5 things for Houstonians to know for Friday, Jan. 21

A pipeline company threatened to cut off natural gas to five power plants run by Vistra,whose Midlothian power plant is seen here, over a financial dispute before agreeing Thursday to continue selling gas to Vistra for an undetermined length of time. (Shelby Tauber For The Texas Tribune, Shelby Tauber For The Texas Tribune)

Here are things to know for Friday, Jan. 21:

1. ‘Why is he out?’: Mother of teen shot 22 times wants alleged killer back in jail

The mother of a teen who police said was shot 22 times by her ex-boyfriend is questioning why her alleged killer was released from jail Tuesday.

Diamond Alvarez was fatally shot on Tuesday, Jan. 11, in the 15400 block of Park Manor around 9:30 p.m. Police said Frank Deleon Jr., 17, was taken into custody Monday and charged with murder. His bond was set at $250,000 but Deleon bonded out of jail Tuesday, court records said.

Diamond’s mother, Anna Machado, is angry and upset. She said her daughter’s accused killer should be in jail and she’s tired of judges letting criminals post bond and get back on the streets. She said her daughter didn’t deserve to be shot and killed.

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2. KPRC 2 Investigates: What role do prosecutors have in Harris County’s felony bond debate?

Harris County judges are often criticized for setting any kind of bond or setting a bond the public considers too low in cases involving violent felonies. However, KPRC 2 Investigates wanted to know what is the prosecutor’s role in this process, more specifically, what impact can the prosecutor have on the setting of bonds in felony cases?

KPRC 2 Investigates reviewed court records of all murder and capital murder cases where the bond was set in 2021, from Jan. 1 - Sept. 30. In at least 10% of the 257 cases we examined, prosecutors did not appear to fight the bond set by the judge.

JUDGES NOTES

Although judges are precluded from speaking publicly about specific cases, KPRC 2 Investigates’ analysis of records revealed judges left notes about the bond process on docket sheets.

Some of those notes read, “prosecution didn’t ask for a higher bond,” “state never asked to raise bond,” or “state didn’t move forward with sufficient bail motion.” In other cases we found prosecutors withdrawing motions seeking a denial of bond.

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3. Texas pipeline company walks back threat to cut off gas to power plants

After threatening to cut off fuel to roughly a third of the power plants owned by Texas’ biggest power generator, a major pipeline company said Thursday it will continue selling natural gas to the plants through the end of March. But the companies have still not resolved their underlying financial dispute stemming from last February’s deadly winter storm.

Energy Transfer LP subsidiaries walked back their threat after Luminant, a Vistra Corp. subsidiary, on Wednesday asked state regulators to prevent the pipeline company from cutting off fuel to five Vistra power plants, which produce enough electricity to power 400,000 Texas homes, businesses and critical infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.

Read more.

4. HCTRA, TxDOT crews pretreating Houston-area roads, elevated structures as precaution to prevent icing

Harris County Toll Road Authority and TxDOT crews were sent out Thursday to prep Houston-area roads due to potential ice and winter storm warning.

HCTRA has raised its emergency management operational status to Activation Level 3 “Increased Readiness” and will monitor the roadways for hazardous conditions, especially on elevated segments of the tollway. Crews will be staged over the next 24 hours to start anti-icing and deicing operations if dangerous road conditions develop. A response team of trucks are also equipped with bumper-mounted spreaders to treat small accumulations of ice if found.

HCTRA said its overnight crews will access roadway temperature checks on elevated structures and will close any impassable elevated roadways, diverting traffic to service roads until deemed passable.

TxDOT crews will also pretreat various elevated structures throughout the Houston area as a precaution. They will spray a salt/ water mix to prevent icing.

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5. Houston now requires pet owners to microchip pets, bans sale of commercially-bred dogs

Houston City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to amend several ordinances related to Houston-area pet owners and shops.

Part of a rewrite of the city’s Chapter 6 ordinance proposed by BARC, the mandate took effect immediately.

According to BARC, the last time the ordinances were rewritten was in May of 2014.

For pet owners, microchipping will be required along with a city license. Microchipping is a tiny chip similar to a grain of rice that helps humane organizations and veterinarians find stray animals and locate their owners.

BARC said the microchips will expedite the return of lost animals and use microchip numbers as proof of licensing. A metal tag will no longer be issued to newly licensed pets.

Read more.


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