Dec

07

Posted by : admin | On : December 7, 2017

12-3 DOA

The News Staff Reports
MABANK–Mabank Police Chief Keith Bradshaw reports that a 17-year-old back seat passenger was dead at the scene when first responders arrived at U.S. 175 and County Road 2938 at nearly 11 p.m. Sunday night, near the Hilltop Tire Shop. Traffic was slowed to one lane during the response.
Gun Barrel City Fire Department used extraction tools to free victims from the 2002 Toyota Highlander containing three passengers plus the driver.
Iris Anderson was sitting behind the driver when the vehicle was T-boned at the passenger door when the driver attempted to cross the interstate from north to south. She died in the collision. Another back-seat passenger, Morgan Carrol, 18, was transported from Gun Barrel City-ETMC to Tyler by helicopter and passed away Monday.
Front seat passenger Kyle Poole, 18, was treated and released from Gun Barrel City’s emergency room. Driver Austin Junell, 21 and a Mabank High School graduate, was transported by ambulance to the nearest emergency room and then on to Baylor Hospital in Dallas.
Tractor trailer driver Adam Drane, 40 of Victoria, escaped serious injury.
The preliminary investigation continued until 4 a.m. the next morning. No charges have been made in the case at presstime.
On Saturday at around 1:30 p.m. traffic flow was interrupted when an eastbound vehicle in the service road along U.S. 175 approaching Third Street in Mabank disregarded the traffic light.
Travis Pugh, 38, of Enchanted Oaks was operating a 2006 Silver GMC Yukon when he made a right turn on Third Avenue, crossed all lanes of traffic and struck the stop sign on First Street as he continued to accelerate in the wrong lanes leaving the roadway until the vehicle collided with a small group of trees.
On its way across, the SUV also struck the hindquarter of a northbound 1989 Cadillac Deville, driven by Charles Luke, 42 of Mabank.
Pugh was charged with disregard of traffic control device and driving while license invalid/suspended.

Dec

07

Posted by : admin | On : December 7, 2017

Gooden 2017 headshot CMYK
Special to The News
TERRELL–On Monday, State Representative Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) announced his run for Congress before an overflow crowd in Kaufman County at a rally celebrating property owners’ victory in an annexation battle that has raged on for months. A Dallas County city tried to fast track the annexation of land in Kaufman County and Rep. Gooden organized the successful opposition.
“Seven years ago, I ran for this seat in the Texas House because I was tired of do-nothing politicians in Austin who were failing to protect our freedoms, our property, our values, and our tax dollars,” Rep. Gooden said. “Since then, we have fought together to move the conservative agenda forward, and together we have delivered one victory after another for the families of rural Texas. There is no better example of the power of a dedicated group of conservatives than this victory over the big government forces who believed that our land belonged to them.”
Rep. Gooden, who represents the citizens of Henderson and Kaufman counties in Austin, has been widely recognized as one of the most effective leaders in the Texas House for his ability to turn sound, conservative policy into law.
A few of his legislative achievements during his three terms in the House of Representatives include:
• banning sanctuary cities in Texas and fully funding the most comprehensive state border security plan in the nation,
• successfully de-funding Planned Parenthood, banning partial birth abortion, and strengthening Texas’ Alternatives to Abortion program,
• writing and passing the state’s most conservative budget,
• crusading against Obamacare and voting to block its expansion into Texas,
• fighting for our local public schools and defeating a voucher plan that would have sent tax dollars to unaccountable entities,
• rescuing our retired teachers’ health insurance system from bankruptcy and collapse and
• defending religious liberty and successfully fighting to keep “Christ” in Christmas in Texas law.
“As proud as I am of the things we have achieved together in Austin, when I look at the Washington swamp, I see a political class of insiders in both parties who are failing the people they are intended to represent,” Rep. Gooden continued. “They have failed to secure our border in spite of Republican majorities. They have piled trillions of dollars of debt on the shoulders of the next generation, and now we learn they are secretly using tax dollars to settle sexual harassment claims against members of Congress. Yet they still can’t find the funds to properly care for our military veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. This is simply immoral, and I feel called to do something about it.”
“Make no mistake, the Washington establishment will not go quietly. They are already lining up behind their hand-picked candidates, many of whom do not even live in our district and who couldn’t find Alto or Elmo on a map if their lives depended on it.”
“We need a new Congressman of East Texas, by East Texas and for East Texas who understands the traditional values that we share, and who knows that our churches and our schools and our shops on Main Street are the lifeblood of our communities. Our way of life is sacred, and it is worth fighting to protect and defend for our children and our children’s children. With your support and your prayers, I am ready to go to Washington and do the same thing that I did in Austin – roll up my sleeves, fight for you, and win for you.”
Rep. Gooden has deep roots in Congressional District 5. He grew up in Terrell, graduated from Terrell High School, and earned degrees from the University of Texas. He works in business development, and his wife, Alexa, is a real estate agent. They live in Terrell where they attend the Rockwall and Brin Church of Christ. The Goodens are expecting their first child, a baby boy, in February.
Rep. Gooden rolled out endorsements of mayors and elected officials across the district who have encouraged him to run for Congress, including Athens Mayor Monte Montgomery, Chandler Mayor Libby Fulgham, Coffee City Mayor Pam Drost, Crandall Mayor Mike Parker, Eustace Mayor Dustin Shelton, Forney Mayor Rick Wilson, Gun Barrel City Mayor Jim Braswell, Kaufman Mayor Jeff Jordan, Kemp Mayor Laura Peace, Mabank Mayor Jeff Norman, Rosser Mayor Shannon Corder, Terrell Mayor D.J. Ory, Kaufman County Sheriff Bryan Beavers, Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse and Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh Wiley.
Visit Gooden’s Facebook page at @lancegoodenfortexas for regular updates from the campaign trail.

Nov

30

Posted by : admin | On : November 30, 2017

Doyle Deason
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said a man is charged with the stabbing death of another man following an altercation Sunday in the Payne Springs area.
Doyle Wayne Deason, 65, was arrested Sunday morning after he confessed to stabbing Bryan Rodgers, 43, in the early hours of the morning.
Rodgers died a short while afterwards at the East Texas Medical Center in Gun Barrel City as the result of a single stab wound.
Hillhouse said the incident began to unfold before 5 a.m. when deputies were en route to a call about a suspicious person on Double Bridge Road in the Cherokee Shores Subdivision.
The person was reported carrying a butcher knife and seeking someone, who had stolen from him.
Shortly afterwards, a stabbing victim was reported near Double Bridge Road. The victim, Rodgers, was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at 6:44 a.m.
At the scene on Huntoon Trail, law enforcement discovered a gun believed to be involved in the incident. Rodgers had walked to a neighbor’s residence on Double Bridge Road to seek aid.
Investigators followed leads to the suspect on Timber Road in the Timber Bay subdivision.
The suspect had suffered a minor gunshot wound and confessed to stabbing the victim. During an interview with investigators it was determined that Rodgers was not the person Deason was looking for.
Deason is charged with Murder and is being held with a $1,000,000 bond.

Nov

22

Posted by : admin | On : November 22, 2017

James Ray Cryer

Special to The News
ATHENS–After entering a plea of guilty in October, James Ray Cryer, Jr., 42, was sentenced by Judge Dan Moore of the 173rd District Court in Athens, to life in prison for Aggravated Sexual Assault. Cryer was also convicted of Unlawful Restraint, for which he received a sentence of 10 years.
Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Keon Mack, jailers Clayton Teel and Brittney Owens, along with the victim testified at the Nov. 8 sentencing hearing.
On Aug. 10, 2016, Cryer was “working security” at the Exxon game room in Dogwood City located in Smith County. Also present at the game room was a 60-year-old Frankston woman, who Cryer approached, asking for a ride home. After directing her into the Briarwood Bay subdivision, he directed her to a darkened street, where he grabbed her by the hair and held a knife to her throat, forcing her to perform a sexual act. He then ordered her to drive to a different location, where he intended to abuse her further.
As she drove slowly down the street, Henderson County Sheriff’s deputy Keon Mack passed the car going the opposite direction and noticed the car’s slow speed and failure to lower its lights from high beam. After turning around he also observed a defective tail light for which he initiated a traffic stop. When he got alongside the driver’s side window, Mack noticed the woman was extremely nervous and when asked if everything was OK, she whispered the words, “Help me.”
Recognizing the woman was possibly in danger, Mack had her step out and move to the rear of the vehicle, so she could tell him what was taking place. Shortly after that, he got Cryer out of the car, removed the knife and placed him under arrest.
The woman, visibly shaken and upset, told the deputy several times that he had saved her life, a belief which she reiterated to the court.
Both Teel and Owens testified about threats Cryer had made while in the Henderson County Jail. In particular, he had made the statement that if he got a life sentence, he would kill one of the [expletive] guards.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Bargmann, who prosecuted the case for the State, introduced Cryer’s prior convictions for Aggravated Criminal Mischief, Sexual Assault, Unlawful Possession of a Deadly Weapon in a Penal Institution, and Possession of a Prohibited Item in a Correctional Facility. He was sentenced to 15 years for his first Sexual Assault in 1993 and while in prison, he received two additional felonies, resulting in his incarceration for a total of 23 years.
Cryer had been out for only 10 weeks before committing this assault.
Bargmann said that the sentence brought peace to the victim and justice for the community. “James Cryer has a long violent history, and a life sentence is the only way to ensure the continued safety of the public,” she said.
District Attorney Mark Hall commended Bargmann for an excellent job presenting the case, and was gratified that the court assessed a sentence that will keep Cryer in prison, and away from other potential victims for at least 30 years.
“When a person has been in prison over half his life, and then commits another violent crime immediately after getting out, you know that he can’t adapt to society. James Cryer is back where he belongs.”

Nov

16

Posted by : admin | On : November 16, 2017

The News Staff Reports
HENDERSON COUNTY–Voters across the state agreed to change the Texas State Constitution in seven propositions with fewer than 5 percent of registered voters casting ballots Tuesday. No statewide or county offices were on the ballot and few municipalities school districts or other taxing entities appeared either. .
The seven state propositions included:
• an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or surviving spouse if the homestead was donated by a charity for less than the market value. Prop 6 is similar but is applied to the surviving spouse of first responders who are killed in the line of duty
Prop 2 makes refinancing a home easier with more choices, which covers agricultural homesteads and lines of credit.
Prop 3 limits the service of appointed officials by the governor, restricting it to the legislative session.
Prop 4 allows the legislature to require a court to notify the attorney general o a challenge brought against a state statute, so the AG has opportunity to deend the statute.
Prop 5 authorizes the 10 Texas major league sports franchises that had charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles. Prop 5 would expand that number to include hockey, basketball, football, baseball, soccer, motorsports, golf teams and minor leagues, as well as major leagues.
Prop 7 is similar as it allows credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.

Nov

08

Posted by : admin | On : November 8, 2017

Kenlie Alisabeth Pallett

Kaylee Dainelle Hall
The News Staff Reports
MABANK—The community of Cedar Creek Lake is in shock as the story of a mother who murdered her two daughters in the early morning hours of Nov. 2 continues to unfold.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the arrest of 29-year-old Sarah Nicole Henderson, who is charged with capital murder in the deaths of her two daughters Kaylee Danielle Hall, 7, and Kenlie Alisabeth Pallett, 5, both students of Southside Elementary School in Mabank.
According to Hillhouse, EMS contacted his office at 11:29 p.m. Wednesday night Nov. 1, asking for assistance with a possible suicidal female at a residence outside Payne Springs. The caller called again and said he no longer needed assistance, so EMS cancelled the call seven minutes later. Deputies were already enroute and arrived at the residence, at 11:45 p.m.
Hillhouse said a male and female told deputies they were fine and no one was in danger or jeopardy.
Nearly three hours later at 2:24 a.m., the last call came from Jake Henderson, whose call to 9-1-1. was tearful, “My wife just shot her kids.” He said he went to bed after everyone else had, or so he thought. The next thing he knew his wife was standing over him saying, “Babe, I just shot the kids.” In tapes of the 9-1-1 calls, Henderson can be heard in the background saying, “Babe, what have I done?”
Hillhouse reported the children were dead at the scene. “The family was asleep other than the mother is what we’re getting in the investigation,” Hillhouse said.
The Texas Rangers, Child Protective Services and the DA’s Office are assisting with the investigation. 173rd District Judge Dan Moore issued a search warrant for the residence. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Kevin Pollock conducted the inquest and the bodies were transported to American Forensics in Dallas for examination. A firearm was recovered from the home.
Neighbors were questioned by investigators searching for a motive. Speculation was that the couple was having some financial difficulties and that she failed to get a job after an interview. Neighbors reported that Henderson had often spoken harshly to the children. A candlelight vigil was held at their school Nov. 2 as teachers, parents and students struggled to cope with the loss. Tearful parents and children were interviewed by television news reporters.
According to obituaries, Kaylee and Kenlie were inseparable; the two were sisters and best friends. They enjoyed dancing, swimming and riding their bicycles. Kaylee and Kenlie loved cheerleading and having their pictures taken and showing their beautiful smiles. They loved playing and spending time with their best friends Nadia, Katie and Alyiah.
Mabank ISD Superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall transferred all school counselors to Southside Thursday to lend support to staff and students. Substitute teachers were brought in to relieve staff members most closely affected by the deaths. “All campuses are pulling together to help. It’s what our school family does,” he said.
Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said in an interview, “Everybody wants to know why. I’d love to know why, but sometimes you never find the real reason why.”
Henderson confessed to the killing of her two daughters and is being held on a $2 million bond.
A GoFundMe page was created Nov. 2 under “Funeral funds for KayLee and Kenlie.” Funeral services were held Nov. 6, 2017 at Eubank Cedar Creek Memorial Chapel with a graveside service following at Eubank Cedar Creek Memorial Park. A candlelight service will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12 at the Gun Barrel City Park Pavilion for the two sisters.

Nov

02

Posted by : admin | On : November 2, 2017

The News Staff Reports
HENDERSON COUNTY–On Thursday, Texas R-Congressman Jeb Hensarling announced he will not be seeking re-election.
“Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” Hensarling stated. “Throughout this time, my family has graciously sacrificed for my service. As the parents of two teenagers, Melissa and I know there are only a few years left before they leave and make their own way in life. I want to be there for those years. Since my term as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee comes to an end next year, the time seems right for my departure.”
He said that during the remaining 14 months of his term, he will continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise and limited constitutional government.
He expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the support he’s received and for “the trust you have placed in me to advance the principles we share.”
Also this week, in the state house Republican Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced he was not seeking re-election for the 2019 session, stopping one term short of setting a possible record as Speaker.
As late as last month (September), Straus was saying he would seek a record sixth term as speaker and that he wouldn’t be running for the House if that weren’t true.
In his statement, San Antonio Republican Straus acknowledged his decision was “unexpected.”
“It’s been decades since someone has left the Speaker’s office on his own terms,” Straus said. “But we have accomplished what I hoped the House would accomplish when I first entered this office, and I am increasingly eager to contribute to our state in new and different ways.”
“I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year,” Straus said in a campaign email.
Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, called Straus’ decision a “political earthquake” and said dynamics at the Legislature will definitely shift without Straus at the helm of the House. The speaker was a relatively quiet leader for his first four terms in the job. He found his voice in 2017, pushing against social conservatives whose agenda – led by what became known as the “bathroom bill” – threatened his own desire to push economic development, infrastructure and other more or less bipartisan ideas.
State house Speaker Straus’ announcement set into motion speculation about the future of Straus’ top lieutenants. One of his closest allies, Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, who is chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, said in a statement first reported by Quorum Report that he “will pursue other opportunities to serve our great state.”
Arch-conservative members who have opposed Straus face off against more centrist Republicans. Within hours of Straus’ announcement, one of his top lieutenants, Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, announced that he had filed to run for the speaker’s post. State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, had previously announced his candidacy, and others are expected to jump in.
Tea Party leaders and their allies have blamed Straus for killing controversial measures backed by the far right, most notably a bill that would have regulated which bathrooms transgender Texans could use.
Speaking with reporters after the announcement inside his office, Straus said he finally took the advice he always gives members: After any session, go home and talk to your constituents and family, and then make a decision about whether to run again.
“A confident leader knows it’s time to give it back,” Straus said.
No longer serving as speaker would allow a “greater opportunity to express my own views and priorities,” Straus said, adding that he would “continue to work for a Republican Party that tries to bring Texans together instead of pulling us apart.”
“Our party should be dynamic and forward-thinking, and it should appeal to our diverse population with an optimistic vision that embraces the future,” Straus said in the campaign email. “I plan to be a voice for Texans who want a more constructive and unifying approach to our challenges, from the White House on down.”

Nov

02

Posted by : admin | On : November 2, 2017

worked up photo Levi Lebleu

worked up photo
Levi Lebleu


Sara Peasner
Anthony LebleuDerek Payton
Special to The News
ATHENS–Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports the arrest of four people in Athens Monday afternoon, following a brief car chase. The driver, once stopped, tried to escape on foot.
Just after lunch Monday, Investigator Josh Rickman and Deputy David Robertson initiated a traffic stop on FM 59 after a vehicle was seen driving recklessly.
The driver, identified as Levi Lebleu, failed to immediately stop the vehicle which caused the narcotics investigator and deputy to initiate a pursuit south on the Farm-to-Market Road and Ruth Street.
After the vehicle finally stopped on Bunny Rabbit Road, Lebleu fled on foot. He was caught and passengers detained.
Lebleu was charged with evading arrest with a previous conviction, a third-degree felony; possession of methamphetamine, a state jail felony; and tampering with evidence, another third-degree felony.
Anthony Lebleu was charged with a felony for tampering or fabricating physical evidence, possession of methamphetamine and marijuana, a felony and misdemeanor respectively; and another misdemeanor for evading arrest.
Sara Peasner was charged with a class A misdemeanor for unlawful carrying of a weapon.
Derek Payton was also charged with possession of methamphetamine, a state jail felony, and tampering or fabricating physical evidence, a third-degree felony.

Oct

05

Posted by : admin | On : October 5, 2017

Randall Wayne Mays-death row
Special to The News
ATHENS–On May 17, 2007, Randall Wayne Mays took the life Henderson County Sheriff’s deputy Tony Ogburn and Investigator Paul Habelt, and seriously injured another, Deputy Kevin Harris.
The following year, Mays was convicted of Capital Murder and sentenced to die by lethal injection. In addition to his direct appeal, he filed writs and petitions which were heard in both state and federal courts, including the U. S. Supreme Court, seeking to overturn his conviction. Those attempts were unsuccessful at every stage, and his execution was scheduled for March 18, 2015.
The month before he was to be executed, lawyers from the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs based in Austin, (a state funded, Public Defender agency that represents death penalty defendants in post-conviction litigation), filed a “Motion Re Competency to be Executed,” claiming that Mays was currently (mentally) incompetent to be executed.
The Court of Criminal Appeals stayed the execution and remanded the case back to the trial court for the appointment of experts to evaluate Mays pursuant to the standards for competency to be executed in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 46.05. Those standards require that a person condemned to death understand that he or she is to be executed and that the execution is imminent. Additionally, the person must also have a rational understanding as to the reason that they will be executed.
Judge Carter Tarrance, 392nd District Judge at the time, appointed three experts to evaluate Mays for competency. Dr. George Woods, Jr., Berkeley, Calif., Dr. Bhushan Agharkar, Atlanta, Ga., and Dr. Randall Price, Dallas, all evaluated Mays and prepared reports for the Court, the last of which was received in May of this year.
Both Dr. Woods and Agharkar believed that Mays was incompetent to be executed while Dr. Price determined that he was competent under the applicable standards.
A three and a half day hearing was held before visiting Judge Joe D. Clayton of Tyler from August 9-12 where he heard testimony from all three experts in addition to five other witnesses. He also reviewed a voluminous amount of records and transcripts from the original trial, mental health records and records from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division that documented Mays’s history while incarcerated including correspondence from Mays to family and friends, and communications between Mays and prison officials.
Woods and Agharkar testified that while Mays understood he was to be executed, he did not have a rational understanding as to why, believing that he was suffering from pervasive delusions centered around his “green energy” designs for wind and solar powered equipment. They reported to the Court that Mays believed he was going to be executed because his design would cost the state and the oil industry billions of dollars, and since this was not a “rational” belief, he was incompetent to be executed. Mays never mentioned this to Dr. Price during his evaluation, but did indicate that he knew he had been convicted of Capital Murder involving three officers, and felt that his conviction and punishment were unfair because the deputies came onto his property
Likewise, Mays never mentioned in his correspondence or numerous grievances while in prison that his energy ideas had anything to do with his pending execution, a fact noted by Judge Clayton in his signed order finding Mays competent to be executed, which was filed on Monday, Oct. 2.
District Attorney Mark Hall, who was joined by First Assistant Nancy Rumar in arguing the competency case in August, said that he believes the Judge made the correct call. “Judge Clayton listened intently to hour upon hour of expert testimony over the course of the hearing; and while giving due consideration to the oftentimes complicated, and in my view, occasionally convoluted mental health findings, he was able to cut through the jargon and apply a strong dose of common sense to the issue.”
“I don’t think there is any question that Randall Mays understands exactly what he did, and what a jury found him guilty of, or the reason for which he received the sentence of death. He has been given every opportunity to contest his conviction and sentence, which I think was appropriate under the circumstances,” said Hall.
The District Attorney intends to file a motion for the Court to set an execution date, but anticipates that before it is carried out, Mays will make a motion that the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) review Judge Clayton’s order and enter a judgment of whether to adopt the order, findings and recommendations.
At that point, the CCA would determine whether any existing execution date should be withdrawn and a stay of execution issued while that court is conducting its review. Otherwise, the execution will be carried out as ordered.
“This has been a long, and sometimes frustrating road for the family and friends of these slain and injured officers, with each stage of the process renewing and reopening the feelings of sadness, anger and loss. But I have confidence in our criminal justice system, and that Randall Mays will soon face the sentence he received and deserved,” said Hall.

Sep

07

Posted by : admin | On : September 7, 2017

Anglea Davis

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS – A Larue woman was arrested late Aug. 31 for possession with intent to deliver a substantial amount of methamphetamine. Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said her original charge was compounded when more drugs were discovered when she was being processed into the jail.
Angela Davis, 42, was arrested around 9 p.m. in a parking lot of a business on State Highway 155 in Berryville.
Narcotic Investigator Josh Rickman noticed Davis with a small, clear, plastic bag containing a crystal substance suspected to be methamphetamine. She was on foot, approaching a parked vehicle.
For having more than four grams of the methamphetamine, she was charged with manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony.
When she was booked into the Henderson County Jail, more methamphetamine was discovered on her person, and a second possession charge was added for having a prohibited substance in a correctional facility. She was released on bonds totaling $13,000 the following day.
“Our team is alert around the clock,” Hillhouse said. “That includes on the streets, at night and in the jail.”