Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EST


Portrait of judge taken down because of his 'racist past'

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina county has removed a portrait of a 19th-century state Supreme Court justice from a courtroom at the request of a judge who cited the justice’s “racist past.”  The Orange County government says in a news release that Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Carl Fox requested last week that the portrait of Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin be removed. Ruffin wrote a notorious 1829 ruling about slaves that said “the power of the master must be absolute.” Ruffin's portrait had hung in the courtroom since 1993. Meanwhile, Ruffin's portrait in the state Supreme Court has also sparked controversy.


Medical center apologizes for billing victims for rape kits

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A medical center in North Carolina is apologizing after it charged sexual assault victims for the cost of a rape kit. WNCN reported Tuesday that the bills were as high as $5,000 and were sent to at least 17 victims. North Carolina law bars patients from receiving bills for rape kits, and hospitals are supposed to offer the exams for free. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center said the bills were sent out in error while it was switching to a new electronic record system. But victim advocates said it keeps happening.


NC appeals court hears arguments over voter ID challenge

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Legal arguments to North Carolina's voter photo identification law are still being heard in state courts even after a federal judge blocked the mandate for the March primary. Lawyers for voters who sued over the ID mandate and for Republican legislative leaders who helped enact the 2018 law argued Wednesday at the state Court of Appeals. A trial court last summer denied the voters' request to block voter ID. The voters appealed that decision. Their lawyers say it's still important to seek the injunction despite a federal injunction already being issued last month because it could be overturned before the November election.


Cunningham unveils first ad for his N Carolina Senate bid

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham is highlighting his military service in his first television ad of his campaign. Cunningham's campaign committee said the 30-second spot would begin airing Wednesday in the Raleigh TV market. Cunningham says in the ad he's running for the Senate to fulfill the oath that he took when he joined the Army Reserve to defend the Constitution. Cunningham, state Sen. Erica Smith and three others are running for the Democratic nomination. Republican incumbent Thom Tillis is the heavy favorite to win the GOP primary. The elections are March 3.


Court takes another look at Native American adoption law

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Federal appellate judges are questioning whether a law meant to preserve Native American families unconstitutionally intrudes into state adoption issues. Arguments heard Wednesday at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans could determine the future of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. The law gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving Native American children. A divided three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the law in August. But he law's opponents succeeded in getting a re-hearing before the full court.


Cold-stunned sea turtles wash ashore on North Carolina coast

HATTERAS, N.C. (AP) — The National Park Service says more than 100 sea turtles stunned by recent cold temperatures have washed up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The agency said on its Facebook page on Wednesday that approximately 95 green and Kemp's ridley turtles washed ashore on Tuesday on the south side of Hatteras Island. In addition, the park service says another 10 turtles were found on Wednesday morning at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The turtles were taken to the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island for rehabilitation.


More North Carolina counties pass Second Amendment measures

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — At least eight North Carolina counties have passed resolutions supporting gun rights. The vote was unanimous Tuesday night in Cabarrus County, but commissioners decided against calling their county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” Sheriff Van Shaw said he doesn't want people thinking Cabarrus is a sanctuary for gun owners who don't have to follow laws. Haywood County commissioners heard meanwhile from the mother of Riley Howell, who was fatally shot while tackling a gunman at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She got standing applause when she urged commissioners to carefully "balance the need for self-protection and the need for the protection of others.”


North Carolina man sentenced for fast-food robberies

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Prosecutors say a North Carolina man has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for robbing two fast-food restaurants with a pistol. Charlotte-based federal prosecutors said in a news release that Elijah Stevarus Hallman was sentenced Tuesday after previously being convicted of robbery, conspiracy and firearms charges. The news release said Hallman stole cash early on the morning of April 11, 2018, by sticking his pistol through the drive-through of a Wendy's in Charlotte.  Authorities say he later did a similar robbery at a McDonald's. Investigators say they found a cell phone in the parking lot of the McDonald's that helped them track him down.