Statesman Investigates: Domestic Abuse

New laws, same old cycle
Ralph Barrera

New laws, same old cycle

With eight convictions for family violence offenses, Cruz Ramirez Jr. was charged with a felony after he surprised his girlfriend at work one day in October 2013. She told officers he grabbed her by the hair and shoved her into a stairwell, then punched her twice in the chest and shoved her to the ground, police records show.

But a year after his October 2013 arrest, the couple had reconciled, the felony charge was dropped, and Ramirez pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced in January 2015 to one year in jail.

The Ramirez case offers a snapshot of what has become routine in Travis County criminal courts, an American-Statesman investigation shows.

Central Texas

Amy Mills takes Emancipet's animal mission national
Ralph Barrera

Amy Mills takes Emancipet's animal mission national

Many years ago, when Amy Mills was volunteering at an animal shelter, she visited a dog that was in pretty bad shape.

“It was the first time I’d seen something like that,” says Mills, now CEO of Emancipet, the fast-growing Austin-based animal welfare charity. “Her name was Rose, and she looked terrible. She smelled terrible. When I went to take her for a walk, she was curled up tight and sleeping on a blanket in her kennel.”

» Watch: Health care for Austin pets in need


AT&T spends $550 million to boost Austin network

Updated 11:18 a.m. — 

 Telecommunications giant AT&T said Thursday that it has invested more than $550 million in its Austin network over the past three years. 

The projects have helped improved service for customers using both wired and wireless services, the Dallas-based company said. 

AT&T said upgrades included construction of additional cell towers, increased coverage and capacity for mobile broadband and WiFi services via new distributed antenna systems, and enhancements designed to boost service near the University of Texas campus and at local sports venues.


Central Texas Weather

Thursday forecast: Sunny, with temperatures rising over the weekend

Thursday forecast: Sunny, with temperatures rising over the weekend

Thursday in Austin will be sunny and warm, with a high of about 95 degrees. The National Weather Service expects the heat index value, which considers humidity, to be as high as 101.

The thermometer will drop to about 75 at night, with clear skies.

Starting on Monday, which is the Fourth of July, Austin will see several days of warm temperatures: the high on the holiday will be 98 degrees, and it’ll be around 99 later in the week.

Child Protective Services

Child protective services

Plan for CPS calls for executive pay raises despite rank-and-file woes

At a time when Child Protective Services is regularly criticized for its low pay for caseworkers, officials are discussing boosting pay for some top managers to push their salaries to at least $100,000 a year.

In the case of the Travis County region’s director, that could mean a 29 percent pay raise that would increase her salary to $110,000 per year.

Health Care Industry

Superbugs and subsidies draw Big Pharma back to antibiotics

Big Pharma is creeping back into development of new antibiotics after decades of largely ignoring the business due to the scant rewards offered by such medications.

With the planet on the brink of losing its miracle cures for bacterial diseases, research incentives from governments are spurring drugmakers to renew efforts to fight antimicrobial resistance and replenish the arsenal of infection-fighting drugs.


homestead exemption

Austin City Council narrowly approves larger homestead exemption

The Austin City Council narrowly gave final approval to increasing the city’s homestead exemption Wednesday, which will save the typical homeowner about $23 a year while the city takes in $3.8 million less revenue.

The measure will knock 8 percent off the value of a home for city tax purposes, up from the 6 percent exemption offered this past year.

texas gun laws

Austin rally calls for tighter gun laws, criticizes GOP inaction
Jay Janner

Austin rally calls for tighter gun laws, criticizes GOP inaction

Dozens of protesters, including U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, rallied Wednesday evening behind the Governor’s Mansion on Lavaca Street to call for stricter gun laws.

The rally comes on the heels of a 25-hour sit-in held by House Democrats at the House chamber in Washington, D.C., last week, calling for a tightening of the nation’s gun laws.

Austin police department

david joseph shooting

David Joseph shooting: Mother sues Austin, former police officer

The mother of David Joseph, the unarmed, naked 17-year-old who was shot and killed by Austin police in February, will file a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Austin and the officer who killed Joseph.

Joseph’s family has been in close talks with attorney Jeff Edwards and his law firm since Austin police officer Geoffrey Freeman shot and killed Joseph while responding to a disturbance in northeast Austin.


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