Local News

New Sentencing for “Bernie” Mortician

bernie AUSTIN (AP) – Texas’ highest court has granted a new sentencing hearing for the mortician whose conviction for killing his longtime companion and storing her body in a freezer inspired the dark-comedy movie “Bernie.” Bernie Tiede was sentenced to life in prison for the 1996 shooting death of 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent. But he was released from prison earlier this year, after a lower court ruled the sentence was overly harsh. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday largely sided with Tiede. His attorneys said jurors weren’t told he felt abused by Nugent or that he was sexually abused as a child. Nugent’s family wants him returned to prison. Nugent’s body was found in a freezer in her home nine months after she went missing in Carthage.

Nativity Scene on Courthouse Lawn Raises Concerns

nativity_ketkRUSK — The nativity scene holds a special place in Christians’ hearts, especially during the Christmas season. “It symbolizes life, our second chance at life, because it’s the night that Christ was born,” said Nancy Rangel, a Christian in Cherokee County. But KETK reports that for Daniel Ross, it doesn’t represent his beliefs. He is a Humanist, and emailed Cherokee County about placing a secular display adjacent to the manger scene. “I’m not offended by the nativity scene, I’m more offended by not having the opportunity to be represented, not having my belief represented here,” said Ross. “I think we’ve got a really nice display it’s very tasteful. We’ve got four entrances to this courthouse, we’re not trying to force the religion on anyone,” said Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis. (more…)

Search Underway for Oil Field Theft Suspect

glezenHARRISON COUNTY — An active search for an alleged oil field thief is underway in Harrison County. KETK reports authorities are looking for the suspect on FM 968. FM 968 runs between Highway 80 and I-20, about two miles southwest of Marshall. Harrison County 911 operators received a call from an oil field worker shortly before 7:00 Wednesday morning regarding the caller being run into by another vehicle on an oil field site. The caller stated he believed he had just come upon an alleged theft in progress and the vehicle that was on the well site drove into his vehicle during its escape. (more…)

ETMC EMS to Drop Upshur County Service in March

ETMC EMS to Drop Upshur County Service in MarchTYLER — Beginning March 1, 2015, ETMC EMS will no longer offer ambulance service in Upshur County. The information comes in a brief news release from ETMC. “For many years, ETMC has been able to provide ambulance service in many communities for free or for a small fee. With the changes in reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, we can no longer afford to provide this service,” said Neal Franklin, general manager, ETMC EMS. ETMC EMS has enjoyed its years of service to the residents of Upshur County and will assist during the transition to a new EMS provider, according to the release. ETMC didn’t immediately say what the transition might entail.

Police: Man Jailed after Punching, Head Butting Security Officer

jameslovinggreggcoLONGVIEW — A Longview man is being held in the Gregg County Jail after police say he punched and head butted a security officer at the Lodge Sports Bar. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report James Dillon Loving, 21, remains jailed on $7,500 bond, charged with assault on a security officer, a felony. He was arrested just before midnight Saturday when Longview police responded to a fight in progress at the Lodge in the 500 block of North Spur 63. (more…)

Teen Arrested in Mail Carrier’s Shooting

Jaylon Carroll WorthamLUFKIN — A teen has been taken into custody for the weekend shooting of a Lufkin postal worker. On Tuesday Lufkin Police Department detectives, with cooperation from the United States Postal Inspection Service, obtained a warrant for the arrest of Jaylon Carroll Wortham, 17. According to KETK, Wortham is charged with assault causing bodily injury against a government contractor/employee. The LPD detectives sought the warrant following a combined LPD/USPIS investigation into a November 22 assault incident in which Wortham alegedly caused bodily injury to Lindsey Guthery, a mail carrier employed by the United Stated Postal Service. (more…)

City of Tyler Sex Offender Compliance Check

thumb_police-tyler-badgeTYLER — The Tyler Police Department reports a clean slate after conducting its annual city-wide sex offender compliance check November 20 with the assistance of officers from multiple law enforcement agencies. Officers were charged with checking on 147 registered sex offenders who are registered with the city of Tyler. Officers showed up unannounced at the offenders’ addresses to confirm their whereabouts and correct addresses. Upon completion of the check all 147 sex offenders were found to be in compliance with their registration requirements, according to a news release. (more…)

Tyler Man Named To Ag Commissioner-Elect’s Transition Team

Pierre De WetAUSTIN – A Smith County man is one of 11 persons being named to Agriculture Commissioner-elect Sid Miller’s transition team. One of the members of the team is Pierre De Wet of Tyler, agricultural entrepreneur and President & Founder of Kiepersol Enterprises. Miller said De Wet and other members of the team will be working with him to ensure the TDA is focused on the many critical issues facing Texas including our state’s long-term water needs, strengthening and promoting the state’s equine industry, and protecting consumer safety. (more…)

Williams Names Board of Managers for Revoked Charter

thumb_TEA-texas-education-logoAUSTIN – Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams Tuesday announced his appointments to a three-member board of managers in the case of a soon-to-close charter school that includes an East Texas campus. That’s according to a news release from the Texas Education Agency. According to the release, the situation involves the liquidation of assets and other specific issues related to the revocation and closure of Honors Academy and the seven campuses operating under the charter as public, accredited schools. The charter revocation – which became effective June 30, 2014 – affects the following Honors Academy campuses (in these communities): Branch Park Academy (Farmers Branch); Creekview Academy (Killeen); Landmark School (also known as Leadership Academy – Palestine); Legacy Park Preparatory (Kaufman); Pinnacle Academy of Fine Arts (Fort Worth); Quest Academy (Dallas); and Wilmer Academy (Wilmer). (more…)

Salvation Army Offers Thanksgiving Meal

thumb_salvationarmy-4TYLER — Tyler’s Salvation Army will be serving its annual Thanksgiving meal from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Thursday at the Center of Hope, 633 N. Broadway Ave. According to a news release, many volunteers were due to gather on Thanksgiving to begin preparation for the feast. Chores include carving turkeys, chopping vegetables, and getting everything ready for the over 1,000 guests expected. An abundance of volunteers will be on site Thanksgiving Day to help serve guests and spread the love of Christ as well as the joy of this holiday season, according to the release. The Salvation Army is offering thanks to those in the Tyler community who make it possible to serve a Thanksgiving meal to so many in the community.

Methvin Street Closure Shifts as Work Progresses

thumb_longview-cityofLONGVIEW — Methvin Street between Green Street and Fredonia Street in Longview will be reopened to traffic by the end of the day Wednesday, November 26, according to a city news release. This completes Phase 1 of the Methvin Street Improvement Project. However, on Friday, November 28, Methvin Street will close to traffic between High and Center. This will begin Phase 2 of the proposed Methvin Street Improvements. Construction should last approximately four months, according to officials. (more…)

State News

Man Dies in Balch Springs Police Custody

BALCH SPRINGS (AP) – A 30-year-old man arrested after he allegedly caused a disturbance at a Dallas-area apartment has died in police custody. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department will investigate Tuesday’s death of Eric Ricks. An autopsy has been ordered. Balch Spring police were summoned to an apartment by a woman who reported a man was causing a disturbance. Police say officers repeatedly asked Ricks to leave but he refused and became violent. Balch Springs police used a Taser to subdue Ricks and called for additional help from Dallas officers. Ricks was transported to jail but later appeared to slump over. He died at a hospital.

Texas Protests Against Missouri Grand Jury Decision

Dallas Police PatchDALLAS (AP) — Seven people have been arrested while blocking some downtown Dallas roads to protest a white police officer not charged in the fatal shooting of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri. Dallas police say nobody was hurt in the demonstrations that ended early Wednesday. A police statement says protests that began Tuesday night were mainly peaceful. Interstate 35 in downtown Dallas was briefly closed in both directions when some demonstrators walked on the highway. Police say seven people who refused to leave were charged with misdemeanor obstructing a highway or other passageway, I-35 East. A seventh person was charged with a sidewalk use violation, as a pedestrian in the roadway in another area. (more…)

Texas Death Row Inmate Reed Execution Delayed

BASTROP (AP) – A judge has declined to approve additional DNA testing of evidence in the case of Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed. Judge Doug Shaver on Tuesday delayed Reed’s scheduled execution from Jan. 14 to March 5. Officials await results from other DNA testing of evidence that was approved last summer. Reed was condemned for the 1996 slaying of a Bastrop County resident, Stacey Stites. Her body was found dumped along a road. Reed’s 1998 conviction hinged largely on the fact that his semen was found on the victim’s body. Attorneys for the Innocence Project have pushed for DNA testing of additional evidence. Prosecutors say requests for expanded testing could have been submitted sooner and maintain it’s just an attempt to delay Reed’s execution.

High Court to Review EPA Mercury Limits

Supreme Court BuildingWASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is stepping into a new case about Obama administration environmental rules, agreeing to review a ruling that upholds emission standards for mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The justices on Tuesday said they would hear arguments from industry groups and states that are challenging Environmental Protection Agency rules designed to clean up chromium, arsenic, acid gases, nickel, cadmium as well as mercury and other dangerous toxins. Texas is among those states mounting the legal challenge. The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., upheld the rules in April. One judge on the appeals court complained then that the EPA didn’t consider costs in deciding whether regulation of hazardous air pollutants from power plants is appropriate.

Fired South Texas Jailer Charged in Smuggling Case

KERRVILLE (AP) – A fired South Texas jailer has been accused of helping smuggle alcohol, tobacco, a cellphone and drugs to inmates. The Kerr County Sheriff’s Office says Carl Birdwell Jr. was dismissed last January amid the investigation that led to organized crime counts filed this month. The Kerrville Daily Times reports the 22-year-old Birdwell was arrested Sunday and freed on $25,000 bond. He’s among 11 suspects, including several former inmates, who were indicted following a drug-related investigation that started in 2013. Officials say irregularities were discovered with the jail’s commissary funds and inmate cellphone calls. A message left with the sheriff’s office wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.

Thousands in Texas to Get Free Thanksgiving Meals

Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving dinner2SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Thousands of people across Texas who could use a helping hand will get free Thanksgiving meals due to volunteers and donations. The 35th annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner will be held tomorrow in San Antonio. Organizers expect about 25,000 senior citizens and other needy individuals to enjoy turkey, stuffing, green beans, yams and pumpkin pie. The event is held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The S.M. Wright Foundation will host a Thanksgiving Day meal for South Dallas residents and homeless individuals. The event at People’s Baptist Church in Dallas is expected to draw about 3,000 diners. Volunteers will also offer groceries. Food banks and pantries across Texas are also welcoming donations to help provide holiday meals.