37-year-old James Brandon Smith of Phoenix Drive in Newton was arrested Wednesday (March 22) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged on grand jury indictments with three counts of being an habitual felon, two counts of break or enter a motor vehicle, and single counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and larceny of a motor vehicle.
In addition, Smith is charged with two counts apiece of larceny of a motor vehicle, felony larceny, and breaking and entering. He faces single counts of misdemeanor larceny, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of burglary tools, possession of stolen goods or property, misdemeanor escape from a local jail, assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, and break or enter a motor vehicle. Smith was also charged with fifteen counts of failure to appear.
Following the arrest, Smith was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $881,000 bond. District and Superior Court appearances were scheduled for today (Thursday, March 23). Smith also has District Court appearances scheduled for April 5 and 21.
30-year-old Aaron L. Johnson of Charlesvoix Avenue in Lincolnton was arrested by Lincolnton Police Monday (March 20) on charges of possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver marijuana, maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
At about eleven o’clock Monday night, patrol units responded to Johnson’s residence as part of an active investigation. The investigation was the result of information provided by a concerned citizen.
Officers made contact with Johnson and a search was conducted. In the residence, Officers found 164 grams of high-grade marijuana, packaged for sale. Also found were a set of digital scales, baggies, a marijuana grinder and $7,000 in cash. The marijuana seized has an estimated value of $2,100.
Johnson was arrested and placed in the Lincoln County Jail under a $3,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in court date of yesterday (March 21).
Hickory Police are investigating a robbery at Family Video on 29th Avenue N.E. in Hickory.
The incident occurred just before ten o’clock last night (March 21). A 16-year-old male employee was robbed by a suspect armed with a handgun. The suspect fled with a substantial amount of cash. The clerk was not injured.
No description of the suspect and no video of the incident are available at this time.
Anyone with information regarding the robbery should call Hickory Police at 828-328-5551.
26-year-old Keyon Shaqual Miller and 26-year-old Phillip Bejoun Westmoreland, who are listed as residents of different addresses on Caldwell Street in Statesville, were both arrested Tuesday (March 21) by Iredell County Sheriff's Officers. Miller is charged with felony flee to elude arrest in a motor vehicle and driving while license revoked. Westmoreland is charged with resisting a public officer.
According to a news release from the Iredell County Sheriff's Office. On Tuesday, members of the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement (A.C.E) Team were conducting a license checking station in the 2400 block of Amity Hill Road. Shortly after 5 p.m. a vehicle approached the checking station and abruptly stopped in the middle of the road prior to the checking station. The vehicle then began to travel in reverse at a high rate of speed on Amity Hill Road away from the checking station and ran off the road nearly wrecking.
An officer attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver refused to stop. The occupants began to throw what appeared to be drugs out of the vehicle while they were fleeing. Deputies chased the vehicle and the chase came to an end on Durham Avenue on the south side of Statesville. The occupants then ran on foot from the vehicle and were quickly apprehended in a residence on Caldwell Street.
Miller, who was the driver of the vehicle, received a $30,000 secured bond. Westmoreland received a $5,000 secured bond. No court dates were listed. Both suspects have extensive criminal history and both have been convicted of violent felony crimes. Miller has been convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Westmoreland is a verified gang member and has been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, discharge a firearm into an occupied dwelling, and felony larceny.
32-year-old Amanda Nicole Hollar was arrested today (Wednesday, March 22) by authorities in Burke County. She's charged with felony possession of schedule II controlled substance. Hollar was placed in jail in Morganton under $4,500 secured bond. A court appearance was scheduled for today.
32-year-old Amy Canterbury Blackburn of 10th Avenue Drive N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police just before 6 p.m. yesterday on one felony count of embezzlement. The warrant for her arrest was issued in August of 2015 by the Granite Falls Police Department.
Blackburn was taken into custody at her residence. She was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $1,000 secured bond. She has since been released. An appearance in Superior Court was scheduled for May 1 in Lenoir.
44-year-old Francisco Augustin Ailon of Cincinnati was given an active prison sentence of at least 20 years after pleading guilty to multiple sexual offenses involving an underage female family member during Burke County Superior Court on Monday (March 20).
The Honorable Daniel A. Kuhnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, sentenced Ailon to a prison term of 20-29 years following his guilty plea to statutory rape of a child 13, 14 or 15 years old, incest with a child 13 years old and indecent liberties with a child. Ailon will serve his prison sentence in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
The victim reported to another family member on June 28, 2016, that the defendant had sexual relations with her. During a forensic interview with Beth Cali of the Gingerbread House Child Advocacy Center in Burke County, the victim said the acts took place over a lengthy period of time starting in March 2012. She said Ailon forced her to engage in sexual acts repeatedly.
When confronted by family members about the allegations, the defendant confessed they were true. The victim did not tell anyone what was happening out of fear of what he would do to her if he found out.
Joseph Beaver of Morganton Department of Public Safety investigated the case with assistance from Beth Cali. Michelle Lippert handled prosecution for the State.
Authorities are looking for a missing person, 26-year-old Darwin Lewis “D.J.” Turner, Jr. of Statesville. Mr. Turner was last seen on Thursday, March 16, in Hickory near Highway 127. At that time, he was with friends in a gold Ford Explorer.
Mr. Turner is a black male. He is about six feet tall and weighs approximately 200 pounds. He has tattoos on his right arm.
Mr. Turner’s loved ones are concerned that he may be injured or in trouble.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Darwin Lewis “D.J.” Turner, Jr. should call the Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Office at 828-878-3180.
A Morganton man will spend a minimum of 25 years in prison after entering a guilty plea to multiple charges in Burke County Superior Court on Monday (March 20). 44-year-old Stacy Heatley pleaded guilty to attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Heatley was given an active prison term of 25 to 31 years in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections by the Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County.
Heatley and a female co-defendant were involved in an assault and robbery at a residence on Pete Brittain Road on Dec. 16, 2016. The victim, who was helping the co-defendant move out of a mobile home, was tied up and beaten in the head with a hammer then robbed of $6,500 in cash and his pickup truck.
The victim’s truck was recovered in Marion, and the defendants later were arrested at a Winston-Salem hotel after numerous people contacted law enforcement officers about their location.
Heatley admitted his involvement, telling investigators that he hit the victim with the hammer when he saw him hugging on the co-defendant. He later smashed a glass chicken on top of the victim’s head after he had been bound. He also told investigators that he and the co-defendant planned to rob the victim and had engaged in such behavior before.
The co-defendant has a July 2017 court date and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The victim had severe injuries and was transported by helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte where he was treated for multiple skull fractures and swelling on his brain. The injuries were described as life-threatening, and he was hospitalized for more than two weeks.
Det. Daniel Strauss led the investigation for the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. Michelle Lippert prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.
31-year-old Christopher Ross Canella of Kenham Place in Lenoir was arrested Tuesday (March 21) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of cocaine. Canella was confined in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $2,500 secured bond. No court date was listed.
35-year-old Christopher Scott Loftis of Norlan Road in Charlotte was arrested Tuesday (March 21) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of schedule I controlled substance and misdemeanor possession with intent to manufacture schedule VI controlled substance. Loftis was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $4,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for Tuesday.
26-year-old Homer Joseph Hamilton Jr. of Sleepy Hollow Road in Lenoir was arrested Tuesday (March 21) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged on a bill of indictment with possession of methamphetamine, felony larceny, felony possession of stolen goods or property, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts apiece of felony breaking and entering to a motor vehicle, misdemeanor larceny, and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods or property. Hamilton was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $6,000 secured bond. A Superior Court date is set for May 1.
45-year-old Pamela Alice Moses of 2nd Street in Valdese was arrested Tuesday (March 21) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with felony breaking and entering. Moses was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Thursday (March 23).
Hickory City Council met in regular session Tuesday night (March 21). Minutes, second readings, and the consent agenda were all approved unanimously. Among the items under second readings was the consideration to close a portion of 1st Street NE and the approval of the annual auditing contract with Martin Starnes & Associates. Among the items in the consent agenda was the reduction of the speed limit on Main Avenue from 17th Street SE to 21st Street SE from a 35 mile-per-hour to a 25 mile-per-hour zone.
Principal Planner Cal Overby presented a petition for a voluntary non-contiguous annexation for 1329 Zion Church Road. Nobody appeared to speak for or against the petition and it passed unanimously.
The Amec Foster Wheeler design team presented an update about the proposed Gateway design. They shared details about the design process and landscaping details. A motion was made to charge Amec with continuing the leaves design and adding "Hickory" to it. The motion passed 6 to 1, with councilman Zagaroli voting no.
City Council discussed state legislation that could make local elections partisan. SB94 is the bill in question. Council will continue to consider whether or not they should take an official position on that bill.
Firefighters continued to fight a wildfire in the Linville Gorge area Tuesday (March 21). Burnout operations were conducted again Tuesday on the White Creek Fire, increasing containment to 30%. The fire, which was reported last Thursday (March 16), is burning near Shortoff Mountain at the south end of Linville Gorge on the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The fire is now estimated at 1,750 acres.
The fire continues to burn within the containment lines. Firefighters worked Tuesday to strengthen containment using burn out operations to remove fuels within the containment area. Due to the rugged terrain in Linville Gorge, defensible fire lines fall back to natural features and previously existing control lines. This indirect approach follows incident objectives of protecting public and firefighter safety and minimizing impacts in the wilderness.
169 firefighters were on the scene Tuesday. Today (Wednesday, March 22), firefighters were scheduled to patrol and monitor the fire area, as well as work to extinguish any hot spots near fire lines. Windy conditions and low humidity were expected throughout the day before conditions moderate Thursday. Residents of southern Burke and Catawba Counties experienced smoke Tuesday afternoon and evening.
Law enforcement officials completed investigations Tuesday afternoon and determined lightning to be the likely cause of the fire. Officials surveyed the initial 35 acres the fire burned the day of ignition and were unable to find signs of campfires or other human cause. Lightning detection networks show a lightning strike near the origin of the fire on March 6th, prompting a smoke report. The lightning strike likely smoldered until fuels dried enough for the fire to spread.
An area closure is in effect for all U.S. Forest Service lands east of State Road 1238 (Old NC 105 / Kistler Memorial Highway), south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), south of Table Rock Picnic Area, west of Back Irish Creek Forest Service Road #118 (Blue Gravel Road) and Roses Creek Forest Service Road #99, north of Highway 126. In addition, the following trails are closed: Shortoff Trail (Tr #235), Rock Jock Trail (Tr #247), Pinch-In Trail (Tr #228), Linville Gorge Trail (Tr #231) south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), Mountains to Sea Trail (Tr #440) from State Road 1238 at Pinnacles to the Table Rock Picnic Area, and any social trails existing within the closure area. Public entry is prohibited within this area.
The District Attorney’s Office for the 25th Judicial District announced today (March 21) that a Catawba County Narcotics Investigator acted lawfully in the fatal shooting of 41-year-old Irecas Rayshion Valentine. The incident occurred on November 28, 2016 during a Catawba County drug investigation. The shooting took place in Hickory; however, the Hickory Police Department was not involved.
The D.A.’s Office reviewed the case to determine whether the shooting was lawful or unlawful. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (S.B.I.) also conducted an investigation. The S.B.I. interviewed witnesses, photographed the scene and collected physical evidence. No video is known to exist of the actual shooting; however, body camera footage from Officers arriving after the incident was collected and examined.
All information obtained during the S.B.I. investigation was shared with the D.A.’s Office. The S.B.I. presented its findings to a team of experienced prosecutors, including three Chief Assistant District Attorneys, four prosecutors in the D.A.’s Office, the D.A.’s Chief Investigator (who is a retired U.S. Marshal) and a Victim Witness Legal Assistant (who is a retired Captain from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office with 26 years of law enforcement experience).
Valentine fled from law enforcement officers about three years earlier, resulting in a confrontation that he survived after being shot multiple times. Officers approaching a Porsche Cayenne automobile on November 28, 2016 were unsure of the driver’s identity, but had information that it might be Valentine.
According to the D.A.’s statement, all evidence indicates that Valentine's driver side window was completely rolled down and the radio was off. Valentine looked directly at the Officers and could hear their commands.
Officers immediately identified themselves and commanded Valentine to put the car in park and turn it off. Valentine then put the car in reverse and began backing up, slowly. According to witness statements, Officers again loudly commanded Valentine to stop and put the car in park. Valentine refused to comply. He accelerated abruptly and rammed two Sheriff’s Office vehicles, one of which was occupied by an Investigator.
Only one Sheriff’s Investigator fired his weapon. The entire sequence of events unfolded in what was described as “just a few seconds”.
Based upon applicable law and the facts as reported by eyewitness accounts, corroborated by photographs and other physical evidence, the D.A. concluded that the Investigator acted lawfully.
29-year-old Jerry Wayne Sigmon of Gaynell Street in Conover was arrested today (Tuesday, March 21) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine and non support of a child. Sigmon was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $5,500 bond. Court dates are scheduled for Thursday (March 23) and April 24.
29-year-old Michael Allen Poarch of Spencer Road in Conover was arrested by Hickory Police shortly after 1:30 Sunday afternoon (March 19) on one felony count of possession of a schedule II controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was arrested after Officers responded to a shoplifting incident at the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. During the incident, Police found one gram of methamphetamine and a glass pipe on Poarch’s person. No charges for larceny were filed.
Poarch was processed and released under a $5,000 unsecured bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court yesterday (March 20) in Newton. No additional court date is listed at this time.
43-year-old Robert Duke Chapman, who is listed as a homeless person, was arrested by Hickory Police at about 9 a.m. Friday (March 17) on one felony count of possession of a schedule II controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer. He was also charged with violating his parole.
On Friday, Officers received information that Chapman was on foot on the 900 block of 1st Street S.W. in Hickory. He was wanted for an outstanding parole violation. Officers located the suspect, but he fled on foot. He was detained behind an apartment complex on 10th Avenue S.E. During the arrest, Officers found 0.66 grams of methamphetamine on Chapman’s person.
Chapman is on parole following a September 2010 conviction in Forsythe County for the sale of a schedule II controlled substance, possession with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, conspiracy to sell or deliver a schedule II and possession of a controlled substance on penal institution property. He was also convicted as an habitual felon. Chapman was given a nine year, two month sentence. He was released on parole in January of this year.
Chapman was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $7,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled yesterday (March 20) with his next court date coming up on April 10 in Newton.
39-year-old Mandi Uriah Smith, 37-year-old Askari Jamwad Johnson, and 33-year-old Kenin Nicole Anzalone, all of Devine Road in Iron Station, were all arrested Monday (March 20) by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. Smith and Johnson are each charged with one felony count of trafficking in opium or heroin, possession with intent to manufacture schedule VI controlled substance, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance, possession with intent to manufacture schedule II controlled substance, felony possession of a firearm, two felony counts of conspiracy, two misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one misdemeanor count of possession of schedule IV controlled substance. Anzalone is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
The arrests came after detectives executed a search warrant at the J&M Discount Variety Store located at 3485 East Hwy 27 in Lincolnton. The search was a result of an ongoing undercover and surveillance operation where opioid-based pills and marijuana were being sold from the store by the owners and employee during operating hours. Detectives say the business owners were the primary targets of the investigation.
During the search, detectives seized nearly one-and-one-half pounds of marijuana, more than 70 grams of oxycodone pills, two handguns, drug paraphernalia, and more than $13,000 in cash. Detectives also seized a small amount of alprazolam pills.
Detectives utilized Sheriff's Office Narcotics K9 Anya during the search. She and her handler conducted a free air sniff and she alerted for the presence of narcotics in several locations including the office area and storage area of the business. Those locations are where detectives seized the marijuana hidden in a cooler.
Smith and Johnson were placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under $100,000 secured bond apiece. Anzalone was jailed under a $30,000 secured bond. The investigation is continuing and more charges are likely. Smith and Johnson stated they were co-owners of the bargain business but they lease the building.