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Lawyers raised doubts about Austin DNA lab work as early as 2009

Long before the Austin Police Department’s DNA crime lab was shuttered, prosecutors and defense lawyers were second-guessing its work. In 2009, prosecutors raised red flags about DNA results in a rape case, later dismissed the charges against the suspect and eventually hired two private labs to double check the department’s results before refiling them. In 2015, a rape suspect&rsquo...
Your guide to the 85th legislative session

Your guide to the 85th legislative session

Read about the top 10 issues to watch, the key players and Central Texas legislators
At end of Restore Rundberg grant period: crime down, future uncertain

At end of Restore Rundberg grant period: crime down, future uncertain

A few years ago, Barbara Williams said, she carried a pistol and a knife with her everywhere she went. She called police after hearing the cries of a little girl assaulted outside her window. She watched her neighbors openly dealing drugs out of the front doors of their North Austin apartments. She said she put a sign on her own door: “This is not the drug house.” Now things have changed...
Your guide to Austin-area festivals in 2017

Your guide to Austin-area festivals in 2017

From puns to Polish movies, Austin’s got it all when it comes to festivals. Whether you’re looking for something free, outdoor, indoor, musical, athletic or something else entirely, we’ve got you covered with our list of 2017 events. Are we missing one? Email cgonzales@statesman.com and we’ll add it to our list. JANUARY » See a map of this month’s event locations...
Texas schools and districts get their letter grades from state

Texas schools and districts get their letter grades from state

School districts across the state got lackluster grades under the state’s newest accountability system that debuts Friday. Various Central Texas districts received unacceptable marks of D’s and F’s in certain categories, including Austin, Leander, Hays, Georgetown, Bastrop, Manor, Elgin, San Marcos, Hutto and Dripping Springs, according to a report sent to the Legislature last week...
Restaurants scheduled to open in Austin in 2017

Restaurants scheduled to open in Austin in 2017

The first of the year is a good time to look ahead at what’s to come. A chance to rev up our appetites, to imagine the possibilities. Unopened restaurants are full of potential. No plate has been poorly executed and no server has spilled a drink in your lap. While there will be many under-the-radar restaurants that open in 2017 and thrill us with their unique charms, I’ve highlighted here...
Firm studying I-35 toll lanes faces lawsuit over faulty projections

Firm studying I-35 toll lanes faces lawsuit over faulty projections

The company hired by the Texas Department of Transportation to study the viability of toll lanes on Interstate 35 is battling allegations that it used inflated traffic projections for toll road assets in other states, court documents show. TxDOT awarded the $6.8 million contract to Macquarie Capital in 2014, two years after a lawsuit alleged the firm paid kickbacks — in the form of undisclosed...
Stories With Impact: American-Statesman investigations in 2016

Stories With Impact: American-Statesman investigations in 2016

Game designer Richard Garriott’s big life of adventure detailed in new book, ‘Explore/Create’

Game designer Richard Garriott’s big life of adventure detailed in new book, ‘Explore/Create’

If you are going to title a book about your life “Explore/Create,” a kind of memoir that ties together the threads of how life experience fuels creative output, you’d better have: A. Interesting life experiences, and   B. A body of creative work worth mentioning. Richard Garriott, who for many years has loomed large in the Austin video-game design scene, has had an incredible...
That championship season: Westlake’s remarkable 1996 run

That championship season: Westlake’s remarkable 1996 run

Finding home: Community First Village helping homeless reconnect

Finding home: Community First Village helping homeless reconnect

Betrayed and abused: How Texas failed to protect boys from Dr. Charles Fischer

Betrayed and abused: How Texas failed to protect boys from Dr. Charles Fischer

The thin young man sat on the witness stand, fending off sharp questions by the defense lawyer and trying to explain how he was sexually abused when he was 16. Who took off your clothes? attorney Chris Gunter asked. I did, the witness said. But you told another investigator he took your clothes off. No, I did. The sparring continued and after a few minutes, the witness lost it. “It doesn&rsquo...
Long after Vietnam, a veteran finds that dog tags aren’t his after all

Long after Vietnam, a veteran finds that dog tags aren’t his after all

Nearly 50 years after he was seriously wounded during the Vietnam War, Marine veteran Tommy Swearingen made a startling discovery: The dog tags that he had assumed were his belonged to another soldier. “I went through my stuff because the wife was making this shadowbox,” said Swearingen, 69, who lives near Warda, a small town about 65 miles east of Austin between Giddings and La Grange...
Life on the John Muir Trail

Life on the John Muir Trail

Silent majority: Hispanics deeply underrepresented in local politics

Silent majority: Hispanics deeply underrepresented in local politics

Isabel García has learned to fear “la playa” — the beach. Most years, the sunken field in front of her house is a riot of long grasses and cattails swaying in the Texas Panhandle wind. But heavy rains can turn that area into a lake that floods the former migrant labor camp of San Jose, home to hundreds of low-income Hispanic residents just outside the city limits of the county...

Special report: Casualties on the homefront

Special report: Casualties on the homefront

Statesman Investigates: Racial profiling claims in Texas traffic stops

Statesman Investigates: Racial profiling claims in Texas traffic stops

A new kind of madness: The University of Texas tower shooting, 50 years later

On Aug. 1, 1966, engineering student Charles Whitman ascended the University of Texas Tower with a trunk full of guns and showed America how one ruthless person can inflict fear and grief on an entire city.
Flurry of halted executions idles Texas death chamber

Flurry of halted executions idles Texas death chamber

Bucking expectations for a court filled with former prosecutors and law-and-order Republicans, the state’s highest criminal court has halted six executions in 2016, equal to the number of lethal injections administered this year in the nation’s most prolific death penalty state. The unexpected trend began when the Court of Criminal Appeals issued its first stay of execution in late May...

Paul Qui: Fall from the top

In an exclusive interview with the Statesman, Austin 'Top Chef' winner Paul Qui talks about his troubled past, his March arrest and his path forward.
Victim tries to buy gun sniper used

Victim tries to buy gun sniper used

An Austin man who was shot by Charles Whitman 23 years ago and another man who talked to the sniper on the morning of the massacre are trying to buy two guns from the "Whitman Collection" being offered for sale by a Dallas-area gun dealer. Morris Hohmann was an ambulance attendant for Hyltin-Manor Funeral Chapel when he was struck by a 6mm rifle slug fired by Whitman from his perch atop...
Killer of UT Tower sniper leaving law enforcement

Killer of UT Tower sniper leaving law enforcement

The law enforcement officer who climbed to the top of the University of Texas Tower and killed sniper Charles Whitman has reconciled himself to being remembered primarily for his actions on Aug. 1, 1966. Ramiro "Ray" Martinez, 54, said he would prefer to be recalled as a man who did any job that had to be done, then moved on to the next job. "That's just the way I was brought up. I...
Sniper Charles Whitman in movies, books and song

Sniper Charles Whitman in movies, books and song

Thirty years later, Charles Whitman is a notch on a timeline of violence. Pain and loss quietly take the back seat to curiosity and even tastelessness as Whitman bubbles up in pop culture. Here are some examples: The made-for-TV movie, "THE DEADLY--TOWER" (1975), turns up on late-night cable from time to time; it also was released once on video under the name "Sniper." Kurt Russell...
Whitman's father copes by suppressing memories

Whitman's father copes by suppressing memories

He's an old man now with a touch of Alzheimer's. His short-term memory comes and goes. But some memories are never lost: The death of three children -- two violently, one with AIDS. The murder of his wife. And one searing event branded in his soul forever, stamped upon the psyche of countless Americans, and part of the violent saga of our time. Thirty years ago Thursday, his son and namesake, Charles...
Garden now a memorial to victims of UT sniper

Garden now a memorial to victims of UT sniper

This story originally was published on Aug. 2, 1999. A green, peaceful place where, more than three decades ago, horror and death exploded from above, was dedicated Sunday to those who died and those whose lives were forever changed by Charles Whitman's bullets. In a brief, somber ceremony, University of Texas President Larry Faulkner spoke at the leafy, sun-dappled plot of about one-half acre just...
UT reclaims its tower, after 25 years

UT reclaims its tower, after 25 years

University of Texas student Diana Arevalo hauled her bulging camera bag to a ceremony Wednesday night to celebrate the reopening of the UT Tower, and she's lucky she did. Arevalo, a junior majoring in photojournalism, was one of 10 people chosen at random for an inaugural tour of the Tower's observation deck, which reopens to the public today after almost 25 years. The deck sports a new birdcage-like...
UT Tower hero can't forget

UT Tower hero can't forget

The $286 monthly check for former Austin cop Houston McCoy is due any day now. It won't buy much, but to McCoy, the government stipend represents more than purchasing power. It is an acknowledgement that at least some of the problems he's wrestled with for the past 33 years have a rational basis. Since Aug. 1, 1966, when he and fellow officer Ramiro Martinez rode to the top of the University of Texas...
99 minutes, 30 years later

99 minutes, 30 years later

He dreamed of the Tower. People dream about the Tower all the time. Some want to jump off it, and nine people did between 1937 and 1974. Some dream they're falling off it. Some dream it's falling over on top of them. One student, years and years ago, dreamed of it blasting off like a Mercury rocket. Some go to a campus psychiatrist and talk about their anxieties, pop quizzes, success, champions, failure...
UT Tower Tragedy quietly fades into history

UT Tower Tragedy quietly fades into history

Editor's note: This story was written before the death of David Gunby in late 2001. Gunby, whose death was ruled a homicide by a Tarrant County medical examiner, is now considered Whitman's 16th victim. The University of Texas Tower shooting that left 15 people dead is an event that few want to remember as part of the university's history. And so the 35th anniversary of the event passed Wednesday...
A sniper's steely legacy

A sniper's steely legacy

The seven guns that Charles Whitman carried to the top of the University of Texas Tower in 1966 in a bloody rampage that left 14 dead and 31 wounded are being offered for sale by a Dallas-area gun collector. The sale of the three rifles, one shotgun and three pistols has brought back painful memories for some, but at least one of Whitman's shooting victims said he recognizes the historical value of...
Claire James survived Whitman's bullet; the baby she carried didn't

Claire James survived Whitman's bullet; the baby she carried didn't

Claire Wilson James lost her baby in a most public and lurid way. Forty-two years ago, Charles Whitman shot Claire's pregnant womb from his dreadful skybox atop the University of Texas Tower. Now, Claire loses her baby in private, in her sleep, when the world no longer is watching. "I so wanted a baby, and I so missed my baby," she says."For years, even now, I have dreams that somehow...
Heroes of UT Tower tragedy honored

Heroes of UT Tower tragedy honored

Austin's most legendary thin blue line stretched three generations deep Friday along a sidewalk in front of a government office building with a peaceful view of the Hill Country. One by one, the law enforcement officers who helped end Charles Whitman's killing spree from the University of Texas Tower 42 years ago stepped forward for a recognition of their bravery. In some cases, widows, children and...
Ending Whitman's life changed theirs

Ending Whitman's life changed theirs

The resting places of their Medals of Valor reveal the contrasting destinies of Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy better than the men themselves. Martinez's decoration is tucked away inside an upscale home in New Braunfels, where he serves as justice of the peace, clad in a dignified black cloak, respected by the community. McCoy displays his medal to visitors in a gutted building where he lives and...
Oak Hill facility to bear names of heroes of UT Tower rampage

Oak Hill facility to bear names of heroes of UT Tower rampage

The people who risked their lives to stop Charles Whitman's killing marathon from the University of Texas Tower on Aug. 1, 1966, finally are getting permanent recognition for their bravery. But the new memorial is 12 miles from the UT Tower. A Travis County building in Oak Hill will be named the Tower Heroes Building today at the unveiling of a black-and-silver metal historical plaque that lists the...
Houston McCoy, police officer who shot UT Tower sniper Charles Whitman, dies

Houston McCoy, police officer who shot UT Tower sniper Charles Whitman, dies

Houston McCoy, the Austin police officer who stopped University of Texas Tower sniper Charles Whitman more than 46 years ago, died early Thursday afternoon in a rest home in his hometown of Menard. He was 72. McCoy died from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, caused by many years of smoking, said his daughter Monika McCoy. McCoy would have hated the first sentence of this obituary...

No joke: My old pal Artly was a hero, too

I've known for years that my buddy Artly Snuff is a funny guy. But I didn't know he was brave. On the front page of Sunday's newspaper, we ran a photo from a video taken that awful day of Aug. 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman went up in the University of Texas Tower and started shooting people. Thirteen people and an unborn baby were killed that day. I think if it weren't for Artly Snuff and a couple...
Reflections of pain and hope at UT

Reflections of pain and hope at UT

University of Texas officials are creating a million-dollar memorial to the victims of sniper Charles Whitman's shooting spree almost 40 years ago. The tree-covered grassy area north of the Main Building was dedicated as the Tower Garden three years ago. UT President Larry Faulkner said that dedication was the first step in remembering those who died and those whose lives were affected by the shootings...
UT Tower's legacy, 33 years later

UT Tower's legacy, 33 years later

All who were on the University of Texas at Austin campus Aug. 1, 1966, as I was, will forever remember the events of that day. The Tower shootings deeply affected the lives of many people in the community, the state and the nation. At 4 p.m. today, the university will honor all those who died and those whose lives were touched by this tragedy. At the ceremony, we will dedicate a grassy, tree-covered...
Public healing cannot erase private grief

Public healing cannot erase private grief

When her body came to rest after tumbling down two flights of stairs, Mary Lamport thanked God. She was alive, in spite of the multiple bullets that pierced her body. And so was her son Michael. Mother and son talked as they went in and out of consciousness on the stairwell. Nearby, the man who shot them, Charles Whitman, was picking off victims from the observation deck at the University of Texas...
UT Tower shooting claims one more life

UT Tower shooting claims one more life

It took 35 painful years, but a rifle bullet fired by Charles Whitman on Aug. 1, 1966, from the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower finally killed its victim this week. David Gunby, 58, died Monday at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth, and the Tarrant County medical examiner, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, ruled the death a homicide, given the chronic kidney problems he suffered because of the gunshot...