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AP-TX—Texas News Digest, TX

- Associated Press - Monday, January 13, 2014

Texas news at 6:45 p.m. CST.

Jamie Stengle is on the desk, reachable at 972-991-2100. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at or 877-836-9477. If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them to If you have photos of regional or statewide interest, please send them to the AP state photo center in New York, 1-888-273-6867.














DALLAS - Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent wasn't drunk, as police contend, when he wrecked his Mercedes in a crash that killed a teammate, Brent's lawyer told jurors Monday at the start of his trial. Brent was "guilty of being stupid behind the wheel of a car," not driving drunk on the night of the December 2012 crash that killed his close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown, defense attorney George Milner said. By Nomaan Merchant. SENT: 660 words, photos.


HOUSTON - Researchers believe they have found an unlikely way to decrease the radioactivity of some hydraulic fracturing wastewater: Mix it with the hazardous drainage from mining operations. The wastewater is created when some of the chemical-laced water used to fracture thick underground rocks flows back out of the wellbore. The water is tainted with chemicals, toxins and in some parts of the country - such as Pennsylvania - naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as radium. Research has shown that even wastewater that had been treated with conventional means was changing the chemistry of rivers when discharged into waterways. By Ramit Plushnick-Masti. SENT: 850 words.



LA VILLA, Texas - A dispute over the water bill between a one-stoplight South Texas town and its school district has shuttered the schools and left students and parents scrambling. The city of La Villa shut off water and sewer service to the La Villa Independent School District in December, shortly after students started their holiday break. The city had raised a water surcharge, but the district refused to pay the increase. By Christopher Sherman. SENT: 840 words, photos.


KATY, Texas - School district officials say a zip gun was found and a student was taken into custody at a Houston-area high school that was evacuated and searched by a bomb squad. The Katy school district said on its website that Seven Lakes High School was evacuated Monday after a "perceived threat" was identified. The Harris County sheriff's office bomb squad was dispatched after a "potential explosive device" was found. SENT: 200 words, photos.


DALLAS - The pilots of a Southwest Airlines flight that mistakenly landed at the wrong Missouri airport were grounded Monday, less than a day after they touched down at a small airfield that gave them only half as much room as normal to stop the jet. Southwest Flight 4013 was traveling Sunday evening from Chicago's Midway Airport to Branson Airport but instead landed at tiny Taney County Airport seven miles away. By Jim Salter and David Koenig. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.


HOUSTON - While a judge on Monday continued to forbid a Houston man who's been accused of misrepresenting his race to voters from taking the oath of office during a lawsuit that claims he didn't live in his district, the elected official says that's not going to stop him from doing his job. A restraining order preventing Dave Wilson from being sworn into office as a Houston Community College trustee was extended after a court hearing Monday. But Wilson and his lawyer say he's already filed paperwork swearing himself in so the order is moot. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 500 words.


HOUSTON - People convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Harris County could be required to pay for their blood tests as lab officials seek to recoup costs and hire more toxicologists. County budget executive director Bill Jackson plans to explore blood test payment options, such as having prosecutors recommend and judges require restitution, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. SENT: 370 words.


EL PASO, Texas - A West Texas man convicted of killing two people as a teenager in 1993 may be released on bond after the state ordered he should have a new trial. Joe Spencer, the attorney for Daniel Villegas, said he will request bond for his client at a hearing Tuesday in El Paso. Spencer said he expects Villegas to be released because he was out on bond before his second trial and did not violate any terms of his bond during that time. SENT: 300 words.


SALT LAKE CITY - The University of Utah is investigating a complaint that a convicted felon working at a fertility clinic replaced a customer's sperm with his own, fathering a girl 21 years ago. The mother of the girl, Pamela Branum, says she and her husband discovered a genetic mismatch in their daughter, and were able to trace her lineage with help from relatives of the now-deceased fertility clinic worker, Thomas Ray Lippert. The Branums, formerly of Park City, Utah, moved to San Antonio in 2003. SENT: 660 words, photos.


AUSTIN, Texas - Agriculture commissioner candidate Sid Miller invested nearly $100,000 of campaign funds in the stock market, then took personal ownership of some of the stocks when he left the Texas House to settle loans he'd made to his campaign. Miller didn't record the transfers in his final campaign finance reports after leaving office in early 2013. He said he followed state law and Texas Ethics Commission guidelines. By David Barer, The Dallas Morning News. SENT: 1,200 words, photo.



NEW YORK - Plano, Texas-based Pizza Hut plans to start offering pizza by the slice for the first time in two locations this week, part of a test to refashion its image and court diners in their 20s and 30s. The chain says the two locations - one in York, Neb. and Pawtucket, R.I. - will open Tuesday. By Candice Choi. SENT: 550 words, photos.


- HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL-TEXAS - More than 118,500 Texans have used the federal health care web site to sign up for insurance.

- LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR-STAPLES-FUNDRAISING - Republican Todd Staples' campaign says he's raised more than $2 million in the last six month for his bid to become the next lieutenant governor.

- BIG BEND-PEREGRINE FALCON - The National Park Service says some parts of Big Bend National Park in West Texas will be temporarily closed to allow endangered peregrine falcons to nest free of human disturbance.

- SAN ANGELO-SHOOTINGS - Police say an argument outside a West Texas bar has left two men dead, another wounded and the suspect committing suicide. SENT: 130 words.

- IDENTITY THEFT-REWARD POINTS - Prosecutors say a Nigerian man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiring to steal credit card reward points and then converting them into cash. SENT: 110 words.

- ATTORNEY GENERAL-SMITHERMAN-FUNDRAISING - Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman say he's raised $1.7 million during the last six months for his attorney general campaign. SENT: 130 words.

- LAMP ACCIDENT-DEATH - A Montana woman visiting family in Southeast Texas has died after picking up a lamp from some wet ground and being electrocuted. SENT: 130 words.

- NORTH TEXAS-EARTHQUAKE - North Texas has had another minor earthquake in an area where concerns about unexplained quakes led a state regulatory agency to hire a seismologist. SENT: 130 words.

- SENATE-ALAMEEL-DAVIS - Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis has endorsed David Alameel in the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate. SENT: 130 words.

- HOUSTON-PARTY-SHOOTINGS - Two men have been arrested after gunfire earlier this month outside a Houston home killed a man attending a birthday party. SENT: 130 words.

- AMBER ALERT ANNIVERSARY - Texas Department of Public Safety officials have joined law enforcement around the country in observing National AMBER Alert Awareness Day. SENT: 130 words.

- HOUSTON RODEO-PERFORMERS - Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton and Robin Thicke are among the featured entertainers at this year's Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. SENT: 130 words.

- STRANDED DOLPHIN-DEATH - A dolphin found stranded last week on a South Texas beach has died. SENT: 130 words.

- AMARILLO-RAILROAD MUSEUM - A Texas Panhandle group hoping to create a railroad museum has dropped plans amid funding, location and ownership issues. SENT: 130 words.

- AUSTIN AIRPORT-MILITARY RESERVES - Military officials have opened a $41 million reserves complex near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to provide more room for troops and training. SENT: 130 words.



AUSTIN, Texas - University of Texas regents on Monday approved a five-year contract for new football coach Charlie Strong worth more than $25 million. Strong will be paid $5 million in the first year, with an annual $100,000 raise for the coach chosen to succeed Mack Brown. The regents met by phone Monday and approved the contract by a unanimous vote. By Jim Vertuno. SENT: 440 words, photos.


If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them to If you have photos of regional or statewide interest, please send them to the AP state photo center in New York, 888-273-6867. If you have questions about the Texas AP news report, please contact News Editor James Beltran at 972-991-2100 or

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