Associated Press

New State Crime Lab to Focus on Drug, DNA Evidence

A new crime lab in North Carolina aims to increase efficiency within the state’s criminal justice system, particularly with drug and DNA evidence. State Attorney General Josh Stein attended last week the inauguration of the State Crime Lab office for western North Carolina in Edneyville this weekend. The new regional crime lab, unlike one in Asheville since the 1980′s, relieves the burden of DNA evidence testing from the main lab in Raleigh, which was previously the only facility with that capacity. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports around 20 new employees will help the lab focus on drug...

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Senators Weigh Alternates to Head-to-Head Judicial Elections

A national judicial reform group and a North Carolina law school leader on Wednesday backed altering the state’s current method of selecting judges, offering options to legislators focusing more on appointments and confirmations and less on current head-to-head elections. North Carolina voters elect judges like other positions based on an 1868 constitutional mandate. For decades many lawyers and legal advocates have urged a “merit selection” process that could involve the governor, the General Assembly or both with appointing a judge, who is then subject to an up-or-down retention election. Changes ultimately would require a constitutional amendment approved in a...

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North Carolina Man Sentenced for Defrauding UNC Student Parish

A North Carolina man has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for defrauding a student parish at UNC-Chapel Hill. Federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Brian Lee Cansler, who pleaded guilty to charges in May, used his position to defraud the UNC Newman Center Catholic Student Parish. He was sentenced on Nov. 27. A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said Cansler was financial director at the parish. Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Hairston said Cansler forged the serving pastor’s signature on checks made out to Cansler from the parish, and he also fraudulently misused credit cards...

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Panel to Help Carry Out Raise the Age in N Carolina Meets

North Carolina legislators have agreed to stop being the only state that automatically prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for crimes in two years. Now a committee charged with ensuring the “raise the age” legislation approved last summer is carried out well is beginning its work. The Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee scheduled its first meeting for Monday in Raleigh. The panel comprised of law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates for victims and juveniles and others are supposed to develop the plan that increases the age of juvenile jurisdiction for young people charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. The “raise the age”...

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2 More Flu Deaths in North Carolina Raise Death Toll to 5

Health officials in North Carolina report two more people have died from the flu. The state Department of Health and Human Services reports the latest deaths have raised the death toll for the 2017-2018 flu season to five. All five deaths involve people 65 years of age and older. The latest deaths were the first reported by the department in the last three...

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Ex-Mental Health Agency Leaders Ordered Away from Finances

A court has told the former CEO and ousted board members of North Carolina’s largest regional mental health care agency to stay clear of the finances of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions since state officials have taken it over. A Mecklenburg County judge signed an order Wednesday preventing ex-chief executive Richard Topping and the former board from interfering with actions by the Department of Health and Human Services for 10 days. DHHS also wants something more permanent. The department took charge temporarily of Cardinal Innovations on Monday following recent audits chronicling what they called excessive spending, executive pay and severance...

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Western Carolina Provost to Serve as Acting Chancellor

The provost of Western Carolina University will serve as the school’s acting chancellor when the current chancellor leaves for medical treatment. The Greensboro News & Record reports that the president of the University of North Carolina system, Margaret Spellings, announced Tuesday that Alison Morrison-Shetlar will lead the Cullowhee university starting Jan. 1. Chancellor David Belcher, who’s been at the helm since 2011, announced Monday that he’ll go on medical leave starting Dec. 31 for further treatment of a brain tumor. Belcher says he doesn’t expect to return to the job. Scotland native Morrison-Shetlar has been at Western Carolina since...

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Emails: UNC Leaders Lamented Options for Confederate Statue

Fearing violence or vandalism at a campus rally against a Confederate statue, two top University of North Carolina leaders privately lamented their dilemma and appeared envious of another university that abruptly took down similar monuments, newly released emails show. On August 21, top University of North Carolina leaders were preparing to handle a protest the following night at the Confederate statue known on campus as “Silent Sam,” according to emails obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request. The Chapel Hill rally, while not violent, ultimately resulted in multiple arrests and included protesters blocking traffic and marching...

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NC Regulator: Can Duke Energy Charge All Coal Ash Costs?

Regulators are deciding whether to set a precedent and allow the country’s largest electric company to charge North Carolina consumers the full, multi-billion-dollar cost of cleaning up coal ash dumps. The North Carolina Utilities Commission on Monday will open hearings with Duke Energy Corp. about who should pay the cost of dealing with the toxic byproducts of decades of burning coal for power. The company and the state’s official utilities consumer advocate last week struck a partial deal reducing the company’s requested rate increase from almost 15 percent and its requested potential profit margin to below 10 percent. Still...

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Police: Armed Robbery Reported at Duke Gardens Center

Duke University police in North Carolina are searching for the suspect in an armed robbery at the Duke Gardens. News outlets report police announced the Sunday evening incident to the university community in a crime alert. Police say a suspect approached an individual at the Doris Duke Center in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and displayed a handgun, demanding money. The suspect then fled the center. No injuries were reported. Photo via Duke...

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