Texas court spares man who killed girl, 11, from execution
Texas' top criminal appeals court on Wednesday ordered a man convicted of killing an 11-year-old Fort Worth girl be removed from the state's death row. In a three-page opinion, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled by a 6-3 vote that Juan Ramon Meza Segundo does not qualify for execution because of intellectual disability under a recent Supreme Court standard. The appeals court reformed his death sentence to life imprisonment with parole possible, the only alternative sentence for capital murder available at Segundo’s 2006 sentencing by a Tarrant County jury.news.yahoo.com
Crystal Mason’s contentious illegal voting conviction must be reconsidered, criminal appeals court says
Mason said she didn’t know she was ineligible to vote when she cast a provisional ballot in 2016, but she was sentenced to five years in prison. Now, the Court of Criminal Appeals says an appellate court that affirmed her conviction must look again at the evidence of Mason’s intent.
Candidates backed by conservative PAC sweep Tarrant County school board elections
All but one of the 11 Tarrant County conservative school board candidates, who were backed this year by several high-profile donors and big-money PACs, defeated their opponents during Saturday’s local elections, according to unofficial results.
Federal judges won’t halt Texas primary in state Senate district being challenged for alleged discrimination
The redrawn state Senate District 10 splits Black and Hispanic voters in Tarrant County. A full trial on whether GOP lawmakers intentionally discriminated against voters of color is expected later this year.
Texas violated voting rights law during redistricting, retiring state GOP senator says in sworn court statement – Houston Public Media
A three-judge federal panel is hearing arguments in a lawsuit claiming that Texas Republicans violated the Voting Rights Act when they redrew state Senate District 10 in Tarrant County to lessen Black and Hispanic voting power.houstonpublicmedia.org
Texas violated voting rights law during redistricting, retiring state GOP senator says in sworn court statement
A three-judge federal panel is hearing arguments in a lawsuit claiming that Texas Republicans violated the Voting Rights Act when they redrew state Senate District 10 in Tarrant County to lessen Black and Hispanic voting power.
This historically red Texas county diversified in the last decade. Now, Republicans are trying to divide up its voters of color.
Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, said the maps were drawn “race-blind.” But Democratic Sen. Beverly Powell, whose district would be turned into a majority-Republican district, said they’re an attempt to deny voters of color their voice in elections.
Texas county officials call election audits an unnecessary partisan ploy while voicing confidence in 2020 results
Officials in some counties targeted by audits accuse Republican Texas leaders of pandering to conspiracy theorists and undermining faith in elections. They also say the secretary of state’s office hasn’t provided details on what the audits entail.
Texas Senate Opens Redistricting Debate With Proposed Map One Senator Labels ‘Intentional Discrimination’ – Houston Public Media
The first draft of the Senate map was authored by a Republican who chairs the Senate redistricting committee. It immediately drew fire from a Democratic member who said her district was being redrawn to dilute voting power of people of color.houstonpublicmedia.org
Trump booster Herschel Walker skipped voting in 2016 when future president was on the ballot, records show
Herschel Walker did not cast a presidential vote in 2016 despite talking up the eventual winner, Donald Trump. And with the exception of 2020, Walker has not pulled the lever in any election since at least 2003, according to records reviewed by the Washington Examiner.news.yahoo.com
Polling places for urban voters of color would be cut under Texas Senate's version of voting bill being negotiated with House
Voters in some urban, Democratic areas of Harris and Tarrant counties would see a drastic drop in polling places under the Senate version of Senate Bill 7, a Texas Tribune analysis shows.
As Texas Prepares To Execute Quintin Jones For Murdering His Great-Aunt, His Relatives Hope For Last-Minute Reprieve – Houston Public Media
Jones was sentenced to death in 2001 in Tarrant County after he fatally beat his great-aunt, 83-year-old Berthena Bryant, with a baseball bat. But two relatives say they’ve forgiven him and want his sentence commuted to life in prison.houstonpublicmedia.org
Texas mayoral races, Austin homeless measure among key issues on Saturday ballots. Here’s what you need to know.
Local elections are happening across Texas on Saturday, some of which have drawn statewide — and even national — attention. Here are the four that we are watching most closely, plus a few other contests to keep in mind.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will review Crystal Mason’s controversial illegal voting conviction
But Tarrant County prosecutors pressed forward with charges, arguing Mason’s case came down to intent. The all-Republican court’s decision to review Mason’s case is notable. The Court of Criminal Appeals isn’t required to review non-death penalty convictions, and it rarely grants requests to do so. Mason turned to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals late last year after a state appeals court panel affirmed the trial court’s judgement. In her petition to the court, Mason’s lawyers argued the appeals court erred in upholding her conviction because the state’s illegal voting statute requires a person to know they are ineligible to vote and Mason did not.
Tarrant County sees record COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price tests positive
Medical Assistants with Mi Doctor operate a testing clinic at the La Gran Plaza in Fort Worth. Credit: Shelby Tauber for The Texas TribuneTarrant County reported a pandemic high of more than 2100 new cases and nearly 800 hospitalizations Wednesday, the same day Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price tested positive for COVID-19. Price’s husband had tested positive for the virus just hours earlier. Public health officials are alarmed at the trends. On Tuesday, Vinny Taneja, the county’s public health director, issued a “public health warning” asking residents to help flatten the curve.
Texas approaches 7,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations amid spike
Almost 7,000 COVID-19 patients were in Texas hospitals Thursday, the most in almost three months, as infections of the coronavirus that causes the disease continue statewide, nationwide and worldwide. The 6,925 hospitalizations are the most Texas has counted since Aug. 12, according to reports by the Texas Department of State Health Services. However, state figures appear to be lagging indicators of the present COVID-19 outbreak in Texas when compared with statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The state coronavirus count for the pandemic that began in March was 993,841, while the Johns Hopkins count for Texas topped 1 million earlier this week. Overall, 62,525 new coronavirus infections and 698 new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Texas in this past week alone, according to Johns Hopkins statistics.
Democrats didn’t get a blue wave, but some of the fastest-growing suburbs in Texas are still moving to the left
Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas TribuneAlthough they didn’t get the blue wave they expected, Democrats narrowed the gap with Republicans in five of the most competitive and populous suburban counties in Texas. Meanwhile, Democrats won over many voters like 28-year-old Rachel Copeland, who said she voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016. Not all suburban counties became as competitive as Tarrant. “I think we need to rethink how we talk about the blue wave,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, political science professor at the University of Houston. It’s certainly changing, we saw it with how close Beto came in 2016, and the demographics have changed drastically,” Cross said.
Texas 2020 elections: Voters deciding a bevy of heated races could shatter state's turnout record
More than 9.7 million Texans cast ballots during early voting. Nearly 127,000 Harris County voters cast drive-thru ballots during the early voting period at 10 polling sites across the county, a safer option for some voters during the coronavirus pandemic. A federal judge earlier Monday denied that group's attempt to have the drive-thru ballots cast during early voting tossed out, but continued to file appellate challenges over drive-thru voting late Monday. At least 9,718,648 voters cast early ballots, according to preliminary final numbers released Sunday by the Texas secretary of state. Early voting, which Gov.
Tarrant County faces delayed counts for its tightest races due to staffing shortages
In the nearby Tarrant County, county officials worry there could be delayed counts due to staffing shortages. Tarrant County officials are warning that coronavirus-related staffing shortages mean elections workers are unlikely to finish counting mail-in ballots on Tuesday night, potentially leaving the county’s tightest races undecided until later this week. Tarrant County, the largest Republican-controlled county in the state, is home to a number of state legislative races and at least one congressional race that are expected to be tight. While both parties and the county government say they hope winners will be declared Tuesday night, Whitley was more cautious. Greg Abbott on Monday took notice of the staffing concerns and called on Tarrant County Republicans to volunteer as poll watchers and poll workers.
Kamala Harris visits Houston during Texas campaign swing
Kamala Harris’ trip to Texas on Friday will include three stops across the state, including in the Rio Grande Valley, according to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. Fort Worth’s Tarrant County was the state’s most populous county that Republican President Donald Trump won in 2016. Harris will be the highest-profile Biden surrogate to come to Texas in the general election yet, following visits in recent weeks by Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, and Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff. Harris’ visit is not the only notable activity by the Biden campaign this week in Texas. Sign up for The Brief, the Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
Texas has a record number of new voters. Where they are shows how the state has become more competitive.
But it’s also thanks to a surge of 1.8 million new registered voters since the 2016 election. But looking at where the new registered voters are can help us understand how the balance of voting power is subtly shifting in the state. Since 2016, they saw an increase of 630,796 registered voters, according to data collected by the Texas Secretary of State. These counties have had huge turnout and huge increases in registered voters this year, adding 533,098 new voters since 2016. They have gained 522,972 registered voters in total, and show no sign of turning blue.
Ex-Texas officer’s trial set for next year in woman’s death
FORT WORTH, Texas – A judge in Texas has tentatively set an August trial date for a white former police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman who was fatally shot through a window. Judge David Hagerman on Tuesday said the scheduling may be fluid but that the case of former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean “needs to be tried next year,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Dean resigned after he was charged with murder in the Oct. 12, 2019, shooting death of Jefferson. Jefferson had been babysitting her 8-year-old nephew at her mother's home when a neighbor called a non-emergency police line to report that a door was ajar. At Tuesday’s pretrial proceedings, Hagerman said he would likely consider a motion to change the venue of the trial from Tarrant County, which is home to Fort Worth.
2 North Texas counties to remove Confederate monuments
FORT WORTH, Texas Officials in two North Texas counties voted Tuesday to remove Confederate monuments from their courthouse grounds. Commissioners of Tarrant and Denton counties voted Tuesday to remove the monuments. The Tarrant County monument had been erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1953. The Denton County monument was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1918. Both counties said their monuments would be placed in storage until alternate sites could be found.