The North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced this week that it will temporarily suspend operations at three prisons to alleviate high staff vacancy rates and enhance safety and security in the state prison system. The announcement says that the statewide average correctional officer vacancy rate in August was 21% and that “[t]his level of staffing impacts operations . . . [and] negatively impact[s] the delivery of offender programs.” Operations will be suspended at Hoke Correctional Institution, Tyrrell Prison Work Farm, and Odom Correctional Institution. Employees at those prisons will be redeployed to nearby facilities. The News Roundup previously has noted that understaffing has been a problem at certain North Carolina prisons in recent years and may have been a factor in a deadly escape attempt at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in 2017. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading
The former UNC Charlotte student who attacked a classroom on the school’s campus earlier this year, killing two people and wounding four others, pleaded guilty to murder in Mecklenburg Superior Court yesterday. The Charlotte Observer reports that as part of a plea agreement Trystan Andrew Terrell received two consecutive life sentences for killing Reed Parlier and Riley Howell; he also was sentenced on other charges not detailed in the report. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
As the Charlotte Observer reports, former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. died on Thursday after a period of deteriorating health. The Observer report notes that Lake’s intense interest in preventing or rectifying wrongful convictions led to the establishment of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission and made the state a national model for conviction review. Lake served on the court for 12 years and was Chief Justice from 2001 to 2006. He was 85 years old. Keep reading for more news.
At the time of writing Hurricane Dorian was approaching the North Carolina coast and many communities were under evacuation orders. The Department of Public Safety’s storm information website, listing evacuation routes and shelter locations is here. County courthouse closings and delays are listed here. The slow-moving storm caused extensive damage to the Bahamas over the past days and caused a tornado at Emerald Isle on Thursday afternoon. Stay safe and our thanks to the local, state, and federal agencies that mobilize to assist during weather disasters. Keep reading for more news.
Three former Buncombe County officials and one former county employee who previously pleaded guilty to corruption charges were sentenced this week in federal court in Asheville. As WLOS reports, former county manager Wanda Greene, former county manager Mandy Stone, former county assistant manager Jon Creighton, and former county employee Michael Greene each were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for their various corrupt activities. Joseph Wiseman, a businessman who frequently contracted with the County and pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to bribery and kickback schemes with some of the officials, also was sentenced to prison. Prosecutors said that more indictments in the case are forthcoming. Keep reading for more news.
This week North Carolina was in the national news after Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have required sheriffs to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests. The bill included a provision that would have made a sheriff’s refusal to cooperate with ICE a basis for removing the sheriff from office. Several sheriffs around the state, including those in Buncombe, Mecklenburg, and Wake counties, have a policy of not honoring ICE detainer requests. As this Charlotte Observer report indicates, political controversy over the legislation continues following the veto, with Cooper saying that it uses “fear to divide North Carolinians” and Republican lawmakers saying that Cooper irresponsibly vetoed a common sense bill. Keep reading for more news.
In a dramatic development in an already dramatic case, Jeffrey Epstein was found dead over the weekend of apparent suicide in the Manhattan jail where he was being detained prior to trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s death has generated a tremendous amount of news, ranging from criticism of his supervision to conspiratorial speculation about whether he was murdered. It is being reported that two guards at his unit, one of whom wasn’t even a fully credentialed correctional officer, fell asleep and didn’t check on Epstein for several hours prior to his death. They later falsified records to cover up that lapse. Attorney General William Barr has ordered the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate Epstein death. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that nearly 150 people attended a candlelight vigil this week in honor of Julius Randolph Sampson Jr., who was shot and killed Tuesday at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem where he worked. Sampson’s shooting death has attracted significant attention in Winston, as there is some indication that Sampson and the suspect in the shooting, Robert Anthony Granato, exchanged racial epithets during the incident, prompting questions from some about whether race was a motivating factor in the shooting. Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson said in a news conference on Wednesday that investigators have not uncovered evidence suggesting that the shooting was racially motivated. The North Carolina NAACP has called for a full investigation into whether race was a factor in the shooting. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
Several people were charged with crimes this week in connection with the alleged absentee ballot fraud scheme that launched North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race into the national political spotlight earlier this year. According to the News & Observer, McCrae Dowless was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice, illegal possession of an absentee ballot, perjury, and solicitation to commit perjury. Five other people were indicted on related charges. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said the investigation was ongoing and that it was premature to say whether any additional charges would be filed. Keep reading for more news.