News Roundup

Last month, Jeff blogged about the backlog of rape kits in North Carolina and other jurisdictions across the country.  At the time of his post, there wasn’t a great deal of information available about the magnitude of the backlog in North Carolina, but Jeff noted that a 2017 law required law enforcement agencies to inventory their kits and report their findings to the State Crime Laboratory.  The Associated Press reported this week that the results of that process show that North Carolina has more than 15,000 untested kits.  At a press conference, Attorney General Josh Stein made proposals for testing the kits and tracking the status of kits collected in the future.  Keep reading for more news.

Missing Persons.  Last year, the News Roundup noted that a considerable number of people summoned for jury duty in Guilford County weren’t showing up.  This week in Forsyth County, no one showed up.  The Winston-Salem Journal says that a “human error in the county’s print shop” resulted in a failure to mail this week’s jury duty notices.  Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched into the county to recruit volunteers and a plea went out over a local television station, but the efforts did not yield a sufficient number of potential jurors to conduct trials.

Exonerated Man Charged with Murder.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that a man who was exonerated after spending 40 years in prison for murder now is facing a new murder charge arising from a killing in 2017.  After being convicted in 1976 for the murder of a store clerk, Willie Womble of Greensboro was exonerated in 2014.  This week, Womble was charged with murdering Donna Todd who was found dead in her apartment in April of last year.

Elections.  The News & Record reports that that former Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege has announced that he will again run for his old job, which he had to resign from in 2004 after pleading guilty to two counts of felony obstruction of justice.  Hege apparently has taken advantage of a recent change in North Carolina’s expunction law that reduced the 15-year waiting period for expunging nonviolent felonies to 10 years.  John blogged about that change in the law last year.  With his convictions expunged, a 2010 amendment to the North Carolina Constitution prohibiting felons from serving as sheriff arguably no longer is an obstacle to Hege’s candidacy.  Interestingly, Hege’s unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the position was the impetus for the constitutional amendment.

Guns.  The multifaceted issue of guns in America continues to be a major topic of national discussion in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland Florida last month.  This week two major retailers announced changes to their policies regarding gun sales.  Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would immediately discontinue selling assault-style rifles and would not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age.  Walmart announced that it also would not sell any gun to anyone under 21, and would no longer sell toys or airguns that resembled assault-style rifles.  Students in North Carolina and across the country continued to agitate for change with regard to gun policy by walking out of class and gathering for demonstrations.

Reasonable Reactions.  We’ve all been there – out with our special someone to see the latest superhero blockbuster only to find that some inconsiderate folks have planted themselves in our assigned seats.  There are a variety of ways to deal with this inconvenience, for example you could draw a pistol and fire it into the ceiling to show that you take assigned seats very seriously.  This course of action also will get you an assigned seat at the Pitt County Detention Center.

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