News Roundup

The Associated press reports that the families of nine victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have settled a lawsuit against Remington Arms for $73 million.  The suit alleged that Remington marketed the AR-15 style assault rifle used in the shooting in a dangerous manner by promoting its destructive capability and associating it with violence.  Twenty-six people were killed at Sandy Hook in 2012 by a lone gunman; twenty of the victims were young children.

Hate Crime Trial.  Three men who were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia late last year now are being tried on federal hate crime charges.  This week attorneys in the case argued over the admissibility of evidence that two of the defendants, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, used racist language in social messages to friends.  Investigators apparently have been unable to access the text messages of the third defendant, Greg McMichael, because of encryption on his phone.

Espionage Plea.  As the New York Times reports, a U.S. Navy Nuclear engineer charged with espionage pleaded guilty this week as part of an agreement that is expected to result in a 12-year prison sentence.  Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana were accused of attempting to sell U.S. nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign country after passing classified information to undercover FBI agents in a series of orchestrated dead drops.  Charges against Diana Toebbe still are pending.

Officer Sentenced.  The Hickory Daily Record reports that former Hickory police officer Robert George was sentenced to three years in federal prison this week for assaulting Chelsea Doolittle, a woman George had taken into custody in 2013.  George was convicted of the offense in 2019 but the Fourth Circuit later ruled that his original sentence to four years of probation, which was terminated early, was too lenient.  Surveillance video from the Hickory Police Department showed George violently pulling Doolittle from the back of his patrol car and throwing her onto the pavement.  She suffered injuries that required multiple surgeries.

Jail Hires Private Security.  Staffing shortages at the Mecklenburg County Jail have been a focus of several news reports recently.  This week WBTV reported that the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has spent $400,000 to hire private security personnel to work at certain locations to help alleviate some of the staffing pressure.

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