Callery pears: An invader ‘worse than murder hornets!’
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A stinky but handsome and widely popular landscape tree has become an aggressive invader. Callery pears create dense thickets that overwhelm native plants and bear four-inch spikes that can flatten tractor tires. Bradford pears and other ornamental Callery pears were cultivated from an import that saved pear orchards from a deadly fungus. And for decades, the decorative trees seemed near perfect, aside from a tendency to fall apart after about 15 years — and their stench. But they cross pollinated with other ornamental varieties. Invasive stands now have been reported in more than 30 states. Fourteen states have formally listed the trees as invasive.
Prosecutor: No charges in shooting of pedestrian by deputy
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina prosecutor announced that she will not pursue charges against an off-duty sheriff’s deputy who shot a Black pedestrian on a busy road, finding that the deputy had reason to fear bodily harm and to defend himself. The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys reviewed the shooting death of Jason Walker on Jan. 8 after the local district attorney recused himself from the case. In a letter Thursday, conference executive director Kimberly Overton Spahos wrote that it will not be seeking charges against Jeffrey Hash, who was off duty from his job at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the shooting.
NC Senate ad emphasizes lieutenant governor backing of Budd
RALEIGH. N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson endorses Ted Budd for next month’s U.S. Senate Republican primary in a new commercial in which he also criticizes ex-Gov. Pat McCrory. Robinson appears in an ad from the Club for Growth Action super PAC that began running Wednesday. The committee plans to spend $1.3 million alone running this commercial on TV. It’s part of $14 million the group said it was prepared to spend in the race supporting Budd and opposing McCrory. Robinson announced his endorsement at a rally earlier this month featuring former President Donald Trump, who also backs Budd.
NC judge gets 1 more week to work on school funding order
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to give a judge another week to work through the latest step in a long-running legal fight over public education spending. The justices granted to Special Superior Court Judge Michael Robinson the extension Wednesday, his original deadline. Robinson said he needed more time in part to work through the differences between the legal parties. Robinson was tasked last month with scrutinizing the November order of another judge who directed $1.75 billion be moved from state coffers to address education inequities. The justices will begin to hear appeals after Robinson reports to the justices by April 27.
HOUSE FIRE-FOUR DEAD
4 dead, including 2 children, in N.C. house fire
COOLEEMEE, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say four people, including two children, died in a fire that erupted in a North Carolina home. Davie County Sheriff J.D. Hartman told reporters that investigators believe that a father, mother and their two young children died in Monday afternoon’s house fire in Cooleemee. The town is approximately 35 miles southwest of Winston-Salem. Hartman said autopsies could help investigators determine the cause of their deaths. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
McCrory, Budd still close in NC Senate campaign fundraising
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Budd is benefitting from President Donald Trump’s endorsement and a super PAC’s commitment to flood airwaves and mailboxes to help him as the May 17 Republican primary approaches. But rival and former Gov. Pat McCrory still has managed to stick close to Budd when it comes to head-to-head fundraising. First-quarter campaign finance reports filed Friday show the current U.S. House member Budd and the former governor McCrory collecting essentially the same amounts. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination and continues to raise the most money among all candidates seeking to succeed the retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr.
INMATE DEATH-COLD CASE KILLING
Man charged in woman’s 1972 killing dies awaiting trial
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man charged with raping and killing a woman in North Carolina nearly 50 years ago has died in a state prison while awaiting trial. Authorities say 68-year-old Larry Joe Scott was in the custody of the state Department of Public Safety when he died Friday at a prison in Raleigh. A news release from Johnson County’s sheriff and top prosecutor didn’t identify a possible cause of Scott’s death, but it said he was taken to the prison after getting medical treatment at two hospitals. Scott was scheduled to be tried in August on charges of first-degree murder, rape and kidnapping in the December 1972 killing of 33-year-old Bonnie Neighbors.
Police: Robber enters restaurant through drive-thru window
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Police say a knife-wielding woman robbed a fast-food restaurant in North Carolina by climbing through the drive-thru window and grabbing a cash drawer. Winston-Salem police said in a news release that the unidentified woman fled in a brown sport utility vehicle after robbing the Taco Bell on Saturday afternoon. No injures were reported. The Winston-Salem Journal reported that the woman was swinging a large knife as she entered the restaurant through the window, then stole an undisclosed amount of money.