The State of Texas: State Halts Execution Of Man Who Didn’t Actually Kill Anyone
Plus: See which Texas teams made the AP’s preseason college football top 25, a Texas A&M student dies after what appears to be an overdose at a frat house, and the Railroad Commission kinda ignored some oil spills.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He’s the oops baby who turned out to be the prodigy.”
—21-year-old Jordan Buechele, older sister of Shane Buechele, the referenced “oops baby” who could be the University of Texas’s starting quarterback this fall. The Dallas Morning News‘s lengthy profile on Buechele, a true freshman, has quite a few gems courtesy of the captivating Buechele clan, including a photo of a Longhorn-sweatered Shane surrounded by a sea of die-hard Oklahoma Sooner fans—his four older siblings, all donning the crimson and cream.
On Friday, Texas granted a last-minute stay of execution for Jeffrey Wood, who participated in a 1996 deadly robbery but didn’t actually pull the trigger. As the Associated Press writes, Wood waited in the car while his friend shot a Kerrville gas station clerk, but he was still convicted of capital murder under Texas’s law of parties, which makes all participants of a crime that led to murder equally responsible for the crime (we wrote a bit about Wood and the law of parties in a July op-ed). Wood was about six days from being lethally injected when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 7-2 that his execution be temporarily halted, determining that Wood’s case should be sent back to a lower court to look at his attorneys’s claim that he was sentenced to death based on false testimony and inaccurate scientific evidence stemming from a psychiatrist, Dr. James Grigson, who testified that Wood was dangerous to the public if he were sentenced to life without parole. According to the Texas Tribune, Grigson is known as “Dr. Death” because he frequently testifies for the prosecution in capital murder cases. Wood’s attorneys claimed Grigson didn’t tell the truth about how many cases he had testified in, and also didn’t tell the jury that he was booted from the American Psychiatric Association. Wood’s planned execution garnered bi-partisan opposition from Texas lawmakers and drew national attention. The New York Times‘s editorial even chimed in after the stay was granted for Wood, writing that Texas’s law of parties is “arcane and patently unfair.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
New Kids On The Block
The Associated Press released it’s preseason poll ranking the top 25 college football teams in the country, and, as usual, the list featured a few Texas teams. But this is certainly not your grandpa’s AP poll. Traditional football powerhouses, the University of Texas and Texas A&M, were both left out of the top 25. Instead, Texas programs that have had more recent success made the cut, with Texas Christian University, University of Houston, and Baylor all finding spots in the top 25. TCU was the highest-ranked Texas team at number thirteen, while Houston came in a few spots behind at number fifteen, and Baylor was ranked number 23. It’s a bit of a bizarro-world situation to see the Longhorns and Aggies bested by these teams, but it’s not as though the newbies don’t belong there. TCU’s been consistently strong since the turn of the century, while Baylor’s been a bowl game regular for the past five years or so (as the Waco Tribune-Herald notes, the Bears have made the last 50 of the AP’s weekly polls, the fourth-longest streak in the nation), and Houston is coming off of what is arguably its best season ever.
Frat House Death
Four men were arrested on drug charges after a nineteen-year-old Texas A&M student was found dead in a Texas A&M frat house from what is believed to have been an overdose on Saturday, College Station police told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. Police found the fraternity member, whose name has not been released yet, at A&M’s Sigma Nu house. There were up to 60 people in the frat house the night before the student’s death, when police were called there in response to a noise complaint. During the investigation into the apparent overdose, police arrested two 21-year olds, a 20-year old and an 18-year old, who face charges ranging from possession of hash oil to possession of marijuana to possession of LSD and MDMA. According to the Houston Chronicle, police haven’t yet determined what substance was responsible for the student’s death, but, according to KBTX, a 911 caller said the student had been taking “some type of opioid.” Students were moving into dorms over the weekend before the fall semester, which starts next week.
The Texas Railroad Commission is tasked with regulating the oil and gas industry, and it’s supposed to look into every single oil spill. But internal emails obtained by the El Paso Times show that the commission doesn’t necessarily give all oil spills the same investigatory treatment. According to the Times, in some cases where an oil spill was reported, it took the commission nearly a year to investigate. Other reports seem to have been ignored entirely. When State Senator José Rodríguez, from El Paso, asked the commission for the total number of oil spills recorded by the agency since 2014, he did not receive a well-organized spreadsheet or a complete database, but instead got “a jumble of documents,” Rodríguez told the Times, “and they only dated back to 2015. Where is the rest of the information?” Who knows. And, as the Austin American-Statesman notes, the Railroad Commission should probably do something about its ridiculous name. The agency has nothing to do with railroads anymore.
WHAT WE’RE READING
All is not well among the hundreds of stand-alone emergency centers in Texas Associated Press
Ken Starr is now totally gone from Baylor Waco Tribune-Herald
Is Corpus Christi the next kiteboarding hub? Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Not a bad haul: archaeologists found more than 1,700 artifacts at the Alamo in four weeks San Antonio Current
A woman accused of injecting people with faux botox finally goes to trial in Edinburg this week McAllen Monitor