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April 08, 2018 - 12:00 am


4 charged in man's death; his last moments were on Facebook

(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer,

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Four people have been charged with murder in the death of a North Carolina man whose final moments were livestreamed and posted on Facebook.

The Fayetteville Observer reports one of the four wanted in the January 2017 death of 27-year-old Calvin Blackshire Jr. turned himself in. Warrants have been issued for the others, including one who is an inmate at a prison in Elizabeth City.

They face charges including first-degree murder and conspiracy.

Blackshire was found in a motel parking lot with a gunshot wound. As he lay dying, an onlooker livestreamed Blackshire's last moments. Authorities said at the time that the person who recorded and posted the video didn't break a law.

Blackshire's mother, Pamela, says she plans to put flowers on her son's grave to mark the arrests.



Court clerk: Despite memo, staff not required to campaign

(Information from: Mount Airy News,

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (AP) — The clerk of court in one North Carolina county says she never meant to require any of her employees to work for her re-election even though that's what a leaked memo said.

After the memo was published, Surry County Clerk of Court Teresa O'Dell told the Mount Airy News that she doesn't require staff to work for her campaign. She acknowledged that the memo "seemed to indicate otherwise" and sent a follow-up note.

A memo distributed March 27th said employees would be required to campaign for her, including taking vacation time so they weren't doing political work while on the clock.

She also told staffers that she wouldn't be in the office before the primary.

O'Dell is facing a challenge from Neil Brendle in the May 8 Republican primary.



16 criminal cases under scrutiny in N Carolina county

(Information from: News & Record,

WENTWORTH, N.C. (AP) — The group representing North Carolina's district attorneys will review 16 cases from one county where legal and ethical problems have been found in eight cases handled by a former prosecutor.

Interim District Attorney Jason Ramey in Rockingham County tells the News & Record of Greensboro that the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys agreed to review 16 cases. Former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer handled those cases from beginning to end.

Blitzer resigned last year and later pleaded guilty to failure to discharge the duties of his office. He's awaiting sentencing.

The 16 cases range from food stamp fraud to sexual misconduct by a teacher to first-degree murder. Ramey says he believes the conference will divide the 16 cases among its attorneys for review.



Man gets decades in prison in slaying of Pennsylvania native

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to decades in prison after pleading guilty in the murder of a Pennsylvania native found in a burning North Carolina apartment almost two years ago.

The Charlotte Observer reports that 30-year-old Matthew Thomas Benner pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder, arson and malicious damage to occupied property with an incendiary device in the June 2016 death of 27-year-old Amanda Strous.

Superior Court Judge Robert Bell sentenced him to about 38 to 49 years in prison, saying the "especially heinous, atrocious and cruel" nature of the offense was among the factors in sentencing.

Bell said he wished he had known the Dallastown native, who was to be married in six weeks when she was killed by Benner, a neighbor. Benner's attorney said he was "extremely sorry."


North Carolina to begin work on roadways in 4 counties

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The N.C. Department of Transportation is embarking on work to improve more than 90 miles of roads in four central counties.

A news release from NCDOT says the work involves portions of U.S. Highway 52, seven state highways and 45 sections of secondary roads across Davidson, Forsyth, Randolph and Rowan counties. The work is scheduled to begin on April 30.

Specifically, there will be work on nearly 24 miles of roads in Rowan County for resurfacing and shoulder construction. Work should be completed by July 2019.

Resurfacing and shoulder improvement along 31 miles of roads in Davidson and Randolph counties should be completed by October 2019. Resurfacing and shoulder construction work for 39.4 miles of roadways in Davidson and Forsyth counties should be complete by May 2020.


North Carolina man charged in fatal mobile home fire

AYDEN, N.C. (AP) — Authorities have charged a North Carolina man with murder after his next door neighbor's body was found in her burned mobile home.

Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks said Friday 20-year-old Nathan Wesley Boseman has been charged with murder in the death of 66-year-old Violet Webb.

The woman's mobile home caught fire on Monday, and Elks said investigators believe Boseman started the fire to conceal the murder. The sheriff said at a news conference that an autopsy confirmed that Webb's death was a homicide.

Elks said Webb shared the mobile home with her husband, who was at work when the fire occurred.

Boseman is being held without bond in the Pitt County jail. Online records don't say if he has an attorney.


Ex-North Carolina minister convicted of failing to pay taxes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A federal jury has found a former North Carolina minister guilty of failing to pay taxes and assisting in the filing of false tax returns.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release 51-year-old William Todd Coontz of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was convicted on Thursday. Coontz was minister of Rockwealth Ministries and also ran two for-profit companies.

Prosecutors say that as early as 2000 and continuing through at least 2014, Coontz filed delinquent income tax returns and failed to make timely payments. Evidence also showed Coontz underreported income on federal returns for 2010 through 2013.

Failure to pay carries a maximum one-year sentence and a $100,000 fine per count. The aiding and assisting charge carries a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count.


North Carolina man dies when lawnmower rolls on top of him

MONROE, N.C. (AP) — A man has been killed when the riding lawnmower he was operating overturned in North Carolina.

Local media outlets report two men were using riding lawnmowers around 4 p.m. Thursday at the end of the grass airstrip at Midstate Aviation in Union County.

One of the mowers slid about 5 feet (1.5 meters) down an embankment and overturned, pinning the man.

The other man later noticed the overturned mower and called for help.

Seventy-five-year-old Charles Wayne Arant of Wingate was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators say the death appears to have been an accident. No other details were immediately available.

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