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Texas Digest: Supreme Court lets stand veterans tuition aid program


TEXAS VETERANS

Supreme Court lets stand veterans aid program

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand an appeals court ruling that upholds a much-watched Texas program that promises free college educations to military veterans if they lived in the state when they enlisted.

The Hazlewood Act dates to the 1920s. State lawmakers expanded the program in 2009 to include the veterans’ children. Veterans also qualified if they entered military service at a Texas installation.

A veteran who enlisted in Georgia but moved to Texas after his discharge challenged the law’s Texas enlistment requirements. He won a trial court ruling state officials worried would send the program’s costs skyrocketing.

Texas appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, which ruled that Texas residency rules were constitutional and the state has the right to regulate its own education system.

CYPRESS

Man says deputies mistook cat litter for meth

A Houston-area man says sheriff’s deputies conducted faulty field tests on cat litter they found in his vehicle, which they believed was methamphetamine.

Ross Lebeau was charged with possession of a controlled substance following the Dec. 5 traffic stop, but court documents show the case was dismissed last week because the material was not an illicit substance.

Lebeau told the Houston Chronicle for a story this week that his father had placed the cat litter in the sock as a way to absorb moisture and keep the car’s windows from fogging.

The Harris County sheriff’s office says deputies smelled marijuana coming from the car and conducted a search. Officials say marijuana was found in the console and Lebeau never identified what was in the sock.

EL PASO

Man gets 40 years in officer’s death

A driver must serve 40 years in prison for the 2016 death of a West Texas police officer who was struck while on his stopped motorcycle.

John Paul Perry was charged with capital murder but on Tuesday pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in a plea deal in El Paso. Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty against the 45-year-old Perry, who was sentenced by a judge.

Investigators say Perry last March 10 drove a car that hit El Paso police officer David Ortiz on his motorcycle at an intersection. Both vehicles burst into flames. Ortiz died four days later.

Authorities arrested Perry about 400 miles away, in Merkel.

Perry’s lawyer says the crash was accidental and his client had a prescription drug and heroin in his system.

FORT WORTH

Suspect in wife’s, son’s deaths extradited

A man suspected of slashing the throats of his wife and 3-month-old son has been extradited from Colorado to North Texas and is being held on a capital murder charge.

Craig Vandewege, 35, was booked Tuesday into the Tarrant County jail in Fort Worth.

He was arrested in Colorado after he told police during a traffic stop that he was having a “long week” because his wife and child had been murdered and he was being blamed.

He told officers that his family had moved from the Denver area in 2016 and that he had returned to bury them.

Police have said Vandewege called 911 on Dec. 15 and said he returned from work to his Fort Worth home and found his wife, Shanna Riddle Vandewege, and their son, Diederik, dead.



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