BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX


Associated Press

Posted on March 26, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Texas news at 6:40 p.m. CDT.

Terry Wallace is on the desk, reachable at 972-991-2100 or, in Texas, 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.

— ADDS Execution Drugs-Texas.

— UPDATES Schools-Curriculum Overhaul.

— UPDATES Cruise Safety.

— UPDATES Texas Execution.

— UPDATES North Texas-Deadly Wreck.

— ADDS Houston Apartment Fire-Rescue.

— ADDS Pets-Domestic Violence.

— ADDS Worst Airport Landings.

— ADDS Oilfield Death-Lawsuit.

— ADDS Space Station.

— ADDS Party Shooting.

— ADDS Bus Into Home.

— ADDS General Motors-Recall.

— ADDS Rising Wheat Prices.

— UPDATES Baylor-Sweet Again.



HOUSTON — Attorneys for two Texas inmates facing execution next month with a new batch of pentobarbital obtained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice filed a lawsuit Wednesday demanding the prison agency disclose the identity of the new supplier. The petition filed in state court in Austin also sought an emergency order requiring state authorities to identify when the drug was obtained and any results of tests on its potency and purity. The attorneys represent convicted killers Tommy Lynn Sells, set to die April 3, and Ramiro Hernandez, scheduled for April 9. By Michael Graczyk. SENT: 790 words, photos.


HUNTSVILLE, Texas — The caller appeared to be faking an elderly woman's voice as the order was placed for four dozen doughnuts and breakfast tacos to be delivered to a suburban Dallas home. Hyun Mi Cho at the Chaha Donuts shop was wary but she'd been to the address in Rowlett in the past. When Cho arrived, an 18-year-old man answered the door and invited her inside, then demanded her money. Responding that she had none, Cho was attacked with a baseball bat, her battered body dumped in a trash can in an alley. A neighbor taking out garbage discovered her. Anthony Doyle, 29, was set to die Thursday evening for the fatal beating at his mother's home 11 years ago. By Michael Graczyk. SENT: 670 words, photos.


— TEXAS EXECUTION-APPEAL — A 45-year-old Texas death row inmate convicted of killing two men in Fort Worth for duping him into buying a phony rock of crack cocaine has lost a federal court appeal, moving him a step closer to execution. SENT: 130 words.



AUSTIN, Texas — Some Texas lawmakers complained Wednesday that sweeping new high school curriculum and standardized testing rules were too complicated for even those who approved them to understand — much less students, parents or academic counselors. "When we create these kinds of, I don't want to call them monsters but this is massive and very difficult to understand ... are we building a mousetrap for our children where failure is guaranteed?" asked Rep. Alma Allen, a Houston Democrat who is vice chairwoman of the House Public Education Committee. By Will Weissert. SENT: 620 words.


MIAMI — Florida's Republican leaders have fought the Affordable Care Act at every turn, banning navigators from county health departments, offering no state dollars to boost outreach efforts to 3.5 million uninsured and leading the fight to repeal the law. Yet the state has emerged as a tale of what went right with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. More than 440,000 Florida residents had been enrolled through the federal marketplace through the end of February, putting Florida on pace to exceed the federal government's initial projections by the time enrollment closes March 31. The numbers are impressive for a state where Republicans control the governor's mansion and both houses of the Legislature. By comparison, Republican-leaning Texas has enrolled 295,000 through the federal site, even though its population is about a third larger than Florida's. By Kelli Kennedy. SENT: 950 words, photos.



HOUSTON — A century ago, the Houston Ship Channel was nothing more than a bayou meandering into the Gulf of Mexico. Today, massive ocean-going vessels carrying thousands of containers zip in and out of the channel, where a barge collided with a ship over the weekend, spilling 170,000 gallons of gooey tar-like oil into the water. Though the cause of Saturday's crash is still under investigation, the increase in ship congestion highlights the need for more maintenance, dredging, high-tech navigation systems and other improvements to ensure safe travel through the narrow waterway. Add to this a domestic oil boom, exports of liquid natural gas, the expected expansion of the Panama Canal and the whiff of possible trade relations with Cuba and the growth takes on broad economic and safety implications. By Ramit Plushnick-Masti. SENT: 880 words, photos, video.


— TEXAS BAY-OIL SPILL-FERRY — The Texas Department of Transportation says full ferry service has resumed between Galveston and Bolivar Peninsula after a weekend oil spilled closed the Houston Ship Channel.


HOUSTON — Cruise operators, like airline pilots, may be relying too heavily on electronics to navigate massive ships, losing the knowledge and ability needed to operate a vessel in the case of a power failure, an expert sea pilot told a federal agency on Wednesday. Capt. Jorge Viso with the Tampa Bay Pilots testified before the National Transportation Safety Board on the second day of a two-day hearing the agency is holding after several high-profile cruise mishaps, including last year's fire aboard the Carnival Triumph that left thousands of passengers stranded for days in squalid conditions aboard a powerless ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. By Ramit Plushnick-Masti. SENT: 750 words, photos.


BURLESON, Texas — The parents of a boy injured in a North Texas wreck that killed four other people said Wednesday that they will not settle with the teenage drunken driver, whose "affluenza" defense and probation sentence garnered nationwide attention. Lucas McConnell, 13, spoke briefly to reporters Wednesday, flanked by his parents and his attorney. By Nomaan Merchant. SENT: 470 words, photos.


HOUSTON — Trapped on a balcony by smoke and flames, construction supervisor Curtis Reissig knew he had to take action to stay ahead of the blaze that was quickly consuming the Houston apartment complex he had helped build. "The flames were getting closer and hotter. I knew I had to do something. So I swung down to the lower floor," he said. Reissig's daring leap bought him enough time to let a fire truck ladder get close enough for him to then jump onto it. Fire Capt. Brad Hawthorne, who was perched near the end of the ladder, helped bring Reissig to safety. The dramatic escape was all captured on video. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 810 words, photos, video.


— HOUSTON APARTMENT FIRE — A Houston firefighter who helped a worker escape a massive fire that consumed an apartment complex under construction says his ladder truck wasn't able to extend to a patio where the worker waited. So he helped the worker make the leap to the ladder as a portion of wall collapsed nearby shortly after. SENT: 260 words, photos, video.


PITTSBURGH — Two employees who disarmed and subdued a shoplifter who fatally shot a police officer at a Texas Wal-Mart were among 22 people being honored Wednesday with medals and cash awards from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Five of those honored for various rescue attempts died in the process, so their families will receive the awards in their name. By Joe Mandak. SENT: 370 words.




NEW YORK — A shelter in New York City quietly harbors domestic violence survivors, their children and — now — their pets. It's the first animal friendly facility among the 50-plus emergency domestic violence shelters in the nation's largest city. And it's one in a fast-growing number of similar sanctuaries around the country. Around the country, pet friendly shelters are as varied as the Littlegrass Ranch, which finds short-term safe houses for abused women and their horses in the Texas Hill Country. By Jennifer Peltz. SENT: 840 words.


ST. LOUIS — A federal agency overseeing transportation safety is warning pilots to take extra precautions after a pair of recent plane landings at the wrong Midwest airports. The National Transportation Safety Board issued the alert Wednesday, about three months after a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet with 124 passengers mistakenly landed at a small airport in southwest Missouri intended for light jets and private planes, rather than at the commercial airport several miles away in Branson. The Southwest pilots, who remain on paid leave, landed at night by sight instead of using instruments to guide their approach. No was injured, but passengers smelled burning rubber as the pilots braked hard to stop near the end of the shorter runway, just before a steep drop into a ravine. By Alan Scher Zagier. SENT: 390 words.


HARTFORD, Conn. — Spending by gamblers slowed at U.S. Indian casinos in 2012, as revenue growth fell behind non-tribal casinos for the first time in nearly two decades, according to a report released Wednesday. The weak economy also put a brake on tribal gambling revenue, although it hit an all-time high, said Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report. After Alaska, states that posted the fastest revenue growth were South Dakota, Montana, Alabama and Texas. By Stephen Singer. SENT: 570 words, photos.


NEW YORK — When her abusive husband left for work last fall, she grabbed her kids, her dog and her bags, only to run up against a heart-wrenching obstacle: None of the city's more than 50 domestic violence shelters would accept the pet. "Should I still leave?" the 34-year-old woman asked herself before fleeing and ultimately finding a foster home for her Chihuahua. Around the country, pet friendly shelters are as varied as the Women's Center of Mid-Minnesota, which has housed dozens of cats and dogs over decades in a six-bedroom house in Brainerd, and 5-year-old Littlegrass Ranch, which finds short-term safe houses for abused women and their horses in the Texas Hill Country. By Jennifer Peltz. SENT: 840 words, photos.


MISSOULA, Mont. — The father of a Montana man who was crushed to death in a North Dakota oil-field accident in January 2013 has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the drilling rig and the well site, alleging the companies failed to provide for the safety of subcontractors. Randall Winter filed a lawsuit against Pioneer Drilling Services Ltd of San Antonio and Whiting Petroleum Corp. of Denver over his son's death, the Missoulian reported. Winter's 22-year-old son, Kyle Winter, of Kalispell, worked for Heller Casing. SENT: 400 words.


MOSCOW — A software glitch on a Russian spacecraft heading to the International Space Station has delayed the arrival of three astronauts, including an American. NASA said the crew was in no danger, and the U.S.-Russia space partnership was strong despite tensions over Ukraine. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 500 words, photos, video.


DALLAS — With their galleries full of paintings and sculptures, museums are a treat for the eyes. So after suffering optic nerve damage, Bobby Jackson of Fort Worth wasn't sure he'd ever visit one again. But here the former forklift operator was at Southern Methodist University's Meadows Museum, taking in some of the museum's extensive Spanish collection using senses other than sight — tracing tactile versions of paintings with his fingers, immersing himself in their place and time with the help of regional music and food. By Marc Ramirez, The Dallas Morning News. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.


— PARTY SHOOTING — Harris County authorities say a murder charge has been filed against a teenager accused of firing into a crowd of party-goers last year at a suburban Houston home. SENT: 130 words.

— BUS INTO HOME — Ten people were taken to a Beaumont hospital after a city transit bus was involved in a collision with another vehicle and then struck a nearby home. SENT: 120 words.

— JAILER-INMATE ABUSE — A former Central Texas jailer accused of molesting an inmate in 2011 has pleaded guilty to official oppression and served a day behind bars. SENT: 130 words.

— CORPUS CHRISTI-CONSTABLE DEATH — An off-duty South Texas law enforcement officer has died after being attacked and robbed while visiting Corpus Christi. SENT: 130 words.

— GALVESTON-2001 SLAYING — A suspect in a 2001 slaying in Southeast Texas who was captured in Mexico has been returned to Galveston. SENT: 130 words.

— PERRY-SECURITY TAB — The Texas Department of Public Safety says the cost since 2010 to provide security for Gov. Rick Perry when he travels out of state is more than $2.9 million. SENT: 130 words.

— OFFICER-CORRUPTION PROBE — A South Texas sheriff's office has announced that the sheriff's chief of staff has resigned for personal reasons, the latest high-level personnel change at an agency that has drawn the attention of federal investigators. SENT: 130 words.

— OILFIELD DEATH-LAWSUIT — The father of a Montana man who was crushed to death in a North Dakota oil field accident in January 2013 has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the drilling rig and the well site, alleging the companies, including one based in San Antonio, failed to provide for the safety of subcontractors. SENT: 130 words.



NEW YORK — Oprah Winfrey is taking a self-help show on the road to eight cities this fall, a two-day event giving fans a chance to see and possibly meet her. The talk-show host and chief of the OWN television network said Wednesday the "Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend" will include some of the personalities she has featured over the years. Also appearing will be OWN host Iyanla Vanzant, "Eat, Pray, Love" author Elizabeth Gilbert and Pastor Rob Bell, with author Deepak Chopra at some of the tour stops, which includes Houston. SENT: 230 words, photo.



DETROIT — General Motors CEO Mary Barra is spending time in the automaker's call center listening to customer complaints. The new CEO spent about a half hour last Thursday wearing a headset at the suburban Detroit center and will return there periodically. GM has admitted it knew about the problem for at least a decade but didn't recall the cars until last month. The problem is linked to at least 12 deaths. A Texas law firm is disputing Barra's contention that the cars are safe to drive if weight is removed from the key rings and has filed a federal court lawsuit. By Auto Writers Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin. SENT: 560 words, video. Moving on general and financial news services.


WICHITA, Kan. — Political instability in Ukraine — coupled with potential freeze damage to winter wheat in the United States and a deepening drought in some major wheat producing countries — are conspiring to significantly drive up wheat prices, economists say. By Roxana Hegeman. SENT: 650 words, photos. Moving on general and financial news services.


HOUSTON — Global Geophysical Services Inc., which provides seismic data to oil and gas companies, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. CEO Richard White said in a statement late Tuesday that the Houston company has been burdened with "significant debt" incurred over the last several years. SENT: 180 words.



WACO, Texas — Odyssey Sims and Baylor are having another sweet season. The Lady Bears have made it to the third round of the NCAA women's tournament for the sixth year in a row, and ninth time in an 11-season span that includes two national titles. But there are still surely plenty of people surprised to see them back in the Sweet 16 this year — something even their own coach alluded to after they advanced. By Basketball Writer Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 690 words, photos.


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