Texas Digest: Killer set to die Wednesday loses appeals


COURTS

Condemned killer loses appeals

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has refused a clemency petition from a 36-year-old San Antonio man set for execution this week for a robbery-slaying more than 14 years ago.

The panel’s 6-0 vote Monday came hours after Juan Castillo lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal.

The high court refused to review arguments that Castillo’s due process rights were violated related to trial testimony from a jail inmate who said Castillo, while locked up awaiting trial, told him about killing 19-year-old Tommy Garcia Jr. The inmate years later recanted his testimony, saying he made up the story.

Castillo is set for execution Wednesday.

The high court Monday also declined an appeal from Eric Williams, condemned for the 2013 killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife.

KATY

Accused official to get $750,000

A school district west of Houston will pay more than $750,000 to its superintendent, who is resigning effective at the end of the year in the wake of allegations that he was a bully as a teenager.

Details of a contract released last week by the Katy school district show Superintendent Lance Hindt will receive two years of pay upon his departure Jan. 1. He announced his resignation Thursday.

At least two people have described Hindt as a bully during his middle and high school years. One of them, a circuit court judge in Alabama, said Hindt was a “vicious bully.”

Hindt has denied the claims but says he did “dumb things” before a religious awakening.

The school board hired a law firm to represent Hindt against claims that it describes as defamatory.

MOTOR VEHICLES

State rejects vanity plates

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles rejected more than 2,000 proposed personalized license plates last year.

GOTWEED, CNN SUX, NOTRUMP AND NOBAMA were among those the agency’s staff found in violation of approval guidelines, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Texas Administrative Code directs workers to look for inappropriate or “indecent” messages that might be misleading, vulgar or derogatory or might reference illegal activities.

Some license plates were rejected last year for misrepresenting law enforcement or government officials.

Allan Saxe, an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington, said personalized license plates can prompt drivers to engage in road rage.

Department spokeswoman Wendy Cook said residents can appeal a vanity plate rejection. She said the process takes about three months.

PUBLIC SAFETY

4 suffer minor injuries on flight

Some passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver suffered minor injuries when the plane appeared to suddenly lose cabin pressure as it neared Dallas.

Flight 861 had 120 people on board Saturday night when oxygen masks deployed and the pilots declared an emergency as the plane approached Dallas Love Field.

Southwest said in a statement Monday that the flight crew reduced altitude but that the cabin did not depressurize.

Medics met the flight at the gate and treated four people for ear pain.

There have been a number of incidents involving Southwest flights in recent weeks. On April 17, an engine exploded on a flight from New York, shattering a window and leading to the death of a passenger.



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