Crime

Texas
7:12 am
Wed November 14, 2012

New Agency Head Appointed Amid Criminal Investigation

Howard Baldwin (left) stepped down as Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services. John Specia, Jr. (right) will take his place.
Photos: Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Background Image: flickr.com/thomasletholsen

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has appointed a new head of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The previous commissioner resigned last week as an Abilene office of the department is under criminal investigation.

Abilene Police say employees at the Child Protective Services office were not cooperative in the investigation into a toddler’s death in August. Police believe some employees may have tampered with evidence.

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Crime
12:24 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Mark Norwood Indicted in Second Austin Murder

A booking photo of Mark Norwood.

Mark Norwood, the Bastrop dishwasher who was arrested one year ago for the 1986 murder of Christine Morton, was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on Friday for the January 1988 murder of Debra Masters Baker in Austin.

“It has been excruciating for all of us who loved Debra to wait for this day. Now, we finally have a face to put with her tragic murder,” Baker’s family said in a statement released by attorney Sam Bassett.

Norwood's attorney, Russell Hunt Jr., said his client maintains his innocence in both cases. Hunt said Norwood's mother had been subpoenaed to testify before a Travis County grand jury on Friday morning. 

"There's only one reason why" that would happen, he said. "That's if they intend to indict him."

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Crime
6:49 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Are There Juggalo Gangs in Austin? (Update)

An anonymous cop says that Juggalo gangs may be responsible for a rise in crime downtown.
clockwise from left; FBI, Ohio Attorney General's Office

Update: A commenter below and others on social media have noted Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo was asked about the FOX 7 story on KLBJ 93.7's "Dudley and Bob Show" this morning. Some believe he disputed the report on Juggalo gang members in Austin.

KUT News spoke with Chief Acevedo this afternoon. He says he does not dispute the content of FOX 7's reporting.

Original Post (12:47 p.m.): Has the dark carnival spread to Austin?

An anonymous Austin Police detective is saying that Juggalo gangs – fans of rap crew the Insane Clown Posse engaged in criminal activity – may be responsible for an increase in downtown crime.

FOX 7 News reports:

“The crimes associated with Juggalos include assaults, thefts and drug use.

‘They're doing a lot of pocket checks where they use force to take something from somebody. Or they'll come up [and] pick someone's pocket,’ the detective said.

The victims, officers say, are downtown patrons who have had too much to drink. The homeless have also been targeted.”

For those not in the know, Insane Clown Posse is a Detroit-based rap group that has slowly amassed one of the most devoted fanbases in underground music.

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Criminal Justice
10:51 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Texas Judge Who Beat His Daughter Is Reinstated To Bench

Hillary Adams (left) as her father was striking her with a belt. She set up a video camera to record what she says was one of many such beatings.
YouTube.com (warning, video is graphic)

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 6:36 am

There was outrage across the nation last November when video of a 2004 beating that a local judge in Texas gave to his 16-year-old daughter went viral.

Within days, Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams was suspended by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

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Austin
11:09 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Aggressive Panhandling Top Concern of Downtown Residents

People line up outside of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless in downtown Austin.
KUT News

Some people who live and work in downtown Austin spoke out at yesterday's Public Safety Commission meeting in support of the Austin Police Department’s so called “Public Order Initiative."

While Police Chief Art Acevedo says the zero-tolerance policy that went into effect in September is not an anti-homeless initiative… it does crack down on crime often associated with the homeless—including violations of the city’s ‘sit and lie’ ordinance.

Some have speculated that APD’s crackdown is happening because of the influx of visitors expected for Formula 1. But the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) says it’s a long-term problem.

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Police
1:29 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

No Charges for Driver Shot at by Police While Fleeing Sixth Street

A screen shot from an amateur video capturing the aftermath of the incident on Sixth Street.
YouTube

Austin police say no charges will be filed against a driver who police fired on on Sixth Street over the weekend.

As KUT News previously reported, shortly after 2 a.m. early Sunday morning an Austin police officer opened fire on a car that the officer said was driving straight at him after hitting two bystanders.

YNN Austin quoted police chief Art Acevedo’s description of the scene: "This person, for unknown reasons, decided to rapidly accelerate to the extent that she left acceleration skid mark on the pavement … And not only drove toward civilian victims – and struck civilian victims – but also drove toward the officer and refused to stop until shots rang out."

But this afternoon, police announced no charges would be filed against the unnamed motorist, whom they described as fleeing the scene quickly out of concern for her safety.

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Austin
3:21 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Report: Guilty Verdict for Two Sixth St. Club Owners in Money Laundering Case

Two of three brothers who operated clubs on Sixth Street have been found guilty on money laundering charges.
flickr.com/kharb

Two brothers – Hussein Yassine and Hadi Yassine – have been found guilty on federal money laundering charges, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

As KUT News previously reported, The Yassine brothers – Hussein, Hadi and Mohammed Yassine – were among ten people arrested in March on drug, weapon and money laundering charges.

The state has since seized their assets.

The Yassines, who operated several nightclubs including Spill, the pirate-themed bar Treasure Island, Kiss and Fly and more, entered not guilty pleas.

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Texas
6:04 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Texas Inmate Put to Death After Court Reverses Reprieve

Jonathan Green's execution was blocked earlier this week but is now set to take place this evening.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Update: Thursday, Oct. 11, 6:04 a.m.:

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal to spare Green from execution. Green received a lethal injection Wednesday night before 11 p.m. The warrant for his execution was set to expire at midnight.

Jonathan Green was the 10th inmate executed in Texas so far this year.

Original Story: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 4:13 p.m.:

A Texas death row inmate is once again facing execution this evening.

Jonathan Green’s execution was blocked on Monday when a federal judge ruled on Monday that due process was violated in Green’s competency hearing.

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Education
3:19 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Student Could Face Jail Time For Hacking UT Registration Site

UT police say the student clogged the registrar website with information and requests, temporarily taking it offline.
Caleb Miller for KUT News

A University of Texas at Austin student is facing a felony charge for hacking UT’s computer system.

University police say 19-year-old Garret Phillips flooded the registration site with information in April, shutting it down temporarily when students were trying to sign up for summer and fall classes.

But UTPD Sgt. Charles Bonnet says no personal information was put at risk.

“The type of attack that was launched was just a flood of information into the site which caused it to crash. There was no effort to extract any kind of information or view any kind of information," Bonnet says.

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Austin
9:36 am
Tue October 2, 2012

It's National Night Out in Austin

National Night Out is nearing its third decade.

Tonight will mark the 29th annual National Night Out.  And all over Texas, citizens will be turning their porch light on and spending the evening meeting with neighbors, police officers and public safety responders.

National Night Out is designed to heighten crime prevention and awareness, strengthen neighborhood bonds and, most importantly, send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against crime.

Austin is marking National Night Out with an event at The Domain this evening. The event will start at 5 p.m. and representatives from the Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s Department and Austin Energy will be there to help educate people about crime prevention. Along with information, food and games will be available to help build the neighborly spirit.

Interested in learning more about National Night Out? You can visit the site for the National Association of Town Watch or Austin Police's National Night Out page.

Austin
12:05 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Yassine Brothers' Drug and Money Laundering Trial Begins

Jury selection in the trial of the Yassine brothers - Sixth Street club owners charged with money laundering and drug and firearm distribution - is underway.
flickr.com/kevharb

Jury selection begins today in the trial of three former downtown Austin nightclub operators.

The Yassine brothers – Hussein, Hadi and Mohammed Yassine – were among ten people arrested in March on drug, weapon and money laundering charges.  The Yassines, who operated several nightclubs including Spill, the pirate-themed bar Treasure Island, Kiss and Fly and more, have entered not guilty pleas.

The sensational nature of the charges – and the media attention they have attracted – are already a point of contention. The Austin American-Statesman, which notes that over 120 citizens were summoned to U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks’ courtroom to form the jury pool , writes:

Early questions focused on pre-trial publicity in the case, with Sparks asking prospective jurors if they’d been following coverage of the investigation, including a story that ran on the front page of today’s American-Statesman.

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Public Safety
5:02 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Suspect Dies in Officer-Involved Shooting

The APD officer who shot the suspect is on paid administrative leave.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update (5 p.m.): Austin Police tell KUT News Paladino died at University Medical Center Brackenridge approximately one-hour ago. 

Update (4 p.m.): Police have identified the suspect as 42 year-old Maurice Chad Paladino.

Update (2:40 p.m.): Austin Police have released the name of the officer involved in the shooting. APD officials say Officer Brandon Blanche was in danger for his life.

"In watching the video," Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix says, "I think all of us are comfortable that there's not going to be any legal issues with the shooting, that the officer likely acted lawfully. But we hold our officers to a higher standard administratively. What we have to look at is the lawfulness of the shooting, but we also have to look at the tactics employed and how the officers got to the situation they were in as well."

Mannix says Blanche was clearly in the path of the vehicle that "actively engaged" when he discharged his weapon.

The still unnamed suspect is said to be in "grave condition."

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Criminal Justice
11:32 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Texas Executes Cleve Foster, Ninth Inmate to Die This Year

Former Army recruiter Cleve Foster was executed for the 2002 slaying of a Fort Worth woman last night.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

The State of Texas executed Cleve Foster last night. He was put to death for the sexual assault and shooting death of Nyaneur Pal (“Pah”) in Fort Worth in 2002.

His attorneys say he was innocent and didn’t have proper legal defense early on. Foster’s co-defendant, Shelton Ward, died of cancer on death row in 2010.

The Austin Chronicle writes Foster was charged under Texas’ “law of parties,” which stipulates those involved in the commission of a murder can be charged with the crime, even if they didn’t directly participate in the act of murder. Foster claimed he was incapacitated at the time of Pal’s death:

In several statements Ward repeatedly claimed that he alone murdered Pal, but prosecutors have said Ward's statements are inconsistent with the evidence. DNA evidence showed both men had sex with her before her death, but Foster insists he was passed out from sleeping pills and wasn't involved in Pal's killing.

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Criminal Justice
3:57 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Report: Fewer Ex-Cons Returning to Texas Prisons

The recidivism rate for ex-cons in Texas has fallen 11 percent - meaning less former felons returning behind bars.
flickr.com/hmk

Fewer Texas ex-convicts are returning to prison, according to a report released today by the National Reentry Resource Center.

The report tracked individuals released from prison between 2005 and 2007 until 2010, to see whether they returned to prison. It found that the three-year recidivism rate went down 11 percent in Texas.

Other states with significant drops in their recidivism rates were Ohio, Kansas and Michigan.

The report credits the lowered recidivism rates in many states to increased funding for programs that ease the transition from prison to society, including the 2008 Second Chance Act. The act provides federal grants to state and local governments and community organizations to provide services that ease the transition from prison to society. Funds can be used to provide employment services, substance abuse treatment, housing assistance and mentoring to prisoners and ex-cons.

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Texas
6:59 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Could IQ Score Could Halt Texas Execution?

State lawyers believe Wilson's IQ is higher than 61.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Update: Wilson was executed. The lower courts agreed with state lawyers that the results of the IQ test were faulty. The Supreme Court denied the request to stop the execution. Wilson was the seventh prisoner executed in Texas so far this year.

Earlier: Attorneys for a Texas man scheduled to die Tuesday evening are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution.

Marvin Wilson, 54, was convicted for the 1992 abduction and shooting death of a police informant – 21-year-old Jerry Williams – in Beaumont.

A psychological test found Wilson’s IQ was 61 – which defense lawyers say indicates mental impairment and makes him ineligible for execution. State lawyers argue that the test result was faulty and that all other tests showed his IQ above the impairment threshold of 70.

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Aurora Shootings
9:13 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Long Legal Process Begins for Colorado Shooting Suspect

James Holmes, in an Arapahoe County, Colo., court on July 23.
AP

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 7:46 am

  • Kirk Siegler on 'Morning Edition'

Months of pre-trial legal arguments begin in earnest this morning when James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others in a July 20 shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., appears in an Arapahoe County, Colo., court.

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Crime
1:41 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

Police Need Assistance in Solving Slaying of Homeless Man

William Roy Greer would have marked his 50th birthday on July 29.
Austin Police Department

Update: At a press conference this morning, Austin Police Department Homicide Sergeant Brian Miller said Greer’s family told officials Greer was new to Austin from the Houston area. He said police are still unsure as to when Greer came to Austin or what brought him here.

Miller said the department does not have any evidence linking Greer’s death to the homeless woman murdered last month, but is not ruling out possible links between the cases.

Original post (11:35 a.m.): Austin police are looking for help in solving the murder of a homeless man along the shores of Lady Bird Lake.

William Roy Greer, 49, was found yesterday morning in the 200 block of West Cesar Chavez. APD writes:

Greer was pronounced deceased on scene. The investigation has shown that Greer was assaulted and killed along the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail near West Cesar Chavez Street and Colorado Street. His body was found at 8:09 am on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. Mr. Greer was homeless and had recently arrived in Austin.

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Crime
1:03 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Williamson County Makes Arrest in 1980 Murder

Williamson County Sheriffs Office

Williamson County sheriff's investigators have arrested Steven Alan Thomas, 53, in the 1980 murder of Mildred McKinney, the agency announced Tuesday.

McKinney was 73 when her daughter found her dead in her Williamson County duplex, where she lived alone. She had been beaten, strangled and raped. The murderer stacked a recliner, end table and vacuum cleaner on her head and chest.

The sheriff's office learned that DNA from the nearly 32-year-old murder scene matched Thomas on June 27, and additional testing of DNA collected from Thomas on July 5 also matched the DNA found at the murder scene. Analysis of a fingerprint from the scene of the murder also belonged to Thomas. 

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Crime
12:27 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Suspicious Death Near Hike & Bike Trail

View Suspicious Death in a larger map

One eastbound lane of W. Cesar Chavez Street  is shut down and part of the Hike and Bike Trail is closed as Austin Police investigate a suspicious death.

APD says a bicyclist called police just after 8 a.m. when he found a man lying near the trail. The man was dead in a sleeping bag with obvious trauma. Officers say he appears to have been homeless.

Senior Police Officer Veneza Bremner says it’s unclear how long the man was there but says the location is noteworthy because it’s very public area.

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Sports
3:57 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Penn State Sanctions Charter 'Unprecedented' Ground, Author Says

NCAA President Mark Emmert answers questions about the sanctions against Penn State's football team during a news conference in Indianapolis, Monday, July 23, 2012. The NCAA slammed Penn State with an unprecedented series of penalties in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Michael Conroy AP

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 3:20 pm

The sanctions slapped on Penn State football in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal charter a new territory in punishment by the NCAA, a sports author said today.

"I think it is unprecedented in terms of taking away wins. That's a huge blow," says Ted Kluck, author of several books on sports, including Game Time: Inside College Football.

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