Five stories that have North Texas talking: Ethan Couch returns to court today; guns won’t be allowed everywhere on UT Austin’s campus; “Bottle Rocket” turns 20; and more.
Ethan Couch, the infamous Fort Worth teenager, who has been held in Tarrant County Jail for two weeks post-getaway, will finally face the judge today. Depending on the ruling, he could get three months in jail and adult probation, which if violated could land him in prison for up to 40 years, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The Associated Press recently reported on Couch’s story, comparing it to a similar case but with a drastically different outcome.
In 2013, 16-year-old Couch drunkenly rammed a pickup truck into a crowd of people assisting a stranded driver, killing four. He received 10 years probation. A similar case in 2007, 16-year-old Jaime Arellano drove drunk, ran a red light and crashed into a pregnant woman’s car killing her and her unborn child. Arellano got 20 years. He’s served nearly half of that sentence and will be eligible for parole next year.
The AP reported: “The stories of the two Texas teens illustrate how prosecutors' decisions in similar cases can lead to wildly different outcomes. The poor immigrant from Mexico has been behind bars for almost a decade. The white kid with rich parents got 10 years of probation.”
The Morning News reported: “Since 2005, Texas has prosecuted 38 juveniles for intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault. Only three were sent to the adult system, and half of all cases resulted in probation of some kind.” Read more. [The Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News]
- Dozens of speakers, performers and artists will gather this weekend to engage the public in conversation about the future of Dallas. The second annual Dallas Festival of Ideas will serve as the stage for stimulating discussion on how to make Dallas more liveable, entrepreneurial, healthier, etc. from different perspectives in the community. The Dallas Morning News, a partnering organization with the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, has more on the various presenters, including an SMU research professor, a novelist and nonprofit president. The free event will take place Friday and Saturday at the Music Hall and at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. Register here. [The Dallas Morning News]
- Guns will be allowed in classrooms but not in dorms at UT Austin. President Greg Fenves reluctantly issued guidelines that adhere to the new campus carry law, which goes into effect on Aug. 1. The Texas Tribune reported: The law, Senate Bill 11, allows the concealed carrying of weapons in public university buildings by license holders across the state. But it gave universities the power to create limited rules that designate some "gun-free zones" in areas where it would be too dangerous to have weapons. Those zones must be limited in scope, however, and can't have the effect of making it practically impossible to carry a gun anywhere on campus.” Fenves wrote separate letters to UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven and the university community, saying he opposes the idea of guns on campus, but he had no choice. Read more. [The Texas Tribune]
- This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of “Bottle Rocket,” the first feature by Houston’s Wes Anderson and Dallas’ Luke and Owen Wilson. The 1996 film, shot in Dallas, reveals familiar landmarks throughout — the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed John Gillin Residence in North Dallas, the Hinckley Cold Storage facility (now the Texas Ice House) in Deep Ellum, or “the now-long-gone Bookstop at NorthPark.” In a feature in this month’s D Magazine, Matt Zoller Seitz writes:
“Few films or TV shows have made Dallas look so fascinating. Few, for that matter, have shown Dallas as Dallas, much less used it as a springboard for stories of real imagination.
The Dallas of Bottle Rocket is very clearly and rather proudly Dallas—much more so than the Houston of Rushmore, which at times seems as though it could just as easily be a suburb of Chicago—yet at the same time it’s also an idea of Dallas, an imaginative space where things can happen to the characters as the filmmakers express a certain view of life.”
Anderson and the Wilson brothers released “Bottle Rocket” as a black-and-white short, which premiered at the USA Film Festival in 1994. Watch it below:
- With great power, comes great responsibility for the people who operate Austin’s traffic lights. There’s an art and a science to operating the approximately 1,000 signals in the city. And 85 percent of the lights are synchronized, meaning when one intersection turns green, the one up ahead does, too. KUT talked with the team essentially pressing the buttons about the process and how they plan to improve it. “Every day, [Jonathan] Lammert drives roads where the traffic lights are synchronized, and, if he feels it necessary, he’ll tweak the timing of the lights so that drivers hit that sea of green as often as possible. He has that power.” Read more. [KUT]