Local News

Worker Falls, Dies in Tyler Construction Mishap

mariottaxTYLER A construction accident has claimed the life of a worker in south Tyler. On Thursday at 12:22 p.m., Tyler police responded to 350 W. Heritage, the Marriott Residence Inn, which is currently under construction. Investigators determined that a construction worker identified as Mark Castillo, 35, of Tyler was exiting out a third floor window into a large wood box container sitting on top of a fork lift. The box became unstable and fell off the fork lift, falling to the ground with Castillo inside. Investigators have notified OSHA of the incident.

One Arrested, One Sought in Home Burglary

sheriffsearchketkTYLER One person has been arrested and one is still sought after a home burglary Thursday in Tyler. According to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, at approximately 12:20 p.m., sheriff’s detectives requested assistance from Tyler Police Department on initiating a traffic stop after seeing a vehicle suspected of involvement in a residential burglary case. The two men driving a gold Chrysler 300 led officers and detectives on a brief pursuit ending when the vehicle wrecked into a curb at the 2800 block of Pine Burr Road near downtown Tyler. (more…)

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Staples to Resign

thumb_toddstaplesAUSTIN (AP/Staff) – State Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says he’s leaving office to become president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association. Staples said in a statement released Thursday that he’ll step down sometime within the next two months. His departure was expected, following a failed bid for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. His political career began as a city councilor in his hometown of Palestine. He went on to serve in the state House and then the Senate before becoming agriculture commissioner He received attention earlier this month when he raised objections to a school district pilot program that encourages kids to eat meatless lunches once a week. Staples said the effort by Dripping Springs was part of an “activist movement” advocating a vegetarian diet for Americans. (more…)

Man Indicted for East Texas Murder Released on Bond

jasonwaltersmugQUITMAN A man accused of murdering a Mineola teenager has been released on bond. Jason Russell Walters, 41, also of Mineola, turned himself in after being indicted by a Wood County grand jury. According to KETK, District Attorney Jim Wheeler says Walters was indicted on Friday. He was booked into the Wood County Jail Wednesday. Walters allegedly killed Christopher James Griffin, 19, with a gunshot wound to his neck. A judge upped his bond amount to $250,000 following the jury’s decision. The shooting occurred at 11:30 p.m. June 15 at the E-Z Mart in the 100 block of North Pacific Street in Mineola. The suspect was initially released following his arrest on June 16 after posting $100,000 bond.

Captured Fugitive Guilty of Health Care Fraud Violations

Vivian YusufTYLER A 44-year-old captured fugitive has pleaded guilty in connection with a federal health care fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. Vivian Yusuf, formerly of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Sep. 17 in Tyler before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love. Yusuf, a fugitive, wanted since March 2011, was arrested on June 3, 2014, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Yusuf had been indicted for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft on Jan. 12, 2012. (more…)

Cruelty Charge Dropped against Ex-Deputy

dooleymiddletonfamilyvidEMORY (AP/Staff) – An animal cruelty charge has been dropped against a former Rains County sheriff’s deputy who was fired after shooting a farm dog that was later euthanized. Jerrod Dooley appeared in court Thursday in Emory and said he’s permanently surrendered his law enforcement license. Dooley also apologized for shooting the blue heeler named Candy. Dooley said he was bitten before by another dog and that left him fearful of an attack. Dooley in April answered a burglary call near Point. Dooley has said the dog charged at him before he fired. The distraught owner then euthanized the wounded animal. Dooley was fired after he and the sheriff’s office received threats following the incident, part of which was recorded by patrol car video.

Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck by Truck

LONGVIEW — One man has died following an accident involving a truck and a pedestrian. According to Longview Police, it happened Wednesday night around 9:40 in the 2100 block of East Marshall Avenue. Authorities said Herman Procell, 73, Longview, reportedly stepped out into the roadway in front of a truck driven by a 26-year-old man. Procell was transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. No charges are expected to be filed.

Mother: Peterson “Trying Hard to be a Good Parent”

thumb_adrian_petersonHOUSTON (AP/Staff) Adrian Peterson’s mother is defending the Minnesota Vikings running back in the wake of child abuse allegations against him, saying that he is “trying hard to be a good parent.” In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Bonita Jackson of Spring, Texas, said she and Peterson’s father, Nelson Peterson, were “big disciplinarians” who used hands, switches, and belts to occasionally spank all six of her children. Jackson, who is 50, said most parents discipline their children a little excessively sometimes, but they are trying to prepare their children “for the real world.” In her words, “When you whip those you love, it’s not about abuse, but love.”

Couple’s Appeal Denied in Child Injury Case

thumb_Lady-JusticeTYLER A Tyler husband and wife have been denied an appeal after the two were both sentenced to 25 years in prison for injury to a child. KETK reports the Twelfth Court of Appeals denied an appeal for Kenneth and Shelley Walker, who were sentenced October 3, 2012. They’d been found guilty of placing their two-year-old granddaughter, Bridget Walker, into a bathtub filled with scalding water. The toddler was severely burned on her feet and ankles and was flown to a Dallas hospital for treatment. (more…)

Accused Bank Robber Pleads Not Guilty

lone ranger banditWACO A man accused of numerous bank robberies, including two in Tyler, has pleaded no guilty. The infamous “Loan Ranger” entered the plea in federal court in Waco yesterday. Richard Swicegood, 37, of Waxahachie, is charged with 11 counts of aggravated robbery, three counts of property to facilitate a crime, and one count of unauthorized use of another person’s property. He was arrested on July 1, during a traffic stop following the alleged robbery of two Benton, Arkansas, banks. KETK reports Swicegood will be re-arraigned on November 6 and jury selection will begin on November 17. Among the financial institutions he is accused of robbing are Altra Federal Credit Union, 5523 Troup Highway, on August 31, 2011; and BBVA Compass 6910 South Broadway Ave., on May 17, 2012.

Elderly East Texas Man Charged with Sexual Assault

MOUNT PLEASANT (AP) – An elderly East Texas man has been charged with sexually assaulting a disabled person at an assisted living facility. Mount Pleasant Police Chief Wayne Isbell says 84-year-old L.C. Terry was arrested Wednesday and charged with four counts of first-degree aggravated assault of a disabled individual. He says the assaults occurred over several months at the Mount Pleasant facility and were reported on Saturday. Isbell has not released other information about the alleged assaults. Terry is being held at the Titus County Jail. Bond has not been set. The Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune reports Terry is the pastor of the Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

East Texas State Fair Begins Friday

East Texas Fair LogoTYLER — The East Texas State Fair opens Friday, and the day is designated as Senior Citizen Day. That’s just one of numerous attractions as the fair kicks off a ten-day run, wrapping up Sunday, Sept. 28. Free nightly concerts are featured, with nationally-known and local entertainment. There’ll also be carnival rides, food, shopping, livestock shows, and more. You can go to http://www.etstatefair.com for a complete rundown. (more…)

State News

Washington Says He Left Rangers over Marital Infidelity

200px-Ron_Washington_in_April_2011DALLAS (ESPN/Staff) — Former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said Thursday that he resigned earlier this month because he was “not true to my wife.” According to ESPN Dallas, Washington said it was a difficult day for him and his wife, Gerry, who watched the nearly five-minute statement as she sat nearby. “I was not true to my wife after 42 years,” Washington said. “I broke her trust. I’m here today to own that mistake and apologize to her…I’m at a very low time in my life. I’m sorry for breaking my trust in my wife and for disappointing my players and coaches.” Washington asked for “forgiveness and understanding.” Washington also thanked the Rangers fans and said he will miss the Metroplex. But he added that he eventually hopes to return to baseball.

Contempt Case Reopened against Perry Prosecutor

AUSTIN (AP) – The special prosecutor handling the felony indictment against Gov. Rick Perry is himself facing legal trouble after a court ruling cleared the way for a criminal case to be filed against him. In January, prosecutors in Bexar County filed a contempt-of-court motion against Michael McCrum, but the case was halted because it was filed after deadline. An opinion this week by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals renewed the case. McCrum is accused of telling a witness in a manslaughter trial to “get lost for a while” to hinder her being called to testify. If convicted, McCrum faces a maximum six months in jail. The special prosecutor is leading the case that saw an Austin grand jury last month indict Perry on two counts related to abuse of official power.

Sheriff’s Deputy Missing during Flooding

AUSTIN (AP) – Searchers are trying to find a Central Texas sheriff’s deputy who has been missing since she reported her patrol vehicle was swamped during storm-related flooding. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office says the deputy was patrolling low water crossings in the Austin area before dawn Thursday. Spokesman Roger Wade says the deputy radioed to say she was being swept away in the water. Wade says searchers minutes later found her submerged patrol car. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch through Thursday night for the Austin area amid street flooding. In far West Texas, forecasters issued a flash flood watch through Thursday night for the El Paso area, where two people were rescued from a swamped vehicle. Officials say a third person who swam to safety suffered minor injuries.

Stabbing Injures Student, School Evacuated

BASTROP (AP) – Authorities say a student has been hospitalized after being stabbed during a fight at his high school that prompted officials to evacuate the building. Police Cpl. Vicky Steffanic says the fight broke out between two 15-year-old boys Thursday morning in a bathroom at Bastrop High School, with one stabbing the other. The school, about 25 miles southeast of Austin, was then placed on lockdown. Steffanic says the victim was hospitalized but his injuries aren’t considered life-threatening. The other teen was apprehended off campus. He’s charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. School district spokesman Donald Williams released a statement saying students were taken to a nearby performing arts center after the stabbing. They were later allowed to return, and classes resumed. Steffanic says it’s unclear what prompted the fight.

Texas, U.S. Retail Gasoline Prices Down 6 Cents

thumb_gasnozzleIRVING (AP) – Retail gasoline prices in Texas fell 6 cents this week in a decline that matched the nationwide drop in prices at the pump. AAA Texas on Thursday reported gasoline prices statewide were $3.17 per gallon. The national average was $3.36 per gallon. El Paso has the most expensive gasoline in Texas at $3.23 per gallon. The association survey found Amarillo with the cheapest gasoline statewide at $3.08 per gallon. AAA officials say the average retail price for gasoline typically falls this time of year amid decreased demand and the transition to winter-blend gasoline, which is cheaper to produce.

Austin-Bound Plane Evacuated in California

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Passengers on a JetBlue flight headed to Austin had to use emergency slides after the plane returned to the airport in Long Beach, California, Thursday. The FAA says the crew of Flight 1416 reported a problem with one of the two engines on the Airbus A320. No one was hurt in the evacuation.