Across the Region

Man charged in death of mascot

Grand jurors in northern New Jersey have indicted a man in connection with the death of a UNC Chapel Hill student from Cabarrus County about 18 months ago.

Armen Hovsepian was charged Monday with causing death while driving without a license. The indictment involves the March 2007 death of Jason Ray, 21, who was the mascot for the Tar Heels' athletic teams.

Ray, of Concord, had been in New Jersey with the UNC basketball team at the NCAA East Regional finals. He was killed when he was struck by a Mercury Mountaineer while walking along the side of Route 4 East near Hackensack, N.J.

Initially, nobody was charged in the case. Police were told the SUV was being driven by 52-year-old Garjik Hovsepian, and the death was ruled an accident. However, police say they received tips that the vehicle actually was being driven by Armen Hovsepian, Garjik's son. The younger Hovsepian had a suspended driver's license, police say. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

The father and son also were charged with hindering a police investigation, according to the Bergen County (N.J.) Record newspaper.

Steve Lyttle and the Bergen County (N.J.) Record

Meck briefs


Mecklenburg County commissioners could hold a special meeting this week to reconsider appointing George Dunlap to serve the remaining weeks of the late Valerie Woodard's term.

But Republicans on the board said they still need answers to 16 questions they've raised about a special Democratic Party election held to name the school board member as Woodard's successor. And some want the answers to come in writing from County Attorney Marvin Bethune instead of attorneys hired by the Democratic Party and commissioners.

As of now, commissioners are set to meet at 11 a.m. Thursday in the meeting chamber of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St. Later Thursday, a judge will consider a lawsuit filed by the local Democratic party to try to force the board to appoint Dunlap.

April Bethea

The McColl Center for Visual Art is offering a free chance for people to express their feelings artistically today through Saturday on the topic of “These times – uncertain and challenging.”

Paper, paint and other art supplies will be available at the center from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-6:30 p.m. today and Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Artists-in-residence will be on hand to help with the project called “What's Going On?” Details: 704-332-5535.

Kathy Haight

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg library system wants to hear from patrons as it develops its building plan for the next 10 years.

Library officials are holding five “Coffee and Conversation” sessions around the county to get ideas about how the system should grow.

The schedule:

Carmel Library, 6624 Walsh Blvd., 9-10 a.m. Saturday.

Mint Hill Library, 6840 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, noon-1 p.m. Saturday.

Independence Regional Library, 6000 Conference Drive, 7-8 p.m. Monday.

Beatties Ford Road Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 5.

North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Lane, Huntersville, ,7-8 p.m. Nov. 6.

Pam Kelley

Regional briefs

Gaston County Mount Holly

An East Gaston High School football player who suffered a serious head injury during a recent game was listed in good condition today at Gaston Memorial Hospital.

Senior linebacker Chris Williams was hurt in a play early in the team's game against North Gaston Friday night. He underwent surgery Saturday morning and was in critical but stable condition Saturday night. His condition had improved to serious by Sunday afternoon.

A hospital spokeswoman said today that Williams was awake and continued to talk to his family.

Joe DePriest

Eastern N.C. Jacksonville

Investigators in Eastern North Carolina say they have a person of interest in the death of a newborn girl whose decomposed body was found in a garbage truck.

The Daily News of Jacksonville reported Tuesday that the baby's body was found Monday by an employee of the garbage service who was about to dump a trash can.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said the investigation is continuing.

County medical examiner Dr. Anuradha Arcot said the baby appeared to be full-term and there were no signs of abnormalities.

Associated Press

N.C. Coast Wilmington

Four beaches in southeastern North Carolina are getting $9 million from the federal government for renourishment projects.

U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre says the money will help attract visitors as well as protect the environment.

The Star-News of Wilmington reported the federal money pays for 65 percent of renourishment projects. The state and local governments must provide the rest of the money.

Wrightsville Beach is getting $3 million, Ocean Isle Beach is getting $2.5 million and Carolina Beach and Kure Beach get a total of $3.5 million.

Associated Press

South Carolina Aiken

A former church secretary in Aiken County has been charged after police say she used church credit cards to buy $75,000 worth of clothes, jewelry and vacations.

A jail official said Tuesday that Michelle Mitchum was freed on $10,000 bond. She surrendered to sheriff's deputies on Monday.

Investigators think that sometime between January 2006 and September 2008 Mitchum established two credit card accounts in the church's name while employed at Grace Covenant Church of God. Authorities say she used those accounts to pay household bills, purchase clothing, jewelry and vacations.

Associated Press


Federal immigration agents have taken custody of a Lady's Island woman who investigators say faked a quintuple pregnancy to trick people out of more than $1,000 in cash and gifts.

Nancy Cantu pleaded guilty last week to obtaining goods under false pretenses. The Beaufort Gazette reported the woman's name is really Erika Nieves-Abrigo.

Beaufort County jail director Phil Foot says she was released on the fraud plea based on time served and handed over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents. Foot says she was taken to a Charleston facility where she will be held during immigration proceedings, which could result in deportation to Mexico.

Cantu and Juan Salvador Solis said she was pregnant with quintuplets in December and received gifts and donations. Solis is awaiting trial.

Associated Press

Police digest

Mecklenburg County Charlotte

A winning lottery ticket usually brings smiles to the owner's face, but the ticket proved to be trouble Monday night for a patron at a convenience store in northeast Charlotte.

Police say the customer was robbed, moments after he cashed the winning ticket at a store in the 3900 block of The Plaza, near East Sugar Creek Road.

According to police, an armed man entered the store about 10:40 p.m. and robbed the customer moments after the ticket had been cashed. While he was at it, the suspect also took money from the store's cash register before escaping.

Steve Lyttle

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have charged one man and signed murder warrants for two other suspects in connection with the beating death of a Charlotte man.

Henry Wellington Smith, 57, was pulled from his vehicle on West Boulevard on Oct. 14 and beaten in the roadway by four men. He died 10 days later. Police arrested Gerald Beckham, 18, on Monday and charged him with murder and robbery.

Homicide detectives also signed murder and robbery warrants for two suspects who are still being sought: Brannon Tyrek Beckham, 16, the brother of Gerald Beckham, and Charlie Chadman Coleman, 22.

Police ask anyone with information on their whereabouts to call 704-336-8228.

Bruce Henderson