The State of Texas: October 26, 2015
Texas avoids Patricia’s wrath, and Bernie Tiede prepares for a new set of legal issues.
Just by looking at him, you can tell that Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki was born to do two things: play basketball and absolutely nail a Lurch costume. He proved that he’s successfully fulfilled the second part of his destiny when he posted his Halloween costume on Twitter over the weekend.
— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) October 25, 2015
Hard(ish) Rain — It wasn’t nearly as bad as the Memorial Day downpour, but a good portion of Texas got soaked this weekend in what the Washington Post referred to as a rain “event,” and what climate nerds/starved Texas baseball fans over at the Austin American-Statesman felt compelled to call a “‘squeeze play’ weather pattern.” All the thanks goes to Hurricane Patricia, which made landfall in Mexico Friday. Texas had braced itself for the worst, but the storm subsided Sunday “without leaving behind the death or devastation of torrential rain and floods that hit the state earlier in the year,” as the San Antonio Express-News noted. But it was still a Texas-size storm. “Houston broke a daily rainfall record Saturday with 5.54 inches, surpassing the previous total of 2.13 inches in that city. Nearby Brownsville set a record total of rain with 2.76 inches; the previous record was 1.75 inches,” according to ABC News. Luckily, there have been no reported deaths or major damage in Patricia’s wake. In fact, a man in San Antonio who had been swept away while looking for his dog was found alive and taken to a hospital for treatment. The dog is also safe.
Bernie’s Blues — It’s like a movie that’ll never end. The (in)famous Bernie Tiede is back in the spotlight, this time because of an upcoming court appearance that could take him out of the comforts of Richard Linklater’s garage apartment and land him back in jail. Tiede will be in the courtroom Tuesday for a pretrial hearing in which “State District Judge Diane DeVasto has been asked to rule on a string of motions that includes Tiede’s request to dismiss an 18-year-old theft charge, arguing that it violates his right to a speedy trial,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “DeVasto also will weigh competing—sometimes bickering—motions from defense lawyers and prosecutors over how the victim’s family should be treated, who should be allowed to testify and whether the trial should be moved from Tiede’s East Texas hometown of Carthage.” As the story notes, things aren’t looking as good for Tiede as they did when he was released from jail in May 2014. The previous prosecutor “stepped aside under pressure from members of [victim Marjorie Nugent’s] family who want Tiede back in prison.” The new prosecutor not only has reversed course on the time-served agreement but will “oppose four other defense motions that [her predecessor] had previously agreed to.” If all goes down as expected, Tiede will have a two-part trial on January 11, “a sentencing phase for his murder conviction, which wasn’t overturned on appeal, and a trial on theft charges alleging that he spent an estimated $618,000 belonging to [Nugent].”
Documented and Illegal — On Friday, authorities arrested an employee with the Texas Department of Public Safety who they suspect is part of a ring that supplies driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. The employee was indicted in a federal court along “with two to three other suspects with conspiracy to transfer false identification documents, transfer of false ID documents and use of interstate facility (via the postal service) in aid of unlawful activity,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. The story doesn’t indicate how many illegal licenses the DPS employee allegedly pushed through. However, the “case comes on the heels of one last month involving another DPS employee, Linda Ann Perez [in McAllen], who signed a plea deal last week admitting she took $215,000 in bribes in exchange for issuing at least 144 fraudulent driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants over three years.”
Biker Blackout — It seems that other legal bodies are taking notice of Waco authorities’ less-than-stellar handling of the Twin Peaks shooting case. “The Texas attorney general’s office says Waco prosecutors violated open records laws by not releasing text messages related to a deadly May shootout involving bikers and police,” the Associated Press reports. “A letter to McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna instructed him to ‘cure’ the violation earlier this month.” Some of the attorneys for the bikers have claimed that prosecutors offered “reduced bonds in exchange for waiving their right to sue. . . . Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett denies the waiver offer in some messages, though prosecutors are still challenging the release of all records.” Just this past week the last person still in jail for the May incident was released on bond.