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  • Civil rights group says they will protest if two Carteret Co. men are not released from jail

    By Leland Pinder
    Published On: Nov 25 2014 06:43:14 PM CST

    Civil rights group says they will protest if two Carteret County men are not released from jail. The men have been in the Carteret County jail since 2011 on trespassing charges.

    The family contacted the civil rights group called "T.H.U.G" which stands for "True Healing Under God." They're based in Charlotte.

    "We're here just to get some answers, the family wants answers," said President and Founder John Barnette.

    Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels were sent to jail on trespassing charges but they say the land they were on is theirs. Thirteen acres in Merrimon had been in their family for nearly a century. Decades ago the owner died without a will. One family member sold the land while another, not in agreement with the sale, continued to live on the property.

    Appellate courts have upheld the sale of land. NewsChannel tried contacted the alleged owners and plaintiff in the case, "Adams Creek Associates," at a number listed in court documents but the phone number was not in service.

    The brothers were jailed in 2011 when they did not remove structures and equipment from the property via a court order.

    "If the land is theirs, proceed with working on it, or renovating it or whatever you want to do to the land," said Barnette.

    But Barnette calls the legitimacy of the sale into question. Barnette says he he's planning a march if the two men aren't released by a certain date. He's also plans to hopefully garner the attention of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

    Last year Davis daughter, Valerie, was very vocal and outspoken about her fathers release but today she's confined to a wheelchair and can barely speak after suffering a stroke and having brain surgery. Melvin Davis ex-wife says it due to the stress she's endured fighting for her father and uncle's release from jail. With Barnett's help, Janie Davis is hoping for a positive outcome.

    "If you could get out, you and Licurtis, it would mean so much to her and your mother," said Janie Davis.

    The courts have said if the men removed the structures from the property and could prove that, they would be released from jail but Barnette calls that a negotiation and not justice.

    Barnette says his work has led to 17 people being released from jail. He says he's been involved with many high profile civil rights cases, including the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, MO, the "Jena 6" in Jena, LA, and the shooting death of Sean Bell in New York City by an undercover police officer.

  • Pedestrian crash under investigation in Jacksonville

    By WCTI Staff
    Published On: Nov 26 2014 06:51:20 AM CST

    According to officials, a pedestrian was hit by a car in Jacksonville. Officials say it happened around 6 p.m. Tuesday on Waters Road.

    Officials with Highway Patrol say Richard Miller told them he was walking down the side of the highway when a car crossed over the grass and hit him. But officials say there is no evidence the car veered off the road.

    The driver, 73-year-old Bruce Knipp, was charged with a learner's permit violation.

    The cause of the crash is under investigation.

  • Ferguson grand jury: What the witnesses said

    By By Emanuella Grinberg CNN
    Published On: Nov 25 2014 08:34:38 PM CST
    Updated On: Nov 26 2014 09:22:55 AM CST
    Michael Brown, Darren Wilson


    (CNN) -

    Did Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shoot Michael Brown dead as he staggered to the ground, hobbled by gunshot wounds? Or, did the 18-year-old aggressively charge at Wilson even after the officer ordered him to stop?

    A St. Louis County grand jury heard both versions and many more from dozens of witnesses who gave accounts of what happened on August 9, the day Wilson shot Brown to death in the middle of the street outside an apartment complex as dozens of people watched.

    The panel of nine white and three black members heard 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses and three medical examiners before declining to indict Wilson Monday in Brown's death. Their decision touched off riots and looting in the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis, and protests nationwide.

    After the decision was announced, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office released transcripts of the proceedings, offering a rare glimpse into the closed-door hearing. It may have been a gesture of transparency, but the conflicting witness accounts, redacted police statements and contradictory autopsies only seemed to leave a murkier picture of what happened.

    When the grand jury first convened on August 20, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch told panelists that he hoped to wrap up proceedings by mid-October. Instead, the panel sat for 25 days over three months as multiple jurisdictions investigated Brown's death. In that time, a grassroots social justice movement coalesced online, Brown's parents addressed the United Nations, and Wilson got married in secret.

    Some sticking points are beginning to emerge as CNN reviews the transcripts. What follows is a work in progress as we continue to read.

    When did Wilson start shooting?

    In Wilson's David-against-Goliath-like portrayal of the events, the six-year veteran of the force told the grand jury that he called for backup before he got out of his car. He feared for his life against the 6'4, 290-lb. Brown, likening the match-up to "a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan."

    Whether it was a tussle, a wrestling match, witnesses said they saw a confrontation between Brown and Wilson while Wilson was in his police SUV. Accounts varied regarding who was the aggressor, and not everyone heard gunshots that Wilson fired, by his own admission. But everyone saw Brown suddenly take off running east behind the car.

    What happened after Wilson stepped out of his car is unclear. Several witnesses testified that Wilson began shooting while Brown was running away from him.

    One witness claimed to watch from a bedroom window as Wilson shot at Brown as he ran in the opposite direction (volume 7, page 18). By the time the witness ran outside for a better look, Brown was "bent down" and facing Wilson with his arms tucked on his stomach, "so I'm thinking now he's shot," the witness told the jury.

    Another witness supported that claim, saying in an audio recording played for the grand jury that Wilson immediately began shooting after emerging from his vehicle (volume 7, page 86). The witness also said that a bullet appeared to strike Brown, "jerking his body."

    A different witness testified that Wilson got out of the vehicle with his gun drawn but did not point it at Brown until Brown turned around to face him (volume 6, page 166).

    Did Brown raise his hands in surrender?

    What happened after Brown turned around is also hotly disputed. Were his hands up -- as in clearly raised up and out -- in surrender? Or were his palms up, meaning was he looking at his body with his arms near his sides, not necessarily in a conciliatory gesture? Or, did he put his hand in the waist of his pants, as if moving toward a gun, as Wilson testified?

    The same witness who said Wilson did not open fire on Brown as he ran away also said that Brown made absolutely no motion to surrender.

    "He stopped. He did turn, he did some sort of body gesture," the witness testified. But, "it was not in a surrendering motion."

    "I could say for sure he never put his hands up after he did his body gesture, he ran towards the officer full charge. The officer fired several shots," the witness told the grand jury (volume 6, pages 166-167). In an earlier police statement, the witness admitted that his version differed from what others claimed to see, as bystanders traded stories on the street in the immediate aftermath.

    The same witness who claimed to see Brown's body jerk from a gunshot said Brown turned around and put his hands up.

    "And, the officer walks up to and continues to just shoot, shoot him until he falls to the ground," the witness said.

    "Even though his hands were up?" a detective asks on the recording.


    Did Brown charge at Wilson?

    Wilson testified Brown came at him after turning around to face him.

    "As he is coming towards me, I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn't. I shoot a series of shots," he told the grand jury.

    At least one witness agreed with Wilson, the one who said Brown ran toward the officer "full charge." Those who testified that Brown already had been wounded said the charge was more like a wounded stagger.

    "He was going down definitely," said the witness watching from the balcony. "And, the officer just let out a few more rounds to him and he hit the ground and that's when I seen blood." [volume 7, page 21]

    As he was taking small steps "like he was stumbling," the officer "lets out some more shots and that's when he hit the ground," the witness testified.

    Another witness said Brown made it about 25 to 30 feet when he turned to face the officer, who had exited his vehicle by then, and Brown raised his hands, "but he didn't raise them all the way up."

    As Wilson yelled "stop," Brown took two to three steps forward and "pow, pow," the witness said in a police statement that was read aloud to the grand jury.

    Wilson staggered forward with the "weirdest look on his face," the witness told police -- not a menacing look, but "like he's coming to him like to plea with him stop."

    Wilson continued yelling "stop," but Brown stumbled forward "real slowly," hunched forward and rocking back and forth as if he were in pain.

    Wilson fired again, the witness said. "And as he was going, he kept firing. He kept firing. Until he hit the ground."

    That last set of rounds was what set off everyone who was watching, the witness said. Brown was already down. Did Wilson have to keep shooting?

    "He was, to me and I'm going to say it, he was executed," the witness said of Brown. "Maybe he got caught up in the heat of the moment or whatever was his intention I cannot read that officer's mind, but he did not have to fire that last volley."

    Was Wilson credible?

    This grand jury had something most grand juries don't get -- the man who fired the fatal bullets. Michael Brown, the best witness to cast doubt on his version of events, was dead.

    In the end, it came down to whether jurors believed Wilson's self-defense claim -- or if they could find a reason to disbelieve him. Wilson did say he was afraid another blow to the face would knock him out; he also feared Brown would take his gun and shoot him.

    As weeks dragged on jurors appeared to understand that the public was getting impatient.

    "My concern is that everybody is saying 'hurry up, hurry up, hurry up,' from what I'm hearing. Hurry up, make a decision, hurry up and get this done, hurry up and get that done," one juror said on September 30.

    "I think everybody needs to ratchet it down a little bit and let us do what we can do. I have faith and trust in everybody in here, to make the decision that's appropriate. I'm not saying it is the right decision, I'm not saying it is the wrong decision, but make the decision that's appropriate based on the facts. But is that being disseminated by these groups or whatever to the people there?"

    "Do they not understand the process?" another juror said. "Is that the problem, or is there a way to bypass this because it seems to me that we're doing what needs to be done and we're doing what's right and people are not seeing that."

  • Ex-Tar Heels basketball player faces rape charge

    By Associated Press
    Published On: Nov 25 2014 10:40:09 PM CST

    A former University of North Carolina men's basketball player has been charged with second-degree rape.

    Melvin Scott, 32, of Durham, North Carolina, was arrested Friday, according to a warrant. He was originally held under a $500,000 secured bond but was later released when the bond was reduced to $200,000 after his first court appearance.

    His attorney, John C. Fitzpatrick, says Scott "is very anxious for the opportunity to defend his character" in court. His next appearance is scheduled for Dec. 16.

    In an email, Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the charge involved "a female acquaintance."

    Scott played for the Tar Heels from 2001-05 under coach Matt Doherty and later Roy Williams. He was a reserve on the school's 2005 national championship team under Williams.

  • DA: Man who stole shirts to wear to new job heading to prison

    By WCTI Staff
    Published On: Nov 25 2014 10:43:20 AM CST
    Updated On: Nov 25 2014 03:28:20 PM CST

    A man who told investigators he stole shirts from the New Bern Mall to wear to a new job has been sentenced to prison.

    Mark Ashley Smith, 47, of Bridgeton, pleaded guilty last week to stealing shirts from the Belk store at the mall, according to District Attorney Scott Thomas.

    Investigators said Smith stole several polo shirts from the department store on June 4 and hid them in his pants. Surveillance video showed him leaving the store while employees went after him.

    Smith ran out the back of the store toward the wood line near J.C. Penney, but a K-9 officer tracked him down, said police. Officers found a pair of pliers on Smith, which he used to tear off the anti-theft devices on the shirts, according to investigators.

    Due to a change in state law a few years ago, destroying such devices elevates theft charges into felonies.

    Smith told police he stole the shirts to wear to a new job.

    Because of his criminal history --including felonies of breaking and entering, larceny of firearms, forgery, and prescription fraud-- Smith was sentenced last week as a habitual felon, the district attorney said in a news release. Smith received between three years nine months and five-and-a-half years in prison.

    The judge also recommended Smith for drug treatment while behind bars.

  • Greenville Preps for Ferguson Decision Protest

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    A manatee that was stranded in Texas coastal waters is now on the mend thanks to rescuers.

  • Thanksgiving travel rush begins

  • Family fears worst in 2-year-old's disappearance

    Multiple agencies in Arkansas are searching for missing 2-year-old Malik Drummond.

  • Gunfire, rock-throwing, looting throughout night in Ferguson

    Angry protesters set buildings and police cars on fire in downtown Ferguson after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.