Crime & Justice

Crime & Justice
2:17 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Judges Now Required to Allow Juries to Consider Seat Belt Use in Accident Settlements

Last week's Texas Supreme Court ruling allows juries to consider how seatbelt use impacts accident victims in civil lawsuits.
ffion atkinson/flickr

Nothing puts the brakes on Austin drivers like winter weather. In a freeze last year, emergency services responded to more than 250 accidents, none of which were fatal, in one day. While the late starts at schools and offices across the city this morning preempted a slew of pileups, drivers in North Texas could see as much as four inches of snow from a cold snap that’s expected to last until tomorrow morning.

Suffice to say, there are sure to be a few accidents in Texas over the next few days, but, snow or no, a recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court could affect court cases handling everything from fender benders to fatal accidents to faulty airbag lawsuits in courts.

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Crime & Justice
4:22 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Marijuana Activists Lobby for Lower Penalties, Medical Access

Credit Jaypeg21/flickr

Nearly 300 marijuana advocates gathered today at the Texas State Capitol to lobby for lower criminal penalties for possession, such as those proposed in House Bill 507, and for access to medical marijuana. 

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Crime & Justice
1:42 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Fort Hood Victims To Receive Purple Hearts

An administrative hearing will be held Thursday for Major Nidal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter.
KUT News

Victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting attack will be awarded Purple Heart medals for their service and sacrifice.

The Army announced in a press release that because of changes to the eligibility criteria for the medals, the victims of the attack on the Fort Hood Army Base can now receive the awards.

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Crime & Justice
5:40 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Supreme Court Stays Next Texas Execution

Huntsville facility in Texas.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday put a stop to the upcoming execution of convicted killer Lester Bower.

Bower, 67, was scheduled to be executed in the Huntsville facility on Feb. 10, next Tuesday. He murdered four men at an airplane hangar outside of Dallas in 1983. He was one of the longest serving inmates on death row, having resided there for more than 30 years. The length of his stay may be one of the reasons that the court decided to halt the execution and consider the prisoner's three-part appeal.

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Crime & Justice
1:11 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Jury Selection Starts Thursday In Chris Kyle Murder Trial

In 2013, Chris Kyle and his neighbor Chad Littlefield were killed at an Erath County shooting range.
Shutterstock/231370435 Shutterstock.com

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 10:54 pm

Jury selection starts Thursday morning in the murder trial of the man accused of killing Chris Kyle -- the veteran Navy SEAL who’s the subject of the hit movie American Sniper.

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Crime & Justice
3:13 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Third Member of 'Texas 7' Set for Execution Wednesday

Credit Mark Britain/flickr

One of the men involved in the biggest prison break in Texas history is set to be put to death today for the murder of 29-year-old Aubrey Hawkins, an Irving police officer, in December 2000.

Update: Newbury was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. Wednesday.

Donald Newbury, scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Huntsville today after 6 p.m., was one of the “Texas 7,” the inmate gang that escaped from a South Texas prison and went on a six-week crime spree 14 years ago.

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Crime & Justice
1:20 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Report Finds No Clear Warning Signs Before Deadly 2014 Fort Hood Shooting

Fort Hood the day after the 2014 shooting.
Credit KUT News

The U.S. Army has closed its investigation into the April 2014 shooting at Fort Hood that left four people dead. The Army concluded that there was “nothing in the assailant’s background, medical or military profile” that might have provided officials with warning signs that he would act violently.

Specialist Ivan Lopez opened fire on the Army base on April 2 of last year, killing three soldiers and injuring 12. Lopez then took his own life.

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Crime & Justice
2:58 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Texas' First Execution of the Year Set for Wednesday

Credit Andres Rueda/via Flickr

The first Texas execution of 2015 is scheduled to happen today sometime after 6 p.m.

Arnold Prieto, 41, will be put to death for the murder and robbery of three people in 1993 in Bexar County. Two of the victims were Prieto's own great-aunt and great-uncle. No late appeals were filed to try to stop the execution from taking place.

Not only is this the first execution of the year, it is the first execution to happen under the governorship of Greg Abbott. 

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Paris Attacks
7:36 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Post-Attack Edition Of 'Charlie Hebdo' Sells Out In France

Jean Paul Bierlein reads the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo outside a newsstand in Nice, southeastern France, on Wednesday.
Lionel Cironneau AP

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 7:54 am

The first post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo has sold out in France, just hours after it was released.

France 24 reports that people lined up in front of newsstands as they opened. The network adds:

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Crime & Justice
10:29 am
Fri January 9, 2015

Suspects In Paris Magazine Attack Killed; Market Gunman And 4 Hostages Also Dead

Armed security forces fly overhead in a military helicopter in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, on Friday.
Thibault Camus AP

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 10:39 am

(This post was last updated at 6:50 p.m. ET.)

A nationwide manhunt for the suspects of France's deadliest terrorist attack in more than 50 years ended in a hail of gunfire on Friday.

After hours of tension in two separate standoffs that shut down parts of the Paris metro area, the two main suspects in the attack on a satirical magazine and a man who took hostages at a kosher grocery are dead, President François Hollande said in a speech to the nation.

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Texas Standard
2:28 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

How Texas is Fighting Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

A map illustrating potential human trafficking cases from 2007 to 2012. Currently, nearly one in 100 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline come from Texas.
Polaris

Slavery still exists in Texas – it just isn't always easy to see. But a new project hopes to bring awareness to a problem that often hides in plain sight.

The Texas Slavery Mapping Project is a two-year initiative to gather data about human trafficking in the state. The project, a partnership between the Institute of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin and Austin-based Allies Against Slavery, just received a $500,000 grant from the Governor's Office to research existing data and compile resources for survivors. 

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Austin Shooting
3:14 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Calling Austin Shooter an 'Extremist', Acevedo Gives Details of Investigation

The scene outside APD headquarters on Friday November 28, 2014 following a shooting by Larry McQuilliams.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Austin Police are giving more details of what they've found so far in their investigation of Friday's early morning shootings in downtown Austin.

Larry McQuilliams, 49, shot at several downtown buildings, including the Mexican Consulate and APD headquarters, before he was fatally shot by Sgt. Adam Johnson at approximately 2:32am Friday.

McQuilliams had the words "Let me die" written on his chest at the time of his death.

APD Chief Art Acevedo commended Johnson, saying the officer took only one shot from 312 feet away, to end the incident. 

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Texas Standard
2:49 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Riot Anxiety: How Ferguson Police Prep May Spark It

A vigil in support of Michael Brown occurs outside of the Ferguson Police Department. Ferguson police have been criticized for what some have called an overly miliarized response.
flickr.com/sierraromeo

The city of Ferguson, Missouri anxiously awaits a Grand Jury verdict for the officer involved in shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

The incident has sparked widespread public outrage and conversation, culminating in a string of protests and demonstrations nationwide, some which turned violent. Another source of contention has been police response itself – particularly in Ferguson, where police were criticized for being overly aggressive and overly armed. 

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Canada
1:14 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Soldier Killed, Suspect Dead In Shooting Near Canadian Parliament

A Canadian soldier who was shot outside the war memorial on Parliament Hill in tended to in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Daniel Thibeaut/CBC Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 7:44 pm

A gunman opened fire at Canada's National War Memorial on Wednesday, killing one soldier, Ottawa police said in a statement.

Witnesses in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, say the gunman then ran into the main Parliament building, where dozens of shots were fired.

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Crime & Justice
6:14 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Off-Duty St. Louis Officer Fatally Shoots 18-Year-Old Black Man

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 11:04 am

An off-duty white police officer in St. Louis shot and killed an 18-year-old black man who police say opened fire during a chase in south St. Louis. The incident sparked renewed protests in a city already rocked by anger over the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the suburb of Ferguson in August.

St. Louis Public Radio live-blogged the protests here.

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Crime & Justice
11:17 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Big Impact and Little Payouts in Austin's Small Claims Courts

A judge awarded Veronica Avila Zavala $6,900 of the $12,000 she claimed a fake attorney stole from her, but has so far only received $900.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Most probably couldn't articulate what a justice of the peace exactly does.

Television shows like “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court” often trivialize the role of justices of the peace and the small claims courts they preside over.

Five small courtrooms of the Travis County justices of the peace handle settlements of $10,000 or less. In the grand scheme of things, the settlements are miniscule, hence the moniker of “small claims," but for some the rulings in these courts have huge implications.

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Same-Sex Marriage
3:15 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

What Does the Supreme Court Punting on Same-Sex Marriage Mean For Texas?

A challenge to Texas' gay marriage ban is still tied up in a federal appellate court and was largely unaffected by the Supreme Court's inaction.
Tyler Pratt/KUT

It’s a big day for supporters of same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the issue this year, which means same-sex marriages can continue in five states that currently ban the practice.

But where does that leave Texas? 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against weighing in on same-sex marriage means it will soon be legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. 

But, in Texas, the marriages will not be allowed. A federal district judge ruled earlier this year that the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman relegates same-sex couples to second-class citizenship. But the judge also allowed the ban on same-sex marriages to continue while the case winds through the appeals process.

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Supreme Court
12:05 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Supreme Court Won't Hear Gay Marriage Cases In New Term

The Supreme Court has denied petitions to review same-sex marriage cases in several states, including Utah. In January, supporters of same-sex marriage held a rally at Utah's Capitol in Salt Lake City.
Jim Urquhart Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 1:15 pm

The Supreme Court's new term will not include any cases that might decide the issue of same-sex marriage in the U.S., a development that comes after many lower and appeals courts have ruled against states' bans on gay marriage. Advocates on both sides of the issue have been calling for the high court to review the issue and make an official ruling.

The court's refusal of all the petitions related to bans on gay marriage means that the appeals courts' decisions allowing gay marriage can now take effect. They had been on hold pending a potential review by the Supreme Court.

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Supreme Court
6:37 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Supreme Court To Weigh Facebook Threats, Religious Freedom, Discrimination

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 11:32 am

The U.S. Supreme Court opens a new term Monday, but so far the justices are keeping quiet about whether or when they will tackle the gay marriage question. Last week, the justices met behind closed doors to discuss pending cases, but when they released the list of new cases added to the calendar, same-sex marriage was nowhere to be seen.

But that really doesn't mean very much.

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Crime & Justice
6:38 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Crime Falls As U.S. Locks Up Fewer People, Attorney General Holder Says

In the past year, the U.S. prison population fell by roughly 4,800, the first time in decades the number has gone down, according to the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the findings in New York on Tuesday.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 5:20 pm

The U.S. is seeing "historic" progress in reducing both its crime and its incarceration rates, Attorney General Eric Holder said, with the federal prison population falling by some 4,800 inmates in the past year — "the first decrease we've seen in many ‎decades."

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