Dallas Ends 2011 With Drop In Crime | KERA News

Dallas Ends 2011 With Drop In Crime

Dallas took another “bite out of crime” in 2011. Deputy Police Chief Randall Blankenbaker briefed City Council members on the final numbers.

Blankenbaker: This is the unprecedented eighth consecutive year of total crime reduction. We reduced crime a little over 4% from 2010. And it’s our tenth consecutive year of violent crime reduction; an 8% almost 9% reduction from the previous year.

The city’s murder rate last year was the lowest in 44 years. Reported rapes were down 16%. Robberies dropped 9%. Burglary was down 4%.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Texas electoral maps at issue before Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is wrestling with what to do about holding elections in Texas for the state legislature and Congress.

The justices appeared unsure Monday at arguments over Texas' electoral districts about whether primary elections could take place in early April or whether legal wrangling between the GOP-dominated state government and minority groups would take longer to resolve.

At issue is whether Latinos and African-Americans who accounted for the vast majority of the state's 4 million new residents in the 2010 Census have adequate political power.

The justices struggled with whether the state's plan or maps drawn by federal judges in San Antonio that are friendlier to minorities should take effect, or whether some new effort should be made.


Jury chosen in Texas suit against J&J over drug

Texas is seeking more than $1 billion in damages in a lawsuit that accuses Johnson & Johnson of overstating the safety of an anti-psychotic drug and influencing its use in the state's Medicaid program.

A jury was chosen Monday in an Austin courtroom. Opening statements in the trial are set for Tuesday.

A whistle-blower filed the lawsuit, then Texas joined it. The lawsuit is one of dozens of pending state and federal cases alleging illegal marketing practices and kickbacks in an effort to boost Risperdal over competing drugs. Risperdal is a pill for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Johnson & Johnson says it will vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit's claims.

The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.


Mike Huckabee endorses David Dewhurst for Senate

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has endorsed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the U.S. Senate.

The Fox News commentator and Southern Baptist preacher is influential among Christian conservatives and operates a political action committee called Huck PAC.

Dewhurst is the front-runner to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring next year. Dewhurst is competing against nine other candidates for the Republican nomination.

Huckabee ran for president in 2008 and has a national following. On Monday he called Dewhurst a strong fiscal conservative who shares Huckabee's traditional values.

The endorsement will help Dewhurst fight off criticism that he's been too moderate while serving as lieutenant governor. Most of his opponents have been painting themselves as more conservative.


North Texas woman accused of killing husband

A 42-year-old North Texas woman who said she had tried to cover up her husband's suicide has not been charged with murder in his death.

Michele Marie Williams was booked Monday into the city jail in Keller with bond set at $522,000.

Her attorney, Kenneth Wincorn of Dallas, didn't return a message left Monday by The Associated Press.

A police statement says Williams reported on Oct. 13 that an intruder fatally shot husband Gregory Williams at their home. However, when police found no evidence of an intruder, she said she faked the scenario to cover up a suicide.

Keller police Lt. Brenda Slovak says the subsequent investigation accumulated sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the murder charge against the woman, but the investigation continues.


Dallas Animal Services Upgrades Lost and Found

Dallas Animal Services has a new website for lost and found pets.

Animal Services Manager Jody Jones says “petharbor.com” was launched about a month ago.

Jones: It makes available to the public, 24/7, that may have lost their pet the ability to go online and see pretty much live data of the animals that are available and in the shelter. So, if you’ve lost your pet you’ve got that opportunity.

Jones says you may also submit your email and receive automatic notification if a pet matching the breed or description arrives at the shelter. You may also report “finding” a lost dog or cat.

Garland, Grand Prairie, North Richland Hills and Plano also use the national “petharbor” site.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Judge over murder trial loosens media restrictions

A judge has scaled back restrictions for the media covering a capital murder trial in Fort Worth. State District Judge Elizabeth Berry said Monday the media can report on everything happening in open court. Last week she said only information discussed in front of jurors could be reported.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram then pulled several tweets and blog postings about testimony given outside the jury's presence. But the newspaper challenged the judge's gag order as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The newspaper reports that the judge issued the new rules before a Monday hearing about the restrictions. The paper's attorney and judge discussed more details at the hearing. Kwame Rockwell faces the death penalty if convicted of killing two people in a convenience store robbery.


Dallas Signature Bridge to “Light Up”

The lights on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge “turn on” Tuesday night – adding a new feature to the nighttime Dallas skyline.

The lights on the city’s first Santiago Calatrava “signature” bridge will stay on for two weeks. Then they’ll be tested periodically until the official opening of the bridge the weekend of March 2nd.

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge features a 400 foot tall arch and suspension cables curving to the road-bed.

It is the first vehicular bridge in North America designed by noted Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

BJ Austin, KERA News