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

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA

N Carolina discourages large meetings to blunt virus spread

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has strongly discouraged large meetings and gatherings statewide to limit the magnitude of the coronavirus outbreak. Cooper and health officials recommended that starting Friday all meetings of more than 100 people be postponed, canceled or modified. Telecommuting is also being encouraged for employees statewide. The governor already declared a state emergency earlier this week and had encouraged older or medically fragile adults to avoid large gatherings. Cooper says his more restrictive guidance will help blunt the spread of the virus and save lives. The number of North Carolina residents testing positive for COVID-19 reached 15 on Thursday.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-PREP SPORTS

NCHSAA suspending sports through April 6 amid virus worries

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has suspended all athletics events starting Friday night and running through April 6 amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus that has become a global pandemic. The NCHSAA announced the decision Thursday. It included the indefinite postponement of the men's and women's prep basketball state championship games set for Saturday in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. The suspension of athletics includes workouts, practices and games. The NCHSAA says its board of directors “will assess this situation regularly over the next few weeks.”

VIRUS OUTBREAK

North Carolina legislature scales back activity due to virus

RALEIGH, N.C (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly has postponed legislative government oversight committee meetings and cancelled student tours for at least three weeks as precautionary measures against coronavirus. Top staff for legislative leaders released directives on Thursday that should lessen foot traffic dramatically at the Legislative Building complex through the end of March. Their memo also encourages allowing staff to work from home during that time period. Additional guidance is expected later to determine whether the new restrictions should remain in place beyond April 1. Senate leader Phil Berger says the April 28 start of the annual General Assembly session remains unchanged.

BC-NC-PAROLE DENIED-DONALD HOWARD

Parole denied for man convicted of killing 2 elderly women

WILSON, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's parole commission says it has denied parole for a Wilson man who had strangled two elderly women in the 1980s. The state's Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission announced the denial for Donald Ray Howard on Thursday. The Wilson Times reported last month that Howard is serving a sentence of life in prison plus 50 years after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. He was convicted in 1987. Howard was 23 when he admitted in court to the killing of Margaret Donoghue and Gladys Tasman in separate incidents.

AP-NC-CHILD DEATH-FATHER CHARGED

Police: Man charged with murder after child dies from trauma

MURPHY, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina say a man has been charged with murder after his son died from blunt force trauma to the head. Police in the western North Carolina town of Murphy said in a Facebook post that Morgan Jemar Kimble was arrested Wednesday. Police said Kimble was booked into jail on $1 million bond. It is unclear if Kimble has hired an attorney. Murphy is about two hours west of Asheville. Smith said police had received a 911 call about a problem with a minor child on Sunday morning. After police arrived, the child was airlifted to a hospital in Atlanta. The child was later pronounced dead.

AP-US-MADOFF-FRAUD

Madoff seeks to make 'dying, personal plea' for release

NEW YORK (AP) — Bernard Madoff's lawyer says the Ponzi king wants to make a dying, personal plea to a judge for early release from his 150-year prison sentence. Attorney Brandon Sample sent a letter Thursday to Judge Denny Chin. Chin, now a federal appeals court judge, sentenced Madoff in 2009. The sentencing came after the once highly respected financier admitted squandering $17.5 billion entrusted to him by thousands of investors. A prosecutor said in response Thursday that he took no position on Madoff's request to speak by telephone at any court hearing. But the prosecutor, Drew Skinner, said any acceptance of responsibility by Madoff would be self-serving.

JUVENILE SUSPECT-SHOOTING

Juvenile suspect charged in fatal shooting of 31-year-old

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina sheriff's office says it has arrested a juvenile suspect accused of involvement in the fatal shooting of a 31-year-old man. The Buncombe County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Wednesday that deputies took the minor into custody during a vehicle stop. Sheriff's spokesman Aaron Sarver declined to identify the suspect or list the charges against them, citing a state law that requires juvenile records be kept confidential if the suspect is not charged as an adult. The juvenile is accused of involvement in the death of Corey Lee Gentry, who died from a gunshot wound at an Asheville home on Friday.

AP-US-POLICE-SHOOTING-SUSPECT-INJURED

After police shoot him, North Carolina man faces charges

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man who was shot and wounded by police in a confrontation that sparked protests has been charged with two firearms-related counts and resisting officers. Body camera footage released Wednesday afternoon shows him running toward an officer during a foot chase with a black object that police identified as a gun. Police can be heard on the video asking him to drop a gun multiple times. Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown had directed her department to ask a judge to release the footage. The judge approved the request.