TEXAS EXECUTION-TARRANT COUNTY CASE
Court upholds death sentence in Fort Worth slaying
HOUSTON (AP) - The state's highest criminal court has upheld the murder conviction and death sentence given to a Fort Worth man for a 2010 convenience store holdup that left two men dead.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday rejected what attorneys for 38-year-old Kwame Rockwell said were 21 errors at his Tarrant County trial last year. The appeal included claims that evidence was both improperly admitted and insufficient to convict him and send him to death row, that some jurors improperly were excused and some arguments made by prosecutors in closing statements were improper.
A 22-year-old store clerk, Daniel Rojas, and a 70-year-old bread deliveryman, Jerry Burnett, were fatally shot.
Rockwell was arrested four days later in San Antonio after trying to flee from police.
New penalty trial for man on death row since 1986
HOUSTON (AP) - An El Paso man convicted and sent to death row for the slayings of two women almost 30 years ago has won a new punishment trial.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday agreed with a trial judge's findings that Angel Galvan Rivera had poor legal help at his 1986 trial in El Paso.
Rivera's appeals lawyers argued his trial attorneys didn't properly investigate Rivera's background or present evidence that could have convinced jurors to decide on a sentence other than death.
The former cook was 27 when 62-year-old Iona Dikes and 82-year-old Julia Fleenor were found strangled at their El Paso home in October 1984. The house had been set on fire. Evidence also showed they both had been raped.
TEXAS EXECUTION-FORCED MEDICATION
Court won't revisit inmate's forced medication
HOUSTON (AP) - A divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has refused to reconsider its ruling that bars the forcible medication of a convicted killer so he becomes competent for execution.
Three of the nine judges on the court indicated support Wednesday for a rehearing sought by prosecutors in the case of 51-year-old Steven Staley.
In September, the court ruled a state judge lacked the authority to order the involuntary medication of Staley, who has a history of mental illness. Staley was convicted for the 1989 shooting death of a Fort Worth restaurant manager, Bob Read, during a botched robbery.
Tarrant County prosecutors insist he's competent for execution.
Staley's attorneys say it's only because a judge in Fort Worth improperly ordered Staley be given drugs to make him competent.
3 stabbed at San Antonio house, man accused
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - San Antonio police believe a 43-year-old man is behind a stabbing attack that left his girlfriend and her 16-year-old daughter injured.
Investigators say the unidentified man also was wounded in the incident early Wednesday. A preliminary police report says he faces two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. A bloody kitchen knife was recovered.
Police say the 35-year-old woman was stabbed after telling the man to move out. Police say the teen was stabbed while trying to intervene. The girl then ran to a neighbor's home for help.
Police arrived to find the man naked in the kitchen with stab wounds and saying his girlfriend and her daughter attacked him. Police are investigating how he was hurt.
All three were transported to hospitals. Their conditions weren't immediately available.
Ex-Rockwall housing official guilty in theft case
DALLAS (AP) - An ex-public housing official with a Dallas-area city has pleaded guilty to using federal money to pay for illegal drugs and hotel stays.
A judge in Dallas on Tuesday accepted the plea from 37-year-old Jennifer Tyson of Rockwall.
Tyson formerly managed the Rockwall Housing Development Corporation, which operated a 36-apartment complex. Tyson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. She faces up to five years in prison for conspiring to steal from Department of Housing and Urban Development programs.
Prosecutors say Tyson since 2009 wrote $126,000 worth of government checks to a man doing minor jobs at the complex. She also wrote government checks for cash or reimbursement, plus paid for hotel rooms for the man and his girlfriend. The trio bought and shared drugs.
14,000-plus Texans pick insurance exchange plans
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - About 14,000 Texans enrolled for health insurance in October and November on the embattled federal online exchange.
That's more than any other state except Florida and nearly five times the number that successfully navigated the site only during October.
But it's still a tiny tally since Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday that 14,038 Texans had selected a plan. Almost 118,600 applied, seeking coverage for more than 244,700 people - including themselves and others.
The new health care law set up online marketplaces to help people find affordable insurance, but the rollout of the federally run exchange site has been troubled.
As of Nov. 30, about 137,000 people have enrolled in the 36 states using the federal site.
NEW MEXICO-TEXAS-WATER FIGHT
US files brief on New Mexico-Texas water dispute
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take a middle-ground approach on a water dispute between Texas and New Mexico over management of the Rio Grande.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that a brief filed Tuesday by the U.S. Solicitor General's office says the Supreme Court should take up the case as Texas wants but also adopt a procedural approach that gives New Mexico a chance to quickly get decisions on key issues and try to get the case dismissed.
Texas contends that groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico means Texas water users are being deprived of Rio Grande water.
New Mexico argues that Texas is getting what's required under a compact between the states and that the Supreme Court should let other courts consider the dispute.
Rangers announcer Eric Nadel wins Frick Award
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Texas Rangers announcer Eric Nadel has won the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting.
The award was announced by the baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday at the winter meetings.
Nadel has been with Texas for the past 35 years. For the last 19, he has been the lead voice on Rangers radio broadcasts.
The 62-year-old Nadel called Nolan Ryan's 5,000th career strikeout on Aug. 22, 1989, and was on air for the Rangers' six playoff berths and two American League pennants. His signature home run call, "That ball is history!" is part of Rangers lore.
Nadel will be honored during the Hall of Fame awards presentation July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
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