ABILENE (AP) – Authorities say a West Texas man must serve life in prison for his role in the 2014 fatal beating of a man he found at an ex-girlfriend’s home. John Patrick Gutierrez pleaded guilty Monday in Abilene to tampering with evidence. Court records show the 40-year-old Abilene man also faced a murder charge, which was dropped in the plea deal over the attack using a wrench. Prosecutors say Carey Rod Tate was beaten while at the apartment of a woman Gutierrez formerly dated. Investigators say Tate’s body was transported in a dog crate and buried near Hawley. A second man charged with helping dispose of the body pleaded guilty in May to tampering with evidence related to a human corpse and received eight years of probation.
AUSTIN (AP) – Authorities say a third man has been apprehended on allegations that he conspired to kill a Texas judge outside her home last year. Twenty-six-year-old Marcellus Burgin, who lives in suburban Houston, was taken into custody late Monday in New Orleans. Authorities say federal agents spotted Burgin in Houston on Thursday, but he managed to escape. Federal prosecutors allege in an indictment released last week that Burgin and two others, 28-year-old Chimene Onyeri and 24-year-old Rasul Scott, ran various fraudulent financial schemes. Prosecutors contend their criminal enterprise was going to be disrupted by Onyeri’s sentencing by state District Judge Julie Kocurek in Austin over a larceny conviction. Authorities say the trio was behind the Nov. 6 shooting of Kocurek. She recovered from her wounds and has since returned to work.
HOUSTON (AP) – Authorities have identified the man who was killed by officers after he randomly shot at drivers in a Houston neighborhood, wounding nine people. Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said Tuesday that 46-year-old Nathan DeSai was the gunman. Police say DeSai, an attorney, began shooting at people who drove by the condo complex he lived in early Monday morning. Six were shot and three had eye injuries from flying glass. DeSai was later killed during a shootout with officers. Silva said investigators are still trying to determine a motive. Authorities have said DeSai was wearing military-style apparel with old Nazi emblems and had two weapons and more than 2,500 rounds of live ammunition when he was killed. Silva said police are still reviewing the significance of the Nazi emblems.
DALLAS (AP) – The father of a Muslim boy arrested after taking a homemade clock to his Dallas-area school has sued conservative commentator Glenn Beck and a Texas mayor alleging they falsely portrayed the family as terrorists. Mohamed Mohamed filed the defamation lawsuit Sept. 21 in Dallas on behalf of himself and his 14-year-old son, Ahmed. Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne is among those named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks a retraction, a jury trial and unspecified damages related to comments following the teen’s September 2015 arrest at an Irving school. A charge of having a hoax bomb was later dropped. The lawsuit describes the Mohamed family as “peaceful Muslims” falsely accused of being terrorists. Messages left for comment from Beck and Van Duyne weren’t immediately returned Tuesday.
HUNTSVILLE (AP) – A 47-year-old man on Texas death row for the slayings of two men in Fort Worth almost 11 years ago has been set for execution in early January. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark says the agency has received orders from a Tarrant County court setting Christopher Wilkins for lethal injection Jan. 11. Wilkins was scheduled to die last October until prosecutors asked his date be withdrawn to resolve questions about DNA statistics during trial testimony. Evidence showed Wilkins escaped from a Houston halfway house in October 2005, stole a truck and drove to Fort Worth. He was convicted of fatally shooting two men there for duping him into buying a phony rock of crack cocaine. Wilkins is among at least five Texas inmates with execution dates.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A lawyer for a white police officer who shot and killed a black man after a foot chase argues his client should be protected by federal immunity. An appeals court heard arguments Tuesday in the case of Charles Kleinert, an Austin police officer working with the FBI on bank robberies when he encountered Larry Jackson Jr. Kleinert has said his gun discharged accidentally during a struggle. A grand jury indicted Kleinert in 2013 but a federal judge later dismissed it, citing a 126-year old court ruling protecting federal officers from state prosecution in certain cases. Kleinert’s lawyer, Randy Leavitt, told the three-judge panel Tuesday that his client went to the bank as a federal officer investigating a robbery. But Texas prosecutor Rosa Theofanis called on the judges to overturn the lower court’s decision.
TYLER — Downtown Tyler’s People’s Petroleum Building has racked up its second honor this month. At its recent annual meeting, Historic Tyler handed its yearly Preservation Award to the local landmark — together with Tim and Garnett Brookshire and Andy Bergfeld, the three men spearheading its renovation. Earlier, the structure was announced as one of three Tyler finalists for Texas Downtown Association President’s Awards to be presented in November.… Read More
McKINNEY (AP) – An 18-year-old North Texas man must serve life in prison for the 2014 killing of his parents in what prosecutors call a dispute over unfinished schoolwork and disobedience. Zachary Callens was sentenced Monday in McKinney. A Collin County jury on Friday convicted Callens of murder in the deaths of his parents – Ryan and Maria Callens. The victims were shot to death in the family’s home in Frisco, about 30 miles north of Dallas. The home-schooled son was 16 years old at the time of the August 2014 slayings, but he was tried as an adult. A judge who certified Callens as an adult cited the brutality of the crime and the teen’s lack of remorse after the deaths.
HOUSTON (AP) – One Houston transit police officer has resigned and another was cleared in the baton beating of a man on a rail platform in an incident captured on security video. Authorities say Officer Jairus Warren quit Monday after an internal review recommended dismissal for using excessive force during the Sept. 14 beating of Darrell Giles. Officers had found Giles slumped on a seat. Giles was arrested on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest but the counts were later dropped. An attorney for Giles says he was struck more than a dozen times. Police Chief Vera Bumpers says the other officer suspended after the incident, Daniel Reynosa, has been cleared of wrongdoing and will return to duty. Reynosa, who observed the beating, faces additional training. Prosecutors will review the incident.
WHITEHOUSE — Whitehouse residents will soon vote on a $94.8 million school bond. If passed, the bond could bring improvements to facilities across the district, including some new schools. KETK reports, on Monday, the school district held a town hall meeting to give the community a voice, as well as answer any questions they had. “This bond is a fairly large project that is being presented to the taxpayers and what it would do is several major construction projects that would set the course for the district for a number of years to come,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Moran. After evaluating facilities for three years, Dr. Moran said Proposition One includes more urgent needs, such as the replacement of aging facilities.… Read More
HOUSTON (AP) – A disgruntled lawyer wearing military-style apparel with old Nazi emblems had two weapons and more than 2,500 rounds of live ammunition when he randomly shot at drivers in a Houston neighborhood before he was shot and killed by police, authorities said. Nine people were injured during Monday morning’s shootings on the street in front of a condo complex. Six were shot and three had eye injuries from flying glass. One person was in critical condition. Police did not identify the man and did not have information about a motive. A bomb-squad robot examined a Porsche that police said belonged to the gunman. Texas motor vehicle records in a commercially available database showed the car is licensed to Nathan DeSai at an address in the condo complex.
CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) – A South Texas woman must serve 30 years in prison for a baby-sitting scam in which she recorded her convicted sex offender boyfriend abusing a toddler in their care. Rosa Linda Ganceres was sentenced Monday to the maximum term by a federal judge in Corpus Christi. The 54-year-old Mathis woman in June pleaded guilty to production of child pornography. Investigators say Ganceres and her boyfriend, 43-year-old Daniel Benson Billman Jr. of Aransas Pass, advertised online in 2015 as baby sitters. Prosecutors say a woman hired the pair to watch her daughter, then Billman sexually assaulted the girl and Ganceres recorded the abuse. Billman earlier this year pleaded guilty to production of child pornography and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
AUSTIN (AP) — Two South Texas counties have been declared state disaster areas following late-summer heavy rain and flooding. Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced the disaster declarations for Atascosa and Wilson counties. The time frame involves severe weather and flash flooding the weekend of Aug. 20-21. Some people living in the Floresville area reported getting up to 9 inches of rain. The state disaster designation helps clear the way for government assistance.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Parts of South Texas have been swamped with up to 7 inches of rain leading to dozens of high-water rescues and street closures. National Weather Service forecaster Brett Williams says areas of San Antonio were inundated with rain Monday morning. The San Antonio Fire Department responded to about 40 high-water rescues, including several people safely removed from a van caught in flooding. Officials say nobody was hurt. A San Antonio city website listed more than 30 street closures. Some roads in San Marcos were also closed Monday due to high water that prompted a flash flood warning. Texas State University in San Marcos, about 40 miles northeast of San Antonio, canceled classes Monday afternoon amid weather concerns. William says the storms should move on by Tuesday.
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston police and state and federal agents are still investigating the area where a gunman opened fire at random on passers-by, wounding nine people — six with gunshot wounds and three with eye injuries due to flying glass. Houston Homicide Capt. Dwayne Ready said investigators believe the gunman, whom police are not yet identifying, acted alone. But with the investigation still underway, Ready said “no doors are being closed.” Ready says that other weapons besides the handgun found by the gunman’s body and the tommy gun found in his vehicle were at the man’s home. Ready would not describe those weapons. The FBI said there was no immediate indication of any involvement with terrorist groups. Texas motor vehicle records in a commercially available database show that the Porsche police were searching at the scene is registered to Nathan DeSai, who lives at the condo complex nearby.… Read More
UPSHUR COUNTY — An Upshur County inmate is receiving medical treatment after officials say the inmate tried to commit suicide by hanging, according to the Longview News-Journal. A jailer was going through rounds around 6 p.m. Thursday and found the inmate in “a state of distress,” according to information released today by the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office. The jailer called for other jailers and medical staff and first responders were called. The inmate was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment.
DALLAS (AP) – Police are trying to determine whether two vehicle-related slayings in the Dallas area involved the same gunman who remains at large. Cedar Hill police say a man driving a pickup truck opened fire Sunday night at several vehicles traveling along a highway. Police say a gunman then fatally shot a man who was refueling at a gas station and stole his vehicle, which was later abandoned. Dallas police early Monday responded to a report of gunfire along a highway and found a man dead in his vehicle.
HOUSTON (AP) – The Houston police chief says that the suspect who wounded nine people in southwest Houston was a lawyer and there were issues with his law firm. Chief Martha Montalvo did not identify the shooter at Monday’s news conference. When the officers found the suspect, the suspect began firing at them and police shot the suspect, who lives in the neighborhood and died at the scene. Montalvo says nine people were wounded, and one is in critical condition.
TYLER — Tyler police are searching for an armed suspect wanted in an early morning shooting. Officers said around 1:20 this morning, an unknown suspect fired numerous shots inside a home on Carlyle Avenue. A sleeping 12-year-old was struck in the foot and taken to a local hospital with a non-life threatening injury. The investigation is on-going. Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Tyler Police Department at 903-531-1000 or Tyler/Smith County Crimestoppers at 903-597-CUFF. Crimestoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and charges filed against the suspect in this case or any other felony case.
TYLER – Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of Sept. 26. These schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention when traveling through work zones. Tyler Maintenance on Monday plans to resume overlay work on FM 2710 between Lindale and FM 14. Edge repairs will be performed on FM 1995 between SH 110 and the Smith County line. Expect lane closures with flaggers providing traffic control at all locations.… Read More
EL PASO (AP) – Authorities continue investigating the cause of a deadly West Texas mobile home fire that killed three children and injured two other individuals. Police in El Paso say the fire started Friday night at a mobile home with five people inside. Emergency responders found a 3-year-old boy and a 69-year-old man at the scene and transported them to a local hospital, where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
DALLAS (AP) — Authorities have recovered the bodies of two North Texas fishermen after their canoe capsized. Officials say the bodies were found early Sunday morning after the fishermen’s boat started leaking and then flipped over a day earlier as they were on Cedar Creek Lake, located about 60 miles southeast of Dallas. Texas Game Wardens identified the two victims as 19-year-old Anthony Aleman and 25-year-old Onesimo Cabriales, both from Dallas. Investigators say three men were in the canoe when it capsized. One of the men swam back to shore but the other two didn’t make it. Rescue crews searched the lake on Saturday but called off the search in the evening due to high winds and rain. Authorities say the men weren’t wearing life vests.
AUSTIN (AP) — Critics of a Texas law allowing students to graduate without passing statewide standardized tests say the new rule has padded graduation numbers and given diplomas to students who can’t demonstrate they have the knowledge they’ll need in college, jobs or technical education. However, proponents of Senate Bill 149 say it has provided opportunities for students who struggle because of language barriers or learning disabilities to have a way to succeed in high school, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The newspaper reports graduation rates in Texas have hit an all-time high since the law was signed in 2015. More than 5,800 students statewide graduated in 2015 despite failing at least one of five end-of-course exams that are part of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test.
HOUSTON (AP) — Audits and ongoing reviews have found problems with how evidence is handled and stored at four of the eight constable’s offices that serve the Houston-area. A review by the Houston Chronicle of the audits as well as interviews with officials has found evidence cataloging and control problems have been uncovered in the Harris County constables’ offices in Precincts 3, 6 and 7. The newspaper reports that in Precinct 3, 2,000 items were initially reported missing; guns, jewelry, electronics and cash were misplaced in Precinct 6; and Precinct 7’s evidence room has been described as “a shambles.” This comes as the Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigates the destruction by an ex-deputy constable with the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office of thousands of pieces of evidence in Houston-area cases.
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other local business and community leaders are heading to Cuba for a three-day trade mission. Turner and a 30-member delegation left on Sunday for their relationship-building trip, which comes after Cuba and the U.S. last year restored diplomatic relations, which had previously been severed for more than 50 years. The trade delegation plans on meeting with the Cuban Ministers of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Energy and Mines, Tourism and Public Health. Texas has traded some goods allowed under the U.S. embargo with Cuba for years but officials see the potential for more. Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visited Cuba as part of an effort to create more trade opportunities between the state and the Latin American country.
KERRVILLE (AP) — Police are investigating the shooting deaths of a Central Texas councilman and his wife, whose killings are suspected of being a murder-suicide. Authorities say Kerrville Councilman Gary Stork and his wife Peggy were found dead Saturday evening inside their home. Each had gunshot wounds to their heads. Police say they are investigating the deaths as a possible murder-suicide. In a news release, Kerrville police said Stork was a suspect in an indecency with a child case over a July 4, 2016, incident and that the case was to be presented to a grand jury on Tuesday. Autopsies are pending for both victims. Stork had been re-elected to his second term on the city council in May.
McKINNEY (AP) — A jury is set to decide whether it will sentence a North Texas teenager to life in prison for the fatal shootings of his parents. The Dallas Morning News reports that testimony in the punishment phase of the trial of 18-year-old Zachary Elliot Callens is set to resume on Monday. The jury on Friday convicted Callens of murder in the 2014 deaths of his parents — 48-year-old Ryan Callens and his 49-year-old wife Maria. Prosecutors say a then 16-year-old Zachary Callens killed his parents because he was angry that they punished him for not doing his schoolwork. During the trial, defense lawyer David Kleckner tried to raise doubts about the police investigation and suggested that one of Zachary Callens’ siblings or his father was responsible.
ATHENS — The FBI office in Dallas was contacted by the Athens Police Department after receiving a report of a hazardous materials concern. According to KETK, the Dallas FBI received a report of potentially hazardous materials at a residence in the 200 block of Guadalupe Street in Athens. FBI personnel responded to the residence and deemed there is no threat to public safety. The FBI said they are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of law enforcement personnel involved. An Athens resident contacted KETK about concerns of FBI agents in hazmat suits in the city.
HOUSTON (AP) — Harris County leaders have announced their financing plan for a $105 million redevelopment of the Houston Astrodome that would include raising the two bottom floors to accommodate about 1,400 parking spaces. Officials said Friday that the county would pay for a third of the project, another third would come from hotel taxes and the remaining amount from county parking revenues. County commissioners will determine Tuesday whether to spend $10.5 million on the design of the parking garage inside the county-owned stadium. If that’s approved, a firm would be hired to produce an overall redevelopment plan. The dome has been vacant for 17 years and the Houston Chronicle reports officials want to make it suitable for festivals, conferences and commercial uses across more than 550,000 square feet of air-conditioned space.