Crime & Justice

Courts, trials and crime coverage for Austin and the Central Texas region.

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From Texas Standard:

Texas is one of six states that tries 17-year-olds as adults. But a new bill wants Texas to follow the national trend of raising the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18.

House Bill 122, authored by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) and Gene Wu (D-Houston), passed the House last week and could be on its way to the Senate.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

As the City of Austin moves forward with the renegotiation of its public safety contracts, activists are asking for several changes to the city’s contract with the local police union. The contract, which is negotiated every couple years, dictates pay, discipline and the legal rights of officers.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office will no longer bring all police shooting cases before a grand jury. Flanked by representatives of the local NAACP, police union and the Austin Police Department, District Attorney Margaret Moore announced the changes – effective immediately.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

A Facebook video of an arrest in Hyde Park this week has some Austinites criticizing the Austin Police Department’s use of Taser devices.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

“[A] dangerous game of political Russian roulette.” That’s how Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s immigration policy, which was released Friday. And, this morning, Abbott told Fox News that he's directing lawmakers to draft a bill that would penalize similar policies and threatened to remove Hernandez from office.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

This month, voters elected the second woman in history to serve as Travis County sheriff. Now, the department is working to recruit more female deputies and corrections officers to its ranks.

Jon Shapley for KUT

In the year since Texas lawmakers mandated random selection of grand jurors in place of the controversial “key man” system, grand juries in Travis County have become less racially diverse.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Decades ago, the area around the intersection of 12th and Chicon streets was a central corridor in historically black East Austin, but over the years, drugs became a presence at the corner. Prostitution and other illegal activity happened in broad daylight there, and in 2012, Austin police took a new approach to the problem – what’s called a drug market intervention.


The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in the case of Duane Buck, a convicted Texas murderer sentenced to die after a psychologist testified that he was more likely to commit violent crimes in the future because he is black.

Buck shot and killed his ex-girlfriend in front of her three children while she begged for her life. He killed the man he thought she was sleeping with and he shot his own stepsister, Phyllis Taylor, who survived the horrific night.

Jennifer Whitney for Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: More than a year after state lawmakers told it to stop incarcerating so many teenagers, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department has diverted 52 juvenile offenders to local programs for help and rehabilitation instead of shipping them to state lockups.

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment via Flickr

From the Austin Monitor: The Public Safety Commission upped the ante Tuesday, calling for an additional $5.6 million to tackle a backlog of DNA cases that continue to accumulate while the city’s lab remains shuttered.

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

Thirty years ago, a Williamson County murder set in motion a shoddy prosecution — one in which ignored witness accounts and withheld evidence led to the conviction of an innocent man.

Michael Morton spent 25 years in prison for his wife's bludgeoning death before DNA analysis finally freed him, a miscarriage in justice that still reverberates through the state's criminal cases.

Travis County Sheriff's Department

The death of Travis County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Craig Hutchinson has been ruled a case of suicide.

Williamson County Justice of the Peace Bill Gravell made the announcement a short time ago, suggesting that the investigation had collected “all pertinent evidence."

Rob Crow via Texas Tribune

Almost 7,000 individuals in Texas have died while in police custody or behind bars over the past 10 years, according to an online report released Wednesday by a University of Texas at Austin research institute. Nearly 2,000 people who died had not been convicted of a crime, Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis data shows.

KUT News

The violent arrest of an elementary school teacher after a traffic stop is being investigated by Austin police. There are questions about the arrest itself, and the way police officers’ supervisors handled the incident.

The arrest of 26-year-old Breaion King, an African American woman, happened last summer. But it was not until this week that Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo saw the police car video of the arrest.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT News

For weeks now, hordes of the young and young-at-heart have been wandering the streets looking for Pokémon. Some have wandered onto private property, raising concerns about what is legal and illegal in the new world of augmented reality.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke with KUT's Kate McGee this morning, saying that the department will assist the Dallas Police Department in any necessary capacity and that APD will remain on high-staffing levels for the remainder of the summer. At a press availability this afternoon, he reiterated that staffing plan, but also denounced comments from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for Thursday night’s shootings.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

After delaying a vote for several meetings, Public Safety Commissioners Monday supported a resolution asking for more racial profiling data from the Austin Police Department and a more rigorous analysis of it by the Office of the Police Monitor.

Commissioner Mike Levy took a minute to congratulate fellow commissioners after a unanimous vote.


http://kutne.ws/1WUk9Hq

Austin Police say they are considering closing the lower deck of I-35 at some times of night, after a string of more than 80 incidents involving large rocks being thrown at cars along highways in Austin.

APD gave an update on their efforts to address the rock throwing Wednesday after several more incidents over the weekend.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

UPDATE 8:30 p.m.: The Austin Police Association, the union representing APD officers, issued this statement on Facebook tonight:

EARLIER: The Austin Police officer who fatally shot a teenager in North Austin in February will not be indicted by a grand jury, says the Travis County District Attorney's office. Freeman shot and killed 17-year-old David Joseph after the teenager reportedly charged at the officer. 

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