WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler has reintroduced his bill H.R. 582, the Kari’s Law Act of 2017. The measure previously passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives but was held up in the Senate. Introduced first in 2015, Kari’s Law of 2017 will ensure that anyone who dials 9-1-1 can reach emergency personnel even if the phone typically requires that user to dial a prefix such as 9 or 7 to get an outside line. Kari Hunt Dunn (pictured) was killed by her estranged husband in 2013 inside a Marshall motel room. Their young daughter attempted to dial 911 to call for help, but she didn’t know she had to dial a 9 first. A Texas version of Kari’s Law went into effect last summer. … Read More
PALESTINE – Authorities have confirmed the body of Cody Lusk has been found at Circle R Lake near Palestine. KETK reports Lusk, 37, had been missing since Saturday. He was last seen leaving to go fishing. According to Anderson County Game Warden Mike Hanson, the victim was found in the water with the use of sonar equipment at around 1:20 p.m. Thursday. Hanson said it appears he drowned. The Palestine Fire Department dive team pulled Lusk’s body from the water after he was located. His body has been sent to Dallas for autopsy.
COPPELL (AP) – Retail gasoline prices in Texas and nationwide have declined this week. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the statewide average price at the pump slipped a penny to settle at $2.15 per gallon. Gasoline prices across the U.S. declined 3 cents to reach an average $2.33 per gallon. The association survey found San Antonio has the cheapest gasoline this week in Texas at an average $2.08 per gallon. Drivers in El Paso face the highest gasoline prices at an average $2.21 per gallon. Association experts say the slight decrease in gasoline prices can be attributed adequate supply and less demand in January, with colder weather and fewer road trips following the holidays.
CHALMETTE, La. (AP) – Authorities want to know if a man accused of abusing a girl in a New Orleans suburb in the early 2000s may have had more recent victims in other states, including Texas. St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann says 54-year-old Timothy Gemelli of Slidell has been arrested on a charge of sexually abusing a girl below the age of 10 in Chalmette. He’s being held in lieu of $400,000 bond. Pohlmann says Gemelli also has lived in Longmont and Firestone, Colorado; Chicopee, Massachusetts; Picayune, Mississippi; and Harris County, Texas. Detectives want to know about possible victims in those areas. At the time of the alleged abuse, Gemelli lived in Chalmette. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Cannizaro said Thursday that Gemelli does not yet have an attorney who could comment about the allegation.
DALLAS (AP) – A fresh proposal by Dallas officials to fix the city’s troubled police and fire pension fund would establish a new retirement system and allow the current, ailing one to continue its trek toward insolvency. Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Reich told the city council Wednesday that establishing a new system is an option, but the goal remains fixing the one experts say will become insolvent in 10 years. The Legislature must review any remedy. Under the proposal, younger employees could transfer to the new system and get traditional benefits in addition to a 401K with a 5 percent city match. Police and firefighters who transfer would take lower guaranteed benefits. Taxpayers would continue to contribute to the current system, but beneficiaries would have no guarantee of future payments once the fund runs out of money.
BROWNSVILLE (AP) – A U.S. Border Patrol agent and his brother are standing trial in Texas in the killing of a man who prosecutors say threatened to uncover their trafficking of weapons and drugs. The agent, 31-year-old Joel Luna, and his brother, 26-year-old Eduardo Luna, have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges. A third brother testified Wednesday that he saw Eduardo Luna fatally shoot an associate in early 2015. The man’s headless body was found floating off the Texas coast in March that year. Prosecutors contend Joel Luna used his position to help a Mexican cartel move illegal weapons and ammunition south of the border and drugs to the north. The agent’s lawyer has denied he had any involvement in the illicit activity.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – An Oregon man admitted to groping a 13-year-old girl on a flight from Dallas to Portland. Chad Camp pleaded guilty Thursday to assault and making an indecent sexual proposal to a minor. U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman scheduled sentencing for May 3. FBI agents arrested Camp after his June flight landed at Portland International Airport. Authorities said an American Airlines flight attendant was delivering snacks early in the flight when she noticed Camp’s hand in the victim’s crotch area. Camp was returning to Oregon after completing a residential treatment for alcohol dependency in Florida. A witness told police Camp had at least four mixed drinks during a layover in Dallas. In court Thursday, Camp said he touched the girl inappropriately and spoke to her with language that would be considered indecent. He said what he did was wrong in all respects.
AUSTIN (AP) – Researchers say the number of abortions performed throughout Texas dropped after a 2013 law forced the closure of clinics in all but the largest cities, and the decline was steeper the farther a woman lived from a remaining clinic. A study published Thursday in the Journal of American Medical Association found that abortions fell 50 percent in 2014 among Texas women living near the U.S.-Mexico border and in dozens of rural counties. That’s where the distance to the nearest abortion clinic increased by more than 100 miles after closer providers shuttered. Abortions in Texas overall decreased 15 percent after new regulations took effect. Abortions nationwide are on the decline. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s tougher abortion restrictions last year, but none of the more than 20 clinics that closed because of it have reopened.
AUSTIN (AP) – A federal judge has temporarily blocked Texas from ousting Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program over secretly recorded videos taken by anti-abortion activists in 2015. The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks adds Texas to the list of Republican-controlled states that have been thwarted in efforts to cut off Medicaid dollars to the nation’s largest abortion provider. Sparks postponed Planned Parenthood’s ouster until Feb. 21. It is expected he will issue a ruling before then.… Read More
HOUSTON (AP) – A spokesman said Thursday that doctors were evaluating former President George H.W. Bush before removing a breathing tube. Spokesman Jim McGrath said Bush remained in intensive care at Houston Methodist Hospital while being treated for pneumonia after what McGrath says was a “good night’s rest.” McGrath also says that former first lady Barbara Bush feels “1,000 percent better” after antibiotics and some rest. She’s being treated for bronchitis. She checked into the same hospital as her husband Wednesday after recent weeks of fatigue and coughing. McGrath says doctors are hopeful the nation’s 41st president can be discharged from intensive care in a few days.
TYLER — Tyler Mayor Martin Heines says former football star Ricky Williams is very welcome in Tyler. That’s after an incident last week in which local police responded to a suspicious person call about a man crouching behind a fence. According to KETK, Williams claims he was profiled. He says he was taking a walk in a wooded area near his south Tyler hotel while in town for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award banquet. That’s when police approached and began to question him in what he considered an inappropriate way. Police Officer Don Martin says law enforcement personnel were just doing their job and treated him respectfully. Williams was allowed to go free following the encounter. Heines says since the incident, he and Williams have had “a very positive conversation” by phone. Heines says he even invited Williams to stay at his home next time he’s in Tyler.
DALLAS – It’s been learned that prominent attorney Brian Loncar died of cocaine use. According to KETK, WFAA-TV in Dallas reports his manner of death was termed accidental by the medical examiner’s office. Loncar was found deceased in a vehicle outside his office in Dallas in December. His daughter had died days before his own death. The lawyer was most famously known for his “Strong Arm” commercials which aired throughout the area, including East Texas. His firm has an office in Tyler.
LONGVIEW — Two East Texas law enforcement agencies were involved in a pursuit Thursday morning. According to KETK, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office says some time between 7:30 and 8:00, deputies received a call of a suspicious vehicle on FM 2011. A deputy patrolling the area located a van matching the description and pulled behind the vehicle. At this point, the driver of the van took off and a chase ensued. Deputies in Gregg County began assisting in the pursuit when the van entered their county in the Lakeport area. According to the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, they followed the van from Highway 322 to Highway 149 or Estes Parkway into the Longview area.… Read More
TYLER – TxDOT reports portions of FM 2087 in Longview, SH 294 near Slocum, and FM 1917 near Elkhart are open to traffic after experiencing water-related issues Wednesday. The closures came as TxDOT continued to monitor road conditions that developed as heavy rain fell in the area. Officials confirmed Thursday morning that conditions have returned to normal.
KILGORE — The Kilgore College Rangerettes will perform at the Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball tonight at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The ball, held on the eve of the inauguration of presidential candidate Donald Trump, is sponsored by the Texas State Society. The Rangerettes will perform their “Texas show” which consists of a kick, pom, skirt and jazz routine to popular Texas-themed music. Also, sophomore Swingsters will perform special numbers at the ball. The Rangerettes have performed at the last four inaugural balls for Pres. George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005 and for Pres. Barak Obama in 2009 and 2013.
DALLAS (AP) – Actor Judge Reinhold has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in an airport security dispute at Dallas Love Field. The Dallas Morning News reports Reinhold entered the plea Tuesday and accepted deferred adjudication. The charge will be dropped if the 59-year-old Reinhold stays out of trouble for 90 days. Authorities say Reinhold was arrested Dec. 8 after refusing a Transportation Security Administration screening. The star of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Beverly Hills Cop” says he walked through a scanner but wouldn’t let agents check his backpack, which contained DVDs and CDs. Reinhold later cited an adverse reaction to medication for a respiratory infection. Reinhold apologized after his Dec. 9 release from jail. He apologized again in a statement Wednesday supporting Dallas police.
HOUSTON (AP) – Flooding in Houston that resulted from Wednesday’s heavy rains has caused more than 1 million gallons of wastewater to be inadvertently released. The city says in a statement that the release caused wastewater to be discharged in various locations, including some 500,000 gallons downtown near the University of Houston. Officials have notified the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and issued warnings about avoiding tainted water. Cleanup efforts began Wednesday and continued through the night. More than 5 inches of rain fell in some areas, prompting flash flooding and the closure of many roadways overrun with water. Fire officials say they received more than 65 calls for high-water rescues, primarily from stranded motorists. Emergency management officials at one point asked people in the city of 2.2 million to avoid travel.
HOUSTON (AP) – Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, remain hospitalized in Houston, where he is in intensive care for pneumonia and she is being watched after complaining of fatigue and coughing. A family spokesman says the 92-year-old former president went into the ICU on Wednesday and underwent a procedure on his airway. Bush was stable and resting comfortably at Houston Methodist Hospital. The spokesman later told The Associated Press that doctors were happy with how the procedure went. Bush was first admitted to the hospital Saturday for shortness of breath. Barbara Bush, who is 91, had not been feeling well for a couple of weeks and decided to seek treatment. The spokesman described the move as precautionary.
CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) – Dan McQueen’s tenure as mayor of Corpus Christi has ended after just 37 days. McQueen tendered his resignation in an email to the city secretary after announcing his plans to quit Wednesday in a Facebook posting. McQueen’s tenure has been turbulent, as well as brief. He has taken to his Facebook account to criticize city staff, the news media and City Council members. In Wednesday’s posting, McQueen heaped scorn on the council, which he said “is comprised of only High School graduates.” Actually, the council is a mix of university and high school graduates. McQueen’s own academic credentials have been questioned, but the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports it has confirmed that he holds a bachelor’s degree in professional aeronautics and a master’s degrees in computer information systems.
AUSTIN (AP) – Democrats will again head just two Texas Senate committees, the same number that the minority party ran last session in 2015. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Wednesday that all committee assignments from two years ago will remain the same except one. Brenham Republican Lois Kolkhorst will now run Senate Administration, which had been headed by Sen. Kelly Hancock. Hancock, a Republican from North Richland Hills, will still run the Business and Commerce Committee, though. Two years ago, Patrick broke with tradition and tapped just two Democrats for Senate leadership positions, further limiting the outnumbered party’s power. He did the same this session, choosing Houston Democrat John Whitmire to remain as longtime head of the Criminal Justice Committee and Brownsville Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio to lead the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.
COLLEGE STATION (AP) – Texas A&M University has appointed newly retired astronaut Michael Fossum as the new chief operating officer of A&M’s Galveston campus. In a statement issued Wednesday, A&M officials also said the Air Force colonel and 1980 A&M graduate will serve as a Texas A&M vice president and an executive professor. He will assume his posts March 1. Fossum had been with NASA since 1993 and was selected as an astronaut in 1998, serving on three space flights and logging more than 194 days in space. Among those hours were more than 48 in seven space walks. At the time of his recent retirement, Fossum was assistant chief for International Space Station in the Astronaut Office.
DALLAS (AP) – Dallas police have shot fatally the female driver of a car that had been reported as stolen. Deputy Police Chief Thomas Castro says a report of a suspicious vehicle about 5 a.m. Wednesday brought officers to an apartment building just northeast of downtown. As officers approached the vehicle, the vehicle lurched backward into a police vehicle, then forward into a lattice fence, then backward again. At that point, police opened fire, fatally wounding the driver. No officers were injured in the incident. No identities have been released.
SAN MARCOS (AP) – Investigators say a 2-month-old Central Texas girl has died after being mauled by the family’s pet German shepherd at home while her father slept. San Marcos police say the girl died Tuesday afternoon after suffering numerous animal bites. Her name wasn’t immediately released. Police say the father told investigators that he fell asleep when the child was napping in an infant bouncer. He says he awoke, about 20 minutes later, to find the baby obviously injured and unresponsive. The girl was pronounced dead at a San Marcos hospital. A city statement Wednesday says the dog will be impounded for at least 10 days, to determine whether to euthanize the animal. The dog has been the family’s pet for more than eight years.
LONGVIEW — A Kilgore man was sentenced Wednesday to 42 years in prison for the December 2014 shooting death of Franciosa Lakeef Jackson, 36, in Kilgore. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report Marcus Demois Whitaker, 37, pleaded guilty Friday in the 124th District Court in Gregg County. A sentencing hearing took place Wednesday. Whitaker will be eligible for parole after having served half of his sentence.… Read More
MARSHALL — One of Marshall’s “Most Wanted” is now behind bars. Trekevien Jacquia Darnell Miller, 20, of Longview, was taken into custody by Longview Police on Monday. Miller, whom police term a known gang member, was wanted for a felony bond forfeiture warrant out of Gregg County and wanted for questioning for his reported involvement in engaging in organized criminal activity in Marshall. Miller is being held in the Gregg County Jail.
AUSTIN (AP) – A powerful Texas Republican says a proposal barring transgender people from using public restrooms of their choice statewide is bad for business. It’s a sentiment that’s out of step with Texas’ leading conservatives who back the proposal, despite it echoing a law that caused economic upheaval in North Carolina. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’ comments Wednesday underscore an escalating ideological battle between the GOP’s business-minded traditional base and further-right grassroots activists. Addressing the Texas Association of Business, Straus received a standing ovation after saying: “I think we should be very careful about doing something that can make Texas less competitive.” The “bathroom bill” has been championed by Straus’ Texas Senate counterpart, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The measure also would ban local governments from passing bathroom ordinances protecting LGBT rights.
HOUSTON (AP) – A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush says Bush has been admitted to the intensive care unit at Houston’s Methodist Hospital to address a respiratory problem from pneumonia. Spokesman Jim McGrath says Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, also has been hospitalized as a precaution after experiencing fatigue and coughing. McGrath says the 92-year-old former president was placed under sedation for a procedure to protect and clear his airway. He is stable and resting comfortably. He has been in the hospital since Saturday. Barbara Bush is 91. The couple marked their 72nd wedding anniversary on Jan. 6.
HUNTSVILLE (AP) — Next week’s scheduled execution of a North Carolina parolee convicted of killing a suburban Dallas real estate agent more than 10 years ago has been postponed. The lethal injection of 36-year-old Kosoul Chanthakoummane has been reset for July 19 by State District Judge Ben Smith. Collin County prosecutors asked the scheduled Jan. 25 date be moved so courts had proper time to review new appeals in his case. The inmate’s lawyers had asked the execution date be completely withdrawn. Chanthakoummane had been paroled to Dallas to live with relatives after serving time for a Charlotte, North Carolina, abduction and robbery when he was arrested two months after the July 2006 slaying of real estate agent Sarah Walker. She was beaten and stabbed at a model home in McKinney.
UPSHUR COUNTY — The Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday identified the highway patrol officer involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting Jan. 3 in Upshur County. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, DPS spokeswoman Jean Dark identified Trooper John Smith as one of the law enforcement officials involved in the shooting of Dale Hightower Jr., 53, of Gilmer. Upshur County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ramon Ortiz also was involved in the shooting. Smith and Ortiz are on paid administrative leave while the Texas Rangers investigate the shooting. Smith joined the Department of Public Safety in 2009 and is assigned to the office in Gilmer. … Read More
HOUSTON (AP) – Emergency crews have made dozens of high-water rescues as thunderstorms flood streets in the Houston area and batter other parts of Texas. Flash flood warnings are in effect for the Houston region, where torrential rains prompted officials to close some schools and delay opening many others on Wednesday. The area’s public transportation has also been delayed or suspended. Forecasters say some metro areas received more than 5 inches of rain overnight. Houston fire officials say they’ve received more than 65 calls for high-water rescues, primarily from motorists stranded along flooded roadways. Emergency management officials in the city of 2.2 million residents are asking people to avoid travel. Heavy rain and lightning also hit in the region extending from San Antonio to Austin, while North Texas was experiencing scattered showers.