The Lead
8:59 am
Wed March 20, 2013

The Lead: Senate Bill Could Slash Number of Tx Abortion Facilities; Norwood & Hasan Trial Updates

Good morning. After last night, Austin’s looking at decreasing rain chances as the morning goes on, lessening from as much as 50 percent to just a slight chance. Sorry, that means no more hail

Lead Story: The sponsor of a bill heard in a Texas Senate committee yesterday says the measure is about protecting the health of women who are getting abortions. But opponents say it will just make abortions harder to get, especially in rural areas.

SB 537 from State Sen. Bob Deuell would require abortion providers to meet the same standards as ambulatory or outpatient surgical facilities. Right now, only five of the state’s 67 abortion clinics meet those standards.

The bill was left pending in the Senate Health & Human Services committee yesterday.  

Morton Testifies in Norwood Trial: Michael Morton took the stand yesterday in the murder trial of Mark Norwood, the man accused of killing Morton’s wife in 1986. Morton spent almost 25 years in prison for his wife’s murder before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011.

Brandi Grissom with KUT News’ reporting partner The Texas Tribune is covering the trial in San Angelo. “Lisa Tanner, the special prosecutor in the case told the jury that they plan to show that Mark Norwood is connected to a .45 caliber pistol that was stolen from the crime scene back in 1986,” Grissom says.

"She said investigators tracked that gun down to a man who lives now in Tennessee, but who was a friend of Mark Norwood’s at the time and he owned a construction company that Norwood worked for back in 1986. Tanner also showed Michael Morton that was stolen from his house. He identified it and he said, ‘This is my old pistol,’ when he was shown the gun. And he sort of held it in the courtroom and showed some of the different customizations he had done to the gun when he owned it.”

You can read more of Grissom’s reporting at The Texas Tribune.

Wrangling Over Hasan Trial Continues: Prosecutors in the Fort Hood shooting case say they need a terrorism expert to testify in the trial. They say Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan meets several descriptions of a homegrown terrorist.

But defense attorneys in the case say the expert witness is unnecessary. A judge will hear arguments from both sides today in a pre-trial hearing. Jury selection in the case is set to start in late May.

Hasan is facing 13 counts of premeditated murder and dozens of counts of attempted premeditated murder in the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood.