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Obama releases Shelby drug offender in clemency push

President Barack Obama on Tuesday reduced a Shelby woman’s federal prison sentence.

Tracy Petty was sentenced for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine.

If she'd been sentenced under the current justice system, she may have already served her time.

She could be released by the end of July.

Obama commuted sentences of 22 convicted federal prisoners shortening their sentences for drug-related crimes.

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Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 22:28:39 -0400

Officials: Man killed in motorcycle wreck in northwest Charlotte

A man was killed when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle in northwest Charlotte.

The wreck happened late Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Mount Holly Road and Winding Canyon Drive.

The driver of the vehicle was making a left hand turn onto Mount Holly Road when she collided with Orlando Jenkins.

The collision is under investigation and no charges have been filed.

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Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 22:09:52 -0400

Catawba County man sentenced after trying to lure girl

A Catawba County man was sentenced after pleading guilty to attempting to lure a child into his car.

Malcolm Bodie, 22, will spend up to two years in prison.

Bodie approached an 11-year old girl who had just gotten off the school bus and offered her candy to get into his car, police said.

She refused and ran to her grandfather's business in Newton. 

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Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:55:47 -0400

Deliberations continue in sexual assault trial

Jurors began deliberations Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman in 2012. 

Fitzgerald Rice, 49, is charged with sexually assaulting, kidnapping and strangling the woman, who was then 25 years old, in his apartment in east Charlotte in December 2012.


Read our past coverage of the trial:


Jurors did not finish deliberating Tuesday and the judge dismissed for the day around 5 p.m. Before dismissal, they asked the court for a copy of the statement the alleged victim gave police the morning of the attack.
 
Earlier in the week, the woman had described the alleged attack in detail, but told the jury that she had gone to Rice's apartment to perform a sex act for money before he turned violent. She also admitted changing her story to police several times.
 
Prosecutors tried to bolster her credibility by bringing in two other women who said Rice had attacked them in very similar circumstances in 1995 and 1997.
        
"Anywhere I went, he was there. He treated me like a dog," said one of the women, describing the incident in 1997.
       
She said she had gone to Rice's apartment to smoke crack and that he repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted her.
        
"He said he would kill me and I believed him," she told jurors.
 
Her story echoed that of another woman who described an alleged attack in 1995.
        
"I would say she was very upset, scared and crying. She wanted to get out of that apartment," said a former police officer who had responded to that call and encountered the woman. 
        
Rice's attorney questioned the women's motives for going to Rice's apartment and pointed out that prosecutors had dismissed the charges in both cases.
        
Rice did plead guilty to another attack, also at his apartment, in 2001. He spent nine years in prison and was out of prison for only a year when police say he attacked the victim in the current case.
        
Because of his previous conviction, Rice could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted in the current trial.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:47:22 -0400

Residents concerned over dangerous intersection

Residents are fed up with what they call a dangerous intersection, and they want something done about it.

The Department of Transportation agrees a light is needed in a Waxhaw neighborhood, and Channel 9 found out why crews haven't installed it yet.

Benjamin Derrick said he's constantly worried about his wife and two kids because of all the traffic at this intersection in Waxhaw.

"Every time my wife's on her way home, I kind of cringe at the thought that she's going through this intersection," Derrick said. "You're coming off of two hills that people are not slowing down."

Derrick met Channel 9 crews at Billy Howey Road and New Town Road where there are two stop signs and a blinking light and according to many who live nearby, a lot of accidents.

"It's who's turn is it to go?” Derrick said. “And also the pressure of having a line of cars behind you, just kind of forces people to maybe make a decision that they may not want to make."

Residents started an online petition to get a traffic light installed. The DOT has studied the intersection and determined it can benefit from a signal.

"That's based on some analysis that we did based on traffic volumes and congestion in the area,” Jordan-Ashley Walker, DOT spokesperson, said.

said. “So we're looking into the cost estimate for what that signal will be and improvements in the area."

The DOT is working on the cost analysis and hopes to move forward within the next few months.

Derrick plans to keep pushing this petition that has more than 600 signatures.

"We're hoping through a little more word of mouth that many more people sign it," Derrick said.

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Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:33:36 -0400

Thieves steal from nonprofit benefitting cancer patients

Volunteers are trying to figure out who stole from cancer patients.

A white, pear-shaped diamond pendant valued at $5,175 was supposed to be auctioned to raise money to support cancer victims.

Shay Traylor said thieves smashed open the safe where it was and stole it.

“It looks like they had some type of tools,” she said. “I don't understand how someone could come to our door, see the name 'Loving Arms Cancer Outreach' on the door, walk by the wig room where we give away wigs and hats and come back here and steal from us.”

She said she is shocked by the theft that has set the nonprofit back.

“We're just a small company, a small nonprofit, and we're scraping by,” she said.

Loving Arms supports patients on their cancer journey. They have a waiting list of people in treatment who need help covering some of the endless extra costs.

Traylor called Marietta police about the weekend break-in. The office door was closed and locked but the thieves got past it.

Whoever broke in even tore up donation envelopes.

The nonprofit had to freeze its accounts. Volunteers want to upgrade security and get better locks.

“And now the patients are the ones who are going to suffer,” Traylor said. “God knows and he will take care of him.”

 

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:54:22 -0400

Chester police arrest man barricaded in a home

Police arrested a man they said held a gun to a woman's head and barricaded himself inside a home in Chester.

Police were called to West Lacy Street early Tuesday, where they said Camron Ragland, 20, held a gun to the victim’s head.

The woman managed to escape.

Authorities talked to Ragland for about one hour before placing him into custody.

Police charged Ragland with domestic violence and aggravated nature.

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Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:43:54 -0400

Man wanted in connection with Meck County robbery

Police are trying to find a man wanted for a robbery in Mecklenburg County.

Antonio Connor is wanted for several outstanding warrants including robbery with a dangerous weapon, burglary and breaking and entering, among others, according to police.

The incident happened earlier this month in the Independence Division, investigators said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police. 

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Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:29:35 -0400

Murder charges dropped against former Russian mobster

Fulton County prosecutors dropped murder charges against a former Russian mobster turned FBI informant.

Mani Chulpayev was on trial in the murder of rapper Lil' Phat.

Chulpayev will soon have his freedom, and the Georgia State Supreme Court ruled two of his statements to police must be stricken, according to District Attorney Paul Howard. The opinion also put Chulpayev's final statement and much of the evidence gathered from his discussions with police in doubt.  Promises made to Chulpayev by his FBI handler were key in the courts finding that the statements were involuntary.

"Our case against him was essentially gutted," Howard said. "It's still our feeling that he was involved in the death of this young man."

An Alabama gang member is doing life for gunning down Lil' Phat in a murder for hire over stolen drugs at a hospital in 2012.

Others involved are sentenced anywhere from eight to 30 years.

Chulpayev once said he wanted to testify at his murder trial, but he'll soon be released after waiting two years to face a jury.

"This defendant, Mani Chulpayev, got away with murder," Howard said.

Chulpayev has consistently maintained his innocence. The rapper was shot in a car Chulpayev, a one-time Atlanta car dealer, had leased the victim.

Chulpayev is expected to be transferred to DeKalb County, where he faces theft charges relating to the car business.

He's also being ordered to pay $30,000 to car customer Travis Jones. Jones' tip first triggered the investigation.

Chulpayev's FBI handler, Dante Jackson, remains under investigation. Jackson used Chulpayev as an informant without official sanction from Jackson's superiors.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:11:08 -0400

Man drives off bridge, may have been following GPS instruction

A woman is dead after her husband accidentally drove off a partially demolished bridge in East Chicago Tuesday.

Police think the husband was following directions from his GPS navigation system when he drove off the edge of the demolished Cline Avenue bridge.

The entrance has signs, cones and orange barrels, even concrete barricades, showing the bridge is out. But police say the man drove around them and plunged nearly 40 feet to the ground.

His wife died when the car burst into flames after the impact. The man made it out. He's listed in stable condition at a local hospital.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:32:07 -0400

Documents show victim most likely beat to death

Search warrants were released after a weekend Caldwell County homicide.

STORY: 2 accused in Caldwell Co. homicide deny involvement

The victim’s mother told Channel 9 her son was dating the woman now charged with murder.

“He was such a loving and caring person. And he just made some bad decisions,” said Denise Redick.

Channel 9 learned from court documents deputies believe Marcus Devlin was most likely beaten to death. Deputies not only searched his home but also the home of one of the suspects while also seeking cellphone records.

Nathan Valasquez and Shea Fullard are both charged with murder in the case.

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Deputies said the two were involved in a relationship, but family members said Fullard was also seeing Devlin. Redick said the two were together the night before the murder.

“He said, ‘Momma, I got a date with Shea tonight. She’s coming over, and I bought her some shoes.’ He said ‘I think she is really nice.’ He also said, ‘Momma, I want to come home. I want to make something my son can be proud of,’” Redick said.

Deputies are not talking about a possible relationship or possible motive in the case, leaving Redick with more questions than answers.

Both Valasquez and Fullard have denied involvement in the crime. They will appear before a judge next month facing the murder charge.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:41:07 -0400

'Miracle dog' rises from grave following failed 'mercy killing'

A dog who was hit by a car, struck on the head with a hammer and buried in a field, showed up four days later at a nearby farm in Moses Lake, Washington.

The dog (now 'Theia') received care at Washington State University's Teaching Hospital following the incident. 

>>Related: 'Zombie cat' photos show recovery

It is believed that someone attempted a 'mercy killing' using a blunt item, similar to a hammer, after being hit by a car.

The 1-year-old bully breed mix, has been winning supporters including those at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. WSU writes that despite a dislocated jaw, leg injuries and a caved-in sinus cavity, Theia vigorously thumps her tail and plants kisses on people’s cheeks.

“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s incredibly gentle and loving,” said Moses Lake resident Sara Mellado, who took the dog into her home. “She’s a true miracle dog and she deserves a good life.”

The veterinary hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund committee awarded $700 to help pay for Theia’s treatment. Read about Theia's surgery here

Researchers at WSU say it takes a village to resurrect a dog, especially a stray. Mellado is trying to raise $3,000 for the procedure on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe here

Read more here

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:35:27 -0400

Home-building couple allegedly cheated people out of over $600K

A homebuilder husband and wife are facing criminal charges. People say the pair took hundreds of thousands of dollars, but never finished the homes they had promised to build.

Kimberly Bridges choked back tears in court Tuesday as she described how Robert Kuhlkin and Sherry Kuhlkin, of Kuhlkin Builders, took her money and left her with an unfinished lake house and angry subcontractors demanding to be paid.

"To this day, I don't feel safe in my own home," Bridges told the judge.

Two other people told investigators similar stories.

One told reporter Jason Stookgenke by phone he was still too scared to draw attention to himself.

The three families say the couple cheated them out of $660,000.

It was hard to make out the Kuhlkins’ words in court.  The judge released them on their own recognizance, but with the condition they can't be contractors while they fight their criminal charges.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:54:48 -0400

West Columbia police officer shot in head

A West Columbia police officer was shot in the head Tuesday afternoon.

The officer was serving a bench warrant at the time of the shooting, officials said.

The officer was rushed to the hospital, but his condition has not been released.

“When they were there talking to him, trying to get him to surrender, he put his head inside the window and then fired a shot through the wall, which struck the officer in the head,” said West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall.

The suspect is in custody.

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Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:46:39 -0400

Why these students are refusing to pay their college loans

These are the "Corinthian 15" — a group of former students who have, for the past month now, refused to pay their student loans.

They were all students of the now-bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc., which was forced to close more than 100 of its campuses last summer.

The students say they took in extraordinarily high debt for a relatively poor education and now face defaulting on their loans because they can't get jobs.

Corinthian Colleges fell under both state and federal scrutiny over false advertising practices and deceptive marketing in getting students to stack up debt. The company eventually had its access to federal education funds pulled. (Video via California Department of Justice)

Now, even more current and former students are joining the strike.

Where there were once 15, there are now over 100, as more have joined the Corinthian 15 in hopes of convincing the U.S. Department of Education to erase their student debt.

The group is meeting with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to hash out how exactly they could go about erasing their debts, which the bureau doesn’t have the authority to do — that's still up to the department.

And while this debt strike may be unique to Corinthian Colleges, the issue of burdensome student debt from for-profit colleges is not.

According to a 2012 report, 96 percent of all students at for-profit colleges take out student loans. For comparison, only 48 percent of students at public colleges take loans, while only 13 percent at community colleges do so.

The same report found 23 percent of all students who attended for-profit schools were unemployed while 47 percent of all federal student loan defaults come from, you guessed it, for-profit students.

Last year, the Obama administration stepped up regulations on for-profit colleges, penalizing them if students walked away with too much debt and too few employment options. (Video via The White House)

This video includes images from Getty Images, Michael Fleshman / CC BY SA 2.0 and Adam Fagen / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:40:22 -0400

Windy conditions hamper efforts in Hickory house fire

Flames shot 20 feet in the air from a Hickory home Tuesday afternoon as crews rushed to put out a massive fire.

The fire destroyed the roof of home.
        
Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty found out strong winds made it almost impossible for firefighters to contain it.

RAW: Hickory house fire

The fire was so big smoke could be seen miles across town.

Newspaper partner the Hickory Daily Record sent Channel 9 this cellphone video of the fire along 3rd Street Southeast.  
Firefighters worked quickly to get to the roof, but the intense heat and flames along with the very windy conditions forced them back into a defensive posture.

At one point flames climbed to 30 feet above the home.
          
The house had been turned into two apartments. All seven people living here are safe.
           
Food being cooked left unattended started the fire, officials said.

Channel 9 saw Red Cross helping families with a place to stay and care kits.  
           
The owners did have five dogs, but only two are accounted for.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 16:14:46 -0400

Play Pac-Man on Google Maps

Google has played another classic April Fool's Day prank, allowing users of Google Maps to play Pac-Man on the very street grid that you're viewing.

To play, go to Google Maps and zoom in to your desired location. Then look for a "Pac-Man" view in the lower left where the Satellite View is usually found. The game will show up over the street grid that you have on your screen. Use your arrow keys to get around the maze and escape the ghosts. Unlike drivers in downtown's mazes of streets, Pac-Man doesn't have to worry about one-way signs.

It's not the first time that Google has honored the classic Namco game. In 2010, the company's logo-doodle was transformed into a playable version to celebrate the game's 30th birthday.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 16:03:23 -0400

Father writes permanent message on son’s shoes after poor grades

According to ABC affiliate WTVD, a father used his son’s Air Jordans to make a point about education.

The shoes have a retail price of anywhere between $100 and $400. Kurin Keys said his plan may seem extreme and expensive, but getting his 14-year-old son’s grades up to As is worth it.

The message “My grades matter” is written in permanent ink on the shoes.

Keys said his son’s grades dropped from As and Bs to Cs and Ds when he started taking more interest in friends, girls and social media.

Keys said he is not trying to punish or humiliate his son, just motivate him to do better.

He is also printing T-shirts with the message. Keys said his son has to wear the shoes and T-shirt every day until his grades improve.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:51:57 -0400

Black leader calls on black families to arm themselves

The head of the Georgia chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to promote nonviolent social change, on Tuesday advocated African-American families “exercise their Second Amendment rights” in response to recent police shootings of unarmed black men.

“You stand there, (police) shoot. You run, they shoot. We’re going to have to take a different tack,” Samuel Mosteller, longtime president of the Georgia SCLC, told reporters.

The remarks came one week after 23-year-old Goodyear employee Nicholas Thomas was fatally shot by Smyrna police serving an arrest warrant on a probation violation. Police say Thomas tried to run them over in a customer’s Maserati, though lawyers hired by the dead man’s family have challenged the official account.

Earlier this month 27-year-old Anthony Hill, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was shot and killed by a DeKalb County police officer who alleged the Afghanistan war veteran charged him in a threatening manner. Hill was nude and unarmed at the time.

“Nobody is protecting the black community,” Mosteller said.

Janice Mathis, a lawyer with Rainbow PUSH who appeared alongside Mosteller, distanced herself from the SCLC director’s comments.

“Arming the black community is not Rainbow PUSH’s position,” she said.

Ironically, the SCLC’s lack of militancy was often criticized by younger activists who came of age in the 1960s. King, aided by civil rights icons including Joseph Lowery, Ralph Abernathy and Bayard Rustin, started the SCLC in 1957 to coordinate nonviolent direct action to hasten the desegregation of public accommodations throughout the South.

Mosteller also announced plans to organize recalls of the sheriffs of any county where an unarmed African-American is shot by police.

Activists plan a vigil for Thomas Tuesday evening.

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:42:22 -0400

Woman stabs boyfriend twice for eating all the salsa

Police say Phyllis Jefferson yelled at her boyfriend before jamming a pen into his pelvis. Not satisfied yet, cops say she knocked over a TV and used a knife to stab the man in the stomach before driving away.

When officers arrived, they found Ronnie Buckner standing in the yard, bleeding.

Cleveland.com reports when Jefferson was stopped a few miles from the house, she admitted the attack and told police she was mad because Buckner was "eating all of the salsa," they were supposed to be sharing.

Jefferson faces charges of felonious assault, and criminal damaging. Bucker is expected to fully recover.

More here.   

Published: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:34:15 -0400