Posted by : admin | On : September 1, 2016

raheem Miller

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Raheem Mark Miller has been found guilty Tuesday of capital murder in the death of Cedric Alvin Collins, 23 of Malakoff on June 8, 2014. Jurors returned the guilty verdict after two hours of deliberations.
This conviction has a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
The State of Texas and the defense rested on Monday, Aug. 29 in a trial which began with jury selection only a week prior. The defense rested without calling any witnesses.
According to reports, Collins was found lying beside his vehicle in the 700 block of Robbins Road, near the intersection of Lantana and Robbins, with what appeared to be a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to East Texas Medical Center where he later died.
Witnesses had reported seeing two men fleeing the scene. Det. Adam Parkins was assigned the case and obtained information that pointed to Miller.
The jurors heard five days of testimony in which the Henderson County prosecutor tried to prove Miller had murdered Collins after robbing him, making this a capital murder offense. Evidence included videotaped interviews with the defendant.
The third videotape contained an interview conducted by Bobby Rachel, a reserve deputy from Navarro County who had been asked to interview Miller at the request of Texas Ranger Michael Adcock. During the interview, which jurors watched, Miller said he and another man made a plan to rob Collins after arranging a drug deal selling fake drugs.
Miller told Rachel he didn’t plan on using a gun. Miller said that Collins was killed after the other person pulled a gun on Collins and they fought over it. Investigators cleared the other person mentioned in Miller’s testimony of any wrongdoing in the murder case.
Miller had denied having a gun but eventually admitted to Rachel that he did have one. When Rachel asked if he shot Collins, Miller denied ever pulling the trigger. Miller has denied being the one who pulled the trigger since his arrest.
Miller had been held on a $2,000,000 bond in the Henderson County Justice Center since the 2014 murder. Defense attorneys John Youngblood and James Mills represented Miller. Assistant District Attorney Danny Cox assisted District Attorney Scott McKee with the prosecution.
In closing arguments, District Attorney Scott McKee reviewed the evidence as presented by the state. McKee stated that Miller killed Collins while committing the felony crime of robbery, making this a capital murder.
Judge Carter Tarrance had informed the jury they could find Miller guilty of captial murder, felony murder, aggravated robbery or robbery.
While the defendent showed little emotion when the verdict was read, the families of the victim and defendant were emotional.



Posted by : admin | On : July 21, 2016

jannell dunnington pic
News Staff Reports
HENDERSON COUNTY–Henderson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jannell Dunnington retired July 15 after serving the department for more than 21 years. She began her career with the department as a detention officer.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office said, “She has been an outstanding deputy and helped and touched many people throughout her career here. She will be missed by so many. Once again, thank you Deputy Jannell Dunnington for your outstanding and dedicated service to Henderson County.”



Posted by : admin | On : April 28, 2016

Rick Hirsch-extension agent

Rick Hirsch, 1965-2016, Texas A&M Extension Agent

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
HENDERSON COUNTY–A beautiful spring day for Henderson County, Sunday was the day County Extension Agent Rick Hirsch died at his residence. All who heard of the longtime extension agent’s death expressed shock and grief. Hircsh, 51, is well-known in East Texas and elsewhere as he dispensed advice and information via a newspaper column, radio show and agricultural clinics, tours and seminars in his 28-year career.
A funeral service is to be held at 10 a.m. Thursday (today) at the First Baptist Church in Athens. located at 1055 S. Carroll Street.
Most recently, he organized a pasture tour, including a location on the shores of Cedar Creek Lake in late March. He served Henderson County from 1992 as its Extension Office Agent on behalf of AgriLife of Texas A & M University.
He is well-known for his support of youth agricultural projects (FFA & 4-H) and its students. The Athens FFA has opened a gofundme page to raise funds for his family. In its first seven hours, nearly $2,000 had been raised. The goal is to raise $25,000.
Terrie Echols writes: “So sorry for your loss. Rick was a great teacher, I learned a lot from taking his class. May God bless and comfort his family and friends.”
The Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home in Athens is overseeing the funeral arrangements. Members of the community are invited to share their stories, photos and remembrances of Rick to comfort the family on its website.
Rick Hirsch is survived by his wife, Bronte, a teacher in the Athens ISD, and three children.
Lorri and Harold Hawkins of Brownsboro state of Hirsch: “He was always there to help the community and especially the young people of Henderson County. Rick will be greatly missed.”
The Henderson County Master Gardeners extend their condolences, adding: “Rick was a respected and wise leader. We will miss his guidance and counsel.”
Chad Coburn, who judged many bovine exhibits with Rick writes: “I’ve had the privilege to judge cattle shows with Rick and serve with him on the Animal Industries Committee. I was shocked to hear the news.”
Gregg County Extension Agent Randy Reeves describes Hirsch as a great mentor. “We will all miss Rick. He was a great mentor to all of us and will be sorrowfully missed. Extension will never be the same with a great friend and co-worker called home.”
Co-worker Jo Petty Smith writes: “From the time I was a kid on the end of a show halter, to the time I was able to call him a co-worker, mentor and more importantly, a friend, I will cherish those memories and the laughs that he was surrounded by. I felt it a great honor to work with him and know him. Extension lost one of its finest agents.”
Among the many accolades and recognitions Hirsch garnered through his successful career, is the County Agent of the Year award bestowed by the Texas & Southwestern Cattlemen’s Association in 2012.
Athens ISD agricultural teacher Jeff Jones summed up best what many recognize on this sad occasion: “Mr. Rick Hirsch was a great friend and an outstanding person. Rick was an iconic figure in Henderson County, a truly good man and someone who helped thousands and thousands of people in our community and across the state of Texas.”



Posted by : admin | On : December 23, 2015

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–With the closing of the election filing period for the March 1, 2016 Party Primary, a few key races have taken shape in Henderson County. The most prominent is that Republican Lance Gooden of Terrell is challenging incumbent Dr. Stuart Spitzer of Kaufman in a bid to regain a seat in the Legislature as Representative of District 4.
Judge Carter Tarrance announced in September he was not seeking reelection to the bench of the 392nd District Court. Two have filed for the seat: longtime family law practitioner Marianne Warren of Athens with 23 years experience and two-term D.A. Scott McKee are both seeking the Republican nomination. No Democrats have filed for the office. Mark Hall is the sole candidate for District Attorney.
In addition, County Attorney Clint Davis faces a challenger in the Primary from former officeholder James H. Owen.
Both County Commissioners have said they will not seek re-election. Keith Pryor and Ken Hayes have filed for Precinct 1, now held by Scotty Thomas, who has held the office for one term.
Commissioner Ronny Lawrence is stepping down after four terms in office. Four contenders have filed to take his place. They are Mark Tillison, Sammy Scott and Kevin Head of Murchison and Charles “Chuck” McHam of Chandler.The winner will face Democrat challenger Aleciah Joyce Sims in the fall.
All five constable offices are on the ballot. In Precinct 1 Kay Langford, an Investigator with the Sheriff’s office, is unopposed in the Republican Primary but will challenge incumbent Daryl Graham in November 2016.
In Precinct 2, Interim officeholder Mitch Baker, with his office in Seven Points, will face Danny Howard.
Precinct 3 incumbent David Grubbs of Brownsboro is unopposed.
Precinct 4 incumbent Rick Stewart is not seeking re-election. Former Constable John Floyd has filed along with Wilford “Wick” Gabbard for the Republican ballot.
Precinct 5 Constable Brad Miers is challenged by Eric Adair.
Tax Assessor Collector Peggy Goodall is running for her first full term in office after filling an unexpired term of Milburn Chaney in January. She is unopposed.
Statewide offices appearing on the ballot include eight Republican contenders and three Democrats for their party nomination for Railroad Commissioner. Places 3, 5 and 9 have drawn two challengers each for the Supreme Court on the Republican ballot. The winner will each face a Democrat opponent in November. Republicans are also competing for places 2, 5 and 6 on the Court of Criminal Appeals. Each winner will then face a Democrat candidate in the fall
Voters in Henderson and Van Zandt counties will see two filers for the 12th Court of Appeal, both unopposed for Place 2 and 3, on the Republican ballot.
Locally, District 9 of the State Board of Education has put up four Republican contenders, the winner of which faces a Democrat in the fall.



Posted by : admin | On : December 9, 2015

THE NEWS PHOTO/RUSSELL SLATON  Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee (pictured), along with Assistant DA Justin Weiner, briefed the Henderson County Bar Association Dec. 4 about federal and state law changes, including open carry, marijuana, police body cameras, “revenge porn” and “doxing,” as well as cellphone seizures.

Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee (pictured), along with Assistant DA Justin Weiner, briefed the Henderson County Bar Association Dec. 4 about federal and state law changes, including open carry, marijuana, police body cameras, “revenge porn” and “doxing,” as well as cellphone seizures.

Rules for use of medicinal marijuana, body cameras, Internet publishing reviewed

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–Henderson County Bar Association members were briefed about federal and state law changes at Athens Country Club Dec. 4. Some changes are already in effect, with others, soon to follow.
The legislative and legal overview was presented by Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee along with Assistant District Attorney and felony prosecutor Justin Weiner.
The DA and his assistant also brought Henderson County peace officers up-to-date during a four-hour seminar late last summer at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens.
McKee said concealed carry permits for handguns automatically convert to allow open carry Jan. 1, 2016. The majority of American states already allow open carry, Weiner said.
But along with the law are rules that need to be followed: besides a permit, the handgun must be carried in a belt or shoulder holster in plain view. Openly carrying handguns will be allowed in all places where concealed carry is currently condoned. A handgun can be exposed in a vehicle as long as it’s holstered, Weiner added.
“It will be interesting to see how this all (open carry) fleshes out,” Weiner said.
Carrying weapons at dormitories, classrooms and campus buildings at public colleges is allowed by the State of Texas as of Sept. 1, 2016, Weiner said.
Colleges are in the process of establishing rules about where exactly open carry is allowed, as well as where guns can be stored. “A lot of universities are scrambling to see what they can do,” Weiner said.
Another legal issue is synthetic marijuana. The prohibition is now based on specific chemicals instead of the previous legal standard of proving “mimics the pharmacological effect of real marijuana.” Vaping now has the same rules as cigarette sales which includes banning e-cigarette use in public places.
Legally prescribed medicinal marijuana is now legal in Texas for the first time, Weiner said, and has been since June 1. It’s available only for epilepsy patients, he said, and the prescription must come from two licensed doctors and be filled at a state-approved pharmacy.
The medicinal marijuana derivative must contain low amounts of THC, which is the psychoactive element of marijuana.
Another issue addressed by state legislators is body cameras for police officers. A Senate bill provides law enforcement $10 million in grant money to obtain the equipment, with each law-enforcement agency matching 25 percent of the grant. The provision kicks in Jan. 1.
McKee said Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt has already applied for grant money from the governor’s office. District Attorney McKee advised law enforcement to adopt body camera policies before allowing use.
So-called “revenge porn” became a criminal offense and can include civil penalties as of Sept. 1 of this year. The offense deals with using explicit images or videos online without consent. That is now a Class A misdemeanor, one step below a felony.
“Doxing,” or the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting personally identifiable information gleaned from private (as opposed to public) records without consent, also is a state no-no, as of Sept. 1.
McKee and Weiner also discussed a United States Supreme Court decision. Riley v. California, decided in summer 2014, ruled that cellphone searches were just as invasive as home searches and should be held to similar legal standards. Consent to search along with exigent circumstances, along with felony warrants, are exceptions to the rule. “Get a cellphone, get a warrant,” McKee said.



Posted by : admin | On : February 8, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

County inmates will soon be serving the public by clearing fence rows at the Malakoff Historical Society and Museum.

Malakoff Historical Society Director Pat Issacson, is thrilled about getting the assistance.

“This is going to be so much help,” she said. “I am very excited.”

Issacson discussed the idea with The News just a few weeks ago while waiting for a “Friends of Malakoff” meeting at the Flag House to begin. Since then, Issacson made the calls and arrangements and put things into motion. Of course none of it would be possible without the help of county inmates and the approval of County Commissioners.

Issacson said no date has been assigned yet, and the workload is rather heavy, so it most likely will be taking several days to complete.

“There are a lot of fence rows to move,” she said “It’s hard to tell when it was last cleaned out. It’s been years. They are going to help move some big things in the house then do the work outside.”
The city of Malakoff also said it will assist in the effort.

“The city said if we get the fencing close to the road, they will haul it off for us,” Issacson said

After a day’s work is done, Issacson said there would be more opportunities to continue the clean up.
“If there is more that needs done (after the day is over), all I need to do is call them up and they will come out again,” she said.

Issacson expects it will take two or three days to complete all of the work.



Posted by : admin | On : January 17, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office will soon have quick access to its own armored vehicle.
Tuesday, County Commissioners approved the purchase of a BearCat, the same kind of vehicle borrowed from the Tyler Police Department in 2010.

The BearCat served Athens well when it was used to confront survivalist Howard Todd Granger in a four-hour police standoff, in October, 2010.

Granger fired about 100 rounds from an AK-47 at the armored vehicle before getting taken down by a well-aimed sniper round. Not a single round fired at the SWAT team penetrated the vehicle, including the windows.

Sheriff Ray Nutt argued that in an emergency situation, the three hours or more it takes to do the paperwork and get the vehicle from Tyler could cost an officer’s life.

“We have a great working relationship with Tyler,” Nutt said, “but if there is an injured officer we need the vehicle quickly to extract him before its too late.”

Nutt added that BearCats are even protected underneath from grenade explosions. The BearCat will cost $132,000.

The 2010 incident was not without financial consequence to the county. Henderson County paid a hefty bill to repair damage the vehicle.

Nutt told Commissioners the County could have its own BearCat by July, if approved now.

BearCat is an acronym, standing for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin was vocal in his agreement.

“I think it’s a wise decision to invest in one of them,” he said.



Posted by : admin | On : October 20, 2012

Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace and Malakoff Municipal Judge Henry Ashford died today of an apparent heart attack, a county source confirmed.

There are no other details at this time.



Posted by : admin | On : October 12, 2012

Family Peace Project Executive Director Marlena Taylor stands by the Clothesline Project just before the start of the Domestic Abuse Awareness Month proclamation signing Tuesday, Oct. 9. The Clothesline Project is a collection of T-shirts designed and created by victims of violence and the loved ones of victims. The shirts help give a voice to those affected most by abuse and assault.

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS – Donna Johnson started out the 2013 Domestic Violence Awareness proclamation signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon with a simple request: “I want everyone here, if they themselves or a family member have been affected by family violence, to please raise your hands and keep your hands raised.”

The East Texas Crisis Center Director of Outreach then asked for anyone who had a friend, or associate at work affected by domestic violence to do the same thing. Then she asked for anyone who knew someone who had been affected by domestic violence to do the same thing.

By that time, it looked like every one of the nearly 100 gathered on the courthouse lawn had a hand raised.

“Domestic violence in Henderson County is so prevalent,” she said.

October is about becoming aware of the dangers of domestic violence and the resources available in the community for victims.




Posted by : admin | On : October 11, 2012

State Sen. Robert Nichols met yesterday with school superintendents from Cherokee, Anderson and Henderson counties to talk about education issues and the upcoming Legislative Session. I’m working on a story for next week, but two quick things I noticed: It looks like the meeting took place in Athens, and in the above photo distributed by the senator’s office, that’s Cross Roads ISD Superintendent Clay Tompkins (left) sitting next to Nichols.

— Michael V. Hannigan