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October 06, 2018 - 12:00 am


Texas man found not guilty in 1993 fatal shooting of 2 teens

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A West Texas man who served 18 years in prison for the shooting deaths of two teenagers before his conviction was overturned has been found not guilty in his third and final capital murder trial.

Forty-one-year-old Daniel Villegas collapsed in tears Friday after hearing the verdict in an El Paso courtroom.

His first trial, in 1994, ended in a mistrial but he was retried and convicted the following year and sentenced to life in prison.

An appeals court in 2013 overturned the conviction and a new trial was ordered.

Prosecutors say Villegas had confessed to a cousin and others that he killed the teens, who were targeted in a 1993 drive-by shooting. But his attorney says Villegas was only joking.

The El Paso County District Attorney's Office cannot appeal Friday's verdict.


Texas sheriff's deputy dies after he's struck by vehicles

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (AP) — An East Texas sheriff's deputy has died after he was struck by two vehicles while attempting to remove debris from a roadway.

The Nacogdoches County sheriff's office says in a statement that deputy Raymond "Brad" Jimmerson was killed early Friday when he was struck north of the city of Nacogdoches.

It wasn't clear what the 49-year-old Jimmerson was removing from the road, but authorities say he was struck by a passenger car and the impact then pushed him into the path of an SUV.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating.

Jimmerson had been with the sheriff's department for 19 years and in 2006 was named, along with another deputy, as the East Texas Peace Officer Association's officer of the year.


Chicago verdict raises hope of police being held accountable

A rare scene in the American justice system unfolded in a Chicago courthouse: A white officer stood before a mostly white jury and was convicted of killing a black teenager.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted Friday of second-degree murder and multiple counts of aggravated battery for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

The conviction in the 2014 shooting came two months after a Texas officer was convicted in the killing of a 15-year-old unarmed black boy.

The pair of guilty verdicts could signal a shift in momentum after years of delayed arrests, non-indictments and acquittals.

Activists and advocates say their efforts, along with the ubiquity of cellphone camera evidence, could be changing the power balance between police and black communities.


Mattress Firm files for bankruptcy, closing up to 700 stores

HOUSTON (AP) — Mattress Firm, Inc., the nation's largest mattress retailer, is filing for bankruptcy protection and plans to close up to 700 stores around the country.

The Houston-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday in federal court in Delaware.

According to court documents, Mattress Firm has more than $1 billion in liabilities and has more than 50,000 creditors. It owes its largest creditor, mattress maker Simmons Manufacturing Co., nearly $65 million.

In a statement, CEO and president Steve Stagner says the bankruptcy filing will allow the company to "strengthen our balance sheet" and close stores in certain markets with "too many locations in close proximity to each other."

The company has more than 3,000 stores in the U.S. and in recent years had been aggressively expanding as it purchased competitors.


Judge appoints attorney for Texas girl, 9, on life support

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A judge has appointed an attorney for a 9-year-old North Texas girl whose parents are fighting to keep a hospital from disconnecting her life support.

State District Judge Melody Wilkinson says she wants the attorney to represent 9-year-old Payton Summons in any negotiations between her parents and Cook Children's Medical Center. Another hearing has been set for Wednesday.

The girl has cancer and her tumor has grown to block her circulation and pressure her lungs and heart. Last week, she suffered a cardiac arrest and it took an hour to restart her heart. By that time, however, her doctors said the lack of blood to her brain left her brain dead and beyond hope of recovery.

Earlier this week, the child's family obtained a temporary court order blocking a hospital from disconnecting their daughter from life support.


Houston Chronicle business news deputy named Beaumont editor

(Information from: The Beaumont Enterprise,

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — Ronnie Crocker has been promoted from deputy business news editor at the Houston Chronicle to editor of the Beaumont Enterprise .

Hearst, which owns both newspapers, announced Crocker's appointment on Friday. He is to take up his new duties on Monday.

Crocker came to the Chronicle in 1994 after reporting stints at The Eagle of Bryan-College Station and the Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia. At the Chronicle, he rose from assistant state editor to day city editor, Sunday city editor and assistant features editor before becoming the business news deputy. He also started the Beer, TX blog in 2009.

Nancy C. Barnes, the Chronicle's vice president and editor, says Crocker will continue to work with other Hearst newspapers in Texas to coordinate news coverage.



Texas prisons creating denture clinic for toothless inmates

(Information from: Houston Chronicle,

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas prison system officials are changing system policy to help fit toothless inmates with dentures.

The Houston Chronicle reports the change comes after its disclosure that Texas prison inmates without teeth were routinely denied dentures. The newspaper had reported that state prison policy had said chewing isn't a medical necessity and that inmates could eat pureed food.

Dr. Lanette Linthicum, medical director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, says the prison system wants to see more dentures prescribed.

The prison system also plans to review denture-related grievances made by inmates over the past year and re-evaluate those inmates who filed complaints. It also will hold training for prison unit dentists to clarify when dentures are necessary and empanel a review board to consider who needs dentures and who doesn't.



Texas police dog shot dead after biting handler during raid

WACO, Texas (AP) — A Central Texas police dog has been shot dead after it bit its handler while officers were trying to serve a warrant.

Two Waco police officers were trying to serve an arrest warrant for a suspect around midday Friday. Officer Garen Bynum says that as officers approached the house, the Belgian Malinois (mal-ihn-WAH') turned and bit its handler. After that, the other officer shot and killed the dog.

The bitten officer was taken to the hospital, where Bynum says he was treated for minor wounds.

The suspect wasn't taken into custody, but his mother-in-law says her daughter was detained for questioning. Police released no details about the reason for the warrant or where the officer was bitten.


Texas woman accidentally shoots niece during gun lesson

HOUSTON (AP) — Police say a woman in Houston accidentally shot and injured her 14-year-old niece while teaching her how to use a gun.

Police say the woman accidentally fired one round during the lesson Thursday evening.

The girl was hit in her arm and leg. Police say the girl was taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Authorities say the shooting will be reviewed by a grand jury to determine if any charges will be filed.


Ex-Rice football player charged in opioid death of lineman

HOUSTON (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a former Rice University football player with selling the drugs that a current player fatally overdosed on earlier this year.

Twenty-five-year-old Stuart Michael Mouchantaf was being held Friday in the Harris County jail in Houston on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance causing death.

The county district attorney's office says in a news release that 21-year-old Blain Padgett thought he was buying hydrocodone from Mouchantaf but actually received pills containing carfentanil, which was originally made as an elephant tranquilizer and is so potent that a lethal dose could be invisible to the human eye.

Padgett, a defensive lineman, was found dead in March by other players after he missed practice.

Online jail records don't indicate whether Mouchantaf has a lawyer yet. His bond was set at $250,000.

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