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Crime
Murder charge in death of man shot while sitting in his car at Silas Creek and Main Street

A Winston-Salem man already facing charges in a fatal shooting last month is now charged with murder in the case, authorities said Monday.

Deedward Devon Glenn, 24, of East 23rd Street is accused of killing Ernest Rennard Cameron, 23, of East Sprague Street on Aug. 23 while Cameron was in his car at the intersection of South Main Street and Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem police said.

Glenn was charged Aug. 28 with three counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, inflicting serious injury, court records show.

Cameron was in the car with a toddler boy and a woman at the time of the shooting, investigators said. Cameron was pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital.

Glenn’s sister, 31-year-old Naketa Glenn was charged Monday with felony obstruction of justice in connection with Cameron’s death, police said.

In addition to the shooting charges, Deedward Glenn is charged with trafficking cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to sell and deliver, according to court records.

He is accused possessing of 7 grams of cocaine and 61 grams of crack cocaine, arrest warrants say.

Deedward Glenn was being held Monday in Forsyth County Jail with no bond allowed on the murder charge, police said. He has a $1.5 million bond for the other charges.

Naketa Glenn was jailed with a $2,500 unsecured bond, police said. Deedward and Naketa Glenn are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 26.

Anyone with information about Cameron’s death is asked to call Winston-Salem police at 336-773-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800 or on its Spanish-language phone line at 336-728-3904.


Crime
More than a dozen witnesses left to interview in shooting death of Julius Sampson. 911 recordings remain sealed.

Five 911 recordings made the day a Winston-Salem man was shot to death outside a Hanes Mall restaurant will remain sealed at least until a hearing early next year, a Forsyth County judge ruled Monday.

Winston-Salem police have said that Julius Randolph “Juice” Sampson Jr., a 32-year-old married father of three who worked as a barber at Supreme Legacy Barbershop in the mall, was killed Aug. 6 in the parking lot of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Police said that Sampson and Robert Anthony Granato, 22, of Cloverhurst Court got into an argument inside the restaurant that spilled outside and turned into a fight. At some point, police allege, Granato pulled out a gun and fatally shot Sampson. Granato is now charged with felony murder.

Judge David Hall of Forsyth Superior Court — the same judge who originally signed an order to seal the 911 calls on Aug. 9 — ruled Monday after a hearing that the 911 calls should remain sealed for about six months. A hearing will be held on Feb. 26, 2020, to consider a motion filed by the Winston-Salem Journal and three other news organizations that seeks to overturn Hall’s order. The other news organizations are television stations WXII, WGHP and WFMY.

Hall said his biggest concern right now is jeopardizing an ongoing criminal investigation. Winston-Salem police detectives say they don’t want public release of the 911 recordings to contaminate interviews with witnesses that they still have to do. The sealed 911 recordings include information about what callers observed about the shooting and the aftermath. Two 911 calls have been released and those were from two different callers wanting to make sure police had been dispatched to the shooting.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Martin told Hall during the hearing that Winston-Salem police still have more than a dozen people they need to interview. The fatal shooting happened in the parking lot of one of Forsyth County’s largest shopping centers, she said, and that means there were potentially numerous people who saw what happened.

A detective has indicated that police were trying to track down at least one witness who lives outside North Carolina, Hall said at the hearing.

The case has garnered a lot of public interest and part of the reason is because race has emerged as an issue in the shooting. People on social media have said that Granato, who is white, used a racial epithet against Sampson, who was black. People also pointed out a 2014 picture on Granato’s Instagram account that shows him and a friend wearing shirts that read ‘Murica and both of them using the OK hand signal that became associated with white supremacy after 2017.

Although many people have alleged that the shooting was racially motivated, Police Chief Catrina Thompson said at a news conference that so far, investigators have found the opposite. But she also said that both men used racial epithets during the altercation. She has declined to provide any clarifying information about the circumstances in which the racial epithets were used, including which man used one first and what the racial epithets were.

The North Carolinia NAACP and Mayor Allen Joines have held separate news conferences on the case. Joines said he and other elected officials would ensure a transparent police investigation. The NAACP has demanded a full and transparent investigation into all possible motives for the shooting. On the day Joines held his news conference, Hall’s order sealing the five 911 recordings was file-stamped by the clerk’s office.

Hugh Stevens, attorney for the Journal and the other news organizations, said Hall’s order should have specifically laid out the reasons why the 911 recordings were being sealed and it also should have outlined how long they might be sealed.

According to the motion, the process through which Hall signed the order was unconstitutional because the organizations were not notified of a hearing and were not given a chance to be heard on the possible order to seal the recordings. Hall flatly rejected those arguments, noting that Paul James, Granato’s attorney, was notified and had no objections. There is nothing in state law, he said, requiring a hearing to seal a 911 recording.

Hall also rejected arguments that he had imposed an implied gag order.

Both Martin and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill argued that releasing the 911 recordings would invite even more media attention that might result in a call for a change in venue.

O’Neill said a change in venue would pose a hardship on everyone, particularly Sampson’s family and law-enforcement. He also questioned why media organizations have pushed for 911 recordings in this case but not for a case in which a 5-year-old boy was shot and killed.

Stevens said the media didn’t create the large amount of interest in the case; the community did.

Granato and his attorney attended the hearing. Sampson’s mother attended, along with one of his children and other friends and family.

Granato is in the Forsyth County Jail with no bond allowed for the murder charge. He is also charged with carrying a concealed gun while or after consuming alcohol. His next court date is Dec. 5.


Columnists
Lawmakers, here's a chance to do the right thing with districts

Anybody who’s ever met the man couldn’t possibly have been surprised by the news that Dan Besse plans to run for a seat in the state House of Representatives.

Besse, a Democrat and longtime member of the Winston-Salem City Council, had been planning for some time to mount another challenge to Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Republican who represents Forsyth County’s 75th District.

He’d been gauging opinion in a quaint, time-consuming and decidedly old-fashioned way — by knocking on doors. He does things like that.

“I was going for it,” he said Monday morning, “even before the court case.”

The court case was the unanimous decision released last week by a three-judge panel in Wake County that tossed the state’s legislative maps as an “extreme partisan” gerrymander which violates the state Constitution’s guarantees of free elections, equal protection and freedoms of speech and assembly.

The 357-page decision, to put it in layman’s terms, is a beat-down of years of computer-aided funny business designed specifically to preserve Republican majorities.

“Fair maps will be a refreshing change,” Besse said. “We haven’t had those for years.”

Matter of math, logic

Under terms of the judges’ ruling, the General Assembly has two weeks — less now — to draw new district maps for the state House and Senate.

Hearings were scheduled to begin Monday in Raleigh. The public might even be afforded a chance to comment before they’re submitted for a vote.

“(The ruling) contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent, but we intend to respect the court’s decision and finally put this divisive battle behind us,” said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. “It’s time to move on.”

Past time actually.

The extremely unsexy topic of legislative (and Congressional) maps has been getting gummed to death in federal and state courts since at least 2013.

The courts struck down maps in 2017 as an illegal racial gerrymander and ruled that 28 districts had been drawn with “near surgical precision” to water down black voting strength.

Last week’s ruling used nearly identical language in finding that the General Assembly had used computer models to draw districts designed specifically to benefit Republican candidates and preserve large majorities in both House and Senate.

Read all 357 pages if you like, but the judges’ ruling basically boils down to math (and logic) that the average third grader can follow.

Nearly 53 percent of North Carolina’s 7.1 million eligible voters turned out last November to cast ballots. It was the largest mid-term turnout since 1990.

And in those legislative races, Democrats received 50 percent of the votes cast in state Senate races and 50.5 percent of the votes in House races.

And somehow, Republicans wound up with 29 of 50 seats in the Senate (58 percent) and 65 of 120 in the House (55 percent).

It just didn’t add up.

Give ’em time

Only a cock-eyed optimist who sees puppies and rainbows at every sunrise still hopes that American elections can be contested over ideas and that vote totals might (somewhat) mirror proportionally the number of seats won.

But here we are.

At least state Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, was honest enough to say out it out loud. “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it is possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

Lewis was talking about congressional maps, not legislative. But the underlying message is the same.

We’re less than two weeks out from deadline for new maps, so we have a little time to see how this gets resolved. It’s possible that fairly drawn districts emerge and that the judicial panel approves quickly.

Partisan Democrats aren’t holding their breath. “I do expect (the GOP majority) currently in control in Raleigh to make one more try at slipping something past the court that is less than what the court ordered,” Besse said.

If that happens, expect the judicial panel to turn to outside experts to draw the districts. They may already have maps in a computer somewhere. But that will no doubt result in more acrimony and divisiveness.

There is another way, of course.

The General Assembly could decide to set up an independent redistricting commission similar to those used in other states. Go that route, and we stand a chance of restoring some faith in the system.

“Candidly, (lawmakers) rarely act for the right reasons on reform,” Bob Phillips, the executive director of Common Cause North Carolina told me earlier this summer. “They do it out of fear.”

Maybe that’s true. For the time being — at least until the court’s Sept. 18 deadline — let’s give Berger a chance to be true to his words.

Hey, look. Are those puppies under that rainbow?


Local
Hundreds of new jobs for Winston-Salem? That's the hope as city mulls incentives for Renfro.

Winston-Salem could finally gain a corporate headquarters rather than lose one, if the city succeeds in convincing Mount Airy sock-maker Renfro Corp. to put down roots here and bring in up to 225 jobs.

The city is considering almost $300,000 in economic development incentives for Renfro, which has been in Mount Airy since 1921. Renfro has grown to be a worldwide company with 5,500 employees.

“This is a unique opportunity for the city,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said on Monday, speaking to members of the Winston-Salem City Council’s Finance Committee. “I can’t remember a corporate headquarter project coming this way. It is a really inexpensive project that does pay for itself.”

The Renfro incentives deal got a thumbs up on Monday from the Finance Committee, and now goes forward to a public hearing during the Oct. 7 meeting of the city council.

Joines said that if Renfro comes, it could be the first time the city has bagged a corporate headquarters since the early 1990s, when Southern National Bank came here, shortly to merge with BB&T.

A member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners expressed shock over the news.

“It would be a tough blow,” said Shirley Brinkley, a member of the Mount Airy board. “We never want to lose people that have been in our community for years and years. I have good friends that have been in corporate headquarters.”

Bob Leak, the president of Winston-Salem Business Inc., an industry-recruitment agency, said that Renfro officials told him that it’s hard to get good talent to move to Mount Airy.

“One of the reasons they are interested is that it will give them a much broader pool of people to choose from,” Leak said. “It is a challenge for them to get people in the location that they operate out of.”

Brinkley acknowledged that many young people “don’t want to live in a little town because that’s not where the action is.” But she added that Mount Airy attracts many tourists, has a thriving downtown, and still has a lot to offer.

Winston-Salem officials said Renfro was looking at other places for its new headquarters, including New York, Los Angeles and Charlotte. In Winston-Salem, the company was said to be looking for a downtown site for its headquarters.

Winston-Salem officials described Renfro as a global leader in leg-wear products in North America and internationally. They said the company has grown to 5,500 employees worldwide, and makes socks for companies including Fruit of the Loom, Dr. Scholl’s, Ralph Lauren, Polo, New Balance, Copper Sole, Wrangler and Carhartt.

Assistant Winston-Salem City Manager Evan Raleigh said Renfro has 311 employees in Mount Airy. The corporate relocation would bring 175 of those jobs to Winston-Salem, with another 50 new jobs potentially added here over a five-year period.

Raleigh said that in addition to bringing in jobs, the company or its landlord would spend $2.5 million on building improvements and about $1 million on new personal property.

City officials were touting another plus in the form of extra incentives for hiring low- to moderate-income people who live in depressed areas of the city or have other barriers to employment such as a criminal record. Under guidelines approved in 2015, the company could collect $1,500 for each such person hired and retained at least six months.

“I’m impressed with the company’s commitment to improving their diversity in a more urban setting,” Joines said.

BB&T Corp. has announced plans to move corporate headquarters from Winston-Salem as part of its megadeal with SunTrust Banks Inc., and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. has shifted corporate operations to Charlotte. Joines said it “feels a lot better to have a company coming this way as opposed to having one go outside the city.”

But Joines also said the city isn’t trying to steal a company from its Surry County neighbor. The city wouldn’t be talking to Renfro unless that company had already decided to move, Joines said, calling it “an unwritten agreement” among area cities not to poach jobs.

City officials said the average salary for entry-level employees would be $50,000, with executive-level jobs averaging $240,000.

The city’s financial help is based on paying the company 65 percent of the net new personal property and sales tax revenues from the Renfro project over its first 10 years. Those revenues are estimated at $457,469, leading to a total incentives package of $297,355, not counting the incentive for lower-income workers.

Renfro would get $231,276 up front under the deal, which city officials said is protected by clawback provisions in case the company doesn’t live up to commitments.

The Renfro deal could bring 225 jobs and a corporate headquarters here, but another incentives effort could bring even more jobs if not a headquarters.

City officials aren’t yet revealing the name of the second company they are recruiting, a data management company that is looking to possibly create between 367 and 444 new jobs here over its first three years of operation, as well as hiring around 400 temporary employees to handle seasonal surges in work.

The full-time jobs would pay an average wage of $39,000. The company or its landlord would spend $7 million on building preparation and $6 million in new property, the city said. The economic incentives total of $266,506 is based on a calculation of 65 percent of the company’s personal property and sales tax revenues over seven years.

As with Renfro, the company can collect a bonus for hiring low- and moderate-income workers.

The data management company was described as a privately-held concern that provides data management, analytics and advisory services to public and private companies. The company was said to have 1,500 employees over multiple North American locations.

City officials said the jobs here would include back-office operations in support of its business, including customer support and human resources jobs. The incentives for that company also come before the council on Oct. 7.