Trial Set for UNC Football Player Accused of Sexual Assault

“I did not rape her.”

Allen Artis repeated that claim five times as his eyes panned across a group of reporters outside the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough on Thursday.

Earlier this month, a UNC sophomore Delaney Robinson accused Artis of raping her on Valentine’s Day.

Robinson said she filed a complaint after the incident but that she was discouraged during the process that justice in her eyes would be served.

Robinson’s attorney, Denise Branch, said when the allegations were made public that she had been told no charges would be brought in the case. But local District Attorney Jim Woodall said that same day that he had confirmed with UNC Police that the investigation was open and ongoing.

Rather than waiting for the resolution of that investigation, which could result in felony charges, Robinson took out self-sworn warrants for assault and sexual battery.

Durham-based attorney Kerry Sutton is representing Artis and said he was “perfectly happy” to let the full investigative process play out.

“He has every right to have a fair trial, both here and in the Title IX process,” Sutton said. “And although we didn’t start this – and I’m not blaming this on Ms. Robinson at all – the way this has turned out, Mr. Artis can not possibly get a fair hearing in the Title IX process.”

Sutton’s law partner Steve Lindsay said that they were preparing for a trial to restore Artis’ reputation and would not accept any plea agreement before trial.

“I’ll make that clear right now, we are not going to plead guilty to anything,” Lindsay said. “This man has done nothing wrong.”

Stephanie Artis, Allen’s mother, asked for the public to reserve judgment.

“As his mom and as his parents, our heart breaks for him because we know him,” she said. “And our community at home and everybody who knows him knows his heart and knows that this wouldn’t happen. So we’re dealing with the personal part.

“Also, as a mother, it saddens me that this could be any of our sons.”

Sutton said the case defending Artis was going to rely on what they see as the facts from the night of the incident.

“We’re using the facts,” Sutton said. “The facts will support Allen. We’re not afraid of the facts.”

Sutton said that she had reviewed the witness statements given in the case and that Robinson’s friends told authorities that she had “seemed fine.” Robinson has admitted to drinking the night of the alleged assault and the warrants state that Artis should have known Robinson was incapacitated that February night.

“I just want the truth to come out and then justice to come out,” Artis said after Thursday’s hearing.

“Delaney Robinson is a rape victim, and she has chosen to exercise her rights as a victim to be involved in these legal proceedings,” Branch said in a statement released after Thursday’s hearing. “We are pleased with the actions Mr. Woodall and his office have taken since Ms. Robinson had the courage to come forward. Ms. Robinson remains resolute in her pursuit of justice.”

The trial date on the two misdemeanor charges has been set for December 5.

Artis has been suspended indefinitely from the UNC football team, which is team policy for any player charged with misdemeanor offenses.

Five Arrested After $3 Million Worth of Cocaine Seized from Chapel Hill Home

“Well over” $3 million worth of cocaine was seized from a Chapel Hill residence as part of a multi-agency drug investigation.

Authorities say they suspected a high-level cocaine trafficking operation was located at 131 Morton Road in Chapel Hill and launch an investigation. That led to a search of the residence where Chatham County deputies located and seized 38 kilograms of suspected cocaine hydrochloride, which authorities estimated had a street value of more than $3 million.

Officials say law enforcement also seized approximately $530,000, which was described as being “packaged, sealed and prepped for transport out of the country.”

Authorities say five firearms were also seized along with multiple rounds of various caliber ammunition, a commercial-grade currency counter, digital scales and several “luxury vehicles.”

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office along with federal, state and other local agencies were all part of the investigation, according to a release.

“Teamwork is the key to solving these complicated and extensive cases,” Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson said in a release. “It takes a collective partnership with other local, state, and federal agencies and the community to identify and effectively respond to criminal activity. Don’t let cases like these stay hidden in the shadows; call 911 to share information if you suspect criminal activity in your neighborhood.”

Five suspects – 39-year-old Jose Manuel Elzaldo-Serrano, 41-year-old Carlos Ocegyeda-Serrano, 40-year-old Venusian Serrano-Mejia, 45-year-old Fernado Rivera-Hernandez and 30-year-old Christian Manor Gomez-Santos – have all been charged with trafficking a schedule II controlled substance, conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and maintaining a dwelling to sell or distribute cocaine.

Jose Manuel Elzaldo-Serrano. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

Jose Manuel Elzaldo-Serrano. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

Carlos Ocegyeda-Serrano. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

Carlos Ocegyeda-Serrano. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

Venusian Serrano-Mejia. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

Venusian Serrano-Mejia. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

Fernado Rivera-Hernandez. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

Fernado Rivera-Hernandez. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

Christian Manor Gomez-Santos. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

Christian Manor Gomez-Santos. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

All five suspects were given a $1 million bond and made a first court appearance on Monday.

Registered Sex Offender Arrested in Orange County Murder-For-Hire Plot

Local authorities have arrested a man in connection with a murder-for-hire plot.

Authorities say Brian Travis Padnos Allen of Mebane was arrested by members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office after law enforcement received information that Allen was attempting to contract a murder.

A release from the Sheriff’s Office says the intended target was the significant other of a former girlfriend.

Allen is a lifetime registered sex offender, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say Allen was taken into custody without incident and is being held under a $500,000 secured bond.

Hillsborough Police Investigating Multiple Car Break-Ins

Hillsborough Police are warning residents to lock their vehicles after a string of targeted break-ins.

Police say several unlocked vehicles have been broken into in several areas of town.

Authorities are asking citizens to not leave their vehicles unlocked and to not leave valuable items in visible locations.

There were recently suspects charged with committing similar crimes in Mebane and Hillsborough Police are investigating whether there is any connection. The suspects arrested in the Mebane break-ins were from Chapel Hill, Durham and Graham, according to police.

Driver in Fatal I-85 Crash in Orange County Charged with DWI

A Graham man has been charged with six charges following a fatal three-vehicle collision on I-85 in Orange County Tuesday evening.

Officials with the North Carolina Highway Patrol have charged 40-year-old Robert Jason Mace, of Graham, with felony death by a motor vehicle, felony serious injury by a motor vehicle, driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving, failure to maintain lane control and improper passing.

Authorities say a passenger van driven by Mace traveling south on I-85 near mile-marker 165 traveled off the right shoulder and struck the rear of a tractor-trailer, which was stationary at the time. The van then collided with a Toyota pickup truck, which caused the Toyota to overturn.

The female passenger in the van driven by Mace died at the scene, according to law enforcement.

Authorities say the investigation shows that Mace was driving in a careless and reckless manner prior to the collision and passing other vehicles on the right emergency shoulder of I-85.

Investigators say they believe alcohol was a factor.

Additional charges could be brought against Mace as the investigation continues.

Mace and the driver of the Toyota were taken to Duke for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

I-85 was shut down for several hours Tuesday while the preliminary investigation was conducted.

Motion to Delay Chandler Kania Wrong-Way Fatal Crash Trial Denied Once Again

Local Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour denied the second attempt to delay Chandler Kania’s trial in court Tuesday. The former UNC student is accused of driving the wrong way on I-85 for at least six miles after several hours of drinking last summer. Kania’s Jeep hit another vehicle head-on and killed three of the four passengers.

Defense Attorney Russell Babb says Kania’s defense needs more time to hire an expert to fix the audio quality of a North Carolina Highway Patrol interview with Kania after the wreck.

“We’ve tried various ways and used our IT people in-house to help us try to figure things out because it sounds like it’s recorded in one corner of the Dean Dome with the camera far away.”

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman says the audio issues from the video are not bad enough to warrant pushing back the trial.

“I’ve gone through the discovery and I suspect they have, and I’ve listened to it multiple times and you can hear it quite clearly.”

Babb says they also need more time to study the blood test taken from Kania at UNC Hospitals.

“We need more time to hire experts to help us understand hospital protocols; the way hospital blood is typically taken; who does it; who handles it; the possibilities of contamination, and experts to help us understand a trial of this nature”

Babb also says the defense has acquired more than 500 cell phone images from prosecution that they need more time to sort through.

Nieman says the prosecution obtained the hospital records because the defense wants to block the blood-alcohol content results taken by emergency personnel directly after the wreck. And the cell phone images were condensed versions of ones the defense has had since December.

“No single document is new. They’ve had it for the better part of a year.”

Baddour sided with prosecution on both the pictures and the medical records.

“The court will deny the motion to continue. Thank you, I’m just not satisfied that any of the grounds are justified. I think the medical records are available to the defendant, any person for their own treatment at any time. “

Kania has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, among other charges. His trial date stands to begin October 3.

UNC Football Player Accused of Rape Arrested

UNC linebacker Allen Artis has been arrested following allegations of sexual assault, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

A UNC student – Delaney Robinson – held a press conference on Tuesday alleging Artis raped her on Valentine’s Day on campus.

Robinson took out self-sworn warrants for misdemeanor charges of assault and sexual battery because she says she has been dissatisfied with the investigation from UNC Police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Officials with the DA’s Office say the investigation is still open and active with felony charges possible.

Authorities say Artis turned himself in on Wednesday and was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Artis has been suspended indefinitely from the football team.

Artis is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.

One Dead in Tuesday Wreck on I-85 in Orange County

One passenger was killed in a wreck that shut down I-85 in Orange County for several hours Tuesday evening.

North Carolina Highway Patrol officials say the fatality occurred as part of a three-vehicle collision on I-85 near mile-marker 165 when a passenger van ran off the right shoulder and struck the rear of a tractor-trailer, which was stationary at the time.

Authorities say the van then collided into a Toyota pickup truck, which caused the truck to overturn.

Officials say the front passenger of the van died as part of the crash. The driver of the van and pickup were transported to Duke with non-life-threatening injuries.

Troopers also say that witnesses described the operator of the van as driving careless and reckless prior to the collision. Investigators say they believe that alcohol was a factor in the case.

Robert Mace, the driver of the van, has been charged with felony death by a motor vehicle, felony serious injury by a motor vehicle, driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving, failure to maintain lane control and improper passing.

Troopers say the investigation is ongoing.

Arrest Made in Weekend Chapel Hill Shooting

An arrest has been made after a weekend shooting in Chapel Hill.

Officials say 36-year-old Benjamin Gilbert Uhlenberg was arrested by the US Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force just after 10 o’clock on Thursday morning.

Uhlenberg was wanted in connection with a shooting at the Red Roof Inn early Saturday morning. Police said that a victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Officials say Uhlenberg was taken into custody on Burlington Road in Whitsett without incident after information came in about the type of vehicle he was traveling in.

Uhlenberg is being held in the Orange County Jail under a $70,000 secured bond. He was also served an additional warrant for arrest for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Four Years Later, Faith Hedgepeth Murder Case ‘Very Active’

Wednesday marks four years since the murder of Faith Hedgepeth in Chapel Hill.

The body of the UNC student was found in her apartment in September 2012 and no arrest has been made.

Despite the time that has lapsed, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said the case “is as strong as it ever was and is as active as it ever was.”

Blue said CHPD continues to be inspired to find who killed Hedgepeth by maintaining contact with her family.

“When we meet with Faith’s family – which we do pretty regularly and our investigators talk to them weekly, for sure – you’re reminded that this is a family that’s looking for our help in bringing some closure to them and helping them begin to make some sense of what happened.

“And if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what does.”

Police released a large batch of information two years ago, on the two-year anniversary of Hedgepeth’s killing, but no new evidence has been released recently.

“We have been very thoughtful about what we’ve said about this case because it’s a unique case,” Blue said. “And because we haven’t said very much, it has been in some ways difficult for people to know how to help.”

Still, four years after the murder and with no arrest made, Blue said he is confident in the strength of the case.

“We have got outstanding evidence in this case,” Blue said, “really, really strong evidence. What we’re missing is just that one little key piece of information.”

With authorities maintaining that it is a strong and active case, Blue admits there are times of irritation during the investigation.

“It is frustrating, mostly because we know that Faith’s family is looking for closure in this case.”

Blue did say that he anticipates additional information being made public “in the coming weeks and months” that police feel will help further the investigation.

Blue said police want any information that anyone has that may be relevant to the case.

A $40,000 reward has been offered that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Hedgepeth’s murder.

The family will also be holding a fundraiser on September 17 for the Faith’s Smile Scholarship fund.