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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Texas Killing Fields - New Book by Kathryn Casey

I've been reading Kathryn Casey's new book, Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields. Casey is probably the best true crime writer working today, right up there with Ann Rule. Here's a blurb from Amazon.com about the book:
Critically acclaimed author Kathryn Casey delivers a riveting account of the brutal murders of young women in the I-45/Texas Killing Fields.
Over a three-decade span, more than twenty women—many teenagers—died mysteriously in the small towns bordering Interstate 45, a fifty-mile stretch of highway running from Houston to Galveston. The victims were strangled, shot, or savagely beaten. Six met their demise in pairs. They had one thing in common: being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The day she vanished, Colette Wilson waited for her mother after band practice. Best friends Debbie Ackerman and Maria Johnson loved to surf and were last seen hitchhiking. Laura Kate Smither dreamed of becoming a ballerina and disappeared just weeks before her thirteenth birthday.
In this harrowing true crime exposition, award-winning journalist Kathryn Casey tracks these tragic cases, investigates the evidence, interviews the suspects, and pulls back the cloak of secrecy in search of elusive answers.

I lived in Houston from 1982 to 2002, and I remember seeing the billboards with missing girls. I particularly remember when Laura Smither went missing, and when they found her body a few weeks later. She went out for a jog one morning in a nice neighborhood and never came home. I also remember when Jessica Cain disappeared, and her family found her pickup truck parked on the side of the road, with her purse and keys still in it. I can't imagine the pain their families have suffered over the years.

I've never tried to become qualified to try death penalty cases, because I don't want to run the risk of being appointed to defend someone like the evil monsters who killed these girls and women. There are lawyers who can do it, but not me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kerrville Police Shoot Armed Suspect; New Scandal in Kimble County, Texas?

On late Sunday afternoon (Aug. 15) KPD officers responded to a domestic abuse call. The San Antonio Express news and Kerrville Daily Times report that the suspect, 47 year old Steven B. Norton, "stepped  out onto the front porch of the residence with a rifle and fired a shot in the direction of the officers. All four officers returned fire with their duty weapons and the suspect was struck at least one time." He was flown to a hospital in San Antonio where he died.

If this account is accurate, the shooting was justified. The most recent Supreme Court case on excessive force is instructive. In Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S.Ct. 2012 (2014) the Court held
the officers acted reasonably in using deadly force. "A police officer's attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death.... Rickard's outrageously reckless driving - which lasted more than five minutes, exceeded 100 mph, and included the passing of more than two dozen other motorists - posed a grave public safety risk." The suspect attempted to run over officers.
The officers "did not fire more shots than necessary to end the public safety risk.... If officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a sever threat to public safety, they need not stop shooting until the threat has ended."

I have heard rumblings that a high ranking law enforcement officer in Junction, Texas has been indicted for embezzlement. The local paper there won't touch the story. If someone would contact me anonymously with more details I'd follow up on it.

Hilary Clinton auditions to replace UT Tower:

Or maybe she's trying out her orange pantsuit for prison.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Councilman Gary Stork's Continuing Comedy of Errors; Stupid Country Songs

Gary Stork, Place 3 City of Kerrville Councilman, has a severe case of foot in mouth disease. He has embarrassed himself and the city by accusing his fellow council member Bonnie White of not liking soccer and the little children because she had the temerity to ask questions about the boondoggle where the city was going to pay the Cailloux Foundation's company (for profit or nonprofit? - who knows?) $9 Million for 105 acres and some athletic fields. The city didn't require bids for the improvements, or obtain an independent appraisal of the land. Stork thought it was just fine and dandy.

Stork has made statements in council meetings, and to reporters, that virtually admit that he and his cronies on the council violate the Open Meetings Act. He tried to clean up that mess by writing an open letter to the Daily Times where he just dug the hole deeper, basically stating that council goes into executive session whenever there's any disagreement on an issue.

Today's KDT's editorial page has the latest installment in this farce. In a letter to the editor titled "I confess - I'm the guilty party," Peggy Stork, his wife, takes the blame for her husband's admissions of violating the Open Records Act. She claims that she "usually edits and sometimes rewords" Gary's writings. She continues, "Not having taken any classes in the Open Meetings Act, I wrote the offending sentence about 'discussing and hashing out our differences.'" Poor Gary didn't read the final product, or didn't read it very carefully. So his admission is just a big mistake made by his wife.

Next time a lawyer makes a mistake in a brief, he can just tell the judge, sorry, I didn't read it again after my wife "edited" it for me. Sounds like the dog ate my homework.

Stupid Country Songs and the Morons Who Like Them

If judges would allow it I would submit jury questionaires in every serious case I tried. Last week I attended the State Bar Advanced Criminal Law seminar in San Antonio. All the speakers were excellent and some were great - informative and entertaining. Highlights for me were Justice Michael Kessler of the Court of Criminal Appeals, David Burrows, a DWI guru, and David Hirschhorn, the jury consultant in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

Hirschorn is a big proponent of jury questionaires and has samples that lawyers can use as models. Right now I frankly don't remember if he has this question or not: What is your favorite kind of music, and who are your three favorite musicians? If someone answered modern country, and named almost any of the big names, I would probably strike them as too stupid to serve on a jury. They all seem to hate their crappy jobs, be high school dropouts, and live for Friday night so they can get drunk and race their pickups to the river for a big ol' bonfire where the girls all have sweet, fine a--- that they shake (or in the vernacular, their "sugar shakers" or "money makers"). On the way to work this morning I heard a buffoon singing about "getting drunk on a plane." Here are a few selections of lyrics from some top ten country songs:

Brad Paisley
Crushing It

Every week has a weekend
By this time Friday night
I'll be done with my third can of cold Bud Light
And I'll be crushin' it
Yeah, I'll be crushin' it

Every week has a weekend
By this time Friday night
If you want a margarita
I'll get tequila and ice
And I'll be crushin' it
With a cold one in my other hand
And I'll be crushin' it

When I'm finished with my can
I can stomp it with my boot
Punch it with my fist
Smash it on my forehead
Yeah, I got this
I'll be crushin' it

I figured this out in college walking past them Gothic columns
That I was gonna probably wind up somewhere near the bottom
I was never gonna be the best or brightest guy around
But like the great George freaking Strait, I'm the king of gettin' unwound

Kick the Dust Up - Luke Bryan

That sun up high goes down
And then it's on, come on, girl, kick it on back
Z71 like a Cadillac

We go way out where
There ain't nobody
We turn this cornfield
Into a party
Pedal to the floorboard
Eight up in a four door
Burnin up a back road song
Park it and we pile out
Baby, watch your step now
Better have your boots on
Kick the dust up
Back it on up
Fill your cup up
Let's tear it up up
And kick the dust up
Got me a jar full of clear
And I got that music for your ear
And it's like knock knock knock goes the diesel
If you really wanna see the beautiful people

And here's a new trend, gay and lesbian country music (Ol' Hank must be spinning in his grave!)

Little Big Town - Girl Crush Lyrics
I got a girl crush
Hate to admit it but
I got a heart rush
Ain't slowing down
I got it real bad
Want everything she has
That smile and that midnight laugh
She's giving you now
I don't get no sleep
I don't get no peace
Thinking about her
Under your bed sheets
The way that she's whispering
The way that she's pulling you in
Lord knows I've tried,
I can't get her off my mind

And his life's goal is to buy a boat and a pickup to pull it:
Chris Janson - Buy Me A Boat Lyrics 
They call me redneck, white trash and blue collar
But I could change all that if I had a couple million dollars
I keep hearing that money is the root of all evil
And you can’t fit a camel through the eye of a needle
I’m sure that’s probably true,
But it still sounds pretty cool

‘Cause it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it
It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets
Yeah, I know what they say, money can't buy everything
Well, maybe so
But it can buy me a boat
Yeah, and I know what they say,
Money can’t buy everything
Well, maybe so,
But it could buy me a boat

And all you parents of teenage girls would love to have this drunkard pick up your daughter:
Hell of a Night
All we need is a July hot Saturday night
A couple cans on cool and the needle on full and a countryside
Yeah, a hot little playlist of your favorite songs
And when I get you climbing up in the cab of this truck
Yeah you know it's on, know it's on

Show you a side of these two lanes you've never seen
Heatin' it up behind the high beams
Oooh, baby you and me, just runnin' down crazy
Flyin' high, living careless, on the edge of wild and reckless
Hold on tight, I'm 'bout to show you one hell of a night

Anything Goes - Florida Georgia Line

Lime on the rim of that dixie silver
Smokin' up a faded out 4x4
Girls headin off to the river, yeah
Victoria's Secret aint a secret no more
I brought the songs and you brought the party
Only one way to do it up right
Everybody goes where eveybody knows
That anything goes on a Friday night
Get your party right, it's a Friday night
Get your party right, it's a Friday night

Well baby you ain't nothin' but a masterpiece
Swayin' and sippin' that Dos Equis
Losin' yourself in the big loud beat, nothin' but heat (come on)

I'd like to see what the jury consultants say about taste in music and jurors. I would imagine that someone who liked jazz or classical music would be fairly intelligent and open to hearing the evidence and following the law. Jurors who liked the traditional country music - Haggard, Willie, Hank, and some of the current troubadours like Jason Isbell and Ray Wylie Hubbard, would probably have some compassion for injured people.