Oct

05

Posted by : admin | On : October 5, 2017

The News Staff Reports
IOWA–Ex Malakoff Police Officer Ernesto Fierro has been ordered to pay a judgment in the amount of $6.3 million from an incident that happened in 2013.
William Livezey, 70 of New Sharon, Iowa died from a heart attack suffered while he was in handcuffs on the side of the road on State Highway 31 east of Corsicana near the Chambers Creek bridge Dec. 11, 2013.
Livezey was hauling reclaimed barn wood on a trailer pulled by his truck from Iowa to a client in Houston when he was pulled over by Fierro, who was off duty at the time. Fierro, who had just finished a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. night shift, was traveling home on his personal motorcycle and passed the truck.
The officer alleged that Livezey’s truck swerved toward him and he took evasive action. Upon regaining control of the motorcycle, Fierro accelerated and put some distance between himself and the truck. When the officer slowed down coming into the next town, the truck caught up and swerved at him again. Once the officer was able to retrieve his badge from his duty belt, he identified himself as a police officer and stopped the truck.
Fierro handcuffed Livezey and placed him on the side of the road, intending to charge him with assault with a deadly weapon. When Navarro County deputies arrived, they removed the handcuffs and told Livezey to sit back in his vehicle and questioned him for 10 to 15 minutes. During the questioning, Livezey became unresponsive and stopped breathing. CPR was performed by a Navarro County Deputy as well as off-duty officer Fierro until Corsicana EMS arrived and transported Livezey to Navarro Regional Hospital where he died.
The family of the deceased, which included a wife and four adult children, filed suit against Fierro, his police chief and the City of Malakoff in April 2014, claiming excessive force and unlawful arrest. The city and police chief were later dropped from the lawsuit, leaving Fierro solely responsible for the judgment.
Fierro is no longer a commissioned peace officer, having been ordered to surrender his license some time earlier due to this incident.

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

By Denise York
The News Staff Reporter
MALAKOFF–The Malakoff Board of Trustees met at 6 p.m. Aug. 21 with a public hearing on the proposed tax rate. With no public attendance at the hearing, when the board convened into its regular meeting, Trustees set the tax rate for the 2017-18 school year at $1.20 per $100 valuation. $1.04 of the rate is set for maintenance and operation with $0.16 for interest and sinking. Trustees also approved the budget with expenditures of $17,701,417 and revenues at $17,761,155.
Superintendent Randy Perry set forth his goals for the new school year, many of which were centered on improving STAAR results and challenging the students academically. The district will also move toward Google classrooms with all students and teacher beginning a new collaboration using Google Apps and Docs.
Perry also focused on attendance rate over 96 percent for the 2017-18 school year. The attendance rate fell at the end of the last school year to 95.9 percent. The district will also increase the number of students at Malakoff High School that would be identified college-ready by the TEA and work with local businesses to create more opportunities for internships to better prepare the students for the transition after high school.
Perry also stressed improving the mentor program for new teachers and promoting a safe and orderly environment where students can learn to their greatest potential.

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.”

Aug

31

Posted by : admin | On : August 31, 2017

Phillip Stewart

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports the arrest of a suspect his office has been targeting for some time. Phillip Stewart, 38, of Chandler was arrested Aug. 24 and charged with felony possession of both meth and firearms.
“He was known to us and we wanted him off the streets,” Hillhouse stated in a press release.
The arrest was the result of action on a search warrant at his residence in Sun Dial subdivision south of Chandler. During the search, investigators discovered contraband, scales, small clear plastic bags, a semi-automatic pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun.
He is currently being held on bonds, totaling $28,500 on the second and third-degree felony charges. At least eight law enforcement officials were on hand for the execution of the search warrant and subsequent arrest.
“I want a complete force of deputies on the scene when we make these kinds of arrest,” Hillhouse stated. “Drug dealers can be dangerous and we take no chances we are bringing them in.”
Stewart’s jail record in the county goes back to 2002, with charges for mistreatment of family members and providing alcohol to minors. Drug arrests started in 2010 with a possession charge greater than 4 grams but less than 200 grams.
“No longer do these folks believe they can find a safe haven in this county,” Hillhouse said.

Aug

24

Posted by : admin | On : August 24, 2017

DSC_0037

The News Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The fun stopped abruptly for six passengers on a ski boat last Friday evening on Cedar Creek Lake when the boat hit what’s commonly called bird island, Seven Points Police Chief Administrator Raymond Wennerstrom told The News.
Henderson County Game Warden Gregg Johnson conducted the initial investigation and reported that of the six passengers on board, three were seriously injured and were transported to ETMC-Athens Hospital. However their condition was characterized as not life-threatening.
The crash happened between 9:27 p.m. and 10 p.m. and rescue operations were staged from Tom Finley Park with Seven Points Police and Fire Rescue responding. The scene was cleared at 4:53 a.m.
Passengers’ names have yet to be released by authorities, but one is reportedly a 28-year-old woman from Waxahachie, who was to undergo surgery on Tuesday.

Aug

17

Posted by : admin | On : August 17, 2017

Clyde Jason Tennison

Special to The News
ATHENS–Three years from the date he brutally killed Deborah Denise Allen, and just days before he was set to begin his trial in front of a Henderson County jury, Clyde Jason Tennison entered a plea of “Guilty” to her murder before visiting Judge Joe Clayton Aug. 11.
In exchange for his plea, the 53-year-old Tennison, received a sentence of 45 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division. He will be eligible for parole after completing half his sentence (22.5 years), with time served in the Henderson County Jail. He will be 73 before that time arrives, and “eligibility” for parole does not mean he will be released at that time.
On Aug. 2, 2014, Tennison claimed that he and the victim, who was his girlfriend, had been arguing in the days leading up to her death. He told investigators that on the that day, he had just informed her that he was leaving, and went to take a shower first. According to him, when he got out, he looked in her room and saw her body lying on the bed. He then left the house and traveled to the home of his parents, telling them that Deborah had committed suicide by cutting her own throat. He later told Sheriff’s Deputy Cayce Hampton that Allen had used his knife to cut herself.
Tennison and members of his family went back to the residence located in Gun Barrel City and determined that Ms. Allen was deceased before contacting law enforcement.
At some point, Tennison consumed and overdosed on Xanax resulting in him being admitted to ETMC the same morning after Allen’s death. He also tested positive for PCP.
As the investigation progressed, Tennison’s account of the events became less plausible. Investigators located the defendant’s wet clothes in the washing machine, yet they still tested positive for the presence of blood. According to lab results, he also had the victim’s blood under his fingernails, along with a distinct bite mark on the inside of his thigh.
The medical examiner who performed the autopsy believed that the wounds to the neck of Ms. Allen were unlikely to be self-inflicted. Physical evidence, and the position of the knife found in Allen’s hand were incompatible with the injuries and blood evidence.
Investigators believed that after bludgeoning and cutting his victim, Tennison attempted to stage the scene to appear as if it had been a suicide.
Several weeks after the murder, Tennison made an unsolicited comment to jailers that, “I never thought I would be capable of something like that. I slit her throat and watched her bleed out on the ground.”
During most of the plea, Tennison was quiet and reserved, however during the victim impact statement given by Ms. Allen’s daughter, he momentarily sobbed, and said that he was sorry.
Henderson County District Attorney Mark Hall, and First Assistant Nancy Rumar were set to prosecute the case beginning on Tuesday of this week. Hall said the plea agreement was one that ensured that Tennison would be in prison for a long time to come, and that the family of Ms. Allen was fully on board with the 45-year offer.
“This has been a long, hard road for the family of Deborah Allen, and I am glad that they can finally put this chapter behind them. Although the pain of her death will never go away, the fact that Clyde Tennison finally admitted his guilt in open court will help them deal with her horrible death,” Hall said.
“I want to thank the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Ranger Michael Adcock, D.A. investigators, and the other law enforcement agencies and personnel that worked this case and did such a thorough and professional job of sorting out truth from fiction.”

Aug

03

Posted by : admin | On : August 3, 2017

Driver, TrinityThe News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse today said an early morning traffic violation led to a Deputy to arrest a man with methamphetamines and a pipe used to smoke the contraband.
Trinity Driver, 28, of Arp was stopped around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday traveling north on FM 315 south of Chandler.
Deputy William Thornton was patrolling the area when he noticed Driver commit a traffic violation. He stopped the suspect, removed him from the vehicle and checked him for weapons.
The Deputy then discovered a glass pipe commonly used to inhale illegal narcotics and a plastic baggie hidden in a cigarette pack containing a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine.
“This is another case where our team is always on the lookout for the unusual,” Hillhouse. “Driving around this County in the dark of night carrying illegal drugs is a sure way to find yourself waking up in our jail.”
Driver was charged with a state jail felony for possession under a gram.
He faces up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. He is being held with a $8,500 bond.

Aug

03

Posted by : admin | On : August 3, 2017

By D.A. Mark Hall
Special to The News ATHENS–Beginning Aug. 9, a three-day hearing in the 392nd District Court has been scheduled in the Randall Mays case to determine his competency to be executed. Mays has resided on Death Row since 2008 for killing Henderson County Sheriff ’s deputies Tony Ogburn and Paul Ha-belt at Mays Henderson County home. Mays has exhausted all of his State and Federal appeals, with his last execution date previously set in 2015. Days prior to imposition of his sentence, his new attorneys from the Texas Office of Capital and Forensic Writs,filed a motion suggesting that he was legally incompetent to be executed under Texas law. After an initial determination by then judge Carter Tarrance that Mays was competent, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the decision and ordered that experts be appointed to evaluate Mays for competency to be executed which requires that the defendant understand why he is being executed, and that it is imminent. Tarrance appointed three separate experts to evaluate him, which took place over the last year and a half.
The August hearing will provide visiting judge Joe Clayton with the information needed to make a ruling upon the issue of competency, and ultimately deter-mine if the death sentence received by Mays will be carried out.
“This has been a long running battle to fulfill the sentence imposed by a jury in 2008 that has spanned the administration of three different District Attorneys,” Hall said. “I sincerely hope that we can bring this painful chapter to a close, and allow the families of the slain officers the opportunity to know that justice has been carried out.”
The week following the Mays hearing, Hall and Rumar will be back in court selecting a jury in the case of Clyde Jason Tennison, who is alleged by indictment to have killed his girlfriend Deborah Allen, in July 2014 in rural Henderson County near Payne Springs. The case is expected to last at least a week in the 3rd Dis-trict Court before Judge Mark Calhoon.

Jul

27

Posted by : admin | On : July 27, 2017

Rodriguez

Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill (from left) presents Life Saving Awards to Patrolman Jonathan Hutchison and Corporal Roger Keith for their bravery and outstanding sevice for rescuing a trapped resident from a multi-story structure fire June 28.

Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill (from left) presents Life Saving Awards to Patrolman Jonathan Hutchison and Corporal Roger Keith for their bravery and outstanding sevice for rescuing a trapped resident from a multi-story structure fire June 28.


By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Athens City Council accepted the resignation of City Manager Philip Rodriguez at the July 25 meeting.
Rodriguez, who has been city manager for about two years, leaves to take a city manager position in Brighton, Colo., his home state. During his tenure in Athens nearly $13 million of capital improvements have begun, including the Cain Center revamp and major work to the water system.
In his resignation letter, Rodriguez detailed accomplishments made and said, “We did all of this and more while establishing a truly impressive city staff that is one of the most capable group of professionals and public servants I have ever worked with.”
Although his resignation is effective Sept. 10, it was announced at the city council meeting that his responsibility for the City of Athens would end on Aug. 8. Rodriguez thanked council members and the city for the opportunity and said a special thanks in his letter to former mayor Jerry Don Vaught for his “consistent support and mentorship.”
Athens Chamber of Commerce President had high praise for Rodriguez. “In the time that I’ve been a part of the Athens community, first with Cain Center and now the chamber, Philip has been very supportive. He is someone I’ve enjoyed working with and I’m very thankful for his service to the Athens community and his part in helping to move things to a place where good things are happening all around.”
Councilman Ed McCain said, “Philip and his family are going home to Colorado. I am very happy for him and he has done a really great job. But I am positive and forward looking. This is a great opportunity for Athens to get even better.”
McCain told The News that Athens has a great city staff and the city is primed for a great next 10 years with projects that are well underway and will be completed in a fiscally responsible manner. He also stated the city has a great possibility for an interim city manager.
Two Athens police officers were presented Life Saving Awards for rescuing a trapped resident during an early-morning structure fire in a multi-story building June 28. Patrolman Jonathan Hutchison and Corporal Roger Keith were the first to arrive on the scene and once they ascertained that there was indeed a trapped resident, they went into action to rescue her. Chief Buddy Hill said, “Without regard to their own personal safety, they pushed past the flames, entered the burning structure, located the resident and removed her.” Both officers and the resident were treated for smoke inhalation but no lasting damage.
Athens Fire Chief John McQueary praised the officers for their extreme bravery in rescuing the woman. “Those flames put out 1,200 degrees of heat and without protective gear or specialized training, they went in. All they saw was a life that needed to be saved.”
When a citizen’s request for de-annexation of his property came before the council, much discussion ensued. This was not the first time this had been brought before the council and was denied in November, 2016. The issue concerns a 31-acre tract of land (Tract 4A Abstract 135 D Cherry Sur) which the property owner was not aware was within city limits as a Lake Athens property when he purchased it.
Property owner Tom Potthoff wishes to develop the land for four homes. The city provides no services to the acreage, some 40 miles outside the city. After presentations by Potthoff and Planning and Development, council members voiced differing opinions and the item was tabled.
In other business, council members:
• heard a resolution presented by Councilwoman Toni Clay honoring Richard “Dick” Dwelle for 63 years of outstanding service to the people of Athens. Dwelle was instrumental in founding the Henderson County United Way, Keep Athens Beautiful, the Athens Industrial Foundation, the Public Library Fund and the Civic Center and Park Fund, serving on several of their boards. Dwelle passed away in June.
• agreed to allow heavy vehicles in commercial property by special-use permit so a business selling new and used trucks may operate on US 175.