Category: State News

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Texas Selects Company to Run Psychiatric Facility

Terrell State HospitalAUSTIN (AP) Texas leaders have selected a private company to run a much maligned North Texas psychiatric facility. The Austin American-Statesman reports state officials announced Monday that Tennessee-based Correct Care Solutions has the winning bid to operate Terrell State Hospital. The state and company are negotiating the deal and a decision on whether to move forward with the privatization should be made by the year’s end. Mental health advocates have protested the privatization move and say there has been a lack of transparency in the bidding process. State health officials say privatization might be the best way to improve the hospital, which was scrutinized following a patient death in 2013. The Terrell-based hospital employs 980 staffers and serves more than 250 patients.

Wendy Davis Casts Ballot as Early Voting Begins

Wendy Davis2FORT WORTH (AP) Democrat Wendy Davis has cast her ballot and says she’ll be the next Texas governor if her voters turn out. Early voting began yesterday across Texas. Davis remains a heavy underdog against Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott with just two weeks until Election Day. The Fort Worth state senator emphasized education while speaking to supporters and reporters at a voting precinct in her hometown. The U.S. Supreme Court this weekend gave Texas permission to enforce a contested voter ID law this election. The decision came after a lower court earlier this month found the requirement unconstitutional. Democratic congressman Mark Veasey says he’s concerned the ruling will discourage some people enough to not vote. He says voter ID will particularly put minority voters at a disadvantage.

Texas Members of US House Rake in Campaign Cash

Capitol Hill3DALLAS (AP) Just one of Texas’ 36 congressional races is thought to be competitive, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from raking in serious campaign cash. The Dallas Morning News reports that 20 of the state’s U.S. House members have raised at least $1 million this cycle. Rather than spending on easy races, some incumbents are using their war chests to donate to other congressional candidates or gain influence within their parties. For instance, Republican Representative Kevin Brady of The Woodlands has raised $2.3 million while hoping to lead the powerful Ways and Means Committee. The only incumbent believed to be in a real fight to keep his seat is West Texas Democrat Pete Gallego. He’s raised $2.3 million while his Republican challenger, Will Hurd, has taken in $1.1 million.

Jury Selection Begins in Alleged Hit Man Trial

Thomas Michael DixonLUBBOCK (AP) Jury selection is to begin in the trial of an Amarillo plastic surgeon accused in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a Lubbock pathologist who was dating his former girlfriend. Interviews of potential jurors begin today for the capital murder trial of Dr. Thomas Michael Dixon, 50, who’s been jailed since his arrest. Prosecutors say he offered another man three silver bars worth $9,000 to kill Dr. Joseph Sonnier III in July 2012. The 57-year-old chief pathologist at a Lubbock hospital was dating Dixon’s ex-girlfriend when he died. The accused hit man is serving life in prison without parole as part of a plea deal. Prosecutors say he broke into Sonnier’s home and used a gun Dixon had given him. Prosecutors recently decided to not seek the death penalty for Dixon.

Driver, Horse Die after SUV Hits Man on Horseback

HOUSTON (AP) Police say an SUV driver and a horse were killed after the vehicle collided with a man on horseback in northwest Houston. The crash occurred around 8:00 Sunday evening, when the driver of a Chevrolet Tahoe rammed into a man riding a horse. Both had been traveling westbound on West Little York Road in the Acres Home area. After hitting the horse, the SUV slammed into a telephone pole and a chain-link fence. The driver was pronounced dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital. The rider was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The horse was killed in the crash. In a statement Monday, Houston police said no charges had been filed in the incident.

Report: San Antonio Hospitality Industry Booming

San Antonio River WalkSAN ANTONIO (AP) Trinity University researchers say the hospitality industry pumped $13.4 billion into San Antonio’s economy last year. The San Antonio Express-News reports the study by two professors was released Monday at the Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting. The hospitality industry includes hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. They found the industry bested a 2011 record of $12.2 billion and has tripled in size in two decades. The industry provides an annual payroll of $2.49 billion and employs 122,500 workers, about one-eighth of all employees in the city. That employment base has increased by one-third during the past decade and has risen faster than overall employment. The economics and health care administration professors say the city has attracted visitors even during poor economic conditions.

Texas Teen Accidentally Shot, Killed by Brother

crimescene-2CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) Police in South Texas say a man accidentally shot and killed his 16-year-old brother when the man removed a handgun from a holster and it discharged. Corpus Christi police said in a statement that the brothers had gathered Sunday evening to watch a television show when the older brother, who’s 24, removed the gun from the holster. Investigators say a single shot accidentally discharged and struck the teen in the chest. The teen was transported to a hospital where he died. Authorities have not released the names of the brothers. Senior Officer Marc Harrod told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that the brothers’ mother was with them and witnessed the shooting. No charges have been filed in the matter.

Tomball Man Gets 30-Year Sentence for Child Porn

Justice Department logoHOUSTON (AP) A U.S. attorney says a 62-year-old Tomball man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of producing and distributing child pornography. A U.S. district judge ordered the sentence Monday for Raul Roy Marquez, who pleaded guilty to the two charges in June. He’ll also be on supervised release once he leaves prison and must register as a sex offender. Officials say that during the investigation, they found Marquez had downloaded and spread a video on his work computer. They say he also had the material on his personal computer and on discs. Prosecutors say that about 1,000 videos and 34,400 images of child pornography were found in Marquez’s possession.

Texas Stabbing Suspect Arrested in Home Invasion

Marcelino OsunaHOUSTON (AP) Authorities say a man who posted bond after being charged in a stabbing death was one of four people arrested in a Houston-area home invasion last week. Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday Marcelino Osuna, 26, is charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Police say they found him and three others inside of a home after a neighbor saw armed suspects force their way in. No one was injured during the home invasion. Deputies say the suspects held two women and several children at gunpoint. Osuna is in a Harris County jail with no bond. The sheriff’s office says he posted bond in January after being arrested in the stabbing death of a man.

Austin Police Reviewing Cases for Links to Suspect

darrenvantravisconbcAUSTIN (AP) Austin police say they are reviewing their missing persons and cold case files for any potential links to an area man suspected of murder in Indiana. Authorities in Gary, Indiana, said Monday that Darren Vann, 43, confessed to slaying one woman and led them to six other bodies. Vann was convicted of sexual assault in Austin in 2009 in an attack where the victim said she was choked and beaten. Vann was released from Texas prison in July 2013. Vann is registered as a sex offender in Texas, but the Texas Department of Public Safety listed his risk level as “low.” He did not register in Indiana.

Ebola Fear, Monitoring Eases for Some in Dallas

Youngor JallahDALLAS (AP) The people closest to Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan are trying to resume their lives now that they have come out of a 21-day incubation period without developing symptoms of the disease. Youngor Jallah, (pictured) the daughter of Duncan’s fiancee, sent her children back to school Monday, with clearance from the Dallas County health department tucked in their backpacks. Health officials say 43 of 48 people on an original watch list have passed the incubation period safely. Those include Jallah’s mother, Louise Troh, who was planning to marry Duncan. Troh and others were evacuated from their apartment and most of their belongings were incinerated. Officials say about 120 people who had close contact with Duncan and the two nurses who became infected with Ebola are now being monitored. Read the rest of this entry »

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