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September 21, 2018 - 12:00 am


Debate could roil surprisingly tight Senate race in Texas

DALLAS (AP) — Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O'Rourke are holding their first debate as a Texas Senate race that once looked like it would be a cakewalk for the conservative incumbent now appears to be anything but one.

Democrats have long dreamed of flipping heavily Hispanic Texas and transforming the national electoral map.

O'Rourke is giving up his El Paso-based U.S. House seat to challenge Cruz. The Democrats haven't won a Texas statewide office since 1994.

An ex-punk rocker, O'Rourke has visited areas that Democrats long ago abandoned. A strong showing Friday night at Southern Methodist University would turn more heads.

Cruz, a onetime Ivy League debate champion, finished second in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. But polls show that O'Rourke is staying close.

President Donald Trump will rally in Texas for Cruz next month, which was once unthinkable in the nation's largest red state.


Police sought video in case of Dallas man shot in own home

DALLAS (AP) — Court documents show search warrants have been issued for video from addresses near the apartment complex where a white Dallas police officer killed her black neighbor inside his home this month.

The search warrants obtained by The Associated Press on Friday are tied to the slaying of 26-year-old Botham Jean, who was fatally shot inside his apartment on Sept. 6 by off-duty Dallas Officer Amber Guyger. She told investigators she mistook Jean's apartment for her own.

One of the warrants sought to obtain video surveillance cameras and camera footage. A judge last week signed the search warrants, which showed that the information would be sent to an investigator with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.

Guyger is free on bond after being booked Sept. 9 on a preliminary charge of manslaughter.


Rural Texas town council approves Muslim cemetery plan

DALLAS (AP) — A rural Texas town council has approved plans for a Muslim cemetery, three years after the project was met with derision and claims it could be a precursor to a mosque or an extremist training center.

The Farmersville City Council on Thursday authorized the Islamic Association of Collin County's plans.

City spokesman Mike Sullivan said Friday that the association must still submit a final design for the cemetery to be created on 35 acres (14 hectares) just outside the city, 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Dallas.

Sullivan says the Farmersville council's approval halts a potential discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Some residents had complained about Muslim burial practices and voiced concerns the cemetery would help radical elements of Islam gain a foothold in the region.


Funerals held for 2 women allegedly killed by border agent

LAREDO, Texas (AP) — Friends and family gathered for funerals in Laredo, Texas, for two of the women authorities say were killed by a Border Patrol agent who has been described as a serial killer.

Funerals were held Friday for 42-year-old Claudine Luera and 28-year-old Janelle Ortiz, a transgender woman whose birth name was Humberto Ortiz.

Authorities say Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz is accused of killing four women this month. He was arrested Sept. 15 and remains jailed on several charges, including four counts of murder.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that during Janelle Ortiz's service, the Rev. Edmundo Lopez Jr. said "we've seen so many families afflicted, hit down, a life too short."

The two other victims were Melissa Ramirez and Guiselda Alicia Cantu.


Taiwan police arrest US 3D gun man accused of sex with minor

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese media say authorities have arrested the owner of a Texas company that sells plans to make untraceable 3-D printed guns who is wanted in the U.S. for paying an underage girl for sex.

The official Central News Agency says Taiwanese police found and arrested Cody Wilson in a hotel in Taipei on Friday evening.

Police in Austin, Texas, had earlier reported that Wilson's last known location was Taipei.

Police Cmdr. Troy Officer said Wednesday that before Wilson flew to Taiwan, a friend of the 16-year-old girl had told him that police were investigating the accusation that he had sex with the youth.

Wilson is identified as the owner of Austin-based Defense Distributed.


Slain Texas police officer remembered as devoted family man

DALLAS (AP) — An undercover Fort Worth police officer fatally shot while pursuing robbery suspects has been remembered as a devoted family man and colleague.

The funeral for 40-year-old Garrett Hull was Friday in Fort Worth. Chad Mills, a former partner, says Hull "was an example in the right way of what an officer should be on and off duty."

Mills says that while on duty, Hull was "a protector" of citizens and the police department. Mills says while off duty, Hull "lived by faith, family and friends."

Other speakers included Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who posthumously promoted Hull to corporal and retired his badge number.

Hull is survived by a wife and two daughters.

Another officer shot and killed the suspect who gunned down Hull on Sept. 14. Two other suspects face capital murder charges.


Attacker gets 4 life terms in 2016 abduction of Texas girl

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A man from El Salvador has been sentenced to four life-prison terms in Texas after being convicted of snatching a 6-year-old from her home and sexually assaulting the girl.

A judge in Fort Worth on Friday sentenced 37-year-old Edis Leonel Alas. Jurors on Thursday convicted Alas of aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault in the October 2016 attack.

Prosecutors say Alas didn't know the Fort Worth family. The girl was kidnapped while sleeping on the living room couch. Her parents awoke and couldn't find her.

The child was located the next day in a park. Alas was hiding nearby. Prosecutors say DNA evidence from him was on the victim.

Investigators later determined Alas, who doesn't speak English, was in the U.S. illegally.

An interpreter was used at trial. Alas didn't testify.


Kansas court considers challenge to railroad regulation

(Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle,

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — BNSF Railway is challenging a Kansas law that limits how long trains can block intersections.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday in the case involving a lengthy blockage of two Chase County railroad crossings in December 2016. The Texas-based railway company's court challenge could have ramifications for railroad crossings throughout Kansas.

The law in question says railroads can only block a crossing for 10 minutes.

The Chase County Sheriff's Department cited BNSF, alleging the company parked a train on a siding for four hours and blocked the only crossings that provide access to several farms.

BNSF denies the length of the blockage. The company also says the state doesn't have a right to regulate how long a train can block a crossing.



Fresno man gets life in murder of UCLA student from Texas

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Fresno man has been sentenced to life in prison the 2015 killing of a UCLA student fatally stabbed in her apartment during a burglary.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office says 25-year-old Alberto Hinojosa Medina was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Friday.

A jury found Medina guilty in May of murdering 21-year-old Andrea DelVesco. He also was convicted of arson, burglary and animal cruelty.

Prosecutors say Medina burglarized an apartment on Sept. 21, 2015, went into a second apartment and killed DelVesco, then set her apartment on fire. Firefighters found her body.

DelVesco was a fourth-year student from Austin, Texas.

Another defendant, Eric Marquez, previously pleaded guilty to burglary and being an accessory after the fact. He's serving two years and eight months in prison.


Texas woman gets prison in virtual kidnapping, ransom scam

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas woman has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for her role in what investigators called a "virtual kidnapping" extortion scam with ties to Mexico.

Yanette Rodriguez Acosta was sentenced Thursday to 88 months in prison. The 35-year-old Houston woman pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Investigators last year warned about the scam, in which callers from Mexico tell parents that their children have been abducted and demand ransoms. Prosecutors say there were no kidnappings.

Parents in California, Idaho and Texas were targeted. Some ransom money was dropped in Houston or received through wire transfers.

Victims testified Thursday that callers threatened them and their families if they reported the crime.

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