NC judges weigh attempts to block elections under new maps
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Legal attempts to block North Carolina legislative and congressional elections from occurring under district maps approved by state Republicans last month are getting heard by state trial judges. A three-judge panel began a hearing Friday on two lawsuits. Plaintiffs want the judges to prevent state officials from administering elections with the maps because they say they’re extreme partisan gerrymanders. Candidate filing for the March 8 primary begins on Monday. GOP legislative leaders who passed the plans say the boundaries are lawful, created under a transparent process that avoided racial demographic and political data.
FORGED INSURANCE FORMS
N. Carolina woman accused of forging insurance claim forms
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The N.C. Department of Insurance says a woman has been arrested and accused of forging bills and claim forms to get more than $70,000 from an insurance company. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey says special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division accuse the woman of providing false and forged disability, accident, hospital and cancer medical bills and claim forms between 2016 and 2018 to collect the money. The woman was arrested on Nov. 24 by the insurance department’s special agents and Rocky Mount police. She’s charged with insurance fraud and obtaining property by false pretense, both felonies.
ABSENTEE BALLOTS-NORTH CAROLINA
NC governor vetoes bill moving up absentee ballot deadline
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed more legislation, this time a bill that would prevent the counting of mail-in absentee ballots received after Election Day. Cooper’s veto on Thursday was expected, given that the measure was approved by the House and Senate on party lines favoring Republicans. The veto is unlikely to get overridden. Current law says envelopes postmarked by the day of the election can count if received within a three-day grace period. Republicans insist the proposal would boost confidence in close election outcomes, but Cooper said Thursday the legislation would have virtually guaranteed that otherwise legal votes would go uncounted.
CAPITOL BREACH-CHILD IN TOW
Prosecutors: Couple had 14-year-old ‘in tow’ at Capitol riot
Prosecutors are recommending a three-month prison sentence for a North Carolina woman accused of bringing her 14-year-old child into the U.S. Capitol when she and her husband stormed the building on Jan. 6. In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors say Virginia Marie “Jenny” Spencer and her husband, Christopher, had the child “in tow” when they joined other rioters who overwhelmed a line of police officers, invaded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite and demanded entry to the House Chamber. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is scheduled to sentence Jenny Spencer on Jan. 7. Spencer pleaded guilty in September to a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment. Christopher Spencer has pleaded not guilty.
DUKE ENERGY-STORM COSTS
NC Duke Energy customers see bill uptick due to storm costs
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy electric customers in North Carolina will now see a new line-item charge on their monthly bills to repay $1 billion in bonds the company issued to get repaid for repairs from 2018 and 2019 storms. The storm recovery charge will mean a roughly $2.40 increase for the average Duke Energy Progress residential customer and 50-cent increase for a similar Duke Energy Carolinas customer. The General Assembly gave Duke Energy the ability to issue the bonds to get reimbursed, rather than go through normal rate case requests with state regulators. The utility says that resulted in $300 million in savings.
NORTH CAROLINA-STATE PARK-FIRE
Escaped campfire blamed for Pilot Mountain blaze
PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Forest Service says a wildfire at Pilot Mountain State Park has burned 1,100 acres (445 hectares) and is about 80% contained. Though the humidity is low and winds are gusty, officials said Thursday that the fire is within the existing containment lines and resources are adequate. Official say the blaze was caused by an escaped campfire in an undesignated area. The park remains closed. Meanwhile, officials say the 300-acre (121-hectare) Huntsville Mountain Fire on Pogue Mountain is about 45% contained. Currently, 10 structures have been threatened, but officials say no structures have been damaged and there have been no evacuations. The cause of that fire is unknown and remains under investigation.
STRANDED MANATEE DIES
Officials: Manatee stranded on North Carolina beach dies
KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — A wildlife official says a manatee found stranded on the North Carolina coast on Thursday has died. First reported by Outer Banks Today, the nearly 10-foot-long female was still alive when it was found by a woman walking the beach around sunrise near Kill Devil Hills. There were no visible signs of trauma, but Clark says the manatee appeared to have been malnourished. She says the remains will be taken to N.C. State University’s lab in Morehead City for a necropsy. Officials say there have been more local manatee sightings recently.
SHOOTING DEATH-TEENAGER CHARGED
Police charge North Carolina teenager in fatal shooting
BURLINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Police say a 15-year-old has been charged with murder after a fatal shooting in a North Carolina city. The Burlington Police Department said in a news release that officers responding to a call on the city’s north side found 28-year-old Jaquan Lennel Boyd suffering from a gunshot wound. Police pronounced Boyd dead at the scene. On Wednesday, police identified a suspect and arrested the 15-year-old, whose name wasn’t released because of his age. Police say he is charged with first-degree murder and is in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.