A judge denied the request that the bond be lowered in the triple-fatal wrong-way crash on I-85 last Sunday, July 19.
Roger Smith Jr. and Wade Smith appeared on behalf of 20-year-old Chandler Michael Kania in Orange County Court, on Monday, to appeal to Judge Charles Anderson for a lower bond.
“The plan would be for him to go home to his family in Asheboro, where he has the support there,” Roger Smith says. “Any other conditions that you want to impose on him, which I know you did on last Thursday, curfew, electronic house arrest…a continuing alcohol monitoring device; any of those are just fine.
“But I certainly hope you would consider reducing the bond from where it currently sits, and I would suggest to the court – I hope it’s ok – that you would set a bond at $250,000.”
Anderson denied the request, leaving the bond as it was originally set at $1 million, as Kania’s mother cried from her seat in the courtroom.
Kania is charged with three counts of second-degree murder among a litany of other charges related to the crash. He is accused of drunkenly driving the wrong way on Interstate 85 for nearly six miles before crashing head on into another vehicle, killing three of the four passengers.
Search warrants released on Monday show investigators believe Kania used a fake ID to drink alcohol at La Residence and He’s Not Here.
In arguing for a bond reduction, Smith touted Kania’s past – including serving as Student Body President at Asheboro High School and his lack of a criminal history.
But Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman put forward the state still considered Kania a danger to himself and others, as well as a flight risk – even though Kania has surrendered his passport.
“I concede there’s not a history of flight,” Nieman says. “But as I said on Thursday, those who would say he has no reason to flee would have also said there’s no reason to believe that he would have been operating a motor vehicle impaired by alcohol and killing three people last Sunday morning.”
Nieman adds he considers the state’s case to be very strong and Kania could face up to 65 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Kania was not present in the courtroom Monday as he recovers from surgery on a broken right ankle, broken left foot, and broken left arm.
Nine-year-old Jahnia King is the lone survivor of the car struck by Kania’s 2005 Jeep Wrangler; she suffered two broken bones in the lower left leg and a broken right collarbone, according to Nieman’s statement last Thursday.
49-year-old Felicia Harris, 46-year-old Darlene McGee, and six-year-old Jahnice Baird were all killed in the crash.
Bakojo Oguntola is McGee’s cousin. He spoke after the hearing.
“I’m happy that the judge decided to hold the bond where it is,” he says. “It’s quite evident that the guy is guilty of the charges.”
But Oguntola adds his family doesn’t hold any malice in their hearts toward Kania or his family.
“He’s a victim as well, but like I said earlier, he’s a victim of his choices,” Oguntola says. “He’s a victim of the choices that he made. And he’s a murderer. A drunk driver.
“And we’ve seen this scenario so many times in this country. He’s a drunk driver. Whether he’s 20, 30, 40, or 50, it still comes out to be the same thing.”
Oguntola says he is at the hearing to fight for justice for those killed.
“There’s no mystery that privileged people have a way of pushing things under the rug,” he says. “And there has to be accountability.
“And we choose to be here to make sure that we have an eye on the situation; that in case family have an opportunity to speak up, then our voices can be heard – because Darlene’s voice cannot be heard. But we can speak on her behalf.”
He adds the family is still in mourning and they will keep Kania’s relatives in their thoughts.
“My heart goes out to his family, to his mother, and his father, his siblings, because they’re suffering a loss as well,” he says. “But it doesn’t negate the loss that we’re dealing with. It doesn’t negate the six-year-old. It doesn’t negate Darlene.
“Darlene doesn’t have a criminal record. Darlene worked two jobs. She was just a good person.”
Anderson said, during the initial appearance last Thursday, the case involved unimaginable horror. He followed up that statement, on Monday, with more questions about what we should be doing as a society to prevent these losses in the future.
“It begs the question, ‘What are we doing wrong in this world?’” he asks. “On college campuses all over the state and all over the country, we’re not better preparing our most privileged, intelligent, entitled children on how to handle alcohol.”
Anderson did say he was open to reducing the bond if the attorneys agreed for Kania to attend a rehab facility upon his release.
Kania’s next court appearance is set for August 10.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/bond-stays-at-1-million-in-triple-fatal-crash/
Team USA – featuring five current or former Tar Heels – won gold in women’s field hockey on Friday at the Pan American Games in Toronto, beating Argentina 2-1 in the final.
That’s Team USA’s second straight Pan Am Games title; they also beat Argentina in the final in 2011.
Team USA’s roster includes rising Carolina senior Emily Wold plus former Tar Heels Jackie Briggs, Rachel Dawson, Katelyn Falgowski and Kelsey Kolojejchick. Goalkeeper Briggs was key to America’s win on Friday, making several big saves along the way.
Another former Tar Heel, Caitlin Van Sickle, was on the roster as an alternate.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/current-former-tar-heels-claim-gold-with-usa-field-hockey/
Former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin now says he misspoke about the UNC scandal when he told trustees: “This was not an athletic scandal. It was an academic scandal, which is worse; but an isolated one.”
These revelations were put forward in a new book slated for an October release that was previewed by the News & Observer of Raleigh.
Martin delivered the now-in-question comments nearly three years ago after a four-month investigation into academic irregularities stemming from the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
In the new book, “Catalyst: Jim Martin and the Rise of North Carolina Republicans,” Martin says, “I could have said, ‘Not only is it an extraordinary athletic scandal, but it is also an incredibly damaging academic scandal.’”
Martin’s investigation found that the so-called “paper classes” dated back into the 1990’s. But more information was found during the UNC-commissioned Wainstein Report that was released in 2014.
Wainstein, a former top official with the US Justice Department, had access to personnel involved in the paper classes that Martin did not have access to during his investigation.
The book was written by John Hood, President of the John William Pope Foundation and Chair of the Conservative think tank John Locke Foundation, and is mainly a biography of Martin.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/gov-martin-claims-he-misspoke-on-unc-scandal/
UNC officials have completed a review of the Alert Carolina system after a failure in alerting the campus of two armed robberies last week.
Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt called the communication breakdown “unacceptable” in an informational message sent out to the UNC campus, on Friday.
The message was a follow up after the Alert Carolina messaging system was put through a review because it failed to quickly alert the campus community of two armed robberies last Wednesday.
UNC says part of the notification system worked as planned when the robberies were reported just before 11 o’clock. All of the six sirens sounded after being activated by the Department of Public Safety and broadcasted short pre-recorded voice messages about the initial threat and the “all clear” message that was to come. The statement says officers also quickly secured the crime scene and set up a perimeter in close coordination with Chapel Hill police.
But the remainder of the alert system failed; a text message to registered cell phones, an e-mail, and posts on the official university social media platforms were all delayed by an estimated 45 minutes, which caused some confusion as to the seriousness of the alert sirens.
A review of the system found two human errors, compounded with a computer glitch, caused the problem. The human errors have not been specified by Carolina at this time.
University officials say they are working to refine and improve the Alert Carolina system in order to maintain the safety of individuals on and around campus.
The system will be tested on August 26 as part of the annual fall siren test.
Authorities with UNC, Chapel Hill, and Duke are still working to identify suspects in armed robbery cases with similar circumstances that have occurred across both campuses and in the town.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-alert-carolina-failure-is-unacceptable/
UNC Senior Cornerback Malik Simmons has been suspended indefinitely after being arrested on a charge of misdemeanor resisting arrest on Wednesday.
Chapel Hill Police told WCHL that officers responded to a call of a disturbance at 120 East Franklin Street around just before two o’clock Wednesday morning. The initial disturbance was due to an unknown suspect discharging a firearm during a large disturbance. Police confirmed that Simmons did not fire the handgun listed in the report.
Police say Simmons was arrested for fleeing the scene when police arrived.
He was arrested and released after posting a one thousand dollar secured bond. His court date is scheduled for next Tuesday.
Simmons also has a court date on August 3 on a misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-football-player-suspended-after-arrest/
The 20-year-old UNC student charged in the fatal crash on I-85 on Sunday made his first court appearance on Thursday.
Chandler Michael Kania was taken directly from UNC Hospitals to the Orange County Courthouse to appear before District Judge Charles Anderson. After being wheeled into the courtroom, Kania was served with additional felony charges including three counts of second-degree murder.
“The allegation is that he did unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously, with malice aforethought kill and murder Felicia Harris.”
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman repeated those words, “the allegation is that he did unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously, with malice aforethought kill and murder” the other two victims who died in the crash – 46-year-old Darlene McGee and six-year-old Jahnice Baird.
Nieman announced other felony charges against Kania.
“He is also charged with three counts of felony death by vehicle,” Nieman adds. “He is also charged with felony serious injury by vehicle, allegation being he did cause serious injury – two broken bones in the lower left leg and a broken right collarbone to the person of Jahnia King.”
The nine-year-old King is the lone surviving passenger from the 2007 Suzuki Kania’s vehicle collided with.
Kania’s mother sat in the back of the courtroom, sometime audibly crying, along with his father.
Nieman says malice was shown in the case, in part, by the distance Kania traveled in the wrong direction on I-85 before the fatal crash around three o’clock Sunday morning near mile marker 163.
“Based on eyewitness accounts, he was traveling that direction of travel for – we believe at this time – at least six miles,” he says. “At least one witness indicates that he was going ‘not slow.’”
“Those vehicles [driven by Harris and Kania] met basically perfectly head on.”
Nieman adds after the crash the 20-year-old from Asheboro gave officers the I.D. of another individual, who was over 21 years of age. He says Kania went to at least two bars before the accident and others with Kania the night of the crash attempted to keep him from driving his 2005 Jeep Wrangler.
“There are eyewitness accounts of his behavior from earlier in the night in which at least one and as many as five people, before he decided to get in the vehicle in Chapel Hill, attempted to physically restrain him,” he says, “and that he fought physically with at least one of those people – knocking at least one of those people to the ground.”
Nieman says another person attempted to take his keys but was unsuccessful before ultimately taking Kania’s cell phone in hopes to keep him from leaving.
Nieman called Kania a danger to himself and others as well as a flight risk and asked the judge to set the bond at $1.5 million.
Judge Anderson settled on bond at $1 million.
“This case represents almost unimaginable horror and loss and tragedy,” he says, “and is an indictment, in many ways, of the world we live in and the world we tolerate.”
If Kania does post bond, the judge imposed conditions that Kania submit to electronic house arrest, not to consume alcohol, submit to a curfew between eight o’clock at night and eight in the morning, and have no contact with investigators, victims, or possible witnesses in the case.
The only time Kania spoke at the hearing was to agree to waive his right to a public defender and to say he did not have any questions for the judge.
If convicted on all charges, Kania could face between 40 and 50 years in prison.
Kania’s attorney was not present at the hearing and a court review to ensure he has legal counsel is scheduled to take place on Monday.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/kania-charged-with-3-counts-of-2nd-degree-murder/
UNC researchers have found the use of a combination of AIDS medications can help prevent the transmission of HIV through sexual activity. Doctor Myron Cohen is the Director of the Institute for Global Health and Infections Diseases at UNC. He told WCHL’s Blake Hodge more about the discovery.
This work will continue to find a cure with the joint company launched by UNC and GlaxoSmithKline, which was announced earlier this year.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-research-daily-pill-allows-hiv-patients-to-live-normal-life/
A long-time employee at a bagel shop on UNC’s campus believes she was unjustly fired from her position.
For eight years, Lezlie Sumpter has been a cashier and manager at Alpine Bagel, a popular stop for breakfast and coffee in the Student Union on UNC’s campus. But after she returned to the area after a week of vacation, she heard some disturbing news from a fellow employee.
“He asked me, he said, ‘Do you know you’re off the schedule for the week?’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean, I’m off the schedule?’” Sumpter said.
Sumpter says she met with Alpine’s manager and company director early the next morning, and they told her she was fired.
“I’m speechless,” Sumpter said remembering the moment she was let go. “There’s nothing I could say or do. I was totally blind-sided.”
Sumpter says her manager explained she was being fired because of negative reports that came back about Sumpter as a result of an audit by Aramark, a third-party company contracted by Carolina Dining Services.
She says her manager showed her a report from Aramark stating Sumpter was wearing jewelry and a watch at the time of the audit. The report also stated Sumpter was chewing gum, which she denies.
Sumpter says she was aware that jewelry was prohibited by Carolina Dining Services. But, she says, she was never singled out for a warning about wearing her hoop earrings before she was fired.
“In eight years, I have never been written up, not one single time for anything—anything—concerning that company,” Sumpter said.
Sumpter is an at-will employee, which means legally, Alpine Bagel can dismiss her at any time, for any reason—or even no reason—as long as she is not fired based on factors protected by federal law, such as her race or gender. Still, Sumpter says she will be seeking legal action, and she’s getting a lot of support from the student community. One student has even started a Go Fund Me page for Sumpter.
“The students have really, really stepped up, and they have gotten me four different lawyers,” Sumpter said.
Sumpter says the UNC group Student Action with Workers is also organizing events on her behalf for when students return in the fall.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-students-rally-around-fired-alpine-bagel-employee/
The family of the UNC student who has been charged in the fatal collision from last weekend has issued their first statement since the accident.
Raleigh Attorney Roger Smith Junior is representing Chandler Kania, who is currently facing five charges following a collision where a 2005 Jeep Wrangler crashed into a Suzuki head-on while traveling the wrong direction down I-85 early Sunday morning near Hillsborough, according to the Highway Patrol.
Smith issued the following statement to WCHL on behalf of the Kania family:
“The Kania family is absolutely devastated about this tragedy. Their hearts, prayers and thoughts are with the victims and their families. Chandler is fully cooperating with law enforcement and will continue to do so.”
Law enforcement officials say Kania, the Asheboro native, was driving north in the southbound lanes of I-85 near Hillsborough at the time of the collision.
49-year-old Felicia Harris, of Charlotte, was driving the other vehicle involved. She and two other passengers – 46-year-old Darlene McGee, of Charlotte, and six-year-old Jahnice Baird, of Brooklyn, New York – were killed in the wreck.
Nine-year-old Jahnia King was also in the backseat of Harris’ vehicle and is still being treated at UNC Hospital. WRAL is reporting she was listed in good condition as of Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Kania, who is a student at UNC, has been charged with Driving While Impaired, Careless and Reckless Driving, Possession of an Open Container of an Alcoholic Beverage in the Passenger Area of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of Alcohol by a Person Under 21 years of Age, and Driving by a Person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol.
Addition felony charges are expected once Kania is released from UNC Hospital where he is currently being treated.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/kania-family-devastated-after-crash/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/alert-carolina-late-to-alarm-students-of-2-armed-robberies/