BADLY BURNED BOY
Experts: Case of burned Texas boy problematic
CONROE, Texas (AP) - Legal experts say prosecutors hoping to secure a murder conviction against a Texas man accused of setting an 8-year-old boy on fire as a teenager will face a difficult task.
A judge ruled Thursday that 28-year-old Don Willburn Collins can be tried as an adult for murder in the death of Robert Middleton.
Middleton died 13 years after the then-13-year-old Collins allegedly doused him with gasoline and set him on fire in 1998. Middleton died of a skin cancer authorities blamed on his burns.
Houston criminal defense attorney Grant Scheiner, who's not involved in the case, says the biggest hurdle for prosecutors will be linking Middleton's death to the attack.
He also says prosecutors lack direct evidence against Collins and that Collins' alleged confessions to others could face heavy scrutiny.
SON DEAD-MOTHER CHARGED
Death of boy mom accused of killing 'undetermined'
MCKINNEY, Texas (AP) - A medical examiner's report says a natural cause is most likely in the death of a 10-year-old boy whose body was found in a family bathtub.
The boy's mother was charged with murder in the Jan. 29 death at the family's Frisco home.
The Collin County medical examiner's report ruled the cause of death 'undetermined' for Arnav Dhawan (ahr-NAHV' dah-WAHN'), but "natural disease is most likely." According to the report, the boy likely had a seizure that led to a ruptured cyst in his brain and heart attack.
Frisco police had charged the boy's mother, Pallavi (PAH'-lah-vee) Dhawan, with murder in her son's death. They said she confessed to killing the boy, but family attorney David Finn of Dallas denies that.
The mother remains free on $50,000 bail.
Ex-West Texas constable sentenced for drug scheme
EL PASO, Texas (AP) - A former West Texas constable and police officer has received a two-year prison term after pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge.
Former El Paso County Constable Billy Jack Barrow was sentenced in El Paso on Thursday for his Oct. 31 guilty plea. Barrow admitted to revealing to co-conspirators drug enforcement operations from January 2010 through September 2012.
Barrow also is a former officer with the El Paso Police Department.
19, including lawyer, sentenced in drug ring
MCALLEN, Texas (AP) - Nineteen men and women, including a South Texas lawyer and his father, have been sentenced for participating in a drug trafficking ring involving 13½ tons of marijuana.
Lawyer Jose Luis Palacios Jr. of Mission drew a 12-year prison sentence, while U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Jose Luis Palacios Sr. of Edinburg to a 5-year prison term.
All 19 were sentenced for their parts in smuggling marijuana from Mexico into the United States near the Rio Grande Valley border town of La Casita, 30 miles west of McAllen. Court documents show they smuggled about 13½ tons of marijuana into the country last spring.
Women from Tunisia chosen for Bush fellowship
DALLAS (AP) - Former first lady Laura Bush is set to speak as a group of women from Tunisia are introduced as the latest participants in the George W. Bush Institute's fellowship program aiming to help women in the Middle East and North Africa hone their leadership skills.
The event Friday in Dallas will also include a conversation with the Egyptian women who participated in the Women's Initiative Fellowship last year.
The yearlong program, which started in 2012, includes more than a dozen women each year who work in areas including education, health, business and media. The program pairs fellows with American women working in the same fields.
The Bush Institute is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the Southern Methodist University campus.
INTERNET TRAFFIC HELP
Texas to post Port Aransas ferry times
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Spring-breakers headed to the beaches of Port Aransas and Mustang Island will get an Internet assist from the Texas Department of Transportation this year.
TxDOT is using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology to monitor traffic flow and calculate wait times for the ferry to Port Aransas and Mustang Island. Those times will be posted on roadside message boards. The wait times also will be posted to the @PortA_Ferry Twitter account.
Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Moseley says the information will help drivers "make more informed decisions about continuing on their current path or taking an optional route during peak travel times."
Motorists can detour through Corpus Christi to the JFK Causeway to Padre Island, where they can approach Mustang Island and Port Aransas by road from the south.
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