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.

Read more
10:35 am
Mon July 23, 2012

If Not for Jammed Gun, Officers' Sharp Eyes, More Might Have Died in Aurora

James Holmes, in an Arapahoe County, Colo., court on Monday.

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 1:43 pm

A dazed-looking James Holmes, his hair dyed a reddish orange, made his first court appearance this morning as the state of Colorado began its case against the man arrested at the scene of Friday's massacre in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people were killed and an additional 58 were wounded.

It was a short hearing in an Arapahoe County, Colo., courtroom, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. He'll be formally charged next Monday, the judge announced.

Read more
10:25 am
Fri July 20, 2012

President Obama: 'Such Violence, Such Evil is Senseless; It's Beyond Reason'

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 2:22 pm

In a speech from Fort Myers, Fla., President Obama said today was "a day for prayer and reflection."

The President cancelled a planned campaign event and instead addressed the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. He asked those gathered to pause for a moment of silence to remember the victims.

"Even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings like this," Obama said. "Such violence, such evil is senseless; it's beyond reason."

Read more
8:04 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Real-Life Horror: Many Killed, Dozens Wounded At Colorado Movie Theater

Two women mourn near the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire during the opening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 12:17 am

A midnight screening of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises turned into a horribly real scene of death and destruction in Aurora, Colo., early Friday when a gunman opened fire on the audience killing 12.

Read more
1:34 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Police React to Staffing Study

A study says Austin needs to hire 257 more officers and staff in the next five years.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

A new study commissioned by the city shows the Austin Police Department is very busy and “struggling somewhat” to keep up with calls for service.

The study was done by the Police Executive Research Forum, a non-profit law enforcement think tank. And it says the city’s current model of two officers per 1,000 people isn’t working. The study says APD needs more than 250 new officers and staff by 2017.

Wayne Vincent is the president Austin Police Association. He says the effect of short staffing is already having an effect on the city.

“There’s very little uncommitted time for police officers," Vincent says. "They’re going from call to call. There’s no chance to get to know people in the neighborhood, visit with business owners, individuals in the community. So the target is to have that uncommitted time so the officer can be proactive instead of reactive.”

Read more
11:07 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Watch Your Car: Austin Police Offer Free VIN Etching, More

Don't let this happen to you: Austin police urge extra caution during "Watch Your Car" month.
City of Yuma, Arizona

The temperature isn’t the only thing rising this July: So is auto theft.

July is one of the more popular months for car thieves in Texas, according to the Austin Police Department.

This month, police are taking part in a “Watch Your Car” campaign, which aims to educate Austinites on ways they can prevent their cars from being stolen.

APD will be at the Barton Creek Mall today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to offer community services designed to curb car thefts.

Read more
10:54 am
Tue July 3, 2012

AMBER Alert for San Antonio Toddler Canceled

Update 10:50 a.m.: The San Antonio Police Department says the boy has been found and is "safe and sound."

Earlier: The San Antonio Police Department has issued an Amber Alert for a 3-year-old boy. Police say Gabriel Rivera was abducted by two people in a gold Ford Explorer.

The vehicle has Texas plates with the license plate number: 5-7-R-8-4-5-4.

The missing toddler was last seen yesterday. He is Hispanic with brown hair and brown eyes. He’s about 3-feet tall and weighs about 35 pounds.

Police believe he is in danger.

Read more
AM Update 7/3/12
8:00 am
Tue July 3, 2012

AM Update: ‘No Sit, No Lie,’ Finishing Touches at Governor's Mansion, Free Pet Adoptions

The iconic painting 'Fall of the Alamo' returns to the Governor's Mansion.
Governor's Office

No Vote on ‘No Sit, No Lie’

Austin’s Public Safety Commission decided to push back until August a decision on expanding the city’s “No Sit, No Lie” ordinance to the 12th Street and Chicon Street area.

The ordinance bans anyone from sitting or sleeping on streets near businesses, banks, and ATMs. Right now, it’s in effect downtown.

The Blackshear and Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association has been trying to bring the ordinance east of Interstate 35 in hopes of combating drug and prostitution problems.

But the Public Safety Commission isn’t convinced “No Sit, No Lie” is the best option.

Read more
1:07 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Jovita's Hopes to Reopen, Defendants Say

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the proprietors of Jovita's Mexican Restaurant – currently at the center of an alleged heroin distribution ring – would like to reopen the popular South Austin eatery. (It's unclear how this would occur, since the restaurant was one of several assets seized last week.) Amanda Pardo, wife of alleged ringleader Amado “Mayo” Pardo, was released on bond at a hearing this morning.
The family that owns Jovita's restaurant and music venue, which has been closed since it was raided last week amid allegations that it was used as a hub for a major heroin trafficking ring, wants to reopen the well-known spot on South First Street for business, a lawyer said following a federal court hearing today.
4:38 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

APD: Jovita's Owner at Center of Heroin Ring; Sold Drugs in Restaurant

The 19 suspects in today's heroin bust, "Operation Muerte Negra."
Austin Police Department

Regional officials alleged today that Amado Pardo, the owner of Jovita’s Mexican Restaurant in South Austin, led a prison-gang connected heroin ring that moved between $3,400 and $6,250 worth of drugs daily.

Officials from the Austin Police, the FBI, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Office of the Inspector General and other agencies announced 18 arrests and the seizure of over $1.5 million in assets in a press conference this afternoon, “including a well-known restaurant on South First Street, Jovita’s,” said APD Assistant Chief Sean Mannix.  

Patrick Loll, an FBI assistant special agent for Central Texas, said Pardo lead a “heroin distribution network that has operated here for over a decade.”

Read more
3:28 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

APD Defends Police Pursuit Turned Deadly

Assistant police chief Mannix defended the pursuit of a auto theft suspect today.
Andy Uhler, KUT News

Assistant Austin Police chief Sean Mannix today said officers followed proper protocol in a high speed chase Friday – but added that the chase would have been “terminated in a matter of seconds” had the suspect not crashed into another car, killing an innocent motorist.

32-year old James Williford was hit and killed by a Ford F-250 allegedly driven by Reynaldo Victor Hernandez Jr. Hernandez was running from police when he raced through a red light and crashed into James  Williford’s Mitsubishi Lancer.

“This happened in a manner of seconds – less than a minute and a half from the time the officer got behind the vehicle until the crash occurred,” said Mannix.

Read more
4:50 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Bye Bye Buddy: AISD's First Police Dog Retires

After a distinguished career with the Austin ISD Police Canine Unit, “Officer Buddy” is retiring.

After an 11 year career on the Austin ISD police force, Buddy’s career as a canine detective has concluded.   

The 13 year-old English Springer spaniel, who is trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and powder used in firearms, will now spend his days as a house dog.  But he leaves behind some big paw prints. 

“He has quite the resume,” says Detective Travis Pickford, Buddy’s handler. "Over the past 11 years, Buddy has located murder weapons and helped on numerous felony narcotics investigation." 

Read more
8:44 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Austin-Area Man with Alleged Zetas Ties to Appear in Court

Some of the seven people in federal custody on charges of an alleged money laundering scheme for Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas are scheduled to appear in an Austin courtroom today.

Officials say the defendants hid millions of Zetas drug money in the horse racing business.

Forty-eight year-old horse trainer Eusevio Maldonado Huitron was arrested in Austin on Tuesday. He’s schedule to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew W. Austin at 2:30 p.m. for arraignment and a detention hearing.

Read more
4:09 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Reports: Former State Hospital Doctor Charged with Child Sex Abuse

A former psychiatrist at the Austin State Hospital has been indicted on multiple felony charges, including child sexual assault, according to reports.

The Austin American-Statesman writes that Charles Fisher, who was fired from the facility last year amid charges he sexually abused two teen patients in 2003 and 2006, has been accused of abusing a total of five patients over a similar time period, from 2001 to 2005.

Read more
2:20 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Allen Stanford Sentenced to Over 100 Years

A 2009 mug shot of Allen Stanford.
United States Marshals Service

Texas financier Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison today, reports Agence France Presse.

Stanford was recently convicted on several charges, including fraud, after prosecutors proved he was running a Ponzi scheme with his Stanford International Bank:

Read more
AM Update
8:54 am
Thu June 14, 2012

AM Update: STAAR Retesting Costs, 'Stand Your Ground' Guilty Verdict, AISD Police Dog Retires

Hundreds of Texas students will retake STAAR exams this summer; Raul Rodriguez is convicted of murdering a neighbor in 2010; Buddy retires from the Austin ISD Police force.
by KUT News; Photo courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Department; Photo courtesy AISD

STAAR Retesting Costing School Districts

Hundreds of Texas students will spend time in summer classes, preparing to retake their STAAR exams.

The STAAR exams replaced the TAKS tests this year. As students and districts adjust to the new tests, performance standards and requirements are being phased in. The results of this year’s scores did not affect students’ final grades, but students still have to retake tests on subjects they didn’t achieve a minimum score in.

Our reporting partner The Texas Tribune writes that the summer classes and retakes are leaving schools with hefty bills, as districts have to hire teachers to conduct these classes.

Read more
1:47 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Will Crime Rates Continue to Go Down?

Crime rates are on a downward trend.
KUT News

Crime rates in Texas, and particularly in Austin, have been in decline over the past few years.

Most Texas jurisdictions saw declines in reported violent and property crime in the first six months of 2011 compared to 2010.

The decline comes despite a faltering economy and rising wealth disparity; despite increased gun ownership; despite lofty drop-out rates in high schools; despite depopulating Texas youth prisons, reducing their inmate numbers from 5,000 to 1,100 since 2007; despite Texas releasing more than 70,000 adult inmates per year from prison back into their home communities.

To the surprise of some criminologists, none of these factors have prevented crime rates from going down nearly across the board.

Read more
Criminal Justice
4:50 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Rare Reprieve Granted to Inmate Marked for Execution

A Texas court granted a reprieve to a prisoner due for execution on Wednesday
Image courtesy Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled today to stop the scheduled execution of a convicted killer because of his mental health issues.

The state's highest criminal court gave a reprieve to 49-year-old Steven Staley. Staley’s execution was set for Wednesday. He was convicted of the 1989 shooting death of a Fort Worth restaurant manager during a botched robbery.

Staley's attorney argued that the prisoner's IQ of 70 likely meant he was mentally impaired and therefore ineligible for execution. 

Read more
Texas Legislature
2:10 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Crime Victims Fund Running Low

A fund used to compensate victims of violent crime is not meeting its benchmarks, lawmakers learned today.
Image courtesy Office of the Texas Attorney General

The state fund used to compensate some crime victims is facing major financial problems.

That's what members of the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard today. Lawmakers learned that court fees going into the fund have fallen in the past three years – creating a short term deficit and threatening the long-term survival of the fund, according to the Associated Press.

The Crime Victims' Compensation program assists those affected by violent or traumatic crimes, offering up to $75,000 in cases of “catastrophic injuries resulting in a total and permanent disability.” 

Read more
8:47 am
Mon April 9, 2012

AM Update: Funeral for Fallen Officer, Ron Paul's Texas Tour, Wal-Mart and Workers Compensation

Officer Jaime Padron was killed in shooting early Friday morning at an area Wal-Mart.
Images courtesy Austin Police Department

Funeral for Slain Officer

The public is invited to salute fallen Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron.

Padron was shot to death on Friday while responding to a call at a North Austin Wal-Mart.

Visitation is tomorrow from 6 to 8:00 p.m. at Cook-Walden Funeral Home at 6100 North Lamar Blvd. The funeral will be held this Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Shoreline Church on Burnet Road. Austin Cops for Charities, a local group that provides aid and support for the family of Austin officers, has created a donation fund for Padron’s family.

Read more