State briefs: Man pleads guilty in police officer’s death in Mount Holly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2022

MOUNT HOLLY (AP) — A North Carolina man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges stemming from the fatal shooting of a police officer in 2020, authorities said.

During his hearing, Joshua Tyler Funk, 24, of Mount Holly, entered a guilty plea for murder, news outlets reported. In exchange for his plea, the other charges filed against him were dropped. Funk was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Mount Holly police officer Tyler Herndon was one of several officers to respond to a call at Mount Holly Car Wash and Arcade on Dec. 11, 2020, according to a news release at the time from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Herndon was shot during a shootout between Funk and the responding officers, officials said.

Florida caretaker charged after pushing client out of car

FAYETTEVILLE (AP) — A Florida woman is accused by a North Carolina sheriff’s office of stabbing the man she provides care for with a felt-tipped marker and pushed him out of a moving car.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release on Monday that Arlene Mary Bonitz, 57, of Palm Harbor, Florida, was driving south on Sunday on Interstate 95 near the 64-mile marker in Godwin, North Carolina. In the car with her was a man for whom she provides care and support due to his cognitive issues, the sheriff’s office said.

According to the news release, Bonitz stabbed the man several times with a felt-tipped marker before pushing him out of her car while driving at 60 mph. She continued driving on I-95 before she crashed, the sheriff’s office said.

Bonitz and the victim were taken to a local hospital for treatment. The victim suffered a broken pelvis and had road rash on his face, hands, and legs, investigators said.

Bonitz was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. She was given a $75,000 secured bond and was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. It’s not known if Bonitz has an attorney.

NC court: Restaurants can’t get insurance payouts for virus

RALEIGH (AP) — Over a dozen North Carolina restaurants that closed during the coronavirus pandemic when government orders restricted their services can’t be recompensed for those financial losses through their commercial insurance policies, the state Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel reverses an October 2020 decision by Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson in Durham County. He declared the language in the restaurant owners’ policies provided coverage for lost business income and extra expenses when government orders limited the access to and use of their eateries. Gov. Roy Cooper first issued a statewide order in March 2020 limiting sales to carry-out and delivery services only. Most of the restaurants that sued were located in the Triangle area.

Court of Appeals Judge Chris Dillon, writing Tuesday’s opinion, said the panel agreed with the insurers who argued the governmental restrictions didn’t result in “direct physical loss or damage to the property” that are required for payouts. Dillon cited a 1997 state court ruling, as well as recent decisions by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involving business interruptions caused by COVID-19 orders.

The restaurants’ “desired definition of ‘physical loss’ as a general ‘loss of use’ is not supported by our case law or the unambiguous language in the policies,” the opinion reads. Judges Toby Hampson and April Wood joined in Tuesday’s decision. Since the ruling was unanimous, the state Supreme Court wouldn’t be obligated to hear the case if the restaurant owners sought an appeal.

Oak Island helps emergency vehicles reach beach

OAK ISLAND (AP) — A North Carolina coastal town has acted to help rescue workers gain easier access to the beach, a move that addresses a potential issue in reaching the shore in an emergency.

Officials in Oak Island say the town has 65 public beach access locations, but only 22 provide access for emergency vehicles. In response, the town has launched a campaign called “Keep it Free, From Street To Sea.”

Oak Island is approximately 35 miles southwest of Wilmington.

Before the July 4 holiday weekend, the town installed new signage at the emergency access locations to remind beachgoers to keep emergency paths free of cars from the street to the shoreline.

In addition, public works employees have restructured the parking lots for many of the emergency access locations, developing a new parking layout which features parallel parking on one side, as opposed to the previous diagonal slant on both sides, according to the city. The new arrangement helps prevent the back ends of two longer vehicles from creating a point that restricts vehicle access, the town said.

Officials said blocked access has not been a factor in any recent incidents, but first responders have expressed concerns about potential problems based on past responses.