BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX

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Associated Press

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 4 at 12:00 PM

Texas news at 5:15 p.m. CST.

Terry Wallace is on the desk, reachable at 972-991-2100 or in state at 1-800-442-7189. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport@ap.org or 877-836-9477. If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them to aptexas@ap.org. If you have photos of regional or statewide interest, please send them to the AP state photo center in New York, 1-888-273-6867.

NEW AND UPDATED THIS DIGEST:

— Cornyn Fundraising.

— Texas Elections-Campaign Finance.

— Drug Cartel-Consulate Slaying.

— Texas Execution.

— Skydiving Accident.

— Harold Simmons-Will.

— White Lodging-Security Breach.

— Four Dead.

— Texas-Students Shot.

— TSA Officer-Terroristic Threat.

— LSU Hospital-Cerise.

TOP STORIES:

WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS

ST. LOUIS — Researchers who track wrongful convictions release a report Tuesday showing a record number of exonerations nationwide in 2013, with 87 inmates released after serving time for crimes. Texas, Illinois and Missouri were among the states with the most recorded exonerations, according to The National Registry of Exonerations, a joint effort of the Northwestern and Michigan law schools. By Alan Scher Zagier. UPCOMING: 600 words, photo by 4 p.m. HOLD FOR RELEASE until 11:01 p.m. CST, Monday, Feb. 4.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-DALLAS

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines plans to start nonstop flights between Dallas and New York and 14 other cities this fall, when federal limits on the airline's home airport end. The new service will put Southwest — once a scrappy underdog — in head-to-head competition with American and maybe Delta. By David Koenig. SENT: 470 words.

TEXAS GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS:

— CORNYN FUNDRAISING — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn raised nearly $1.5 million in the final quarter of last year and has $6.5 million in cash on-hand. SENT: 130 words.

— TEXAS ELECTIONS-CAMPAIGN FINANCE — Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott says he raised more than $3.1 million last month in his run for Texas governor. SENT: 90 words.

AROUND THE STATE:

DRUG CARTEL-CONSULATE SLAYING

EL PASO, Texas — A high-level gang member gave the order to kill in a 2010 attack that killed a U.S. consulate employee and others, prosecutors said Monday during opening statements in the trial of Arturo Gallegos Castrellon. Defense attorneys waived their statement as proceedings began in the El Paso trial of Gallegos Castrellon, who prosecutors say is a member of the Barrio Azteca, a border gang affiliated with a drug cartel. By Juan Carlos Llorca. SENT: 490 words.

TEXAS EXECUTION-SKINNER

PAMPA, Texas — Forensic and DNA experts began testifying Monday at a hearing that could lead to the exoneration of a death row inmate convicted in the 1993 slaying of three people in the Texas Panhandle. Attorneys for the state of Texas say in court documents that DNA present at the crime scene confirms that 52-year-old Hank Skinner is guilty. Defense attorneys contend more sophisticated DNA test results collected by an independent lab present doubts about Skinner's guilt "too weighty" to allow his execution. SENT: 340 words, photo.

With:

— TEXAS EXECUTION A federal judge has joined Texas' top criminal court in refusing to stop this week's scheduled execution of a woman condemned for the torture slaying of a mentally impaired man more than 15 years ago outside Houston. SENT: 130 words.

SKYDIVING ACCIDENT

DALLAS — A 16-year-old North Texas girl who plummeted more than 3,000 feet to the ground in an Oklahoma skydiving accident is recovering from her injuries but is likely to be hospitalized for a few more weeks. Dr. Seema R. Sikka said Makenzie Wethington walked with assistance Monday at the Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation in Dallas. She was transferred to the facility Friday after spending about a week in an Oklahoma City hospital following the Jan. 25 accident in Chickasha. By Jamie Stengle. SENT: 120 words. UPCOMING: 300 words, photos by 5:30 p.m. CST.

HAROLD SIMMONS-WILL

DALLAS — Texas billionaire Harold Simmons' will leaves the bulk of his estate to his widow, with no listed contributions to any political groups or charities. A Dallas judge on Monday ordered a redacted version of Simmons' will to be released. By Nomaan Merchant. SENT: 110 words. UPCOMING: 390 words by 5:15 p.m. CST.

OPERA-THE PASSENGER

HOUSTON — It's the darkest of operas, a powerful and unrelentingly grim work that dares to grapple with the horrors of the Holocaust through a musical descent into the hell that was Auschwitz. The opera is "The Passenger," and its composer was Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a Polish Jew who as a young man fled to the Soviet Union to escape the Nazis — the only member of his family to survive. He completed the opera in 1968 and considered it his most important work. By Mike Silverman. SENT: 800 words, photos.

IMMIGRANT LICENSES-FRAUD

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Jury selection has begun for a Chinese national on trial for helping more than 50 people suspected of being in the country illegally get New Mexico driver's licenses. The trial of Hai Gan, of The Colony, Texas, began Monday in Las Cruces District Court. The 56-year-old is one of several people over the years linked to running such rings for Chinese nationals living in other states to obtain driver's licenses in New Mexico. SENT: 350 words.

WHITE LODGING-SECURITY BREACH

INDIANAPOLIS — A nationwide hotel operator is investigating a suspected data security breach that may have compromised credit card and debit card information of customers who stayed last year at properties in Texas and seven other states, the company announced Monday. By Charles Wilson. SENT: 560 words.

EXCHANGE-MAILBOXES DELAYED

HOUSTON — Judy Paskins hasn't had a single card or bill delivered to her new home in an upscale Katy subdivision since moving there six months ago from Michigan. It's not because old friends or bill collectors have forgotten her. The 62-year-old retired nurse is just one of hundreds of families in new developments surrounding Houston being forced to wait for the U.S. Postal Service to install cluster mailboxes. By Cindy Horswell, Houston Chronicle. SENT: 800 words, photos.

IN BRIEF:

— FOUR DEAD — Authorities say four individuals found dead in a home in the northwest Houston suburb of Cypress were shot. SENT: 100 words.

— TEXAS-STUDENTS SHOT — A South Texas man has been sentenced to probation for the accidental shooting of two middle school students struck while trying out for the school basketball team. SENT: 130 words.

— TSA OFFICER-TERRORISTIC THREAT — Police say a Transportation Security Administration agent has been arrested for threatening to shoot co-workers at Bush Intercontinental Airport. SENT: 120 words.

— LSU HOSPITAL-CERISE — The one-time leader of the LSU public hospital system is heading to Dallas, to become chief executive officer of a public county hospital. SENT: 200 words.

— AIRMAN'S WIFE-TODDLER DEATH — Testimony continues in the trial of a West Texas woman accused of her daughter's death by malnutrition and neglect. SENT: 130 words.

— MOUNTAINS-RESCUE — A 27-year-old communications tower worker has been seriously hurt after tumbling about 100 feet down the Franklin Mountains in West Texas. SENT: 130 words.

— FORT WORTH-BOY DEATH — A 3-year-old North Texas boy has died after being found unresponsive while in the care of his mother's boyfriend. SENT: 130 words.

— TEXAS FLOODS-HORSES — The bodies of at least 15 horses have been removed from a Central Texas creek as cleanup continues from late October storms and flooding. SENT: 130 words.

— RED RIVER BRIDGE-FATAL CRASH — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says three people were killed in a multiple-vehicle crash on an icy bridge connecting Oklahoma and Texas. SENT: 130 words.

— PASSPORT FRAUD — A veteran government worker in Houston has been convicted of passport fraud for providing legal documents to people with fake paperwork. SENT: 130 words.

— PARKING GARAGE-GUN — A 23-year-old Dallas-area man has been charged with pulling a gun and threatening other drivers behind him in line to leave a Central Texas parking garage. SENT: 130 words.

— TEXAS ELECTION-REGISTRATION — Texas voters have one last day to register for next month's primary elections. SENT: 130 words.

— PASSENGER RAIL-HEARING — The Texas Department of Transportation has scheduled two public meetings in Oklahoma on possible passenger rail routes. SENT: 130 words.

— ROBBERY-LOCKED IN SAFE — A convicted felon has been sentenced to 99 years in prison for robbing a North Texas phone store and locking a worker in a safe.

— SUPER BOWL-FREE FURNITURE — Seattle's victory in the Super Bowl has cost flamboyant Houston furniture store mogul Jim McIngvale some $7 million.

— HOTEL-RAPPER DEATH — A member of the San Antonio-based rap group the Hooligan Boyz has been charged in the death of a bandmate after an apparent fight at a Corpus Christi hotel.

— FORMER OFFICER-SEX ASSAULT — A former West Texas police officer has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a child.

— UIL REALIGNMENT — Texas high schools have new football and basketball districts under new boundaries released Monday by the University Interscholastic League. With lists and glance. SENT: 130 words.

BUSINESS:

SMITH & NEPHEW-ARTHROCARE ACQUISITION

British medical technology company Smith & Nephew plans to buy U.S. medical device maker ArthroCare in a $1.5 billion deal that it says will strengthen its sports medicine business. Smith & Nephew said Monday it will pay $48.25 in cash for each share of ArthroCare Corp., which is based in Austin, Texas. By The Associated Press. SENT: 330 words.

CHANTICLEER-ACQUISITION

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Chanticleer has completed its acquisition of Hooters' U.S. Pacific Northwest franchise rights and two existing restaurants in Oregon and Washington. Financial terms were not disclosed. Chanticleer Holdings Inc. is a minority holder in the privately held parent company of Hooters Of America and a franchisee of international Hooters restaurants. SENT: 250 words.

BRISTOW GROUP-CEO

HOUSTON — Bristow Group President and CEO William Chiles will retire from the company, a provider of helicopter services to the offshore energy industry, at its annual shareholders meeting on July 31. He will be succeeded by Jonathan Baliff, senior vice president and chief financial officer. The 50-year-old Baliff has served as senior vice president and CFO since 2010. SENT: 160 words.

SPORTS REFER:

BKN--SPURS-PELICANS

NEW ORLEANS — The San Antonio Spurs aim to add to their lead in the Southwest Division as they visit the Pelicans on Monday night. New Orleans has been more competitive lately, winning four of its last five games. By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Tip-off at 8 p.m. ET.

________________

If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them to aptexas@ap.org. If you have photos of regional or statewide interest, please send them to the AP state photo center in New York, 888-273-6867. If you have questions about the Texas AP news report, please contact News Editor James Beltran at 972-991-2100 or jbeltran@ap.org.

MARKETPLACE: Calling your attention to the Marketplace in AP Exchange, where you can find member-contributed content from Texas and other states. The Marketplace is accessible on the left navigational pane of the AP Exchange home page, near the bottom. For both national and state, you can click "All" or search for content by topics such as education, politics and business.

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