Local and State Headlines for Friday, March 1st, 2019

Part Of I-40 In Haywood County Re-Opens

(Haywood County, NC) -- A portion of I-40 in Haywood County that's been closed during rockslide clean-up is now open. The DOT opened single lanes going both ways on the eastbound part of the interstate yesterday. It may not be until early April when both sides are completely re-opened. Crews still have to remove some debris before installing anchors to prevent future rockslides.

House Considering Hands-Free Driving Bill

(Raleigh, NC) -- State lawmakers are proposing to take cell phones out of the hands of drivers. The Hands Free bill introduced this week would make it illegal for drivers to hold phones, which would bring North Carolina in line with more than a dozen other states. A violation would result in a fine and possible insurance points docked. The proposed bill has bipartisan support in the North Carolina House.

Student Accused Of Bringing Loaded Gun To School

(Swain County, NC) -- A student is being accused of bringing a loaded gun inside Swain County Middle School yesterday. A custodian found the weapon in a bathroom, which led to a lockdown. The sheriff's office says the student reportedly had no intention of using it. There's no word yet on any possible criminal charges or disciplinary action.

Sports Betting Bill Introduced In State Senate

(Cherokee County, NC) -- Sports betting will be allowed at two western North Carolina casinos in one bill proposed at the State Capitol. State Senator Jim Davis is seeking to legalize gambling on college and professional sports at the Harrah's Cherokee casinos. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports betting last year. Only a handful of states have voted to allow it.

Armed Robbery Suspect Connected To More Cases

(Asheville, NC) -- An Asheville armed robbery suspect is being connected to more crimes. WLOS-TV is reporting that Shaumari Shivers is now facing charges for robbing six stores in Asheville and Woodfin. He was caught running away from the scene in late January after he held up a Hot Spot gas station. Charges for assault, kidnapping and robbery have landed him in the Buncombe County Detention Center on a more-than-half-million-dollar bond.

Asheville Mardi Gras Parade Is Sunday

(Asheville, NC) -- It's almost time for Asheville's annual Mardi Gras parade. The festivities kick off around three Sunday afternoon in South Slope. Parade organizers say Asheville is not Bourbon Street, so alcohol and nudity aren't allowed. Some businesses in the South Slope district have Mardi Gras activities planned for Sunday.

Students Safe After Bus Crashes Into Building

(Charlotte, NC) -- More than a dozen students aboard a school bus that crashed into an Uptown building yesterday are okay. The CMPD says the bus veered off Statesville Road while on the way to Ransom Middle School. All of the students escaped out the back emergency door after it crashed into a town home complex. Officers said the bus and a truck collided on the road, which caused the bus driver to lose control.

Dowless Out Of Jail

(Wake County, NC) -- Political operative McCrae Dowless is out of jail. He was released on bond in Wake County yesterday just a day after his arrest for obstruction of justice, conspiracy and possession of absentee ballots related to the ninth district congressional race. Dowless told WBTV moments after his release that the truth will prevail. The state Board of Elections is scheduled to meet next week to set a new election date for the ninth district.

Teen Sentenced For Shooting Friend To Death

(Charlotte, NC) -- A Charlotte teen is heading to jail for three years for killing his friend. Jermarion Worthy pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter yesterday for the shooting death of Harding University High football player Jamie Bright last summer. The two were reportedly friends and Worthy claims the shooting was an accident. The CMPD said Worthy was the one who called 911 after the shooting inside a home on Clanton Road.

Lowe's Seeking To Move Hangar To Charlotte

(Charlotte, NC) -- Lowe's is looking to move its corporate hangar to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The company currently flies into Statesville Regional Airport, but wants to be closer to the location of corporate meetings in the Queen City. The city council will take up the proposal on Monday night. Lowe's is expected to pay for the move.

One Person Dies In I-485 Wreck

(Charlotte, NC) -- The state highway patrol is investigating another deadly crash on I-485. It happened last night near Independence Boulevard, where the ramps for Exit 51 were closed for several hours. One person died at the scene, but details on what happened haven't been released. A woman died in a wreck on 485 Wednesday when a driver failed to slow down for stopped traffic.

CIAA Championship This Weekend

(Charlotte, NC) -- Thousands of fans are in Charlotte for the CIAA conference basketball tournament. The semifinal round takes place today before the championship games at the Spectrum Center tomorrow. CIAA's commissioner says any unofficial parties using the conference name or logo will be shut down by police. The tournament moves to Baltimore after 2020.

Indicted NC Election Political Operative Makes Bond

(Raleigh, NC) -- The political operative at the center of North Carolina's election fraud controversy is out on bond. This week, Leslie Dowless was arrested and charged for obstruction of justice, conspiracy and possession of absentee ballots. Dowless worked on behalf of Mark Harris, the 2018 Republican nominee for U.S. House in North Carolina's Ninth District. North Carolina election officials voted unanimously last week to order a new election after testimony revealed Dowless and his associates collected absentee ballots on behalf of Harris. He posted 30-thousand dollars bond and is due back in court later this month.

Deputies Look For Whoever Put Razor Blades On A Car's Door

(Smithfield, NC) -- Smithfield police are trying to find whoever put razor blades on a car door handle. They say on Monday, someone put the razor blades on a car door that was parked near the Johnston County courthouse. An 83-year-old woman who was running errands cut her hand after returning to her car. Police say they don't think she was targeted, but they're still looking for two men they think taped razor blades to shopping cart handles at a Walmart in Slier City earlier this month.

The Deputy Terminated For DNA Connected To Hania Aguilar Murder Suspect Defends Himself

(Robeson Co., NC) -- One of the former Robeson County deputies accused of mishandling DNA of the suspect in the Hania Aguilar case says it wasn't his fault. Thirteen-year-old Hania Aguilar was found dead late last year after her abduction in Lumberton. Michael McLellan was arrested for her murder. Two deputies were forced off the force after an investigation found that McLellan's DNA hadn't been properly processed from a 2016 rape case. Former Sergeant Darryl McPhatter was terminated, but this week on Facebook he posted that the DNA was never passed to him. He's taking issue with the process, and says he wishes he had received the DNA hit so maybe Hania would still be with her family.

Prosecutors: Wake County Murderer Who Faces The Death Penalty Threatened Court Officials

(Wake Co., NC) -- A convicted Wake County murderer is accused of threatening the judge and guards. Last month, Seaga Gillard was convicted of killing two people at a Raleigh motel in 2016. This week, prosecutors played a recorded phone call made after his conviction appearing to threaten violence on the judge and guards. Gillard was convicted of capital murder. Today, jurors will decide if Gillard will be the first killer in Wake County to be sent to death row in more than a decade.

Animal Cruelty Charges For A Woman Whose Yorkie Died

(Wake Co., NC) -- A Wake County woman whose Yorkie died is facing animal cruelty charges. Sixty-one-year-old Chris Wright was charged with animal cruelty this week after her dog was found in a kennel last month with feces in its hair. Deputies say the feces were there for so long that it caused damage to the animal's skin, muscles and it couldn't eat. It died in the care of veterinarians. Wright is charged with a misdemeanor, but animal lovers think the penalties for animal cruelty need to be stiffer.

Missing Autistic Boy Is Found

(Raleigh, NC) -- A missing Raleigh boy with autism has been found. Raleigh police started looking for 14-year-old Jacob Thrasher yesterday afternoon when he went missing from Eva Mae Drive. The director of a group home he'd been living at said Thrasher had never done anything like this before. Police didn't say how they found Thrasher, but they don't suspect foul play in this case.

NC A&T State University Cheer Coaches Resign

(Greensboro, NC) -- Two cheer coaches at North Carolina A&T State University are resigning in the midst of a student rape investigation. Adjoa Botwe-Rankin [[ ahj-EW-ah BAAT-we - Rankin ]] and Wenalyn Glenn submitted their resignations yesterday. They're accused of failing to report rape allegations made by a student on the squad. The university's cheerleaders were benched after the victim made her case public.

Criminal Investigation Launched Into Disappearance Of Winston-Salem Mother

(Winston-Salem, NC) -- A criminal investigation is underway following the disappearance of a Winston-Salem mother. Thirty-year-old Kristen "Krissy" McNeal has been missing for nearly two weeks. She vanished from her home on Winter Hue Street on February 17th, leaving her eight and 12-year-old sons behind. Police are looking for McNeal's car, which is described as a multi-colored 1989 Oldsmobile with North Carolina plates, number DCN-1576. Anyone with information is urged to come forward.

High Point PD: Drunk Man Smashes Into Multiple Cars Outside Restaurant

(High Point, NC) -- A man is accused of driving drunk and slamming his truck into several vehicles outside a High Point restaurant. It happened Wednesday evening outside the Texas Roadhouse on Brian Jordan Place. Witnesses say the truck came flying out of the Food Lion Parking lot and slammed into at least ten cars. Timothy Wickline is charged with driving while impaired and reckless driving. No one was seriously hurt.

Former Davie Co. Elementary School Employee Facing Child Sex Charges

(Davie Co., NC) -- A former Davie County elementary school employee is facing 20 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Forty-eight-year-old Jason Banks worked as a speech pathologist at Shady Grove Elementary. He filmed, recorded and possessed videos of a young child who was engaged in sexual activity, according to his arrest warrant. Banks made his first court appearance yesterday and is being held on a 500-thousand secured bond.

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