TYLER – Smith County jury duty was cancelled on Tuesday. Now, it is also cancelled on Wednesday. If you have a Smith County jury summons for duty on Wednesday, you do not need to report to the courthouse. Smith County Jury Coordinator Lisa Bennett said jury duty has been cancelled for all courts on Wednesday. However, if you have been asked to return for jury duty by a specific court, you must still report.
TYLER – Documents and video of several questionable Smith County commissioners’ court meetings in 2014, have been released. A state district judge has ruled the meetings violated the Texas Open Meetings Act. During the meetings the commissioners discussed adding school zone cameras in the county to catch speeders. Grassroots America filed complaints against former County Judge Joel Baker with the state attorney general’s office, which opened a full investigation. Some who have heard the tapes say the problem was far worse then they had imagined. In fact, an attorney general’s investigator said at least nine meeting were held improperly. The cameras’ program was later shelved. Baker later resigned and end up, in a plea deal, pleading no contest to one of the three charges of violating the state’s open meetings act. The other two counts will be dismissed. Baker was fined $200 and served 30 days of deferred adjudication.
ATHENS – Several game rooms in Eastern Henderson County have been closed and several persons have been arrested on drug and weapons charges. Officers swept through game rooms in the Chandler and Coffee City areas. Several were closed for code violations. At one, Michael Caster, 53, of Trinidad (pictured) and Kelly Huddleston, 44, of Orlanda, Florida were arrested for manufacturing and delivering of methamphetamine. Investigators also found concession equipment stolen last week by burglars who hit the Cain Park complex in Athens. Fryers, crock pots, a cash register, drinks, candy, chips and several other items that had been taken from the Henderson County Girls Softball Association April 19 were recovered and returned to the group. A stolen auger, also reported stolen, was returned to its owner. The Athens Police Department came to the location to assist with the investigation to return the stolen items to the rightful owners.… Read More
DALLAS (AP/STAFF) — A woman killed in a Dallas murder/suicide is identified as a Hopkins County resident. Police say Matthew Kempf, 60, of Allen fatally shot his female supervisor, Lana Canada McAree, 48, of Sulphur Springs and then killed himself in an office building. It is located along the Interstate 635 service road near Schroeder Road. According to McAree’s Facebook page , she worked as the regional vice president of the midwest for Heart to Heart Hospice. Police have not indicated why Kempf targeted her Monday or what kind of office they worked in. Authorities say Kempf was employed by the company at the time. The office, where the shooting occurred, was in a multi-story building near a highway interchange in the northern part of the city.
DALLAS (AP) — A capital murder trial is underway for a former Tyler man who prosecutors say shot and killed four women and wounded four children. Testimony Tuesday in the trial of Erbie Lee Bowser, 48, included Dallas County jurors hearing 911 calls made by victims of the 2013 shootings at two separate homes. Bowser pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday, the first day of the trial. His lawyer has argued that military service and repeated concussions from playing football affected his mental state. Prosecutors say Bowser killed his girlfriend and her daughter and then later his estranged wife and her daughter. Bowser is a 1987 graduate of Tyler’s Robert E. Lee High School, where he was an all-state football selection in 1986.
LONGVIEW – Another truck has fallen victim to Longview’s Green Street underpass. Despite warning signs that are posted for information and motorist safety, another truck became stuck at the underpass. It happened around 11:30 Monday morning. The driver, who was not injured in the accident, disregarded an official traffic control device and drove his truck under the bridge. The bridge has multiple warning signs indicating the height of the bridge. The truck was able to back up, but not before a section of the top was peeled off. Union Pacific was on scene evaluating the bridge once the truck was removed.
MARSHALL – The city of Marshall will be looking for a new police chief. Late Monday afternoon Chief Jesus “Eddie” Campa submitted his resignation. His last day on the job is on Wednesday. He was named chief in August, 2014. The Longview News Journal quotes Campa as saying, “I submitted my letter of resignation today. I have made the decision to step aside to pursue other opportunities that have developed. After speaking to my family, we believe it is the right time to do that right now.” He did not elaborate on what those opportunities might be.… Read More
AUSTIN (AP) — The state Senate has approved creating a Texas music museum slated to be built near the state Capitol. The bill by Austin Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson passed Monday and creates a foundation overseeing the museum. It now heads to the House, where a similar measure by Fort Worth Republican Rep. Charlie Geren is awaiting a floor vote. Watson said the museum won’t cost Texas money and will actually bring in revenue since the foundation will rent space for it from the state.
HOUSTON (AP) — A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush says the nation’s 41st president will remain in a Houston hospital for a few more days of observation while he recovers from a mild case of pneumonia. Family spokesman Jim McGrath said Monday that the medical team at Houston Methodist Hospital hopes to discharge the 92-year-old Bush by the end of the week. McGrath says Bush “continues to be in good spirits and is resting comfortably” at the hospital.
TYLER – The East Texas Communities Foundation will host the second annual East Texas Giving Day. A total 177 nonprofits across East Texas have signed up to participate in this year’s event. Residents in 32 East Texas counties are invited to participate. Last year, because of a computer glitch, they were only able to raise nearly half a million dollars. They expect to do more this year since they have solved the problem by switching vendors. This year they hope to hit the million dollar mark. You can go to http://www.EastTexasGivingDay.org and donate Tuesday from 6:00am until 11:59pm. There will also be a running tabulation of donations.… Read More
HOUSTON (AP) — Investigators say a review of DNA evidence in the 1976 fatal stabbing of a Houston man has led to a warrant issued for a convicted killer in a later case. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office on Monday announced the search for David Lee Edds on a murder charge. Rene Anthony Guillotte was last seen leaving a bar on May 11, 1976. His body was found on a road.
DIANA – Upshur County authorities are investigating shots fired over the weekend at a deputy’s home and cars. At a news conference Monday afternoon, Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb said the shooting occurred around 11:00 Saturday night in Diana. He did not identify the deputy. One of the shots hit a piece of clothing worn by the deputy’s child and another hit a chair where the child was seated. Shots were also fired at the deputy’s patrol car and her personal car. Sheriff Webb said retaliation could be a motive in the shooting because of the amount of damage done to the patrol car. No injuries were reported.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a Houston man shot in the back by police during a traffic stop, prompting Justice Sonia Sotomayor to complain of a “disturbing trend” in how the high court deals with cases alleging police misconduct. In a dissent, Sotomayor said the justices “have not hesitated” to reverse lower courts that rule against police officers in cases that involve claims of excessive force. But she said the court “rarely” intervenes when lower courts “wrongly” find that police are immune from charges of misconduct.
TYLER – Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton is free on bond. She turned herself in at the Smith County Jail late Monday morning after being named in an arrest warrant. Hampton has been charged with injury to an elderly person and her bond was set at $10,000. On Sunday, April 2, the sheriff’s department received a call of a possible assault at the Spring Creek Baptist Church on County Road 46. A woman told deputies she had been inside the Pastor’s office with the door closed discussing an issue with the Pastor when Hampton entered and started shouting at her. She said Hampton pushed her, causing her to fall and to injure her wrist. The woman was treated at a hospital emergency room for her injuries, then released. The arrest warrant for Hampton was issued last Friday. We have left a phone message for the commissioner and have emailed her regarding any response to the charges.
EDGEWOOD – The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing person. He is Thomas Richardson who was reported missing from his home on Private Road 7925 outside of Edgewood. According to the department’s Facebook page, Richardson is reported to have dementia and may be confused. He was last seen wearing blue and black plaid shirt and black pants. He is about 5′ 07″ and weighs around 108 pounds. They say, if you see him, do not attempt to approach him since it might startle him. Instead, contact the nearest law enforcement agency.
DALLAS (AP) — Dallas police say a man fatally shot his female supervisor and then killed himself in an office building. Assistant Police Chief Randy Blankenbaker said that they won’t release the identities of those who died until relatives are notified. He said they also are not yet saying what kind of office they worked in. The office was in a multi-story building near a highway interchange in the northern part of the city. Blankenbaker said that the man was a current worker in the office. He says that there were witnesses to the shooting who were not injured.
TYLER – A man accused of stealing archery equipment in 2016 is in the Smith County Jail today. Arrested was Billy Bob Willingham III, 24, of Tyler. He was arrested Sunday at Lake Tyler. Willingham is accused of stealing 19 bows, valued at $4,825 from a local 4-H club over the Thanksgiving weekend last year. Sheriff Larry Smith said five of the bows were recovered from a Tyler pawn show where Willingham is said to have pawned them for $80. He is charged with theft of property and evading arrest. His bonds total $60,000.
LONGVIEW – A two vehicle wreck in Longview has left one person dead. Killed in the crash shortly after 6:30 Monday morning on West Loop 281 was Kade Perot of Gladewater. Longview police say Perot’s west bound motorcycle struck a truck making a left turn. Longview police say failure to yield right of way turning left and speed are two contributing factors the investigating officer is considering.
SMITH COUNTY — If you have a Smith County jury summons asking you to report for duty on Tuesday, either stay home or go to work. Smith County Jury Coordinator Lisa Bennett says who were planning to report for jury duty Tuesday with their yellow cards don’t have to make the trip to the Smith County Courthouse. She says no new panels will be needed on Tuesday. However, if you have been asked to return for jury duty by a specific court, you must still report. Smith County residents summoned for jury duty on Wednesday will need to report.
TYLER — A non-student has been arrested in a sexual assault case on the Tyler Junior College campus. KETK reports 23-year-old Tavion Jamal Jones, from Shreveport, was arrested around 3:30 Sunday afternoon. Campus police say while inside the Crossroads Residence Hall, he reportedly sexually assaulted a female student and then tried to assault another. The two students did not need medical attention at the scene. Jones was found and arrested inside the dorm. He is facing one charge of sexual assault and one charge of attempted sexual assault. He remains in the Smith County Jail under bonds totaling $150,000.
WACO (AP) — Costs are mounting for the Texas county where a fatal gunfight involving two motorcycle gangs and police led to the indictments of more than 150 bikers. The trials arising from the 2015 shootout at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco are on hold until after a federal case against leaders of the Bandidos motorcycle gang wraps up. Still, work related to the case has topped $200,000 for McLennan County, not including more than $500,000 defrayed by state and federal money.
BRYAN (AP) — The gruesome 1981 death of Virginia Freeman haunts the investigators involved with the still-unsolved case. The bloody corpse of the real estate agent and married mother of two was found in the back yard of a home she was selling in December 1981. Investigators said Freeman had been sexually assaulted, stabbed in the neck 11 times, had her neck broken by strangulation and was hit in the head with a 4½-pound (2-kilogram) concrete chunk. Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk said there is plenty of DNA evidence in hand from the death of the married mother of two and that the case has more genetic material in evidence than any other of the county’s unsolved killings. But none of the evidence has been matched in the genetic database, suggesting the killer has never been convicted of a crime, Kirk said. The killer may even be dead by now, investigators acknowledge.
DALLAS — A Dallas County jury begins hearing evidence in the death penalty capital murder trial of a former Dallas Mavs Maniac Dancer, who was a highly regarded high school footballer in Tyler. Erbie Bowser stands accused of killing four people in two cities in August of 2013. The victims were his estranged wife, her daughter, his ex-girlfriend, and her daughter. If the jury finds Bowser guilty of capital murder, the case moves on to the life or death punishment hearing. Bowser is a 1987 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, where he was an all-state football selection in 1986.
EAST TEXAS – Today’s the first day of early voting for the city and school elections in East Texas. The Smith County Elections Office is responsible for conducting all elections, not only for county offices, but also for city, school, state and federal elections. They will be conducting elections for races in the Tyler, Whitehouse, Chapel Hill, Bullard, Arp and Winona Independent School Districts and the cities of Tyler, Lindale, Hideaway and Winona. Voters in the Tyler school district will decide a $198 million school bond proposal that is for renovations at John Tyler and Robert E Lee high schools. Voters in Tyler city council District 5 will pick a successor to Mark Whatley, who can not run again because of term limits. Running are Bob Westbrook and Alan J. Lizarraga.… Read More
Farm Road 344 is closed at Grove Club Lake just west of State Highway 110 outside of Whitehouse as the contractor removes and replaces the existing culvert and conducts work to restore the pavement. Red Baron Building Company, of Lindale, expects to complete the project within two months. Drivers must take other routes to reach their destinations during this work. Motorists are encouraged to temporarily reroute to Farm Road 756 to Farm Road 346 and back to SH 110 until the work is complete. Additional project information can be found in the Smith County section of this news release.… Read More
AUSTIN (AP) — For months, Governor Greg Abbott stayed silent and Texas’ bathroom bill languished. Now Abbott’s all-in, becoming the nation’s first governor to fully embrace the issue. That makes the prospects for Texas blocking cities and school districts from embracing transgender-friendly policies governing public restrooms suddenly bright, even so late in the legislative session. The sanctuary cities bill hitting the House floor, redistricting and fetal remains are also key issues to watch this week.
DALLAS (AP) — A former University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff student who once aspired to become a famous rapper now has his life on the line after his capital murder conviction in the shooting deaths of three people at a Dallas drug house. The Dallas Morning News reports the penalty phase opens today in the trial of Justin Pharez Smith, 24, in which prosecutors will present evidence in their bid for a death sentence. Prosecutors say a need for money compelled Smith to kill a man and two women in the August 2014 holdup. A woman and a man survived the attack and identified Smith as the killer.
MCKINNEY (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 80 years in prison for strangling a hospital co-worker to death and dumping her body beside a remote county road in 1989. Sharon Trimble’s strangulation death is the second for which Temmie Cooley has been convicted and sentenced. He already is serving a 35-year term for the 2001 strangulation death of another co-worker, Earlene Warrell.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — About two dozen Minneapolis area firefighters and police officers have volunteered for honor guard duties for a dive team member who died in Texas while on an emergency call and is heading home for burial in her native North Dakota. Lori Pohanka-Kalama, 46, died on April 16, one day after she was pulled from a rain-swollen creek on the Fort Hood Army Base. She was a member of the Morgan’s Point fire and police dive team in far southeastern Texas.
ATHENS – One person has died in a Saturday night fire in Athens. It was reported shortly before 8:45pm at a two story home on East College Street. Early Sunday morning firemen found a man’s body in the debris. His name has not been released and an autopsy has been ordered. Fire officials do not suspect foul play. The cause of the fire has not been determined.