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North Carolina triple homicide suspect caught

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North Carolina triple homicide suspect caught


IMPERIAL COUNTY – An individual was arrested in Imperial County over the weekend for allegedly murdering a woman and her two children in a North Carolina city.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said Sunday that, as a result of an ongoing investigation, detectives with the agency’s Homicide Unit have charged Benjamin Joseph Taylor, 35, with three counts of murder and one count of concealment of death.

The victim’s relatives have been notified of the arrest.

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On Saturday, through a collaborative effort of multiple law enforcement agencies, Taylor was located and arrested in Imperial County, the agency said.

The suspect was expected to remain held in the Imperial County Jail pending extradition to North Carolina.

According to Imperial County Sheriff’s Office activity logs, the arrest occurred minutes before 6:00 p.m. on March 16 at East Jesus/Church of Enlightenment, located in the Slab City area.

A person reported the suspect had a national arrest warrant.

The reporting party said the suspect, who allegedly had weapons in his tent, was confronted.

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Several units, as well as emergency medical personnel, were deployed to the scene.

The suspect was arrested shortly before 8:00 p.m.

Authorities notified the FBI about the arrest and confirmed the arrest warrant issued in Charlotte, activity logs show.

The arrest involved agents from the FBI in Charlotte, the FBI Imperial County field office, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office, and the CMPD VCAT.

On Friday, March 8, detectives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit asked for the public’s help to locate Markayla Johnson, 22, Miracle Johnson, 4 years, 7 months, and Messiah Johnson, born on July 26.

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Johnson and her two children were last seen in the 400 block of Orchard Trace Lane in Charlotte.

According to authorities, Johnson had not been in contact with any known family members, who were concerned for her well-being.

Around 1:45 p.m. local time on Friday, March 15, while detectives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Homicide Unit were conducting a homicide investigation in the 400 block of Orchard Trace Lane in the North Tryon Division, officers discovered human remains.

The authorities requested additional search warrants to continue the investigation.

Homicide Unit detectives responded to the scene to conduct an investigation and Crime Scene Search personnel responded to process the scene and collect physical evidence.

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Representatives from CMPD Operations Command, Victim Services, MEDIC, and the Charlotte Fire Department also assisted.

Shortly thereafter, after further investigation and based on the totality of the evidence discovered, detectives identified the human remains as Markayla Johnson, Miracle Johnson, and Messiah Johnson.

The CMPD Homicide Unit is working closely with the Medical Examiner’s Office to make final confirmation on the identification of the victims based on their findings.

The victims were previously reported missing to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on March 3, 2024.

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North Carolina

Anti-poverty advocates call on lawmakers to change course during legislative short session • NC Newsline

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Anti-poverty advocates call on lawmakers to change course during legislative short session • NC Newsline


Rev. Rob Stephens discusses the General Assembly during a press conference on April 24, 2024 in Raleigh. (Photo: Greg Childress)

On Wednesday, nearly 200 supporters of the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign traveled to Raleigh to remind lawmakers returning for the legislative short session that low-income voters make up more than 41% of the state’s electorate.

If low-income eligible voters voted at the same rate as higher-income voters, campaign leaders warned, they could control the outcome of elections.

“That is a sleeping giant that is ready to be activated,” said Rev. Rob Stephens, Repairers of the Breach North Carolina Organizing Committee coordinator and member of the NC Poor People’s Campaign. “If we could just turn out 19% of that group who haven’t voted before, we could fundamentally shift the entire landscape of elections in North Carolina.

Rev. Wayne Wilhelm, one of the chairs of the NC Poor People’s Campaign, said lawmakers need to know that North Carolinians are watching them.

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“Your vote is your voice, but showing up before the vote lets them know we’re serious about the changes we need to see,” Wilhelm said. “Poverty is a policy choice. To allow poverty to continue when there is really more than enough for everyone is a moral failure and we will stand up and call it out.”

Before marching to the Legislative Building, speakers rallied outside of the State Capitol to criticize the Republican-led General Assembly for what they called excessive tax cuts, spending millions of tax dollars on private school vouchers, and not increasing the minimum wage in more than a decade.

Instead of addressing the crises of poverty and low wages, lack of healthcare, underfunded public education, voter suppression and environmental collapse, the General Assembly slashed taxes for the wealthy and corporations, promoted a culture of fear and hate, failed to fully fund public education, and cut protections for the most vulnerable North Carolinians, the speakers said.

They also took lawmakers to task for not supporting legislation to improve pay for child care workers. The state will soon spend the last of $1.3 billion in federal grant money that helped child care providers make it through the pandemic. Some of the money was used to increase worker pay.

NC Newsline’s Lynn Bonner reported recently that a February North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Council survey found that 88% of childcare providers will need to increase parent fees when the federal money runs out. Forty percent said they would have to raise parent fees immediately. About half said they would lose administrative and teaching staff and about two-thirds said they would have trouble hiring new employees with comparable experience and education.

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Nearly one-third of the programs surveyed said they would have to close within a year. That’s equivalent to more than 1,500 programs and close to 92,000 childcare and early education slots.

During the 2023 legislative long session, lawmakers took no action on legislation asking for $300 million this fiscal year to extend the compensation grant portion of the federal Childcare Stabilization Grant. Supporters said the money would reduce teacher turnover, improve the quality of child care and keep rates affordable for parents.

Without state funding, Emma Biggs, a Charlotte child care advocate and provider, said the coming year will be a tough one for families.

Biggs said all of the state’s 100 counties are considered “child care deserts,” meaning there are not enough child care centers or teachers to accommodate children and families.

“We don’t have a shortage of children,” Biggs said. “We have a shortage of teachers due to a broken system where parents cannot afford to pay more, and teachers cannot afford to make less.”

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On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper’s recommended budget for fiscal year 2024-25 called for a $745 million investment in child care and early education. The investment would help to avoid the “fiscal cliff in child care funding” and keep child care centers open with $200 million for Child Care Stabilization Grants. It would also provide $128.5 million for child care subsidies to increase reimbursement rates for providers in rural and low-wealth communities.

Yevonne Brannon
Yevonne Brannon (Photo: Greg Childress)

Private school vouchers were also a top target for speakers at Wednesday’s event. Last year, lawmakers expanded the state’s controversial voucher program to make it accessible to the state’s wealthiest families. The program was created a decade ago to help low-income families in struggling schools pay private school tuition.

Yevonne Brannon, a Public Schools First NC board member, noted that House Speaker Tim Moore said he will ask for $300 million more in the short session to fund private school vouchers.

“They had already planned to spend $5 billion on school vouchers over the next few years, so that’s not enough,” Brannon said. “Now they’re going to make sure that the wealthy families — that $300 million is not for low-income or struggling children — it is for wealth families that are already in private school and can afford private school.”   

Sangria Noble, an organizer for the NC Poor People’s Campaign, said poverty is a policy choice. For example, she noted, that the state hasn’t increased the minimum wage since 2008.

“We cannot survive here off of $7.25,” Noble said. “We will end up homeless. We will end up dead.”

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Noble was one of the activists assisting unhoused people forced to move from an encampment off of U.S. 70 near Garner on Tuesday. The inhabitants were ordered to move or face arrest after police deemed the encampment unsafe, citing an uptick in crime.

Noble spoke with one man and his pregnant girlfriend who lived in the encampment. He told her that he could probably save enough money in three months working a $10 an hour job to find a place for him and his girlfriend to live, but only after he pays a fine for loitering for sleeping outside.

She said homelessness, poverty and low wages all go hand-in-hand.

“We don’t really have a solution for that man right now,” Noble said. “It looked like the solution yesterday would have been jail. If helped had not come down for protection, it would have been jail.”

In a statement, Bishop William J. Barber II, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign said the United States loses 800 people a day to poverty-related causes.

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“Poverty by America is an abolishable and unnecessary reality that can be eradicated by enacting policies that address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation and the denial of healthcare, militarism, and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism,” Barber said. “When our politics makes it easier to get a gun than to get food, quality education, living wages, or healthcare, then there’s a problem with the soul of our nation.”



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North Carolina Legislature Reconvenes To Address Budget, Vouchers as Big Elections Approach – Chapelboro.com

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North Carolina Legislature Reconvenes To Address Budget, Vouchers as Big Elections Approach – Chapelboro.com


Written by GARY D. ROBERTSON


The North Carolina General Assembly begins its annual work session Wednesday with a little extra money to spend and limited pressing issues to address before key elections this fall and longtime state government leaders depart.

Following their landmark 2023 session that expanded Medicaid, restricted abortion, broadened gun rights, swelled private-school vouchers and weakened the governor, Republicans leading the House and Senate are talking about the traditionally “short” session to be just that — with a goal to finish by early summer.

“We dealt with a lot of weighty issues,” House Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, told reporters recently. “Are there still some things left to be done? Yes, we’re going to deal with those.”

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With all 170 legislative seats up for reelection in November and Republicans who approved last year’s agenda holding the narrowest of veto-proof majorities, party leaders will be careful to advance measures that won’t sway public opinion against their candidates in key districts. Legislation forcing local sheriffs to assist with federal immigration enforcement and locating more funds for the private-school scholarships could qualify.

The legislature’s chief duty in even-numbered years is to adjust the second year of the two-year government operating budget that’s already enacted.

A consensus forecast by the legislature and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration says the state will collect an additional $1.4 billion through mid-2025 than previously anticipated. This compares to the $30.9 billion currently set to be spent in the fiscal year starting July 1.

As much as $400 million could be needed to make Medicaid spending adjustments because of a lower federal government match and the higher use of services by enrollees, Rep. Donny Lambeth of Forsyth County, a House budget writer, said this week.

And Moore and Senate Majority Leader Paul Newton said separately that GOP colleagues are prepared to set aside more money for the Opportunity Scholarship Program so that more families in higher-income brackets can receive grants this fall for their K-12 children to attend private or religious schools.

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The current budget law did away with the program’s income caps to qualify, leading to a six-fold increase in applications this year.

But the state authority running the program said there isn’t enough to assist all qualifying applicants, and no aid would go to groups of applicants with the highest incomes. It wasn’t clear whether Republicans would seek to fully fund the scholarships for the coming year, which Moore said could require $300 million more.

Still, “I think there’s a high probability that we’re going to make sure the parents who want choice get choice for their children,” said Newton, a Cabarrus County Republican.

Cooper, who is term-limited from running for reelection, also will present his last budget proposal Wednesday. Cooper is hoping GOP legislators will listen to his calls to stop spending on the Opportunity Scholarship program that he’s opposed for years until public schools are “fully funded,” and for teachers to receive sizeable pay raises.

“We need to invest in public schools,” Cooper told reporters recently. “We know that to sustain the workforce of the future for all these jobs we’re attracting, we’ve got to make sure that our public schools are strong.”

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On immigration, Newton said he suspects the Senate would take up a bill approved by the House last year that would force sheriffs to help federal agents interested in picking up jail inmates they believe are in the country illegally. Cooper successfully vetoed similar measures in 2019 and 2022, but that’s when GOP legislators lacked supermajorities.

State budget approval was nearly derailed last year when Senate Republicans sought to insert language that would have permitted construction of four more casinos in the state and the sanctioning and regulating video gambling machines statewide. But Republicans from both chambers have suggested discussions about sanctioning the gambling machines could resurface.

General Assembly staff estimated last year that revenue from the machines could generate over $400 million annually by later this decade. That could help make up for revenue losses now projected as approved individual and corporate income tax rates further decline. Republicans have downplayed talk of long-term shortfalls as hasty.

Democratic legislators seeking to halt what they consider bad GOP bills will face the same challenges that began last April when Rep. Tricia Cotham changed her registration to the Republican Party. Her switch secured the veto-proof majority in both chambers. All of Cooper’s vetoes last year were overridden.

“The numbers are what they are,” said House Minority Leader Robert Reives, a Chatham County Democrat. “I can still count and I know that the Republican caucus is going to vote 100% together.”

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This short session also marks the last one for Moore, who is likely on his way to Congress in 2025 after a record five two-year terms leading the chamber. He comfortably won his primary election for the Republican-leaning 14th Congressional District.

 

Featured photo via Associated Press/Chris Seward.

 

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North Carolina legislators return to adjust the budget and consider other issues

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North Carolina legislators return to adjust the budget and consider other issues


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly is returning to regular business six months after it wrapped up a landmark session in 2023.

The House and Senate planned to gavel in daily floor meetings at midday Wednesday. The last time most legislators were together in Raleigh was in late October, when redistricting maps were debated and enacted.

Odd-numbered-year sessions begin in January, but those in even-numbered years start in the spring. with lawmakers looking to end in the early summer.

The chief job for lawmakers will be to adjust the second year of the two-year state government budget approved last year. They’re expected to consider spending more on Medicaid and beefing up funds for scholarships for K-12 children to attend private schools. A forecast shows North Carolina could have $1.4 billion more in revenues than expected through mid-2025. Other issues will surface in the weeks ahead.

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Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will unveil his own proposed budget adjustments on Wednesday as well. Republicans hold narrow veto-proof majorities, which means they can choose to ignore his preferences if GOP legislators remain united.

Last year’s session was marked by Republicans accepting Medicaid expansion, restricting abortion, broadening gun rights and weakening the governor’s power.

Cooper couldn’t seek reelection this fall due to term limits, and state House Speaker Tim Moore won’t be back after this year because he’s running for Congress.





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