Local News

Guilty Plea in “Kari’s Law” Trial

54f3f8a579371.imageMARSHALL — A guilty plea has been entered in the so-called “Kari’s law” trial. KETK reports Brad Allen Dunn pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in the death of Kari Rene Dunn. The defendant was arrested in December 2013 for stabbing his wife to death in a hotel room while their nine-year-old daughter tried to call police. The call wouldn’t go through because the little girl didn’t know she had to dial 9 for an outside line before calling 911. The case has prompted efforts to eliminate the need to dial 9 in such situations, and those efforts have become known as “Kari’s law.” The trial moved into the sentencing phase after the guilty plea was entered.

Flint Man Sentenced in Drug Conspiracy

isaacsmithmugTYLER — U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced Tuesday that a Flint man has been sentenced to federal prison for his involvement in a drug conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas. Isaac Dion Smith, also known as Ike, 34, was sentenced to 144 months in prison Tyesday in Tyler by United States District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Smith had entered a guilty plea on October 14, 2014, on charges he conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. According to information presented in court, Smith, along with his co-defendants, distributed drugs including methamphetamine and heroin in the north Tyler area. Firearms were also bartered and sold by the group. The group was supplied by sources primarily in the Dallas area. (more…)

Longview Man Sentenced in Cocaine/Marijuana Conspiracy

antoniogonzalesmugTYLER – – A Longview man has been sentenced to federal prison for his involvement in a drug conspiracy. Antonio Cortez Gonzales, 35, was sentenced to 136 months in federal prison Tuesday in Tyler by United States District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Gonzales had entered a guilty plea on October 2, 2014 on charges he conspired with others to distribute cocaine and marijuana. According to federal authorities, Gonzales, along with his co-defendants, distributed drugs including cocaine and marijuana in the Longview area. Drugs were shipped from an individual in Houston to Gonzales’s residence, where he then distributed the drugs to other people. Gonzales was indicted on August 28, 2013. As part of his sentence, Gonzales was also ordered to forfeit a money judgment in the amount of $336,000, a residence in Longview, a vehicle, three firearms, and ammunition.

Photographer Sentenced for Sexual Exploitation of Children

todd_flemingTYLER – A McKinney, Texas photographer has been sentenced to federal prison for sexual exploitation of children. Todd Fleming, 54, pleaded guilty on October 2, 2014, to sexual exploitation of children and was sentenced yesterday to 240 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Fleming will be required to register as a sex offender and serve a life term of supervised release upon his release from federal prison. (more…)

Pre-Trial Proceedings in Tiede Case Moved to March 31

bernie_tiede_news_journalCARTHAGE — Pre-trial proceedings scheduled for Tuesday in the Bernie Tiede case have been pushed back to March 31. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report both sides agreed to delay a hearing until that date. Tiede’s life sentence was thrown out because of a mental condition that officials say was overlooked. The case, which inspired the movie “Bernie,” involved the 1997 murder of 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent in Carthage.

Police: Former DA Had Cocaine, Revolver in Car when Arrested

greggcountydaLONGVIEW — A former Gregg County District Attorney allegedly had cocaine, a revolver, alcohol, and cash in his car when he was arrested in February. KETK reports that the information is contained in documents obtained Monday by the Longview News-Journal. Longview police say they found Robert “Rob” Riter Foster, 69, after his vehicle became stuck in the median in the 3000 block of North Eastman Road. Police say Foster had a “full glass of an unknown liquid” which smelled of alcohol and a plastic bag with a rolled-up bill and a white, powdery substance inside. A field test determined the substance was cocaine, according to officials. Foster’s phone and wallet were also reportedly covered in the powder. Police reported also finding two open alcohol containers and a loaded .38-caliber revolver in the vehicle.

East Texas Homeowner Shoots at Alleged Robbers

SheriffatEventCHEROKEE COUNTY — Cherokee County officials are investigating a reported home invasion. It happened around 3:25 Monday morning in the 6000 Block of FM 1247, just outside of Wells. According to KETK, a call to emergency services stated someone tried to break into the residence and the homeowner had fired shots at them. The homeowner reportedly chased the suspects through the pasture behind the home. The homeowner returned some time later. He had apparently been knocked unconscious for a short period of time by one of the criminals. It is believed the homeowner shot and wounded at least one of the two suspects. (more…)

Tyler ISD BOND 2013 Construction Update

thumb_TISD_Logo_NewTYLER – As spring nears, significant completion phases also near for Tyler ISD BOND 2013 construction projects. Projects include the new Career and Technology Center (CTC), two new middle school campuses at the existing Moore MST Magnet School and Boulter Middle School locations, the new Three Lakes Middle School and renovations and additions to Dixie and Rice elementary schools. All projects are on schedule to be completed before the 2015-2016 school year, according to a TISD news release. (more…)

ETMC Now Offers Express Care for Non-Emergency Needs

thumb_ETMC-hospital-sign-2TYLER — ETMC First Physicians is now operating an express clinic offering walk-in urgent care at ETMC South Broadway, according to a news release. “Express clinic care means no appointments and no waiting behind patients with life-threatening emergencies,” said Dr. Steven Cooley, ETMC First Physician. “You can get fast service for minor injuries and illnesses such as broken bones, lacerations, urinary tract infections, rashes, fevers, coughs, colds, headache, sore throat, earache or flu-like symptoms.” (more…)

State News

Report: Texas Remains Among 10 Worst States to be a Kid

Texas flag2AUSTIN (AP) — A report says high poverty and uninsured rates make Texas one of the 10 worst states in America to be a child. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count assessment released Wednesday ranked Texas 43rd. That’s little-changed from recent years, despite a booming economy and a ballooning, richly diverse population. Texas children are now 49 percent Hispanic, and a third of all its youngsters have at least one parent born outside the U.S. Statewide child poverty rates fell to 25% in 2013, the most recent available year. That’s 1.3 percentage points better than 2011. Texas remains second nationally for the highest rate of uninsured youngsters, with 13% in 2013. Meanwhile, a third of babies are born to women who receive late or no prenatal care.

States Ask Judge Not to Lift Stay in Immigration Lawsuit

Andrew Hanen-federal judgeHOUSTON (AP) — A coalition of states suing to stop President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration is asking a federal judge not to lift a temporary hold on the directives. The 26-state coalition, led by Texas, said in court documents filed Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, that “there is no emergency need to institute” Obama’s immigration action. Hanen issued a preliminary injunction on Feb. 16 that halted Obama’s action, which could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally. The states sought the injunction, arguing that Obama’s executive action was unconstitutional. The U.S. government has asked Hanen to lift his injunction while it appeals to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Texas Businesses Unite Against ‘Discriminatory’ Legislation

Mark McKinnonAUSTIN (AP) — Texas business leaders are uniting to combat legislation they see as discriminatory in a multimillion-dollar campaign chaired by former George W. Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon. (pictured) The organization, Texas Wins, is being announced Wednesday. It will fight legislation that includes two proposed constitutional amendments the group says would allow Texans to claim that their religion allows them to ignore laws. Texas Wins members include Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Theaters. He says he has “little tolerance for discrimination” in his businesses, and he asserts most Fortune 500 companies do as well. The proposed amendments by Republican Sens. Donna Campbell and Rep. Jason Villalba aim to protect Texans from the government burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. Critics say they’re a misuse of religion.

Conservatives Back Teacher Evaluations, School Grading Plans

thumb_school-teacher-parentsAUSTIN (AP) — Top conservatives clamoring for “school choice” voucher plans in the Texas Legislature are offering other priorities that are less hot-button but still may spark bitter floor fights. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor presented a package of bills Tuesday. They include a plan to issue A-F grades for individual public schools, plus expanded online learning. Some proposals link teacher evaluations to pay raises and allow parents to petition to close failing public schools after just two years, instead of the current five. Other Republicans and even teachers groups have cheered some of those ideas. But others, especially teacher evaluations and issuing schools ‘Fs’ should prove contentious. Patrick says highly anticipated school vouchers and pre-kindergarten plans would be unveiled soon, and remain top priorities.

Dallas School Safely Evacuated over Carbon Monoxide Levels

Lakewood Elementary-DallasDALLAS (AP) — A dead owl is being blamed for a buildup of high levels of carbon monoxide at a Dallas elementary school that prompted its evacuation. Dallas school district spokesman Andre Riley said the carcass was found in the ventilation system at Lakewood Elementary School. Riley said the air in the school returned to safe levels after the owl was removed, but new readings will be taken Wednesday morning just to be sure conditions are safe. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans says a leak Tuesday morning was traced to a furnace in the school basement of Lakewood Elementary School. Lakewood Elementary School, according to its website, has more than 850 students.

Father, Daughter Found Shot to Death at Vacant Houston Home

Crime SceneHOUSTON (AP) Houston police say a father and his teenage daughter have been found shot to death at a vacant townhome a day after relatives reported them missing. Police say the bodies were located Tuesday morning in the complex where other family members live. Police say a relative who was looking for the pair came upon the bodies. Investigators say the case may involve a murder-suicide. A gun was recovered at the scene in a neighborhood in northern Houston. Officials are seeking a motive for the shootings.

San Antonio Man Gets Life Term for Death of Baby Daughter

Dominique ReedSAN ANTONIO (AP) A San Antonio man who told police he punched his 2-month-old daughter because she would not stop crying must serve life in prison for her 2010 death. Dominique Reed was sentenced in San Antonio. The 25-year-old father in November pleaded no contest to murder. Prosecutors charged Reed with capital murder in the fatal beating of his daughter, Zaniyah, as he watched her. An autopsy indicated the girl had more than a dozen rib fractures. She died on the way to a hospital after Reed returned the unresponsive baby to her mother. Reed pleaded no contest to the lesser charge as his trial was to begin. He’ll be eligible for parole in 30 years. A capital murder conviction carries a penalty of execution or life in prison without parole.

Deputy Constable Charged with Online Solicitation

Steve CanavaWACO (AP) A Central Texas law enforcement officer has been charged with online solicitation after allegedly trying to meet a girl for sex. McLennan County authorities say Deputy Constable Steve Canava, 51, remained on unpaid administrative leave. Authorities say Canava was arrested Friday after driving to a Waco parking lot, allegedly to meet a person he thought was a 17-year-old girl. The former Waco police officer was released on $25,000 bond. An affidavit says Canava tried to solicit a minor to have sex with him, allegedly offering her $100. An investigator identified Canava using law enforcement databases. Further details on the investigation and the alleged victim weren’t immediately released. Canava declined comment.

San Antonio Fire Crew Unaware Fire Was at High-Rise

Wedgwood Senior Living apartmentsCASTLE HILLS (AP/Staff) – An analysis by the San Antonio Fire Department says the arrival of specialized resources to a five-fatality fire at senior living apartments was delayed because responders were unaware it was a high-rise. The San Antonio Express-News reports that the department praised Castle Hills for requesting help from other agencies last December 28, but says Castle Hills did not relay information about the building being an 11-story structure. The San Antonio Fire Department has “pre-plans” for buildings like high-rises that include blueprints and where the water sources are, but because the fire occurred in Castle Hills, the department did not have a pre-plan for the Wedgewood. The analysis does not indicate if Castle Hills has a pre-plan for the Wedgewood that was not shared with other agencies, or if they do not have one at all.

Burning Cross Left outside Central Texas Church

Smoking for Jesus MinistryBURNET (AP) Investigators are trying to determine who left a burning cross outside a Central Texas church. KXAN-TV reported Tuesday that the incident involves Smoking for Jesus Ministry in Burnet. That’s about 45 miles northwest of Austin. The Burnet County Sheriff’s Office says the charred wooden cross was found Sunday night propped up against the church’s sign. Investigators have asked for the public’s help in locating any suspects. The church, on its website, says “On Fire For The Lord” and that the ministry in December marked its 18th anniversary. Messages left with the sheriff’s department and the church weren’t immediately returned Tuesday.