One of two of the country's youngest convicted killers was released from a Florida prison Tuesday morning, according to the South Bay Correctional Facility.
Curtis and Catherine Jones were 12 and 13 years old when they killed their father’s girlfriend, Sonya Speights.
Investigators said they confessed to wanting to first kill a relative who had sexually abused them, and then their father and his girlfriend for not protecting them.
Curtis and Catherine accepted pleas and were both sentenced to 18 years in prison. They have been in jail since 1999.
At the time, the siblings were the country's youngest people to be tried as adults and convicted of murder. They are now 29 and 30 years old.
The brother and sister have never learned how to drive a car and don't know how to use social media. Many believe life will be a challenge for them after their release from prison.
Since being incarcerated, Curtis became an ordained minister and Catherine married a pen pal, WFTV reported.
Catherine is set to be released on Aug. 1.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:57:43 -0400
For almost 30 years, NASA has had a collection of sounds floating through space, trying to make contact with alien life.
But what did the scientists think would make a connection with extra-terrestrials? Their choices may surprise you.
Sounds like Morse Code, dogs barking, a train and even a baby cooing and crying were sent into space on the "Golden Record," the sounds that were sent on the Voyager spacecraft that launched in 1977, The Next Web reported.
And now you can hear the high quality recordings yourself.
Click here or listen below.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:34:54 -0400
A North Charleston woman is recovering after a pit bull attacked her, causing her to lose part of her arm.
Area media outlets report that 48-year-old Katherine Rizk was attacked late Sunday at her home and is in the intensive care unit of the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital in Charleston.
Mahmoud Rizk tells The Post and Courier of Charleston that his wife had to have her left arm amputated from the elbow down.
He says he had had the dog for three years and it had never attacked anyone. He says the dog had been cut earlier Sunday and thinks the dog attacked after his wife pressed on the wound while petting the animal.
The dog was euthanized Monday.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:56:32 -0400
A 9-year-old girl from Milton Keynes, England, once dreamed of having long, flowing locks just like Rapunzel's. But that all changed when she saw her best friend and "boyfriend," 7-year-old Aiden Selleck, lose his hair as a side effect of chemotherapy.
"She said, 'I want to give Aiden my hair,'" Charlie Spiers remembered his daughter, Libby, saying. "I said, 'You can't,' and she said, 'But I want to.'"
When Aiden, who has kidney cancer, said he didn't need a wig, Libby decided to donate 11 inches of her hair to the Little Princess Trust charity, according to ABC News. The organization provides wigs to children who need them.
Aiden and his family were moved by the gesture.
"She's been a really great friend and a really brave girl to cut off all that hair for him," Aiden's mother, Clare Selleck, told ABC News. "She looks beautiful."
Libby is also raising money to throw an "End of Chemo" party for Aiden, whose final chemotherapy treatment is scheduled for Dec. 30. For more information, visit the Libby's Locks for Aiden crowdfunding page or Facebook group.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:52:25 -0400
There has been another recall of pet food.
Nature's Variety has voluntarily recalled its Instinct Raw Chicken Formula for dogs due to possible salmonella contamination, the Food and Drug Administration has released.
The food has a "Best By" date of 4/27/16.
The recall is limited to the Instinct Raw Chicken Formula Frozen Diets with the following weights and UPC numbers:
The FDA said no other products are affected.
If you have any questions, call the company at 888-519-7387 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time, 7 days a week, or you can email Nature’s Variety at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salmonella can make both pets and their owners ill, causing symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:39:51 -0400
The Boy Scouts of America has ended its blanket ban on gay adult leaders but will allow church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons.
The new policy, aimed at easing a controversy that has embroiled the Boy Scouts for years, takes effect immediately. It was approved Monday by the BSA's National Executive Board on a 45-12 vote during a closed-to-the-media teleconference.
"For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us," the BSA's president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said. "Now it's time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good."
Initial reactions to the decision from groups on both sides suggested the issue would remain divisive.
The Mormon church, which sponsors more Scout units that any other organization, said it was "deeply troubled" by the decision. Church officials suggested they would look into the possibility of forming their own organization to replace Boy Scouts.
"The admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America," said a statement from Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City.
In contrast, the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights organization, said the Boy Scouts should not allow church-sponsored units to continue excluding gays.
"Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period," said the HRC's president, Chad Griffin. "BSA officials should now demonstrate true leadership and begin the process of considering a full national policy of inclusion."
Gates foreshadowed Monday's action on May 21, when he told the Scouts' national meeting that the long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable. He said the ban was likely to be the target of lawsuits that the Scouts likely would lose.
Two weeks ago, the new policy was approved unanimously by the BSA's 17-member National Executive Committee. It would allow local Scout units to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation — a stance that several Scout councils have already adopted in defiance of the official national policy.
In 2013, after heated internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders. Several denominations that collectively sponsor close to half of all Scout units — including the Roman Catholic church, the Mormon church and the Southern Baptist Convention — have been apprehensive about ending the ban on gay adults.
The BSA's top leaders pledged to defend the right of any church-sponsored units to continue excluding gays as adult volunteers. But that assurance has not satisfied some conservative church leaders.
"In recent years I have seen a definite cooling on the part of Baptist churches toward the Scouts," said the Rev. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "This will probably bring that cooling to a freeze."
A more nuanced response came from the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which expressed interest in maintaining its ties with the BSA, but also voiced concerns. Notably, it conveyed a reluctance to accept participation by anyone who engaged in sexual conduct outside of a heterosexual marriage.
Under the BSA's new policy, gay leaders who were previously removed from Scouting because of the ban would have the opportunity to reapply for volunteer positions. If otherwise qualified, a gay adult would be eligible to serve as a Scoutmaster or unit leader.
Gates, who became the BSA's president in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after the Scouts' policymaking body upheld the ban. In May, he said that recent events "have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."
He cited an announcement by the BSA's New York City chapter in early April that it had hired Pascal Tessier, the nation's first openly gay Eagle Scout, as a summer camp leader. Gates also cited broader gay-rights developments and warned that rigidly maintaining the ban "will be the end of us as a national movement."
The BSA's right to exclude gays was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. But since then, the policy has prompted numerous major corporations to suspend charitable donations to the Scouts and strained relations with some municipalities.
More recently, the BSA faced a civil rights investigation in New York and lawsuits in other states over the ban.
Kenneth Upton, a lawyer for the LGBT-rights group Lambda Legal, questioned whether the BSA's new policy to let church-sponsored units continue to exclude gay adults would be sustainable.
"There will be a period of time where they'll have some legal protection," Upton said. "But that doesn't mean the lawsuits won't keep coming. ... They will become increasingly marginalized from the direction society is going."
Like several other major youth organizations, the Boy Scouts have experienced a membership decline in recent decades. Current membership, according to the BSA, is about 2.4 million boys and about 1 million adults.
After the 2013 decision to admit gay youth, some conservatives split from the BSA to form a new group, Trail Life USA, which has created its own ranks, badges and uniforms. The group claims a membership of more than 25,000 youths and adults.
The Mecklenburg County Council, Boy Scouts of America will follow all National BSA policies. In doing so we will uphold the national resolution that allows chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing Scouting’s longstanding policy of chartered organizations selecting their leaders.
This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to
organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change will also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.
The bottom line is that our program has stood the test of time to deliver a powerful result-oriented experience to young people. When you share the principles and fundamental tenets of the BSA with young parents today… they will chose them for their children every time.
Those principles include:
Scouting is providing life-changing experiences to youth they cannot get anywhere else.
As the Executive Director of the Mecklenburg County Council, Boy Scouts of America, I choose an attitude of service every day. Our local board and our volunteers also choose to serve and deliver a powerful program to all young people throughout Mecklenburg County and the Charlotte area. The Boy Scout program serves this community to build an incredible, lifelong and solid foundation for young people today!
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:33:06 -0400
Which burger is the best in America? It is not the one you may think.
In the burger battle, Whataburger was named the champion of a bracket that pitted north against south and east against west.
Mega chains like Burger King and McDonald's were out of the running early.
The Atlanta burger landmark, The Varsity, did not advance past the first round.
Eventually, the final four came down to Five Guys, Whataburger, Culver's and In-N-Out burger.
Whataburger was crowned in the end as the best burger in America, according to Fast Company.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:15:46 -0400
Maybe it was just baby babble, but one New Jersey dad couldn't be happier with what he thinks he heard.
Ted Moskalenko posted a video to his YouTube channel of him making baby sounds to his 3-month-old son, Ben. As Ted babbles to Ben, the little one just babbles back. But when Ted tells his son "I love you," to his shock and amazement, little Ben sounds like he's saying it back.
Moskalenko writes in the video description: My baby boy Ben said "I love you" for the first time. Good thing my wife had the camera rolling. Enjoy! Our lovely boy is growing faster than we can keep up!
The video has received more than 800,000 hits so far.
According to the Daily Mail, babies usually begin talking at around 18 months old. When they do, they can generally articulate around 10 basic words, and they also may be able to repeat the sounds they hear.
Watch the video here.
What do you think? Weigh in with our poll.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:14:31 -0400
Two Vinita, Oklahoma, boys are being treated at a Texas hospital for second- and third-degree burns their mother said they got at day care.
She told KOKI-TV that she dropped her sons, ages 5 and 7, at the Happiness Is a Learning Center day care on Friday between 8:30 and 9 a.m. She said when she picked them up after 5 p.m., the kids told her they’d been at a splash pad all day without shirts on while they played.
She said the kids developed severe sunburns, and after she took them to a hospital for treatment, they were taken to the Shriner’s Hospital in Galveston, Texas, with second- and third-degree burns.
The kids' grandfather was shaken up by the incident.
KOKI talked to the Department of Human Services, which is investigating the case. Officials at the day care told KOKI that their lawyers told them not to give a statement.
The kids are expected to be in Texas for five more days.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:13:31 -0400
A Florida man got a warning from Pinellas County recently because his barbecue smoke could be smelled off his residential property.
The county said 15 air-quality complaints have come in against Scotty Jordan, who uses a commercial barbecue smoker at his home.
Of those complaints, all but one has come from one neighbor.
The ordinance states that "commercial barbecue cookers are not exempt from causing a nuisance odor. If a sufficient number of complaints, representing different households, are reported and an inspector witnesses the problem, they can issue a warning letter.”
Although Jordan did not get a citation, he took a video of the encounter with county employee Joe Graham and posted it to his Facebook page.
>> Click here to watch the video. (WARNING: Graphic language)
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:12:31 -0400
A Seattle woman who searched for her father with the help and overwhelming support of Facebook users says a paternity test has officially come back positive.
Tina Gomez shared a photo of herself on Facebook, asking viewers to share it to help her find her dad.
She received a call from a man who saw the photo.
He said he believed he was the birth father she was searching for.
“He said, 'You know, I remember your mom. She was very beautiful, and I’m just amazed. I’m excited,' and he said, 'I don't know what to say,'" Gomez said.
On July 11, she shared over Facebook that she would be traveling to Vancouver to do a paternity test with the man who said he was her father – Ric Castellanos.
"So nervous, excited and feeling blessed," she wrote.
Then on July 22, Tina received the results from the paternity test.
"I got the results!!! 99.99998%," she wrote. "Tears of PURE JOY! My missing piece in my life is over and now a new beginning!"
Castellanos and Gomez's mother, Alice, met in Lodi, California, in 1977.
“They were together for two months, and then he said, 'I'm moving to Seattle.' When I was born, my mom said that she did not have the chance to tell him that 'I was pregnant' and that, you know, he was going to have a little girl,” Gomez said.
She expressed her immense gratitude toward those who helped her find her father by sharing her story.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:11:31 -0400
Police in Davidson announced Tuesday morning that they had arrested three men in connection with a homicide case from last month.
Investigators arrested Gercobe McClain Jr., 28, Frederick Cherry, 25, and Rupen Patel, 26. All three men have been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Jerry Kerns Jr.
Police were called to the 400 block of Jetton Street in Davidson on June 23 and found Kerns dead from a gunshot wound.
A witness told Channel 9 he saw red car speeding away from The Bungalows apartments and watched it crash into a dumpster and into a tree line.
Kerns was slumped over in the passenger seat in a vehicle in a ditch, according to the witnesses.
“I’d like to thank the members of our community, and family and friends of the victim, for their support and cooperation in working with us to find justice for Jerry Kerns,” said Davidson Police Chief Jeanne Miller. “We would like to acknowledge that this arrest has been a great collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies in the county and state.”
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:00:38 -0400
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday.
A gun-control bill won lopsided approval in the North Carolina Senate Monday, a reflection of the bipartisan coalition formed in the House to delete a proposed repeal of the state's pistol permit requirement.
The cheer squad spoke of Destiny Stafford's infectious character. Friends have created the hashtag #DestinyStrong to support Stafford and her family.
The town of Matthews said its second in command will stay on the job despite assault charges against him.
Police responded to Mayor Pro-Tem Joe Pata’s home Friday night and said they found a woman who appeared to have been physically injured.
John Russell Houser's mental problems were well known to many, though perhaps not to the store that sold him the .40-caliber handgun used in a deadly attack on a Louisiana movie theater. A federal background check came back clean, the pawn shop said, with no red flags raised at the time of sale.
It's time to brush up on what it means when you say "once in a blue moon." CLICK HERE to find out more about the saying.
A blue moon will occur this Friday, July 31, 2015.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 05:42:40 -0400
What to know:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Officer Randall "Wes" Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of unarmed black man Jonathan Ferrell. Tuesday will mark day seven of jury selection in the trial, and attorneys could choose the final juror.
Once attorneys choose that final juror and four alternates, the next step will be opening statements from both sides.
Attorneys agreed on two new jurors Monday: a white man and a Hispanic woman.
At the moment, the 11 jurors are made up of eight women and three men, seven of which are white, two African American and two Hispanic.
The concern is that until the twelfth juror and alternates are picked, the rest of the jurors are either home, back at work, or just waiting until the panel is complete. While the judge has given them strict instructions not to listen, read or talk about the case, there is a risk they could accidentally do that.
“Everybody survives by looking at email, being on social media, talking to other people. It's unrealistic to think that won't happen while the jurors are waiting for the trial to begin,” said legal expert James Wyatt.
Wyatt said the longer it takes to pick the jury, the higher the risk a juror could be exposed to information.
Channel 9 will continue to tweet out updates from jury selection while outside the courtroom today, follow WSOC on Twitter.
Randall "Wes" Kerrick is accused of shooting and killing unarmed Jonathan Ferrell on Sept. 14, 2013.
Three officers were called to the 7500 block of Reedy Creek Road in east Mecklenburg County around 2:30 that morning. A woman told police Ferrell was banging on her front door.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said Ferrell ran toward the officers when they arrived. One of the officers deployed his Taser, but it was unsuccessful. Kerrick fired his weapon 12 times at close range. Ten of the shots hit Ferrell, killing him.
Police later discovered a wrecked car that Ferrell was driving about 500 yards away. Officers say Ferrell was unarmed.
Around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 14, 2013, Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter, marking the first time an officer in Charlotte had been charged with manslaughter for actions on duty.
Kerrick was released from jail on a $50,000 bond. He remains suspended without pay from CMPD.
Ferrell, a former football player at Florida A&M University, was living in Charlotte with his fiancée. A toxicology report released in November showed Ferrell had 60 mg/dl of ethanol in his system, equal to a .06 if blown during a DWI check point. The legal limit in North Carolina is .08.
The Ferrell family filed a civil suit against the city, county, CMPD and former Police Chief Rodney Monroe on Jan. 14, 2014. The suit was settled in May 2015 for $2.25 million.
George Laughrun and Michael J. Greene will represent Kerrick. His attorneys were hired by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Channel 9 will have a team of reporters covering the Kerrick trial each day. Follow @wsoctv on Twitter for continuous updates.
Twitter handles for reporters who will be covering the trial:
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 04:45:03 -0400
A gun-control bill won lopsided approval in the North Carolina Senate Monday, a reflection of the bipartisan coalition formed in the House to delete a proposed repeal of the state's pistol permit requirement.
As passed, the bill makes various changes to the state's firearms statutes. It would allow permitted district attorneys to bring concealed handguns into court rooms, remove some misdemeanors from disqualifying a person from obtaining a concealed carry permit and create a unified process for the application of a pistol permit.
It would also allow the Commissioner of Agriculture to ban carrying concealed firearms on the State Fairgrounds during the State Fair.
In a committee hearing last week, both the National Rifle Association and gun-control advocates said the bill was not perfect, but asked lawmakers to pass it.
Conservative Republicans in a House committee last month added amendments to end the use of pistol permits, as well as allowing lawmakers to bring concealed weapons into the Legislative Building in Raleigh.
The amendments were opposed by Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina Sheriff's Association, as well as gun-control groups. When the bill reached the House floor for debate, a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats successfully repealed the amendments.
Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, introduced the bill to the Senate Monday and asked both sides to refrain from adding amendments. Several Democrats asked legal question about the impact of the bill, but for the most part refrained from debate.
"It is going to be tough for me, but at the end of the day I have to support this bill," said Sen. Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton, an ordained minister who said she felt clergy would be safer with concealed weapons after nine people were killed by a gunman at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.
Smith-Ingram was one of seven Senate Democrats who voted in favor of the bill, along with 33 Republicans. Eight Democrats and one Republican voted against it.
The bill was sent to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 04:40:56 -0400
A section of Graham Street in north Charlotte reopened early Tuesday morning after an overnight crash shut down the road for hours.
Police told Channel 9 a black Volkswagen Beetle crashed into a power pole around midnight near Atando Avenue.
Paramedics took three people to the hospital, but they are expected to be OK.
Investigators have not said what caused the wreck.
Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 04:10:00 -0400
The Town of Matthews said its second in command will stay on the job despite assault charges against him.
Police responded to Mayor Pro Tem Joe Pata’s home Friday night and said they found a woman who appeared to have been physically injured.
Pata was charged with assault inflicting serious injury.
Pata has been the mayor pro tem in Matthews since 2013.
Town leaders said he will stay in that position unless he resigns.
“We don’t have any authority to remove him from the board," said Jen Thompson with the Town of Matthews. "That's completely his decision if he decides to do so, we don't know yet if that will happen or not.”
Published: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 23:14:24 -0400
City leaders pressed transportation officials for answers on new toll lane projects coming to Charlotte.
They wanted to know how much drivers could pay, but North Carolina Department of Transportation representatives couldn't give them any solid number weeks before the project gets approval from a local transportation planning board.
A plan for toll lanes on Highway 74 is expected to be completed by 2017. It will be Mecklenburg County's first operating toll lane project.
Pricing has been a sticking point for critics of new toll lane projects around Charlotte, including one expected to break ground soon on I-77.
On that project, preliminary studies showed drivers could be charged up to $21 round trip from Uptown to Mooresville during peak travel times, but no concrete prices have been announced.
On Monday night, it was like deja vu at Charlotte City Council as city leaders sought answers on what toll prices could be on I-485 and Highway 74.
"We're a year from the project. When will we have that?" asked Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter.
"We are working on it now," said an NC DOT official.
State officials said that like on I-77, pricing will vary depending on demand.
"It's a very wide range, so we struggle a little bit giving a specific answer," said Ned Curran, chairman of the state Board of Transportation.
City leaders also wanted to know if the state can afford the lanes and whether people will use them. NC DOT said it is still studying that too.
The project on I-485 will cost NC DOT $200 million and the managed lanes on Highway 74 will cost $400 million, according to officials.
"You wouldn't be going ahead if you didn't have some idea that revenue would be available to service the debt. I just would have expected we know more than that," said Councilman Ed Driggs.
Expected pricing and revenues was needed for the state to get financing for the projects.
NC DOT officials told Channel 9 it is still refining those numbers before are released.
Published: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:36:53 -0400
A person was hit and killed by a train just southeast of uptown around 7 p.m. Monday, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
Officers said the collision happened on Pecan Avenue near Bay Street.
Officials said they are investigating, but they have not released additional information.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
Published: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:21:46 -0400
Detectives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the FBI are asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect involved in a bank robbery.
IMAGES: CMPD releases surveillance photos of bank robbery suspect
CMPD said a man robbed First Citizens Bank at 4325 Randolph Road at 1 p.m. Monday. He entered the bank, approached an employee and demanded money. After receiving money the suspect fled the scene, police said.
The suspect is described as a black man in his 30s, small build, last seen wearing a red and black colored shirt, baseball cap and glasses.
Anyone with information about the case or suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
Published: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:07:46 -0400