Matt Largey

News Editor

Matt has been a reporter at KUT off and on since 2006.  He came to Austin from Boston, then went back for a while--but couldn't stand to be away--so he came back to Austin.  Matt grew up in Maine (but hates lobster), and while it might sound hard to believe, he thinks Maine and Texas are remarkably similar.

Ways to Connect

Photo courtesy Reagan County Sherriff's Department

Warren Jeffs Trial seeking Jurors

Jury selection starts in San Angelo today in the sexual assault trial of polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs. Jury selection in the high profile case is expected to be difficult, since few people in the town are unfamiliar with the case. If convicted, Jeffs faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for sexual assault of one child and aggravated sexual assault of another. He will face bigamy charges in a separate case in October.

Leffingwell to Announce Possible Ban on Plastic Bags

Photo by Djakhangir Zakhidov for the Texas Tribune

President Perry and the EPA

The Statesman has a piece today about how a President Rick Perry might affect the Environmental Protection Agency. Perry has been highly critical of the EPA in his time as governor, pushing back on the agencies efforts to bring Texas' environmental regulations under tighter control. The Statesman's Asher Price writes that Perry has used the EPA as an example of what he sees as federal intrusion.  

Photo by Flickr user pantagrapher

U.S. and Mexican authorities today signed an agreement that will allow trucks from both countries to carry goods far beyond the border separating the two.

Photo of Humberto Leal, courtesy the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Updated 4:40 pm: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has voted to deny a request for reprieve from death row inmate Humberto Leal.

From the AP:

The panel voted 4-1 Tuesday to deny a reprieve request for 38-year-old Humberto. The same board refused by a 5-0 vote to commute Leal's death sentence to life in prison.

Leal's attorney issued a statement on the denial this afternoon. 

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ recommendation against a reprieve for Humberto Leal ignores the views of the U.S. government and Solicitor General, former diplomats, military leaders, judges and prosecutors, and organizations representing Americans abroad who believe that Mr. Leal’s execution would threaten the safety of Americans overseas and undermine the international interests of the United States. 

Earlier: State lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to stop the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal. The 38-year-old is scheduled to be killed on Thursday in Huntsville for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old San Antonio girl in 1994.

As KUT reported last week, Leal’s lawyers are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis that Leal’s execution would violate an international treaty.

That’s because Leal was not made aware of his right to contact the Mexican consulate when he was arrested, a right guaranteed by the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. His lawyers argue he may never have been convicted, or sentenced to death, if he had access to legal help.

Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

The Space Shuttle Atlantis will lift off Friday - the last shuttle mission for NASA.

Contractors who work on the shuttle program have been getting pink slips for the past year and a half, as the program winds down. But thousands more in Florida, Alabama and Texas will be out of a job after the final mission. 

USA Today reports on how Florida's Space Coast economy will be impacted by the end of the program.

Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News

Updated 10:20pm: The developer of the W Hotel in downtown Austin says the hotel will close temporarily, and all the glass panels on the building's exterior balconies will be replaced. 

That's after more panels shattered and fell from the building Tuesday.

Photo by KUT News

Cap Metro Board Nears Bus Operation Vote

The board of directors of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority will vote today on whether to abolish StarTran, the subsidiary company it formed in 1991 to manage its bus driver and maintenance crews.

Photo by Nathan Bernier/KUT News

AISD Makes Gains On TAKS

More than 80 percent of students in the Austin Independent School District passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, according to district data released to the Statesman. The district's board of trustees is expected to receive the data at  its meeting tonight. 

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera for the Texas Tribune

The Wall Street Journal puts another log on the fire of speculation over whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry will run for the GOP nomination for president. In an article published this afternoon, the Journal points to conversations Perry has had over the last couple weeks about the GOP's chances against President Obama in 2012.

The article quotes unnamed sources, who say Perry has said he thinks the current field of GOP candidates are uninspiring:

Image courtesy Google Maps.

The head of Mexico's state-run tourism board is in Austin today to meet with Texas' Secretary of State and law enforcement officials. 

Among the things he wants to discuss: Texas' warnings about traveling to Mexico.

Image courtesy Google Maps.

The City of Austin is warning drivers to be aware of lane closures and detours beginning this Saturday, due to water main work in the area of Walsh Tarlton Lane and Loop 360 - near the Barton Creek Square Mall. The detours will last through the rest of the summer, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. 

From the City:

Photo provided by Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee

Austin City Council members heard a presentation today on Formula One Austin, that asks the city to contribute $4 million per year to a fund that would be managed by the group.  The money would come from additional tax revenues generated by people visiting Austin for F1 events.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

ACC Buying Last Tract of Highland Mall

Austin Community College is in the process of buying the last piece of the Highland Mall property that it doesn't already own, the Statesman reports this morning. 

ACC also says it is working with a partner, who will develop a mix of retail, residential and office space at the mall, which has fallen on hard times recently. The College's leadership appears upbeat about what the acquisition means for the insitution.

Photo by KUT News

Town Lake Animal Center is putting out a call for foster homes, after a greater-than-expected number of kittens have been taken into the shelter.

The kittens generally need to housed for at least two weeks. Fosters are asked to provide bedding and care for the animals, while the shelter pays for medical treatment and food.

Photo by Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Authorities are warning of potentially severe thunderstorms in Central Texas tonight.

National Weather Service meteorologist Amanda Fanning says there's a 20% chance of severe thunderstorms in the Austin area. She says there's a slight chance of showers, but large hail and damaging winds are also possible. Any storms that do occur are likely to be severe.

Chances for severe weather are greater to the west of Austin, in Blanco, Burnet and Gillespie counties. 

Photo by Erika Aguilar and Matt Largey for KUT

Austin City Council Member Randi Shade has filed another ethics complaint against challenger Kathie Tovo.

It’s the second complaint based on an email sent by a Tovo supporter.  The Shade campaign says the email should have contained a disclaimer announcing it was from Tovo’s campaign. The city’s ethics commission tossed out a similar complaint last week, saying it did not have jurisdiction over the matter.

In the new complaint, Shade says the value of the address list the email were sent to exceeded the maximum contribution allowed under city ordinance.

Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune

Governor Rick Perry signed held a formal signing ceremony today for the state’s so-called “sonogram bill. ” It requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a sonogram before terminating their pregnancy. Doctors will have to make an image of the fetus and the sound of its heartbeat available.

Houston Republican, Senator Dan Patrick, says if this new procedure changes the mind of 20% of women who go in for an abortion, it would mean 10,000 - 15,000 additional births in Texas each year.

The law goes into effect September 1st.

Photo by KUT

The Texas House has given its approval to a bill that formalizes landowner’s full ownership of groundwater below their land.

Property rights advocates had pushed for the bill, which allows landowners to pump and sell groundwater, though the state would still be able to impose some restrictions.

Texas is one of the few states that still gives landowners control over the water underneath their property.

Photo courtesy of US Senator Christopher Coons on Flickr

Doctors at Seton Medical Center in Austin say they expect to discharge Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad today.

Fayyad was hospitalized Sunday, after complaining of chest pains. He was in Austin to attend his son’s graduation at UT-Austin.

Photo by KUT News

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees has approved a timeline for finishing the district’s controversial Facility Master Plan. At a meeting Monday night, the board okayed the timeline set out by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. 

A report presented to the board in March by a citizens’ task force suggested closing as many as nine schools.