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 Thursday 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. The mutilated body of Jose Meraz was discovered in September 2014 near a reservoir. The victim was an eighth-grader in the Aldine Independent School District. A second person, William Alexander Valladares, earlier pleaded guilty to his role in the slaying and was sentenced to 40 years. A third person accused in the boy’s death has cooperated with prosecutors.
DALLAS (AP) — Fire officials say more than 30 people attending a Tony Robbins event in Dallas have been treated for burns after the motivational speaker encouraged them to walk on hot coals. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans says five people were taken to a hospital Thursday night and that emergency personnel treated the others at the scene for burns to their feet and lower extremities.
AUSTIN (AP) – The Supreme Court’s deadlock on the White House’s efforts to shield millions who are living in the U.S. illegally from deportation is a major victory-by-default for Texas and 25 other Republican-dominated states. Their arguments that President Barack Obama was overstepping his executive authority thwarted what might otherwise have been legacy-defining policy. Here’s a closer look at Thursday’s ruling, which many conservatives hailed as halting federal overreach but which immigration advocates said would tear families apart today and leave lingering legal questions for the future.
AUSTIN (AP) – A federal appeals court has upheld a much-watched Texas program that promises free college educations to military veterans if they lived in the state when they enlisted. The Hazlewood Act dates to the 1920s. State lawmakers expanded the program in 2009 to include the veterans’ children. Veterans also qualified if they entered military service at a Texas installation. A veteran who enlisted in Georgia, and moved to Texas after he was discharged, challenged the law’s Texas enlistment requirements. He won a lower court ruling – a decision that state officials worried would send the program’s costs skyrocketing. Texas appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. It ruled Thursday that Texas-residency rules were not unconstitutional, and said the state has the right to regulate its own education system.
DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas County jury has awarded $142 million to the parents of a baby who suffocated after being swaddled for a nap at day care. The Dallas Morning News reports that Zac and Heather Lytle accused All In The Family Child Care Services of negligence after their 7-month-old son, Roger, was found face down and unresponsive at the home child care facility in 2014. But the unusually high judgment was largely symbolic. The Lytles’ attorney says it’s unlikely his clients will receive the money because the facility has already closed, and it had no insurance.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Staff/ABC) — Tyler Congressman Louie Gohmert angrily faces down congressional Democrats in the midst of a 25-hour sit-in over gun control — attributing the recent Orlando massacre to “radical Islam.” Speaking later with KETK, Gohmert said, “Even though…throughout congressional history there’ve been many, many occasions where there’s been vitriol, yelling at each other, and that kind of thing, we can’t find any precedent to one political party just violating the rules and acting so lawlessly, like they were some ‘Occupy Wall Street’ operation, a bunch of hooligans, and taking over the floor.” The Democrats finally ended their sit-in without getting the votes they wanted, but they vow to keep up their push for gun control.
HOUSTON (AP) – A Houston-area woman’s accent sounds completely different since she underwent jaw surgery in December, and doctors say she might have a neurological condition called foreign accent syndrome. In a KTRK-TV video posted online, Lisa Alamia’s accent swings between various British accents and a faint Australian twang. Foreign accent syndrome is a rare medical condition that can result from trauma or an injury to the area of the brain that controls speech. The cause is often unknown, but it has been linked to strokes, head injuries and psychiatric conditions. Speech therapy can help patients restore their usual accents. Dr. Toby Yaltho says he believes she has the rare condition. Alamia says she knows some people are skeptical and that she hopes to have her true accent back soon.
COPPER CANYON (AP) – A North Texas fire chief who arrived home to find his house ablaze says he has a new understanding about what people go through after fires. Argyle Fire Department Chief Mac Hohenberger says he’s very lucky that nobody was home and that he was able to save his family’s two dogs. Hohenberger arrived at his house in nearby Copper Canyon on Tuesday afternoon to see smoke pouring from the structure. Several fire departments, including his own staff, answered his call for help. Hohenberger says he believes the fire was caused by a short in an electrical panel in the master bedroom. Much of the house was destroyed. Hohenberger and his wife lost all of their clothing in the fire. Copper Canyon is 25 miles northwest of Dallas.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – A South Texas man has been arrested on a murder charge in the Christmas Eve 2012 fatal shooting of his wife in their San Antonio-area home. Bexar County court records show 57-year-old Ramiro Campos was indicted Wednesday and arrested, with bond set at $75,000. A statement Thursday from the sheriff’s office says investigators originally thought Campos fatally shot his wife, Virginia, then tried to kill himself. Authorities later determined a relative shot Campos in response to the woman’s slaying. Sheriff’s officials say the person who shot Campos has not been indicted. That person’s name and further information on the relationship to the victim weren’t released. Online records don’t list an attorney to speak for Campos, who recovered from being wounded.
HOUSTON (AP) – Houston police have charged a 52-year-old man in the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old boy in a strip mall parking lot. Christopher Bert Taylor of Houston was being held Thursday on a murder charge, with bond set at $50,000. Online court records do not list an attorney for Taylor, who was arrested Wednesday. A court date is set for Friday. Authorities say Joseph Aguirre-Flores was attacked late Monday night in southwest Houston and managed to run to a street, where he died. Police have not released a possible motive or said whether the teen and the man knew each other. Witnesses reported seeing two men fleeing the scene. Investigators didn’t immediately provide information on any other suspects.
McKINNEY (AP) – A former suburban Dallas police officer who resigned after video showed him forcing a bikini-clad black 15-year-old girl to the ground will not be charged in the matter. A Collin County grand jury Thursday decided not to indict former McKinney officer Eric Casebolt, who pushed the girl to the ground following a party last June at a community pool that drew a crowd of teenagers. Officers responded to the pool after neighbors complained about the gathering. McKinney police released a statement announcing the decision. Some teens and parents had criticized Casebolt for an overzealous and aggressive response. The former officer is white and most attending the party were black. An attorney for Casebolt did not return a call for comment.
TYLER — Ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft may be one step closer to hitting Tyler. According to KETK, City Manager Edward Broussard says officials hope to have a plan by August that they can bring to council for approval. They’re looking at similar sized cities such as Lubbock and Beaumont to see how it operates there. They’re also trying to create a level playing field with existing taxicab companies. Broussard says, “There may be some deregulation of our current taxicab industry in order to then make it competitive for them with the network-based companies that Uber and Lyft are.” Officials are also discussing different options in terms of safety and background checks for the drivers.
TYLER — Downtown Tyler’s food truck park is rolling along nicely. According to KETK, the City Council passed its final approval Wednesday for a special permit allowing the park to move forward. The plan will be rolled out in two phases. Phase one will bring in the actual food trucks. Phase two, which was added in this week, includes turning the park into an entertainment venue with live music. Phase one is expected to be open sometime this fall. Phase two is still up in the air.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A tie vote by the Supreme Court is blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation. The justices’ one-sentence opinion on Thursday effectively kills the plan for the duration of Obama’s presidency. A tie vote sets no national precedent but leaves in place the ruling by the lower court. In this case, the federal appeals court in New Orleans said the Obama administration lacked the authority to shield up to 4 million immigrants from deportation and make them eligible for work permits without approval from Congress. Texas led 26 Republican-dominated states in challenging the program Obama announced in November 2014. Congressional Republicans also backed the states’ lawsuit.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The University of Texas admissions program that takes account of race has survived another round at the Supreme Court. The justices on Thursday upheld the Texas program by a 4-3 vote. The university considers race among many factors in admitting the last quarter of incoming freshmen classes. Texas fills most of the freshman class by guaranteeing admission to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their Texas high school class.
COPPELL (AP) — Retail gasoline prices across Texas have dropped a penny this week to settle at an average $2.13 per gallon. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the national price at the pump also declined, slipping 4 cents this week to reach an average $2.32 per gallon. Amarillo has the cheapest gasoline statewide at an average $2.02 per gallon. Drivers in Dallas face the most expensive gasoline in Texas this week at an average $2.19 per gallon. AAA experts say gasoline demand remains high for the 2016 summer driving season, while crude oil continues to be relatively less expensive than in recent years.
LLANO (AP) – Authorities say a South Texas man drowned while trying to rescue his 13-year-old daughter from the Llano River as they were fishing. The Llano County Sheriff’s Office says bystanders and some city workers saved the girl during the accident Wednesday afternoon near Badu Park. A Llano city statement identified the man who died as 52-year-old Brian Holmberg of Victoria. Officials believe the teen got caught in the river’s swift current, then her father tried to help her. He was located in the water and transported to a hospital, where the father was pronounced dead. Llano is 65 miles northwest of Austin.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – A South Texas woman faces up to 99 years in prison for her role in the 2012 death of her neglected 5-year-old stepson. Crystal Williams pleaded guilty Wednesday in San Antonio to injury to a child. The penalty phase begins Thursday for the 31-year-old San Antonio woman, who’s the first of three caregivers to be tried in the death of Josiah Williams. Investigators say the boy was found dead in December 2012 in the family’s home, after allegedly being starved and beaten. An autopsy indicated Josiah suffered from abuse and malnutrition. The boy’s father and another relative await trial.
SMITH COUNTY — Smith County DPS responded to a wreck on I-20 West near mile marker 573 between an 18-wheeler and an SUV. The SUV reportedly struck the back of the 18-wheeler, became lodged and caught fire. According to KETK, the driver of the SUV was transported to a local hospital for treatment. No major injuries were reported. The wreck is under investigation.
DALLAS (AP) – A Dallas man is accused of stalking a state district judge who oversaw one of his criminal cases. The Dallas Morning News reports that 45-year-old Babak Taherzadeh was arrested by Carrollton police on a stalking charge Tuesday. Arrest documents say Taherzadeh harassed Judge Brandon Birmingham and threatened the judge’s family on Twitter and Facebook for months. Birmingham presides over the 292nd District Court in Dallas County and had overseen a harassment case against Taherzadeh. In October, Birmingham recused himself from Taherzadeh’s case. In February, Taherzadeh pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor harassment charge and was sentenced to 100 days in county jail. Taherzadeh remains in the Carrolton jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has a lawyer.
MELISSA (AP) – A Dallas area man whose 6-month-old daughter died after she was left in a hot minivan parked outside the family home has been charged with manslaughter. Michael Thedford is free on $20,000 bond. Booking records list no attorney for the 33-year-old Melissa man. According to an arrest affidavit obtained by KDFW-TV of Dallas-Fort Worth, Thedford said he dropped two other children off at day care about 9 a.m. Tuesday and had returned home to sleep. Only when he woke up three hours later did he find his youngest child stiff and “hot as a brick” in the minivan. He placed the child in the refrigerator with the door open before calling 911. The National Weather Service says temperatures were in the low 90s but felt like the upper 90s.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura wants a rehearing after a federal appeals court threw out a $1.8 million jury award to Ventura, who said he was defamed by the late author Chris Kyle in the bestselling book “American Sniper.” The Star Tribune reports that Ventura’s attorney will seek a rehearing before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week, the appeals court rejected the jury’s 2014 award of $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment against Kyle’s estate. Kyle, a Navy SEAL and the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, claimed he punched Ventura at a California bar in 2006 after Ventura said the SEALs “deserve to lose a few” in Iraq. Ventura, a former SEAL, testified he never made the comments and that the altercation never happened.
RUSK — A Rusk State Hospital employee is in big trouble for what he left behind at work. Last week a patient found a gun on the 243-bed campus. Staff was notified and the weapon was properly secured. Sources say the gun fell out of the psychiatric nurses’ assistant’s bag as he worked an overnight shift sunday. Hospital employees are not allowed to take firearms into state hospitals. Now the employee is on emergency leave pending disciplinary action. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of State Health Services says the worker could be fired. The Office of Inspector General is investigating. A request for comment from that office has not yet drawn a response.
ABILENE (AP) – A West Texas man must serve 55 years in prison for the 2014 fatal shooting of his girlfriend and the wounding of their newborn son in her arms. KTXS-TV reports Chevayae Johnson was sentenced Wednesday in Abilene in a plea agreement. Johnson pleaded guilty to murder and received 55 years behind bars. Investigators say 22-year-old Makayla Bunting was slain in June 2014 at an apartment. Johnson received 20 years in prison for injury to a child – his then-2-week-old son. Police say the baby suffered a hand wound from the same round that killed Bunting. The sentences run concurrently. Johnson was treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police initially thought Johnson died at the scene, but he regained consciousness and attacked officers, who subdued him using a stun gun.
HOUSTON (AP) – A group of prisoners alleging they have to drink arsenic-laden water to stay cool inside their hot Texas lockup won a legal victory Tuesday after a federal judge ordered the Texas prison system to provide safe drinking water that doesn’t violate “contemporary standards of decency.” U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison in Houston has given the prison system 15 days to replace the water supply at the unit in Navasota. The judge’s order is part of a lawsuit the sick, elderly and disabled inmates filed alleging they’re being exposed to dangerous heat at the unit. The prison system says the unit’s water is safe to drink. The inmates’ attorney says prisoners should be able to live in units with safe temperatures and drinking water.
SOUTHLAKE (AP) – A coroner says a 13-year-old girl accidentally drowned during swim practice at a North Texas school district pool. Authorities say Elise Cerami was found unresponsive Monday morning in the pool at the Carroll Independent School District’s aquatics center in Southlake. School District spokeswoman Julie Thannum says Elise was found as swim club members finished warming up. She died that afternoon at a Fort Worth hospital. Thannum says coach Bill Christensen performed CPR on Elise, and he later had heart attack-like symptoms and underwent surgery. He’s recovering at a hospital. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office listed Elise’s death as an accidental drowning. A memorial was planned Thursday night.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – A former American Airlines operations manager who learned of the first Sept. 11 hijacking before the jet struck the World Trade Center has pleaded guilty in Pittsburgh to a federal interstate child-sex charge. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 10-year prison term after the plea Wednesday by 55-year-old Ray Howland of Arlington, Texas. Howland was arrested near Pittsburgh International Airport last June by an undercover agent who posed as a woman with a 10-year-old daughter. Howland used an iPad and cellphone to send explicit messages after posting online that he was “looking for a family or a couple of girls” for sex while in town on business. Defense lawyer Frank Walker says the two sides negotiated the recommended sentence that a judge must still approve. He says his client has undergone counseling and has his family’s support.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A national environmental group is asking federal fisheries officials to block a Fort Worth-based drilling company’s plans for offshore hydraulic fracturing in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. The Center for Biological Diversity says fracking by BlueCrest Energy will threaten endangered beluga whales. The group says no hydraulic fracturing by the company should be allowed unless there’s additional environmental review.… Read More
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has been charged with threatening a deputy while jailed on other charges in Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that Randle is charged in Sedgwick County with one count of criminal threat. He said he plans to hire a lawyer to represent him during a first appearance Tuesday via a video link from the jail. Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Lin Dehning said in an email that Randle is accused of threatening a deputy who was “enforcing the rules” last month at the jail. No other details were immediately provided. Randle has had a string of run-ins with the law. He’s also been charged in Kansas with a casino disturbance and with backing his car into three people. The Cowboys released Randle last year.
LUBBOCK (AP) – A West Texas man must serve five years in prison after his 3-month-old daughter drowned in bathwater while he slept. Michael Wayne Livesay of Lubbock was sentenced Tuesday. Livesay pleaded guilty to injury to a child by recklessly causing serious bodily injury. His daughter, Vera, died in the Sept. 23 incident. Livesay told investigators that he planned to bathe Vera so he put her in the tub, turned on the water, then fell asleep on a couch. He awoke 15 minutes later and found her face down in the water. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. Livesay in May received 37 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, from a previous domestic violence conviction. The prison terms will run consecutively.