Chapel Hill Man Charged with Strangling Ex-Girlfriend

A Chapel Hill man is facing charges after reportedly strangling a female victim.

Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says Chapel Hill Police received a report of the assault on Tuesday.

“The victim reported an incident from the previous day that she said occurred Monday mid-day,” Mecimore says, “where the suspect, it looks like, grabbed her from behind, strangled her from behind.”

Mecimore says it appears the suspect and victim had been in a previous relationship.

Police have arrested 33-year-old Phillip Rashan Walker in connection with the assault.

Mecimore says Walker has also been charged with communicating threats and cyberstalking.

“It looks like he’s also been contacting her via text and messages on social media platforms where he’s made some threatening comments,” Mecimore says.

The arrest report lists Walker’s employer as UNC Hospital but also says he is unemployed. Mecimore says that means he was likely either formerly or is currently employed by UNC Hospital.

The report says Walker was charged with felony assault by strangulation and misdemeanor charges of assault on a female, communicating threats and cyberstalking.

Mecimore says there was evidence of the assault but no injuries that appeared to be life-threatening.

Walker was held in the Orange County Jail without bond and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.

The Compass Center for Women and Families offers a 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (919) 929-7122.

UNC Tennis Claims Men’s And Women’s Player of the Week Honors

UNC tennis players were honored with the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week awards for the men’s and women’s sides this week.

The conference announced the awards late Tuesday.

Jack Murray took home the men’s honors, while Hayley Carter claimed the women’s award.

Murray won both of his matches in No. 7 UNC’s comeback victory over fifth-ranked Oklahoma. The junior is undefeated in both singles and doubles play this season. Carolina is also unbeaten as a team heading into this weekend’s ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Carter led UNC to the finals of the 2016 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship. The junior helped the Tar Heels defeat No. 13 Alabama, No. 18 LSU and second-ranked Georgia before losing to sixth-ranked California in the finals.

Carter is ranked sixth nationally as a singles player.

The Carolina women’s tennis team will travel to Michigan on February 20.

Legacy of “Our Three Winners” Lives on One Year Later

Wednesday is a sad anniversary in Chapel Hill.

Just after five o’clock the evening of Tuesday, February 10, 2015, Chapel Hill Police responded to a report of a triple shooting at the Finley Forest Condominiums in Chapel Hill.

Police found 23-year-old Deah Barakat, of Chapel Hill, his wife 21-year-old Yusor Abu-Salha, of Chapel Hill, and her sister 19-year-old Razan Abu-Salha, of Raleigh, dead at the scene from gunshot wounds.

A neighbor, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting. Police said immediately after the shooting it was the result of an ongoing parking dispute. Family members and those who worked with the victims maintain it was a hate crime.

Inspiring stories have emerged over the past year of the work that was being done by the three victims, dubbed “Our Three Winners.”

Barakat, who was a student in the UNC School of Dentistry, had established a youcaring campaign to raise money to help provide dental service to Sryian refugees in Turkey. He and his wife, who would have started her first year of dental school at Carolina in the fall of 2015, were planning to travel to Turkey to offer care last summer.

They never got to take that trip.

But their mission of public service and helping those in need has been carried out over the past year by many, including classmates at UNC.

Kaushal Gandhi said in an earlier interview with WCHL that a motto developed in the dental school after Deah’s death.

“Every time I talk about this the first thing that comes to mind is when Deah passed away – especially in our class, Deah was my classmate – a phrase emerged,” she said. “And it was, ‘Live Like Deah.’”

Gandhi said that phrase – Live Like Deah – is now on the mind of many of the students as they try to help others.

“The obvious answer is Deah would have just provided service and given himself selflessly, like he always had,” she said. “And we just knew him to be this happy person. And he was always there to help somebody, whether it was a friend or a stranger.”

Gandhi said classmates immediately began working on a food drive to help Urban Ministries in Durham, one of the last non-profits that benefitted from Barakat’s service.

“It started off like that,” she said, “and then we wanted to commemorate Deah, Yusor and Razan because all three of them were so involved in service. And we decided to do a Deah Day of Service.”

That Day of Service covered a wide range of service projects all over the Triangle.

Christopher Walker is a fourth-year student in the School of Dentistry and class president. He told WCHL the day of the event in September that more than 350 students from the university’s dental, dental assistant and dental hygiene programs worked at over 20 locations across the area to get involved.

Walker said Barakat left a lasting impression, even through small actions.

“I just knew Deah as someone that was very giving of his time,” he says. “My favorite story about Deah is he understood that dental students were spending a lot of money on coffee at this coffee shop we have nearby that services the medical campus.

“And he just bought a coffee maker and stocked it and put it in the student lounge and sent out an e-mail to everybody and said, ‘Hey, have coffee, bring what you want.’”

Walker said seeing the initiative that Barakat always took when it came to helping others served as motivation.

“It was a kid like that that just inspired me to want to be better,” he says. “I’m a little bit older, I went back to school a little bit later, and to watch a young person have so much passion for giving back to his community, both locally and internationally, I felt like I wanted to be a part of doing something that really cements his legacy as being a really great student and a great servant of his neighborhood and his school.”

Gandhi said that the service projects won’t end as the one year anniversary of the shooting passes.

“We want to do an annual food drive,” she said. “We want to do an annual day of service at the school and whatever we can do to keep their legacy alive.”

The youcaring campaign that helped provide service to Syrian refugees had a goal of raising $20,000. It raised over $530,000.

Another youcaring page was established by the family to raise money for the Our Three Winners Endowment has raised over $875,000 of its $2 million goal.

A ceremony is scheduled on the UNC campus on Wednesday afternoon and then the NC State campus Wednesday evening. 97.9FM/1360 AM WCHL will broadcast the ceremony from UNC live at 1:15.

Four Tar Heels Named to Women’s Soccer Academic All-ACC Team

Four players from the UNC women’s soccer tam have been named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Team, which was announced Tuesday.

Junior midfielder Joanna Boyles was named to the Academic All-Conference team for the second consecutive year. Boyles was also named second-team All-ACC for her performance on the field during the Tar Heels 2015 campaign.

Boyes is joined by first-time honorees Paige Nielsen, Alexa Newfield and Dorian Bailey.

Nielsen is a finalist for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award as well.

Bailey is a freshman from Kansas City and Newfield was UNC’s leading goal scorer last season. Newfield was also named third-team All-ACC.

Nielsen and Newfield were also recently selected in the National Women’s Soccer League draft.

The four Tar Heels honored were the most on the team since 2012.

Rogers Road Sewer Project Moving Forward

Another hurdle has been cleared in the Rogers Road sewer project.

Orange County Commissioners voted unanimously at the board meeting last Tuesday to move forward with acquiring easements to extend sewer lines to the Rogers Road community.

The Orange County landfill was located in the historically-black community for more than 40 years before closing in 2013 under pressure from environmental justice advocates. Planning to bring in new sewer service has been in the works for more than two years. The proposed sewer line is approximately 18,500 linear feet.

Commissioners heard from county deputy manager Travis Myren about acquiring land to go forward with the project.

“There are about 80 easements that need to be acquired in total,” Myren said. “Seventy-three of those are within the historic Rogers Road neighborhood and seven parcels are outside of that area.”

Myren said the total cost of acquiring the land is estimated to be $212,000. The easement cost is based on current property taxes and will not take into account the property revaluation that goes into effect next year.

Myren presented three recommendations to the board: authorizing the payment of negotiated easement value, authorizing staff to proceed with the condemnation process if a voluntary easement cannot be reached and authorizing staff to bring a budget amendment before the board to cover the cost of acquiring the easements.

The funding will be provided by the county and the municipalities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

County manager Bonnie Hammersley said that the Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill have been “on board with this.” She added that a team made up of representatives from the county, each town and the Jackson Center have worked closely with the Rogers Road community and OWASA to move the project forward.

Myren said that the county hopes to conduct the voluntary easement outreach by the end of March.

“For those properties for which we cannot voluntarily negotiate the easements, we would proceed with a condemnation process in early April,” Myren said. “That process would be completed then by about the middle of May. And we would need to have all of the easements in place by the time permits are filed on or about June 21.”

County attorney John Roberts said that if any property owners do not want to agree to the voluntary easement process, it should not slow down the project moving forward.

“If someone refuses to grant an easement, the county would place a deposit with the clerk of court,” he told the board. “Once the county places that deposit – and this is after a notice period in which the property owner is notified – once the county makes the deposit of the estimated value of the easement to be acquired, then the county essentially has the easement at that time.”

Minister Robert Campbell, President of the Chapel Hill – Carrboro NAACP, has been instrumental in organizing the effort in the Rogers Road community. He said at the meeting that the community meetings have helped answer questions and calm nerves surrounding the easements.

“People are excited about the possibility of being able to connect up to sewers pretty soon,” Campbell said while thanking the board. “We see the progress that is taking place. Now people are being a little more relaxed, but they are constantly asking questions and they are engaged in the process that is taking place.”

Commission chair Earl McKee thanked Campbell for his continued work to assist the project over the lengthy process.

“I know it’s been a long process but, as we used to say in the tobacco fields, ‘I think we’re in the short rows now.’”

UNC Soccer Star Named ACC Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year

UNC senior defender Jonathan Campbell has been named the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the conference announced Tuesday.

Campbell started all 20 games for the Tar Heels in 2015 and scored one goal and accumulated four assists from his defense position.

Campbell was selected with the number 12 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire.

Campbell earned All-America honors for his play and for his performance in the classroom during his senior campaign for the Tar Heels.

This marked the fourth time Campbell, who graduated in December, was named to the All-ACC Academic Team. He is the only member of the team to receive the honor four times.

Carolina sophomore David October and freshman Alex Comsia were also named to Academic All-Conference team. It was the first selection for both.

UNC Field Hockey Places 5 on Academic All-ACC Team

Five UNC field hockey student-athletes have been named to the 2015 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic team, which was announced Monday.

Seniors Casey Di Nardo, Nina Notman and Emily Wold were joined by sophomore Sam Night and freshman Malin Evert representing the Tar Heels.

Wold was one of two members of the All-Academic team to make the cut for a fourth time. Di Nardo was honored for the third time in 2015. It was the first time for Evert, Night and Notman.

Notman and Wold were also named to the All-America team this season.

Duke senior Lauren Blazing was named the 2015 ACC Field Hockey Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

UNC Looking to Rebound from Back to Back Losses

The UNC men’s basketball team is looking to get back on the winning track against Boston College after two road losses last week.

Coming off of losses at Louisville and at Notre Dame, Carolina dropped to No. 9 in the latest AP Poll.

UNC head coach Roy Williams says it is a priority for his team to step up intensity to close out the rest of the regular season.

“I’m more frustrated, more mad I guess than anything, because we’ve got to be willing and able to step up,” Williams says. “And that’s my job. I’ve got to get them to step up and match that intensity and match that intensity being maintained at a high level throughout the course of the entire game.”

Williams says, while there were moments he was pleased with how the Tar Heels played last week, the games against Louisville and Notre Dame were mainly controlled by the home teams.

“For the majority of the game, both those teams dictated things to us,” Williams says, “and made us play a lot worse than we wanted to play, to say the least. But it’s two good wins for them, two big losses for us.”

Williams says working out the flaws that have plagued the Tar Heels in recent games starts with watching film and understanding the mistakes.

“We’ve probably watched more tape with this team than we have any team in the 13 years I’ve been here,” Williams says. “At some point though, somebody’s got to step up and do the job.”

Moving forward, the Tar Heels take on Boston College on Tuesday night. UNC beat the Eagles in Chapel Hill less than two weeks ago.

“They turned the ball over so much, and we got so many points off of turnovers. It was a huge factor for us,” Williams says.

While there were some positive moments, including a 15-point first half lead at Notre Dame, Williams says he is still working to find answers to this team’s remaining questions.

“If I knew that, we wouldn’t have had the losses at Notre Dame and at Louisville,” he says. “But you’ve got to go into every day at practice and do the best you can do and see if we can play better.”

Carolina will face another road test at Boston College Tuesday night with tipoff slated for eight o’clock. WCHL’s coverage will begin with the UNC Health Care Countdown to Tipoff at 6:30.

UNC Drops to No. 9 in AP Poll

UNC men’s basketball dropped seven spots to No. 9 in the latest AP poll.

The Tar Heels lost to Louisville and Notre Dame over the course of the last week, after starting Atlantic Coast Conference play 8-0.

Carolina now sits at 19-4 on the season after the back-to-back losses. The Tar Heels will be looking to get back in the win column when the team travels to Boston College to take on the Eagles Tuesday night.

UNC beat Boston College 89-62 in the Dean E. Smith Center on January 30.

Villanova jumped from third to the top of the rankings after former No. 1 Oklahoma lost again last week.

Villanova is followed by Maryland, Oklahoma, Iowa and Xavier in the top five.

Virginia is the highest ranked ACC team at No. 7, followed by UNC at nine and the Miami Hurricanes at 12. Louisville, which beat UNC last Monday before announcing a self-imposed postseason ban for a scandal involving escorts, is No. 13 in the newest poll.

No other ACC teams cracked the top 25.

Carolina’s game at Boston College is scheduled for an eight o’clock tipoff Tuesday night. Coverage will begin with the UNC Health Care Countdown to Tipoff on 97.9 FM/1360 AM WCHL at 6:30.

Chapel Hill Woman Charged with Felony Hit and Run

Chapel Hill Police have arrested a woman in connection with a hit and run involving a pedestrian.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says police responded to a report of a pedestrian being struck on Fountain Ridge Road at Highview Drive at 8:25 last Tuesday night.

Maureen Patricia Rogers. Photo via Chapel Hill Police.

Maureen Patricia Rogers. Photo via Chapel Hill Police.

The pedestrian was suffering from non-life threatening injuries, according to police, and – after initially refusing – was eventually transported to the hospital for treatment of lacerations.

“There was no suspect vehicle. They fled the scene,” Mecimore says. “And then it looks like the investigating officer had given out a description of the vehicle and the damage that was expected to be on the vehicle and another officer came across that vehicle.”

Mecimore says that officers questioned the suspect when the vehicle was found on Thursday.

“She, at the very least, told him that she thought she’d hit a deer,” Mecimore says.

On Friday, police arrested 58-year-old Maureen Rogers, of Charlesberry Lane, on a felony charge of hit and run. The charge was elevated to a felony level due to the injuries sustained by the pedestrian, according to police.

Rogers appeared before a magistrate and was released on a $3,500 unsecured bon.

She was scheduled to appear in court on Monday morning.