News Roundup

WRAL reports that Durham police announced yesterday that they recently made an arrest in a sexual assault case that occurred more than four years ago.  In November 2015, a woman was attacked and sexually assaulted while walking home from work on the Ellerbe Creek Trail.  The WRAL report says that investigators were unable to develop strong leads in the case until last fall, when they submitted DNA from the rape kit for testing.  That test connected the DNA to Emanuel Dwayne Burch, whose DNA profile was in a national database.  The State Crime Lab then connected the DNA in the kit to a new sample taken from Burch.  Keep reading for more news.

Rape Kit Backlog.  Durham police officials and Attorney General Josh Stein said that the arrest in Durham is evidence of the importance of eliminating North Carolina’s rape kit backlog.  Currently the Durham Police Department has about 1,400 untested kits and an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 kits remain untested statewide.  The WRAL report in the lead notes that the State Crime Lab launched a bar code tracking system in late 2018 the enables law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and victims to keep track of whether kits have been tested.

Chapel Hill Court Debt Fund.  The News & Observer has a report this week that highlights several initiatives in Chapel Hill that are intended to assist people with the financial burden of coming in contact with the criminal justice system.  Chapel Hill recently launched a $20,000 pilot program known as the Criminal Justice Debt Fund to assist people who are unable to pay court costs and fees associated with criminal charges.  According to the N&O, the fund is intended for town residents who have non-violent criminal or traffic offenses and who are employed, are students, are getting substance abuse treatment, or otherwise are taking steps towards a more stable life.  The report notes that $249 million of the $703 million collected statewide from court costs and fees between July 2018 and June 2019 went to the state’s general fund.  It also notes that the amount of money collected from fines and fees over that period exceeds the North Carolina court system’s annual budget.

Bail/Bond Justice Group.  The N&O report noted above also mentions the Orange County Bail/Bond Justice group, a nonprofit organization that began at Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill.  The Bail/Bond Justice Group is raising money for a $50,000 fund that will be used to assist Orange County defendants who are subject to unaffordable money bail as a condition of pretrial release.  Late last year the group began a GoFundMe drive that has raised $2,500 towards their goal.

Greensboro Community Meetings.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that new Greensboro Chief of Police Brian L. James has announced that he will host a series of community meetings where residents can meet officers and talk about their public safety concerns.  The meetings run from 6:30 to 8p.m. on eight different nights in February and March.  The schedule is available at the News & Record link above, as is a number for the department’s Office of Community Engagement.

James.  The last blurb refers to Brian L. James as Greensboro Chief of Police, but that may or may not actually be the case depending on when you read the NewsRoundup.  James is scheduled to be sworn in today, so you may be reading this before he officially assumes the role.  Regardless, the News & Record recently ran an article that provides information about the new Chief’s background.  James is a lifelong resident of Greensboro and has been a member of the police department since 1996.  His promotion to Chief follows an extensive search that included nearly 40 candidates.

Evangelous.  As a new Chief of Police comes on board in Greensboro, a Chief who served in the role for 15 years in Wilmington retires.  As the NewsRoundup noted late last year, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous is retiring.  The Wilmington Star-News has photos from yesterday’s retirement party.

Byrd.  In other news from Greensboro, the News & Record reports that NC A&T graduate student Cody Byrd has been named the Sixth District Community Hero of the Month by U.S. Representative Mark Walker because of Byrd’s actions that led to the arrest of a man who allegedly attempted to grab a girl at a Biscuitville.  The report says that Byrd noticed that a man at the restaurant was watching an 8-year-old girl and then saw him attempt to grab her as she left a restroom.  Byrd confronted the man and took pictures of him and his vehicle.  An hour later, police arrested Timothy Jon Fry, who has been charged with kidnapping and indecent liberties offenses.

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