Oct 242014


By T. Rees Shapiro, Mary Pat Flaherty and Justin Jouvenal October 23

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham might soon be moved to Northern Virginia to face new charges related to a vicious sexual assault in 2005 in Fairfax City.

Fairfax County Judge Dennis J. Smith issued a bench warrant Thursday for Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, of Charlottesville, ordering him to appear on charges of attempted capital murder, abduction with intent to defile and sexual penetration with an object. In that case, a woman walking home from a supermarket was grabbed off a residential street but was able to ward off her attacker, screaming loudly and fighting back.

The warrant to appear in Fairfax could be an indication that Matthew will face trial on the older charges before those in Graham’s case. Matthew is being held without bond at the ­Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on charges that he kidnapped Graham, 18, in the ­early-morning hours of Sept. 13 with the intention of sexually assaulting her.

Though police have said that remains believed to be Graham’s were found on an abandoned property 12 miles southwest of Charlottesville on Saturday, the body has not been identified as the missing U-Va. sophomore from Fairfax County, and no one has been charged with harming Graham. Frank Battle, an administrator at the chief medical examiner’s office, said that confirmation of the body’s identity is a “difficult” and lengthy process.

So far, police have said only that witnesses saw Graham walking with Matthew shortly after 1 a.m. on Sept. 13 and that she was never heard from again. It is unclear whether authorities know what happened to Graham after that point or what additional evidence they might have against Matthew.

But in the Fairfax case, authorities have said that the victim is able to testify and that there is DNA evidence linking Matthew to the attack — factors that lawyers said probably makes it a more solid case. Police and prosecutors in Fairfax have been seeking justice for that victim for nearly a decade.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh, whose office will prosecute the 2005 case, said it is unclear which case will be tried first.

“There could be a lot of reasons to go either way, depending on what develops,” Morrogh said. “We’ll have to see how it shakes out.”

James L. Camblos III, Matthew’s attorney in the Graham case, said he is seeking to be appointed as counsel to defend Matthew against the Fairfax charges.

“I have sent a letter to the chief judge of the Fairfax County Circuit Court requesting to be appointed as counsel for the three charges in Fairfax,” Camblos said. He declined to comment on how the charges in Fairfax could affect Matthew’s case in Charlottesville.

Albemarle-Charlottesville jail officials said that Matthew was still in custody there as of Thursday afternoon. Morrogh said Thursday that Matthew could be moved to Fairfax within a week.

In Fairfax, prosecutors benefit from having a witness and a forensic link, and that could help drive a decision to first pursue the older case even as the same suspect faces more current accusations, according to several defense lawyers. If convicted in the Fairfax case, Matthew could face up to three life sentences, and Virginia does not have parole, meaning a life sentence is truly a life sentence.
Hannah Graham timeline

“It’s possible this could be the easier case to prove and you might even think of the decision as an insurance policy if they feel confident they have the right guy and are correct in that,” said Jonathan Biran, a former federal prosecutor who is a defense lawyer in Baltimore.

But the first case brought to court might not wind up as the first resolved, said Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a defense attorney in Middleburg, whose clients have included Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“There’s no rule that says the newest case goes first when you have the same suspect, and there is nothing to say the first case charged would ultimately be the first one that is tried,” MacMahon said. He said he would expect prosecutors who have charges pending in different jurisdictions to have discussed how to sequence the cases.

Biran and MacMahon both noted that each crime involved its own victim for whom a prosecutor will want to seek justice, creating another impetus to pursue a case when it appears ready to go.

Charlottesville defense lawyer Scott Goodman said that the case in Fairfax appears much stronger for prosecutors than the Graham case and pointed out that it has also been investigated across a decade.

It is “the most ready to go,” Goodman said. “There’s a witness ready to testify, and the forensics has all their ducks lined up in a row.”

Goodman said that the Graham case appears to be based mostly on circumstantial evidence so far, which would make it more challenging to prove. Goodman said that a conviction and lengthy sentence in the Fairfax case could relieve pressure on prosecutors in Charlottesville. If the evidence in the Graham case is weak, Goodman said, “it could be a factor in the question of whether it is worth the resources to do it.”

Matthew was arrested Sept. 23 in Texas, 10 days after Graham went missing.

Evidence gathered during the search for Graham set off a chain of police and prosecutor actions.

Virginia State Police said that the Graham case had provided a new “forensic link” in the abduction and slaying of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, 20, who went missing in Charlottesville on Oct. 17, 2009. That link is Matthew’s DNA, according to two sources familiar with the Graham investigation. Harrington’s body was found in a field about five miles from where the remains police suspect to be Graham’s were located. No charges have been filed in connection with Harrington’s death.

The FBI had previously said that DNA evidence in the Harrington case was linked to the Fairfax assault.

A conviction in Fairfax or any evidence from the trial likely could not be used in court in the Graham case, defense lawyers said. But the case could be discussed during sentencing if Matthew were to be found guilty in Graham’s disappearance.

Flaherty and Jouvenal reported from Washington.

Oct 232014


By Sharieka Breeden
October 23, 2014

The first of two Thursday night football games has staff and students at East Carolina University working to reconcile their Pirate pride with disruptions caused by a midweek game.

More than 40,000 people are expected to converge on campus this afternoon as the No. 18 Pirates prepare for their American Athletic Conference match-up with the University of Connecticut Huskies. The game, televised nationally on ESPNU, begins at 7 p.m.

The university will close many of its normal operations and has asked instructors to cancel classes if possible after 3 p.m. That’s when ECU police will clear parking areas around Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium normally used on weekdays by students and others visiting campus. The parking lots will open to tailgaters at 4 p.m.

Faculty Senate Chairman Andrew Morehead said staff has discussed since the summertime making accommodations for tonight’s game against the Huskies and the Dec. 4 game against Central Florida.

“They are quite aware of the challenges and impact,” Morehead said Wednesday. “I think, in general, while faculty are very supportive of athletics for the most part, there has been some real concern about the issue of scheduling around it.”

He pointed out that ECU is the only Bowl Championship Series team that has two Thursday night home games.

“It’s concerning for all of the students as well as student-athletes who have to go to class,” Morehead said. “We are big supporters of the Pirates, but we have to remember these are students, too.”

The real challenge for faculty and students comes with classes that meet once a week and are not easily moveable, he said.

“For some chemistry labs, rescheduling is impossible,” he said. “I think its something that we all understand has to happen, so we do our best to make accommodations.”

Monique DuBose said on campus Wednesday that a syllabus distributed at the beginning of the semester notified her well in advance about a cancellation tonight.

“My 6 p.m. class got cancelled, and it really didn’t affect me because we did the work that we were supposed to do this week,” DuBose said.

Keith Armstrong, an ECU basketball player, said he is familiar with making adjustments for athletics events.

“I transferred from Robert Morris, so it was common for classes to let out early during basketball, especially when we played somebody big,” Armstrong, a junior communications major, said. “I think it’s cool because since we are doing better in football. A lot of people want to see us play. Being able to have that support factor is key.”

In addition to class schedules, ECU altered dining operations and bus routes, and many main campus employees will go home early if they are not going to the game. The adjustments will help officials clear parking lots, manage traffic, control the crowd and keep everyone safe, ECU Police Department Lt. Chris Sutton said.

“We don’t stop the machine just because there’s a game, but we do have to alter things a little bit to make room for people that we expect in this stadium,” he said.

As usual on game days, 14th Street between Elm Street and Charles Boulevard will be closed. So will College Hill Drive at 10th Street. Heavy congestion is expected on Greenville and Charles boulevards and other areas near the stadium.

Sutton encouraged motorists to avoid the area on their way home from work. The university suggested traveling at least one road farther from the athletics complex than usual: Evans Street instead of Charles, Fifth Street instead of 10th Street, and Red Banks Road instead of Greenville Boulevard.

“The roads will be congested coming toward the football stadium,” Sutton said. “They need to go ahead now and come up with an alternate route from the one they are used to driving on so they can shoot around the traffic.”

ECU police are enlisting the aid of officers from Greenville, Pitt County, the State Highway Patrol and other agencies. Sutton is hoping that an abbreviated tailgating period will reduce problems.

“There has been some issues in the past when games are on national television,” he said. “Anytime you are on TV, you have to respect the fact that someone may run on to the field. A few seasons ago someone ran on the field without a stitch of clothes on. We have an expectation for our fans, and we don’t want them to become bigger than the game.”

Fans who do not adhere to the rules can face criminal charges, Sutton said.

Another concern about a Thursday night game is what happens Friday morning. Morehead said the faculty experiences a higher absenteeism rate after the weeknight games.

Kayla Dasrath, a freshman nursing major, worried about classmates who have a class early Friday.

“Football games are long, and sometimes you go out to a party after the game or get drunk, and then you are hung over, so that can affect you in class the next day,” she said. “I am glad I only have one class so I can sleep after.”

Dasrath said weeknight games have benefits like connecting with friends and enjoying football, but those things should not be ranked higher than classes.

“Not all of us are going to the NFL or playing professional sports after college,” she said. “Academics come first. I do enjoy the games, but a Thursday night game is pressing.”

Oct 232014


By Jane Dail
October 22, 2014

A former Miss America made a stop at East Carolina University to discuss how she wants to make positive changes and celebrate diversity even through her own struggles.

Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, who passed on her crown to 2015 Miss America Kira Kazantsev this summer, stopped by Hendrix Theater through sponsors Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, the Indian Student Association, and Campus Living and Residence Life.
Story continues below advertisement

Indraj Rooprai, a senior in biology and board member of the Indian Student Association, said the organizers wanted to have Davuruli come to speak on campus on the same day as Diwali, an Indian festival of lights celebration.

“(An adviser) wanted to invite someone to draw a crowd,” he said.

Davuluri, 25, is the second Asian-American and first Indian-American to win the title. She spoke about her platform issue of celebrating diversity through cultural competency.

In the past year, Davuluri said she has appeared on 28 college campuses and logged more than 240,000 travel miles since her win in September 2013, living out of two suitcases. She said the competition is just a glimpse of what essentially is a full-time job.

“Everyone wants to win Miss America, but not everyone wants the job of Miss America,” she said.

Davuluri discussed her childhood, being born in Syracuse, N.Y., then moving to a small town in Oklahoma at the age of 5. She recalled being asked questions such as what do red dots on foreheads mean, if she worshiped cows, whether she was going to have an arranged marriage and even what tribe she was in.

She moved to a few more locations before attending the University of Michigan.

“For the first time really I had Indian friends who had grown up just like me who understood so any aspects of traditions,” she said.

Davuluri, who will pursue a master’s degree in business administration, said during her time in college one of her regrets was not making connections between the different student organizations she was a part of to create a sense of community on campus.

“I had these pockets of friends,“ she said. “ … None of us really took that initiative to say, ‘Hey, I’m hanging out with this group. Why don’t you come along?’”

One initiative she helped start while in college was to hold events at elementary schools in Ann Arbor, Mich., where students learned about and celebrated different cultures to help break down the stereotypes she was subjected to at that age.

A couple of years before earning her crown, Davuluri said she remembers saying that Miss America will be ethnic in a few years.

“That’s not to pull the race card,” she said. “That’s not to say, ‘Pick me, I’m brown.’ It felt so timely for this organization to finally reach out to a new demographic of young women that’s representative of what America is today.”

She said she grew up watching Miss America competitions and feeling as though she could never win because she never looked like the contestants. She hopes her win will inspire girls to work toward reaching their goals.

Davuluri said as happy as she was to win the competition, racist and ignorant remarks about her soon began to surface.

She said she was called “Miss 7-Eleven” based off the stereotype convenience store owners are often Indian, and even a terrorist.

“That happened the night I won,” she said. “It did not mean it stopped. I still face that today. … It’s heartbreaking, but it adds that much more for me to share my story.”

She said she always tries to find a silver lining and hopes that her appearances and advocacy will change at least one person’s mind.

“When you have something negative come at you, really try to change the conversation and create something positive,” she said.

Miss Black North Carolina 2010 RaSheeda Waddell, an ECU alumnus, attended the event and asked Davuluri how the swimsuit competition was for her.

“For me, personally, it was always very difficult to experience the swimsuit competition and all of the personal appearance things,” she said. “There are things you are expected to do as a competitor.“

Davuluri said she was overweight and suffered from an eating disorder in high school and college, and the swimsuit competition was the most difficult part of the competition. She said through treatment and counseling, she became a healthy weight.

“It was also that kind of moment of celebration of hard work that I had worked really hard for,” she said.

Davuluri said understanding and celebrating different cultures is an important aspect of America.

“To be able to understand everyone’s backgrounds, everyone’s beliefs is so important for one another to communicate in our society today, because we are becoming a more global society and we are evolving,” she said.

Oct 232014


By Ginger Livingston
October 2, 2014

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan criticized opponent Thom Tillis’ stances on education during a campaign event with East Carolina University students and teachers on campus Wednesday.

Hagan, a Democrat seeking her second term in Congress, lambasted policies Republican Tillis pursued during his four years as speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. She spoke to a small crowd at Mendenhall Student Center.

“I am here to make it clear that I will always, always stand up for education,” Hagan said.

Under Tillis’ leadership the General Assembly eliminated longevity pay for teachers, eliminated salary increases for educators pursuing advanced degrees and ended the 529 College Savings Tax Credit, she said.

He also opposes legislation that will allow people to refinance their student loan debt, the only type of loan that can’t be refinanced, she said. A tax reform package passed by the General Assembly also added a sales tax to college students’ meal plans,

“What kind of priorities are these? They are the wrong kind of priorities for working families in North Carolina,” Hagan said.

He also doesn’t respect educators, saying one time that teachers are more concerned about their jobs and pensions than students, she said.

“I will always stand with our students, with our educators,” she said.

Hagan’s ECU appearance came the day after she declined to participate in a televised debate sponsored by a Raleigh-based cable television service and two newspapers. Hagan said she didn’t participate because it wasn’t one of the three debates originally approved by her and Tillis.

Hagan said voters didn’t need another debate to see the differences between her and Tillis.

“All he can do is listen to my policies and then disagree with me,” she said.

Hagan was joined by Mark Jewell, vice president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

“Sen. Hagan has always placed the concerns of parents students and educators at the center of her decisions,” Jewell said.

The American Recovery and Investment Act helped North Carolina save 6,000 teaching jobs during the 2008 recession, Jewell said. The Tillis led General Assembly created budgets that cut 9,000 teaching positions when the state’s student population was increasing, he said.

“Please know that I put North Carolina first in everything I do every day,” Hagan said.

Hagan reminded the group that early voting starts Thursday and asked them to make sure other students get to the polls. Hagan also reminded them that legislative changes championed by Tillis will no longer allow same-day registration during the early voting period and reduced the number of early voting days.

“Putting barriers up to the ballot box in 2014 is not right for families with busy lives,” she said.

Ebony West, president of ECU College Democrats, said her organization has helped about 800 students register to vote since the beginning of the school year.

Starting Thursday College Democrats will have a table on campus to educate students about early voting polling places. Students will be able to sign up for rides to polling places, she said.

While data shows fewer college students vote in midterm elections, West said her group is letting their classmates know that their voices have to be heard at all times.

“Take the tax on meals plans. That is an issue we could have say in if we voted for the right people,” she said.

Oct 232014


By Beth Velliquette
October 23, 2014

A trial set for Wednesday for two ECU students charged with painting a swastika on the door of an apartment where a Jewish woman lived was continued until January.

Police charged Timothy Scott Gill Jr., 21, and Brandon Daniel Friedhoff, 20, with ethnic intimidation, vandalism and injury to real property in early September after a spray-painted swastika was discovered on a door at The Landing on Exchange Drive.

One resident of the apartment and another witness waited in the courtroom several hours for the case to be heard before attorneys spoke to a judge and he announced it was going to be continued.

Judge Joe Setzer said he was continuing the case because there are civil and criminal matters that needed to be heard together, and the proceedings could take longer than what could be heard during a regular session of district court.

The matter was taken up Wednesday with a full docket of traffic and misdemeanor cases.

Setzer set the trial for Jan. 15, but said it could be scheduled sooner, if possible.

The judge made the two defendants stay in the courtroom for 15 minutes to give the woman who lived at the apartment, family and friends time to leave the courthouse separately.

The woman and her roommate requested domestic violence protection orders against Gill and Friedhoff shortly after the incident. District Court Judge Lee Teague denied the requests.

They wrote in separate requests that their former boyfriends had harassed them, called them names and did things to embarrass them.

Neither woman was at the apartment on the night the swastika was painted on their door, but a third roommate was, and she was so frightened that she was afraid to sleep at the apartment that night, according to the victim’s statement.

Social media posts led the women to believe that Gill and Friedhoff were responsible for the swastika. The posts also made them fear what else the men might do.

A friend of the victim reported that he received a photograph of one of the defendants painting the swastika, according to the statement.

Gill and Friedhoff still are enrolled at the ECU.

Oct 232014


By Brian Haines
October 23, 2014

GREENVILLE — Late October. The time of year when the temperature begins to drop and the college football postseason debates heat up. For No. 18 East Carolina, it’s the perfect time to warm the nation to Pirates football.

East Carolina (5-1, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) will host UConn (1-5, 0-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU. With each week the Pirates remain in the rankings, they are sure to draw new viewers, , and Thursday’s game offers them a chance to show them what they’ve been missing.

“It’s huge,” said Breon Allen, East Carolina’s leading rusher. “It’s exactly what we’ve worked for. We want everyone to know what Greenville is about and who the Pirates are. We want to represent our university well, and we have the perfect stage to do that.”

East Carolina has played five of its six games on national TV this season, but playing on a Thursday night brightens the spotlight that tends to be spread thin on Saturdays.

“I like games on Saturday, but at the same time we’ve discussed in or meetings with (AAC) Commissioner (Mike Aresco) how Thursday games and Friday games give our conference and our programs … a lot of coverage,” East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill said.

The Pirates are more than happy to take center stage.

“We’re definitely excited. We’ll be one of only a few teams in the nation playing,” Allen said. “All eyes will be on us, so we’re definitely excited for the challenge.”

Quarterback Shane Carden, who ranks fifth in the nation with 354.8 passing yards per game, agreed.

“It means a lot. It’s a great opportunity to show the nation what our team’s about and what our school’s about,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting that stadium full. I expect everyone to be there (dressed in black) and ready to go.”

After picking up back-to-back wins against Power 5 schools Virginia Tech and North Carolina, the Pirates held off Southern Methodist before tight-roping past South Florida 28-17 their last time out.

Thursday, East Carolina has a chance to clinch bowl eligibility against a struggling UConn team that has lost four straight games. While winning is a must, how they do it could be equally important.

As of now, East Carolina appears to be the front-runner to represent the Group of 5 in a New Year’s Day bowl, but with teams such as No. 23 Marshall (7-0) breathing down its neck, an escape victory like the one against South Florida could narrow the gap.

That, however, is a notion the Pirates will not entertain. For now, their focus is on the task at hand.

“We just have to win today. We have to practice like champions today, then go out Thursday and try to win the game,” Carden said.

Oct 232014


By Nathan Summers
October 23, 2014

No. 18 East Carolina will be challenged again tonight to match another team’s desperation when Connecticut pays a visit to Greenville for the first-ever football game between the schools.

The Pirates and Huskies are at opposite ends of the American Athletic Conference standings in advance of the 7 p.m. kickoff in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. ECU (5-1, 2-0 American) enters the game a heavy favorite for the third consecutive league game, but in each of the first two the Pirates experienced some sluggishness despite winning both contests by a combined 32 points.

That included a come-from-behind 28-17 triumph at South Florida two weeks ago before the team’s second bye week of the season.

Like the Bulls before them, the Huskies (1-5, 0-3) limp into a difficult assignment hoping to establish the run, but haven’t come close to it yet this season. Their only win heading into tonight’s game — a Blackout celebration at ECU in which the Pirates will wear their all-black uniforms ­— was against Stony Brook.

“They’re going to run the football,” fifth-year East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill said of the Huskies under the supervision of first-year head coach Bob Diaco. “I played against Bobby, coached against him (when McNeill was an assistant at Appalachian State and Diaco was on staff at Virginia). He’s establishing his personality within his team.”

USF successfully ran and threw the ball early against the Pirates, building a 17-7 lead by halftime before the Pirates adjusted on defense and slammed the door while the offense sprung to life for 21 unanswered points.

Missing in Tampa, Fla., was the usual big start by the Pirate offense, which nonetheless enters the week ranked fourth in the nation in pass offense with an average game total of 371.3 yards. Before its lone TD in the first quarter against the Bulls, ECU had run up 65 points in five games in the opening period.

Senior all-time ECU passing leader Shane Carden ranks 10th nationally with 2,129 yards to go with 16 TD passes against four interceptions. He has a scoring pass in seven consecutive starts and has been held without a TD pass just twice in his 30 career starts.

“He is one of the best, most productive players in the country, one of the most productive players in their history and he has some very talented players to get the ball to,” Diaco said of Carden. “(Justin) Hardy, he’s one of the best skill players in the country. You’ll see that as the season comes to an end. He is a great player with no limitations, great hands and short-space quickness. He is a complete player.”

There will be plenty of peril awaiting the UConn defense today despite the Huskies ranking 17th in the nation in total defense (325 yards per game allowed).

Hardy, ECU’s senior all-time leading receiver, leads the Pirates with 47 receptions for 593 yards and five TDs, followed by sophomore Isaiah Jones (42-478-4), senior tailback Breon Allen (18-150-1), senior Cam Worthy (16-358-1) and freshman Trevon Brown (13-249-4).

Allen continues to lead the backfield with 504 rush yards and four TDs, including a game-changing 124 yards and two total touchdowns against USF. Behind him, junior Chris Hairston (29-208-2) has been solid and redshirt Marquez Grayson (19-176-1) and freshman Anthony Scott (31-168-3) both notched TDs against the Bulls.

The UConn defense is led by junior linebacker Marquise Vann and his 56 tackles and four stops for loss.

But the big hits in the backfield don’t end there, as the Huskies have tied up 57 total stops for loss in six games. That includes at least three TFLs by seven different players and a team-best 4.5 by junior LB Graham Stewart.

Senior corner Byron Jones leads the secondary with three pass breakups and UConn’s lone interception, while junior safety Andrew Adams has 42 tackles. Up front, redshirt end Cole Ormsby has a team-best two sacks.

The Huskies’ offense hasn’t been prolific, and UConn’s 256-yard average output is among the worst in the nation. The more drastic numbers are Connecticut’s one rush TD all season, that by redshirt backup tailback Josh Marriner (55 yards this season), and leading rusher Max DeLorenzo’s 194 yards in six games.

Senior quarterback Chandler Whitmer has not been able to pick up much of the slack, throwing for a modest 856 yards and five TDs, three of them to junior leading wide receiver Geremy Davis (33-431-3) and another to redshirt tailback Arkeel Newsome (7-118-1). Senior Deshon Foxx (13-176) is second on the team in catches.

The ECU defense, meanwhile, enters the game riding a two-quarter shutout and a good deal of momentum. In the Pirates’ last two wins, the ECU defense was forced to adjust in the second half to their opponents’ adjustments.

With another team trying to run the ball against the Pirates tonight, the dynamic duo of inside linebackers Zeek Bigger (team-high 70 tackles, INT, four QB hurries) and Brandon Williams (49 tackles, five TFLs, 2.5 sacks) will be in the thick of the action again, with junior OLB Montese Overton (36 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks) providing support.

Behind them, the secondary quartet of safeties Lamar Ivey (34 tackles, four PBs) and Domonique Lennon (33 tackles) and corners Detric Allen (30 tackles, TFL) and big-play specialist Josh Hawkins (25 tackles, team-high four INTs and nine PBs) has steadily grown stronger.

All of the success in the middle and back end of the ECU defense, however, has been made possible by the constant push up front by starting ends Johnathon White (23 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, forced fumble) and Fred Presley (2.5 sacks) and nose tackle Terry Williams (15 tackles).

“It’s all about the front seven, and we’ve been playing with great technique and maintaining our gaps, and everybody’s just getting off (on the snap of the ball) and making plays and running to the ball,” White said of his unit’s success through the first half of the season.

An ECU win tonight would keep the Pirates on top in the American standings, although former Conference USA foe Central Florida (4-2, 2-0) is also unbeaten in league play entering this week’s action, which for the Knights is a clash with third-place surprise Temple (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday.

Starting the season 6-1 is actually far from uncharted territory for ECU, and in fact a win tonight would mark the 14th time in school history it has happened.

Tonight’s Blackout game marks the ninth consecutive national television appearance for the Pirates dating back to last season. Although the Pirates’ schedule is littered with non-traditional game days like today, McNeill said it is important exposure.

“I like playing on Saturdays … but the Thursday games and the Friday games (ECU plays Nov. 28 at Tulsa) give our conference and our programs — and really for us the city of Greenville — a lot of coverage,” McNeill said. “We always take it from that approach.”

Oct 232014


Robert Earl “Slim” Williams

Mr. Robert Earl Slim Williams, 76 of 112 Pactolus Highway, passed away Sunday, October 19, 2014 at Vidant Medical Center. A Celebration of Life Service will be held 3:00 pm Saturday at English Chapel FWB Church. Pastor Rufus Sutton will officiate and burial will follow in Homestead Memorial Gardens. Mr. Williams, a native of the Farmville community, was a long time resident of Pitt County. Slim was a 1961 graduate of H.B. Suggs High School. He was retired from East Carolina University. Mr. Williams was a member of Jesus Is Alive F.S.H.G. Deliverance Church. In addition to his parents, Lula Smith and Robert Williams, one son, Robert Earl Williams Jr, preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Christine Williams; one son, Perry Ward and wife, Robin, six daughters: Debra Williams, Lottie Battle and husband, Lindsay, Phyllis Williams, Lena Strong and husband, Aaron, and Tia Williams, and Eunice James and husband, John, two brothers, Charles Smith, and James Thomas, two sister-in-laws: Joann Johnson and husband, Billy, and Ethel Murphy, three brother-in-laws: Noah Murphy and wife, Sandra, Melvin Murphy, and Kenneth Murphy, 17 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren; Special friends: Johnny Ebron, Wallace T. Ebron, Ray Shelly, and Jerry Creech; and a host of other relatives and friends. A visitation will be held 2:00 3:00 pm Saturday at the church. Other times family will receive friends at the home. Professional & Excellent Services Entrusted To Blake Phillips Funeral Services.