Texas news in brief – News – Lubbock Avalanche-Journal


NRA slaps down GOP ally who proposes gun control idea

DALLAS — One of the gun-rights lobby’s staunchest defenders in Texas is bucking the National Rifle Association on background checks after a West Texas shooting rampage killed seven people.

The NRA pushed back Friday in a rare moment of the nation’s most powerful gun-rights group slapping down a key Republican ally.

It came after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told The Dallas Morning News that Texas should crackdown on private gun sales between strangers. Federal officials say the gunman in last weekend’s attack obtained an assault-style rifle despite failing a federal background check in 2014.

The NRA called Patrick’s idea a “political gambit” and disparagingly compared it to those from Democrats.

Patrick has been an avid gun-rights supporter but told the newspaper: “someone in the Republican Party has to take the lead on this.”

 

Judge: Texas not honoring settlement over hot prisons

HOUSTON — A federal judge is expressing frustration that Texas officials don’t seem to be honoring a settlement of a lawsuit over oppressive heat at some state prison facilities.

During a court hearing Friday in Houston, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison debated whether officials should be sanctioned by having them experience the same temperatures as inmates.

Ellison delayed a ruling on possible sanctions until he’s heard from officials, including prison wardens, at a hearing on Tuesday.

Last year’s settlement resolved a lawsuit filed in 2014 over temperatures at the Wallace Pack Unit, about 95 miles northwest of Houston.

Attorneys for the inmates say prison officials are not adhering to the settlement.

A lawyer with the Texas Attorney General’s Office told Ellison officials are working to fix problems affecting the prisoners.

 

Houston man charged after body of girl, 5, found in closet

HOUSTON — Police have filed a charge of tampering with evidence against the boyfriend of a woman whose 5-year-old daughter was found dead in a Houston apartment closet.

Houston authorities announced the charge Friday against 30-year-old Santiago Esparza Jr. and said police are searching for Esparza to take him into custody.

A similar charge was filed Tuesday against 27-year-old Priscilla Torres. The body of her daughter, Sierra Patino, was found in the closet Monday and authorities say the girl died six days earlier.

Prosecutors said at a preliminary court hearing for Torres on Thursday that she gave different accounts of what happened to Sierra. At one point she allegedly told investigators that Esparza bathed the girl and Torres later found chemical burns on Sierra’s limbs and bruising on her head.

Prosecutors say after Sierra died, the couple left Houston for a few days and Torres notified police when she returned.

 

Last gang member gets prison in 2013 machete slaying

HOUSTON — The last defendant in the 2013 gang-related machete death of a 16-year-old boy in a forest near Houston must serve more than 38 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors say 23-year-old Jose Leonel Bonilla-Romero of El Salvador was sentenced Friday over the grisly attack at Sam Houston National Forest. Bonilla-Romero in April pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting others in the slaying of Josael Guevara.

Investigators have said they believe three attackers linked to MS-13 were ordered by gang bosses to kill the sophomore at Klein Forest High School in an allegiance dispute.

Bonilla-Romero at one point lived with Guevara’s family in Houston.

In 2015, two fellow gang members living in Texas but from El Salvador pleaded guilty to murder and are serving 35-year prison terms.

 

Mourners gather to honor slain trooper

EDINBURG — Law enforcement officers from across the country have traveled to South Texas to salute a trooper who died Aug. 24 more than four months after being shot.

A funeral was scheduled Friday afternoon for 49-year-old Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Moises Sanchez. The public service was scheduled at Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran’s burial at Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission is private.

Hundreds of mourners gathered Thursday during visitation for Sanchez, who was shot April 6 while investigating a vehicle collision in Edinburg. A suspect remains jailed.

New Jersey State Trooper William Legg, who never met Sanchez, says it was important to make the trip to Texas to honor the slain trooper.

Sanchez leaves behind a wife and three children.

 

Jury to be selected for ex-cop who killed unarmed black man

DALLAS — The jury selection process is beginning in the trial of a white former Dallas police officer charged with killing an unarmed black man in his own apartment.

Amber Guyger faces a murder charge in the slaying of Botham Jean. Guyger told authorities she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment thinking it was her own and fatally shot him.

The jury selection process began Friday, which is the one-year anniversary of Jean’s death. The goal is to finalize a panel by Sept. 13. Testimony is scheduled to begin Sept. 23.

Guyger’s lawyers have asked that the trial be moved but a lawyer for Jean’s family says the trial should be held in Dallas County.

Jean was a native of St. Lucia who worked in Dallas for an accounting and consulting firm.

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