Category: Local News Archive

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No Charge in East Texas Homicide

GREGG COUNTY — A Gregg County grand jury has declined to return an indictment in the July beating death of a Longview man. Police said Sean Drake was punched in the head during a fight outside a Longview bar, which led to his death. According to the Longview News-Journal, it happened on the morning of July 12 in the parking lot of the Lodge Sports Bar and Billiards. Last week, the grand jury declined to indict the suspect, whose identity has never been released. Drake’s body was sent for an autopsy at the Tyler Forensic Center. On November 16, the coroner’s report indicated Drake died from blunt-force head trauma after being struck multiple times in the face and head. The autopsy report listed his death as a homicide. According to the police report, Drake and the suspect argued upon leaving the bar.

Longview Murder Suspect Indicted

ByronLONGVIEW — A grand jury has indicted a Longview man accused of shooting a woman in the back on a charge of manslaughter. According to the Longview News Journal, Byron Marcel Houston loaded a revolver with a single bullet, spun the chamber and fired at Barbara Hudson, 39, killing her. Hudson died November 17. The 30-year-old told investigators he occasionally played the game with Hudson in a joking manner because “it made her mad.” Houston was held Tuesday in the Gregg County Jail on bonds totaling more than $50,000.

Lindale Home Hit by Fire

LINDALE — A home on County Road 4126, near Lindale, has been destroyed by fire. It was reported around 2:45 yesterday afternoon. The only ones one when the fire started were the family three pet dogs, who died in the flames. The cause of the fire at the Mark Crews residence remains under investigation.

Suspect in Texas Deputy Death Ruled Incompetent

Tucker StricklandTEXARKANA (AP) — A Texarkana man accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy at a county courthouse has been ruled incompetent to stand trial. A judge has ordered Tucker Strickland confined in a state mental hospital until he’s considered fit for trial in the fatal shooting of deputy Sherri Jones in 2011.

Mooring Upbeat but Apprehensive about School Funding

thumb_gary-mooringTYLER — The Tyler ISD superintendent has mixed feelings about a judge’s decision ruling the Texas school finance system unconstitutional. Gary Mooring tells KETK he’s “very pleased at this point, but also very apprehensive, because we don’t know where it’s gonna end up.” Mooring says it was exciting that the court recognized what he considers the inequities and inadequacies of the existing funding system.

Eleven Suspects Arrested on Drug Trafficking Charges

thumb_FederalCourthouseTYLER – A lengthy investigation has led to the arrests of 11 Cherokee County residents for drug trafficking in East Texas. Yesterday, a combined task force of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies began arresting individuals named in a federal indictment returned by a grand jury on January 23. The indictment charges the following with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine:
Javier Colmenero Loyola, 46
James Franklin Carpenter, 59
Bobby Joe Whiteley, 42
Brandon Wesley Kimble, 28
Christopher Trent O’Neal, 27
Toby Hill Coslett, aka “Crazy,” 41
Jeffrey Rainey, aka “Pee Wee,” 49
Stile Parker Denton, 48
Morris Edward Stone, 43
James Adrien Craig, aka “Ace,” 37
Christine Marie Hamer, 35

The defendants were scheduled to appear Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love in Tyler federal court. If convicted, the defendants each face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison. The indictment is the result of a joint investigation by the Tyler office of the FBI, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville Police Department, and members of the Safe Streets Task Force. Numerous additional agencies participated in Tuesday’s arrests, including DEA, ATF, HSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Texas Rangers Special Operations Group, and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.

Invasive Plant Moving Into Other East Texas Lakes

salvaniaMARSHALL (AP) – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials say an invasive plant that’s become a problem on Caddo Lake has been spread to at least four other East Texas lakes. The non-native giant salvinia is showing up on boat ramps at Lake O’ the Pines, Lake Wright Patman, Lake Gilmer and Lake Murval. Agency spokesman Lynn Wright tells the Marshall News-Messenger boaters accelerate the plant’s march through the state’s lakes because it clings to boats and trailers. A single plant can double in just a week. The plant grows to a thick carpet on the lake surface, blocking light for other plants beneficial to fish. Once established, the salvinia is nearly impossible to eliminate. The problem is severe this year on Caddo Lake, where most boat ramps are clogged with it.

Right to Protect Home From Intruders

Larry Smith-Smith County SheriffSMITH COUNTY — The suspect accused of breaking into a home Saturday morning remains hospitalized after he was stabbed by the homeowner. Smith County Sheriff’s got a call about a home invasion in the Pine Trail Shores area in Flint around 1:30 Saturday morning. The Smith County Sheriff’s office spoke with KETK and said the homeowner was not home when the intruder entered. The homeowner saw the intruder in his house and started stabbing him with an unknown object. The intruder will be charged with burglary when he is released from the hospital.

Sheriff Larry Smith says homeowners have the right to protect themselves and their home if they suspect there life or the life of someone else is in jeopardy. Even if they need to use deadly force to protect themselves. Sheriff Smith says in some rural parts of the county, deputies try to respond as quickly as possible. But if someone is breaking into your house, you need to be prepared.

“We can’t be immediately there if someone is breaking into your house. We’re not going to get there in time so be prepared to fend for yourself until we are able to get there,” said Sheriff Smith.

Man Sentenced For Online Solicitation of Minor

PERVGREGG COUNTY — A Gregg County man who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old boy for sex when he was arrested last year, pleads guilty to online solicitation of a minor. According to the Longview News-Journal, Christopher Scott Church, 35, was handed a 12-year prison sentence. He had faced up to 20 years for the second-degree felony. Church was given credit for the 329 days he has spent in the Gregg County Jail since his March 13 arrest in a Longview Police Department sting in cooperation with the Dallas Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. According to evidence offered by Assistant District Attorney Chris Botto, Church and an undercover agent corresponded on Craigslist before moving to texts to each other’s cellphones.

TISD Wins State Award

TISD Admin Sign2TYLER — For the fourth year in a row, Tyler ISD earned recognition for financial transparency. The Texas Comptroller awarded Tyler ISD the Gold Leadership Circle Award, the highest recognition given to local governments that set the bar for financial transparency.

Following the guidelines set by the Texas Comptroller Leadership Program, Tyler ISD has worked to become financially transparent by opening its books to the public; providing clear, consistent pictures of spending; and sharing information in a user-friendly format that lets taxpayers easily drill down for more information.

“Over the past few years Tyler ISD has worked to become even more financially transparent.” Tyler ISD Chief Financial Officer Tosha Bjork said. “Taxpayers deserve to know how the District is spending their money. It is an honor to receive this award.”

This award represents one of Tyler ISD’s Core Beliefs: Effective and responsible utilization of the community’s resources is fundamental in educating children. It is Tyler ISD’s responsibility to allocate District resources to meet the needs of all students while maintaining the high level of fiscal responsibility, efficiency and integrity.

Tyler ISD provides information on financial transparency electronically on its website, tylerisd.org. The information includes check registers, monthly payroll summaries, annual financial reports and district credit card transactions. The information is updated on a regular basis by Tyler ISD staff.

West Rusk ISD Considers Police Department

NEW LONDON — The Board of Trustees for West Rusk County Consolidated Independent School District will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss creating a school district police department. That’s according to KETK and the Longview News-Journal. Superintendent Tommy Alexander said the possibility of a police department for the district has been under discussion for almost a year and is not being considered specifically in response to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. However, he conceded that the tragedy has brought the issue of school security to the forefront. The meeting will be at 7:00this evening in the board conference room, 10705 Main St. (Highway 42) in New London.

Bankruptcy Judge Takes Up Lon Morris Auction

thumb_Lon-Morris-SignTYLER — A Tyler judge prepares to make a decision on property auctioned off last month by Jacksonville’s fading Lon Morris College. Proceedings in bankruptcy court began Monday. One key point of contention: Jacksonville city officials say they have jurisdiction over some of the auctioned property and contend they didn’t clear it for sale. But Jacksonville City manager Mo Raissi tells KETK he’s confident the outcome of the hearing will be positive. Raissi says he feels the property already belongs to the city of Jacksonville, but the judge will make the decision.

Meeting Scheduled on Future of Stewart Middle School

TYLER — Some concerned citizens will meet with Tyler ISD representatives tonight over the possible conversion of Stewart Middle School to house alternative education programs. The district’s long range plan calls for such a move, along with the construction of several new middle schools. A number of citizens want Stewart to stay open as a middle school. Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to include Superintendent Gary Mooring and school board members. It will be held at 6:00 at St. James Missionary Baptist Church on Lyons Avenue, and organizers are urging all interested residents to attend.

Mother Accused of Bludgeoning Toddler Has Appeal Rejected

babydeath2TEXARKANA — The Texas Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana has affirmed the conviction of Jessica Bain Carson for the murder of her own child. That’s according to KETK. Carson was convicted on April 13, 2011, of torturing and killing 13-month-old Amora Bain Carson. She was sentenced to life in prison. Carson’s live-in fiancé Blaine Milam was also convicted of taking the life of baby Amora and sentenced to death on May 27, 2011. Authorities say the Rusk County couple killed the child with a hammer. Investigators also found the toddler’s body riddled with bite marks.

The lawyer for Carson appealed the decision based on the jury not submitting lesser offenses. But that was ruled out because the error was ruled harmless due to the capital murder conviction, thus making it a non-issue, according to the appeals court. Carson’s attorney also argued Carson was “entitled to a jury instruction on mistake of fact because she mistakenly believed that Milam would not harm Amora” and evidence was insufficient. Both arguments were rejected. The defense also contended that “life without parole was cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment because of Carson’s youth.” This was not allowed to go before the Appellate Court.

According to the arrest report, Carson “admitted to Ranger Kenny Ray that she was present when the defendant performed an exorcism of the demons possessing the body of their child, Amora Bain Carson. The defendant went on to say after her husband killed the baby, they drove to Henderson to a pawnshop to pawn items to pay for an exorcism service and officers were able to confirm those transactions. The defendant Carson said they then made up a story about leaving the baby alone and returning home and finding the baby dead.” Both felons were 18 at the time of the murder.

Two Kilgore Students Killed, Three People Injured in Crash

KILGORE — Two Kilgore ISD students were killed, and three people were injured Sunday night in a car crash. KETK reports it happened on Highway 259 around 10:00 p.m. According to officials, an SUV carrying five people crashed about 3 miles north of Henderson. The driver, Hava Shala, 33, of Kilgore, was driving northbound when the vehicle swerved to avoid an object in the road. The vehicle side skidded into a grass median and rolled several times, throwing two passengers and partially ejecting a third. Hava Shala, 37-year-old front seat passenger Bennie Shala, and 19-year-old backseat passenger Murteza Bojkaj, all of Kilgore, were hospitalized following the wreck. Their current conditions are unknown.

DPS authorities identified the two students killed as 8th grader Liradone Bojkaj, 14, and Junior Mergimtare Bojkaj, 17, both of Kilgore. Murteza Bojkaj is believed to be a 2011 KISD graduate, according to Superintendent Dennis Williams. Liradone was pronounced dead at the scene. Mergimtare was taken to a Tyler hospital, where she later died. Grief counselors are at both school locations and other counselors are available to talk to students if needed.

“We’re deeply saddened when we received the word this morning that we lost two students in an auto accident last night. Our hearts and thoughts are with the family during this grave loss,” said Williams Monday. The crash remains under investigation.

Missing Man Found

Willie Hubert WingfieldTYLER — The Silver Alert issued for Willie Hubert Wingfield of Dallas has been cancelled. Tyler police say Wingfield was found in Vermilion, Louisiana, in safe condition. Police say Wingfield has medical issues and went missing while driving from Dallas to Tyler. A state-wide Silver Alert was issued for Wingfield, who is diabetic and is diagnosed with dementia. Wingfield was reported missing around 11:45 Friday night. Sunday night, the Tyler Police Department received information of a confirmed sighting of the man in Upshur County near Big Sandy.

Family members said that Wingfield was driving to Tyler to visit his girlfriend. He stopped and called her for directions to her house around 5:30pm. He said he was at the CVS pharmacy at Glenwood and West Gentry. The last time Wingfield was contacted before going missing, he said he was somewhere on Queen Street. Family members had been unable to contact him since and it appears that his phone was not working or was turned off.

Traffic Back to Normal at Wreck Sites on I-20

bridgepicGREGG COUNTY — Officials say roads reopened Monday and everything began moving smoothly following a pair of morning wrecks on I-20 in Gregg County. A KETK reporter on scene says there was no significant damage to the vehicles. Earlier, authorities shut down eastbound I-20 at mile marker 589, which is Highway 31. Another wreck was cleared at mile marker 591, which is FM 2087.

Police: East Texan Arrested for Exposing Himself in Shreveport Park

020113_naked_man_mugSHREVEPORT — Hugh Rutherford, 70, of Marshall, was arrested after allegedly exposing himself to an undercover police officer in a Shreveport park Thursday. That’s according to KETK and its news partner KMSS. The park, in the 900 block of Clyde Fant Parkway, is reportedly known for lascivious behavior, and often has undercover police patrolling the grounds. Thursday, according to authorities, Rutherford was in the park and came across one of the undercover police stationed there. He then decided to pull his pants down, exposing his privates to the police officer, according to officials. Police say the undercover officer quickly arrested Rutherford for indecent exposure.

Police Investigate Reported Shooting

police-car-lightsTYLER — Police investigate a report of shots fired at a Tyler club. It happened just after 1:00 Monday morning in the 1700 block of North Palace. Officers were called out after a suspicious noise complaint that reportedly sounded like gunshots near the intersection of West Vance. When authorities arrived, there were several people leaving the parking lot and refused to tell police what had happened. A woman, however, told officers that her car had been parked nearby while she was at the club and a bullet had hit her back window. There were several casings in the parking lot. No injuries were reported. Anyone with details about the incident is asked to contact the Tyler Police Department or Crimestoppers.

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 on Monday are scheduled to perform minor pavement repairs and resurfacing work on State Highway 64 east just outside of East Loop 323 in Tyler. The work in that location is expected to last one day.

Elsewhere, TxDOT crews are scheduled to perform edge and ditch work on Stgate Highway 110 between Toll 49 and the Whitehouse city limits. 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.

GREGG COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs on State Highway 42 between Farm Road 2206 south of White Oak and Farm Road 1252 in Hughey. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

HENDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform pavement repair operations on Farm Road 2636 south of Malakoff and on Farm Road 1667 south of Trinidad. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

RUSK COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 782 northeast of Henderson between Farm Road 1716 in Oak Hill and State Highway 149 near the Gregg County Line. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

WOOD COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform ditch cleaning operations on Farm Road 2869 between U.S. Highway 80 and Lake Hawkins, and in various locations on US 80. A second crew is scheduled to continue edge work on Farm Road 1643 between Farm Road 515 west of Winnsboro and State Highway 37 northeast of Quitman.

Elsewhere in Wood County, TxDOT contractors are at work making base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 1804 (Hoard Road) between US 80 and the Smith County Line. The work is being done in preparation for a seal coat application next summer. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

VAN ZANDT COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews on Monday are scheduled to conclude fog seal operations on U.S. Highway 80 between Wills Point and Edgewood, then spend the balance of the week performing the same work on Interstate Highway 20 frontage roads between the Oakland-Colfax and Farm Road 773 ramps. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers and pilot vehicles will control traffic.

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 343 east of U.S. Highway 69 in Rusk, and continue edge work on Farm Road 855 near Mount Selman. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

ANDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue edge and shoulder repairs on Farm Road 323 southeast of Palestine. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

Two Hospitalized Following Longview Wreck

Longview PD BadgesLONGVIEW — Two persons have been injured following a two vehicle accident in Longview. During the accident, one of the cars was sent crashing into the Zippy J Eleven convenience store in the 500 block of West Marshall Avenue. One of the injured was an employee inside the business. The extent of the injuries is not available.

Home Invasion Suspect Injured

Smith County Sheriffs DeptSMITH COUNTY — A man accused of a home invasion in Smith County is hospitalized after being attacked by the home owner. The 911 call came in from Pine Trail Shores around 1:30 Saturday morning. Deputies say the found the home owner fighting with the intruder. The suspect was restrained and taken to East Texas Medical Center where he as undergone surgery. The investigation into the incident continues.

Hallsville Woman Arrested Following Break-In, Theft

LONGVIEW — A Hallsville woman is accused of breaking into a house and stealing a car and a purse with credit cards. Arrested by Longview police was Kyleigha Scott, 23. They were waiting for her when she came back to the car at the Walgreens Drug Store in the 500 block of East Marshall Avenue. Officers were led to car by the stolen cars’ OnStar system. She was booked into the Gregg County Jail under bonds totaling $25,000.

Kilgore Basketballer Arrested, Kicked off Squad

KILGORE — A member of the Kilgore College basketball team has been arrested on drug charges. Kicked off the team following his arrest was Andre Jamal Horne, 19, of Newark, Delaware. Officers say Horne was caught in his dorm room with a marijuana cigarette by the assistant director for student life who was doing a random room check. Horne was booked into the Gregg County Jail under a $1,000 bond.

Street Closure

TYLER — East Erwin Street in Tyler will be closed between Adams Avenue and Thompson Avenue South on Saturday to install a sewer service.

Detours:

Going west on Erwin: turn South (left) on Thompson Avenue South, right on East Elm Street turn right on Adams Avenue or South Center Avenue and then turn left onto East Erwin Street.

Going East on Erwin: turn right on South Center Avenue or Adams Avenue, turn left onto East Elm Street, to Beckham.

Or you can turn left at Center to Ferguson. Turn right on Ferguson to Beckham.

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