
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s road-building agency could benefit from up to $3 billion in debt to complete more projects faster in a bill getting bipartisan support in one General Assembly chamber.
The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday for authorizing the borrowing for the next 10 years and repaying it with projected revenues already being designated for road construction. The “special indebtedness” doesn’t require a voter referendum before it could be issued.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s Department of Transportation said last fall it would seek the debt so that the current uptick in road building can be extended once current cash balances soon dwindle. Borrowing would be capped at $300 million annually and couldn’t happen if the state’s self-imposed transportation debt limits are exceeded.
An identical bill is working its way through the House.
CHILD ABUSE-COUPLE CHARGED
North Carolina couple accused of abusing pre-teen daughter
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Police have accused a North Carolina couple of inflicting what’s described as “serious mental injury” on their pre-teen daughter for more than two years.
Raleigh police told local news outlets 47-year-old Russell Jay Smith and 38-year-old Lindsey Michelle Smith surrendered to officers on Tuesday.
According to police, the Smiths abused their daughter, who was 11 when it began, by putting her through “extreme isolation” and “ostracism.” Investigators also said the couple failed to provide an adequate education for the child and forced her to remain standing for hours.
The Smiths are charged with negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury and misdemeanor child abuse. They’re jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail. It’s not known if they have attorneys, and they were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.