News Roundup

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A shocking murder transfixed the nation this week and led to a multi-state manhunt that ended Tuesday with the perpetrator’s suicide.  In Cleveland on Sunday, Steve W. Stephens posted a video to Facebook where he shoots and kills Robert Godwin Sr., a stranger to Stephens seemingly targeted at random.  The News Hour has an overview of the story here.  After a two-day manhunt, a McDonalds employee in Pennsylvania recognized Stephens and called police.  Following a brief chase ended by a PIT maneuver, Stephens killed himself.  Keep reading for more news.

Arkansas Executions.  The News Roundup previously noted a controversial plan in Arkansas to execute eight death row inmates this month.  At the time of writing this News Roundup, USA Today was reporting that four of the eight executions “have now been delayed for various legal reasons, ranging from challenges to the state’s use of lethal drugs to appeals for more time to re-examine crucial evidence.”  Tuesday’s episode of the Charlie Rose show featured an interesting conversation with Damien Echols, a man who spent nearly two decades on death row in Arkansas before entering an Alford plea to three counts of murder and being released.

Former Chief Justices Criticize COA Changes.  Last week the News Roundup noted that the General Assembly had passed a bill reducing the number of judges on the Court of Appeals from fifteen to twelve.  This week the News & Observer reports that four former chief justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court – Burley Mitchell, James G. Exum Jr., Sarah Parker, and I. Beverly Lake – have written a letter to General Assembly leaders criticizing that legislation.

Registry Fee.  The Wilmington Star News has an article this week discussing House Bill 684, a bill that would require sex offenders to pay an annual fee to be on the sex offender registry.  The article says that the money collected from the fee would be used to offset the costs to sheriffs’ offices associated with registration.

Football Plea.  The News & Observer reports that a sports agent, Terry Watson, pleaded guilty this week to criminal charges based on his provision of improper benefits to UNC football players.  The Observer story says that Watson “acknowledged giving nearly $24,000 in cash, airline tickets or hotel rooms to [Marvin] Austin, as well as former UNC football players Greg Little and Robert Quinn, to get them to sign with his agency while they still were college players.”  Four other criminal cases related to the UNC football scandal still are pending according to the report.

K9 Team Takes First Place.  The Port City Daily reports that Corporal Matt Chism and K9 officer Ajk from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office took first place in the narcotics vehicle search event at the National Dog Detector Trials that were held in Raleigh a couple of weeks ago.  The link includes a video of Chism and Ajk doing a training search at the Sheriff’s office.

Hernandez Suicide.  As the New York Times reports, former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in prison earlier this week.  Hernandez was convicted in 2015 of murdering his friend Odin Lloyd, and was sentenced to life in prison.  Earlier this month he was acquitted of murder charges arising from a different incident.

Traps.  Thursday was the 20th day of April, a holiday of sorts for marijuana activists and enthusiasts, as explained here by the Associated Press.  The police department in Wyoming, Minnesota – a town presumably named by a person while sittin’ downtown in a railway station – saw the illicit holiday as a crime-fighting opportunity, baiting a trap at a local park with Cheetos and Xbox games.

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