SCP Responds to Reports of Suspicious Vehicles

Residents asked to report vehicles if they are seen

October 29, 2010

Stonehaven Community Patrol Officer Brian Lutes responded to 2 separate reports of suspicious vehicles on Thursday, October 28, 2010.

Lutes received the first report at 10:11 AM from a female Stonehaven Resident who reported that while she was enjoying a morning walk in the Jester Lane, Wheeler Dr., & Redcoat Dr. area  an older green Chevrolet sedan, possibly a 1970’s model, occupied by 3 older white males, all wearing toboggan caps,  drove by her 3 times at low speed from different directions. The woman said that it appeared to her that the vehicle was “casing” the neighborhood and that she was alarmed at the fact that every time the car approached her it slowed down.

Lutes responded to the location in which the vehicle was reported at approximately 10:25 AM and patrolled the area extensively, speaking to residents who were out walking or doing yard work to alert them of the reported vehicle and handed out SCP contact cards with requests for the people to call  if the vehicle was seen.

Unfortunately, the vehicle could not be located and no further calls about the vehicle were received.

Lutes forwarded the information about the reported vehicle  to the Char-Meck Police Dept. with a request that they check the area whenever possible.

The second report of a suspicious vehicle was received at 11:29 AM while Lutes was still trying to locate the vehicle from the 10:11 AM report above.

In the second report, a female resident of Charter Place said that she was on her way home from running errands, traveling on Gate Post Rd. from Rama Rd., when she noticed a white station wagon, believed to be a Toyota, with a damaged right front fender/bumper behind her.

The woman said she recognized the vehicle as the same one that was driven by a white male who had stopped at her residence a few days before asking if he could do some pressure washing work for her. She said she had never seen the man before, described as a white male, believed to be in his 20’s, about 6 feet tall, thinly built, with a fair complexion, reddish/blonde hair, no facial hair or visible tattoos, wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt, and had no idea who he was.

She further reported that she told the man she didn’t need any work done and he left. However, a neighbor told her that the man didn’t stop at any other residence to inquire about performing work and that it appeared that the man went to her house specifically.

Upon recognizing the car, the woman pulled over to let it pass and as it did she saw that the driver was the same man who had visited her house to inquire about work. She said the man slowed his car and looked directly at her in a manner that made her believe he knew who she was. She further said that the situation sared her as she is wondering if the man has somehow begun targeting her for some reason even though she doesn’t know him.

As the car passed her she wrote the license plate # down, but isn’t sure if she got it right. She believes the plate # was 595 – 4EY or 959 – 4EY,  possibly from South Carolina.  She is fairly certain the plate was not a North Carolina tag.

Out of fear for her safety the woman drove to the house of a friend that she knew to be home and called the SCP to report the incident. SCP Officer Lutes responded to the woman’s location and escorted her home to make sure she got there safely.

Lutes patrolled the area for another hour, but wasn’t able to locate a vehicle matching the description given by the woman. The information was forwarded to the Char-Meck Police Dept. with a request that they be on the lookout for the vehicle.

All Stonehaven Area residents are asked to be on the lookout for the vehicles reportedly involved in these incidents, a green older model Chevrolet sedan, possibly a 1970’s model, occupied by 3 older white males wearing toboggan caps and a white station wagon, believed to be a Toyota, with a damaged right front fender/ bumper, displaying license # 595 – 4EY or possibly 959 – 4EY (possibly South Carolina), driven by a white male, believed to be in his 20’s, about 6 feet tall, thinly built, with reddish/blonde hair, fair complexion, no facial hair or visible tattoos, with a northern accent; and to call the SCP @ 980-297-8446 if they are seen.

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Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

North Charlotte Man Beaten Inside His Home

October 10, 2010 by ten8 (www.ten8.wordpress.com)

From http://www.wsoctv.com

Residents of The Townes at University Pointe apartment complex in North Charlotte told Eyewitness News there are several undocumented workers who live there. The 30-year-old man who was attacked in his own home Friday night admitted he is an illegal immigrant, and he said that’s why he was targeted by criminals.

Moments after walking into his home after work last night, he said he was jumped by four men, and beaten in his living room. One attacker pulled out a gun and pistol-whipped him.

“All I heard was them telling me don’t move or we’re going to kill you,” Jose said. “I just got grabbed from behind and kept getting beat on. It went on for three to four minutes, and you know, three to four minutes, it seemed like a lifetime to me,” he said.

Jose believes he was targeted because he’s Hispanic, and he said the criminals might have even known he was an illegal immigrant. Nearby residents are in shock over what happened.

“It’s like, right close. And if it happened here, it can happen anytime,” said nearby resident Wilson Romero.

Romero said many of his Hispanic friends talk about being unwilling to call police in an emergency, especially if they’re undocumented.

“I think that is a barrier, because if they call police, they could get the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) involved, and, they don’t want to get departed to where they’re from,” he said.

Jose said he’s thankful for the police response after the attack, and he wants others to know they have nothing to fear if they are victims of a vicious attack.

“[Police] will never help us if we never tell them what happened,” he said.

Jose did not get a clear description of the four men who beat and robbed him, but he said they calmly walked out the front door after the attack. Police are still looking for the four suspects.

Officers told us they don’t believe the attack qualifies as a hate crime. We reached out to an officer who works with the Hispanic community. She tells us she meets regularly with those residents and stresses the importance of trusting police to them.

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mecklenburg County, NC Judge ‘Sets Aside’ Jury’s Conviction of Felon

From www.ten8.wordpress.com

Freed Man has more than a dozen convictions for other crimes, including breaking and entering, larceny, possession of stolen goods, possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle and resisting an officer.

From The Charlotte Observer

Friday, October 8, 2010

 By Gary L. Wright
A 24-year-old Charlotte man with a long criminal record was found guilty by a jury last week of breaking and entering into a home, but he has been set free by a judge who decided the evidence was too weak to support the conviction.

In an unusual move, Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson set aside Kenny Bowden’s conviction on Monday, voicing concerns about a lack of evidence tying Bowden to the 2008 break-in at a home in northern Charlotte.

Mecklenburg Co. Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson

At trial, police officers told the jury that when they arrived at the house shortly after the break-in, they saw Bowden in the yard and that he ran from them. But no other physical evidence linked him to the crime.

In announcing his decision Monday, Levinson said the mere presence of Bowden at the scene of the crime is not sufficient for a conviction. Nor, he said, is the fact that Bowden ran from police.

On Thursday, Levinson said he couldn’t talk about the case because it’s being appealed. But in general, he said in an interview: “I don’t want to see criminals or dangerous people walking the streets. But in order for juries to convict and judges to send people to prison, there must be sufficient evidence.”

Bowden had been in jail awaiting trial for more than two years.

  •  Kenny Bowden
  • Last week, after a 11/2-day trial, he was convicted on felony charges of breaking and entering and larceny, and a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer. A second suspect was never captured.

    After Levinson’s decision, Bowden was released from jail Wednesday.

    Prosecutors intend to appeal.

    “We don’t take cases to trial when we don’t think we have enough evidence to convict,” Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Robyn Withrow told the Observer Thursday.

    During a hearing following Bowden’s convictions, Withrow acknowledged the case wasn’t a slam-dunk. She told the judge the case may be “borderline,” but that the court of appeals has said borderline cases go to the jury.

    Bowden’s attorney, Christian Hoel, declined to comment Thursday, citing the pending appeal.

    Bowden has more than a dozen convictions for other crimes, including breaking and entering, larceny, possession of stolen goods, possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle and resisting an officer.

    Judges cannot consider a defendant’s criminal history in deciding whether to set aside a verdict. Like jurors, they must only consider the evidence about the crime or crimes the defendant is on trial for.

    In a motion urging Levinson not to throw out Bowden’s recent convictions, prosecutor Withrow spelled out the evidence against Bowden in the break-in.

    Andrew Garvin testified he noticed a suspicious green SUV parked in front of his neighbor’s house on Sept. 17, 2008. He had never seen the SUV in the neighborhood. He noticed a man dressed in black near the neighbor’s front door and called 911. He testified that the man went into his neighbor’s home, according to the motion.

    The prosecutor then described what happened when police arrived on the scene five minutes after the 911 call.

    Garvin said he saw the man in black coming from the back of his neighbor’s property. He was carrying a silver case and another item. When police arrived, the prosecutor said in the motion, the man threw the silver case and other items on the ground and started running. That man was never captured, the prosecutor says.

    Garvin then said he saw the defendant (Bowden) walk into his neighbor’s front yard.

    “The defendant could not come from anywhere but the inside of the house due to the perimeter that had been set up by the officers,” the prosecutor argued in the motion.

    The defendant made eye contact with one of the officers and took off running, the prosecutor said in the motion. Another officer saw the defendant run into the woods.

    A police dog, Nero, was brought to the scene and immediately picked up a scent and began tracking.

    Nero located the defendant on the ground in the woods. Two officers testified that Bowden was the same man they caught after chasing him from the victim’s house.

    At trial, Garvin was not able to identify Bowden as one of the men he saw during the break-in. Those who’d had contact with Bowden testified that he had changed his appearance at the trial by cutting off his shoulder-length dreads.

    During the trial, Bowden’s attorney twice asked Judge Levinson to dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. Both times, the judge deferred his ruling.

    In a prepared statement Levinson issued after his ruling, he said: “In all cases, the Court has an obligation to ensure the evidence is sufficient to incarcerate an individual. While the Court has the discretion to dismiss charges during the course of all trials, it also has the authority – in rare and appropriate cases – to do so at other times.”

    Appointed to the bench in 2009, Levinson faces no opposition in his bid for election this fall.

    Staff Writer Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed.

    Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  

    Neighborhood-Ranking Report Raises Questions In North Charlotte

    From www.wsoctv.com via www.ten8.wordpress.com

    October 5, 2010

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Krystal Felton has been a hair stylist along North Tryon Street for three years and said she has never worried about crime.

     “I don’t feel any less safe here than I do on the south side of town,” she said, adding that she regularly closes up shop alone late at night.

     But a new report from neighborhoodscout.com says maybe she should feel less safe in the area. It labeled the neighborhood — identified as the area of north Charlotte between West 12th Street, North Tryon Street, North Graham Street and Atando Avenue — as the 11th most dangerous neighborhood in the country.

    The website says it used FBI statistics to come up with the findings that people in the area have a 1 in 9 chance of being the victim of a violent crime and a 1 in 6 chance of being the victim of a property crime in one year.

     Residents admit that there’s crime, but said there’s nowhere near that much.

     “I live in this neighborhood and I shop at this store,” said Denise Greene, referring to Wayne’s Super Market at the corner of North Graham and West 24th streets. “It’s not as bad as they’re making it sound.”

     “I think it’s a better neighborhood than what they’re saying,” agreed Sidney Drakeford, who’s lived nearby since the early 1980s.

     Authorities also indicated they had doubts about the website’s report. The FBI told Channel 9 it couldn’t confirm the legitimacy of the website’s numbers. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police couldn’t readily provide crime statistics for the neighborhood in question, but a spokesperson said the department saw a citywide decrease in crime in 2009 from the previous year. Property crime was down more than 18 percent, violent crime was down more than 20 percent and homicides were down more than 32 percent, police said.

     When Eyewitness News looked at crime mapping for the neighborhood, it turned up fewer than 100 violent crimes in 2009 — a fraction of the 352 the website claims.

     Linda Holden with North End Partners, a community group trying to revitalize the neighborhood, said the report could possibly take away years of positive work.

     “How do we fight this?” she said. “We are going to have to figure out why this happened, how it happened, and how to get the image to be corrected.”

     City Council member Patsy Kinsey called the report “absolutely nuts.”

     “I know that area quite well, and it’s not so,” she said, adding that she often walks the streets to talk with constituents in that area. “Those are great neighborhoods.”

     A disclaimer on the website advises people that the site’s parent company, Location Inc., cannot guarantee that the site, any of its sister sites “or any of the information they contain is complete, accurate or error-free.” No one from the site returned Channel 9′s requests for comment on Tuesday.

     

    Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 5:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Mecklenburg County Democrat County Commissioners Thwart Effort To Report Illegal Aliens

    From www.pundithouse.com

    October 6, 2010

    Written by Mark Pellin

    Bill James is his own worst enemy.

    The Republican county commissioner from suburban south Mecklenburg has a history of raising valid questions and concerns about serious policy matters, sometimes even proposing legitimate solutions, but doing so using such inflammatory language and over-the-top rhetoric that it obscures the issue at hand.

    James was at it again during Tuesday night’s county board meeting, pitching a controversial proposal for commissioners to seek guidance from the Department of Homeland Security on how the county could report illegal aliens who receive welfare benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children in their families.

    The proposal failed by a 5-3 vote along party lines, with Democrats Harold Cogdell, George Dunlap, Dumont Clarke, Vilma Leake and Dan Murrey voting in dissent. James and Republican commissioners Karen Bentley and Neil Cooksey voted in support of seeking solutions that would allow county officials to legally report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

    James raised the issue after the Mecklenburg Department of Social Services had reported earlier this year that 5,635 families receiving food stamps in the county include at least one undocumented immigrant. About $2.7 million was paid out in public benefits in July to children of suspected illegal aliens, according to the DSS. For a 12-month schedule, that could total more than $32 million a year.

    The DSS uses a verification system to check eligibility for welfare benefits, which can identify an applicant’s immigration status. But the agency is prohibited by federal policy from reporting known illegals to immigration authorities, unless there is a pending formal order of deportation.

    James was concerned not only about the expense of paying welfare benefits to undocumented immigrants who had applied on behalf of U.S.-born children, but also the potential security risks of not reporting the applicants’ illegal status.

    “That’s what this whole thing is all about,” James said Tuesday night. “We have all these illegals in our system and we don’t know if they’re Osama-wannabes or what the heck they are.”

    That drew not only loud jeers from a largely Hispanic crowd that showed up to protest James’ proposal, but also a rebuke from Cogdell, who in his capacity as commissioners vice chair was presiding over the meeting. Commissioners Chairman Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, had left earlier in the evening to take care of a sick child on the homefront.

    “You have every bit of First Amendment right to bring forth your perspective and share your opinion with this body, this board, and this community,” Cogdell told James. “But frankly, you have a history of throwing bombs, offending people, saying things that are unnecessary to productive dialogue.”

    That set the tone for what would devolve into a lengthy session of James-bashing and political posturing, instead of substantive debate over an important policy matter.

    As usual, James had himself to blame. The proposal he ultimately made Tuesday night was a scaled-down version of his original agenda item, which called for the board of commissioners to “instruct the Department of Social Services to ignore state and federal regulations and disclose to the Sheriff/ICE/Homeland Security the details of any individuals within their files who have been determined to be illegal … and to determine whether or not they are a threat to national security, have a criminal background, or associated with those that may be a security threat. This is to be required even if this results in litigation with either the State of North Carolina or the Federal Department of Agriculture.”

    Even though that proposal was longer on the table for consideration, it remained the focus of debate.

    “We cannot allow one man’s political grandstanding to do great harm to our community,” said Stacey Bonilla, who identified herself as a Charlotte native, the wife of an immigrant, and the chapter president of American Families United.

    “We refuse to let our county government break the law in the name of hate,” Bonilla said, arguing that James’ original proposal, which was no longer up for consideration, was encouraging the county to engage in actions that violated federal law.

    “Commissioner James,” she said, “what part of illegal don’t you understand?”

    While conceding that James’ proposal was awkwardly phrased and poorly presented, Cooksey said its intent was valid.

    “My understanding of the request is we’re trying to find a way to provide the information that we get through our application process to the Department of Homeland Security,” Cooksey said, “so we can ferret out people who provide a security risk or risk of violent crime in our community.”

    The country’s immigration problem was “completely out of control,” he said, with a flood of undocumented workers hurting “people that are in the lowest end of our economic scale by driving down wages and taking away jobs that Americans would otherwise do.”

    At the same time, Cooksey said, illegal immigration “dramatically adds costs to our social service systems and our education systems.”

    “No other country in the world is as liberal in its immigration policy as the United States,” he said. “No other country in the world lets millions of undocumented people come into their country and then provides social services for those people. It is something that we need to get under control as a society.”

    Bentley echoed that sentiment. Much of the frustration and concern embroiling the immigration issue, she said, can be attributed to the financial stress it is putting on county and state governments, which are supporting people who are in this country illegally and who are taking advantage of the schools and welfare systems.

    By way of local example, Bentley said that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spends about $90 million educating illegal immigrants.

    “That’s where the rubber meets the road,” she said. “That’s why the tension is so high. It is not because we don’t respect or love each other in this community. But we have taxpayers who are at the end of their ropes, financially, and our state and county governments are at a point where we have to start deciding how are we going to manage through this time.”

    Murrey agreed with the need for immigration reform, but said James’ proposal was the wrong way to achieve it.

    “I think we have a real problem, but this motion suggests that we should do something that is illegal or against the statutes,” Murrey said. “It suggests that ultimately we could end up taking food from the mouths of American children or that we could break up families by separating parents from their children. I don’t think that’s the way to go about getting a message back to Washington.”

    James said his proposal was more focused on giving county officials the ability to report illegal immigrants for safety reasons, than on tackling the complex issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

    “I want to have some degree of comfort that the people at Homeland Security have received it (information about illegals) and evaluated it, so that they know who is here,” James said. “And since they didn’t arrive in the country legally, it’s very possible they don’t know.”

    Dunlap wasn’t buying it.

    “What we’re talking about is American citizens; we’re not talking about illegals or some foreign group of people,” Dunlap said, even though the board was discussing how the county could report illegal aliens. “We’re talking about people who are just as much American citizens as you are, Mr. James. They might look different than you, some of them may speak differently than you, but they have the same rights as a U.S. citizen as you have.”

    On that note, Dunlap accused James of playing politics with the issue of immigration.

    “We need to put the rat on the table,” Dunlap said. “This is really about politics. Notice the timing of this issue, right before the election, when you have your colleagues talking about immigration issues. And we know that your job is to put the Democrats in an awkward position, at least that’s what you think, so the public will view this as Democrats being soft on immigration issues. I pray that what you’re attempting to do backfires.”

    If prayers weren’t enough, Dunlap threw in some wholly speculative and ominous warnings for good measure.

    “I would say to this community and remind you that if Mr. James’ colleagues take over this commission, you’ll have a whole lot more who think like he does,” said the commissioner who had accused his colleague of playing politics with the issue of immigration.

    Countered Bentley: “For Commissioner Dunlap to assume that if a Republican majority is elected that it is the end of the world for the immigrant community is shameful.”

    Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Memorial Honors Two Convicted Felons Killed While Attempting to Commit an Armed Robbery at a Charlotte, NC Pizza Hut

    October 3, 2010 by ten8 (www.ten8.wordpress.com)

    By Brian K. Lutes; contactscp@yahoo.com

    Both Men, 21, Were Convicted Felons; 1 Was On Probation While the Other Was Waiting to Stand Trial on Unrelated Charges at the Time of Their Deaths.

    According to the Charlotte Observer Newspaper of Saturday October 2, 2010, more than 100 people gathered together on Friday, October 1 in Northeast Charlotte at a memorial for two men who were shot and killed while they were trying to rob a Pizza Hut restaurant.

    PIZZA_HUT_VIGIL

    April Guthrie, mother Dauntrae Wallace, and Wallace’s son, Dauntrae Jr., hold a candle in his memory at a memorial in northeast Charlotte on Friday. Photo by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of the Charlotte Observer

     Many of the people gathered said they had mixed emotions – mourning the loss of two young men while realizing it was their own actions that caused them to be killed.

     The two men – Gregory James Hardy and Dauntrae Wallacewere both 21-year-old felons, one was on probation and the other was awaiting trial on unrelated charges.

     But family members and friends tried to portray them as more Saturday night – as brothers, sons and aspiring musicians. And they used the memorial to encourage those walking similar paths to make a change. Family members declined to speak directly to the Observer.

     “We definitely don’t condone their actions, but at the same time, we love them.” said Shawntel Gaddy, 28, a childhood friend who helped organize the memorial. “We love them in spite of their choices.”

     According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept.,  Hardy, Wallace and another man tried to rob the restaurant at East Independence Boulevard and Idlewild Road on Monday, September 27, 2010 at around 11:15 PM.

     They were shot by a pizza delivery driver. The driver couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday, but he told the Observer last week that he had worked as a Jail Detention Officer and a Sheriff’s Deputy for about six years, until 2004. He asked that his name not be used out of fear for his and his family’s safety.

    According to the Delivery Driver this is what happened the night of the attempted robbery:

     ”Three men walked in and at least two of them were pointing guns. The first one told me: ‘I mean business’.” 

    One of them repeatedly pistol-whipped  me and ordered me into the bathroom. They were going to wait for our manager to return and force him to open the safe.”

     “Every time I hesitated, he hit me. I have so many bumps & bruises. I gave them my $42 in tips for the night and a gold chain with a Jesus medallion that I’ve worn for almost 40 years.”

    One of them started to lift my shirt and I realized they were about to see the gun I was carrying, and I thought, he’s gonna kill me, they’re gonna get what they want, and still kill me.”

     “I pulled my gun. I shot him three times, and he fell.”

    The second suspect started to rush into the cooler, and I shot him too.

    Police say the third robber ran away and is still on the loose.

     Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

    Perhaps These Thugs Would Still Be Alive If They Were in Jail Where They Should Have Been.

    Published in: on October 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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