State news briefs

Published 10:15 pm Saturday, January 19, 2013

2 hurt in accidental shooting at Raleigh gun show
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Gunshots erupted at a big gun show at North Carolina’s state fairgrounds in what witnesses are calling an accidental shooting.
It happened Saturday at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show, a quarterly event that usually draws thousands of people to the fairgrounds in Raleigh.
The facility’s police department did not respond to messages from The Associated Press.
Witnesses said it appeared a pistol went off accidentally as a law enforcement officer was unloading it at a security check-in area, hitting a person in the hand and at least one other person.
Emergency crews responded to the scene and two people were loaded into ambulances.
The show shut down early Saturday.

NC teacher marries student, undercutting sex case
BOLIVIA, N.C. (AP) — A former Brunswick County teacher charged with having sex with a student won’t face trial after marrying the victim.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports 42-year-old Leah Gayle Shipman pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge of resisting a public officer.
Court records show Shipman divorced her husband of 19 years last year and six days later married 17-year-old student Johnnie Ray Ison. His mother signed documents allowing him to marry while a minor.
The marriage prevented prosecutors from compelling Ison to testify against Shipman.
A spouse can’t be forced to testify against the defendant in most criminal cases.
Shipman taught at Brunswick County Academy when she was arrested in January 2009 on charges of sexual offense with a student, statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a student.

GOV. campaign got donation from indicted lawyer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign received a donation after his November election victory from an attorney who was indicted in an investigation of unreported flights during former Gov. Beverly Perdue’s 2008 campaign.
Campaign reports filed this month show Trawick “Buzzy” Stubbs Jr. of New Bern gave $1,000 to The Pat McCrory Committee on Nov. 27.
A state grand jury indicted Stubbs in 2011 on charges he provided undisclosed flights on private planes to Perdue while she ran for governor. Stubbs was the law partner of Perdue’s deceased first husband.
Stubbs has asked the Court of Appeals to throw out the pending charges against him. Two others indicted in the flight probe were convicted.
McCrory’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Former pastor pleads guilty to molesting 2 girls
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A former Gastonia-area pastor could serve up to 60 years in prison for sexually molesting two young girls during church ministry trips to Haiti.
Federal prosecutors said Larry Michael Bollinger of Gastonia pleaded guilty on Friday in Charlotte to two counts of illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. In addition to his prison sentence, he also faces paying a $500,000 fine.
Prosecutors said The 67-year-old Bollinger molested the two girls, who were 11 and 12, in 2009. A total of four victims were identified by federal authorities, including one he promised food and money in exchange for sex.
Bollinger was pastor at Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stanley. He and his wife went to Haiti to work with a group that runs a vocational school and medical clinic.

WakeMed CEO tells workers not to worry on fed case
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The head of a Raleigh-based hospital system is telling employees not to worry about a federal investigation of Medicare billing practices despite a federal judge urging prosecutions.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that WakeMed CEO Bill Atkinson emailed employees saying a settlement remains active. The hospital system wants to settle the case alleging it over-billed the government for overnight stays though patients were treated and released the same day.
Federal Judge Terrence Boyle on Thursday refused to sign a proposed deferred prosecution agreement he called little more than a “slap on the hand” for a “too big to fail” corporate giant.
Boyle told federal prosecutors they should return to him next month with indictments.
WakeMed officials say no one was fired or disciplined because of the investigation.

NC’s Carolina Chocolate Festival gets early start
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) — The 11th annual Carolina Chocolate Festival is starting two weeks early with a celebration of Mexican cocoa in Morehead City.
The Daily News of Jacksonville reported the festival begins Saturday at the Morehead City Train Depot with a tribute to the country that is the birthplace of chocolate.
A Choco Brunch will be held at Beaufort Grocery Too in Morehead City on Jan. 27.
The official festival weekend starts Feb. 2 and includes a new event, the Chocolate 5K Run/Walk.
Chocolate vendors will offer a variety of samples including chocolate cakes, tortes, chocolate bars and ice cream during the main festival Feb. 2-3 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center.
So far, the event has raised $350,000 for several local charities.

Body of deceased hiker airlifted from Smokies park
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol was called in to airlift a deceased hiker from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
According to a news release from the park, rangers located the body of 50-year-old Richard Lemarr on Wednesday after he was reported missing by a friend.
The Knoxville resident had left Newfound Gap on Saturday morning intending to hike 30 miles along the Appalachian Trail to Davenport Gap in North Carolina.
His body was found in the Tricorner Knob Shelter, but it could not be evacuated until Friday due to the remote location and inclement weather. The shelter was closed to the public in the meantime.
Park Rangers are investigating with the assistance of the Swain County, N.C., Medical Examiner’s Office. Lemarr’s death does not appear to be suspicious.