TYLER (AP/STAFF) — A Tyler man on death row for the slaying of a 93-year-old woman during a robbery at her home has received an execution date. State District Judge Christi Kennedy signed an order Monday setting Clifton Williams, 34, for lethal injection June 21 in Huntsville. The execution is for the fatal beating and stabbing of Cecilia Schneider at her home in Tyler in July 2005. Evidence showed Williams entered through a back door, attacked her and then set her body and bed on fire. He fled with her car and her purse containing $40. Authorities said he wanted money for drugs. Defense attorneys argued he was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty. Williams came within hours of execution in July of 2015 when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted his scheduled punishment.
TYLER – Robert E. Lee High School senior, Fritz Hager III, has been named one of six finalists in the National Endowment for the Arts 2018 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge. This is a national songwriting competition where the winner receives $25,000. The finalists, five individual composers and one pair, will each have their songs published by Samuel French. They will find out late next month who gets the top prize. The winner will be announced in New York during a weekend of workshops with well-known musicians, singers, songwriters and producers.… Read the rest of the article…
CHANDLER – A Henderson County couple is accused of exposing a baby to drugs. Arrested over the weekend were Christian Alexander David Hart, 25, and Katie Lynn Sheppard, 22. During a CPS investigation, the Chandler couple and a 10 month old child each tested positive for methamphetamine. Both have been charged with endangering a child. Hart is also charged with violation of bond or a protective order. Both remain in the Henderson County Jail.… Read the rest of the article…
MARSHALL – Marshall police are trying to locate an armed robber. Just before midnight on March 13th, the man held up the Alon Food Fast Fina on West Grand Avenue. Armed with a handgun, he demanded money and cigarettes from the clerk. He later fled the business in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a black male who was wearing a mask, red hoodie, blue jeans and dark colored shoes. The store’s employee was not injured.… Read the rest of the article…
SMITH COUNTY – Wednesday is Texas Tobacco Free Kids Day, and some students have a message to pass along. At least 70 students and faculty at 5 Smith County schools will be wearing shirts about standing up to tobacco. The number 70 represents the number of people who die every day in Texas from tobacco related deaths. The activity is an awareness event to encourage students to live tobacco-free lives. It also serves as a way to encourage schools to participate in efforts to help kids achieve this goal. High schools taking part in the campaign are John Tyler, Robert E Lee, the TISD Early College High School as well as high schools in Chapel Hill and Whitehouse.
PALESTINE – The University of Texas at Tyler will invest around $600,000 to make safety renovations to the Innovation Academy STEM charter school facility in Palestine. School officials made the announcement Monday night at a town hall meeting in Palestine to parents of students attending the school. There had been some concern the school may have to close. The Innovation Academy closed its primary Palestine building last summer after the state fire marshal flagged safety concerns. A short-term facility solution was using Mathis Hall on UT Tyler’s extension campus in Palestine, which allowed classes to continue this academic year. The renovations will begin soon as possible. No date has been set on completion. The charter school has over 200 students from second through 11th grades. … Read the rest of the article…
GILMER – Gilmer police are seeking the name of a man taking pictures of children at a playground in the city. The photographer is a white male, who appears to be in his 40s, and had a baby at the playground of the Yamboree Grounds. He was said to have been driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup. He was taking pictures of girls going down a slide. A witness said it appeared the man was attempting to take photos up the dresses of the children. If you know who was driving this truck, you are asked to contact Gilmer police.
TYLER – A Tyler man is heading to prison on child porn charges. Benjamin Andrew Cole, 34, pleaded guilty in state district court in Tyler Monday morning. He pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and an online solicitation charge. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Cole was arrested last August 17th following an extensive investigation by the Department of Public Safety. He has been in the Smith County Jail since his arrest. The child porn charges stem from incidents which investigators say occurred on August 17, 2017, and September 25, 2017. The online solicitation charge is said to have occurred on August 17, 2017.
KILGORE – Two drivers have been killed in a two vehicle accident in Kilgore. It happened just before 4:00 Sunday afternoon on U.S. Highway 259 near Farm Road 349. One driver, 19 year old Dakota Patrick Harris, of Kilgore, later died in a Tyler hospital. The other driver, 79 year old Mary Virginia Cameron, of Overton, died in a Longview hospital. Police reports indicate Cameron’s car drove into oncoming traffic, for unknown reasons, and hit Harris’ car head-on. The accident remains under investigation.
TYLER – Traffic on Rice Road in Tyler is being diverted until 4:00 this afternoon between Kinsey Drive and Old Bullard Road due to roadwork and construction. Rice Road will be closed to local traffic between Cloverdale Drive and Briar Cove Drive and closed to truck traffic from Kinsey Drive to Old Bullard Road. A city news release says the work should take around nine hours to complete.
ATHENS – Three men are facing drug charges following their arrests southwest of Athens. They are Ricky Hurt (pictured), 60; Gerald Loden, 65; and Bradley Lowe, 25. The three were arrested at a property on County Road 1208. Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said they had received information from citizens about possible drug activity in the area that started the investigation that led to the arrests.
LONGVIEW – A fatal Longview fire appears to be arson. The fire in a duplex on Cherie Lane the night March 9th killed Randall Russell and his daughter, Lisa Russell Tesmer. The fire department says the investigation into the fire continues. The Longview News Journal, quoting a search warrant, says the police are investigating the fire as arson. It also says Kimberly Nicole Bruton, 32, is a suspect in the fire. She is currently free on a $1,000 bond after being charged with arson. She was arrested as she stood outside the burning home holding bottle of charcoal lighter fluid.
JACKSONVILLE – A felon wanted by Jacksonville police has been arrested. Last week we told you 26 year old Drayshadrian Hunter, who is also known as “Stinky Butt, was being sought. He was wanted on warrants out of the Jacksonville Police Department as well as Smith, Van Zandt and Kaufman counties. Friday, acting on a tip, the police went to a home on Talley Nichols Drive, where they found Hunter hiding in a closet. He was arrested without incident and booked into the Cherokee County Jail.
TYLER – Two Smith County residents are accused of trying to smuggle items into the county jail. They are Brittney Chene Boyd, 25, of Lindale and Andria Michelle Smith, 20, of Tyler. They are charged with a prohibitive substance or item in a correctional facility. Each is under a $25,000 bond. A deputy was patrolling the jail perimeter when she saw two women attempting to pass cigarettes over the wall. One was standing on top of the other one. They were immediately arrested.… Read the rest of the article…
TYLER – Azalea Orthopedics has named Anthony Brooks as its new Chief Executive Officer. His appointment was effective February 26. Brooks previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of Longview Regional Medical Center since 2016. Prior to that he was the Chief Financial Officer for Sparks Health System in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and later as the Assistant CEO for Sparks Health System – Van Buren.
KILGORE – Three years of work will come to an end Saturday with the opening of a new Kilgore sports complex.A baseball tournament will open the complex. There are six baseball fields at the site, which is across from Driller Park on South Commerce. It will be known as the Whataburger Sports Complex because they signed a 10-year deal for the naming rights. They paid $50,000 up front and will pay $20,000 a year for the next ten years. The city paid for the complex with $2.2 million from the Kilgore Economic Development Corporation. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Saturday morning at 11:00.
MARSHALL – A Henderson woman is accused of providing false documents to get a job. The case against Stephanie Garcia, 29, first surfaced last November. The complaint maintained Garcia had been practicing nursing without a license at Davita Dialysis in Marshall. Investigators say they discovered that she had used another person’s license number in order to get the job. Garcia was arrested on Wednesday and booked into the Harrison County Jail under a $35,000 bond.
TYLER – The 59th Annual Azalea and Spring Flower trail begins in Tyler Friday morning. It all starts at 10:00 with the ribbon cutting and opening ceremony in the garden of the Pyron home on West Dobbs Street. Then, through April 1st, thousands will visit to see the blooming azaleas, dogwoods and spring flowers. There are two marked routes, the Lindsey Trail and the Dobbs Trail. Along with the flowers and the azalea belles greeting you at the many gardens, there is a host of activities, including a horse show, quilt show, an arts and crafts show at Bergfeld Park and the East Texas Symphony Concert. … Read the rest of the article…
PALESTINE – The University of Texas at Tyler Innovation Academy in Palestine may close at the end of the school year. UT Tyler spokesman Lucas Roebuck told the Palestine Herald-Press the school building failed the fire marshal’s inspection in August. UT Tyler President Michael Tidwell outlined the university’s strategic plans to Palestine City Council members on Monday. He did not say anything about closing the school. They are working on holding a public meeting with parents and students in Tyler Monday to discuss the situation. The charter school has over 200 students from second through 11th grades.
EAST TEXAS – The cleanup continues in the wake of the east Texas storms that killed two persons. A Longview man died when a Sunday morning storm toppled a tree onto his mobile home. At the Brushy Creek Campground at Lake o’ the Pines, high winds blew a tree onto a tent. A woman was killed and her husband seriously injured. Their three children escaped injury. The Corp of Engineers has released pictures of some of the damage around the lake. There are so many trees down, it is still hard to reach some sites. The damage is so extensive, they say it could be several months before the campground will reopen.
LONGVIEW – The Longview Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness is asking for items that will go in homeless outreach bags. The bags could include such items as individually wrapped bottled water, pulled top caned food and trail mix. You can also donate new socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes as well as plastic forks and spoons. The task for says, by providing nonperishable items rather than cash, you can help meet someone’s immediate need without feeding a possible addiction. The items are being collected at the Longview Public Library during regular hours. The bags will be distributed at the Homeless Resource Day on March 24 at the Longview Fire Department Training Center at Teague Park.
MARSHALL — A former East Texas district clerk has been arrested again. Mellinda Craig, a former Harrison County district clerk, was arrested Tuesday for theft of a firearm. The stolen gun was found in her home while police officers investigated her son’s involvement in a recent double homicide in Marshall. Thomas Andrew Craig, 18, of Hallsville, is charged with evidence tampering; he’s said to have hidden the gun that killed a Marshall couple. While Mellinda Craig is not believed to have been involved in the capital murder, she was arrested and charged for having the stolen gun. She was elected to be Harrison County’s district clerk in 2010 but was removed from office during 2014 following an arrest for numerous assault and deadly conduct charges.
PALESTINE – One person has been wounded in a Palestine shooting. It happened shortly before 9:00 Monday night on San Jacinto Street. First taken to a Palestine hospital, and later flown to a Tyler hospital, was Carlos Scott, 34, of Palestine. Investigators say he had suffered multiple gun shot wounds. The investigation is ongoing.
LONGVIEW – LeTourneau University theology professor Jonathan Lett has been awarded a grant to travel during the next two summers to Oxford, England. He will be working in an enhanced summer program developing interdisciplinary skills in science and religion. The grant is provided by Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities II, a project run by Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford. This is a British subsidiary of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, with funding by Templeton Religion Trust and The Blankemeyer Foundation. The two month-long summer research seminars in Oxford start this summer.
LONGVIEW – The Sears store in the Longview Mall is one of four Sears stores and four adjacent Sears Auto Centers being bought by Washington Prime Group. The Ohio-based real estate group owns and manages the mall. According to the company website, Sears will continue to operate the properties. The Company will have control of these properties for future redevelopment should Sears decide to close them. The purchase price for all the properties is $28.5 million. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second quarter of the year.
KILGORE – Kilgore police are trying to identify two men involved in a burglary last month. It occurred February 27th at East Texas Warehouse and Storage on Warehouse Drive. If you can identify these men, you are asked to contact the Kilgore Police Department or Gregg County Crimestoppers at 903-236-STOP.
LONGVIEW – A former Spring Hill coach admitted to administrators he had an improper relationship with a student. That information is contained in a warrant that was filed Monday in the case of Jacob Vincent Badgett, 25, of Longview. He is currently free on a $50,000 bond following his arrest last week. The Longview News Journal reports, the day before his arrest, Badgett told the athletic director to “call 911.” He said he “had an explicit relationship with a student.” Badgett also resigned the day before his arrest.
CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill High School teacher William Perkins has been charged with of the display of harmful material to minor. He surrendered at the Smith County Jail shortly after noon on Monday and was later released on a $2,500 bond. At school, Perkins is said to have had a laptop that was displaying multiple pornographic images. Several students recorded the images and reported them to school personnel. Perkins’s laptop was seized and the case was forwarded to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division for investigation. After getting a search warrant, officers found multiple images on the laptop’s hard drive. Investigators say the pictures were sexually explicit.