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Tyler Man Sentenced for Child Pornography Violations

Mark Anthony HicksTYLER – A 39-year-old Tyler man has been sentenced to federal prison for child pornography violations. Mark Anthony Hicks pleaded guilty on June 4 to possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison Wednesday in Tyler by U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis. According to information presented in court, on February 28, federal and local law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Hicks’s residence. A computer hard drive was seized during the search and found to contain more than 100 images and nearly 30 videos of child pornography. Hicks was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 27 and charged with child pornography violations.

Tyler Infant Twins with Broken Ribs Released from Hospital

thumb_police-tyler-car2TYLER — Three-month-old Tyler twins have been released from a Dallas hospital after suffering broken ribs that Child Protective Services thinks stem from child abuse. Don Martin with the Tyler Police Department tells KETK CPS notified the police of the possibility of child abuse after the twins were taken to Children’s Hospital in Dallas for treatment. “We are very early in the investigation, but it may be considered a child abuse case,” Martin said. According to Martin, reports state the children were taken to the Dallas hospital at the request of their local doctor. The twins and a one-year-old were all in the household. All have been placed with family members. The full injury report has not been released, but we’ll update information as it becomes available.

Study: Tyler Ranks 10th among “Cities with the Fastest Growing Incomes”

money_generic_graphicTYLER — The income website NerdWallet.com shows Tyler has been ranked as the number 10 city in the United States for fastest growing income. That’s according to KETK. The website says, “Tyler is a hub for a varied set of industries, including education, research and health care, and boasts an active tech startup scene.” Read the rest of this entry »

Two Arrested after TABC Sting Operation at Tyler Restaurant

ApplebeesTYLER — Officials say two Tylerites have been arrested after the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission conducted a sting operation at the Tyler Applebee’s. KETK reports the sting was conducted Saturday night. TABC officer Sgt. Victor Kuykendoll says Meagan Higginbotham, 28, a bartender at the restaurant, was arrested for serving alcohol to an already highly intoxicated person, and Matthew Brimhall, 24, was taken to the jail on charges of public intoxication. The TABC says it targeted Applebee’s due to a number of complaints filed against the business. Undercover agents say they witnessed Higginbotham selling alcohol to an already drunk Brimhall, which is a Class A misdemeanor. The TABC performs undercover operations weekly and unnanounced. Brimhall was booked into the Smith County Jail on $260 bond and Higginbotham on $1,000 bond.

White Oak School Officials Consider Bond Issue

thumb_school-teacher-parentsWHITE OAK — White Oak ISD trustees are moving forward to have a bond election in May. KETK reports the proposed bond would have a maximum price tag of $25 million and would be the first bond election for the district since 1999. Although in the beginning stages, the trustees are looking to get a new athletic fieldhouse and tennis courts. But the most important part, they say, is upgrading the high school, which is considered out of date. Officials could seek to renovate the current building, which was built in the 70s, or build something brand new. It would likely be February before the bond election is called.

East Texas Inmate Denied Locks of Dead Parents’ Hair

William ChanceTENNESSEE COLONY (AP) – An East Texas inmate wants to connect to the spirits of his dead parents, but prison officials have prohibited him from possessing a lock of their hair he says he needs for a Native American religious ritual. William Chance is incarcerated at Anderson County’s Michael Unit. He says the small pieces of hair will allow him to properly mourn the deaths of his parents. Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials say the hair poses a security risk because it would be supplied to the inmate by a family member, not a vendor approved by the prison agency. A federal appeals court has rejected other religious issues the 57-year-old Chance has raised in a lawsuit but says the hair appears to be harmless. The case is likely to go to trial early next year in Tyler.

Murder Suspect Hospitalized after Jumping off I-30 Overpass

ssmugSULPHUR SPRINGS — An East Texas murder suspect is in stable condition and under police watch in a Tyler hospital after leaping off an overpass on Interstate 30. The Sulphur Springs Police Department tells KETK Tony DeWayne Crayton, 31, was flown to the hospital and will be served with an arrest warrant for murder upon his release. Police responded to a home on Morris Drive around 1:00 Tuesday afternoon. When officials arrived at the home and knocked on the door, nobody answered, so they began to search the perimeter and spotted a body lying on the floor through the window. Officials forced entry into the house and discovered the body of a woman identified as Jessica Tyler Crayton, 27. According to authorities, she suffered severe trauma to her neck. Read the rest of this entry »

Authorities Identify Bank Robbery Suspect

kilgorebankerKILGORE — Gregg County officials identify the suspect wanted in a Kilgore area bank robbery. An arrest warrant has been obtained for Randall L. Wikert, 60, Kilgore, for robbery. According to KETK, Kilgore police say Wilkert was paroled in April 2010 stemming from a June 1980 murder for which he was serving a life sentence. Authorities said he entered the BankTexas in the Gateway Travel Plaza just before 12:30 Tuesday afternoon. He then reportedly ran into some nearby woods. Police K-9s were used to try and establish a scent. Taking part in the manhunt were officials from the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, Longview and Kilgore Police Departments, and the FBI. The Department is actively seeking Wikert and asking for assistance from the public. If you know of his whereabouts please contact the Kilgore Police Department. Wikert is currently clean shaven, stands 6’4” tall and has no teeth.

East Texas Principal Wins National Award

Cristi ParsonsHALLSVILLE — An East Texas elementary school principal is named to the 2013 Class of National Distinguished Principals. The award comes from the National Association of Elementary School Principals. On the list is Cristi Parsons, principal at Hallsville’s North Elementary. She has been principal there for six years. Parsons says her “history with Hallsville began when I walked through the door of Hallsville Primary School as a kindergarten student. I am proud to say that my entire undergraduate years were spent in the halls of HISD!” According to the organization’s web site, the program honors those principals across the nation whose contributions inspire children to reach farther and higher, to build a brighter future and a better world. The winners will be honored October 25 at an awards banquet in Washington, D.C.

More Charges in Child STD Case

lopezNACOGDOCHES — The Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office has filed additional charges on Jose Ignacio Lopez of Nacogdoches for injury to a child, a first degree felony. According to KETK, Sheriff Jason Bridges stated that the charges stem from a sexual assault case that the Sheriff’s Office started investigating on October 13. The Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital in reference to a child who had been assaulted. Upon further investigation it was found that the child had been sexually assaulted by a relative whom authorities have identified as Lopez. During the investigation, it was revealed that the child is younger than six years of age and had contracted a sexually transmitted disease from the assault. A warrant was obtained for the suspect for aggravated sexual assault of a child, also a first degree felony. Lopez was arrested on that charge on October 17 and booked into the Nacogdoches County Jail. Read the rest of this entry »

Authorities Seek Bank Robber

kgobankrobberKILGORE — The Gregg County Sheriff’s Office says a manhunt has continued off Interstate 20 between Highways 42 and 135. Public Information Officer Kirk Haddix tells KETK a man stole money from a Kilgore bank and ran off into the woods. A man with a knife, described as around 50 years old, white, tall, and thin, wearing jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt, entered the BankTexas in the Gateway Travel Plaza around 12:28 Tuesday afternoon. Police K-9’s have been trying to establish a scent along with officials from the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, Longview and Kilgore Police Departments, and the FBI. If you have any information regarding the suspect or incident, you’re asked to contact the Kilgore Police Department.

Fight Breaks Out in Robert E. Lee Cafeteria

Robert E Lee High SchoolTYLER (AP/Staff) – Some students have been disciplined after a cafeteria fight at Robert E. Lee High School left some children slightly hurt in violence captured on video. KLTV-TV reports two students say they were suspended and face juvenile assault charges after the October 16 incident. Some Tyler Independent School District students posted video online showing several youths slugging each other before teachers stopped the brawl. Ken Vaughn, who’s chief student and support services officer for the district, said Tuesday that no children had life-threatening injuries. He declined to say how many children were hurt, who was disciplined or details on the punishment. Vaughn also didn’t release information on possible criminal charges. Tyler police say the department was not involved in the investigation.

“Whiskey Bend” Is Getting Safer

LONGVIEW — The number of car wrecks along the roadway known as “Whiskey Bend” has drastically decreased over the past year. KETK reports “Whiskey Bend” is the moniker given to the stretch of Texas 149 between Lakeport and Longview, known for the number of liquor stores along the road. In 2008, more than 60 vehicles were involved in wrecks along the road. But last year, there were less than 40, a trend that has continued into 2013. Gregg County officials cite the passage of alcohol sales in Lakeport, as well as other parts of Longview, as part of the reason for the decrease, since less traffic now travels through the area. But they say roadway improvements, which started in 2010 and cost around $7 million are an even bigger reason for safer traffic. In fact, it’s actually not too common for people to call this road “Whiskey Bend” anymore.

Henderson Police Will Soon Have a New Home

Henderson Police vehicleHENDERSON — Henderson’s thin blue line will soon have a new home. Renovations are ongoing at the old National Guard Armory in Lake Forest Park. KETK reports workers are hooking up electrical lines throughout the building soon to be the city’s new police station. It’s an address many taxpayers say will be more accessible to the public, and add more security to the neighborhood. The lower level is 12,000 square feet, and a top level is available for future growth. The actual move-in date has been delayed, but Henderson police plan to be in the facility sometime in December or January.

Authorities Identify Victim of Palestine Fire

commercial_structurePALESTINE — The body of a victim from a late September fire in downtown Palestine has been identified as that of Hope Leann Pyle, nicknamed Hope Clark, 32, from Palestine. According to KETK, on September 28, two people were found dead after a building and apartments went up in flames just after midnight in the 110 block of East Oak Avenue. The building was a total loss; two firefighters were treated at the scene for heat-related injuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Missing Harrison County 19-Year-Old Found in Longview

missing_manMARSHALL — A 19-year-old Harrison County man who had been missing since Thursday has been found at a Longview motel. That’s according to KETK. Shortly after 9:45 Tuesday morning, investigators with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office received information indicating Dayton Hathaway was at the motel. Investigators went to the location and, after confirming with the desk clerk, found the missing person and his roommate in a motel room. According to officials, Hathaway was found well and gave no explanation as to his decision not to have any contact with his family. He is safe and Investigators have contacted his family to give them the information. Hathaway had last been seen near his residence in the 6700 block of US Highway 80 East. Besides having no contact with his family while he was missing, Hathaway had not reported to work during that time.

Mom, Daughter Sentenced in Bank Robberies

thumb_Evie_Mearlene_Herrin-2LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) – A Texas woman and her daughter have been sentenced to federal prison for their role in three bank robberies. The American Press reports 58-year-old Evie Bowin Herrin and 31-year-old Amelia Darci Crew, both of Cleveland, Texas, were sentenced in Lake Charles, La., for conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Herrin received 86 months in prison, and Crew received 51 months in prison. They both received three years of supervised release. They pleaded guilty June 27. According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, the defendants admitted to stealing over $17,000 from banks in Louisiana and Texas, including the Citizens National Bank in Henderson February 28th. Herrin admitted to entering three banks wearing a disguise.

Smith to Hold Town Hall Meeting in Bullard

thumb_Larry-SmithBULLARD – Sheriff Larry Smith will hold a town hall meeting this evening from 6:00 to 7:30 at First Baptist Church in Bullard, located at 1428 South Houston Street. According to a press release, attendees are encouraged to park near and enter the north side of the Family Life Center. The town hall meeting is his fourth since taking office in January. The others were in Whitehouse, Tyler, and Lindale. “I look forward to meeting and talking with the citizens of Southern Smith County,” said Sheriff Smith. “I want to thank Senior Pastor Scott Brown and everyone at First Baptist Church in Bullard for their hospitality in hosting this town hall.” A town hall meeting is also scheduled for November 5 at the Starrville Community Center on Highway 16.

Tyler Man Pleads Guilty in Kansas to Holding Dogfight

Vertrick JordanKANSAS CITY, KAN. (AP) — A Texas man has pleaded guilty in Kansas to holding a dogfight at his home earlier this year. The U.S. Attorney’s office says Vertrick Jordan, 47, of Tyler, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to transport animals across state lines to participate in dogfighting. Jordan admitted conspiring with two Kansas City, Kan., men to hold a dogfight March 23 at his Texas home. Agents who raided the fight detained 30 people and found a dogfighting pit on the property. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Arrested for Robbery; Allegedly Locked Store Employees in Cooler

Francisco BenitezLONGVIEW — Two Longview men have been arrested after allegedly locking employees in a cooler to rob their store. Longview police tell KETK that Francisco Benitez, 20 (pictured), and Genaro Villela, 17, entered a store in the 500 block of South Mobberly Avenue, and that one was armed with a knife. According to police, Benitez and Villela locked two women in the store cooler and began stealing items and loading them into their van. Police say an officer stopped and caught the robbers in the act. After searching the vehicle, the officer reportedly found the stolen cigarettes and synthetic marijuana. The suspects were booked into the Gregg County Jail on $50,000 bond each.

CPS Takes Custody of Child Allegedly Stabbed by Father

744039110378TYLER — There’s new information about the 9-year old child who was injured during an argument between her mother and father. KETK reports she’s been taken into custody by Child Protective Services. Police believe the girl was stabbed by her father during a domestic dispute. It happened around 1:00 Friday morning in the 1300 block of Bellehaven Court in Tyler. The father, Vahid Lamea, 52, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The mother and child were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Week-Long Closure at Tyler Senior Center

thumb_cityoftylerTYLER — The Tyler Senior Center is closed to the public through October 26 for maintenance and will reopen Monday, October 28. All center-sponsored activities will be suspended while the facility is closed, including the October 25 Friday Night Dance and Gentle Senior Yoga classes. Meals on Wheels participants who routinely eat lunch at the Senior Center can pick up their meals at the organization’s main office at 3001 Robertson Road, Tyler. For more details about meal availability and times, call the Meals on Wheels office at 903-593-7385. The Tyler Senior Center, 1915 Garden Valley Road, serves active seniors ages 55 and better. Normal operating hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. For more information about the center and its activities, call 903-597-0781.

Probe Continues after Child Contracts STD, Allegedly from Relative

lopezNACOGDOCHES — More details have emerged on a story we brought you last week about an East Texan accused of giving a child a sexually transmitted disease. Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges says the victim is a girl younger than six. The mother called authorities after she noticed something was wrong with the girl. Bridges says 19-year-old Jose Ignacio Lopez is a relative of the child and had been babysitting. Bridges says crimes like this are the most horrible ones they have to investigate. “Any time they’re a victim of a crime, especially of a sexual assault, it definitely touches home,” says Bridges. “We all have children ourselves, so we have to make sure that doesn’t get personal with us.” He says the STD can be cured. Lopez is charged with aggravated sexual assault and could also be charged with endangering a child.

Early Voting Continues in Smith County

thumb_voting-computerTYLER — The Smith County Elections Office is now offering early voting for the November 5 election. The Elections Office is located at 302 E. Ferguson, just two buildings east of its previous location in the Smith County Courthouse Annex. Early voting will be available October 21- November 1 at the following times:

Smith Elections Department: 302 E Ferguson Street, Tyler, Texas, 75702
· Oct. 21 – 25 – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
· Oct. 28 – 30 – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
· Oct. 31 & Nov. 1 – 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »

TxDOT Project Updates

TxDOT logoTYLER — Here’s a quick look at other work planned in the Tyler District of the Texas Department of Transportation.

SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make pavement repairs at the intersections of State Highway 31 and Farm Road 2661 west of Tyler, and SH 31 and Farm Road 315 in Chandler. A second crew is scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on State Highway 135 between Troup and Arp. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress. Motorists are encouraged to be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zones. Read the rest of this entry »

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