Police Shooting Victim Identified as Teen
LONGVIEW (AP/Staff) — Authorities have identified the victim in a fatal Longview police shooting as 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard of Longview. Coignard was a former Pine Tree ISD student. Three police officers were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident, which prompted a temporary lockdown at police headquarters. Police say Coignard walked into the police department lobby and threatened officers with a weapon. Police spokeswoman Kristie Brian said the teen walked into the building around 6:30 Thursday night, picked up an assistance phone, and called for help. When officers responded, Brian says Coignard brandished a weapon and made threatening movements toward them. Read more …
Kari’s Law Push Seeing Successes
MARSHALL — A federal official said Friday that eight hotel chains now offer direct 911 dialing, and another 70 percent of the nation’s largest chains will offer it by the end of the year. The measure aims to ensure that dialing 911 from hotels and motels always works without an access code. According to the Longview News-Journal, officials began working on the effort a little more than a year ago after the Dec. 1, 2013, death of Kari Rene Hunt Dunn at the Baymont Inn in Marshall. Police said the 31-year-old woman was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in a hotel room, where he met her to visit their three young children. During the struggle, Dunn’s 9-year-old daughter attempted to dial 911 from the hotel room, but was unsuccessful because she didn’t realize she had to first dial a number for the call to go through. Read more …
Eltife Files Epilepsy-Related Medical Marijuana Bill
AUSTIN — A local senator and a DFW representative have filed bills in the Texas Legislature to allow children with “intractable epilepsy” to use medical marijuana for treatment purposes. According to KETK and the Austin-American Statesman, Tyler Senator Kevin Eltife and DFW Representative Stephanie Klick, both Republicans, filed identical measures. The bills would allow state-regulated entities to legally grow and dispense cannabidiol, also known as CBD. The Statesman reports unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, CBD could provide medicinal benefits without a “high.” Read more …
Man Sentenced in East Texas Murder-for-Hire Scheme
NACOGDOCHES (AP) – A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison after a state appeals court earlier struck down his prior punishment for the 2005 killing in East Texas of his friend’s stepfather. The sentence Thursday for Colton Weir includes the possibility of parole after he serves at least 30 years. The appeals court determined last month his rights were violated when he was sentenced in 2007 to life without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court had previously ruled that sentencing juveniles without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional. The Daily Sentinel reports 25-year-old Shaina Sepulvado was resentenced Wednesday for the same reason. Weir, Sepulvado, and four others were involved in a murder-for-hire scheme to kill Sepulvado’s stepfather, 32-year-old James Kelly. He was fatally shot at his Cushing home.
Former Councilman Seeks Longview Mayor’s Post
LONGVIEW — Former Longview City Councilman Dr. Andy Mack announced Friday he’s running for Longview mayor. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report Mack, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, served on the City Council for eight years until 2005. That’s when he left his District 4 seat on the council to run for mayor in a seven-candidate free-for-all after Mayor Murray Moore resigned. Mayor Jay Dean edged Mack in both the general election and a following runoff between the two men. Dean, who has served for 10 years, will not seek re-election due to term limit restrictions. Read more …
Tragedy Fund Set Up Following Apparent Murder-Suicide
TYLER — A tragedy fund has been set up for the children of a couple found dead recently of an apparent murder-suicide in Smith County. KETK reports a fund for the children of Mechelle Hall-Bell, 35, and Delithro Bell, 41, has been set up under the name Jadashia R. Curtis at Altra Federal Credit Union. The credit union is located at 5523 Troup Highway in Tyler and may be reached by phone at 903-579-2203. The couple had six children between them.
Officials: Fugitive with Cherokee County Ties Caught in Houston
AUSTIN – One of the most wanted suspects in Texas, a man with Cherokee County ties, has been caught in Houston. The Texas Department of Public Safety earlier this month added Paul Ray Bass, 53, to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders list. Bass was wanted for failure to comply with sex offender registration and was considered a high-risk offender. According to KETK, Bass lived in Cherokee County for several years but his whereabouts had been unknown since March 2014. His sex offense history dates to a 1979 rape conviction. According to information from the U.S. Marshals Service, Bass was arrested without incident Friday and booked into the Harris County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
Worker Injured on TJC Residence Hall Construction Site
TYLER — A worker was injured and cross traffic on Magnolia Street was affected Friday due to an accident on the residence hall construction site on the Tyler Junior College campus. The mishap occurred around 10 a.m. Officials say Lionel Torres, 28, was injured when the hydraulic lift he was working on tipped over, causing him to fall to the ground. Torres, who was buckled into his safety harness at the time of the fall, suffered some broken bones and lacerations. He was conscious when he was transferred to East Texas Medical Center.
Police: Drugs, Guns, Cash Found in Marshall Raid
MARSHALL — The Marshall Police Departement arrested two people in a Friday morning drug raid on Burleson Street. According to KETK, police said at around 6 a.m., a SWAT team executed a search warrant on the 800 block of Burleson St. at a home that had been under investigation for drug dealing. Authorities say they found marijuana, ecstasy, Xanax, firearms, and an undisclosed amount of cash. Officers arrested Willie Lee Jones, 23, of Marshall, and Justin Lavell Heck, 30, of Marshall and charged them with possession of marijuana, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1, and possession of a substance penalty group 3.
Klein Animal Shelter Prepares to Reopen
JACKSONVILLE — The city of Jacksonville is planning to reopen troubled Klein Animal Shelter following its closure last week over animal abuse allegations. The executive director and two others have been arrested. According to KETK, the Jacksonville Police Department says the city is in the process of renovating the shelter and hopes to have it up and running within a month. The building has already been inspected twice. The new shelter, however, will only house strays caught within city limits and animals surrendered by local residents. The Klein shelter had been accepting animals from Smith County, Cherokee County and the city of Jacksonville. Jacksonville PD stated the city will not routinely euthanize animals to make space for other strays. According to the Jacksonville Daily Progress, the shelter is 60 percent ready to open.
In Iowa, Perry says His Record in Texas Speaks for Itself
DES MOINES (AP) — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is holding up his home state as a model for economic revival in an Iowa speech with echoes from his 2012 run for president. Perry is preparing for another presidential bid, telling Iowa Republicans at a forum Saturday that jobs gained on his watch and state-based efforts to control the southern U.S. border are concrete examples of his leadership. His full-throated remarks to the conservative Iowa Freedom Summit are reminiscent of past campaign speeches. He called for a firmer line of defense against new terror threats and eased environmental regulation. Perry left office this month after 14 years, the longest-serving governor in Texas history.
Bush, Cecilia Abbott Headline Anti-abortion Rally in Texas
AUSTIN (AP) — Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott and George P. Bush are headlining an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol that is expected to draw thousands of people. The Texas Rally for Life on Saturday has become a big stage for Republican leaders. Former Gov. Rick Perry is among those who have energized crowds in previous years with speeches emphasizing tough anti-abortion laws passed in Texas. Cecilia Abbott’s appearance could signal a bigger public role for the first lady than her predecessor. The rally is also Bush’s first major public event since being sworn in as land commissioner. The rally is taking place as a federal appeals court in New Orleans is deciding whether the uphold restrictions that would leave only eight abortion providers in Texas.
Dog Returns after Vanishing from Texas, Appearing in Indiana
GALVESTON (AP) — A dog who vanished from his Texas yard last year has been returned home after turning up in a central Indiana city some 1,100 miles away. Sixty-nine-year-old JoeAnn Navarro of Galveston says her two pit bulls apparently were stolen from her backyard in May. Navarro thought she’d never see either dog again, but the Kokomo Humane Society called her a week ago to say a stranger had dropped her year-old pit bull Blue off at its shelter about 40 miles north of Indianapolis. A microchip implanted in Blue led to Navarro. Three men, including two retired Galveston County sheriff’s deputies, drove to Indiana. On Saturday, the Galveston County Daily News reported the three arrived at the Navarro house and, for the first time in eight months, Blue was home.
School Deion Sanders Co-founded to Vote to Surrender Charter
DALLAS (AP) — The board of a Texas charter school co-founded by Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders will vote on surrendering its charter after two years of management feuds and financial woes that led to a state takeover of its governance. The Dallas Morning News reports the board of the nonprofit Prime Prep Academy will meet Monday night to vote on surrendering its charter. The next morning, the State Office of Administrative Hearings has scheduled a hearing on final revocation of the school’s charter. T. Christopher Lewis is board president of Uplift Fort Worth, which holds the Prime Prep charter. He tells the newspaper that the school’s finances are in “utter chaos” and couldn’t afford to defend its charter on appeal.
Border Patrol Shoots, Kills Man Who Drove Through Checkpoint
EL PASO (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol says an agent’s shout of “Gun!” led to the fatal shooting of a motorist who drove through a West Texas inspection checkpoint without stopping. U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a statement Friday about the shooting. The agency said it happened around 5 p.m. Thursday, after a motorist pulled into the inspection lane at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 10 in Sierra Blanca, about 80 miles southeast of El Paso. The statement says the man failed to stop, prompting a 30-mile pursuit by Border Patrol agents. When the vehicle finally stopped, four agents were approaching when one shouted “Gun!” Two agents fired on the motorist, killing him. The statement says a pistol-shaped pellet gun was recovered from the vehicle.
Waco Officer’s Gun Accidentally Discharges while at Jail
WACO (AP) – A Central Texas police officer holding keys and a gun accidentally fired into a jail floor and the shrapnel hit another officer. Waco police Sgt. Patrick Swanton says neither officer was hurt early Friday at the McLennan County jail. Investigators will review the accident involving a Waco officer and an officer from nearby Robinson. Officers entering the jail must secure their weapons in lockers. Swanton says the Waco officer booked a suspect and was retrieving his gun while leaving. The officer was holding his vehicle keys while placing his gun back in a holster. The keys apparently caught the trigger, causing the discharge. Swanton says the round struck the concrete floor. Bullet pieces hit the second officer. Both were checked by jail nurses. Names of the officers weren’t immediately released.
Texas Unemployment Rate Slips to 4.6 Percent in December
AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas unemployment rate slipped to 4.6 percent in December for a fourth straight month of declines. The Texas Workforce Commission on Friday reported that compares to a November jobless rate of 4.9 percent. The December statewide jobless figure was the lowest since May 2008 and compares to 6.0 percent unemployment a year earlier. Gov. Greg Abbott, who was inaugurated Tuesday, says the Texas history of strengthening job growth equates to more opportunity for all Texans. The nationwide unemployment rate last month hit a six-year low at 5.6 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate in Texas at 2.1 percent, while Odessa’s jobless rate for December was 2.6 percent. Commission figures show the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the state’s highest unemployment at 7.8 percent.
Lock of Lincoln’s Hair Among Items Auctioned in Dallas
DALLAS (AP) — A collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia that includes a lock of the slain president’s hair has been sold for more than $800,000 at auction in Dallas. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says the Donald P. Dow collection brought top bids totaling $803,889. Heritage spokesman Eric Bradley says that’s double expectations. The lock of hair taken by Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes shortly after Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth sold for $25,000. An 1861 letter written by Booth to a friend boasting about his career and value as an actor also brought $30,000. A clipping of linen stained with Lincoln’s blood taken from his death bed sold for $6,000. Greg Dow says his father, who died five years ago, was fascinated with presidential assassinations.
High Plains Producers Expected to Harvest Most since 2010
LUBBOCK (AP) – High Plains cotton producers plagued by too little rainfall in recent years are forecast to have their best harvest since 2010. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports the 2014 harvest for producers in 16 counties near Lubbock should reach 2.5 million bales. Details are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Plains Cotton Growers spokesman Steve Verett said Friday that adequate rain helped production in all 39 High Plains counties, including the 16. The forecast is 3.4 million bales. The last time growers in the world’s largest contiguous growing patch surpassed this season’s projected harvest was 2010, when 5.3 million bales were produced.