The Lead
8:53 am
Tue March 19, 2013

The Lead: Norwood Trial Update, Tx Construction Jobs Tops in U.S.

Good morning! Austin’s in for another warm day, although not as hot as yesterday’s record highs: we can expect a high near 80 degrees and increasing cloud cover as the day continues, according to the National Weather Service.

Lead Story: Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of a man accused of killing Michael Morton’s wife in 1986.Morton was the Austin man who spent almost 25 years prison for his wife’s murder, before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011. 

Now, Mark Norwood stands accused of the crime. His trial was moved to San Angelo because of the media attention on the case in Central Texas.

Brandi Grissom with KUT News’ political reporting partner The Texas Tribune is there covering the proceedings.

“What we know about Mark Norwood so far from public records, is that he’s been arrested a number of times, including charges for burglarizing homes in Austin near where he lived, in North Austin, which was about 12 miles from where Christine Morton was murdered,” Grissom says. “We also know that he was charged with other crimes including bodily assault, and some drug possession charges, and crimes of that nature.”

Michael Morton may take the stand as soon as today.

Drought Tolerant Landscaping Bill Passes Senate: Texas lawmakers are a step closer to guaranteeing the right of landowners to install drought-resistant landscaping.

The Texas Senate passed a bill today that would keep homeowners' associations from banning landscaping designs that are intended to save water. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry.

Austin Sen. Kirk Watson authored the bill. He said that after the 2011 drought, homeowners should be allowed to install landscapes that can survive on very little water.

State Leads Nation in Construction Growth: Texas added more construction jobs than any other state last year: 28,500.

The Associated General Contractors of America says that was a five percent increase over 2011. The highest percentage increase in construction jobs was in Washington D.C. with a 9.4 percent gain.