Chapel Hill Police Charge Durham Man with 7 Felony Counts

An arrest has been made in connection with a string on break-ins.

Keith Demetrius Wright is facing seven felony charges after being taken into custody by Chapel Hill Police. An Alert Carolina message that was sent to the campus community on Tuesday recounts incidents dating back to September 21, with the majority taking place near Greek housing.

Keith Demetrius Wright via Chapel Hill Police

Keith Demetrius Wright via Chapel Hill Police

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says the 20-year-old from Durham was taken into custody early Wednesday morning at 303 East Franklin Street, the address of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity House.

“He was attempting to commit another break-in,” he says. “Officers were watching a couple of different locations overnight and into the morning hours, observed a suspicious person and then eventually were able to determine that he was attempting to break-in to a location.”

Mecimore says that officers were able to connect the suspect to some of the unresolved cases.

“[The arrest] kind of started the whole ball rolling on getting the charges and then finding some other evidence that he had in his possession,” Mecimore says, “that may lead to even more charges for us or for another agency possibly.”

Mecimore adds police had a good description of the suspect from the previous incidents.

“I’m not sure if they had specifically identified this person,” he says. “I know that our investigators had a very good description and some surveillance video of the person.”

Wright is facing two counts of felony larceny of a motor vehicle, two counts of felony burglary, two counts of felony breaking and entering to a motor vehicle, one count of felony larceny, one count of misdemeanor damage to property, and one count of misdemeanor larceny.

Wright was also served with three warrants for probation violation.

Additional charges may be coming, according to Mecimore, depending on the result of the investigation.

Wright is being held in the Orange County Jail under a $110,000 secured bond.

His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

If you have any information on Wright or the other incidents Chapel Hill Police are investigating, you are asked to contact authorities.

Suspect Pleads Guilty to Striking Chapel Hill Police Officer with Vehicle

A Durham woman was sentenced to between 77 and 105 months in Orange County prison on Thursday, after striking a Chapel Hill Police Officer with her vehicle, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

50-year-old Joanne Kay Hall entered a guilty plea to charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, felony fleeing and eluding as well as assault on a government officer in connection with the incident.

Joanne Hall

Hall was charged in May after she ran into Chapel Hill Police Officer Drew Cabe with a vehicle. Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor tells WCHL that, on the day of the incident, Hall had left a drug treatment facility in Wilmington, stolen a vehicle, and was stopped for driving 65 in a 45 mile-per-hour zone while driving through Chapel Hill.

Proctor says Hall then led Cabe on a chase down Fordham Boulevard. Cabe eventually cornered Hall’s vehicle and exited his police cruiser. At that point, Hall ran into Cabe, tossing the officer onto the vehicle. Cabe then fired three shots into the left rear tire of the vehicle and Hall was taken into custody.

Proctor says that Hall apologized in court on Thursday before being taken back to jail.

Armed Robbery Reported on Franklin St

Chapel Hill Police are investigating an armed robbery from over the weekend.

A man was robbed at knifepoint early Sunday morning on Franklin Street, according to a report from Chapel Hill Police.

Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says police received a report of the armed robbery just before three o’clock.

“The victim reported that two white males approached him and asked him if he had any drugs,” Mecimore says. “He replied that he didn’t and then they, in his words, began roughing him up, showed a knife and took $350 cash from him.

“It sounds like he spent 30 minutes trying to find them and then eventually came across an officer that was working downtown and reported the robbery.”

The report states the man was assaulted in the alley behind Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub at 206 West Franklin Street.

Mecimore says the victim was unable to provide much more than a vague description of the two suspects beyond that they were white males.

“Early-to-mid 20’s,” Mecimore adds, “both around 5’9” tall, couldn’t give a build or weight, no clothing description on one and then the other was in a blue shirt and blue pants.”

The victim suffered minor injuries, according to the report.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to contact Chapel Hill Police.

Chapel Hill Man Arrested on Child Sex Offense Charges

A Chapel Hill man was arrested by Chatham County authorities on child sex offense charges, authorities announced on Monday.

69-year-old David Laurey, of Environ Way, was arrested on August 28 for sexual offense with a child and indecent liberties with a child.

Laurey was released after posting a $192,000 secured bond, according to law enforcement.

He is due back in Chatham County Court on September 21.

2 Chapel Hill Businesses Added to Wrongful-Death Lawsuit

The two bars that 20-year-old Chandler Kania visited the night that he allegedly drove his 2005 Jeep Wrangler the wrong way on I-85 and hit another vehicle head on, killing three people, have now been added to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Multiple media outlets are reporting the lawsuit that was filed by the daughter of one of the women killed last month has now expanded to include ownership groups of Chapel Hill establishments La Residence and He’s Not Here. Kania allegedly used a fake ID to purchase alcohol and stopped at both businesses before the crash.

The initial lawsuit only included allegations against Kania’s family.

Tests show Kania’s blood-alcohol content was a .17 the night of the crash, more than twice the legal limit to drive in North Carolina.

49-year-old Felicia Harris, of Charlotte, 46-year-old Darlene McGee, of Charlotte, and six-year-old Jahnice Baird, of Brooklyn, were killed in the crash. Nine-year-old Jahnia King was the lone survivor from the Suzuki driven by Harris; she suffered two broken bones in her left leg and a broken right collarbone, according to officials.

A spokesperson for the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission told WCHL that the state agency received the report from North Carolina’s Alcohol Law Enforcement and local authorities last week, and they are now reviewing the data before making a decision regarding regulations at either business.

Chandler Kania, who would have been going into his junior year at UNC, is under house arrest after posting a $1 million bond. He’s awaiting trial on three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, one count of felony serious injury by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, driving the wrong way on an interstate, careless and reckless driving, driving after consuming alcohol as a minor, possession of alcohol by a minor and having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

Meyer: Identity Protection Bill Will Help NC Families

Children, disabled adults or other residents living in North Carolina who have limited ability to monitor their credit will now have a means of proactively preventing the theft of their identity.

Orange County Democratic Representative Graig Meyer and Guilford County Republican Representative Jon Hardister held a joint press conference Wednesday to further explain what House Bill 607 will mean for North Carolinians as it broadens the existing Identity Theft Protection Act from 2005.

Meyer, who was the bill’s lead sponsor, says children seem to be especially vulnerable to identity theft because they typically don’t have any credit history and their unused Social Security numbers provide an easy and valuable resource for identity thieves. He adds this legislation will provide more protection for caregivers across the state.

“If you are caring for someone who is a sibling with a disability where they needed you to be their legal guardian,” he says. “Or if you had an aging parent who needed your care and your legal guidance because they weren’t able to take care of their own responsibilities anymore.”

This bill allowing protected consumer security freezes passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by Governor McCrory on August 5.

Meyer says new parents are now being made aware of the new legislation.

“So we know that newborns will start to get protected,” he says. “But we will be working with many of the people who are in this room [advocacy groups] to make sure that we will let all of those who are caring for disabled adults know that they can go ahead and take advantage of this.”

The law will become effective on January 1, 2016.

Victim’s Family Files Suit Against Wrong-Way I-85 Crash Suspect

The family of a Charlotte woman killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 85 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Multiple media outlets report that attorneys for the family of 46-year-old Darlene McGee said Tuesday they want punitive and compensatory damages from 20-year-old Chandler Michael Kania.

The UNC-Chapel Hill student faces multiple charges, including second-degree murder. The N.C. Highway Patrol says Kania was driving north in the southbound lanes near the split of I-85 and Interstate 40 in Orange County on July 19 when his Jeep Wrangler collided with a Suzuki.

Killed were McGee and 49-year-old Felicia Harris, also of Charlotte, and 6-year-old Jahnice Baird, of New York. A 9-year-old suffered serious injuries. Prosecutors Kania’s blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit and he had marijuana in his system.

DA Prepares To Prosecute Plethora of Orange County Drug Cases

The Sheriff’s Office announced 61 arrests last month, following a six-month undercover investigation of illegal narcotic sales in Orange County.

Orange and Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall says his office should have no problem handling the volume of cases.

“These are cases that we know how to work through; we do it as just part of our job,” says Woodall. “If these were some other type of crime, these could really cause us difficulty because of staffing, but because they are controlled substance cases we can work them through the system a little bit easier and a little bit quicker.”

The same can’t be said for the state lab where the seized substances are tested.

“Unfortunately the state lab is so backed up that it will take them well over a year to get all the controlled substances analyzed, unless we find money to go to a private lab for analysis, so that actually gives us time to work through the cases.”

In many cases involving controlled substances, Woodall says defendants don’t wait for the official lab report before agreeing to a plea deal.

“Probably a majority of the cases will be disposed of prior to getting a lab back from the state laboratory,” says Woodall. “There will be some of the cases where the actual charges are dependent on the weight, so in those cases we’ll probably have to wait for the lab. Occasionally we have used outside labs and that may be a possibility in some of these cases.”

Sheriff’s deputies in June issued a total of 343 charges against 62 suspects. The charges range from drug possession to drug trafficking to selling narcotics near a school.

The operation netted more than 7,000 grams of cocaine, 693 doses of heroin, 110 pounds of marijuana and multiple prescription drugs as well as several firearms.

Narcotics officers say they’ve already launched a second round of investigations that will likely culminate in more arrests this fall.

Alert Carolina Late to Alarm Students of 2 Armed Robberies

UNC Police are investigating reports of two armed robberies on the Carolina campus last night.

An Alert Carolina message says that the robberies occurred near Aycock Hall and Raleigh Road just before 11 o’clock last night. Police are searching for two suspects, one estimated 6′ tall and the other approximately 5’10”.

In the first robbery, the suspects reportedly brandished a handgun and demanded the male victim’s wallet.

A female victim was approached shortly after the first robbery by the same two suspects who were in a white four-door sedan.

The Alert Carolina message told students to: Go inside immediately; Close windows and doors; Stay until further notice; and Follow directions from emergency responders or University officials.

While the Alert Carolina message reports the robberies occurred just before 11 o’clock, the message wasn’t sent out through the system until 11:35. The “All Clear” message was sent out at 11:50.

UNC officials say the system failed and a full review will be launched immediately to ensure this breakdown in communication does not happen again.

The university apologized for the system’s failure.

Anyone with information regarding the suspects is asked to call 911 or contact the UNC Department of Public Safety.

Police: “If you see something, say something” After Chapel Hill Break-Ins

Chapel Hill Police are investigating a string of break-ins.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says the department is taking this opportunity to remind residents to always lock their vehicles and homes after a series of break-ins with a common theme – it was unlocked.

Mecimore says most reports have been vehicle break-ins but there were two apartment break-ins last week in the Chapel Ridge apartment complex.

“In both incidents, the occupant woke up [and] saw a man standing in their bedroom,” he says. “He takes off running and leaves, didn’t steal anything.

“We want to encourage people to always lock your door…whether you’re home or not, just have it locked.”

Mecimore has some tips to keep your items safe.

“Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen an increase in break-ins to vehicles and the common theme with them is that they are unlocked,” he says. “Sometimes nothing is taken. Sometimes things are taken.

“We always try to encourage people to lock their vehicles, take items of value out of the vehicle; don’t leave things visible inside the vehicle. If you do have to leave something in it, maybe put it in the trunk or have a place to hide it.”

Mecimore says authorities are still investigating the incidents and looking for suspects.

“I don’t know that there’s a relationship between the car B&E’s and the apartment B&E’s,” he says. “In the last month, we’ve made an arrest in a couple of those car break-ins, and I think may have some additional charges coming out on the same person that we arrested for those.

“I don’t think for a minute that all of those are the same person.”

Mecimore says police are looking for help from citizens in making an arrest.

“If you see something, say something,” he encourages. “You know what’s normal in your neighborhood. If you see something that seems out of the ordinary, suspicious, or causes you any concern, then call us.”

Mecimore reminds residents a call on something suspicious is not a waste of time if it turns out to be nothing illegal, adding that could be the call that leads to an arrest.