Local and State Headlines for Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Pilot Okay After Plane Crash

(Transylvania County, NC) -- The pilot of a plane that crashed in Transylvania County last night is expected to be okay. WLOS-TV says the small aircraft went down shortly after taking off from the runway at Transylvania Community Airport. The pilot was the only one on the plane and refused medical treatment. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.

Candler Man Sentenced For Rape

(Buncombe County, NC) -- A Candler man is heading to prison for rape and indecent liberties. The man pleaded guilty this week for charges related to the November 2016 crimes. District Attorney Todd Williams said Christopher Gunter exploited vulnerabilities of two minors who were previously sexually abused. The judge sentenced him to serve at least 15 years.

UNC System IDs Could Be Used To Vote

(Raleigh, NC) -- Students in the UNC system could soon use their school IDs to vote. The state Board of Elections is in the midst of approving acceptable forms of ID to cast ballots in North Carolina. Legislators have passed a bill that will delay the requirement of ID for voting until 2020. The UNC system is expected to ask the board of elections to include its IDs on the approved list.

Charity CEO Gives Back UNCA Diploma

(Asheville, NC) -- The head of an Asheville charity is giving back his honorary diploma from UNC-Asheville. Bill Murdock maintains that he didn't have a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old-girl 30 years after he pleaded guilty to indecent liberties. He is currently the CEO of Eblen Charities. Murdock told the Asheville Citizen-Times that he gave the diploma back because a former Eblen employee recently renewed the controversy behind the case.

December Storm Clean-up Yields Nearly 200-Thousand Trees

(Transylvania County, NC) -- Clean-up from December storms that brought down thousands of trees in Western North Carolina is over. The DOT says close to 200-thousand trees were removed in Transylvania and Polk counties. The clean-up wrapped up this month. There's now a large pile of trees in Rosman that will be chopped up for mulch.

Three WNC Natives Survive Colorado Avalanche

(Asheville, NC) -- Three Asheville natives are survivors of an avalanche at one of Colorado's most well-known ski resorts. They told WLOS-TV they were snowboarding at Breckenridge Ski Resort last Friday when a ridge collapsed down the mountain. They essentially surfed over the top of the avalanche to avoid getting pulled under. The resort said five guests were caught in the slide, but none were injured.

Panthers Looking To Move Headquarters To SC

(Charlotte, NC) -- Panthers' headquarters could soon be on the move to South Carolina. The state's governor, Henry McMaster, confirmed yesterday that Carolina owner David Tepper is discussing relocating the team's practice facility and offices to York or Lancaster counties. Panther games would still be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. State legislators in South Carolina were already trying to push through legislation yesterday that would guarantee incentives for the franchise if the move goes through.

Warrants: Dowless Investigated Since February 2018

(Charlotte, NC) -- Search warrants reveal that the SBI has had en eye on political operative Leslie McRae Dowless for a while. He's been indicted for federal charges in the ninth congressional district's election fraud scheme. Warrants released yesterday show that investigators had been tracking Dowless since February of 2018. They were interested in his bank and cell phone records.

Police Seek Former Officer For Lying About Wreck

(Hickory, NC) -- A former Statesville police officer who is accused of wrecking his patrol car can't be found. Hickory police have been looking for Christopher Rivera since he was charged for filing a false police report at the beginning of the year. Investigators believe Rivera wrecked his car in Hickory after partying on New Year's Eve and then lied about it. They've tried to reach Rivera at his address several times, but he is nowhere to be found.

Armed Suspect Robs Two Rowan County Businesses

(Rowan County, NC) -- Rowan County investigators are looking for a man they believe robbed two stores at gunpoint yesterday. The suspect reportedly wore a red bandanna over his face when he held up a business on Jake Alexander Boulevard near I-85. Police say he later held up a store on Highway 601 wearing the same get-up. No injuries were reported in either case.

Suspects Burglarize Five Indian Trail Restaurants

(Union County, NC) -- Several suspects are being accused of burglarizing five restaurants in Indian Trail early yesterday morning. Sheriff's deputies said they used rocks to break the glass in each business. The suspects targeted the cash register at each location. They're currently at-large.

Former Panther Sues City Of Shelby

(Shelby, NC) -- The city of Shelby is facing a lawsuit filed by a former Carolina Panther. Willie Green claims Shelby and the city manager racially discriminated against him when his proposal for a large sports complex there failed to move forward. The Shelby Star is reporting that the city has now filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges the city told Green he wasn't qualified for such a project.

Police: Body Found Belongs To Missing Nash County Woman

(Tarboro, NC) -- A body found in Tarboro has been positively identified as a missing Nash County woman. On Friday, 38-year-old Diana Keel disappeared mysteriously, she was reported missing the next day. Her body was found on Tuesday, and police say someone killed her. Keel's husband of 12-years is considered a person of interest. Investigators say his first wife died in 2006, and that was ruled accidental.

Raleigh's Mayor Says She's Done After This Term

(Raleigh, NC) -- This will be Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane's last term. Yesterday, she announced that she will not seek reelection in 2019. McFarlane has served as Raleigh's mayor since 2011, and says while Raleigh used to fight together, it seems the city is just fighting amongst itself on social media. She says she needs a break from the social disease plaguing us today. McFarlane says she's going to focus on the things that are important in her life, like her family, community and the arts.

North Carolina Mulls Eliminating Time Change

(Raleigh, NC) -- Some North Carolina lawmakers are trying to put the Daylight Saving Time issue to bed once and for all. Yesterday, a bill was introduced into the House that proposes keeping Daylight Saving Time for the entire year. Senator Marco Rubio just proposed a similar bill to do away with it nationwide, and President Trump tweeted his support for it. If the bill passes, folks will never have to complain about the time change again.

Police Investigating New Leads In Fuquay-Varina Cold Case

(Fuquay-Varina, NC) -- A Fuquay-Varina cold case murder is getting some new attention. In 2011, 41-year-old Sandra Thomas was found dead in a ditch on Lawrence Street. Police say this month, they searched an Apex man's home and his truck. They're hoping to match paint chips found on her clothes to the outside of his truck. Police haven't made any arrests, but they say they're committed to bringing Thomas' killer to justice for her family. A five-thousand-dollar reward has been offered in this case.

Police Investigate Middle School Gym Teacher For Misconduct Allegations

(Apex, NC) -- Apex police are working with Wake County Public Schools to investigate allegations of misconduct by a teacher. Yesterday, the principal of Apex Friendship Middle School announced that their P-E teacher, Mister Howard, had been suspended and was under investigation. The principal was tight lipped about what the misconduct allegation was, but said the school is looking at the possibility that there was more than one victim.

Durham Prosecutors Office Dismissed More Than 50K Traffic Cases In 3 Months

(Durham Co., NC) -- The District Attorney for Durham County is trying to help people get their licenses back. In the past few months, the D-A's office has dismissed more than 50-thousand traffic cases through the expunction and restoration program. This program applies to minor violations more than two-years-old, it excludes reckless or impaired driving charges. Once the judge signs off on someone eligible for the program, the DMV has to lift the suspension of their license.

Wake Forest President's Statement On Admissions Scandal

(Winston-Salem, NC) -- Wake Forest University is a victim of the college admissions bribery scandal, according to school president Nathan Hatch. The U.S. Justice Department included Wake Forest volleyball coach Bill Ferguson in a wide-ranging federal indictment this week that accuses him of accepting financial payments to influence the admission of a student. Hatch said in a statement yesterday that the DOJ considers Wake Forest to be a fraud victim in the case. He said the student who was mentioned in the indictment who had been wait-listed prior to being admitted is currently enrolled, and that the university has no reason to believe the student was aware of the alleged financial transaction.

High Point Engineering School Approved

(High Point, NC) -- High Point University is getting approval for its new engineering school. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has granted accreditation for the school, which High Point announced plans for last August. The Webb School of Engineering will offer degrees in computer and electrical engineering programs.

Elon University Faculty Vote To Unionize

(Elon, NC) -- The majority of eligible faculty at Elon University are voting to unionize. The vote was taken by adjunct professors on Tuesday by a margin of 112-to-68. This is the second group of faculty members in North Carolina to form a union, according to media reports. The university has one week to file objections until votes are certified, according to the university, which can then ask the National Labor Relations Board to review the election process.

Guilford County School Board To Spend On Career And Tech

(Greensboro, NC) -- The Guilford County Schools Board of Education is spending over seven-million dollars to fund a half-dozen career and technical education academies. Officials say the money comes from leftover funds for construction projects. Two high schools would get additions for new career academies and four others would receive money for renovations, according to a report from the Greensboro News-Record. The school board voted unanimously to approve the funding at a board meeting on Tuesday.

Fatal Shooting Suspect Arrested In Florida

(Undated) -- The High Point man accused of a fatal shooting in High Point is under arrest. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force picked up Terrence Sparks in Orlando, Florida yesterday, according to the High Point Police Department. Sparks was wanted for allegedly killing Shawn Mitchell of Winston-Salem and injuring one other person in the shooting that police say happened after a fight at a gas station in Greensboro.

Police Release Surveillance Of Car Possibly Driven By Shooting Suspect

(Greensboro, NC) -- The Greensboro Police Department has released a surveillance photo of a vehicle believed to have been driven by a man who allegedly shot and killed a woman. Carolyn Tiger of Greensboro was behind the wheel with two children in tow when a minor traffic accident occurred on March 3rd, and soon after she was shot by the other driver, according to police reports. Images indicate the other vehicle involved was a light-blue Hyundai with the hubcaps or wheel covers missing from both front tires.

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