CHEROKEE COUNTY — Two men have been arrested and there could still be more arrests in connection with thefts in Cherokee County. According to a news release, Ricky Schakosky, 29, of Reklaw, has been charged with three counts of theft from Cherokee, Angelina and Nacogdoches counties. He has also been charged with failure to appear on theft of property charge from Cherokee County and failure to identify a fugitive from justice from Eastland County. His bonds total $31,000. Also charged was Jeremy Ranniger 30, of Alto. He has been jailed on a Cherokee County warrant for theft of property. Bond was set at $10,000. The investigation into the thefts continues.
KILGORE — Kilgore police are looking for two suspects in connection with an armed robbery. It happened Monday morning around 5:30 at the Fillin’ Station Donut and Deli Cafe, 310 South Higginbotham Road. A man, armed with a handgun and wearing all black, robbed the business of an undisclosed amount of cash. Kilgore police say he fled in what they described as a maroon “boxy” passenger car with a chrome grill. It was driven by the second suspect. The gunman was described as a black male from 5’ 08” to 5’10” and weighing over 220 lbs. He was also wearing a hooded sweatshirt with some type of homemade black cloth mask. No injuries were reported in the robbery.
AUSTIN — Lt. Governor Patrick has made six appointments to the Texas Sunset Commission. One of those is State Senator Robert Nichols of Jacksonville.(pictured) He will be fulfilling the unexpired term of Senator Jane Nelson. Nichols previously served on the commission from 2009 to 2013. He also served as vice chairman of the panel. Patrick feels the commission has a challenging assignment ahead of it in the next legislative session. He said in a news release, “These appointees will first decide if the functions of state agencies under review are needed, and secondly, whether they are operating in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.” The Lt. Governor also announced that Senator Brian Birdwell will replace Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Eltife has announced he will not be seeking re-election.
In Longview/Gregg County, a three-mile section of Farm Road 2087 has been closed to through traffic due to water over the roadway from the Sabine River which continues to rise.
Flooding of the roadway is anticipated through the weekend. While residents and businesses do have access, the decision was made to close the roadway for the safety of the traveling public. Crews will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation. The closure is from west of Loop 281 to just east of Interstate Highway 20.… Read More
LONGVIEW — East Texans filled Maude Cobb Convention Center in Longview Saturday for the first of the police department’s open carry meetings. “I think people are coming out just to understand what the law is, there’s been a lot of talk about that over the last several weeks and i think there’s some questions on it and there’s some part about the law that just aren’t very clear,” says Asst. Chief Anthony Boone. KETK reports that Boone shared a presentation outlining the main differences between concealed and open carrying.… Read More
HARRISON COUNTY — Harrison County deputies and investigators are interviewing witnesses in an alleged road rage incident where one person was shot. According to KETK, the shooting happened around 9:00 PM on FM 2208 near Alpine Road. Officials said one vehicle was approaching another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction with its high beam lights on and did not dim them as the other vehicle approached. The driver of the other vehicle allegedly turned around and pursued the car, reportedly followed the car and eventually got the driver to pull over.… Read More
TYLER (AP) — A 21-year-old East Texas man has been sentenced to life in prison for the killing of a transgender woman. Smith County prosecutor Jacob Putman told the Lufkin Daily News that the evidence implicating Carlton Champion Jr. included Champion’s DNA being found in a car belonging to Ty Underwood. Putnam says blood found on Champion’s jacket also linked him to the Jan. 26 shooting of the 24-year-old Underwood. An arrest affidavit indicates Champion may have killed Underwood after she confronted him about seeing someone else. Tyler police have disputed claims that he killed Underwood after discovering she was transgender. Champion was convicted Thursday in the death and prosecutors relied on text messages between the two to show he misled investigators.
SMITH COUNTY — The father of Smith County Constable John Smith has been arrested and charged with murder. John Douglas Smith, 71, reportedly shot and killed Francisco Douglas, 47, at the Sunset Valley Mobile Home Park off of Highway 64 west. Smith was the caretaker of the park Douglas lived at. The two had began arguing over rent when Smith reportedly shot and killed Douglas Friday afternoon. According to KETK, Constable Smith released a statement Saturday saying, “We are praying for everyone affected by this. It’s a tough and sad day for our family, but it’s also a tough day for the other family involved.” Constable Smith serves precinct 4 in the county.
John Douglas Smith has been charged with murder. He was booked into the Smith County jail on a $150,000 bond.
LONGVIEW — Longview police have arrested the gunman in a Thursday night shooting in the 2900 block of LeTourneau Drive. According to KETK, one person was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a fight started between several people around 7:00. Authorities have identified the shooter, but have not released their name because they are a juvenile. The shooter was taken into custody on Friday. LeTourneau University was not involved in the shooting in any way. The victim is expected to recover from his injuries.
LaRUE – Crews have completed repair work on a seven-mile stretch of U.S. 175 between Baxter and LaRue, east of Athens in Henderson County, and the roadway is open to traffic. That portion of the highway sustained major damage last weekend when rainstorms caused a washout of the embankment and slope. TxDOT says repairs included removing part of the mainlanes, drying out and strengthening the subgrade, drainage work, and rebuilding the mainlanes. The 10-mile detour from FM 804 at Baxter to LaRue added three miles to travelers’ commutes to avoid 175. … Read More
TROUP — The members of the Troup ISD school board voted unanimously on Friday morning to terminate Dennis Alexander as their head football coach and athletic director. KETK reports this was due to allegations of him slapping one of his players on the back of the head. Alexander was suspended in October amid an investigation. He later turned down an offer to resign. The Troup coach previously said he “tapped” a student on the back of the head and had never slapped a kid. School board members declined an interview request following the special meeting. A call to Superintendent Stuart Bird had not been returned at time of publication. Alexander said Friday afternoon he had no knowledge of the meeting and stated he believes he has the right to a hearing before he can be officially fired. … Read More
LONGVIEW — Two Longview businesses have gathered almost 1,000 signatures on their petition against a church property possibly turning into a retail store. KETK reports Longview Christian Church is under negotiation to move to a former movie theater off Texas 31. If the church turns into a retail development, it would need changes to the zoning of the property. Skinner’s Grocery, Hardin True Value, and neighboring homes are all involved in signing the petition. These neighbors are worried about road adjustments and traffic that could come with the property’s rezoning. … Read More
TYLER — Carlton Champion was sentenced to life in prison for murder Friday. A Tyler jury Thursday afternoon found Champion, 21, of Tyler guilty in the January death of transgender woman Tyrone Lee Underwood, 24. Tyler police say the two were romantically involved at some point.… Read More
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Louie Gohmert has voted against the year-end federal spending bill, and he’s explaining why. In a prepared statement, Gohmert said the Omnibus “included some good initiatives such as ending the ban on oil exports,” but “the President’s war against people with jobs involving coal is funded as are federal programs that allow millions more acres to be put off limits for oil, gas, or other mineral production.” Gohmert also bemoaned the bill’s continued funding of Planned Parenthood. He additionally criticized “full funding of President Obama’s plan for bringing alleged Syrian refugees into the United States – ‘alleged’ because there is no way to be sure where they are actually from or who they really are.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama has granted commutations of sentence to 95 people, including an East Texan, and pardoned two others. KETK reports the president commuted the sentence of Tommy Lynn Johnson, 60, of Athens. He was sentenced to 511 months in prison and five years supervised release for a variety of drug and weapon charges. Among others, those included conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Johnson’s sentence was amended to 481 months in prison on October 6, 2015, with his term expiring on April 16, 2016.
LONGVIEW — The Longview Police Department Saturday holds the first of three educational public meetings on the new Texas open carry law that takes effect Jan. 1. All the gatherings will be held at Maude Cobb Convention Center. The meetings are scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m.; Monday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 6 p.m. Police say an in-depth question and answer session will follow each presentation.
TYLER — A former vice-president and trust officer at Regions Bank in Tyler Texas has pleaded guilty in federal court to structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements. Carol D. Rushton, 53, appeared Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nicole Mitchell, waived grand jury indictment, and pleaded guilty to a one-count information. Federal prosecutors say Rushton caused nine separate transactions of $10,000 or less, totaling $70,500.00, from November 3, 2010-August 15, 2012, at the Regions Bank in Tyler for the purposes of evading federal reporting requirements. She is now facing a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000.00. A sentencing hearing has not been.
AUSTIN — Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Kimberly Fish od Longview and Col. Jeanette Sterner (Ret.) of Holly Lake Ranch, and reappointed Cary M. “Mac” Abney of Marshall, to the Sabine River Authority Board of Directors. Their terms are set to expire on July 6, 2021.… Read More
MARSHALL — A TxDOT employee and former Marshall firefighter was arrested Tuesday in Marshall on a Cass County warrant for online solicitation of a minor younger than age 14. That’s according to KETK and the Longview Neww-Journal. “It involved numerous e-mails and texts back and forth,” Cass County District Attorney Randal Lee said Wednesday, regarding the allegations. “She was a teenager.” According to jail records, the defendant, 42-year-old Danny Michael Duncan, has a Jefferson address, 139 County Road 1640 N. He was arrested by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office. As of Wednesday evening, Duncan was still in the custody of the Harrison County Jail under a $25,000 bond. “We will pick him up as soon as possible,” said Lee.… Read More
GILMER — A Gilmer man accused of murdering his wife was indicted Wednesday morning by an Upshur County grand jury. According to KETK, deputies arrested Roger Dale Mullins, Jr., 33, early in the morning of October 3, following a standoff beginning late on October 2. Authorities found his wife, Angela LeeAnn Mullins, 24, dead inside the couple’s home off FM 49. Law enforcement responded to the scene after receiving a call about a man with a gun at the home. The suspect’s bond is set at $1 million on one count of murder. He remains in the Upshur County Jail.
WOOD COUNTY — The National Weather Service has determined damage sustained in the Quitman area during Sunday morning storms was not due to a tornado. According to KETK, the NWS says straight line winds were responsible for damage from Randy Road to County Road 4116. Officials received reports of snapped and uprooted trees. Some of those fell on homes, vehicles, and farm buildings in the area. A survey team said peak winds were estimated at 85 miles per hour. No injuries were reported in the incident.
TYLER — Brookshire Grocery Company’s Board of Directors announced Thursday that Rick Rayford has retired as president and CEO, and that Chairman of the Board Bradley W. Brookshire will serve as the company’s chairman and CEO. Bradley Brookshire said in a news release that the company appreciates Rayford’s 44 years of service to the firm. The grandson of company founder Wood T. Brookshire, Bradley W. Brookshire has served as chairman of the board since 2007. He’s part of the third generation of the Brookshire family to lead the company, long a top-tier player in the Tyler economy. He has 38 years of service and has served in various leadership roles. In a statement to the company’s employees, Brookshire thanked them for their support, particularly in recent months as the board evaluated a range of strategic alternatives for the company.
LA MARQUE (AP) — An exotic car salvage yard owner in Lufkin has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to insurance fraud. The Houston Chronicle reports that in November 2009, Andy House drove his sports car into the Gulf Bay in the La Marque area and left it running in the water. The vehicle was destroyed after the engine was flooded with saltwater. House purchased the 2006 Bugatti Veyron for $1 million in October 2009, and insured the car for $2.2 million. In an insurance claim, House said he swerved into the water after reaching for his cell phone. The insurers accepted the claim. Another motorist later posted a video of the incident on YouTube. House must pay back the settlement of about $600,000 and will have to serve three years of supervised release.
TYLER — Funeral services for Tyler Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carl Johnson will be Saturday, December 19, at 11:00 a.m. at St. James Baptist Church, S. Lyons Ave. at W. Shaw St. in Tyler. Johnson’s death was announced Thursday in a news release from Metropolitan Chamber Board President Derrick Choice. The organization was formed in 1990 to serve underutilized areas of Tyler, with a focus on the African-American Community.
TYLER — The City of Tyler Main Street Department has launched its new holiday ornament sale with an ornament depicting the People’s Petroleum Building in downtown Tyler. Each piece is $15, and all net proceeds benefit the Main Street Department. Ornaments may be purchased at Gallery Main Street, 110 W. Erwin. Main Street Director Beverly Abell notes that her department has to fundraise a significant portion of its budget even though Main Street is part of city government. She says along with using the ornament to raise money, Main Street also raises awareness of the many historic buildings downtown. … Read More
ALBA — A Quitman woman has been killed in a two-vehicle wreck in Alba. According to KETK, Alba Police Chief Tim Koonce says at 6:30 Tuesday evening, Jo Ann Hughes, 74, was driving her SUV north on Farm Road 17 when she stopped at the intersection of Highway 69 and then attempted to cross. A semi headed south on Highway 69 struck Hughes’s vehicle. Hughes was pronounced dead at the scene. Another passenger in her SUV was critically injured and taken to a local hospital. He has been identified as Robert Dyer, 66. No other injuries were reported.
HENDERSON — The State Fire Marshal’s Office is now assisting in the investigation of a fire in which an East Texas student was found dead. KETK reports that word comes from Henderson Police Department Lt. Chad Taylor. Taylor added that according to fire officials, it could be up to a month before more information is known because the home was destroyed. At this time, no foul play is suspected. The Webster Drive residence caught fire Sunday. Authorities responded around 11:36 p.m. and were able to save one teenage boy, but 14-year-old William Gonzalez died in the fire. Fire and police officials are investigating the incident. A cause of the fire and point of origin are not known at this time.
HOUSTON (AP) — The state’s highest criminal court says a man on death row for a shootout that left two East Texas sheriff’s officers dead should be examined by mental health experts to determine if he’s competent for execution. The ruling Wednesday from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reverses a decision from a Henderson County trial judge handling the case of Randall Wayne Mays, 56. Mays’ lawyers appealed after the trial court ruled they failed to show Mays was mentally incompetent for execution for the 2007 fatal shootings at his Henderson County home. The U.S. Supreme Court has held a person facing execution is incompetent if he doesn’t understand his punishment and why he’s being punished. In March, the appeals court gave Mays a reprieve two days before his scheduled execution.
TYLER – A vehicle-pedestrian accident in Smith County has killed two persons. The accident happened just before 8:45 Tuesday morning on Farm Road 2767 about four miles east of Tyler. Dead at the scene was Luis Morales-Vega, 38, of Tyler, and Randy Smith, Jr., 26, of Kilgore. The two, along with a third person who was not injured, were standing beside a disabled vehicle when they were hit by a pickup driven by Ashley McGill, 30, of Tyler.… Read More
AUSTIN — Thirteen Tyler schools appear on the Texas Education Agency’s list of schools that are failing. They appear on the agency’s Public Education Grant list. A school can get on the list one of two ways: If at least half the students fail any STAAR subject for two of the past three years, reading, writing, math, science and social studies; or if a school was rated “improvement required” in the state accountability system even once during the past three years. … Read More