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TEXAS EXECUTION

Condemned killer of 3 in Corpus Christi set to die

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - Attorneys for a convicted killer of three members of a Corpus Christi family have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his scheduled execution in Huntsville.

Jose Villegas (vee-AY'-gus) is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening, but his attorneys contend new evidence shows he's mentally impaired and ineligible to be put to death. They also say the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is using unscientific factors in refusing appeals from mentally impaired condemned prisoners.

The 38-year-old Villegas faces execution for the January 2001 slayings of ex-girlfriend Erida Salazar, her 3-year-old son Jacob and her 51-year-old mother Alma Perez. All were stabbed repeatedly.

When arrested, he was driving Salazar's stolen car and had pawned a television stolen from the Perez home for $75. He had used the money to buy cocaine.

EAST TEXAS-SHOOTING

East Texas man killed at home week before trial

HALLSVILLE, Texas (AP) - Police in East Texas are investigating the shooting death of a man one week before he was to go on trial for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Investigators in Harrison County tell the Longview News-Journal that 51-year-old Marc Mathison was fatally shot twice at his home at about 8 a.m. Tuesday. He was pronounced dead an hour later.

Harrison County Administrative Investigator Jay Webb said a woman called for an ambulance and later admitted shooting Mathison.

She had not been arrested as of Monday night.

Mathison was set to go on trial later this month in connection with a 2012 incident in which he allegedly shot a shotgun in the air and threatened another person.

The shooting took place in Hallsville, about 130 miles east of Dallas.

PLANT EXPLOSION-ANSWERS

Victims in Texas blast choose closure over answers

WEST, Texas (AP) - Families of the 15 people killed in a massive explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant have spent the year since the blast navigating the difficult balance between moving forward and digging for answers from the past.

Many filed lawsuits after the fire and resulting explosion at West Fertilizer Company one year ago Thursday. Key questions remain unanswered, including what sparked the fire and what firefighters knew about the chemicals inside the plant.

The lawsuits against the plant's owners and companies doing business with the plant are mired in a legal process that could eventually uncover new details through testimony and documents.

Several relatives acknowledge those questions, but say they wanted to move on and not dwell on the past.

CRUZ FUNDRAISING

Sen. Cruz raises $890,000 in year's 1st quarter

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz raised nearly $890,000 in the year's first quarter - about half what poured in following his helping lead last fall's partial government shutdown.

The tea party darling and possible presidential hopeful has now raised more than $5 million since taking office in January 2013. He has about $2 million in cash on-hand.

Those tallies include Cruz's Senate re-election committee, a joint fundraising committee and Cruz's leadership PAC, Jobs, Growth & Freedom Fund.

Cruz announced Wednesday that from Jan. 1 through March, he received 13,668 individual donations, with all but about 650 of them worth less than $100.

In the final three months of 2013, however, Cruz's campaign coffers received about $1.5 million. That included a bump in donations after Cruz's key role in the government shutdown.

DALLAS CREEK-PIG BLOOD

Executive cleared in Dallas slaughterhouse case

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas prosecutors have dropped charges against one of two executives of a local slaughterhouse they accused of dumping pig's blood into a creek along the Trinity River.

The Dallas Morning News reports that charges against Columbia Packing Company vice president Rusty Ondrusek were dismissed Tuesday. Prosecutors said in a court filing that they wanted the case against Ondrusek dismissed, but would not specify why.

Columbia Packing and another vice president, Carl Ondrusek, still face charges.

The packing company was accused of dumping industrial waste into the creek and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors have said that investigators from several agencies saw blood and other waste from pigs being dumped into Cedar Creek.

Columbia officials have admitted that their plant spilled contaminants, but only by accident.

DALLAS-CONJOINED BOYS

Once-conjoined twins set to leave Texas hospital

DALLAS (AP) - Conjoined twins separated last summer are set to be released from a Dallas hospital that's been their home since birth.

Officials at Medical City Children's Hospital say the 9-month-old boys born joined at the abdomen are to be released Wednesday to a local inpatient rehabilitation center.

Owen and Emmett Ezell were separated at the hospital last August in a nine-hour surgery. The babies shared a liver and intestines.

Officials say the boys are no longer being fed intravenously but continue to be fed through tubes in their abdomens. And instead of being hooked to breathing machines, they now need only the assistance of a trachea tube.

OFFSHORE RIG-STORM WAVE

Crews to assess damage to rig struck by large wave

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - The owner of an offshore drilling rig is waiting for weather off the Texas coast to improve to assess damage to the rig after it was struck by a large storm wave.

U.S. Coast Guard petty officer Manda Emery said Wednesday that crews for London-based Ensco will inspect the semi-submersible rig, which is about 130 miles from Galveston.

The rig was knocked 55 feet and took on water when it was struck by the wave Tuesday.

Emery says the rig was not drilling for oil or gas at the time. It's working a well owned by Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

She says the rig's platform is stable and none of the 116 crew members was injured. No oil spilled in waters that are about 3,000 feet deep.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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