Five stories that have North Texas talking: the Chris Kyle murder trial starts today; a UT-Austin fraternity is under investigation for a “border patrol party;” a controversial White Rock Lake artwork appears in trouble; and more.
Prosecutors say the widow of Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie "American Sniper," will be among the first witnesses to testify during the trial of his alleged killer in Stephenville. Opening statements are expected Wednesday in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh. The former Marine is accused of fatally shooting Kyle and Kyle's friend, Chad Littlefield, as the pair tried to help Routh at a shooting range. Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash said Tuesday that the prosecution's first two witnesses will be Taya Kyle and Littlefield's mother, Judy. The judge ruled that both women can stay in court to watch proceedings after testifying. The judge also said he would allow prosecutors to take photos of Routh's tattoos. The New York Times takes a closer look. [Associated Press]
- A fraternity at University of Texas at Austin is under investigation for an alleged “border patrol party.” The San Antonio Express-News reports: “Partygoers attending a bash hosted by UT's chapter of the national Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, known as Texas Fiji, wore ponchos, sombreros and construction gear while others wore military camouflage outfits near photo cutout boards of people in traditional Mexican garb, a bar painted to look like a Mexican flag and a giant cutout of Patrón tequila, The Daily Texan reported.” [San Antonio Express-News]
- The days may be numbered for the controversial White Rock Water Theater. Jerome Weeks with KERA’s Art&Seek reports the artwork has gotten a negative engineering report. “The city’s engineering report concluded the steel system supporting the artwork has failed completely. David Fisher is head of the Office of Cultural Affairs. He says: 'Given the engineering report, there are some significant issues with it. Could it be rebuilt? Yes. Is that the best decision in this case? I’m not sure.' A complete restoration of the Water Theater would cost close to $200,000 — or almost half of all the city’s budget allocated for public art proposed in August.” Learn more at Art&Seek.
- Oprah Winfrey has chosen a debut novel by a 53-year-old Texas author for her next book club pick. Winfrey told The Associated Press that she had selected Cynthia Bond's "Ruby," a fierce and poetic story about a beautiful, worldly black woman based in the author's native Texas. "Ruby" was published last year to positive reviews, but moderate sales. That is virtually guaranteed to change with the release Tuesday of the paperback. Winfrey, who also acquired movie and television rights, has a nearly 20-year history of turning books into best-sellers. Bond's publisher, an imprint of Penguin Random House, has ordered a paperback printing of 250,000 copies. [Associated Press]
- Here’s the book trailer to Matt Zoller Seitz’ new book about The Grand Budapest Hotel. (Once upon a time, Seitz wrote for the Dallas Observer.) Collider reports: “If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, you have to own Matt Zoller Seitz’ tome The Wes Anderson Collection. It goes deep into all of Anderson’s films except for The Grand Budapest Hotel. … It’s like the collection, excellent as it is, had missed its culmination. Thankfully, that culmination has now arrived with Seitz’ The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Publisher Abrams has released a delightful trailer from Sirk Productions (directed by Kristian Fraga) detailing what the new book offers, and it looks like it will fit quite nicely next to the previous installment.” (h/t KERA’s Stephen Becker)
Photo Credit: Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram