Dallas Is Considering Prosecuting the Ebola Patient Who Came into the Country from Liberia

(UPDATE: Thomas Eric Duncan died from the disease October 8.)

When Ebola came to Texas last week, the panic it caused was understandable: Ebola is a horrific disease that kills people effectively and gruesomely. Current estimates put the number of people who’ve been infected in West Africa at more than 7,000—and infections are by many accounts severely under-reported. Still, the disease is unlikely to spread in an epidemic-like fashion in the US, given the differences (both culturally and economically) between somewhere like Dallas and a place like Sierra Leone or Liberia. Home care, as opposed to hospital care, increases the risk of transmitting the disease significantly, and simple hand-washing can eliminate the disease. Sunlight, bleach, and heat all kill it. 

Why We Can't Celebrate the Great Performances By the Cowboys and the Texans With a Clean Conscience

Last week, buried as part of a late-Friday news dump, the worst PR week in NFL history got even worse: Adrian Peterson, the game’s best running back, was arrested out in Montgomery County on child abuse charges. That followed the horror show that was the release of the video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in an elevator in New Jersey, and the subsequent questions about what, precisely, the NFL knew and when it knew it, and why Rice had only been suspended two games until the public saw the video.

All of this is well-established at this point, and it’s been so pervasive a story that networks have broken into regular programming to feature updates from embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, whose job seems less and less certain as the days go by. 

San Antonio's Plan To Criminalize Giving To Panhandlers Is Drawing Fire

Nobody is super psyched about panhandling. People who ask for money don’t really seem to enjoy resorting to an activity that leads others to treat them like they’re basically undeserving of respect or dignity. People who are hit up for change are just trying to get down the block and don’t want to deal with an unpleasant encounter. Panhandling crowds sidewalks and creates safety hazards at stoplights and crosswalks. 

San Antonio dislikes panhandling so much that it’s already illegal there, after a 2011 ordinance banned asking for money nearATMs, banks, parking garages, charitable contribution meters, parking meters/pay stations, bus stops, outdoor dining areas, and marked crosswalks.” But outlawing panhandling just means that only outlaws will panhandle—so San Antonio Police Chief William McManus wants to go to the next level: He wants to outlaw giving to panhandlers

The Internet Had A Lot Of Fun With Rick Perry's Mugshot Last Night

Rick Perry’s mugshot-heard-round-the-world was taken yesterday, and there is really almost nothing to distinguish it from any other stylish, handsome-looking headshot taken of the longest-tenured Governor of Texas. (Though he’s not wearing his recently-acquired signature glasses.) He wears a dark suit and a smart blue tie, holds up no numbers, and gives a practiced headshot-taker’s confident smile—they even got him from his best angle. 

Even if Perry’s picture really just looks like any other photo of the man, it’s still the mugshot of a sitting governor with a national profile who’s been a meme at least three times before—when he debuted his “Strong” ad in 2012, after a photograph in which he appears to be pouting while the rest of the table is laughing during last month’s meeting with President Obama, and “oops,” a joke that never seems to go away. In essence, the picture was a big, smiling target for the Internet, and the Internet was quick to take its shots. 

A Houston Teenager Put a Face on the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown Hashtag

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, has escalated every night since the shooting of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer. Official details on what happened are still scarce—Brown’s friend and an eyewitness to the shooting, 22-year-old Dorin Johnson, has been interviewed by MSNBC in the days since Monday’s shooting, but not by local police. The public still doesn’t know the name of the officer or how many times Brown, who was unarmed, was shot. Police say Brown assaulted the officer and tried to take the officer’s gun; witnesses on the scene, including Johnson, refute that with a detailed recollection of the events

In these types of situations, the character of the person who was killed quickly becomes fodder for discussion, and the evidence used against them tends to come from places like Facebook, where media outlets pull photos that depict the victims of the shootings in ways that make them look like bad guys from simplistic TV shows. The intial photos of Brown, for instance, showed him flashing a sideways peace sign, which media members questioned might be gang signs. This led to the formation of the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag, where people began sharing pictures side by side—the first of themselves in a way that might match a stereotype of a threatening young person, and the second of themselves dressed in a way that’s more easily relatable to viewers whose understanding of good and bad kids comes, apparently, mostly from stereotypes. 

Check, Mate in the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office

Hidalgo County just can’t win when it comes time to find a sheriff. The charges against former top cop Lupe Treviño, who pled guilty to money laundering in April, shook faith in law enforcement in the Rio Grande Valley. Treviño was replaced in April by interim sheriff Eddie Guerra, who was appointed by county commissioners—and now there are questions surrounding Guerra and a $10,000 check he received in a greeting card from the president of Edinburg private security firm Valley Metro Security, Frank Guerrero. 

According to The Monitor, shortly after Guerra was installed as the temporary sheriff, Guerrero visited the office to deliver a card and a check. Guerra never cashed the check, though—and Guerrero shortly thereafter declared that he would be running for the nomination for sheriff in the upcoming primary against Guerra himself. 

Two Years Later, Arrests Have Finally Been Made In The Corpus Christi Shooting Of A Teenage Lesbian Couple

On June 22nd, 2012, Mary Kristene Chapa and Molle Judith Olgin were in Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas, just outside of Corpus Christi. The two had been dating for five months and, shortly after midnight, they were both shot by an unknown assailant. Olgin was killed, while Chapa suffered severe injuries. 

Police at the time indicated no motive for the shooting—though people were quick to question whether the young women’s sexual orientation was a factor—and two years passed before a suspect was identified. That suspect, David Malcolm Strickland, was arrested earlier this week in Helotes, along with his wife, Laura Kimberley Strickland, who was charged with tampering with evidence. 

Willow Park Daycare Duct-Taped Kids to Mat During Naptime

Caring for children isn’t for everyone. Some people recognize this, and opt not to become parents, or teachers, or to take jobs at daycare centers. Others go on to take those jobs anyways, and get frustrated when kids don’t do what they’re told and then duct-tape them to mats in order to get them to stay still at nap time. 

The co-owner of Heart2Heart Daycare in Willow Park—about 22 miles west of Fort Worth—revealed herself to possibly be a member of the latter group last Wednesday, after she admitted to parents that she was responsible for duct-taping two different 3-year-old boys to their sleep mats. According to ABC News

In a Rare Move, a Conroe Police Officer Was Convicted of Manslaughter

As we’ve noted before, it’s rare for criminal charges to be filed when a police officer shoots a civilian. In Austin, when Detective Charles Kleinert was indicted for the shooting of Larry Jackson Jr. last month, it was the first such indictment out of 25 potential incidents; in Houston, Harris County grand juries have indicted only one officer since 2004; in Dallas, a pair of indictments this spring broke a forty-year drought for criminal charges against police officers who’ve shot civilians. 

Every case is different, and not every incident requires criminal indictments against officers—but by all evidence, it seems the odds of a trial happening when a police officer shoots a person they suspect of committing a crime are not good. 

Convictions, meanwhile, are even more rare. As the Austin American-Statesman reported earlier this year

High-Heel Homicide

One morning in June of last year, Houston defense attorney Jack Carroll arrived preoccupied at Harris County’s 338th District Criminal Court. He had never appeared before the court’s presiding judge, Brock Thomas, and he needed to ask for a continuance. As he waited for his client to be brought in, he ignored the disheveled woman in jail orange waving frantically at him, trying to get his attention.

The woman was Ana Lilia Trujillo, who was on her way to becoming the most notorious accused murderer Houston had produced in years. She’d been arrested for killing her boyfriend, Alf Stefan Andersson, less than 24 hours earlier, and already it was nationwide news.

If she had stabbed Andersson with a steak knife, it would have been unremarkable, a commonplace if terrible act of domestic violence. But instead she had stabbed him with her five-and-a-half-inch stiletto heel. The legal sharks of Houston’s criminal defense corps, who like nothing better than the kind of attention the case was receiving, sent emissaries to tout their skills to Trujillo.

She already knew who she wanted, though. In the nineties Trujillo had frequented the same downtown bars that Jack frequented, back before downtown Houston was trendy, back when bars in the area were for serious drinkers. Jack in those years was a heavy drinker who came to know many prospective clients in the process, and he represented them well enough to earn street cred as a tough defense lawyer, which is how Trujillo remembered him. Two weeks after her arrest, the Stiletto Heel Murder was still reverberating on cable news, and Jack’s mother, in Miami, learned about it that way. She called her son to see whether he knew any juicy details. That same day he took the case.
I should mention here that Jack Carroll is my brother-in-law. His twin sister, the actress Lisa Hart Carroll, has been my wife for 25 years, so I’ve known Jack since the eighties, before he became a lawyer. He was an oil and gas headhunter when I met him, poaching geologists and oil traders from and for prominent companies, and was very successful. He drove a Jaguar and golfed for large bets with Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, several of whom showed up for his wedding in 2005, by which time he’d put heavy drinking behind him.
The headhunting job helped pay for law school and prepared him for the career he really wanted. After graduating from South Texas College of Law, in 1990, he took on court-appointed indigent clients, mostly drug offenders and drunk drivers, while also practicing corporate law to help pay the bills. Jack discovered he was adept in the courtroom. He was tall and lanky and good-looking, he could think on his feet, and juries liked him. Because he wasn’t afraid of going to trial, he soon found himself taking tougher cases, defending accused drug dealers and the occasional accused murderer. He once defended a man charged with killing a policeman, in a courtroom filled with officers in uniform, and managed to get the case dismissed.
He made a nice living, but Jack still called himself “a ham-and-egg lawyer.” His wife worked as a registered nurse. His office was a walk-up above a bail bondsman, near the criminal courts building. He’d never had a big, splashy case, the kind that propels trial lawyers into high-rise office suites, until Trujillo asked him to defend her. She had no money to pay his fees, but TV producers soon began calling and offering to buy the rights to her story, all promising prime-time attention.
As the trial drew near and reporters kept circling, Jack would ask me whether he should trust them. I could tell he was excited by the fuss but also resentful of the pressure that came with it, the mounting concern that this one trial might define his career. He spent more and more time, unpaid time, preparing for it—studying the case file, interviewing potential witnesses, pondering the killing. He became convinced, truly convinced, that Ana Trujillo was innocent.  


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