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Monday, 04 May 2015 14:48

I-85 to Close Overnight in Gaston County

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The N.C. Department of Transportation will perform maintenance work tonight on Interstate 85 Southbound at Exit 22 in the Gaston County City of Lowell.

At 9 p.m., crews will shut down the right lane, as well as the off ramp for Exit 22, so they can complete pavement repairs. The closures will be removed by 6 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, May 5).

A Catawba County man accused of multiple sexual offenses with two female child victims has been found guilty in a bench trial. He’s been sentenced to a minimum of more than 50 years in prison. The Honorable Hugh B. Lewis, Superior Court Judge from Mecklenburg County, found 40-year-old Linzie Lee Swink guilty, that verdict was issued this afternoon (Monday, May 4) in Catawba County Superior Court. The sentence issued was 615 to 746 months in prison, or a minimum of just over 51 years and a maximum of just over 62 years. This was the first bench trial held in Catawba County. 

Swink was facing charges for rape of a child and sexual offense with a child stemming from multiple incidents alleged to have occurred from October 2009 to May 2010 at the female victim’s home at that time in Vale. He also is accused of indecent liberties with a different female child. The victims were 9 years old at the time of the offenses. Both girls, now 15, testified and shared what Swink did to them. One of them testified that Swink had sexual intercourse with her on at least four occasions and the other said he touched her genital area in an inappropriate manner.

At the end of closing arguments by Defense Attorney Michael Neece and Assistant District Attorney Michael Van Buren on Friday, Lewis expressed his appreciation to both for their presentations during the 25th Prosecutorial District’s second bench trial since the practice was approved by a constitutional amendment.

The two attorneys wrapped up four days of evidence presentation and witness testimony early Friday afternoon with their closing arguments.

Neece argued that Swink had maintained his innocence all along and that the state did not present enough credible evidence to refute his denial of the charges against him.

Van Buren countered by questioning the credibility of the defendant, who took the stand Thursday in his defense and was cross-examined by the state Friday morning. He pointed out that neither child had anything to gain by not being truthful.

Swink, a truck driver, told Neece in testimony Thursday that he was not even in North Carolina on many days between October 2009 and May 2010 when the incidents allegedly happened, noting that he often stayed with his mother when he did come to Catawba County rather than the Vale location where the bulk of the offenses occurred but usually was in Bristol, Tenn., where his job was located.

However, gas receipts from stations in North Carolina, including some from Catawba County, proved otherwise, paving the way for Van Buren to question Swink’s credibility as well as that of several other defense witnesses.

Molly Rice, theater teacher at St. Stephens High School, received the Hancock-Settlemyre Award at a banquet held recently at First United Methodist Church of Hickory.

Rice was nominated by one of her students, Kyla Little, who said Rice spent many extra hours encouraging her students. In addition, she leads her students in adopting a social cause each year. The students learn about the issue and produce a play to help raise money for that cause. In the past, her classes have studied and helped the Guardian Ad Litem Program and the problem of homelessness in Hickory.

Rice spent several years working with children in Northern Ireland, teaching them through theater that they can overcome centuries of religious intolerance and violence.

Also nominated for the award was Susan Lee, executive director of the Parenting Network. She was nominated for her many years of offering parenting classes in the area.

The award is presented by the Children's Advocacy & Protection Center to recognize an individual, group or business that has worked to enhance the quality of family life, reduce family stress and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. Established in 1980, the award is named in honor of Jean Settlemyre Tashman, former administrator at Frye Regional Medical Center; and Millie Hancock Schumpert, a retired pediatrician.

For more information about the Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center, call 828-465-9296 or go to catawbacountycac.org.

52-year-old Webster Warren White, Jr. of 1st Street S.E. in Hickory was served an indictment by Hickory Police at about 8:10 Friday morning (May 1) on one felony count of possession of cocaine and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was arrested in connection to an incident on November 24, 2014. At that time, a vehicle stop was conducted, leading to the discovery of 0.1 grams of crack cocaine and a pipe.

White was taken into custody without incident Friday at his residence. He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $2,000 secured bond. An appearance in Superior Court was scheduled for May 8 in Newton.

The Lincoln County Special Operations Land Search team located a missing elderly man Sunday night (May 3). Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a residence in the 2100 block of Highway 274 in western Lincoln County last night around 9:20 p.m. when family members were unable to locate the missing 80 year old man who suffers from Dementia.

Deputies had responded to a call earlier Sunday when a passing motorist reported seeing an elderly man walking along Highway 274 near the Crouse Road intersection. Officers checked the area and could not find the man. John Clayton Willis was then entered NCIC as missing and a Silver Alert was issued.

The Lincoln County Special Operations Land Search Team was activated and reported to the man’s home in the 2100 block of Highway 274. They quickly prepared for the search and all members were given their assignments. The team conducted a grid search of the area and within nine minutes the man was found about 300 yards from his residence near a pond.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. today (Monday, May 4) Mr. Willis was transported by EMS to CHS-Lincoln for general observation.

Monday, 04 May 2015 11:08

Two Hickory Men Arrested on Drug Charges

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34-year-old Jerimi Mishon Sims of 8th Avenue Drive S.W. and 27-year-old Tyrone Naim Powell of 12th Avenue S.E., both from Hickory, were arrested by Hickory Police at about 6:25 a.m. yesterday. They each face charges for felony possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Sims was also charged with resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer, while Powell faces additional charges for misdemeanor possession of marijuana up to half an ounce and driving while license revoked.

They were arrested after Police were called in reference to a vehicle stopped at the intersection of South Center Street and 2nd Avenue S.E. The driver had his head back and wasn’t moving. Officers found two men asleep in the vehicle. Officers woke the men and ordered them out of the vehicle.

Sims reportedly threw an object that Police recovered and determined to be 10.6 grams of crack cocaine. 1.5 grams of marijuana was found on Powell’s person. A search of the vehicle turned up a pipe, scales, baggies and $157 in cash.

The two were taken into custody without incident. They were jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Sims set at $15,000, secured, while Powell was given an $11,000 secured bond. First appearances in District Court were scheduled for today.

Monday, 04 May 2015 11:03

Weapon Charges Filed Against Hickory Man

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19-year-old Randall Kent Brank of Howell Street in Hickory was arrested by Long View Police Officers. He’s charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a stolen firearm. Following the arrest, Brank was incarcerated this morning (Monday, May 4) in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $19,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today.

Monday, 04 May 2015 11:02

More Details Released in Shooting Incident

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More details have been released in the arrest of 33-year-old Lavonnie Lee White of 1st Street S.E. in Hickory. He was arrested by Hickory Police just before eight o’clock Friday morning (May 1) on one felony count each of discharging a firearm into occupied property inflicting serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon.

Events leading to his arrest unfolded as Police responded to the Sunny Valley apartment complex where they found spent shell casings and a bloody shirt. Officers received information that the victim was at 9th Avenue Place S.W. There, they found a 68-year-old Hickory man suffering from a gunshot wound to the foot.

The shooter was identified as Lavonnie White. He was taken into custody at his residence. White was also injured as the result of an apparent assault. A Police spokesperson said White was uncooperative at the time of his arrest.

White and the victim, who were previously acquainted, were reportedly involved in an altercation prior to the shooting. The victim was shot when White allegedly fired into a different address on 9th Avenue Place S.W. Both men were transported to a local hospital for treatment of their injuries.

White was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $125,000 secured bond. He has since been released. A first appearance in District Court was set for today (May 4) in Newton.

31-year-old Timothy Wayne Bolick was arrested Saturday (May 2) by Burke County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Bolick was arrested at a residence in Connelly Springs. Following the arrest, Bolick was placed in jail under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, May 4).

In honor of our Nation’s heroes, the North Carolina National Guard Education & Employment Center, in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, will host a Veterans Career Days event on Wednesday & Thursday, May 6 & 7, at 9 a.m. at the Goodwill corporate facility, 2701 University Parkway in Winston-Salem. Any person who is unemployed or underemployed who is serving or who has served in the U.S. military, active duty, Reserve, or National Guard, along with their spouses and their work age dependents, is invited to attend the event. To register for the event and for more information, go to www.NCNGEEC.com.

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