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October 14, 2017 - 12:00 am

REDISTRICTING-NORTH CAROLINA

Partisan gerrymandering arguments in N Carolina map on trial

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Redistricting practices of North Carolina Republicans are getting scrutinized yet again in court, this time over whether mapmakers can go too far drawing boundaries that favor their party.

Federal judges convene a trial Monday in Greensboro over litigation filed by election advocacy groups, the state Democratic Party and voters who allege unlawful partisan gerrymandering in the state's congressional map. A similar case in Wisconsin was heard earlier this month by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Several lawsuits this decade challenging districts drawn by the GOP-dominated General Assembly focused on alleged racial gerrymandering.

These plaintiffs argue the districts are so uncompetitive they violate the constitutional rights of voters whose partisan viewpoints are in the minority. Attorneys for GOP leaders defend the map and say courts should avoid deciding what constitutes partisan imbalance.

BEATEN AND BURNED

Trial starts in North Carolina veteran's burn death

(Information from: News & Record, http://www.news-record.com)

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A man who prosecutors say lit another man he met at a bar on fire and piled furniture on top of his naked body in a North Carolina hotel room also yelled at police that terrorists were attacking.

Prosecutors showed body camera footage during the first days of 29-year-old Garry Gupton's death penalty trial in Greensboro.

Authorities say Gupton beat 46-year-old Army veteran Stephen White in November 2014 before lighting a comforter on fire, throwing it on him and piling furniture on his body.

The News & Record of Greensboro reports that Gupton's lawyer said in his opening statement Wednesday that his client had psychiatric problems and suffered a mental breakdown after he couldn't leave the motel room during a sexual encounter.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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SCHOOL ASSAULT

Police: Touching claim later recanted led to school assault

(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say two people have been arrested for attacking a school employee in North Carolina after several female students accused a teacher of inappropriately touching them, then said it didn't happen.

Winston-Salem Police said 29-year-old Cindy Tatiana Samayoa and 30-year-old Jose Carlos Amaya hit a director at Carter G. Woodson School in the head Thursday, while Samayoa also threw a recycling bin at the woman.

Samayoa told the Winston-Salem Journal her daughter was one of about seven sixth-graders who said a gym teacher touched them inappropriately. Police say the girls later said the touching didn't happen and they were angry at the teacher.

Samayoa says she was trying to protect herself after the school director got physical with her.

Amaya couldn't be reached for comment.

Police haven't charged anyone else.

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KILLED BY OWN CAR

84-year-old woman run over by her own car at N Carolina home

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say an 84-year-old woman has died after she was run over by her own car in the driveway of her North Carolina home.

Greensboro Police said Alma Sellers somehow fell out of or was ejected after losing control of her 2014 Ford Fusion in her driveway around 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Authorities say Sellers' car kept going without the driver and ran over her.

Police said in a statement that Sellers died a short time later at the hospital.

CAB DRIVER KILLED

Arrest made in cab driver's death nearly a year ago

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina say they have made an arrest in the killing of a cab driver nearly a year ago.

Raleigh Police said Friday that 31-year-old Tyron Cooper was charged with murder in the death of 56-year-old Nwabu Efobi.

Authorities say Efobi was found dead on Nov. 10 in the street near the Universal Cab Company where he worked.

Police in a statement did not say if Cooper knew Efobi or give a motive for the shooting.

It wasn't known if Cooper had an attorney.

SWAN HUNTING

US agency's bid to allow trumpeter swan hunting draws fire

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal plan to let hunters shoot trumpeter swans has drawn fire from some of the people who toiled to bring the majestic white birds back from the brink of extinction.

Trumpeter swans have made a comeback thanks to efforts to reintroduce them. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on a plan aimed at letting hunters shoot them in states that allow the hunting of tundra swans, a more numerous species.

Officials say no state is proposing a hunting season for trumpeter swans. But they acknowledge the proposal opens up the possibility.

Brad Bortner with the Fish and Wildlife Service says the plan is mostly designed to protect hunters in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, North Carolina and Virginia who mistake a trumpeter swan for a tundra swan.

PRISON-ATTEMPTED ESCAPE-THE LATEST

The Latest: Governor orders new safety steps at NC prisons

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's governor is ordering extra safety measures after an attempted prison breakout left two corrections officers dead and a dozen other prison workers and inmates injured.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday suspended the inmate work program at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City, the scene of Thursday's attempted escape by four inmates. Authorities said the inmates started a fire in a prison sewing operation where they worked to divert guards and allow their escape.

Cooper also ordered increased officers in areas where inmates work and a safety review of all inmate work programs.

Deputy state prisons director Annie Harvey says the four inmates suspected in the escape plot were treated for injuries Thursday and transferred to a high-security prison near Raleigh. She says criminal charges are pending.

GANG KILLINGS

3 N Carolina gang members guilty in S Carolina deaths

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Three gang members from North Carolina have been found guilty for their roles in killing a couple in retaliation in their South Carolina home

Federal prosecutors said a jury returned guilty verdicts for racketeering Friday against Randall Hankins, Nana Adoma and Ahkeem McDonald.

Authorities say the three were in a gang that ordered the killing of Doug and Debbie London at their home near Lake Wylie, South Carolina, in October 2014.

Doug London had shot gang member Jamell Cureton as he tried to rob his Charlotte mattress store at gunpoint five months before the killings.

Authorities say the wounded robber was a gang member who ordered the couple killed. Cureton pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.

All three defendants could face life in prison when they are sentenced later.

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