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


Senators deny trading on virus info as scrutiny mounts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing public outrage, senators in both political parties are denying that they exploited advance knowledge when they dumped stocks and other financial holdings before the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the economy. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, whose sales of as much as $1.7 million in stocks have come under the most scrutiny, is asking for an ethics probe. But Burr and all the other senators pushed back strongly against suggestions that they used sensitive government information to protect their financial well-being. The senators' actions have attracted heavy scrutiny as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life, wiping out jobs and personal wealth.


North Carolina delays House GOP primary runoff due to virus

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak prompted a top elections official on Friday to reschedule a Republican primary runoff for a congressional seat in western North Carolina. State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell has moved back the primary runoff in the 11th Congressional District to June 23, from its original May date. Republicans Lynda Bennett and Madison Cawthorn were the top two vote-getters in the March primary. The U.S. House seat is being vacated by GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, who has been named as President Donald Trump's next chief of staff. Meadows announced in December he wouldn’t seek reelection.


Returning troops denied water, bathrooms under quarantine

WASHINGTON (AP) — It wasn’t the welcome home that U.S. soldiers expected when they returned from war zones in the Middle East in the past week. Soldiers returning to Fort Bliss, Texas, were herded into buses, and they were denied water and the use of bathrooms. Then they were quarantined in packed barracks, with little food or access to the outdoors. The soldiers posted notes on social media about the poor conditions and their complaints got quick attention from senior Army and Pentagon leaders. Now changes are under way at Bliss and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where quarantined soldiers  also complained of poor conditions.


UNC System cancels spring commencements

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The president of the University of North Carolina System says commencement exercises at its 17 schools have been postponed because of the ongoing threat of coronavirus. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that UNC System interim president Bill Roper made the announcement during a special board meeting on Friday. Roper says he knows the cancellation will disappoint many students and their families, but the health and safety of students, staff and faculty are the top priority. System officials say students and parents should check for word from university leaders about how their school will alter plans for commencement ceremonies.


Police: Man damaged graves while 'doing donuts' in cemetery

CHADBOURN, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina say a 20-year-old man drove in circles through a cemetery, damaging headstones and floral arrangements. The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office said deputies charged Christian Quinn Walters on Wednesday with desecration of a gravesite in excess of $1,000. He's accused of performing car stunts and “doing donuts” through a cemetery in Chadbourn. The sheriff's office said Walters was in jail Wednesday on a $50,000 bond. It's unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.


N Carolina documents first case of COVID-19 community spread

North Carolina's governor says the state has documented its first case of community spread of coronavirus as positive cases climbed to nearly 100 overall. Gov. Roy Cooper also said unemployment benefit requests had surged to 18,000 since he issued an executive order Tuesday loosening the rules for such claims as businesses reduce operations due to social distancing and other virus-fighting measures. The state typically sees about 3,000 claims per week under normal circumstances. Cooper said the state confirmed the case of community spread of COVID-19 in Wilson County, meaning the person testing positive had not traveled to a coronavirus hot spot or been in contact with someone known to have it.


Deputies pull over stolen trailer full of toilet paper

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — With toilet paper flying off the shelves, a North Carolina truck diver caused a stir when he was pulled over hauling 18,000 pounds of bathroom products in a stolen trailer. The Guilford County Sheriff's Office issued a news release saying that deputies on Wednesday spotted the driver of an 18-wheeler and determined the trailer was stolen. They followed him to a warehouse off the interstate and discovered that the driver was hauling 18,000 pounds of commercial bathroom paper products, according to the release. Capt. Daryl Loftis said by phone that the cargo included a mixture of paper towels, toilet paper and other commercial products.


Virus postpones former coach's sentencing for fatal punch

NEW YORK (AP) — The sentencing of a former Wake Forest University assistant basketball coach convicted of assault for fatally punching a man in New York City has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. A spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney's office says Jamill Jones' March 18 sentencing has been adjourned to June 16. Jones was convicted of assault last month for delivering the punch that killed Sandor Szabo in August 2018. He faces up to a year in prison when he is sentenced. Jones testified at his trial that he hit Szabo in self-defense and to protect his then-fiancée.