Chapel Hill Man Accused of Biting Girlfriend’s Tongue; Held on $390K Bail

Originally posted 5:03 p.m., July 29, 2014

Luke Lazarus Marion IV

Luke Lazarus Marion IV

A Chapel Hill man is in Wake County Detention Center on $390,000 bail, on charges of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury, and felony malicious maiming after he allegedly tried to bite his girlfriend’s tongue off during a fight on July 18. The bite reportedly caused permanent damage.

The News & Observer is reporting that 29-year-old Luke Lazarus Marion IV of 102 Isley Street in Chapel Hill was also charged with resisting an officer, when he was arrested on July 19th.

Police say Marion smashed his girlfriend’s cell phone when she tried to call for help, so he was charged with interfering with emergency communications.

A woman claiming to be a friend of the woman whose tongue was allegedly bitten by her boyfriend says permanent damage has been done and surgery will be necessary.

The friend told WCHL in an email that the victim’s frenulum—the piece of skin extending from the floor of the mouth to the midline of the underside of the tongue—was completely severed. She said there was also massive damage to the nerves in her tongue as well as taste buds.

She said, to her knowledge, the victim was not kissing Marion at the time, rather the assault stemmed from an attack.

Marion posted bail and was released from Wake County Detention Center, but was re-arrested on July 23rd for violating release conditions.

Marion has upcoming court appearances in three counties. He’s due in Orange County District Court on August 4 on charges of being drunk and disruptive, and resisting arrest by a Chapel Hill Police officer on April 21st.

He was arrested again by Chapel Hill police the next day for speeding and driving a vehicle with canceled license plates; for driving while impaired and without a license; for leaving the scene of an accident; for missing a court date that month; and for resisting an officer.

Marion will be back in Wake County court on August 5th, for a court hearing on charges of fleeing to elude, driving with a revoked license and driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

Another Wake County court appearance is scheduled on August 11th for several traffic-related charges and resisting arrest. And on August 28th, Marion will be in New Hanover County Court for allegedly driving while impaired and driving with a revoked license.

Lumina News reports that on May 25th, a 28-year-old white male named Luke Lazarus Marion was arrested by Wrightsville Beach Police while fleeing, after he allegedly hit a 47-year-old woman, poured wine on her, and threw a jellyfish on her at Johnny Mercer’s Pier.

CH/OC Visitors Bureau Accredited; CH Town Hall Reopening; SolarBees

Congratulations to the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, just awarded accreditation status from the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program.

The Orange County Visitors Bureau first received accreditation in 2010; it’s one of only 150 Convention and Visitors Bureaus in the U.S. to receive that honor.

It’s been more than a year since the big flood of 2013, and Town Hall is still undergoing renovations – but progress is being made, and on August 11 the Town of Chapel Hill is expecting to open some new offices.

Starting on Monday, August 11, the town’s Development Services Division and Revenue Office will be open on the ground floor of Town Hall, with the Business Management Department on the second floor. Cashiering will remain at University Square until August 8, then move back to Town Hall after that.

The renovations are being done in part to repair flood damage, but also to improve customer service. Council Chambers is scheduled to be reopen by September.

In order to reduce the level of algae in Jordan Lake, state officials are installing thirty-six solar-powered water circulators called SolarBees in the lake this month.

Installation began on July 21; it’s expected to take about two weeks. Twelve of the “SolarBees” will be placed in the southern part of the lake by the Haw River; the other 24 will be placed in the northern part of the lake by Morgan Creek.

DSI Comedy Takes Root On Franklin Street

In May, the DSI Comedy Theater – a fixture of the Carrboro arts scene for nearly a decade – became a fixture of the Chapel Hill arts scene when it moved from Carr Mill Mall to a new, larger location on West Franklin Street.

The move was initially prompted by a crisis (Carr Mill Mall elected not to renew DSI’s lease), but theater owner Zach Ward chose to see it as an opportunity – and now, just a few months later, he says the company is thriving in its new spot.

In those few months, DSI completely renovated the old Mansion 462 club at 462 W. Franklin, rebuilding it on the inside from the ground up. Now, the theater occupies about four times the space it had in Carrboro, including an expanded bar and (for the first time) its own separate rehearsal facility. In the process, the theater has added to the burgeoning cultural/commercial scene on West Franklin Street – which now includes newcomers like Al’s Burger Shack and the soon-to-arrive Carolina Ale House alongside older establishments like Local 506, the Cave, Carolina Brewery, and West End Wine Bar.

Zach Ward and DSI company members Ashley Melzer and Vinny Valdivia joined Aaron Keck (who’s also a DSI company member) on the WCHL Afternoon News.

As part of the move, DSI is inviting special guests to perform from around the country. This Friday and Saturday, the theater is welcoming Junior Varsity, an improv team from New York’s renowned Magnet Theater – and next month, the theater is hosting the hip-hop-based improv team North Coast as well as a one-night-only performance by nationally-acclaimed standups Myq Kaplan (a veteran of the TV show “Last Comic Standing”) and Zach Sherwin (a writer and performer on the popular YouTube series “Epic Rap Battles of History”).

Visit DSI’s calendar page for show dates and times.

On July 4, Remembering Our Civil Rights Legacy

For the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, this year’s July 4 festivities come with a somber reflection on our nation’s often-troubling past.

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history and a watershed moment for the civil rights movement. It also continues the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

To mark the occasion, the Town of Chapel Hill hosted a discussion Wednesday on the legacy of the Civil Rights Act, in a packed room in the Chapel Hill Public Library. Gene Nichol and Ted Shaw served as keynote speakers; State Senator Valerie Foushee was among the panelists. (CORRECTION: Foushee was scheduled to be among the panelists, but was unable to attend.)

And on Friday – Independence Day proper – the Town of Carrboro is hosting a public reading of Frederick Douglass’s famous 1852 speech “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro” (also known as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”). Readers will include Valerie Foushee, former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, and WCHL’s Aaron Keck. It begins at Town Hall at noon and should last about a half hour, as part of the town’s July 4 festivities.

James Williams is the public defender for Orange and Chatham Counties; he too will be among the readers on Friday. Earlier this week he joined Ron Stutts on the Morning News.

Family, Friends Lay UNC Student To Rest

The family and friends of the UNC student who died last week said their goodbyes Wednesday while they await the news of the cause of his death.

Harris Granger Pharr, a rising senior and a member of the Alpha Chapter of the Chi Phi fraternity, died Thursday at a residence at 500 Pittsboro Street, which is across from the UNC School of Public Health. Police said there was no sign of foul play, and an autopsy is being performed.

Pharr’s father, John, told WNCN that he believes his son died of cardiac arrest due to the high level of stress he was under with his classes. He said he was often up late working.

The funeral for Harris was held at First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh at 2:00 p.m.

According to his obituary, the Pharr family has created a scholarship in memory of Harris, which will honor academic excellence in members of the Chi Phi fraternity at UNC. They are also asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations are made in his memory to the Beaches Episcopal School in Jacksonville Beach, Florida where they are installing a new apple computer lab.

Second Suspect Arrested In May 30 Shooting

A second suspect in the fatal shooting in south-west Chapel Hill on May 30 was arrested Wednesday.

The Chapel Hill Police Department reports that Brandon Shamar Townsend, 21, of Varina Drive in Durham was apprehended in Durham by the US Marshall’s Joint Fugitive Task Force. He has been charged with First Degree Murder and Attempted First Degree Murder.

Townsend is being held without bond at the Orange County Jail.

The incident was initially reported as a break-in at 102 S. Christopher Road. It resulted in the death of Lew Hahn Hood, 33, of Chapel Hill, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say Hood had multiple gunshot wounds.

Bartholomew Romidas Scott, 35, of Durham was arrested and charged with first degree murder soon after the incident when he was taken to police headquarters for questioning.

Chapel Hill Police Public Information Lieutenant Josh Mecimore told WCHL that neither Hood nor Scott were residents of the home where the shooting took place.

South Christopher Road runs parallel to 15-501, Fordham Boulevard, and the home is next to the onramp from NC-54.

Click here for more on this story.

This Monday, Imagine Rosemary

Meg McGurk is spearheading the “Rosemary Imagined” project, alongside Megan Wooley.

You’re invited to weigh in on the future of Rosemary Street this Monday, June 9.

The Town of Chapel Hill and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership are co-hosting a pair of “community review meetings” that day at Greenbridge, to discuss the latest developments in the “Rosemary Imagined” project and solicit more public input.

Launched last year, “Rosemary Imagined” is the ongoing project to create a vision for the long-term redevelopment of Rosemary Street. Currently there are three draft designs – incorporating ideas for parks, rerouted streets, tech centers, food markets, and more – but staffers (using feedback they’ve already received) are in the process of combining those three designs into one, which will be unveiled on Monday.

Meg McGurk of the Downtown Partnership and Megan Wooley of the Town of Chapel Hill joined Aaron Keck on the Afternoon News this week to discuss the project.

The first meeting on Monday will be from 11:30-1:00; the second will be from 4:30-6:00. Both meetings will take place in Greenbridge’s Sky Lounge – and the two meetings will be identical, so there’s no need to attend both.

Visit to see the latest drafts and to learn more.

Friday’s Homicide Investigation Continues

Story originally posted 2:02 p.m., June 2, 2014

Questions remain in Friday’s homicide in Southeast Chapel Hill as the investigation rolls on.

Chapel Hill Police Public Information Lt. Josh Mecimore confirmed Monday afternoon that no new information was available. When the first reports came in of the shooting, a few details were reported that are still unclear. The incident was initially reported as a break-in, but Lt. Mecimore said neither the victim nor the suspect were residents of the home where it took place at 102 S. Christopher Road. He said the dispatcher might have first used that description when there was little information.

South Christopher Road runs parallel to 15-501, Fordham Boulevard, and the home is next to the onramp from NC-54.

Lew Hahn Hood, 33, of Chapel Hill was pronounced dead at the scene on Friday afternoon, after police officers responded to a report of a shooting. Police say Hood had multiple gunshot wounds.

Bartholomew Romidas Scott, 35, of Durham was arrested and charged with first degree murder. He’s being held without bond in Orange County Jail, and had his first appearance in court Monday.

The Chapel Hill News reports that Scott’s attorney, Matt Suczynski, told the court Monday that it was Scott who called 911 to summon police to the scene. While the investigation is ongoing, Orange and Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said police believe, “at this time”, Scott is responsible for killing Hood.

Woodall also said police are trying to figure out if anyone else was involved.

Alert Carolina reported Friday that there were two black male suspects. UNC Department of Public Safety spokesperson, Randy Young said that was the early report released by Chapel Hill Police, that two black males were involved. Lt. Mecimore said Chapel Hill Police were not looking for a second suspect.

A June 12 probable cause hearing is now scheduled for Scott to determine whether police have enough evidence to hold him on the murder charge.

CH Town Manager: No Tax Increase

Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil presented a recommended budget, with no tax increases, to the Town Council on Monday night.

Earlier that afternoon, he and Finance Officer Ken Pennoyer met with a group of reporters to break it all down:

“The budget, as it’s recommended tonight, has no tax increase in it.”

The recommended budget Stancil was set to present to the Town Council that evening comes to a near-total of $96 million, an increase of 3.5 percent from the last budget.

As Stancil said, the budget is balanced without a tax increase. About $2.7 million of fund balance would be used to help balance the budget.

The recommended budget assumes a one-percent growth in the property tax base, and a six-percent growth in sales taxes.

Stancil said the recommended budget for Fiscal Year 15 begins to address “some of the unsustainable strategies” that Chapel Hill had to use during the recession.

For example: One-time bond funds for resurfacing roads have dried up, so the Town staff is recommending restoring $578,000 to the operating budget.

Addressing a recent focus on affordable housing, the town will dedicate a quarter penny on the current tax rate to fund new initiatives.

The stormwater budget is down 5.9 percent. Stancil said that’s due to some large expenditures in the previous budget.

The stormwater fee is recommended to be increased by 75 cents per Equivalent Rate Unit.

“That was discussed last year when the basis upon which the stormwater fee is charged was changed,” said Stancil, “and there was an increase in the fee, and a realization and acknowledgement that we had to have steady increases to that rate in order to meet the stormwater requirements of the town.”

He compared that to the Orange Water and Sewer Authority’s policy of increasing fees steadily, rather than waiting until a large fee increase is deemed necessary.

Transit takes up the biggest slice of proposed total budget expenditures, at 21 percent.

The recommended amount of transit funds for Fiscal Year 15 is $20.5 million.

The sustainability of the transit system is a major concern for Chapel Hill. According to the summary presented to the Council, the delay in replacing old buses has created “a huge unfunded liability.”

“We have something like 42 buses that should be replaced today,” said Stancil. “So we’ve got a critical need in terms of how we continue to replace buses, with a diminishing potential for federal subsidy of buses.”

The recommended budget includes $400,000 to begin the financing process to buy buses. It’s projected that $42 million will be needed by 2023 for that purpose.

The next step in the budget process will be a work session on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The transit budget and resurfacing funding will be discussed at that meeting.

That will be followed by a public hearing about the recommended budget on May 19.

Two more work sessions are tentatively scheduled in early June, and a target date for adoption of the budget is June 9th.

Chapel Hill, Orange Present 1st Annual Preservation Symposium

Chapel Hill and Orange County are teaming up to present the First Annual “Roots of the Piedmont” Preservation Conference at the end of May, which is both National Preservation Month and National Tourism Month.

The two-day symposium will be held at the Carolina Inn of Chapel Hill on Friday, May 30th, and at the Historic Orange County Courthouse on Saturday, May 31st.

The symposium is a joint project of Preservation Chapel Hill, the Orange County Historic Preservation Commission and the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough.

Their goal is to preserve historic records and landmarks of Chapel Hill and Orange County.
A leading group of preservationists and historians will speak at the conference.

Those include Myrick Howard, the president of Preservation NC; and Deputy NC State Historic Preservation Officer Ramona Bartos.

Topics will include modernism, public archaeology, and 18th-century native communities.
The event begins May 30th at 8:45 a.m. at the Carolina Inn.

The opening reception takes place that night from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at the Horace Williams House of Chapel Hill.

The cost of admission is $20 per day, or $30 for both days.

You can register online here.

Online registration has been extended to Tuesday, May 27.