5 things for Houstonians to know for Wednesday, March 23

Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo Addresses Texas Rangers investigation into COVID outreach contract

Here are things to know for Wednesday, March 23:

1. Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo Addresses Texas Rangers investigation into COVID outreach contract

On Tuesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo addressed the recent developments of a Texas Rangers investigation into her office.

Authorities executed search warrants on March 12 focused on the offices of Hidalgo for electronic devices that may hold information regarding a controversial $11 million contract awarded last year.

“Based on the information that I know, and I can speak for myself, everything I’ve done related to this has been completely above board,” said Hidalgo.

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2. Only Latina on Texas death row seeks clemency as execution looms, NBC News reports

A 53-year-old woman, who claims she was wrongly convicted of killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2007, has filed a clemency petition ahead of her planned execution in April, NBC News reports.

Melissa Lucio is the only Latina on Texas’ death row. She is set to die by lethal injection on April 27. Her lawyers are hoping to spare her life 14 years after she was sentenced to death in a capital murder case involving the youngest of her dozen children at the time.

Lucio’s supporters claim she was wrongly convicted and that police coerced a confession.

Lawyers said presenting evidence indicates that she was wrongfully convicted and that four jurors at her trial now question their guilty finding.

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3. GRAPHIC VIDEOS: Surveillance footage released of officer-involved shooting of suspect who was accused of killing a San Jacinto County deputy constable inside a mall

The Houston Police Department released surveillance video and bodycam videos from an officer-involved shooting in which a San Jacinto County deputy constable and the suspect died on Feb. 23 at PlazAmericas Mall in southwest Houston.

The deputy was identified as Deputy Neil Adams, 62. The deputy was working an extra job at the shopping complex at the time of the shooting.

The shooting happened around 3:57 p.m. in the 7500 block of Bellaire Boulevard.

According to reports from the scene, Adams and the suspect were involved in an altercation before the suspect gained control of Adams’ gun.

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4. 2 Houston area residents admit to trafficking $29M in meth, US Attorney’s Office says

Two Houston-area residents have pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute 777 kilograms of meth, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery on Tuesday.

Eduardo Figueroa Jr, 26, of Cleveland, and Cynara Lucia Sarmiento, 23, of Conroe, pleaded guilty to both counts of possession with intent to distribute meth.

According to authorities, Figueroa hired Sarmiento as his personal assistant and tasked her with leasing the warehouse space and forming Hive Logistics, a business warehouse located in Houston.

On May 12, 2021, authorities executed a search at the location and discovered 777 kilograms of meth, 10 kilograms of cocaine, ledgers, two pistols and five magazines. The meth was located inside metal barrels marked as mango puree.

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5. KPRC 2 Investigates: Customers in Magnolia question why their natural gas bills are so high

Natural gas prices are up everywhere, but people in Magnolia were floored when they received gas bills hundreds of dollars more than normal.

Customers received the bills in January and when they tried to get answers from the gas company, they said they got nowhere. Doug and Irma Patterson received their EPCOR gas bill in January.

“When we turned around and got the bill, it was like, ‘How did they get to this value?’” said Doug Patterson.

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