Archive for September, 2010

Montgomery Sentenced to Life in CMPD Officers’ Murders

September 30, 2010

From www.wcnc.com

September 30, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Demeatrius Montgomery has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton.

 by NewsChannel 36 Staff

Thursday afternoon, the jury found Montgomery guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

The verdict was announced at about 4:15 p.m. Sean Clark’s widow could be seen crying in the courtroom.

Judge Forrest Bridges sentenced Montgomery to two consecutive life sentences.

Montgomery was given the opportunity to address the court before he was sentenced, but he said nothing.

The jury had three choices for a verdict: guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder or not guilty.

The death penalty was taken off the table early in the case because a detective mishandled case notes.

Before announcing the verdict, the jury requested to see pictures that showed the clothing Montgomery was wearing the night two Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers were killed.

Officers Clark and Shelton were shot to death at the Timber Ridge apartment complex in 2007.

The case was sent to the jury Wednesday afternoon, just after 3 p.m.

After less than an hour of deliberations Wednesday the jury requested that all of the exhibits in the case be brought into the jury room.

Shelton and Clark were in the apartment complex responding to a domestic call when they were killed.

Prosecutors say Montgomery’s intense hatred for police officers was his motive for murder.

The defense says the case is based on speculation and the witnesses gave inconsistent testimony.

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Chester County, SC Deputies Seize 177 Pounds of Marijuana During Traffic Stop

September 30, 2010

September 30, 2010

by NewsChannel 36 Staff

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — A South Carolina man is charged with trafficking marijuana after Chester County deputies found nearly 178 pounds of pot in his car.

Credit: Chester County Sheriff’s Office

Chester County deputies stopped 29-year-old Tedric Allison on Interstate 77 Wednesday.

When deputies searched his car, they found 177.6 pounds of marijuana packaged in seven separate bails in the car’s trunk. The street value of the drugs is estimated at $160,000.

Allison is being held in the Chester County Detention Center.

Jury in Trial of Man Accused of Murdering 2 Police Officers Asks To See Photographs

September 30, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

The jury in the trial of Demeatrius Montgomery, accused of fatally shooting two Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers, asked the judge for several pieces of evidence this morning as it tries to reach a verdict.

 The 11 pieces of evidence are mostly photos of Montgomery, who is accused of killing Officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark at the Timber Ridge Apartments in east Charlotte in March 2007.

In this video image, police officers escort Demeatrius Montgomery into CMPD headquarters April 1, 2007, the morning after Officers Sean Clark and Jeffrey Shelton were shot and killed. WCNC-TV

 The jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon, after attorneys for both sides presented closing statements that morning.

 Around 10:30 this morning, Judge Forrest Bridges announced that jurors had requested the photos.

 They include a photo submitted by a Timber Ridge resident identifying Montgomery, an aerial photo of the east Charlotte apartment complex where the killings happened and several photos of Montgomery after he was arrested.

 Some of the pictures show him wearing a torn T-shirt that prosecutors have said was ripped during a scuffle with police.

 Today’s request is the second time jurors have requested evidence from the judge. On Wednesday, shortly after deliberations began, they asked for a DNA report, a firearm ballistics report, fingerprint exhibits and a notebook found in Montgomery’s bedroom at his grandmother’s house.

US Army Burns Bibles in Afghanistan

September 30, 2010

Tommy Christopher From www.politicsdaily.com (5-19-09)

Tommy Christopher
Contributor
On May 5, Army spokeswoman Major Jennifer Willis told Reuters that at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan “the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera’s clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed.”

On the heels of a report that Donald Rumsfeld included Crusade-esque cover sheets on his intelligence briefings comes a jarring follow-up to the story of proselytizing soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jake Tapper reports that Bibles sent to soldiers in Afghanistan for distribution to locals were rather unceremoniously disposed of:

On May 5, Army spokeswoman Major Jennifer Willis told Reuters that at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan “the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera’s clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed.”

Today, Christian Broadcasting’s David Brody says “the Bibles were burned because the rules on the base say that all garbage is burned at the end of the day. But just asking here; if the U.S. Military seized a stack full of Korans, would they be burned? You think that might cause a little outrage in the Muslim world?”

Yikes!

The crux of the original story was the allegation that the soldiers were violating General Order 1, which forbids proselytizing. The Pentagon denies this, but when you’ve got video of a Chaplain urging his men to be bounty hunters for Jesus, that’s a tough argument to make:

Still, did they have to burn them?I mean, it’s not like with flags, is it? There doesn’t seem to be a right way to destroy a Bible.

Brody’s point is well taken. Couldn’t the Army have sold the Bibles to a local bookstore?

While I am firmly in the camp that says religion has intruded too far into government (as evidenced by the brouhaha surrounding the President’s speech at a merely tangentially religious institution), I also think religious texts ought to be respected, even if their owners don’t always extend that respect to others.

Surely, there’s a middle-ground between being soul-snipers for Christ and burning stacks of Bible?

Woman Behind Acid Attack Hoax Pleads ‘Not Guilty’

September 30, 2010

9/29/2010

By Teresa Blackman / KGW.com

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The woman who falsely claimed a stranger threw acid in her face and then allowed people to throw her a fundraiser pleaded not guilty to theft charges in court Wednesday.

Bethany Storro, of Vancouver, entered the courtroom surrounded by local and national media early Wednesday morning, the scars on her face clearly visible with her hair pulled into a bun. Her court appearance was the first time she’d been in public since a hospital press conference Sept. 1 when her head was covered with bandaging. On Wednesday, she only had one small bandage on her nose.

She has been charged with theft after she accepted donations from a fundraiser set up to help her pay the medical bills from what she claimed at the time was an acid attack. Some time after the fundraiser, police said Storro confessed to them that she had made up the story about the attack and she had actually splashed drain cleaner onto her own face.

After her confession, Storro sought medical care at an undisclosed location.

The judge Wednesday granted Storro supervised release without bail, which allowed her to return to the medical facility where she has been receiving specialized care.

Court records indicated that Storro has spent about $1,500 of the nearly $28,000 donated to her. Among other things, investigators said she bought a train ticket for her sister, went on a shopping spree at Target and took her parents out to dinner.

Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Tony Golik has said that the accounts containing donated money have been frozen. Much of the money was donated through a fund at Umpqua Bank. The bank released a statement Wednesday explaining how people can get refunds if they have a receipt. Melissa Moore, a spokeswoman for Umpqua, said the unclaimed money will be donated to Legacy Emanuel Hospital’s burn center.

Storro’s parents have promised that all money will be returned. They attended the arraignment wearing all black and showed support for their daughter but did not speak in the courtroom.

The judge set Storro’s next court date for October 19 and her trial was scheduled to begin on December 20.

New Website Covers North Carolina Politics, Government

September 30, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Freedom News Service
M2Mpolitics.com, a new website covering North Carolina politics, has been launched. Barry Smith, editor and publisher of the online publication, said that the aim of the new portal is to cover politics from Manteo to Murphy, explaining what the two “M’s” in M2Mpolitics represent.

 “We’re hoping M2Mpolitics.com will be North Carolinians’ top site for political news, whether you’re a political junkie like me or whether you just need to find out some information about a candidate so you can make an informed decision at the ballot box,” Smith said.

 While the site will cover North Carolina politics, the focus will be on the balance of power in the state legislature. All 50 Senate districts and all 120 House districts will be analyzed. The site will give some background information on the candidates and provide links to their campaign websites.

 M2Mpolitics.com will also provide links to stories about North Carolina politics in publications and other news outlets across the state.

 “One of the things we’re excited about is providing a featured race of the week,” Smith said, noting that the feature will focus on contested House and Senate races.

 The site is presented as a partnership between Freedom Communications’ North Carolina newspapers, which include The Star.

 Smith, a lifelong North Carolina resident who has covered state government and politics for the past 12 years, will also handicap each race and tell you whether the race leans Democratic, Republican or is a toss-up.

 On Election Night, Smith plans to call each individual race as the numbers start rolling in.

 Smith will also serve as a source for news outlets and other organizations seeking insight into this year’s legislative elections.

 “This year, both the Senate and the House are up for grabs,” Smith said. “The next few weeks are going to be a wild ride.”

 Reach Barry Smith, editor and publisher of M2Mpolitics.com, by phone at 919-821-5570 or by e-mail at barrysmith@freedom.com.

Man, 20, Accused of Strangling and Punching Woman

September 30, 2010
From The Shelby Star
Thursday, September 30 2010
By Corey Friedman

A Kings Mountain man was charged Wednesday with strangling a woman and punching her in the face.

Cedrick R. Roberts, 20, of the 300 block of Wilson Terrace, allegedly “grabbed (the woman) by the throat using both hands and held her to the ground,” accorrding to a warrant for his arrest. The woman had difficulty breathing and had a red face and red marks around her throat, Kings Mountain police said in arrest documents.

Cedrick R. Roberts
Courtesy of the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office
Roberts was charged with assault by strangulation, assault on a female and violating the terms of his probation. He was held without bond in the Cleveland County Detention Center.

 

Police: Gastonia Man Exposed Himself To Neighbor

September 30, 2010

From http://www.wsoctv.com

September 29, 2010

GASTONIA, N.C. — A Gastonia man is charged with indecent exposure after police said he exposed himself to a neighbor.

 Police said Glenn Grondin dropped his pants in front of Carolyn Beachum and her sister on Tuesday night. Grondin stopped and exposed himself as he was walking past Beachum’s sister’s window while he was taking out his trash, police said.

 “Oh, I’m very angry,” Beachum said. “He turned around pulled his pants down and … he took off.”

 Beachum said her sister, who lives in an apartment complex on Cherbough Way, has cancer and she was there to help her. Her family has had simple neighborly disputes with Grondin in the past, she said, but nothing like Tuesday’s incident.

 “(My sister has) got cancer and she could not get up to do anything. If she could have, she probably would have thrown something at him,” Beachum said.

 Beachum said she called 911 and then went to Grondin’s apartment to make sure he stayed there until police arrived.

 Grondin is still in jail under a $1,000 bond.

Slain Officers’ Case in Jury’s Hands

September 30, 2010
Prosecution, defense portray defendant Montgomery in strikingly opposite terms.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.and Gary L. Wright
Staff Writers

A prosecutor described Demeatrius Montgomery on Wednesday as a man with “deep-seated hatred for police” that drove him to shoot Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark in 2007.

The lead defense attorney told jurors with equal certainty: “That young man is innocent.”

In this video image, police officers escort Demeatrius Montgomery into CMPD headquarters April 1, 2007, the morning after Officers Sean Clark and Jeffrey Shelton were shot and killed. WCNC-TV

The seven men and five women on the Mecklenburg jury will resume deliberations in the case today, after reviewing evidence for about two hours late Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier, the courtroom in uptown Charlotte was packed with spectators to hear attorneys’ closing arguments. Some who came to watch were turned away. Police Chief Rodney Monroe and homicide detectives sat in the front row behind prosecutors. Montgomery’s father and grandmother sat in a row behind the defense table.

In her final words to jurors, Assistant District Attorney Marsha Goodenow portrayed Montgomery as a man who shot Shelton and Clark solely because they were officers.

“Every fiber in my body will tell you he’s not guilty,” defense attorney Duane Bryant, left, told jurors. At right is co-counsel Bruce Lee. PHOTOS BY DAVID T. FOSTER III – CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

“They were the thin blue line that protected us from chaos, that protected us from crime…,” the prosecutor said of the slain officers. “That thin blue line was breached by a man with hatred in his heart for those who keep us safe.”

Prosecution witnesses had testified Montgomery’s DNA was on the revolver found in the woods near the shooting scene, that gunshot residue was found on Montgomery’s palms and that the handgun found in the woods fired the bullets removed from Clark’s head. Two prosecution witnesses also said they saw Montgomery running with a gun after they heard shots fired.

  • “Reason and common sense tell you he killed these two officers,” said Mecklenburg County assistant district attorney Marsha Goodenow.

  • But Montgomery’s attorney, Duane Bryant, told jurors that prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that his client killed the officers. He questioned the validity of the state’s DNA and fingerprint evidence. And he reminded jurors that no witness claimed to have seen Montgomery pull the trigger.

    Bryant pointed at Montgomery: “Take a look. Don’t be afraid to look at him. He’s innocent of this crime.”

    Montgomery is charged in the March 31, 2007, fatal shootings of Officers Shelton and Clark at the Timber Ridge Apartments in east Charlotte. Prosecutors say the officers were killed during a scuffle with Montgomery; defense attorneys suggested someone else shot the officers in a sneak attack.

    Montgomery has pleaded not guilty. If convicted of first-degree murder, he would be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Jurors also will be able to consider whether the police officers’ killings were second-degree murders. Four of the jurors are black. The slain police officers are white; Montgomery is black.

    The prosecution’s closing argument came first. Goodenow called Clark and Shelton extraordinary men who had chosen an extraordinary profession. On the night of their killings, they had responded to an unrelated domestic call at Timber Ridge, she said, and had treated the people involved with “respect and kindness.”

    The prosecutor said the officers were gunned down after finishing their work at the domestic disturbance. The killings, she said, took just seconds.

    “They had no reason to think he was a threat…,” Goodenow said. “They had no reason to know that a man with that kind of hatred was sitting on the porch waiting for them.”

    Goodenow recalled what Clark’s young son told him as he left for work on the day his father was shot to death.

    “Daddy, go get the bad guys,” the boy said.

    Then Goodenow added: “The bad guy got him.”

    Jennifer Shelton and Sherry Clark cried as Goodenow talked about their slain husbands.

    Goodenow told jurors that Montgomery had not been framed. “Do you really think the Charlotte police department wants the real killer to walk the streets?” she asked.

    “Reason and common sense tell you he killed these two officers,” Goodenow said.

    Montgomery was the only person seen running from the shooting scene, Goodenow said, and he wasn’t looking behind to see if anyone was following. “He made sure they were down and done and took off running,” she said.

    One of the last things Goodenow showed the jurors was a slide that said, “What this case really is about.” Underneath the words were photos of Shelton and Clark.

    “You can give Jeff and Sean the one thing they lived for – justice. Justice is first-degree murder…Send (Montgomery) to prison for the rest of his life.”

    Defense Attorney Bryant told jurors that prosecutors left too many questions unanswered.

    He pointed out that no person had identified Montgomery as the shooter; ballistic tests that point to Montgomery were subjective; there was no blood on Montgomery’s clothes; and witnesses gave conflicting descriptions of the man suspected of shooting the officers.

    Bryant presented an alternate theory of what happened that night. He said police assumed they arrested the right man, but he suggested that someone else killed the officers.

    “They were shot by parties unknown,” he said.

    Half of the prosecution’s witnesses, Bryant said, failed to identify Montgomery.

    “For three-and-a half-years, they had a chance to hash it out, to remix it,” the defense attorney said. “When it comes time to put up or shut up, they said, ‘I can’t identify the man.’ Because they know what you know – that justice requires getting it right.”

    Bryant said the jury should require more proof before locking a man up for the rest of his life.

    “If you’re going to tie this man to the crime, tie him…,” he said. “Bring the proof in here.”

    The prosecutors, Bryant said, had failed to give jurors a complete picture of what happened.

    “You’re jurors. You decide whether they can bring in just a piece of evidence and point the finger and say, ‘This person is guilty because I said so,’ ” Bryant said. “You can’t just pick out the good pieces and say ‘the good pieces are what make our case.’ ”

    As he neared the end of his closing argument, Bryant turned to his co-counsel, Bruce Lee, and told him to stand.

    “We represent Mr. Montgomery,” Bryant said. “Every fiber in my body will tell you he’s not guilty of this crime.”

    Bryant then spoke to the jurors about their duty. “You can fight for justice. You can fight to get it right…Now is the time for you to do what is right.”

    Searches Pertaining to Death of Police Chief’s Daughter Detailed

    September 30, 2010
    White powder, straws found at her home, scales at suspect’s, according to warrants.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    By Ely Portillo
    elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com

    Investigators seized an unidentified white powder and straws when they searched the home of a police chief’s daughter, and found scales at the home of the man arrested in connection with her death, according to search warrants filed Tuesday that reveal more details about the case.

    Valerie Hamilton, 23, was seen leaving Thomas Street Tavern early Wednesday, Sept. 15, with a man police later said was Michael Harvey. Her father, Concord police Chief Merl Hamilton, reported her missing after she failed to show up for work or contact him.

    MISSING_HAMILTON
    Valerie Hamilton

    In the days following Hamilton’s disappearance, police searched her Arboretum-area apartment, Harvey’s residence near the Belmont neighborhood, and the Monroe Road storage unit where Hamilton’s body was found.

    In the warrants, police say one of Harvey’s roommates told them that Harvey was a known drug user who sold heroin and cocaine. The warrants also say a woman who lived in Harvey’s house overdosed on heroin and was hospitalized the same night Hamilton was seen there.

    According to the warrants, police searched Hamilton’s apartment on Sept. 17. They seized various items, including a computer, a stun gun, straws and an unidentified white powder.

    When detectives examined Hamilton’s cell phone records, they found the last calls made to her phone, at 2:38 and 2:39 a.m. Sept. 15, came from Harvey, a registered sex offender and probationer awaiting trial on drug charges.

    Investigators went to his home on East 15th Street, but Harvey wasn’t there. Detectives interviewed his roommates, who said a girl matching Hamilton’s description – whom Harvey called “Valerie” – had been at the house the night she disappeared.

    One of the roommates told investigators he helped Harvey put Hamilton in Harvey’s truck after seeing her lying on his bed, glassy-eyed. The roommate said he told Hamilton she needed to go to the hospital.

    Another of his roommates told investigators she didn’t see Harvey or Hamilton that night because the roommate had overdosed on heroin at about 1 a.m. and was taken to the hospital.

    Roommates also told investigators that Harvey’s behavior had been unusual since Hamilton’s disappearance. Harvey had been cleaning, which he never did, and hadn’t been sleeping at the house, they said.

    Detectives seized items including a holster, gun magazines, speed loaders, spoons, a scale and a pair of jeans at Harvey’s home.

    One of the roommates told police that Harvey had a storage unit on Monroe Road. When detectives searched the unit Saturday, Sept. 18, they found Hamilton’s body.

    A preliminary autopsy found no signs on Hamilton’s body of a violent or traumatic death. Authorities are awaiting results of a toxicology test on her.

    Harvey was arrested Sept. 20 on a murder warrant in Niagara Falls. He is in New York, awaiting extradition, and police officials have said the charges against him could change when he’s returned to Charlotte. Court records show Harvey was a longtime drug abuser who was awaiting charges of possessing fake heroin with the intent to sell.