BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX

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Associated Press

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Texas news at 7 p.m. CST.

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NEW AND UPDATED THIS DIGEST:

— Fort Hood Shooting.

— Judicial Bribery Scandal-Death.

— Judicial Bribery Scandal-Verdict.

— Texas Budget.

— Mental Health.

— Governor's Mansion-Security.

— Capitol Almanac.

— Gas Prices.

— Dallas Police-Laser Pointer.

— Lesser Prairie Chicken.

— US Airways-Flight Attendants.

FORT HOOD SHOOTING

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage is to go on trial in three months, after several delays in the case, including an unexpected snag over his beard. A military judge Thursday set Maj. Nidal Hasan's court-martial for May 29 at the Texas Army post. After about four weeks of jury selection, testimony is to begin July 1. By Angela K. Brown.

AP photo.

BRANCH DAVIDIANS-ANNIVERSARY

WACO, Texas — The 20th anniversary of the botched raid on the Branch Davidians compound near Waco passed Thursday without a public remembrance and, for at least some of the groups involved in the bloody incident, an effort to keep the date as quiet as possible. Four federal agents died in the Feb. 28, 1993 firefight that erupted when the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives mounted a raid on the compound. Six Davidian members also died that day. The shootout began a 51-day standoff that ended in the deaths of about 80 more sect members, including two dozen children, in a massive fire. The ATF held a private ceremony Thursday to honor agents Conway LeBleu, Todd McKeehan, Robert John Williams and Steven Willis.

AP Photos and Video.

JUDICIAL BRIBERY SCANDAL-DEATH

MCALLEN, Texas — The body of a South Texas attorney sentenced to federal prison in December for bribing a judge was found Thursday after he jumped from the Queen Isabella Causeway in an apparent suicide, a sheriff said. Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said family members identified a body found in the water late in the afternoon as 56-year-old Ray Marchan. Authorities said they received a report of a jumper on the bridge which connects Padre Island and Port Isabel around 4 a.m. Thursday. Marchan had been scheduled to report to a federal prison in Fort Worth on Thursday to begin serving his 3½-year sentence. By Christopher Sherman.

JUDICIAL BRIBERY SCANDAL-VERDICT

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A jury on Thursday convicted an Austin personal injury attorney of racketeering charges as part of a federal investigation into judicial bribery in South Texas. The verdict announced in Corpus Christi concluded the four-week trial of lawyer Marc Rosenthal, the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen reported.

TEXAS BUDGET

AUSTIN, Texas — Two years after historic spending cuts to Texas classrooms, budget writers in the Senate on Thursday approved a $1.4 billion hike for public education in the first clear signal that the new Legislature may pour money back into financially ailing public schools. By Paul J. Weber.

MENTAL HEALTH

AUSTIN, Texas — When treatment center coordinator Amy Pierce thinks back to her descent into mental illness, she recalls the attempts she made to take her own life. But she also remembers the counseling services that saved her. Pierce spoke at a rally Thursday at the Texas Capitol, where she and others pushed for more mental health treatment. By Michael Brick.

With:

— GOVERNOR'S MANSION-SECURITY — Texas lawmakers expressed outrage because they must submit to computerized searches for warrants before entering the governor's mansion.

— INCENTIVE FUNDS — Texas' troubled $3 billion cancer-fighting agency and Gov. Rick Perry's signature fund for high-tech startups still haven't swayed budget writers to hand over more taxpayer dollars.

— SNIPER AUTHOR-SHOOTING — The Texas House has unanimously passed a resolution honoring slain former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

— CAPITOL ALMANAC — Highlights from around the Texas Capitol.

ATTORNEY-DRUG CARTEL

EL PASO — Federal prosecutors want a former Carnegie Mellon University trustee accused of money laundering to forfeit over $2.5 million in cash and assets. An indictment filed Wednesday in Texas alleges that Marco Delgado defrauded a firm doing business with Mexican utility of millions and used that money to underwrite a lavish lifestyle that included a $200,000 contribution to Carnegie Mellon. Delgado faces a separate indictment for conspiring to launder more than $600 million for a Mexican drug cartel. By Juan Carlos Llorca.

GULF OIL SPILL-TRIAL

NEW ORLEANS — An internal BP probe of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico didn't explore whether upper-level management had a role in causing the disaster because investigators didn't have access to its partners' employees and records, a BP executive testified Thursday at a trial designed to assign blame to the companies. Mark Bly, who led the investigation and has served as BP's global head of safety, said his team didn't have enough information to conduct a "systemic evaluation" of what caused the blowout of BP's Macondo well without cooperation from rig owner Transocean Ltd. or other companies that worked on the project. By Michael Kunzelman.

AP Photos.

LIVESTRONG POST-ARMSTRONG

CHICAGO — Leaders of the cancer charity founded by Lance Armstrong struck a determined, sometimes defiant tone on Thursday as they declared the organization will persevere in the wake of the cyclist's admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs. By Michael Tarm.

AP photos.

JEWISH SCHOOL-PLAYOFFS

HOUSTON — The Beren Academy is back in the state semifinals, with much less controversy than last year. Beren is an Orthodox Jewish school and its players observe the Sabbath between Friday night and Saturday night and don't play basketball. In 2012, a state agency initially refused to accommodate the school and adjust the set schedule for the semifinal and championship games. By Chris Duncan.

PRIVATE SPACE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The International Space Station is about to get another commercial shipment. The California company known as SpaceX is scheduled to launch its unmanned Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral on Friday. On board is a Dragon capsule filled with more than a ton of tools, computer hardware and science experiments. The freezers are filled with stem cells and other research items. There's no room this time for ice cream for the six-man station crew. By Marcia Dunn.

DELAWARE COURTHOUSE SHOOTING

DOVER, Del. — The top federal prosecutor in Delaware has recused himself from efforts by his office to revoke the probation of David Matusiewicz, a former optometrist who pleaded guilty to federal fraud and kidnapping charges after taking his three daughters to Central America in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife. U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly III once wrote a letter to Delaware family services officials on behalf of Matusiewicz's father, Thomas, a Texas man killed his ex-daughter-in-law and another woman at a Delaware courthouse earlier this month before taking his own life. By Randall Chase.

Also:

— KIDNAPPING MURDER-SENTENCE — A Brazos County jury has sentenced to life in prison a man who kidnapped his ex-girlfriend's mother and stabbed her more than 30 times.

— TEXAS-TOLL ROADS — State transportation officials have revived plans to build toll lanes on Texas 71 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to the Texas 130 toll road.

— DEATH-FALLING TREE — Dallas police say the body of a man reported missing several weeks ago has been found in a creek bed and he may have been killed by a falling tree.

— KILLEEN-SEX TRAFFICKING — A Central Texas man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for using cellphones and the Internet to recruit girls into prostitution.

— MEXICO-AMMO SMUGGLING — The ex-owner of a law enforcement uniform shop in West Texas has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for smuggling ammunition into Mexico.

— GAS PRICES — The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Texas has dropped by a penny from last week to $3.63.

— DALLAS POLICE-LASER POINTER — A 22-year-old Dallas man has pleaded guilty to aiming a green laser beam at a Dallas police helicopter.

— LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened to public comment the potential listing of the lesser prairie chicken on the federal protected list.

BUSINESS:

US AIRWAYS-FLIGHT ATTENDANTS

TEMPE, Ariz. — Flight attendants at US Airways approved a new contract on Thursday that wraps up some unfinished business from the airline's 2005 merger with America West, and gets them started on the next merger, with American.

JC PENNEY-STOCK PLUNGE

NEW YORK — Shares of Plano-based J.C. Penney Co. plunged nearly 20 percent a day after the department-store chain reported its fourth straight massive quarterly loss. On Thursday, Penney shares fell about 19 percent, or $3.98, to $17.18. Adding that decline, the company's shares have lost 60 percent of their value since early last year. By Anne D'Innocenzio

SPORTS REFER:

BKH--UIL-GIRLS TOURNAMENT

AUSTIN, Texas — Top-ranked Georgetown (32-4) meets San Antonio Brennan (30-8) on Thursday night in the Class 4A semifinals of the Texas girls' state high school basketball tournament. Dallas Lincoln (35-4) plays Aledo (30-7)in the other 4A semifinals. Other semifinals in 1A and 3A. Newsnows and box scores from all games. By Jim Vertuno.

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