WITN News

Public display of life during the Civil War coming up

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - Come and see what our ancestors’ lives were like during the Civil War in a free event in New Bern.

The New Bern Historical Society will be hosting an event on Saturday, October 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Civil War re-enactors from the 5th and 7th North Carolina Infantry Regiments will set up period camps in the New Bern Battlefield Park.

Visitors will be able to view several demonstrations and displays beginning with an 8:30 a.m. morning roll call and inspection followed at 9 a.m. by an infantry drill. Then at 10 a.m., you’ll see the deserter scenario and at 11 a.m. a weapons and gear presentation.

Afternoon activities will begin with a 1 p.m. medical demonstration, followed at 2 p.m. with a payroll scenario. The final presentation of the day at 3 p.m. will be about the fan language, followed by a discussion of women spies - known as vivandières.

For more information, call (252) 638-8558 or go the Historical Society website or the Facebook page.

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Man found not guilty on murdering grandmother yet guilty of other charges

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -A Craven County man was found not guilty of killing his grandmother, yet he was found guilty of several other felonies.

James Gizzi was on trial for the shooting death of Marjorie Thompson. The woman was killed back on February 4, 2019. An autopsy said the 68-year-old Thompson was shot in the head before her home was set on fire.

Gizzi was arrested after deputies say he stole Thompson’s car and drove to Mississippi.

Craven County jurors spent time last week watching Gizzi’s interrogation as well as other video evidence.

While Gizzi was found not guilty on the murder charge, he was found guilty of the following:

  • Arson
  • Robbery with a dangerous weapon
  • Animal cruelty
  • Identity theft
  • Financial card theft
  • Concealment of death
  • Larceny of motor vehicle

According to Craven County District Attorney Scott Thomas, the judge will schedule Gizzi’s sentencing in the near future. Thomas said he could face a maximum sentence of up to or around 30 years for his convictions.

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Two Havelock women arrested for breaking & entering

PINE KNOLL SHORES, N.C. (WITN) -Two Havelock women were arrested for breaking and entering Friday by Pine Knoll Shores police.

Police posted to social media that officers identified the women who were involved shortly after taking the report.

Officers recovered most of the stolen property and arrested 53-year-old Tina Nelson and 59-year-old Linda Matthews.

They were charged with felony breaking and/or entering, felony larceny after breaking and/or entering, and possession of stolen property.

Police say the recovered property was returned to the owner.

Nelson and Matthews were arrested and taken to the Carteret County Jail.

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Goldsboro police asking for information following fatal car accident

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WITN) - Police are asking the community to give them any information they have about a car accident Sunday afternoon.

According to officials, first responders arrived at the 1000 block of West New Hope Road around 3:15 p.m.

When they got there they found the driver, Kendra Lewis, 36, dead in her car that had gone off the roadway.

The Goldsboro Police Department is asking anyone with information to contact Sgt. Smith at (919) 580-4275 in this ongoing investigation.

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Two teens injured in stabbing at Pitt County fair

Two teens injured in stabbing at Pitt County fair

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Violence broke out for the second year in a row at an Eastern Carolina fair, this time resulting in the stabbing of two people.

The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office said it happened around 8:16 Saturday night at the Pitt County fair.

Officials said that a 19 and a 17 year old were found injured. The sheriff’s office said that reports indicate the two were attacked by a group of 6 to 10 males.

Both were taken to the hospital by EMS. Their condition is not known.

Videos obtained by WITN show a fight in front of a food vendor, a chase appearing to involve those who were fighting, and then two teens on the ground bleeding. One of the teens is sitting up while another is flat on the ground. Both appear to be communicating with emergency responders.

Two teenagers were injured in an attack at the Pitt County fair Saturday night.
Two teenagers were injured in an attack at the Pitt County fair Saturday night.

Officials said the sheriff authorized the deployment of off-duty deputies in the area of the fair in case of an emergency. We’re told 3 deputies were at the scene of the stabbing by 8:18.

The case remains under investigation.

WITN spoke with fair organizer Ken Ross who said the fair was shut down immediately following what he described as a “minor altercation.” Ross said that the fair will open again at 1 p.m.

Last week WITN reported on controversy surrounding security at the Pitt County fair.

After being staffed by the sheriff’s office last year, this year’s security was made up of volunteers. That’s because the security firm that was hired was fired because it wasn’t licensed. The firm then volunteered its services, fair organizers said.

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Goldsboro Police ask for help after fatal car accident

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WITN) - Police are asking for help in relation to a car accident Sunday afternoon.

First responders arrived at the 1000 block of West New Hope Road around 3:15 p.m.

When they arrived, they found the driver, Kendra Lewis, 36, dead in her car that had gone off the roadway.

Goldsboro Police Department is asking anyone with information to contact Sgt. Smith at 919-580-4275 in this ongoing investigation.

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Man who was homeless for 20 years now in doctoral program

RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) – A North Carolina man is celebrating after beating drug addiction and homelessness to earn three college degrees.

Michael Watkins is now working on his fourth degree.

He has been accepted into a doctoral degree program, where he is studying healthcare administration.

Watkins said he was a drug addict who lived on the streets and in shelters in Raleigh for 20 years.

“I had a 15 year crack habit,” he said. “I got clean and, once I started that, it was full steam ahead.”

Thanks to people who believed in him, Watkins got clean and went back to school in 2015.

Since then, he has earned his associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Watkins said he still struggles to find work because of his past mistakes.

“No one wants to forgive me for the criminal acts I committed 34 years ago,” Watkins said. “That was 34 years ago. Can’t we move on beyond that. Why must I still be punished for the rest of my life?”

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Eastern Carolina church hosts Grammy award-winning recording artist

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The sounds of award-winning recording artist David Phelps will be featured on Sunday, September 25 at the Unity Freewill Baptist Church in Greenville, at 6:00 pm.

David Phelps has won several Dove and Grammy awards. He is perhaps best known as a member of the Gaither Vocal Band and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Baylor University and has become a nationally celebrated vocalist.

Phelps is constantly building on a career that has already been groundbreaking.

Emerging as a leading voice in contemporary Christian music, he has performed at multiple global venues, including the White House, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

Phelps has more than a dozen solo albums to his credit.

The event, which includes Phelps’ musical entourage, will feature many of the songs from his brand new Gamechanger recording.

“A dream alone isn’t enough. At some point, action has to be taken. I’m a firm believer: plan, pray and then do,” Phelps said.

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Rep. Murphy hosting service academy day for students

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy is hosting a Third District U.S. Service Academy Day for interested 7th-12th grade students this Saturday.

The event is taking place at Craven Community College from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“Our Third District Service Academy Day is a wonderful opportunity for students, parents, and educators to gain the knowledge and expertise needed to submit a quality application to one of our distinguished U.S. Service academies,” Murphy said. “The Service Academy application and selection process is very competitive, and I look forward to helping our students gain the tools needed for maximum consideration at our event on September 24th!”

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Greg Murphy hosts 2022 Service Academy Day

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Service Academy Day encourages students to consider U.S. Service Academies for their undergraduate education.

Craven Community College put on the Service Academy Day for North Carolina’s Third Congressional District. Congressman Greg Murphy spoke to students in grades 7 through 12, about the leadership programs offered by service academies.

These services academies are not only state of the art, but also, prepare students for professional military careers.

Congressman Murphy said he thoroughly enjoyed getting to see motivated young men and women at the 2022 service day.

“What I really enjoy is to see young men and women who are dedicated, who love this country for what it is and who are willing to come in and get a great education and then serve this great nation,” said Murphy.

The service academy application and selection process is very competitive. For more steps on how to apply, click here.

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Ribbon cutting for Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Department substation

SWAN QUARTER, N.C. (WITN) - A ribbon cutting is taking place Saturday at 11 a.m. for a substation for the Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Department.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it invested $1.4 million in loans and disaster grants to make a substation and to buy fire equipment for the volunteer fire department.

WITN is told that the substation is needed to reduce response times and improve fire protection services to residents in Swan Quarter. The building will have a commercial grade kitchen, a training room, office spaces, American Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms with showers, and bays that can facilitate four firetrucks.

The ribbon cutting is taking place at 149 NC-94 in Swan Quarter.

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Havelock Chili Festival back for 40th anniversary Saturday

HAVELOCK, N.C. (WITN) - The Havelock Chili Festival is back Saturday for its 40th anniversary.

The Havelock Chili Committee says it will be celebrating its 40th year after a two-year break. The festival is meant to support local causes and is run by volunteers.

In the last 5 years, the committee says it has given out more than $50,000 to the local community. In 2019, more than $11,500 was distributed to a variety of organizations, schools, and causes, including $1,000 in scholarships and $2,000 in STEM grants to Havelock elementary and middle schools.

This year, you can expect a wide array of food and drinks like hot dogs, Asian fusion, Thai Asian cruise food, lumpia, turkey legs, funnel cakes, and shaved ice.

There will be performances by the Havelock High School Marching Band, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Brass Band, and Carl Newton’s Review and Bridge Atlantic, as well as demonstrations by Craven County Sheriff’s Office K9s and their handlers.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Sept. 24, at Walter B. Jones Park and end at 8 p.m.

For more information, visit their website or their Facebook page.

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Carteret County residents encouraged to drop off hazardous materials at safety event

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The Carteret County Solid Waste Division is encouraging Carteret County residents to dispose of unwanted household hazardous materials in a safe and environmentally conscious way at a household hazardous waste collection event.

The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 24th, at the Carteret County Health Department parking lot, located at 3820 Bridges Street, Morehead City.

Staff will be on-site to collect small quantities of waste products such as cooking oil, automotive fluids (gasoline, used motor oil, anti-freeze), lawn and gardening pesticides, batteries, and paint.

Materials such as infectious waste, solvents, gas cylinders, commercial waste, radioactive waste, and explosives are not allowed.

Staff at the event will be offering convenient drive-thru disposal of items so participants can remain inside their vehicles. The waste collection event is available to Carteret County residents only with proof of residency.

For more information about this event, or to find out about future collection events, visit www.carteretcountync.gov or call the Carteret County Public Works Department at (252) 648-7878. Please call Bobbi Waters at (252) 633-1564 or e-mail her at bobbi@crswma.com for more information.

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Former President Trump holds rally in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WITN) -Former President Donald Trump held a rally in Wilmington on Friday at the Aero Center in support of Republican candidates in key races.

The rally included Republican candidates from throughout the state, including Rep. Ted Budd, who is in a tight U.S. Senate race with Cheri Beasley.

During his speech, Trump reiterated his support for Budd. “Seven weeks from now, the people of North Carolina are going to vote to fire the radical left Democrats. You’re going to send the great Ted Budd to the U.S. Senate.”

“If you want the decline and fall of America then you should vote for the crazy, radical left Democrats,” Trump said.

The Beasley campaign responded to the rally saying, “Not only is Congressman Budd an election denier and extremist who has worked to undermine our democracy and take away our freedoms, he will lie and fear monger unabashedly in his desperate attempt to cling to power.”

Guests at the event also included include N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Rep. David Rouzer (NC-07), Republican candidate for the House of Representatives Bo Hines and N.C. Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley.

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2022 Incredible ECU Women Awards being held

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - An event is planned on Friday to honor incredible ECU women.

This year’s ten honorees will be recognized at a luncheon event that celebrates women’s leadership, service and philanthropy.

The Incredible ECU Women Luncheon is held every three years and celebrates ECU’s legacy of women leaders while making a difference for deserving ECU students. Awards are presented to deserving alumnae who have achieved excellence in education, business, health sciences, fine arts, performing arts, public service, media, sports, professional services and research.

Here are this year’s nominees:

  • Mary Sue Cummings Deaton ‘81, ‘91
  • Susan M. Durrwachter ‘85
  • Mary W. Earp ‘58
  • Marybeth Petteway Eason ‘00, ‘01
  • Karen E. Evans ‘80
  • Valerie Madden ‘91
  • Ariana McAuley ‘16
  • Danielle Moinet ‘06
  • Windy O’Connor ‘90
  • Dr. LaNika Wright ‘14

Event proceeds will benefit the Women’s Roundtable Access and Honors College Scholarship Endowment funds, which provide support for undergraduate student scholarships.

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Driving on Indian Beach halted due to Hurricane Fiona

INDIAN BEACH, N.C. (WITN) -Hurricane Fiona may be tracking well off of our coast here in North Carolina but the massive storm is still reminding us it’s out there.

Indian Beach is experiencing dangerous rip currents and officials have suspended beach cruising until further notice.

Storm surge and an unusually high tide are causing erosion and if you’re traveling to the beach in the coming days, Indian Beach Fire Chief Benny Whitley wants you to keep safety at the forefront. “Just to err on the side of safety for everyone we’ve closed the access for no driving or anything but obviously people can still get out on the beach and walk. We’re encouraging them to not get into the water at this time because the water is very rough right now.”

Indian Beach officials have suspended driving onto the sand until further notice. Whitley says, “We’re in beach driving season now and everyone is looking forward to that but we have narrow areas of the beach and when that high tide comes up like that, they can get trapped, can’t get off the beach, and they may not notice it if they’re on a wider part of the beach, it may not be as high on them but then they get caught up in it and can’t get off the beach.”

For Indian Beach residents like Craig Guthrie, the safety precautions come with the territory when threats like Fiona stir up trouble. “Just looking at the ocean and enjoying the beautiful weather. When you can go on the beach it’s fun, but I understand they’re being cautious with storms and stuff.”

Linda Lee, who also lives in Indian Beach, says, “I understand it but I’m sure it’s for everyone’s safety.”

Whitley says they expect the suspension to last through this coming Monday.

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ECU football player battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma expects to play again

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -A standout football player from South Carolina was preparing to make his debut at ECU this season but a life-threatening disease put those plans on hold.

Tripp Smith is a freshman long snapper who was recently diagnosed with cancer and is now on a long road to recovery and leaning on the support of family, friends and Pirate Nation to get through.

While playing in high school he caught the eye of many college coaches, including ECU head coach Mike Houston, who offered him a preferred walk-on to play for the Pirates back in January and Smith wasted no time committing.

Smith says, “The visit was amazing. I fell in love with the campus. The staff was amazing and really just felt like home. Out of every school I’ve ever been to, East Carolina was the best.”

Everything seemed to be panning out nicely after Smith signed his letter of intent and headed to Greenville.

Smith reported to ECU to begin summer workouts in June, but two weeks later, he and his parents would have their world turned upside down.

His father Stephen recalls learning of the news from his wife. “She texted me and she said Stephen call me, it’s bad.”

During a routine physical, Smith’s heart rate and blood pressure levels were abnormal and he also appeared to have severe stomach pains.

ECU team physicians sent him to a gastroenterologist, and after a bone marrow biopsy, Smith was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Smith says, “I was just shocked honestly. I was sitting in the doctor’s office when he told me that and I just couldn’t believe it. I was speechless.”

Smith would face the hardest challenge of his young life as he began chemotherapy treatment back home.

As he continues his fight, he also remains determined. “You’re gonna have to fight so why not fight hard and why not have a good attitude about it? Just keeping the morale up, long snapping, keeping a good attitude about. Not just being sad like oh I’m sick, can’t do anything.”

And through the battle, Smith says he knows he has a group of loyal supporters in Pirate Nation.

Smith says, “I get messages from people I don’t even know every day and their Twitter will be like ECU alum, ECU Pirate fan and hundreds of them just text me. They’re like we are wishing you the best, we’re praying for you, you got this, we are always here for you. Pirate Nation is right behind you and I truly believe that.”

Smith says he knows the road ahead is going to be tough but he won’t stop until he’s suiting up again.

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QAnon follower who chased officer convicted in Jan. 6 trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iowa man was convicted Friday of charges that he led a crowd of rioters in chasing a U.S. Capitol police officer up a staircase and accosting other officers guarding the Senate, one of the most harrowing scenes of the mob’s attack that day.

A federal jury deliberated for roughly four hours before convicting Douglas Jensen of felony charges that he obstructed Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021, and that he assaulted or interfered with police officers during the siege.

Jensen was convicted on all counts, including a charge that he engaged in disorderly conduct inside the Capitol while carrying a folding knife in his pocket.

During the trial’s closing arguments, a prosecutor accused Jensen of “weaponizing” rioters by taking the lead in chasing Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman up a staircase. A reporter’s video of the confrontation went viral.

“The defendant wasn’t just leading the mob. He was weaponizing it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Mirell told jurors. “He knew he had the numbers, and he was willing to use them.”

Jensen, a construction worker from Des Moines, Iowa, was wearing a T-shirt with a large “Q” expressing his adherence to the QAnon conspiracy theory. One of the most memorable images from the Jan. 6 attack captured Jensen with his arms extended as he confronted a line of police officers near the Senate chambers.

“Go arrest the vice president,” Jensen told one of the officers, according to prosecutors.

QAnon has centered on the baseless belief that former President Donald Trump was secretly fighting a Satan-worshipping cabal of “deep state” enemies, prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites. Jensen believed the conspiracy theory’s apocalyptic prophesy that “The Storm” was coming and would usher in mass arrests and executions of Trump’s foes, including Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence was presiding over the Senate on Jan. 6 as a joint session of Congress was convened to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. Before the riot, Trump and his allies spread the falsehood that Pence somehow could have overturned the election results.

After scaling the outer walls of the Capitol, Jensen climbed through a broken window to enter the building. Prosecutors said Jensen learned from a friend’s text message that Pence was about to certify the election results.

“That’s all about to change,” Jensen replied.

Jensen didn’t testify at his trial, which started Tuesday. Goodman was a key witness for prosecutors.

Before running upstairs, Goodman approached Jensen and other rioters with his hand on his gun. Fearing for his life, Goodman retreated upstairs and found backup from other officers guarding an entrance to the Senate, where senators were being evacuated, according to prosecutors.

At least 880 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. About 400 of them have pleaded guilty. Juries have convicted eight Capitol riot defendants after trials. None of the defendants who had jury trials was acquitted of any charges.

Sentences for the rioters have ranged from probation for low-level misdemeanor offenses to 10 years in prison for a man who used a metal flagpole to assault an officer.

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State issues air quality permit to World Cat Greenville

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Despite the company operating without a permit for a year, a state environmental agency has granted World Cat an air quality permit for its Greenville plant.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality announced this morning it gave the fiberglass boat manufacturing facility the permit.

Last month, residents voiced their concerns about the company being located near their homes.

Following an unannounced inspection in July 2022, the state learned the company was operating without an air quality permit since July 2021.

The Division of Air Quality said it promptly opened an investigation and on July 28 they issued a notice of violation/notice of recommended enforcement for operating without a permit and failing to submit a 15-day notice of initial startup.

The final permit includes conditions that ensure ambient levels of all pollutants beyond the facility’s fence line comply with health-based standards. It also requires the facility to follow specific operational standards and install air pollution controls to reduce particulate matter emissions.

The facility will be classified as Title V because of its potential to emit more than 100 tons per year of volatile organic compounds, and it is classified as major for hazardous air pollutants because emissions of styrene are expected to be more than 10 tons per year.

WITN is told that staff continues to investigate whether any other violations of federal or state air quality regulations occurred and will submit a recommendation for enforcement to the director for the issuance of a civil penalty. Currently, available information shows World Cat Greenville complied with all applicable air emission standards while operating without a permit.

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Fur Baby Feature: Meet Flannel

Fur Baby Feature: Meet Flannel

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - We are wishing you a Happy Friday in the best way we know how, another Fur Baby Feature!

2-year-old Flannel joined Maddie Kerth out on the patio on ENC at Three.

Flannel is adoptable through the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina.
Flannel is adoptable through the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina.

He recently took a weekend away from the shelter with a foster family and he slept all the way through the night in his crate. He’s potty trained and does really well on a leash.

Flannel is adoptable from the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina, but before loading up and heading to the shelter, you can preview available animals at petango.com.

You’ll see pictures of dogs and cats so you can request to meet specific animals. Then, download the adoption application by going to hseccarolina.org.

Fill that one out, submit it to AdoptHSEC@gmail.com and a member of the Humane Society’s team will be in touch!

Tune into WITN every Friday for our next Fur Baby Feature!

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