SMITH COUNTY One man has died and another man has been charged with his murder in Smith County. Killed was Timothy Matthew Martin, 24. Charged with his death was Alex Wesley Jones, 23, Tyler. Jones is charged with first-degree murder and is being held in the Smith County Jail on a $750,000 bond. The shooting occurred shortly after 10:00 Tuesday morning in the 100 block of Patton Lane.
WILLS POINT (AP) One driver has been killed and three students injured when a car drifted into oncoming traffic and struck a school bus in East Texas. Trooper Jean Dark says the Wills Point Independent School District bus came to rest atop a portion of a Toyota Camry following the collision about 7:30 Wednesday morning in Van Zandt County. She says the bus was traveling south when the northbound Camry crossed into its lane. Both drivers attempted to avoid the accident but ended up colliding in the northbound lane. A third vehicle also was involved in the wreck. Dark says a man driving the Camry died at the scene. The bus driver and three students on the bus were taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.
MARSHALL — A former Marshall pastor will be spending time in prison for online solicitation of a minor. A jury sentenced Raymond Earl Cooper to 10 years probation for the first count. The former pastor of First Church of Nazarene in Marshall was sentenced to two years prison time for the second count. The sentences will run concurrently. Cooper was also fined $10,000.
Cooper was arrested in May of last year for allegedly soliciting a person online that he believed to be 14 years old. A warrant was issued for his arrest after the Louisiana State Police Internet Crimes against Children Task Force out of Lafayette, Louisiana alerted the Marshall Police Department and the Texas Rangers of the activity. According to the complaint filed by Texas Ranger Jason Dudley, Hall Hutchison, a trooper with the Louisiana task force, contacted Texas authorities on April 23, saying that Cooper had exposed himself on a webcam to someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.
TYLER A 55-year-old Longview lawyer has been sentenced to federal prison for mail fraud. Steven Rushing pleaded guilty February 15 He as sentenced in Tyler to 41 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Rushing was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $929,076.29. (more…)
TYLER — A 26-year-old Longview, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations. Jason Ray Ragan pleaded guilty on February 6 to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He was sentenced in Tyler yesterday to 50 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis. According to information presented in court, on August 2, 2012, Ragan was found in possession of approximately 8 grams of methamphetamine. A federal indictment was returned on September 12, 2012 charging Ragan and a co-defendant with federal drug crimes. Co-defendant, Jason Clinton Squires, pleaded guilty on April 16, 2013 to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Squires is awaiting sentencing.
TYLER — Two Smith County residents have been sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations. Clinton Daniel McCaa, 32, of Whitehouse, pleaded guilty on January 9 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He was sentenced yesterday to 80 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis. Tara McDonald, 40, of Tyler, pleaded guilty on January 9, 2013, to maintaining a place for the distribution and use of methamphetamine and was sentenced yesterday to 38 months in federal prison by Judge Davis. (more…)
TYLER — A federal grand jury has returned multiple indictments charging individuals with separate federal crimes in the Eastern District of Texas. (more…)
TYLER The Smith County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the publics assistance in locating Angel Fuentes Salgado, 24. On March 19, Salgado was terminated as an employee from Servpro, located on Farm Road 2493. On March 30, Salgado was captured on surveillance video at that location while breaking into a vehicle and stealing a gas card, according to authorities. Salgado then allegedly tried to use the gas card, which had been deactivated, at a gas station in Bullard. According to officials, he then returned to Servpro and unsuccessfully attempted to break into another company vehicle. The attempt damaged the vehicle. (more…)
ATHENS A Henderson County Jury has handed down four life sentences and one 20-year sentence to Danny Ray Lusk, 37, of Kemp. Jurors earlier convicted Lusk of four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of indecency with a child by contact before sentencing Lusk to the maximum time available on each count. KETK reports Lusk was arrested in April of 2011 for the aggravated sexual assaults of two family members under the age of 14. Evidence revealed that Lusk began assaulting the two victims when they were three and four years old. Both victims testified that Lusk assaulted them for years before they finally came forward to other family members.
TYLER A lightning strike is to blame for a house fire in Tyler. According to KETK, the lightning struck a home in the 500 block of Patton Lane just before 8:00 Tuesday night. Firemen were able to catch the blaze quickly and it was extinguished in about 15 minutes. Officials said a closet and air conditioner were damaged. No injuries were reported.
TYLER The Italian company Tazza Pronto is on its way to Tyler. Mayor Barbara Bass made the announcement Wednesday during her final State of the City Address to Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce members. Tyler Economic Development Council chief Tom Mullins said earlier the company had been looking in Seattle, Kentucky, and Tyler. It will now partner with Distant Lands Coffee on a popular single-serve product, operating in the old Carrier plant. According to Bass, the partnership will bring in some 125 jobs by 2015. (more…)
TYLER — The Tyler City Council has welcomed two new councilmen: Ed Moore who represents District 3 and John Nix representing District 6. Both took their oath of office yesterday. Both men ran unopposed for the positions. Moore is replacing Ralph Caraway who served six years on the Tyler Council and could not run again due to term limits. Nix is replacing Jason Wright’s vacated seat. (more…)
TYLER The East Texas Food Bank is saddened by the tragedy that has struck Oklahoma and is responding, according to a food bank news release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and those who lost their home in this disaster,” according to food bank officials. The news release continues, “The East Texas Food Bank is working within a coordinated effort of emergency response organizations and the Feeding America network of food banks, including the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, to help meet the needs of those impacted by the tornado.” (more…)
TYLER — The 17th season of The University of Texas at Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center will feature world-renowned performances and speakers, Susan Thomae-Morphew, Cowan Center executive director, announced. Top draws include the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Cirque Dreams Rocks, and distinguished lecturer Charles Krauthammer. (more…)
AUSTIN (AP) A spending bill crucial to a complex Texas budget deal contains an extra $200 million to public schools as pledged by Senate negotiators. The bill unveiled late Wednesday has created a standoff between the House and Senate during what has been a tense final week of the 140-day legislative session. House Democrats were wary of the Senate keeping classroom spending in the bill. The House was reluctant to take action on a separate, but equally crucial, component of a multilayered budget compromise until seeing the Senate measure. Both chambers were expected to take up the key bills late Wednesday night. The Legislature must come to an agreement on a new state budget before adjourning Monday. If not, Governor Rick Perry will haul lawmakers back for a special session.
AUSTIN (AP) Members of the Texas Houses temporarily expanded their retaliation against the Senate for failing to move their bills. A Republican lawmaker joined the fray Wednesday by targeting minor bills by Granbury Republican Senator Brian Birdwell. Representative Debbie Riddle (pictured) announced she would filibuster each of his proposed laws because of an amendment she wanted. Houston Democratic Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Sylvester Turner joined Riddle in threatening other Senate bills with filibusters. The senior lawmakers said senators were not showing proper respect for the work done by the House of Representatives. Democratic Representative Ruth McClendon began filibustering bills by Houston Senator Joan Huffman on Friday, because she is blocking a House bill to set up a commission to investigate false convictions. All lifted their filibusters after receiving reassurances from the Senate.
AUSTIN (AP) Schools could train teachers to exchange fire with potential attackers under a plan advancing in the Texas Capitol. In a 28-3 vote on Wednesday, the Senate approved a bill that would authorize one armed marshal for every 400 students. It has already passed the House over the objection of the state teachers association. The measure would require school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to reimburse their marshals for gun training. Teachers who serve as marshals would have to keep their guns locked within “immediate reach.” Advocates have described the proposal as a solution for smaller districts that cannot afford a campus police force. It was written by Republican Representative Jason Villalba of Dallas. Republicans promised not to use the bill as a legislative vehicle to allow guns on college campuses.
AUSTIN (AP) The Texas Legislature has approved a bill allowing publishers to mitigate libel lawsuits if the party affected by a mistake doesn’t request a correction or retraction. The House on Wednesday voted 148-0 to approve the measure as previously amended by the Senate, sending it to Governor Rick Perry. It says corrections must be published in a timely manner, and one similarly prominent to how the original information was presented. But it limits damages that can be collected from a publisher that makes non-malicious errors. It also limits a person or business from collecting punitive damages if they don’t seek a retraction within 90 days.
AUSTIN (AP) Hecklers have repeatedly interrupted a speech by Governor Rick Perry by demanding that Texas expand its Medicaid program under the terms laid out by the federal health care overhaul. After being interrupted several times during his speech at an Austin business forum yesterday, the governor clapped his hands in exasperation and said: “Please, please, please, please!” He invited the protesters to debate the issue later.
AUSTIN (AP) Veteran Democratic Representative Craig Eiland of Galveston says he won’t seek re-election. His voice cracking, Eiland addressed the House late Wednesday and said he wants to spend more time with his wife and children, and be a better lawyer. He said working with so many first-term and second-term representatives has him convinced “we’re in good shape for the future,” but added of the younger legislators: “Some of them are crazy.” Eiland also noted that bipartisanship and multiculturalism will drive Texas’ future. His announcement drew a standing ovation and hugs from his colleagues.
AUSTIN (AP) The State Fire Marshal’s Office says a federal safety panel’s investigators had access to the site of a Texas fertilizer plant blast that killed 15 people and injured about 200 others. The chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board had asked for congressional help in obtaining evidence under the control of the state agency and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. However, in a statement issued Wednesday, the state agency said the CSB was given access to the scene, worked with other agencies during excavations and neighborhood surveys, and collected its own chemical samples with ATF assistance. The statement says no evidence was destroyed or compromised. In a statement Wednesday, CSB spokeswoman Hillary Cohen said the board has been denied access to the site since May 13.
FORT HOOD (AP) The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage says he wants to represent himself at his upcoming trial. Fort Hood officials said today that Major Nidal Hasan is seeking to sever ties with his three Army attorneys. The military judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, is to consider his request at a hearing next week.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A Houston man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for his role in a smuggling ring that brought hundreds of people into the U.S. Sanderlei Alves DaCruz was sentenced yesterday in a New Jersey federal courtroom. Prosecutors say many of those who were smuggled were young women from Brazil who had agreed to work as strippers to help pay off their smuggling debt. Some of the strip clubs were in northern New Jersey.
DALLAS (AP) A grand jury has indicted a North Texas man who authorities say threatened his fiancee with a handgun and then set her home on fire during a police standoff. The Dallas Morning News reports that William Coleman, 38, was indicted Tuesday in Collin County and remains in jail on a variety of charges that include arson and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
DALLAS (AP) Police say that a Dallas elementary school teacher whose year-old daughter died after being left for hours in her car told officers she thought she had dropped her daughter off at day care that morning. Police revealed the information in the arrest warrant for Vibha Marks, 42, who is charged with child abandonment.
DALLAS (AP) A North Texas woman has been charged with scamming six schools by getting thousands of dollars in financial aid and not completing any online courses. Prosecutors in Dallas on Wednesday announced Sussette Timmons, 30, has been indicted on six counts of financial institution fraud. Timmons received financial aid from New Mexico State University, Western New Mexico University, Ashford University, Northern New Mexico College, Coconino Community College and Pima Community College.
GRAPEVINE (AP) The Boy Scouts of America has started its meeting in which members of its national council are to decide whether to change the group’s long-standing ban on openly gay boys. BSA is holding its annual meeting in Grapevine, near its suburban Dallas headquarters. About 1,400 voting members on the council are expected to vote today on a proposed resolution that would allow gay Scouts, while leaving in place a ban on gay leaders.
AUSTIN (AP) Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says his office has settled a lawsuit the state had filed against Penguin Group Incorporated accusing America’s largest book publishers of colluding with Apple to raise ebook prices on customers. Abbott said Wednesday an agreement was reached on behalf of Texas and 32 other states and territories that alleged Penguin had colluded with other major publishers and Apple Incorporated to manipulate prices in the ebook market. The agreement, if approved by a federal judge in New York, will provide $75 million in compensation to customers in the states and territories that sued, as well as individuals who had filed a related class action lawsuit. Texas previously had settled with four other publishers. The claims against Apple are scheduled for trial in June.
HOUSTON (AP) Retail gasoline prices across Texas have risen 2 cents as travelers prepare for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. Triple A Texas on Wednesday reported the average price at the pump reached $3.43 per gallon. Nationwide retail gasoline prices jumped 6 cents this week to hit $3.66 per gallon. Amarillo has the most expensive gasoline in Texas at $3.74 per gallon. The association survey found Corpus Christi with the cheapest gasoline at $3.33 per gallon.
NEW YORK (AP) J.C. Penney says it has secured a $2.25 billion loan, $500 million more than it had expected. The North Texas-based retailer has been burning through cash and struggling to win back customers. Proceeds from loan will be used to fund the company’s operations.
DALLAS (AP) A chandelier by glass artist Dale Chihuly that once belonged to former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford has sold at auction for $158,500 as part of an effort to compensate victims of his Ponzi scheme. The 7-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide chandelier of cascading blue glass was sold yesterday by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.
DALLAS (AP) Artist Jack Zajac says it felt “reverential” to learn earlier this year that a small bronze sculpture of a goat that he made was one of the last works of art that President John F. Kennedy saw. Zajac’s sculpture and other works that were on display in Kennedy’s Fort Worth hotel suite before his assassination have been reunited for an exhibition that opens Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art.