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Durham DA to Seek Death Penalty Against Hicks

The Durham County District Attorney’s Office will seek the death penalty against 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, WCHL has confirmed.

Hicks is accused of shooting and killing three Muslim college students – 23-year-old Deah Barakat, his 21-year-old wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha – on February 10 in the Finley Forest Condominiums in Chapel Hill.

Candy Clark, Administrative Assistant with the Durham County DA’s Office, says the notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Hicks was filed February 25. She adds the Rule 24 hearing will likely be held the week of April 6.

Preliminary investigations from Chapel Hill Police point to an ongoing parking dispute as the motive of the shooting.

There is some belief that the shooting was motivated by religious tensions between Hicks and the three students.

The FBI has opened a parallel inquiry into the incident to determine if the shooting was a hate crime.

No inmates have been executed in the state of North Carolina since August of 2008.

Shots Fired at Durham PD Vehicle

Shots were fired at a Durham police investigator around noon on Wednesday, and CrimeStoppers is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in the incident.

Police say an investigator was driving an unmarked police vehicle on South Street when numerous shots were fired from a car on Bond Street. One bullet struck the officer’s car, but the officer was not injured.

Investigators believe the shots were fired from an older model gray sedan with tinted windows. The vehicle was possibly a Nissan. The vehicle was occupied by two black males wearing blue and black jackets. Investigators believe both occupants fired shots during the incident.

It appears that the unmarked car was deliberately targeted, according to investigators.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator K. Emanuel at (919) 560-4415, ext. 29306 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

Carrboro PD Arrest Man Charged with Murder

The Carrboro Police Department arrested a man, on Tuesday, who is wanted in connection with a death in Durham.

The Durham Police Department announced the arrest of 30-year-old Andrew Koko Scheper, by the Carrboro PD. Scheper is wanted in connection with the death of 38-year-old Trinity James Wilkins, also known as Trinity Smith.

Wilkins’ body was found on January 19 in a body of water near East Club Boulevard in Durham.

Wilkins and Scheper knew each other and the homicide did not appear to be random, according to investigators.

Scheper, of Durham, has been charged with one count of murder.

Durham Police Invesitgating Bank Robbery

Durham police are investigating a bank robbery from late Tuesday morning. Officials say a male entered the BB&T at 1107 NC Highway 54 shortly before 11 o’clock and demanded money.

The robber implied he had a weapon, but one was not seen. The suspect fled with cash and no injuries were reported.

Durham police described the suspect as a white male, approximately 40 years old, 5’ 11” tall, with a thin build. He was described as having light-colored hair and scruffy facial hair. The suspect was wearing a thin black headband, a black coat, and yellow tinted glasses.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator S. Wheeler at (919) 560-4583, ext. 29370 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

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.

Fiber Internet In 2014?

Your days of waiting for videos to buffer or uploading attachments may be over soon as competition is growing for which data provider is going to offer internet speeds up to 100 times faster than your current provider.

AT&T announced Thursday that it would join Google and Time Warner Cable in providing cities in the Triangle and Winston-Salem one-gigabit speeds through their fiber-optic internet services.

“AT&T already has a large fiber footprint in the region—that’s one of the reasons it made it such an attractive partner,” says Marc Hoit, the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology at N.C. State and a spokesperson for the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN). “With that, they have the ability to jump start and do things faster. We’re hoping some of those connections start before the end of this year.”

The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro along with UNC agreed in January of last year to join four other municipalities and three other major universities to ratify NCNGN. According to its website, NCNGN is a “regional initiative focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation broadband networks in North Carolina.” It’s also comprised of Durham, Cary, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; Duke and Wake Forest round out the group.


Courtesy of Gizmodo

According to Gizmodo, a design and technology blog, the Triangle averages internet speeds between 10.9 and 14.6 megabits per second. The ultra-high-speed internet option of one-gigabit per second would be 70-100 times greater than those averages.

“If you think of how long it takes to download a movie or if you’re doing education content with the university and doing streaming, some of the things that you want to do with offsite stuff like Google Apps and Documents and Microsoft SkyDrive and download music and your save your music up in the cloud, if you have a one gig file and you’re up at a gig, it takes a second,” Hoit says.

Hoit says NCNGN sees ultra-high-speed internet changing the world of medicine.

“We’re hoping to see things like medical diagnostics live, hi-resolution video used for medical services or for other types of services that you can do diagnostics and use that high-speed stream,” Hoit says.

Another positive aspect of fiber-optic internet is downloading and uploading speeds are the same. With Google fiber or AT&T U-verse with GigaPower, you could receive or send files big and small in almost no time. For example, you could download a full-length, high-definition movie in about 30 seconds.

“The symmetric version is really important from our standpoint, because as you want to work with all these new services that people are doing and putting your music in the cloud; if somebody’s in a studio and creating music and then wants to put it up and to be served somewhere else, you need that upload speed just as much,” Hoit says.

Google offered its first fiber-optic internet service in Kansas City, Missouri in 2012. It later expanded to Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas. In mid-February, the internet giant announced it was considering Triangle cities as places to expand the ultra-high-speed option.

Time Warner Cable said last year that it plans to extend the next level of service sometime in the near future.

Of course, the prices for these ultra-high speed options could be higher. Google fiber in Kansas City is selling its product at $70 per month for internet alone. It is, however, currently waiving its $300 construction fee to customers who sign up.

“Our expectation is to be priced similar to what you’re seeing in Kansas City and in Austin,” Hoit says. “The price depends on the costs and other things, but it should be very close to that same price.”

The next step for the municipalities and universities within NCNGN is to review the terms and agreements of the plan to continue the process.

Carrboro elected officials will likely vote in mid-May on the plan; Chapel Hill leaders have not decided on a date when they will vote on the plan. However, Hoit says the next step should be fairly seamless.

“It’s been a two, two-and-a-half year process of which the municipalities and the universities have been working together through this whole time,” Hoit says. “It will hopefully not come as a surprise. The municipal lawyers have all been involved, so there’s been a lot of collaboration that we’re hoping everything goes smoothly.”

NC Police Chief: Teen Shot Himself In Patrol Car

DURHAM — Durham’s police chief says a teenager who died while inside a patrol car shot himself in the head.

Chief Jose L. Lopez Jr. issued a statement Wednesday saying 17-year-old Jesus Huerta was found slumped over in the back seat of the patrol car on Nov, 19 after the officer driving the car heard what he thought was a gunshot.

Lopez said while the medical examiner has confirmed that Huerta died from a gunshot wound to the head, it’s not known if the wound was intentional or accidental.

Authorities said Huerta had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for second-degree trespassing. An investigation showed the officer handcuffed, searched and detained Huerta in the back seat of his patrol car and was taking him to police headquarters to get the warrant.

Durham’s Pretty Nice This Time Of Year

If you read my last post, you know my roommate and I just learned we’re about to be priced out of our apartment. I’ve spent the entire weekend searching across town—and into Durham—for a new one...

Some thoughts on apartment-hunting.

Looking for a new place is a crazy and stressful experience, especially when you’re on a bit of a time crunch. It’s an entirely new level of special fun, though, when you’ve spent the last four years obsessively following the local news, and you know everything about every inch and cranny of your town. So many extra variables!

“How close do I really want to live to Ephesus Church, when I know it’s probably going to be all torn up and construction-y for the next couple years?”

“Hey, this place looks nice, but wasn’t there a string of break-ins there a few months back?”

“Isn’t that one in the middle of a flood plain?”

“Hey Sales Office Guy, you mentioned Timber Hollow as one of your competitors? Yeah, let me tell you all about why that’s not going to be true for much longer.”

“I’ve heard of this one before, but why? …Oh, that’s right. The murder.”

I also find I’m more attuned to non-verbal cues—you know, the little tricks apartments use to say the things they’re not allowed to say. My favorite was the one where the model apartment was done up like a glorified dorm room, complete with UNC pillows on the beds and a “schedule of classes” posted on the bathroom door. At no point did the sales guy ever say “we’re more of a student housing deal”—I don’t think he even uttered the word “student” the whole time—but they made it pretty clear, all the same. (I suppose the complex that kept its model-apartment fridge stocked with free sodas and candy bars might have been trying to give off the same vibe.)

But perhaps the big lesson I took from my search is that I’m even more convinced in my suspicions about Chapel Hill housing than I was before. We already know there’s a shortage of low-cost housing in Chapel Hill—but we need to add, if we haven’t already, that there’s also a growing shortage of mid-range housing too.

Now, I did limit my search to a fairly narrow geographic area—roughly, up and down Weaver Dairy and along 15/501 from Garrett Road to Estes Drive. (Stayed away from downtown because it’s mostly student housing; stayed away from Carrboro because we’d like to avoid the extra commute.) But in that area, it became apparent very quickly that the only decent places in our price range were going to be in Durham.

So we may be moving to Durham. Sad, but true. It’s not a done deal yet, but we may very soon be joining that class of folks who’ve got all the town leaders wringing their hands: “People Who Live Outside Orange County And Commute In.”

chamber commuting

At least I’d be in the plurality. (Slide from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 annual report. Full report here.)

I actually like Durham a lot. I lived there for two years when I moved to the area in 2008. Within a year, of course, I’d fallen in with WCHL, so I’ve always felt more connected to the movings and shakings of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. But there’s always been a soft spot in my heart for the Bull City. Minor league baseball! Southpoint! DPAC! (And man, there is nothing I find more fun than bringing a naïve Chapel Hillian or Raleighite to downtown Durham and watching them get all antsy and jittery because they’re just convinced they’re going to get mugged.)

So I’m not too terribly upset about the prospects of living there. (And it’d still be a short commute.)

Still, though, if it comes to pass, it’ll be sad to leave Chapel Hill—even if the only difference is that I won’t be voting there anymore or paying Orange-level taxes on my car.

No worries. Durham will be perfectly fine, should it come to that. And who knows. We might be back in the Hill within a year. It may not even happen at all.

In the meantime, though, y’all really do need to ramp up that housing conversation. (Hopefully I’m already preaching to the choir.)

Fire Destroys Royal Oaks Apartment Building In Durham

DURHAM – A fire that began after 12 noon Monday appeared to affect all 20 units of an apartment building before firefighters could get the blaze under control.

No injuries were reported and all 40 of the building’s occupants were accounted for, according to the Durham Fire Department. In all, the fire displaced 30 residents as the building has been deemed a total loss with fire or smoke and water damage affecting all of the units.

The fire took place at the Royal Oaks Apartments on Mayfair Street near the Sam’s Club and Target on 15-501—north of the exit for Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway. The Durham fire department responded to a 12:30 p.m. call.

Seven fire trucks and 50 firefighters reported to the scene. American Red Cross Triangle Region is providing shelter, food, clothing, and other assistance to those in need. Jersey Mikes and Fire House Subs have also helped the Red Cross provide food.

Durham Fire Chief Dan Curia told the Herald Sun that this was at least the fourth major fire at the Royal Oaks Apartments in the last ten years.

The cause of the fire is being investigated, but it apparently started in the rear bedroom of apartment 106.

Prepare for Instro Summit 2013

bones instro Friends, do yourself a solid and make this weekend one to remember. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Durham’s own Casbah, located at 1007 W. Main Street, will play host to the 2013 Instro Summit, which has relocated this year due to expansion. The Summit itself will consist of three days of instrumental music, featuring over 25 different bands and stretching several styles and genres. The Instro Summit is the largest gathering of its kind in the world, and for a three day pass available for only $24, quite frankly it is hard to think of reasons not to go. To further sweeten the musical explosion, single day tickets are only $12 and from 12pm-5pm on Saturday, May 4th, admission to Casbah is completely free. Yes, free. Whether you are a college kid looking to relieve some stress from exams, impress a date cheaply, or a savvy live music aficionado looking to save some extra dough for the beer line, the Instro Summit is happy to cater to your budget.

Upon first glance at the lineup of slated bands to perform at the Instro Summit, one may say to themselves, “I have quite literally never heard of any of these acts.” The thing about that is, this is a good thing. This is a great opportunity for discovery, something that music and culture depend on. I cannot tell you the personal pleasure I get from discovering a new favorite sound for the first time, especially if I stumble upon it with almost no previous recommendation.

I remember suffering through the sweltering heat at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival when I simply had to sit down — eventually taking took refuge under a tree located near a crowd that had been forming to hear an artist I had never heard of. Two hours later and to this day, Xavier Rudd remains as one of my favorite musicians (and incidentally most of his compositions are instrumental). At the Xavier show I discovered an Aborigine who played the didgeridoo, harmonica, and guitar at the same time, all with the assistance of a looping machine. And this is just one example of what one can find by stepping into a new and different place or scene. In the previous case, the discovery was accidental, although this weekend my presence and eagerness will be premeditated. I urge everyone to share my enthusiasm in an opportunity to see something new. Furthermore, a lot of the band names filling up the venue are simply fantastic: The Surge!, Coffin Daggers, Great White Caps, and the Mystery Men are just a few examples of the innovative platform I intend to experience as I travel into Bull City.

Additionally, instrumental musicians are for the most part masters of their craft. Without lyrics to lean on per se, the artist or group lets the instruments lead and talk, create space and confusion, and take the listener on a journey that only live music can deliver. This kind of playing requires precise attention to detail, very good improvisation skills (something always fun to watch live), and a progressive sound — one that builds upon itself. My initial inclination is that with so many different bands performing, one is bound to find something new which resonates with them. These multi-day venue based festivals are really cool places to meet new people as well, as they attract a wide range of music lovers from across the region.

As the semester draws to a rapid end, and the summer breeze nears, ready your eardrums for an instrumental assault at Casbah. Join me in an expedition of discovery, innovation, and flat out partying this weekend at Durham’s Instro Summit, and find your next favorite band. Until then folks, I’ll be on the old dusty trail, finding musical notes wherever the wind blows. As always, have a good week and I’ll see you at the show!

More information regarding the Instro Summit can be found at You can contact Charles directly at, or on twitter at @this_is_Bones.