BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX

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Associated Press

Posted on April 17, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Texas news at 8 p.m. CDT.

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NEW AND UPDATED THIS DIGEST:

— District Attorney Dead-Texas.

— Texas Refinery Fire.

— US-Syria.

— XGR-Gay Rights.

— XGR-Guns in Schools.

— XGR-College-History.

— XGR-Texting While Driving.

— XGR-Perry-Rainy Day Fund.

— XGR-Parent Trigger.

— XGR-Teen Tanning.

— XGR-Senate-Kaufman DA.

— American Airlines-Reservations.

— Gulf Oil Spill-Trial.

— Oil Pipeline-Hearing.

— School Threats-Highland Park.

— Texas Courthouse Shooting.

— Slain Green Beret.

— Martha Stewart-JC Penney Trial.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY DEAD-TEXAS

KAUFMAN, Texas — In a surprising twist, the wife of a jailed former justice of the peace was charged Wednesday with capital murder after authorities say she confessed to helping her husband kill two North Texas prosecutors who aggressively secured a theft conviction against him. By Danny Robbins.

AP photos, video.

TEXAS REFINERY FIRE

BEAUMONT, Texas — A fire Wednesday at an ExxonMobil refinery in Southeast Texas left 12 contract workers injured, officials said. Beaumont Fire Department spokesman Brad Penisson said three of those injured were critically burned. Other workers suffered burns and broken bones.

AP photos.

US-SYRIA

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is sending about 200 soldiers from an Army headquarters unit to Jordan to assist efforts to contain violence along the Syrian border and plan for any operations needed to ensure the safety of chemical weapons in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress Wednesday. The decision to dispatch the 1st Armored Division troops of planners and specialists in intelligence, logistics and operations comes as several lawmakers pressed the Obama administration for even more aggressive steps to end the two-year civil war. By Lolita C. Baldor and Donna Cassata.

TEXAS-BOARD OF EDUCATION

AUSTIN, Texas — The State Board of Education on Wednesday lambasted a high-profile proposal approved by the Texas Senate that strips the body of its power to authorize new charter schools and instead leaves it with the state commissioner of education. By Will Weissert.

XGR--GAY RIGHTS

AUSTIN, Texas — The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted on Wednesday to repeal the state's anti-gay sodomy law, a decade after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. By Chris Tomlinson.

XGR--GUNS IN SCHOOLS

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas schools could send up to two teachers to get special tactical response and weapons training to help guard against school shooters under a bill approved Wednesday by the state Senate. By Jim Vertuno.

XGR--COLLEGE-HISTORY

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers are considering requiring college students to take six hours of comprehensive American or Texas history to earn a state university degree. By Jim Vertuno and Michael Brick.

XGR--TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

AUSTIN, Texas — A renewed push to make texting while driving illegal in Texas stayed afloat Wednesday, but only after narrowly defeating bipartisan resistance to an outright ban over concerns that ranged from racial profiling to government meddling. By Paul J. Weber.

In other legislative news:

— XGR--PERRY-RAINY DAY FUND — Gov. Rick Perry is urging lawmakers to leave at least $7 billion in the state's cash reserves, or Rainy Day Fund.

— XGR--PARENT TRIGGER — The Texas Senate has approved legislation to expedite the parental right to close public schools or convert them into charter schools if they are underperforming academically.

— XGR--SENATE-KAUFMAN DA — Texas lawmakers have confirmed the nomination of a new district attorney to replace her slain predecessor in Kaufman County.

— XGR--SENATE-TEEN TANNING — The Texas Senate is trying to crack down on teen tanning.

— XGR--GAMBLING — A key advocate for approving casino gambling in Texas calls the chances of his bill passing "very slim."

— XGR--NUNS ON THE BUS-MEDICAID — The "Nuns on the Bus" have arrived at the Texas Capitol, and they are calling for lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor.

— XGR--CAPITOL ALMANAC — Highlights from around the Texas Capitol.

SUPREME COURT-SILENCE

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seems worried about letting prosecutors use a suspect's pre-Miranda silence against them in court. The justices heard an appeal Wednesday from Genovevo Salinas. During police questioning, and before he was arrested or read his Miranda rights, Salinas did not answer when asked if a shotgun he had access to would match up with the murder weapon. Prosecutors in Texas used his silence to convict him of murder, saying it demonstrated guilt.

TEXAS GOVERNOR-ILLINOIS

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois doesn't need advice from Texas Gov. Rick Perry when it comes to jobs in the Land of Lincoln. The Chicago Democrat calls Perry a "big talker."

AP Photos.

AMERICAN AIRLINES-RESERVATIONS

DALLAS — American Airlines played catch-up Wednesday, resuming most flights and even adding a handful that were not on the schedule to help passengers stranded by a massive technology failure that grounded the carrier's entire U.S. fleet. A day after the nationwide breakdown, some cancellations persisted, and delays were still common. About a third of American flights were late as of mid-afternoon. By Airlines Writer David Koenig.

AP photos, video.

GULF OIL SPILL-TRIAL

NEW ORLEANS — Testimony concluded Wednesday for the first phase of a high-stakes trial over the deadly 2010 rig explosion that led to the nation's worst offshore oil spill, but the presiding judge didn't immediately rule in the case. After BP PLC wrapped up its defense on the trial's 29th day, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier announced he would give the parties more than two months to submit written briefs outlining their conclusions about the case. By Michael Kunzelman.

OIL PIPELINE-HEARING

LINCOLN, Neb. — A proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline would run just 1,000 feet from Terri Funk's doorstep, but the Nebraska farmer and her husband don't plan to protest or even attend the U.S. State Department's lone public hearing on the contentious proposal Thursday. By Grant Schulte.

AP photos.

XCHANGE-HONEY WASPS

COASTAL BEND — The wasps are from Mexico. The researchers are from United Kingdom. And the focus of both was a nest the size of a bassinet in South Texas. Biologists with the London Zoo arrived last week to study a distant cousin of the honeybee. It's called a Mexican honey wasp, one of the only other insects that produce honey on a scale similar to bees. The hope is this research could unravel the mystery behind a downward spiral in honeybee populations nationwide. The answer may be hidden in pollinator genetics. By David Sikes, Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

AP Member Photos.

Also:

— SCHOOL THREATS-HIGHLAND PARK — A 16-year-old high school student in a wealthy Dallas enclave has been charged with making a series of threats against his school.

— TEXAS COURTHOUSE SHOOTING — A jury has been chosen in the capital murder trial of a Southeast Texas man charged with killing a 79-year-old woman during a shooting rampage last year outside the Jefferson County Courthouse.

— SLAIN GREEN BERET — A 74-year-old West Texas woman and her 55-year-old son arrested in February as suspects in the 1977 slaying of the woman's estranged husband have had their bond amounts reduced.

— TEXAS EXECUTION-APPEAL — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected an appeal from a Texas death row inmate who once escaped while held in the Harris County Jail in Houston.

— TEXAS EXECUTION APPEAL-TARRANT— The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has refused an appeal from a gang member sent to death row for gunning down a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother five years ago in Fort Worth.

— DWI-MURDER TRIAL — A 26-year-old man is arguing that he shouldn't be convicted of felony murder for a crash in which he killed a 10-year-old girl and her mother while driving drunk.

— BUS CRASH-TEXAS-MEMORIAL — The 81-year-old North Texas woman who died in a casino bus trip she organized has been remembered as a "special lady."

BUSINESS:

MARTHA STEWART-JC PENNEY TRIAL

NEW YORK — Texas-based J.C. Penney has started to sell non-branded home goods like towels and pots designed by Martha Stewart on its website, but the fate of the merchandise remains in limbo. By Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio.

SPORTS REFER:

NASCAR-TEXAS PENALTIES

FORT WORTH, Texas — NASCAR suspended seven members of defending champion Penske Racing on Wednesday for bringing unapproved parts to Texas Motor Speedway on the cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano last weekend. Defending Sprint Cup champion Keselowski had four team members suspended for six points races, while Logano lost three members of his crew. The drivers were docked 25 points each, as were the car owners.

AP Photo.

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