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Troopers respond to fatal wreck in Cabarrus County

Troopers responded to a fatal wreck Friday afternoon on Highway 200 near Reed Mine Road.

No further details have been released.

Watch Eyewitness News and return to this story for updates on this developing story.

To see more local news stories, click here.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 15:12:01 -0400

Governor, state Legislature at odds over funding for roads

A difference of opinion in Raleigh is putting a proposal to speed up road projects across the state at risk.

Leaders in the North Carolina Senate said they oppose a plan by Gov. Pat McCrory to give voters a voice on the issue.

There are roads all over the state that drivers would like to see improved.

McCrory thinks he has the solution. He's calling it "Connect NC."

"For the first time in 15 years, we've got a governor and an administration talking about building new roads throughout NC," McCrory said.

The governor wants a referendum on the fall ballot asking voters to approve nearly $1.5 billion in highway bonds, which would accelerate projects like Highway 74 in Cleveland County, Interstates 77/40 in Iredell County and a new interchange at I-485 and Weddington Road in Mecklenburg.

The trouble is that leaders in the North Carolina Senate, so far, oppose the governor's idea to borrow money for roads.

Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, said he and others in the Senate think a new state budget surplus could be used instead.

"We think we can actually talk about $300 (million) to $350 million in capacity and just pay it off as we go over a 5- to 10-year period,” he said.

But some fellow Republicans think that timetable is too long.

Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, stood on Weddington Road, where the governor's plan calls for a new interchange to be built.

"This was first proposed 20 years ago," Brawley said.

He said the governor's bond package would speed it and other projects that are needed now.

"We are so far behind on construction, particularly in the urban areas. Anything to catch us up," Brawley said.

McCrory admits that he has an uphill battle with his own party in Raleigh.

"We're going to get something, I just don't know what," McCrory said, "We're going to try our best." 

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 15:10:31 -0400

Search ‘same-sex marriage’ on Google for a rainbow-themed surprise

Google is celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage with a rainbow-themed Easter egg.

Just type any of the following terms into Google to see a rainbow heart and a rainbow-colored banner of people holding hands: same-sex marriage, gay marriage or Supreme Court gay marriage.

Google also used Google Photos to mark the day, featuring a number of photos from gay celebrations.

The company has long been a supporter of gay rights.

http://twitter.com/googlephotos/status/614500631903137793

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 15:02:43 -0400

New Jersey family flees home after getting creepy messages

It is perhaps the least welcome house-warming gift you could receive at your new residence: Cryptic, menacing letters from a mystery person who claims to be watching you and your children at home.

It happened recently to a New Jersey family, just after they moved in. They have since fled the home, and the case even has town officials on edge.

In a lawsuit, the homeowners claim their large, six-bedroom home in Union County New Jersey is being watched. The residents paid $1.3 million for what they call their "dream home" in the town of Westfield.

They claim the previous owners were aware of a man who calls himself "The Watcher," but they never said anything.

"I would be pretty upset if I bought a house and found out that the previous owners knew about it," said Westfield resident Robert Hagen.

Since moving in, the owners say they've received numerous letters from the mysterious person.

The watcher claims the home "gas been the subject of my family for decades," and "I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming."

The new owners have several children, and other letters ask, "Have they found what's in the walls yet?' and 'I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me."

The bone-chilling letters were enough to send the new family packing.

The incidents have been so unnerving that the Westfield mayor addressed the issue at a town council meeting Tuesday night.

"Our police department conducted an exhaustive investigation based on the factual circumstances and evidence available," Mayor Andy Skibitsky said.

No charges have been filed, and whether the owners have any legal case remains to be seen.

Mayor Skibitsky says that under New Jersey law, the letters are classified as a disorderly person's crime.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 15:01:05 -0400

Charlotte church plans to hold Sunday service despite arson

No one has been arrested in connection with a fire at Briar Creek Church in east Charlotte, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Eyewitness News Reporter Stephanie Coueignoux spoke with Pastor Rhonda Kinsey about how the church is moving forward.

"This is just a building," Kinsey said, standing outside Briar Creek Church, where she and her husband preside. "We are actually the church. What is keeping us going is our faith.”

Channel 9 spotted signs from the Charlotte Fire Department, saying that the church is unsafe.

While Kinsey says the community's faith is stronger than any building, it's been difficult.

“It’s extremely heartbreaking at the same time,” Kinsey said.

Channel 9 checked Friday with CMPD and Charlotte Fire Department officials. While they say the fire was intentionally set, they are not calling it a hate crime.

“I do have to say that we have struggled with 'what if it's a hate crime,' but again, as our pastor tells us, we can't focus on hate,” Kinsey said.

People in the area say targeting a church is the definition of hate.

“It's the worst crime that could be committed. You're doing it to a church, of all places,” Lewis McGuiness said.

Eid Refaey said he’s a Muslim married to a Christian woman. For them, any place of worship is sacred.

“(A) church ... is the home of God. And so is our mosque -- the home of God. I can't believe anyone would do this,” Refaey said.

Kinsey said the church will hold Sunday services as a sign of strength.

Kinsey said 28 children who attend the church's summer camp will attend that camp at another church.

“That is what blesses me the most about this -- that our children won't have to be disappointed. They will still have their opportunity to have fun and grow and learn and have a good time,” Kinsey said.

Channel 9 found that under North Carolina law, a crime involving intentional targeting based on race, religion and ethnicity fall under the definition of a hate crime, including the intentional burning of a church.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:42:44 -0400

Homeowners urge safety precautions after Catawba River drowning

A group of nearly 200 Charlotte homeowners claims the recent drowning of a kayaker on the Catawba River near the U.S. Whitewater Center is proof more safety precautions must be taken.

They sent a letter to Mecklenburg County commissioners urging them to act now before someone else gets hurt.

Read our past coverage:

 

Richie Lengel lives only five minutes from the Whitewater Center, but rarely travels these waters because he said there are too many kayakers who are unsupervised and often don't pay attention.

Eyewitness News captured a distracted kayaker on camera.

"See this person here is talking on their cellphone for crying out loud.," said Lengel. "Paying no attention."

The group of homeowners called The Catawba River Group is urging commissioners to review the lease with the Whitewater Center.

Commissioner Jim Puckett told Channel 9 he's concerned there may be a lack of supervision on the river.

"If they continue to rent kayaks, they need to change their operating procedures as far as I'm concerned," said Puckett.

A Whitewater Center spokesperson said renters must listen to a talk educating them about risks, and sign a waiver before they hit the water.

Lengel wants the state to step in too to tightening rules to keep kayakers to the sides of the river.

The concerns have been on Mecklenburg County Sen. Jeff Tarte's radar for two years, but he doesn't think it's a state issue.

"At the best level, it probably doesn't need to be addressed in Raleigh," Tarte said. “Hopefully we can address it here within Mecklenburg County."

Commissioner Puckett said Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation will be meeting with Whitewater officials.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:38:50 -0400

Silver Alert issued for missing 26-year-old Lenoir woman

The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons has issued a Silver Alert for a missing endangered woman, Brandy Boling Skelton, 26.

Skelton is believed to be suffering from dementia or some other cognitive impairment. She was last seen on Commercial Court in Lenoir.

She is described as 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing 110 pounds. She has brown hair and hazel eyes. She was last seen wearing a gray and purple T-shirt, black tennis shoes and jeans.

Anyone with information about Skelton is asked to call the Lenoir Police Department at 828-757-2100. 

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:25:03 -0400

Justice Scalia blasts gay marriage ruling: Pretentious, egotistic, incoherent

In a historic and sweeping 5-4 ruling Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Justice Anthony Kenned delivered the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

Four justices — Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts — dissented, and in a rare move, all filed seperate dissents. For the first time, Justice Roberts read his dissent from the bench.

Broadly, the majority found the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment protects the right of same-sex couples to marry, as marriage is a "fundamental liberty" that cannot arbitrarily be denied. Those dissenting found no such constitutional basis, and accused the majority essentially of "discovering" a new right. 

Read their complete opinions here

Here are highlights from Kennedy's majority opinion, and the four dissents.

Kennedy's majority opinion:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodiesthe highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice,and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.

Their plea is that they dor espect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find itsfulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemnedto live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’soldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in theeyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." [Page 33]

Roberts' dissent:

"If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it." [Page 68]

Scalia's dissent:

"The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so. Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent." [Pages 75-76]

"If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: 'The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity, 'I would hide my head in a bag.

"The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie." [Page 76]

Thomas' dissent:

"Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits.

"The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away." [Page 94]

Alito's dissent:

"Today’s decision shows that decades of attempts torestrain this Court’s abuse of its authority have failed. A lesson that some will take from today’s decision is that preaching about the proper method of interpreting the Constitution or the virtues of judicial self-restraint andhumility cannot compete with the temptation to achievewhat is viewed as a noble end by any practicable means." [Pages 102-103]

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:20:45 -0400

NC police officer breaks it down at a community block party

Police officers are sworn to protect and serve. But no one said they can't break it down once in a while.

This video making the rounds on Facebook shows the unnamed, uniformed officer at a community block party in Hickory, NC.

Today.com reports Margo Carlton, who shot the video, has gotten dozens of friend requests since posting the officer dancing to “Wobble” by V.I.C.

“I just happened to show up and recorded the video,” she said. “It just went viral.”

Police officer having a good time at the community block party...

Posted by Margo Carlton on Thursday, June 18, 2015

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:12:48 -0400

Justice Kennedy's gay marriage ruling ends in a meaningful way

In the very last paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s order, he wrote this:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.”

Read the whole order here.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:59:27 -0400

Ordinary looking water slide takes you to another world

If you think this is just a regular water slide, you are wrong.

From the outside, it seems like something you grew up going to. But, slip inside and you’ll feel like you are in another world. Or maybe just Disneyland’s Magic Mountain.

Either way, we wish this slide were local.

It can be found in Germany.

Read more on Rare.us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBP7LMfhB6k

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:53:11 -0400

Troopers: Multi-state high-speed chase ends in crash

A high-speed chase that reached speeds of more than 100 mph ended Friday with a car flipping at least four times, troopers said.

The chase started in Jefferson, South Carolina, and continued north into North Carolina in the southbound lane of U.S. 601.

Troopers said that at one point the driver was clocked at 114 mph in a 45 mph zone.

The driver ran off the right side of the road on U.S. 74 in Monroe. The car flipped four or five times.

The driver was taken to CMC with minor injuries, according to troopers. No one else was hurt.

Reporter Alexa Ashwell is gathering details on what prompted the chase.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:46:43 -0400

The beautiful ending to Justice Kennedy’s gay marriage ruling

In the very last paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s order, he wrote this:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.”

Read the whole order here.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:44:49 -0400

What you need to know about Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage,  making it legal nationwide. Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer made up the majority, while Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Thomas and Justice Alito dissented. 

1. The decision: The Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The court also ruled that the law requires states to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.

>>Background on the case

2. The majority opinion: According to the ruling, The majority concluded that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right on "four principles and traditions": (1) right to person choice in marriage is "inherent in the concept of individual autonomy"; (2) "two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals"; (3) marriage safeguards children and families; (4) marriage is a keystone to our social order.  

The majority in their concluding paragraph of the decision stated:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. ... [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

3. The dissent: In his dissent, Chief Justice John Robert wrote, "If you are among the many Americans--of whatever sexual orientation--who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."

Justice Antonin Scalia began his dissent  by saying the decision is a “threat to American democracy."

4. What it means: Same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide. States will be required to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. It is unclear if all 50 states are currently equipped to issue same-sex marriage licenses immediately.

5. Reaction: A huge crowd cheered outside of the Supreme Court when the decision was read. Social media reaction was also swift and overwhelmingly positive. #LoveWins and #LoveisLove are trending on Twitter.

>>Social media reaction to same-sex marriage ruling

>>Photos: See reaction from across the nation

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:15:42 -0400

What you need to know about Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage,  making it legal nationwide. Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer made up the majority, while Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Thomas and Justice Alito dissented. 

1. The decision: The Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The court also ruled that the law requires states to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.

>>Background on the case

2. The majority opinion: According to SCOTUSblog, The majority concluded that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right on "four principles and traditions": (1) right to person choice in marriage is "inherent in the concept of individual autonomy"; (2) "two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals"; (3) marriage safeguards children and families; (4) marriage is a keystone to our social order.  

The majority in their concluding paragraph of the decision stated:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. ... [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

2. The dissent: In his dissent, Chief Justice John Robert wrote, "If you are among the many Americans--of whatever sexual orientation--who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."

Justice Antonin Scalia began his dissent  by saying the decision is a “threat to American democracy."

3. What it means: Same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide. States will be required to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. It is unclear if all 50 states are currently equipped to issue same-sex marriage licenses immediately.

4. Reaction: A huge crowd cheered outside of the Supreme Court when the decision was read. Social media reaction was also swift and overwhelmingly positive. #LoveWins and #LoveisLove are trending on Twitter.

>>Social media reaction to same-sex marriage ruling

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:13:31 -0400

Study finds that starfish have a way to avoid being tracked

The starfish doesn’t have time for your tracking needs so don’t plan on following it for too long.

The Huffington Post reported that a study done by two biology students at the University of Southern Denmark uncovered that starfish have “the ability to squeeze foreign objects between their organs and back out of their bodies.” They found this out when they tried to implant tracking microchips into a group of starfish and found the chips at the bottom of the tank after a few days.

"Every time we put a tag into a starfish, they rid themselves of the tag within a few days. It came out directly through the skin," the students said. "The starfish simply pushed it out through the skin at the end of one arm and then went on as if nothing had happened."

>> Read more trending stories

The students, Frederik Ekholm Gaardsted Christensen and Trine Bottos Olsen, used a method of dangling magnets over the group of 20 starfish and following that by doing the same thing with the microchip. But after doing that, the starfish would slide the chip through their organs and skin and eject it from a hole at the tip of their arm.

They added that this is the first time that researchers have observed a starfish ejecting items from its system.

Read more at The Huffington Post.

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:08:34 -0400

Hillary Clinton: RT if you live where same-sex marriage is legalized

Same-sex marriage is legalized throughout the country as of 10 a.m. Friday morning.

The ruling affects the country at large, and even those in Hollywood and politics took to social media to express their thoughts on the historic ruling.

>> RELATED: Photos: Celebrities who have 'come out as gay'

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:41:41 -0400

Turns out grizzly bears like to cool off the same way we do

On a hot, summer day, there’s nothing better than running through the sprinklers or taking a dip in a pool.

Not sure? Just ask this fluffy grizzly bear.

“Are you a happy bear this morning?” asks the man recording the cool down.

The footage was posted on YouTube by Single Vision, an organization that works to provide homes for exotic animals.

The poster wrote in the comments, "Bruiser bear enjoying his daily pool play!"

Watch the bear jump out of the pool, shake off, and hop back in again only to splash around some more.

Read  more at Rare.us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-yqvT8vKZc

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:41:26 -0400

Homeless man with ‘golden voice’ running for president

A one-time homeless man with a smooth, radio voice became well known after he was filmed on the side of an off-ramp in 2011.

Ted Williams eventually landed voice-over work and has been making corporate appearances and speaking in public since.

Now, the man with the ‘golden voice’ says he’s running for president.

>> Read more trending stories

Williams will run as an independent. He announced his plans on a radio show in Marion, Ohio.

His platform: fair housing, veterans' issues, jobs and improving schools. He has not put ogether a campaign staff or shared fundraising plans.

More here

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:35:20 -0400

4 things to know about the Supreme Court's pro-gay marriage ruling

1. In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Constitution requires states to license same-sex marriage and to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed elsewhere. [Read more]

2. The court's majority includes Justices Anthony Kennedy (the conventional "swing vote") joining the bench's liberal wing: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer. The opinion appears to hinge on the dual Consitutional reasoning of fundamental rights and equal protection. [Read the complete opinion]

3. Justice Kennedy, a Republican appointee, has become the court's most prominent defender of same-sex relationships -- authoring its majority opinions in the three major gay rights decisions: Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor and now Obergefell v. Hodges. Observers say this reflects Kennedy's deeply-held beliefs about individual privacy and liberty. [Read more]

4. Some opponents of same-sex marraige say they are being "bullied" for their beliefs, and now fear speaking out publicly. Beyond the verbal backlash that many say they are receiving, these opponents assert that speaking their minds could hurt their businesses, their employment or their chances for advancement at work. [Read more]

Published: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:15:26 -0400