Phoebe Judge

Host / Reporter

Phoebe Judge is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured on a numerous national radio programs. She regularly conducts interviews and anchors WUNC's broadcast of Here & Now. Previously, Phoebe served as producer, reporter and guest host for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. Earlier in her career, Phoebe reported from the gulf coast of Mississippi. She covered the BP oil spill and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Phoebe's work has won multiple Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards. Phoebe was born and raised in Chicago and is graduate of Bennington College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

She is a co-founder of the podcast Criminal.http://thisiscriminal.com

Ways to Connect

Tonya Rush is an analyst at the crime lab. The NC General Assembly recently added funding for 30 more analysts to help with the backlog.
Eric Mennel / WUNC

We've been looking at the problems in the State Crime Lab this week, particularly the backlog in evidence testing. A group of judges, lawyers, and scientists came together in recent months to suggest solutions for clearing up the backlog, but inside the lab, some efforts are already under way.

One of the refrigerators at the NC State Crime Lab
Eric Mennel

Like many crime labs across the country, the North Carolina State Crime Lab in Raleigh has a serious backlog. One reason is finding and paying qualified staff. But a new report issued by researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Government shows a second, more complex problem.

The report goes into detail about the effect a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Melendez-Diaz, had on the way forensic evidence gets admitted at criminal trials.

Blackwater helicopters in Iraq
Heath Powell / Flickr Creative Commons

A U.S. congressman from North Carolina has reintroduced a bill to clarify how American laws apply to overseas contractors. Democratic Congressman David Price of Chapel Hill originally submitted the legislation in 2007 after contractors with the company Blackwater were accused of shooting up a public square in Baghdad. The law met resistance from the White House at the time and was never passed.

Holden Mora shows his new hand, and a pumpkin spice cookie.
Carol Jackson

Seven-year-old Holden Mora's hand is something that Iron Man might envy. It's bright red, and appears indestructible. Holden was born with something called Symbrachydactyly, and his hand didn't develop properly in the womb.

The 3D hand was created specially for Holden by a UNC  biomedical engineering student, Jeffrey Powell. Powell didn't use high-tech prosthetic engineering tools to create the hand. He used a 3D printer.

Sean Haugh, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, 2014
Carol Jackson / WUNC

Next week voters across North Carolina will decide the next U.S. Senator from North Carolina.  Latest polls show the race basically tied between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, and Republican State Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. 

Hagan and Tillis have both called on political celebrities in this, the final full week of the campaign.

Eric Mennel

A month ago Larry Hester became the first person in North Carolina to receive a bionic eye.  Blind since the age of 30, Hester, who has been treated at the Duke Eye Center, is now learning how to see again.  And it isn't that easy.

The device that Hester is wearing is not just as simple as flipping on a switch.  He is now learning how to differentiate shapes and colors and going through physical therapy sessions which are rather reminiscent of someone who has just received a new knee, not eye.

This is the Unity Monument at Bennett Place. The vulnerable tract of land is across the street from this monument.
NC Department of Cultural Resources

Update 10/23/14:

North Carolina has raised the more than $300,000 needed to protect land near Bennett Place Historic Site in Durham. The site witnessed the largest Confederate troop surrender of the Civil War.

The money will be used to buy 1.9 acres located near Bennett Place and the "Unity Monument" which symbolically marks the reunification of the country.

The state received two grants of $150,000 each. $13,000 more came in through smaller donations.

Original story:

crime scene tape
Ian Britton / Flickr/Creative Commons

There have been 17 murders in Durham so far this year, a number that is pretty average for the past five years or so in the city.  But the Durham Police Department isn't just focusing on investigations that are current, they are also making an effort to investigate more than 150 murders that are still unsolved. 

Sergeant David Piatt, with the Homicide Investigation Unit is keenly aware that the families of those victims are still waiting for answers,.

"I don't think you can say one person is more important than the other.  They all deserve closure,"  he says.

The world renowned performance artist Taylor Mac is in North Carolina this week with the show 1910s - A 24 Decade History of Popular Music.  The performance is part of a larger project that involves 24 separate performances, each based on a single decade since 1770.

Mac says the 1910s were a critical decade of change in the history of America.

September 2, 2014, Leon Brown on exoneration day.
Jenny Warburg / Death Penalty Information Center

In 1984 Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were both charged with the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Sabrina Buoy. 

McCollum was 19 years old at the time. Brown was 15. Prosecutors said that the two took Buoy into a soy bean field to rape her.

The half-brothers have intellectual disabilities. Both signed written confessions that they later recanted. Both were convicted.

Today, the World Health Organization reported more than 2,900 people have died from Ebola in Western Africa. Amidst the growing epidemic, Nigeria has managed to escape much of the havoc.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country by far, with more than 170 million people. Yet there have been only 20 confirmed cases and eight confirmed deaths from Ebola since July.   How has the country escaped widespread infection?

The Memphis Belle is one of 10 B-17s still flying in the U.S.
Eric Mennel / WUNC

The Memphis Belle, one of the last remaining B-17 planes from World War II, is making a stop this weekend in the Triangle.  The bomber was made famous in the movie, The Memphis Belle.  The United States built more than 12,000 B-17s beginning in the 1940s.  There are only 10 left that can still fly. [Click on the photo gallery above to look inside the plane.]

A champion tiger shark at a fish rodeo in 1988
Joel Fodrie / UNC IMS

Over the past 30 years, the size of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico has been shrinking. Drastically. Some sharks are 70 percent smaller.

The findings come from the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences.

Researchers came up with a novel way of gathering the historical data. While there wasn't any academic database that collected such information, local newspapers in the Gulf region have been publishing the results of fishing competitions for years.

Larry Hester, at the WUNC studios, September 2014.
Eric Mennel

Larry Hester lost his sight at age 33. Last week, 66-year-old Hester had a computer chip inserted into his left eyeball which may help him gain some ability to better navigate his life.

The six-hour surgery – the first in North Carolina – was performed by Dr. Paul Hahn at the Duke Eye Center. 

When the device is turned on, Hester will wear a pair of glasses rigged with a camera. The glasses will be attached by wire to a computerized device that Hester will wear on his belt. 

Alison Moyer poses with Dreadnoughtus' neck bone, which she uncovered.
Alison Moyer

Last week, researchers revealed one of the biggest discoveries ever in the dinosaur world. "Dreadnoughtus" is 85 feet long, two stories tall, and as big as a jumbo jet. It's estimated to weigh as much as seven T. rex dinosaurs put together, and experts believe it was not yet fully grown when it died. Alison Moyer spent several months on her knees in southern Argentina using picks, dust brushes, and tweezers to uncover parts of Dreadnoughtus' skeleton. Moyer is a Ph.D candidate at N.C. State University. This was her first dig.

What was your role?

Cast of 'The Womanless Wedding', 1890 Trinity College Drama Group
Duke University Archives

"Stranger than Fiction: True Stories Found in NCpedia" is a special event which will be held Saturday September 13 at the North Carolina Museum of History. A panel of experts will share lesser-known stories from North Carolina's history.

Here are five such stories from NCpedia, the online encyclopedia of all things North Carolina:

1. There's a tradition in the state for men to get dressed up and hold 'Womanless Weddings'

Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Duke University Law School

This summer President Obama appointed former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  The Commission, an eight member panel, is charged with developing federal civil rights policy.  

Timmons-Goodson was the first African American female appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.  She spoke with  Phoebe Judge about the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and changes in North Carolina's voting rights laws, among other topics.

Prison cell
DOliphant via Flickr

This November voters in North Carolina will decide whether people accused of felonies should have the opportunity to decide whether they want a judge or jury to decide their case. Jeff Welty, an associate professor in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina, has been studying the potential implications this constitutional amendment may have on the state.  He talked with Phoebe Judge.

Conversation highlights:

Why has it taken North Carolina so long to address the issue?

A chart showing the where there is a risk for CRE infections
CDC

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are organisms that do not respond to antibiotics. They're mostly picked up by patients while in the hospital, and have a mortality rate ranging from 48% - 71%.  What's more, between 2008 and 2012, reports of CRE jumped five-fold in the southeastern United States.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

  

The General Assembly’s budget proposal is headed to the state House after a late night in the Senate. 

Senators passed the $21 billion spending plan around 1:00 a.m. and then adjourned for the session. But they left some bills on the table, including a plan to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds and a proposal to overhaul Medicaid.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia and WUNC's education policy reporter, Reema Khrais, about the conclusion of the short session.

PearlDamour

  There are more than 20 towns and cities in the United States named Milton—from the 200-person Milton, North Carolina, to the 25,000-person suburb of Boston called Milton, Massachusetts.

The Rosebuds Bloom

Aug 1, 2014
Western Vinyl

    

For more than a decade, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp have played together as the musical duo The Rosebuds. The pair’s sentimental grooves endure on their new album, Sand + Silence, as they pay homage to their North Carolina home.

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt

  After an extra month of negotiations, state lawmakers have agreed on a budget for the next fiscal year. 

The $21 billion proposal makes compromises between House and Senate leaders on teacher pay and Medicaid spending. But other issues outside of the budget remain. Lawmakers still have to consider a Medicaid reform bill, local sales taxes changes and environmental protection regulations.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jessica Jones about the General Assembly’s short session.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

    

North Carolina lawmakers voted last year to end long-term unemployment benefits.

The move meant the state stopped accepting money from the federal government for workers who had been out of a job for 20 weeks or more. Legislators said they made the change in order to start paying down more than $2 billion in jobless benefits the state already owed to the federal government.

  

Tim Anderson grew up in north Raleigh as a gay, sugar-obsessed teenager.

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