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41-year-old Debra Ann Matney of Lincolncon was given an active prison sentence of five to seven years after pleading guilty to first-degree burglary, felony conspiracy, second-degree kidnapping and common law robbery during Catawba County Superior Court on Thursday (March 9).

The Honorable Jeffrey P. Hunt, Superior Court Judge from Transylvania County, imposed Matney’s sentence, which will be served in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections, following her guilty plea.

Matney and four other individuals were involved in a home invasion, robbery and kidnapping of her then 18-year-old daughter on Aug. 19, 2015. They covered the girl’s face, took her from the home and drove her to multiple locations, using her debit card to withdraw funds.

The victim identified her mother’s voice during the kidnapping. Video surveillance from a store helped identify two of the co-defendants, and a third person identified helped investigators develop the other two suspects, including Matney, who made a statement that she was trying to teach her daughter a lesson.

One of the co-defendants already has pleaded guilty and is serving a prison sentence. The other three have pending court dates on charges related to the offenses. Russ Boger investigated the case for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Lance Sigmon handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.

31-year-old Jerry Antwon Young of 1st Street S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at 2:15 Wednesday afternoon (March 8) on one felony count of failure to appear. He was served a bill of indictment for the sale of cocaine and possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine. Young was also charged with a felony probation violation. In addition, the Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office has charged Young with non-support.

He was taken into custody at a residence on 10th Avenue S.W. in Hickory. Young was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $50,000, secured, plus a $2,715 bond on the non-support charge. He has court dates on March 20 and May 15.

A Hickory man will be in prison for at least seven years following his guilty plea to two counts of larceny from the person and his admission to habitual felon status during Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday (March 8).

57-year-old Ronnie Darnell Smith was sentenced to an active prison term of seven to ten years in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections by the Honorable Jeffrey P. Hunt, Superior Court Judge from Transylvania County.

Smith’s prison sentence was enhanced by prior felony convictions for larceny after breaking and entering in Mecklenburg County (August 2004), attempted felonious larceny in Nash County (September 2008) and attempted felonious larceny in Durham County (April 2012).

The defendant took property from the Cubbard Express in Hickory without paying for it on Sept. 22, 2016, and did the same at CVS Pharmacy in Hickory the following day. Video surveillance from both businesses helped investigators from Hickory Police Department determine it was the same person who committed the offenses. A neighborhood canvass for the suspect led investigators to Smith as a suspect, and he later confessed to the crimes.

Justin Levey led the investigation for Hickory Police Department, and Kyle Smith prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.

33-year-old Michael Eugene Grutizus, whose address is listed as the Budget Inn in Hickory, was arrested by Hickory Police shortly before noon yesterday on two felony counts of breaking & entering and two misdemeanor counts of larceny after breaking & entering.

He was arrested in connection to two incidents that were reported on March 8.  Officers responded to a vehicle break-in on 14th Avenue N.E. in Hickory.  A female victim reported the theft of a purse, which included two debit cards.  Investigators learned that the suspect attempted to use the debit cards.

On the same date, another victim reported the theft of a purse, including a wallet with credit cards.  That incident occurred at King Hickory Furniture.

Yesterday (March 9), Officers located the suspect, Michael Grutizus, at the Raceway convenience store on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard.  He was taken into custoday without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $15,000 secured bond.  A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.

51-year-old Jimmy Cola Ayers of Riverfield Road in Statesville has been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers on assault with a deadly weapon, communicating threats, injury to personal property and impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Events leading to his arrest began as Detective Sgt. Katie Harwell followed up on a domestic assault incident involving the suspect, Jimmy Ayers, and his wife. In the course of the investigation, Detectives learned that Ayers approached a subject in a vehicle and presented himself as a law enforcement officer. The incident took place on Stan Lane in Statesville on February 27.

At that time, Ayers, who was armed with a Bowie knife, claimed he was looking for a female and needed to search the victim’s car. Ayers told the victim that the Sheriff’s Office had offered a reward for the woman. The victim allowed Ayers to search the vehicle. When he didn’t find the woman, Ayers became upset and began to stab and damage the victim’s property in the vehicle.

The victim asked for Ayers’ I.D. and told him to stop. While continuing to hold the knife, Ayers threatened the victim and said he didn’t have to show anything. The victim was able to get back in the vehicle and leave the area.

Ayers was arrested and given a $4,000 secured bond. He was also served a warrant for assault on a female as the result of a March 1 altercation between Ayers and his wife. An appearance in District Court was scheduled for April 3.

The man charged with making hundreds of bomb threats to locations in Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties appeared in court today in Catawba County. 27-year-old Cody Matthew Startt of Matoaka, West Virginia did not receive any additional time for the charges in Catawba County. He was sentenced to 11-21 years in prison following his appearance in Burke County. Startt still has a court appearance scheduled in Caldwell County, which was set for today but could change.

The District Attorney's Office has issued a statement regarding the investigation into two Assistant DA's involvement in a church facing abuse allegations.

The statement from District Attorney David Learnerreads as follows: "Assistant District Attorney Frank Webster and Assistant District Attorney Chris Back are no longer employed by the 25th Judicial District. Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon will be the Chief ADA in Burke County, and Kyle Smith will be the Chief ADA in Catawba County. I along with my staff, have worked very hard in the past two years to rebuild the reputation of the DA's Office, and I cannot allow the integrity of the office to be called into question. My administration is dedicated to the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice for the citizens of Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties."

An Associated Press Article says at least a half-dozen times over a period of twenty years, authorities investigated reports that members of the Word of Faith Church were being beaten. The report says according to former congregants, the orders came down from church leaders to lie to protect the sect. According to the AP report, Frank Webster and Chris Back, assistant District Attorneys in the 25th District were ministers with the church. They allegedly provided legal advice, helped at strategy sessions and participated in a mock trial for four congregants charged with harassing a former member.

A Joint Meeting of the Hickory City Council and the Bond Implementation Commission will be held on Monday (March 13) at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at the
Julian G. Whitener Municipal Building at 76 North Center Street in Hickory. The meeting is being held to give an update of the Bond Commission Program, distribute the Gateway Questionnaire, and have open discussion.

The evenings get lighter and mornings darker starting this weekend. Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday (March 12). Eastern Standard Time ends and Daylight Savings begins at 2 a.m. Sunday. Set your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night (March 11) or early Sunday morning.

The Hickory Regional Planning Commission (HRPC) will hold a public drop-in meeting on Wednesday, March 22 at 6 p.m. at City Hall in City Council Chambers at 76 North Center Street.

During the meeting, the public will review a draft revision of the Hickory by Choice 2030 plan, which is the city’s long-range development plan that covers topics like land-use, transportation, housing, vision and community design, economic development, demographics, parks and recreation, public facilities, and the environment.

The HRPC established a subcommittee in early 2016 to oversee and guide the update process of the Hickory by Choice 2030 plan.  Revisions were made to almost all of the plan’s chapters, as well as the creation of two new chapters, which cover public health and historic preservation. The draft revisions are now complete and ready to be unveiled to the public.

Copies of the draft plan will be available at the meeting for the public to review.  Members of the HRPC and city staff will be present to assist the public and answer questions about the plan. Public comments provided during the meeting will be considered and used in finalizing the plan before it goes before the full HRPC and City Council for consideration and final approval.

The meeting will take place during the HRPC’s regularly scheduled meeting on March 22 and the public can drop by between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. To view the current plan, prior to its revisions, visit http://www.hickorync.gov/content/planning-documents.

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The individuals depicted have been arrested but not convicted at the time of story postings. This information does not infer or imply guilt of any actions or activity other than their arrest. We make no warranty or guaranty as to the accuracy of this data.

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