Sandhills_Sentinel

October 16, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators are spending $400 million to speed recovery from Hurricane Florence and setting aside another $450 million for upcoming needs, temporarily setting aside the sharp partisanship that’s typified government.

Legislators on Monday approved a second emergency spending plan a month after Florence slammed into the state. Lawmakers set aside $50 million to match federal disaster relief funds during a special session last week.

The new package includes $95 million for repairing and upgrading public school, university and community college property damaged during Florence. About $7 million will help college and university students remain enrolled despite sudden, storm-related expenses.

Most of the money would come from the state’s emergency reserves. The state has about $2 billion in its rainy day reserves.

 

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) — A judge has declined to punish a University of North Carolina graduate student who admitted to splashing red ink on a Confederate statue on campus last April.

Orange County Judge Samantha Cabe noted that Maya Little had admitted to the crime on the stand and that the facts showed she was guilty of the misdemeanor charge of defacing a public monument. But Cabe used a North Carolina judicial maneuver known as a “continued judgment” to essentially withhold the guilty verdict after hearing impassioned testimony about how Little and others struggled with the statue’s Confederate symbolism.

Judges are allowed the option for certain minor crimes. Little’s defense attorney Scott Holmes described the outcome as similar to a tie.

Cabe also waived court fees and restitution.

The statue was torn down by protesters in August. Little doesn’t face charges in the toppling of the statue.

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A judge has ruled the University of North Carolina’s chancellor doesn’t have to testify at the trial of a woman accused of pouring red ink on a Confederate statue that was later torn down by protesters.

Maya Little’s trial on a misdemeanor count of defacing a public monument began Monday with the judge watching video of her pouring red ink on the statue known as Silent Sam last April. The statue was torn down by protesters in August. Little isn’t among those charged with toppling the statue.

Defense lawyers sought to force Chancellor Carol Folt and campus Police Chief Jeff McCracken to testify.

Orange County judge Samantha Cabe denied the request, saying other witnesses have more direct knowledge of the charge against Little.

Testimony was scheduled to resume Monday afternoon.

 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two men serving sentences for the 1993 murder of a drug dealer in eastern North Carolina will get the chance to prove they didn’t commit the crime after the state commission that investigates innocence claims referred their cases for further review.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission said in a news release Monday that the eight-member state agency had referred the cases of Wallace Brandon Jones and LeRoy Spruill to a three-judge panel. Jones was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1993 slaying of Frank Swain of Roper in Washington County, and Spruill entered an Alford plea to second-degree murder.

An Alford plea isn’t a guilty plea but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to convict.

Someone beat Swain with a tire iron, stabbed him and cut his throat.

Three judges will be appointed to hear the case.

 

SHELBY, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say a North Carolina man was wounded when he opened a back door in his home which he had rigged up to fire a shotgun.

The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office told the Shelby Star 68-year-old Eddie Smith set up a shotgun facing his back door. The sheriff’s office said Smith went outside to feed some squirrels Monday and opened the booby-trapped door and triggered the shotgun, which shot him in his right arm.

First responders went through the home to be sure nothing else was rigged with weapons before taking Smith to a local hospital. Capt. Jon Wright said the man was severely wounded but alert when he was taken to the hospital.

Smith had recently posted a sign warning trespassers to stay off his property.

 

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Federal and state officials are working with a North Carolina water utility after hackers attacked some of its computer systems.

The head of the Onslow Water and Sewer Authority said in a news release Monday that its internal computer system, including servers and personal computers, were subjected to what was characterized as “a sophisticated ransomware attack.”

CEO Jeffrey Hudson said while customer information wasn’t compromised in the attack, many other databases have to be recreated. He added that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the state of North Carolina have been called in.

Hudson said the utility began experiencing virus attacks from a malware system on Oct. 4. He said it was believed the virus was brought under control, but security specialists were called when the problem persisted.

 

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — A man convicted of killing his girlfriend before fleeing to North Carolina with their infant has been sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Arturo Alomas will have to serve a minimum of 85 percent of his sentence.

The 35-year-old Alomas was convicted in August of killing 26-year-old Trenice Johnson in her apartment in Elizabeth on Easter Sunday 2016.

The Union County prosecutor’s office and Elizabeth police along with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol teamed up to apprehend Alomas in North Carolina, where he has family.

The couple’s infant daughter was with Alomas and was unharmed.

Authorities said Johnson was murdered as she returned from celebrating her birthday.

She was found choked to death with a plastic bag over her head and her arms and legs bound with duct tape.

 

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina sheriff has left the Democratic party, citing “an anti-law enforcement sentiment.”

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan says he’s now officially registered as “unaffiliated.” The 54-year-old is retiring in November after 12 years as sheriff, and blames a leftward shift for his decision to not run again.

He says his decision was clinched by “over the top” comments from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who, in reference to Republican tactics, said “When they go low, we kick them.” But Duncan says he’s not endorsing “the negativity of the right” with his disaffiliation.

Buncombe County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rose says Duncan is conflating national events with the local party, which he says hasn’t experienced an ideological shift.

Copyright 2018, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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