P.T. Cole Park Murderer Sentenced to Life in Prison
TYLER — Judge Jack Skeen sentenced a man convicted of murder in last summer’s P.T. Cole Park shooting to life in prison Thursday morning. KETK reports Dennis Bendy was found guilty by a Smith County jury August 12 in the murder of 20-year-old Briana Young. The victim was killed after she was caught in crossfire with her 3-year-old son the park on Tyler’s west side. During the trial, the state said Elisha Williams fired the fatal shot but Bendy had also fired eight bullets from his 9mm Glock. In the closing arguments, state prosecutors argued Bendy could be found guilty as an individual or as a party with transferred intent: if a group has intent to cause harm and a felony is committed, everyone in the group can be charged. Rakheem Goldstein and Elisha Williams are also charged with murder in this case. A fourth suspect, Ke’Avier Jarrod Wilson-Hurd, was no-billed.
Longview Police Investigate Fatal Shooting
LONGVIEW — The Longview Police Department has confirmed one person has been killed and one was injured in an early morning shooting. The shooting occurred around just before 4:00 yesterday morning in the 100 block of Garfield Drive. One victim was pronounced dead when police arrived on scene. The injured victim was taken to a local hospital where they were treated and released. Police did not release their identities. The Longview News-Journal quotes family members in identifying the victim as Tyson Patterson, 33. The investigation is continuing.
East Texas Constable Killed in Car Wreck
MOUNT PLEASANT – A Titus County constable has been killed in a one vehicle accident. Pronounced dead just after 10:00 yesterday morning was Precinct 2 Constable Cleve Johnson, 57. He has been constable for over 17 ½ years. The accident occurred on Farm Road 1734. According to the Department of Public Safety, Johnson was heading home yesterday morning when his car left the road and hit a culvert.
Rusk Man Gets Life in Prison for Sexual Assault of Child
RUSK — A Rusk man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14. According to Cherokee County prosecutor Charles Breaux, Rafael Villegas, 54, sexually assaulted a girl in 2000. Officials were able to charge the convict because of an amended law allowing the state to prosecute crimes committed within 10 years of the victim’s eighteenth birthday. Therefore, the statute of limitations did not apply, according to KETK. Villegas was found guilty Tuesday by a jury. Read more …
Marshall Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Mentally Disabled Person
MARSHALL — A Marshall man remains in the Harrison County Jail on $100,000 bond, charged with the sexual assault of a mentally disabled person. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report Harrison County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Larry Deshun Lacy on Aug. 21 on the sexual assault charge. According to an arrest affidavit, Lacy is accused of sexually abusing a mentally disabled person on Aug. 11. The affidavit says during the assault Lacy repeatedly hit the victim’s head, face, and body, causing injuries to her right jaw and the upper left side of her head. According to the affidavit, her head needed at least four staples and she also sustained bruises on her left shoulder and back; scratches on her arms, face, and back; and two fractures to her left wrist. Police records show Lacy was on parole at the time of his arrest.
Former East Texas Lawman Indicted in Police Chief’s Death
TEMPLE (AP/STAFF) — A 57-year-old man, who formerly worked in law enforcement in Van Zandt County, has been indicted in the fatal shooting of a police chief in the small Central Texas town of Little River-Academy. The Temple Daily Telegram reports a Bell County grand jury indicted David Gene Risner on Wednesday on one count of capital murder of a peace officer in the June 19 death of Chief Lee Dixon. Risner is in jail on no bond. Jail records don’t list an attorney. Risner is accused of killing Dixon when the chief went to talk to him after a person filed a complaint saying Risner pulled a gun during a dispute. Risner served in law enforcement for almost 19 years. His most recent position was with Grand Saline police, where his tenure ended in 2005.
Tyler Airport Authorized for Millions in FAA Grant
TYLER — The Tyler City Council authorized Tyler Pounds Regional Airport to accept a new FAA Grant totaling more than $9.6 million. According to a press release, the major portion of the grant will be used to begin reconstruction of the airport’s longest runway, portions of which date back to World War II. Having been in the planning and design phase for the past five years, a proactive plan has been set in motion to enhance the runway. Read more …
Runaway Teen Sought
JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville Police Department is looking for a runaway teen and the girl’s family is asking for the public’s helping in finding her. KETK reports that according to a relative, Bianca Arreguin, 14, of Jacksonville, left home on August 10. She was last seen at her sister’s house on Kickapoo Street. If you have information on Arreguin’s whereabouts, contact Det. Tonya Harris with the Jacksonville Police Department at (903) 586-2546.
Deputies Find Possibly Meth-Loaded Syringe inside Man’s Shoe
ATHENS — Henderson County deputies arrested a man near Lake Athens after allegedly discovering a syringe filled with methamphetamine in his shoe. According to KETK, Sheriff Ray Nutt says at 1:47 p.m. on Wednesday, a deputy was called to FM 2495 on reports of a welfare concern. After arriving at the scene, the deputy found a man, later identified as William Riggins, standing in the middle of the road. Authorities say they determined the man was intoxicated and took him into custody. During a search of Williams, law enforcement found a syringe containing a liquid believed to be meth inside his shoe. The suspect was taken to the Henderson County Jail and charged with possession of a controlled substance and public intoxication.
Tyler ISD Graduation Marks Continue to Exceed State Rate
TYLER – Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams announced recently that the Texas high school on-time graduation rate has set another all-time high, reaching 88 percent for the Class of 2013. Tyler ISD’s graduation rate remained above the state’s rate for the third year in a row with 91.5 percent for the Class of 2013. According to a news release from the school district, Tyler ISD’s graduation rate has shown growth five out of the last six years. Since 2007 the state has seen a 10 percentage point increase in graduation rate, while Tyler ISD has shown a 17.9 percentage point increase.
Big Baby Born at Calddwell Zoo
TYLER – The newest baby at Tyler’s Caldwell Zoo is 5½ feet tall, weighs 112 pounds, takes 14-15 months to arrive. It’s Knox, a baby Giraffe. The son of Mom Cricket and Dad Ramses was born August 15th. Zoo officials say they are working hard getting Knox used to his surroundings and the day’s activities. At this time he is staying inside the giraffe building, but soon he will be introduced to the outdoor holding areas and eventually to the giraffes’ outdoor yard. Read more …
Weather Creates Mosquito Spraying Challenges
JACKSONVILLE — Spraying for mosquitoes is something most cities do every year. But KETK reports this summer’s unusual weather has blocked them every step of the way. Kelly Young is the vector control coordinator for the city of Jacksonville. He says “pretty consistent rain for several months” has caused repeated broods of mosquitoes to be born and has prevented the city from spraying as much as officials would like. Fortunately, officials say, the city has some upcoming days of weather that should allow them to spray.
In Texas, Big School Finance Questions Remain
AUSTIN (AP) — Pumping an extra $3.4 billion into Texas public schools didn’t convince a judge that the state is adequately funding classrooms. But how much more money it will take, and how those funds should be divvied up, isn’t likely to get sorted anytime soon. State District Judge John Dietz reaffirmed on Thursday a previous ruling that Texas’ school finance system is unconstitutional. He said it fails to provide adequate funding or distribute it fairly between rich and poor areas. Dietz blocked some parts of the system, but suspended that order until next July. That lets the Legislature, which reconvenes in January, make changes. Appeals, though, mean the case still has a long way to go. And it likely won’t be concluded until after lawmakers have completed the 2015 session.
Texas Abuzz about Possible Perry-Cruz 2016 Battle
AUSTIN (AP) — Two Texans, one White House. Is the 2016 Republican campaign trail big enough? After plummeting from prime contender to political punchline three years ago, Governor Rick Perry is gearing up for a second run for president. And he’s turned his recent indictment on felony abuse-of-power charges into a campaign rallying cry. But Perry may find himself bumping up against his state’s junior senator, Ted Cruz. The tea party darling’s firebomb approach on Capitol Hill has grassroots activists clamoring for him to make a White House run. The prospect of a two-Texan presidential tilt is dominating political conversation in Texas. Both are scheduled to address the Americans for Prosperity national convention in Dallas this weekend.
2016 GOP Hopefuls Vie for Attention at Texas Event
DALLAS (AP) — A parade of potential 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls will be on display at an influential conservative group’s annual summit. Texas Governor Rick Perry, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Indiana Governor Mike Pence are appearing today at a gathering of Americans for Prosperity in Dallas. On Saturday, the crowd at the Koch brothers-backed event will hear from tea party-backed Texas Senator Ted Cruz. For months Cruz has starred at many conservative grassroots gatherings around the country, but he’ll be competing for attention this weekend. Perry’s favorability outside Texas has climbed since his indictment on two felony counts of abuse of power. Paul, meanwhile, has hired staff in Iowa, which opens presidential voting. And Pence may get a bump because some of his ex-staffers now work for Koch Industries.
Cruz, Jindal to Headline September Iowa GOP Event
DES MOINES, IOWA (AP) — Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz (pictured) and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September. Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition announced Thursday that Cruz, a Texas senator, and Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, are scheduled to speak at the Sept. 27 event planned at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. It’s billed as a “family banquet” and is intended to charge up conservatives ahead of the November 4 election. It’s also expected to feature Iowa candidates, including Governor Terry Branstad, who is seeking a sixth term. Cruz and Jindal are among Republicans weighing 2016 presidential candidacies. Both have made repeated visits to Iowa, which will begin the presidential nominating process with its caucuses. Social conservatives comprise a loyal core of the GOP caucuses’ base.
Highway Department Backs Off Billboard Proposal
AUSTIN (AP) — A spokesman with the Texas Department of Transportation says the agency is backing off a proposal to raise the height of billboards. The state department has proposed modifying the current sign regulation by almost 22 feet to a maximum 65 feet. Advertisers supported the plan, saying taller signs are needed because the speed of travel has increased and highways have expanded. The Austin American-Statesman reports the transportation department received about 900 public comments requesting the department not increase the height limit. Anne Culver with environmental group Scenic Texas says she’s pleased with the state transportation agency dropping its support of the proposal. The organization argued bigger signs would block country views and pose a threat of distraction for drivers.
Suspects Sought in San Antonio Double Homicide
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio police say two masked gunmen are suspected of kicking in the door of an apartment and then shooting to death two people in their bedroom. Police say that when officers arrived early Thursday morning they found the man and woman fatally shot in their bedroom. Police say the masked gunmen fled in a dark sport utility vehicle. A few minutes after the shooting, police say they got a call that a small SUV that had been set on fire. They are trying to determine if the vehicle fire is related to the shootings.
Wanted Texas Sex Offender Arrested in Mexico
AUSTIN (AP) — A 49-year-old man wanted in Hill County for failing to register as a sex offender, burglary and a parole violation has been arrested in Mexico after eluding capture for almost 10 years. The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a news release Thursday that Dallas Wayne Waddell had been on the Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offender list since it was implemented in July 2010. Waddell was arrested August 21 in the city of Guadalupe Victoria, Durango, Mexico. He was sent back to Texas the next day. A $3,000 reward will be paid to the person who tipped off authorities to Waddell’s location. A DPS spokesman says Waddell was being transferred Thursday from the Harris County jail in Houston to the Hill County jail in Hillsboro.
Texas Man Gets 20 Years in Synthetic Drug Deaths
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A Texas man who pleaded guilty to distributing chemicals that resulted in the synthetic drug deaths of two teens in the Grand Forks, North Dakota, area has been sentenced to 20 years and six months in prison. Charles Carlton, of Katy, Texas, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fargo. Carlton pleaded guilty in March to three counts, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death. Authorities say the chemicals sold by Carlton’s company, Motion Resources LLC, were manufactured into hallucinogens. They say they wound up in the hands of Christian Bjerk, 18, of Grand Forks, and Elijah Stai, 17, of Park Rapids, Minnesota. They died within a week of each other in June 2012.
Hospital’s Patient Care Draws Federal Scrutiny
DALLAS (AP) — Federal authorities have determined staff at a Dallas hospital endangered a patient in their care, marking the third time the hospital’s been cited since promising to reform its psychiatric services. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says workers in the psychiatric emergency room at Parkland Memorial Hospital failed in June to safely move a disabled, elderly patient, causing broken bones in her ankle. The finding comes weeks after the federal agency threatened to cut off $400 million in annual funding after finding Parkland jeopardized another patient. Parkland previously adopted hundreds of safety reforms to avoid further federal scrutiny. Parkland CEO Fred Cerise told The Dallas Morning News the hospital is being responsive to federal calls for ongoing reforms.
Guns Found at Galveston Jail Facility
GALVESTON (AP) — The Galveston County sheriff’s office says they discovered two unloaded handguns on top of an 18-foot-tall shed at a facility used for an inmate work program. Sheriff Henry Trochesset tells the Galveston County Daily News that the handguns, which weren’t in working condition, were found August 19 after the office got a tip. He said they are looking into the possibility that a deputy was responsible. Trouchesset says the weapons, which came from the sheriff’s office evidence room, were marked in the department’s internal records as having been destroyed on July 29. Trouchesset said inmates routinely destroy confiscated unloaded weapons under the supervision of deputies at the facility, which is used for the jail’s continuing skills program. Policy changes after the incident include preventing inmates from dismantling confiscated weapons.
Retail Gasoline Prices Drop 2 Cents Across Texas
IRVING (AP) — Retail gasoline prices across the state continue to drop as millions of Texans prepare to hit the road for the long Labor Day weekend. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump this week is $3.26, down 2 cents from last week. The national average this week is $3.43, down a penny. Drivers in El Paso are paying the most at $3.33 per gallon while motorists in Beaumont are paying the least at $3.20. AAA says more than 2.5 million Texans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday weekend. About 2.1 million will travel by automobile. AAA says gas prices are trending downward because of stable global supplies that are not being affected by tensions in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.
Film Official: Incentives Keep Texas in Picture
AUSTIN (AP) — The director of the Texas Film Commission says incentives used to reimburse production companies are helping lure them to the Lone Star State. Director Heather Page told a House panel Wednesday that legislation last year allowed the commission to raise its refund rate for production costs by 5%. The reimbursements go toward entertainment companies that hire Texans and spend money in the state. While the rate isn’t as high as other states, Page says it’s enough to keep Texas competitive. She says Texas has provided $128 million in incentives over the past seven years. But Warner Bros. Entertainment executive Michael Walbrecht testified that Texas will have to boost its incentives to be more competitive. He says Texas is doing “just enough” to get filmmakers to come to the state.
You Tell Me Texas by Paul Gleiser
The majority of students in public schools in Texas – including those here in Tyler and Longview – get their lunches for free or at a greatly reduced price. Read More | Visit The You Tell Me Texas Blog
We all remember our moms dragging us off to the doctor to get our vaccinations. But the fact is, vaccinations aren’t just for kids. We need them all through our adult lives. In the latest post to HealthConnection.TV, UT Health Northeast family medicine expert Dr. Ryan Menard discusses and answers questions about adult vaccinations. Go to: http://www.uthealth.org/healthconnection/