The State of Texas: October 15, 2015
A new grand jury is assembled for the Waco Twin Peaks shooting, and Bastrop County fires rage on.
Governor Greg Abbott tried to save face after jinxing Texas baseball teams out of the race for the AL pennant, but not by, you know, directing his bad Twitter juju toward the Blue Jays or the Royals. Instead, he set his sights on Hillary Clinton, who will arrive in Texas on Thursday.
I don't believe in curses or jinks. But just in case they really work: Congratulations @HillaryClinton.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 15, 2015
Video of the Day
Things may not have ended the way we’d hoped for either the Astros or the Rangers, but at least the latter was able to score on this bizarre (but ultimately fair) play. The Blue Jays “played under protest” following the score—which was allowed to stand—but after the Canadians won 6-3, it’s doubtful they’re still protesting.
Burn Returns — A massive fire is once again sweeping through Bastrop County as authorities rush to contain it. As of Thursday morning, the Hidden Pines fire in Smithville has burned through 4,200 acres and is 15 percent contained, according to KXAN. Nine homes have been destroyed and 150 more are threatened. “This thing has really been rough,” Mike Fisher, deputy director of Bastrop County’s Office of Emergency Management told the Austin American-Statesman, which has been all over the coverage. “I don’t see this ending any time soon. I think we are going to be here for several more days.” Governor Greg Abbott will head to Bastrop Thursday to survey the damage, and officials have “sent out a call statewide for fire departments to assist exhausted local firefighters, many of whom are volunteers who have been battling the blaze since it ignited Tuesday afternoon.” Although residents are surely frustrated, they’re also willing to do their part. Cindy Cogdell, a volunteer at a makeshift evacuation center, told the Statesman that citizens and local businesses have called to offer their help. “That’s just how Smithville is,” she said.
Grand Change — Hey, maybe there’ll be some fair resolution in the wake of the Waco Twin Peaks shooting. A new grand jury has been empaneled and will likely replace the one that was, like, totally chosen at random and just happened to have a Waco police officer (involved in the original incident) as its foreman. The new grand jury has also been selected even more randomly, a story from the Waco Herald-Tribune assures, though no explanation is given as to why there was a switch in the first place. Meanwhile, the president of Austin’s Bandidos chapter was subpoenaed by prosecution, though they have worked out a little deal so that he doesn’t have to appear in court, but rather just provide requested documents.
Death Row — Licho Escamilla was executed Wednesday for the 2001 slaying of a Dallas police officer, making him the 12th person to be put to death in Texas this year. Escamilla’s antics during his 2002 trial prompted one of the trial prosecutors to call him a “poster child for the death penalty,” according to the Associated Press. Last week, the Supreme Court refused to hear his case. As Time magazine recounts, “[Officer Christopher Kevin] James and three other uniformed officers were working off-duty when the brawl started. Escamilla pulled out a gun and opened fire on the officers as they tried to end the fight. The bullets from his 9 mm semi-automatic handgun struck James twice, knocking him to the ground. Escamilla then calmly walked up to the officer and fired three more shots into the back of his head before running and exchanging shots with other officers, witnesses said. A second officer wounded in the shootout survived.” At his execution in Huntsville, Escamilla reportedly “looked at the slain officer’s daughter, who was seated a few feet away watching through a window, and told her: ‘God bless your heart.'” Texas has accounted for half of executions in the U.S. this year.
Partly Settled — Crystle Wise’s family has settled with DuPont following last year’s toxic gas leak at a plant in La Porte that killed Wise and three other workers. In addition to an undisclosed financial sum, the “settlement’s terms require DuPont to observe a nationwide moment of silence for the next decade on the anniversary of the tragedy and to make a contribution to the American Humane Society in Wise’s name,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “Brent Coon, Wise family attorney, told the Chronicle that the moment of silence will provide ‘longevity’ to safety issues raised by the accident and that the Humane Society donation will help honor Wise’s memory.” Another victim’s case is “nearing a resolution, but [that lawyer] said he and his clients are waiting for additional discovery and the deposition of the plant manager in hopes of finding out more about what caused the leak.”