Smith County construction projects updates:
Loop 323 West Widening
*Limits: Tyler’s West Loop and SH 31
*Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd., of Longview
*Cost: $12 million
*Anticipated Completion Date: Winter 2016
The contractor continues to excavate the existing northbound lanes as well as conduct work on the new railroad bridge and Bellwood Road West. A temporary detour is in place. The project includes widening Loop 323 from SH 31 to Shaw Street. The speed limit on Loop 323 in the work zone has been reduced to 45 mph from SH 64 to
Shaw Street.… Read More
LIBERTY (AP) — Southeast Texas authorities say a man was shot to death in his front yard after being lured outside by his burning vehicle. The Liberty County sheriff’s office says Vincente Rodriguez, 45, was shot multiple times early Sunday morning. Sgt. Paul Lasco says Rodriguez’s wife said they were awakened by someone pounding on their front door. Lasco says the woman then saw their family van on fire. Authorities say that as Rodriguez ran outside, a second man appeared and shot him.
ZAPATA (AP) — Authorities have been searching for a 5-year-old boy who fell into a South Texas lake when the inflatable raft he was on flipped over. The Laredo Morning Times reports that the Zapata County sheriff’s office got a call Saturday afternoon that the boy had fallen into Falcon Lake. Authorities said high winds had caused the raft to drift away from the shore and his family. Several agencies were helping with the search and rescue operation.
BULVERDE (AP) — A man who shot a South Texas sheriff’s deputy in an exchange of gunfire on a street has been charged with aggravated assault against a public servant. The Comal County sheriff’s office says Garrett Marshall Cooke, 22, of Bulverde remained in a San Antonio hospital Sunday. The deputy, who has been released from the hospital, and Cooke were both shot in Bulverde.
AUSTIN (AP) — Court documents says a man suspected of throwing rocks at cars along Interstate 35 in Austin called 911 more than 1,100 times since June 2014 to report collisions, traffic hazards and reckless driving. The Austin American-Statesman reports that records show Patrick Eugene Johnson, 59, made more than 80 calls within 30 minutes of a reported rock-throwing incident on I-35.
HILLSBORO (AP) — A former Texas law enforcement officer whose career ended when he was accused and convicted of sexually abusing a young girl almost 30 years ago has now been sentenced to three life prison sentences for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in 2009. The Waco Tribune-Herald reports a Hill County jury convicted 68-year-old Thomas Johnny Wilkins of aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child. District Attorney Mark Pratt told The Associated Press that the life sentences are to be served concurrently but that Wilkins won’t be eligible for parole for 30 years.
HOUSTON (AP) — The county that owns the Astrodome is considering a plan to build a two-level parking garage inside the derelict domed stadium. The hope is to kick-start retrofitting and repurposing of the 51-year-old Houston icon that has stood vacant for 17 years. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who is the county’s top elected administrator, is proposing raising the Astrodome floor to create a garage to accommodate 1,800 cars.
AUSTIN (AP) — The University of Texas will open an Austin medical school in July 135 years after the state’s university system was founded. The Austin American-Statesman reports that the medical school aims to improve health care for low-income people and attract start-up companies and researchers.
LONGVIEW – A police standoff in Longview ends peacefully with the suspect in custody. It started just before 3:00 Saturday morning with a report of a man in a home on Mamon Drive. The man, Sonny Dee Edwards, Jr., 31, of Longview, was under a protective order and not suppose to be in the house. Two women in the home were able to escape through a bedroom window. Edwards was said to have fired several rounds at a police robot, slightly damaging it. Shortly after 10:30, Edwards surrendered peacefully. He was booked into the Gregg County Jail on charges of violation of a protective order and criminal mischief.
FORT WORTH (AP) — Authorities have identified the two men fatally shot at an unauthorized party at a hip hop dance studio in Fort Worth. The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office has identified those killed early Saturday as Jordan Larkin, 18, and Treavon Lewis, 22. Five persons were in injured in the grang-related shooting. Police Officer Daniel Segura said Sunday that there have not yet been any arrests.
MARSHALL – A man found lying in a Marshall yard around 7:00 Friday night has died. Police were called to a home on Sledge Street where a man, who may have been shot, was found lying in his front yard. He later died at a Marshall hospital. When it was thought another person may have been barricaded in the house, a SWAT team was called out. No one was found in the residence. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. The victim’s name has not been released. The investigation continues.
FULSHEAR (AP) — Police say a Houston-area woman fatally shot her two daughters before officers shot and killed her. The incident happened in front of a home just outside the Houston suburb of Fulshear. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office identified the mother as Christy Sheats, 42, and her daughters as Taylor Sheats, 22, and Madison Sheats, 17. Sheriff Troy Nehls says the shooting apparently climaxed a family argument, but the reason for the argument remains unclear.
WACO (AP) — Baylor and Art Briles have mutually agreed to part ways, the move coming almost a month after the release of a scathing report over the university’s handling of sexual assault complaints against players and the coach being suspended by school regents “with intent to terminate.” A statement released by the university Friday night said the termination was effective immediately.
MCALLEN (AP) — A South Texas man has been arrested and charged with shining a laser at a Border Patrol helicopter. A federal affidavit alleges Juan Peralez pointed the laser at the helicopter, prompting the pilot to take evasive action to avoid being blinded. Another member of the aircraft crew directed Border Patrol agents on the ground to the source of the laser, where Peralez was seen aiming the laser at the helicopter.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An auction of Whitney Houston’s memorabilia has earned more than $500,000 despite a judge blocking the sale of an Emmy Award won by the late singer. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says the top bid in Friday’s auction was $20,000 for a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers given to Houston by NBA great Michael Jordan. A Dolce & Gabbana fur coat worn by Houston on stage sold for more than $16,000. A federal judge on Thursday blocked Heritage Auctions from selling Houston’s 1986 Emmy trophy, which she won for a Grammy performance. The company returned the trophy to Houston’s family.
WHITE SETTLEMENT (AP) — A North Texas city council has started a cat fight by voting to oust the furry mascot of the city’s public library. The governing council of the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement voted 2-1 to give the library 30 days to find a new home for Browser the cat. The ex-shelter cat has been a library fixture for six years. But council member Elzie Clements moved at a June 14 council meeting for the tabby’s removal. Mayor Ron White, who has no vote on the council, tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the vote was a tit-for-tat after a city employee wasn’t allowed to bring a puppy to work at City Hall. Ex-council member Alan Price said Browser’s supporters will petition for a reprieve in November’s elections.
LONGVIEW – The Gregg County grand jury has indicted three persons in connection with the deaths of two men back in March. The bodies of Dekeilen Joe Nelson, 20, of Gilmer and Kevin Lorenzo Stephenson, 28, of Henderson, were found near railroad tracks off Estes Parkway. Indicted this week for capital murder in the case was Dustin Charles Bennett, 36.(pictured) Indicted for aggravated robbery in connection with the case were Craig Deallen Davison, 50, and Patricia Francine Baker, 19. The three were arrested in April at a home on Roy Green Road near Hallsville. The arrests were made as the result of a Crime Stoppers tip.
TYLER – The North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority has a new Executive Director. He is Christopher R. Miller of Mobile, Alabama. In his most recent position, Miller was the Executive Director of the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, a position he has held for several years. For six years prior to that, he was the Deputy Director of the organization. Miller, who starts to work on Monday, is succeeding Interim Executive Director Everett Owen. The organization helps accelerate the development of transportation projects in Smith and 11 other Northeast Texas Counties.
TYLER – County Court at Law No. 3 Judge Floyd Getz is being appointed to handle Smith County Judge Joel Baker’s judicial duties. This follows Judge Baker’s recent suspension without by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Administrative Judge Mary Murphy made the appointment this week. The appointment runs through the end of the year. At next Tuesday’s county commissioners’ meeting they will start the process of selecting an acting county judge.… Read More
DALLAS (AP) — A text message accidentally sent to The Associated Press shows that Johnny Manziel’s lawyer is seeking a plea deal in his domestic violence case, but has doubts about the quarterback’s ability to stay clean. The text message is from defense attorney Bob Hinton. It was transmitted after an AP reporter contacted him asking for comment about a hit-and-run crash Manziel was involved in Monday night. Hinton writes: “Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle.” The text also says Hinton was given a receipt by a colleague that purports to show Manziel, a former Tyler resident, spent more than $1,000 at a drug paraphernalia shop 15 hours after the crash. Hinton says it was not known if the receipt from the paraphernalia store is legitimate.
AUSTIN (AP) — The Texas Board of Criminal Justice has named Bryan Collier, 51, executive director of the state prison system. Collier had been deputy to retiring Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston since 2007.Prison Board Chairman Dale Wainwright, whose nine-member panel made the appointment at a board meeting in Austin, says Collier brings knowledge and experience after working more than 31 years within the agency.
HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas energy company CEO is being accused by regulators of defrauding investors of about $80 million, including spending at least $30 million on private jets and gentlemen’s clubs to “maintain a lifestyle of decadence and debauchery.” In a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Dallas, the Securities and Exchange Commission accuses Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corporation, of misleading investors about the costs of oil-and-gas investments sold by his companies.
HOUSTON (AP) — A second man has been convicted in the 2014 machete slaying of a 14-year-old Houston-area boy in what investigators say was a gang-related killing. Jose Granados-Guevara was convicted of murder then sentenced to the maximum 99 years in prison. The 23-year-old Granados-Guevara opted to have a judge, not jurors, decide his case and also the penalty in court in Houston.
BULVERDE (AP) — Police say a South Texas sheriff’s deputy and a suspect threatening to kill himself have been shot in an exchange of gunfire on a street. Authorities say the Comal County deputy and the suspect were transported to a hospital following Thursday night’s shootings in Bulverde.
AUSTIN (AP) — An immigration lawyer who filed asylum documents on behalf of clients while knowing they were ineligible can no longer practice in Texas. The Texas Attorney General’s Office on Friday announced a permanent injunction against Paul A. Esquivel. Authorities identified Esquivel as a now-disbarred attorney who had offices in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin.
HOUSTON (AP) — A group that served as guardian of the Alamo for more than a century and the Texas General Land Office have settled a dispute over ownership of about 38,000 books and artifacts that had been kept at the Texas shrine. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas filed suit last year after the agency headed by George P. Bush declared the state owned of the organization’s private library collection. Bush already had announced he was ending the group’s management of the downtown San Antonio landmark. Under terms of an agreement reached Friday, the state agency drops any ownership claims to the library collection and pays $200,000 to cover legal fees of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The books and artifacts are being moved to Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
TYLER – Police are investigating the robbery of a Tyler business. The Eggroll Express at 510 West Front Street was held up shortly before 11:45 Friday morning. A man with a covering over his face, armed with a handgun, fled with an undisclosed amount of money. He was described as a black male, about 5’9 and with a thin build. There was one customer in the store at the time of the robbery. No injuries were reported.
MARSHALL – The Marshall Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating one of their most wanted fugitives. He is Turahn Mitchell, 22, of Jefferson. He is accused of renting over $2,500 worth of property from a rent to own business and then not returning it after he stopped paying for it. He is described as a black male 5’9, 190 pounds with a medium build. Mitchell has black hair and brown eyes. If you know where he can be located, call 903-935-4575 or 903-935-4540. If you wish to remain anonymous call Marshall/Harrison County Crime Stoppers at 903-935-9969.
LONGVIEW – Longview police have arrested a burglary suspect. He was found ducking down behind a truck in the 3400 block of MLK Boulevard around 3:30 Friday morning. Officers say they learned that Jonarious Deyone Williams, 26, of Longview, had burglarized at least one vehicle. They also found additional property, which they believe was stolen, in the car he was driving. He was charged with burglary of a vehicle and booked into the Gregg County Jail.