Man Reaches Plea Deal in Tyler Motel Murder
TYLER An East Texas man reached a plea deal with the Smith County District Attorney’s Office Friday morning in connection with a 2013 murder. KETK reports Lawrence Murphy Jr. was accused in the killing of Wesley Scott Lester at the American Inn Motel in Tyler in June of last year. Instead of capital murder, Murphy was charged with murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Murphy was believed to have fled to the Dallas area after he was sought by police for the June 15 murder. He turned himself in to Tyler Police investigators nine days after the killing.
Bond Lowered for Man Whose Toddler Died in Hot Truck
TYLER A Flint-area man accused of manslaughter after his child died in a hot truck has been granted a lower bond. KETK reports that via request of Russell Lindstrom’s attorney, State District Judge Kerry Russell of Tyler lowered Lindstrom’s bond from $200,000 to $125,000 at a hearing Friday morning. A 911 call was received in June about two unresponsive youngsters inside a hot pickup with the windows rolled up in the 18000 block of County Road 1100 near Flint. Bella Lindstrom, 4, was taken to a hospital where she died. Her three year old sister Zoey was hospitalized and released the next day. Lindstrom, 33, was arrested last month at a mobile home park in the 17000 block of Highway 155 South. He has also been charged with injury to a child.
Former Local Teen Victim in Double-Homicide
EAST TEXAS — A former East Texas teen has been killed Tuesday in a double homicide and the son of a Hill Country constable is charged with capital murder. Garrett Ballard, 21, Burnet, was reportedly high on LSD when he used a rifle he took from his father’s patrol unit. Ballard told authorities Tuesday he and the victims, Elijah Benson, 17, formerly of Whitehouse, and Travis Fox, 26, bought the hallucinogenic drug to celebrate a birthday at his home. He said when Benson and Fox began acting strangely due to the drug effects, he shot them with his dad’s weapon. Benson lived in Whitehouse before moving to Burnet. He was a student at Burnet High School. The Texas Rangers are leading the investigation into the incident.
DPS Reminds Drivers to Watch for School-Bound Children
TYLER — As the academic year begins, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding all drivers to watch out for children walking to and from school or waiting for school buses. Drivers must also follow all traffic laws related to school buses and school zones. One of the most dangerous times of a student’s trip on a school bus is when they are entering or exiting the bus. Drivers are urged to slow down and pay attention in school zones since children may step into a roadway without checking for oncoming traffic. Read more …
ETMC Gilmer to Phase Out Inpatient Care
GILMER Beginning January 1, 2015, ETMC Gilmer will no longer provide inpatient care, according to East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System officials. ETMC Gilmer will continue to operate as a 24-hour emergency center providing full-service emergency care and trauma stabilization, as well as laboratory and radiology services. KETK reports the ETMC First Physicians clinic, located at the hospital, will continue to operate as usual. “Making this decision was difficult,” said Perry Henderson, senior vice president, affiliate operations. “When ETMC came to Gilmer in 1997, the hospital had been closed and boarded up for two years. We take great pride in knowing that we reopened this facility and made healthcare more accessible to the people of Upshur County. Unfortunately, poor utilization and declining reimbursements across the board make providing inpatient care unfeasible.” Read more …
Smith County United Way’s Goal Set
TYLER — The United Way of Smith County sets a campaign goal of $1.75 million for 2014-2015. That figure was announced Thursday evening at the campaign kickoff at FRESH by Brookshire’s. The campaign will run through March, benefiting 41 community programs. Along with regular donations, community members can register to win a 2015 Hyundai Accent from Allen Samuels East Texas Dodge. The car will be given away April 2. United Way Development Director Stephen Rainwater says, “The work of United Way is centered on the belief that we are all connected and interdependent.” You can go to http://www.unitedwaysmithcounty.org for more information.
East Texans React to Journalist’s Beheading
TYLER Following the beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the ISIS group in Iraq, some East Texans sounded off on whether President Obama is doing enough to combat the terrorists. One resident told KETK, He should be doing a whole lot more. He should have been involved a long time before it got to this point. Another added, Well, hes doing bombing raids, trying to take out these guys. Still another commented, I dont approve of letting our men be beheaded over there, and I think he ought to do something about it immediately.
Public Workshop Set to Update Tyler Transportation Plan
TYLER — The public is invited to attend a workshop to be held by the Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in an effort to update the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). The workshop will be held Thursday, Aug. 28, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tyler Senior Center, 1915 Garden Valley Road. According to a news release, the MTP is a 25-year, long-range transportation plan which serves as the basic framework for all transportation planning through 2040. The MTP is a guide used to plan for future transportation needs in the Tyler MPO area and the expenditure of federal, state, and local funds that become available for these projects. The current MTP was approved in December 2009 and includes multiple projects totaling approximately $390 million worth of transportation improvements through the life of the plan. Read more …
Sound Physicians to Lead TMF Hospitalist Program
TYLER Beginning August 20, Sound Physicians has been contracted and formally begun managing the Hospitalist program at Mother Frances Hospital Tyler (MFH Tyler) and the Louis and Peaches Owen Hospital (LPOHH). That announcement comes in a news release from Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics. Sound Physicians will also bring on-site operations leadership and hospitalist RNs to help drive performance and has plans to build out its post-acute provider network and transitional care management program. Sound Physicians is a physician-founded and led national management company started in 2001 with headquarters in Houston. They manage over 1,000 hospitalist physicians in more than 100 hospitals across the country. Read more …
Extra Vehicle Registration Fee to Help Child Advocacy Center
HENDERSON — If you live in Rusk County, you’ll soon be paying more to register your vehicle — but it’s for a good cause. According to KETK, just one extra dollar is all county residents will have to pay to register their cars starting in January. But county officials say that dollar can make a huge impact. The extra fee was passed by county commissioners this week. Funds collected from the fee will go directly to the Rusk-Panola Child Advocacy Center and will be used for resources to help children who are being abused or are at risk for being abused.
TX Gov. Perry in Washington: “Confident” in Case
WASHINGTON (AP) Texas Governor Rick Perry says he’s confident in his case as he faces two felony indictments on coercion and official oppression charges. The possible 2016 Republican presidential contender shrugged off the charges Thursday during an immigration forum at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington and quickly turned to attacking President Barack Obama. During his appearance, he accused Obama of “willful neglect” of his presidential responsibilities on immigration and national security. He’s headed to politically important New Hampshire in the days ahead. Perry was indicted last week by a grand jury in Austin on charges stemming from his veto last summer of state funds for public corruption prosecutors. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday shortly after he was fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken. Read more …
Texas Panel Considers Political Donations Rule
AUSTIN (AP) The Texas Ethics Commission is considering a proposal to require some politically active nonprofits to reveal their anonymous donors. The San Antonio Express-News reports the eight-member commission presented a draft proposal Thursday. It seeks to require a nonprofit to disclose donors if 25% or more of the nonprofit’s expenditures can be classified as politically motivated. It would also require disclosure if political contributions account for more than 25% of the group’s total contributions in a calendar year. The commission chairman says the group wants to inform the public about who is contributing to candidates. A lawyer representing a nonprofit that would be affected says the proposal is an unconstitutional regulation of free speech. The commission will accept public comments on the proposal for at least 30 days.
Dallas Police: Man Killed Himself in Shooting
DALLAS (AP) Dallas police say a man killed himself after police who saw his gun opened fire. The incident late Wednesday night ended in the death of Terence Michael Groessel, 52. Police Maj. Jeff Cotner said Thursday that a preliminary autopsy indicated Groessel killed himself. Cotner said two officers approached Groessel’s vehicle outside a city hotel because it looked like it might be stolen. When one officer knocked on Groessel’s passenger-side window, she noticed that he was soon pointing a gun at her partner on the other side. The officers opened fire and retreated to wait for help. Cotner says that about 30 seconds later, they heard a gunshot and saw a flash inside Groessel’s truck. Eight people have died in Dallas police shootings this year.
Man Gets 30 Years for 1990 Murder of Texas Woman
HOUSTON (AP) A Texas man has pleaded guilty to a 1990 strangulation murder of a pregnant woman whose 14-month-old son was found wandering in the road. The Houston Chronicle reports Robert Lawrence Wilson, 50, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder of Tammy Bounds. His charge was reduced to murder from capital murder as part of the plea bargain in Montgomery County. Wilson spent the last three year in jail waiting for the case to be resolved. That means he could become eligible for parole in 4 ½ years. Bounds’ son, Christopher Parmley, is now 25. He attended the sentencing of his mother’s killer. He says he didn’t want a plea bargain and plans to fight any effort to parole Wilson.
Texas Man Gets Life Sentence for Plot to Kill Wife
DENTON (AP) A North Texas jury has sentenced a 54-year-old man to life in prison for hiring someone to kill his wife. The Denton County jury sentenced John Franklin Howard on Thursday, two days after he was found guilty of attempted capital murder. Howard will be eligible for parole after 30 years. Denton County prosecutors say Howard wanted to have Nancy Howard killed so that he could be with his mistress. Testimony during the two-week trial revealed John Howard had spent years collecting money to hire the shooter, who was arrested. Nancy Howard survived a gunshot wound to the face at the couple’s Carrollton home in August 2012, but lost her left eye. The couple’s three grown children during the punishment phase of the trial had asked for leniency for their father.
Ex-Teacher Guilty in Fatal Hit-and-Run of Boy, 6
DALLAS (AP) A 54-year-old former suburban Dallas teacher has been convicted of manslaughter for the hit-run death of a 6-year-old boy run down last year while walking with his mother and baby sister to a store to get candy. Tammy Lowe faces up to 20 years in prison. Evidence showed she ran a red light in Grand Prairie, struck and killed John Raidy, then took off. The same Dallas County jury that on Thursday found her guilty has started hearing testimony in the punishment phase of her trial. Lowe earlier pleaded guilty to failing to stop and render aid. She could get 10 years in prison on that charge. Defense attorneys argued prosecutors didn’t prove their case against Lowe and that a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide was more appropriate.
Texas Law Student Fights Extradition to Louisiana
SAN ANTONIO (AP) A San Antonio law student has vowed to fight extradition after his arrest on murder and arson warrants from Louisiana. Meanwhile, questions surrounding the murder warrants against Matthew Edward Alexander continue. The San Antonio Express-News reports the warrants accuse the 29-year-old student of setting fire to his ex-employer’s home in West Monroe, Louisiana, earlier this month as two people slept inside. However, no one was injured. Federal authorities said the charges weren’t correctly entered into an FBI database by the investigating agency in Louisiana and that they should have been two counts of attempted murder and arson. However, at a federal detention hearing Thursday in San Antonio, U.S. Magistrate Andrew Carruthers set Alexander’s bond at $1 million, saying his paperwork still shows that Alexander’s charged with murder.
Texas Woman Seeks $123M for False Facebook Profile
HOUSTON (AP) A Texas woman has filed a $123 million lawsuit contending that Facebook failed to remove a false profile of her created by a former friend who superimposed her face over pornographic images. Meryem Ali in a revised suit filed this week in district court in Houston claims the former friend then invited Ali’s friends and family to visit the profile page. The lawsuit says the “revenge porn” case caused Ali “significant trauma” and “extreme humiliation.” She claims Facebook over many months failed to act on repeated requests to have the page deleted. The company did eventually remove the page. The suit says damages being sought represent 10 cents on the dollar for each of the 1.23 billion Facebook users. Facebook media representatives did not immediately comment on the claims.
Retail Gasoline Prices Drop a Penny Across Texas
IRVING (AP) Retail gasoline prices across Texas have slipped by a penny this week. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump fell to $3.28. The average price fell by 3 cents last week and now is down by 14 cents compared to the same time last year. Nationwide gasoline prices stand at $3.44, down from $3.47 last week. El Paso has the most expensive gasoline in Texas this week at $3.36 per gallon. The association survey found Amarillo with the cheapest at $3.17 per gallon. AAA says gas prices are trending downward because of stable global supplies that are not being affected by tensions in Iraq, Ukraine and elsewhere.