Henderson County Grand Jury Report

Press release from the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office

Henderson County District Attorney R. Scott McKee reported the January Term, 2013, Grand Jury met on Jan. 31 and returned 81 True Bills, including the following:

1. Alisha Marie Mayer, 29, Chandler, indicted for Intoxication Manslaughter;

2. James Daniel Thaoue, 54, Gun Barrel City, indicted for Robbery and Assault Family Violence w Prior;

3. Mary Karla Mraz, 42, Kemp, indicted for Burglary of a Habitation and Theft > $1,500;

4. Jason Allen Reed, 38, Kemp, indicted for Burglary of a Habitation and Theft > $1,500;

5. Frankie Lee Todd, 43, Athens, indicted for Misapplication of Fiduciary Property > $1,500;

6. Alexander Korenblyum, 30, Athens, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance;

7. Igor Brezner, 31, Athens, indicted for 2 Counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance;

8. Lawrence Robert Rochester, III, 45, Kemp, indicted for 3 Counts of Harassment by Persons in Correctional Facilities;

9. Gary Lee Hopkins, 42, Murchison, indicted for Theft > $1,500;

10. Holly Deanna Stanton, 25, Tyler, indicted for Burglary of a Habitation and Burglary of a Building;

11. Charles Glen Smith, 48, Athens, indicted for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Evading Arrest with Previous Conviction;

12. Lavita Lynn Loden, 44, Athens, indicted for Evading Arrest with a Motor Vehicle;

13. William Charles Thornley, 48, Eustace, indicted for Forgery;

14. Gabriela Espinosa, 28, Tool, indicted for Failure to Appear;

15. Patrick Aaron Walker, 25, Athens, indicted for Theft of Material and Unlawful Possession of Firearm by Felon;

16. Chelsie Dylnn Roach, 21, Athens, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance;

17. Tommy Joe Walker, 22, Athens, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Firearm by Felon and 2 Counts of Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon;

18. Anthony Louis Ray, 19, Athens, indicted for Burglary of a Building and 3 Counts of Theft of a Firearm;

19. Steven Joe Clowdus, 30, Mabank, indicted for Placement of Serial Number with Intent to Change and Theft > $1,500;

20. Melissa Dora Phillips, 43, Jacksonville, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance;

21. Russell Orville Jenkins, Jr., 43, San Antonio, indicted for Theft > $1,500;

22. Tracy Melissa Holland, 45, Austin, indicted for Theft > $1,500;

23. Terrance Lavor Dowell, 34, Malakoff, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance in a Drug Free Zone;

24. Stephanie Nichole Cahall, 40, Whitehouse, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance;

25. Destiny Shante Trimble, 33, Malakoff, indicted for 4 Counts of Credit/Debit Card Abuse and 4 Counts of Fraudulent Use/Possession of Identifying Information;

26. Robert Joseph Rush, 30, Athens, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance;

27. Kevin Patrick Underwood, Jr., 20, Gun Barrel City, indicted for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle;

28. Shane Gregory Waters, 24, Gun Barrel City, indicted for Tampering with Physical Evidence;

29. Brian Robert Hippe, 35, Flint, indicted for Driving While Intoxicated 3rd or More;

30. Wayne Desmond Pugh, 60, Gun Barrel City, indicted for Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance and Tampering with Physical Evidence;

31. Casey Daniel Smith, 31, Mabank, indicted for Theft > $1,500;

32. Kassondra Danyale Jackson, 24, Athens, indicted for 2 Counts of Theft of Property < $1,500 with Priors;

33. Hayley Debre Spurgeon, 20, Gun Barrel City, indicted for Evading Arrest with a Motor Vehicle;

34. Brandon Joseph Nicholson, 23, Athens, indicted for Burglary of a Building and Theft of a Firearm;

35. Jessie Ornelas, Jr., 29, Athens, indicted for Burglary of a Building, Theft of a Firearm and Fraudulent Use/Possession of Identifying Information;

36. Ralph Ace Brown, 25, Kemp, indicted for Burglary of a Habitation;

37. Chastity Leanne Davis, 22, Kemp, indicted for Burglary of a Habitation;

38. Justin Amahd Marable, 22, Athens, indicted for Burglary of a Habitation;

39. Nathanael Lee Prater, 24, Athens, indicted for Burglary of a Habitation;

40. Melissa Ann Fountain, 36, Bullard, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance and Tampering with Physical Evidence;

41. James Darrell Howard, 56, Trinidad, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance;

42. Sheila Lynnh Burleson, 53, Malakoff, indicted for Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance;

43. Anita Lanette Flowers, 48, Kemp, indicted for Possession of a Controlled Substance;

44. Richard King Morris, 61, Chandler, indicted for Driving While Intoxicated 3rd or More;

45. Michael Lee Crist, II, 23, Gun Barrel City, indicted for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon/Family Violence and Assault on a Peace Officer;

46. Crystal Lynn Lawrence, 20, Mabank, indicted for Tampering with Physical Evidence;

47. Kenneth Vaughn Franko, 47, Chandler, indicted for Driving While Intoxicated 3rd or More;

48. Daniel Lee Davis, 33, Groesbeck, indicted for Evading Arrest with a Motor Vehicle and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle;

49. Lonnie Franklin Haas, 67, Mesquite, indicted for Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance.

Daily Brief: Jan. 14

Ornament and money found at the door to the Henderson County Courthouse this morning. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)
Ornament and money found at the door to the Henderson County Courthouse this morning. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)

Folks arriving for work at the Henderson County Courthouse this morning made an interesting discovery. Sitting by the door were two $1 bills and a beautiful “Noel” Christmas ornament.

Nobody knows who left the gift or why, but considering the controversy the past two Christmases, it seems at least possible that it is connected to the nativity scene.

Our hearts are heavy today and our prayers are with the staff and students at Malakoff High School. One of the students at the school was killed in a car accident near Crandall last night.

Jamiya (Givens) Williams and her infant daughter, Alahna, were both killed in the accident.

Officials at Malakoff High School reported that grief counselors were on hand today for those students who needed them.

It was cold this morning and it looks like it is going to stay that way through the first part of the week.

Average retail gasoline prices in Texas have fallen 0.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.16/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 13,114 gas outlets in Texas. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.6 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.26/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Texas during the past week, prices yesterday were 4.4 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 12.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has decreased 1.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 8.7 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

The City of Eustace will be holding a called meeting tonight to discuss the firing of Police Chief Troy Tucker. The meeting will be 7 p.m. in the Eustace Municipal Court. 

The City of Athens will also be holding a meeting tonight, 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The agenda looks to be fairly routine.

Bartlett HouseLoretta Humble’s “Around the Town” Facebook page has a cool photo spread about recent improvements to the historic Bartlett House.

In the photo, Cheryl Kietscheraski points out some of the work she’s done with the help of her brother, Dennis Haws, and bricklayer Billy Gray.

Sen. Robert Nichols: ‘My five cents’

State Sen. Robert Nichols speaks with a staff member in this file photo. (Courtesy Photo)
State Sen. Robert Nichols speaks with a staff member in this file photo. (Courtesy Photo)

Happy New Year! I hope you all had your black-eyed peas and cabbage for luck on Jan. 1 as I did. As I write to you from Austin, the 83rd Legislative Session has just begun and will soon move into full swing. Set to last 140 days during odd-numbered years, the session is the time the Texas Legislature has to pass a two-year budget and any new laws. As a way to help you keep up with important issues during this time, I am writing a column I call “My five cents,” things you might find interesting that are happening at your Texas Capitol each week.

Swearing In

On Jan. 8, I was sworn in for my third term as your state senator. While senators normally serve four-year terms, our House counterparts serve two. Part of the oath of office calls for elected officials to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. This is an excellent reminder as we begin a new session to never stray from the guiding principles in the Constitution and I take this pledge to you very seriously.

Legislation

Though the session began this week, we were able to pre-file bills beginning in November. So far, I have filed legislation to limit the growth of property taxes and to prohibit the use of eminent domain for recreational purposes. I have also signed on as co-author to a bill to significantly reform the state’s welfare system. These bills represent some of the priorities brought to me by the citizens of Senate District 3.

The first bill, Senate Bill 95, is to slow rapidly rising taxable values on Texas homes. The second bill, Senate Bill 96, would prohibit state or local governments from taking private land for recreational purposes. I co-authored the final bill, Senate Bill 11, with Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) to require drug testing for welfare benefits and to restrict the items recipients can purchase with taxpayer-paid benefits. The bill also establishes a 3-year lifetime limit on benefits.

New Counties in Senate District 3

Following redistricting last session, I am pleased to welcome Houston, Liberty, Orange and Trinity Counties to our district. Their addition brings Senate District 3 to a total of 19 counties. This includes 102 school districts, 132 cities and designated areas and 16,198 square miles. That’s larger than 60 foreign countries. Because the 31 State Senate districts of Texas are apportioned by population, there are about the same number of people in each district, but the districts may be very different physical sizes. For example, some more urban districts in Houston and Dallas may be only a few square miles in size, but have the same number of residents as we do in 19 counties! Texas is a broad, diverse state.

Final Sunset Commission Meeting

This week the Sunset Advisory Commission held its final meeting to make recommendations for reforming state agencies. One of our charges involved making policy recommendations regarding the rapidly escalating water and sewer rates for Texans living in rural and unincorporated areas of the state who are supplied by a privately owned utility.

As vice chair of the commission, I advocated to move the rate jurisdiction of water and waste water from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Our workgroup reached this conclusion because the PUC’s structure and expertise are focused on fair and efficient rate-related regulation, whereas TCEQ’s mission is to protect the environment and is not structured to regulate ratemaking.

The Sunset Commission agreed to this transfer of rate jurisdiction to the PUC; the next step is for the change to be put in bill form and sent to the legislature for approval.

DETCOG Reception

On the night before the session began, many residents of Senate District 3 made the trip to Austin to attend the Deep East Texas Council of Governments reception. It was an amazing show of involvement from the people of East Texas who are making their voice heard at the Capitol. I look forward to working with members of the delegation and would encourage more constituents to become involved.

Seeing your faces is an unmistakable reminder of exactly who I represent in the Texas Senate and to whom I am accountable. Of course not everyone can make a visit to the Capitol every session, which is why I want to update you on what is happening each week. As always, feel free to contact your Senate office if my staff or I can assist you.

Henderson County sick with influenza-like-illness

DSP 231: Sick 2008-01-03
(Flickr photo by Vern Hart)

ATHENS — An outbreak of influenza-like-illness (ILI) that has spread across the country has hit Henderson County hard.

East Texas Medical Center Athens Infection Preventionist Mary Pruitt said the Athens hospital is full with every bed taken, and has been that way for several days. She said the hospital emergency room has seen its record for number of patients seen in a day broken twice in the past week.

The ER, which usually averages well less than 100 patients, saw 146 one day.

The most current flu surveillance report from the Texas State Department of State Health Services lists activity as “widespread” and the intensity as “high.”

Nationally, the numbers are up as well.

“Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in Centers for Disease Control’s Influenza Division. 

“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Bresee.

Pruitt said things are bad enough that “if you don’t have to go out, stay home.”

She also asked that people suffering with a common cold not come to the hospital or visit the emergency room in order to allow the hospital to treat those who are seriously ill.

Pruitt said one of the key indicators is fever. Flu and more serious instances of ILI often bring a temperature of 102 degrees or higher.

“People with a common cold will run a temperature more like 99.6 or 100,” she said, “and not have the higher temperature.”

Health professionals encourage everyone to practice common sense habits to protect yourself: 

  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  • Clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be active, drink plenty of fluids, eat right.

“The flu is a bad thing and you don’t want it,” said Pruitt.

Greene drops nativity lawsuit

Nativity SceneATHENS — San Antonio Atheist Patrick Greene announced this morning he is withdrawing his lawsuit against Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders in connection with the nativity scene displayed on the courthouse lawn each December.

In the lawsuit, Greene said Sanders, “abused his position as judicial head of Henderson County, by giving official governmental permission to private citizens to display this Christian Nativity scene. This also violated Article 1, Section 6 of the Texas Constitution; ‘No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by lay to any religious society or mode of worship.’”

Greene filed the lawsuit in late December. You can read more about the lawsuit here. You can read more about Greene’s involvement in Henderson County and the nativity controversy here.

Greene said he was dropping the lawsuit “because something far more important has come up.”

“I discovered a woman who is in prison who got there without due process, and I am going to try to get her out,” he said.

The woman is Meagan Adams, who was one of three teenagers to be convicted in 2003 for murdering Adams’ grandmother and guardian. Adams was 16 at the time.

Adams admits to being involved in the crime, but writes, “I do take responsibility for my part in this case, but I feel my sentence was extreme. I was a child and since then I have grown and realized so much. I have so many goals. I have so much that I want to do with my life, but I just need someone who will take a chance on me.”

Greene has decided to take that chance.

Henderson County Attorney Clint Davis said the county was thankful to have the lawsuit behind them.

“We’re thankful for whatever reason that Mr. Greene decided to drop his lawsuit,” he said.