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Leading Off (3/18/15)

Crazy Kidnapping Drama Ends in Haslet. Nathanial Tillery allegedly assaulted Kevin Garcia, a 55-year-old convenience store clerk in College Station, then stole Garcia’s truck — after loading Garcia’s unconscious body into the bed. The saga ended just before 1:30 p.m. yesterday when Police and Texas Rangers arrested Tillery in Tarrant County.

Lying Officer Could Be a Problem for Prosecutors. This is a bizarre story. A self-proclaimed “resident expert” on DWIs, Sgt. Stephen “Tiny” Baker of the Dallas Police Department, insists he pulled over a car in 2012 because he saw the car run a red light. This, despite video evidence that it was, in fact, Baker, who ran the red light. Experts say this could put at risk other cases in which Baker testified. He’s on administrative leave pending investigation.

Oswald Cutout Bothers People at JFK Memorial. Yep. It’s a cutout.

The Cowboys Could Sign Greg Hardy. Here is a story about how the Cowboys might soon finalize a deal with defensive end Greg Hardy, who had 26 sacks in his last two full seasons in Carolina. Here is an excerpt from a protective order filed by Hardy’s ex-girlfriend:

“On May 13, 2014, Greg Hardy attacked me in his apartment. Hardy picked me up and threw me into the tile tub area in his bathroom. I have bruises from head to toe, including my head, neck, back, shoulders arms, legs, elbow and feet. Hardy pulled me from the tub by my hair, screaming at me that he was going to kill me, break my arms and other threats that I completely believe. He drug me across the bathroom and out into the bedroom. Hardy choked me with both hands around my throat while I was lying on the floor. Hardy picked me up over his head and threw me onto a couch covered in assault rifles and/or shotguns. I landed on those weapons. Hardy bragged that all of those assault rifles were loaded.”

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Leading Off (3/11/15)

Parker Rice Apologizes. We told you about Rice yesterday. The family of Levi Pettit, the other expelled OU student seen on the recent racist chant video (and a former golf standout at Highland Park), also issued an apology. “It was wrong and reckless,” Rice said in a statement issued through his father.

Why Haven’t Police Released Dash-cam Video of Grapevine Shooting? The District Attorney has reportedly asked that the video, taken moments before an officer killed an unarmed Mexican citizen, not be made public. I don’t understand the logic here. No matter what’s on that video, the public should see it, no?

Eddie Ray Routh Transferred to Correctional Psychiatric Facility. It appears the recently convicted killer of American Sniper Chris Kyle was transferred to the Jester IV unit, outside of Houston. Dr. Phil also spoke with Routh’s parents not long ago.

Kurt Eichenwald Thinks Hillary Clinton’s Email Woes Are a “Fake Scandal.” The Dallas writer begins his Newsweek column thusly: “When it comes to the teapot tempest that is the Hillary Clinton email imbroglio, the real controversy isn’t about politics or regulations. It’s about journalism and the weak standards employed to manufacture the scandal du jour.”

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Parker Rice, the OU Frat Kid in That Racist Video, Is From Dallas

The Dallas Morning News has an interesting story about the troubled history Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity at the center of the recent firestorm over that viral racist chant video, has in the state of Texas.

But the Daily Mail has a story about the kid in the video. Apparently his name is Parker Rice, and he graduated from Jesuit in Dallas. From the Mail story:

One former high school classmate who identified Parker Rice as one of the leaders of the chant told Daily Mail Online: “In my honest opinion, he was following his frat brothers. I don’t believe he is a racist, just wanted to fit in. It’s fraternity culture. You do what the elders do so you fit in. He truly is a nice guy, but I do question things now.”

The student, who did not want his name used also said: “We have a strong sense of brotherhood at Jesuit and that’s why many won’t say anything about Jesuit but there were other Jesuit grads on that bus chanting.”

“At school he was a football player, he was the funny guy that seemed to never take anything serious. I saw him as a follower who was afraid to step out of his friend group because of fear of not being accepted. He was privileged but most of the kids at Jesuit were.”

Rice is likely one of the two students recently expelled over the video.

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Leading Off (3/4/15)

Eddie Ray Routh Asking for a New Trial. Attorneys for the man convicted of killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield have also filed a motion to overturn the recent verdict. This is surprising to nobody who has been paying attention.

Protesters Swarm Grapevine City Hall. This is in response to a Grapevine officer killing a 31-year-old unarmed Mexican citizen last month. This Star-Telegram story says that Domingo Garcia, who is representing the family of the dead man, “asked that a videotape of the shooting be released and that the officer be terminated.”

Teacher Recorded Saying Not Great Things in Class. A DISD student secretly recorded her middle school teacher cussing a lot, and at one point, talking about the size of his junk. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this story though, is where the principal’s first response was apparently to ask the parent to destroy the evidence. Not a good look.

Winter Is Coming, Again. It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. But regardless of when the weather rolls in, the highways might be backed up anyway.

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Leading Off (2/25/15)

Eddie Ray Routh Convicted of Murdering Chris Kyle. The jury in Stephenville found him guilty as charged last night. Kyle’s wife, Taya, left the court during closing arguments and wasn’t present for the verdict. Routh will spend the rest of his life in prison. Expect video and audio from the trial to be released soon.

Wintry Mix Sux. More than one area child woke up this morning and said, “Where the heck is my 2 to 4 inches of snow? Huh, Pete Delkus?! It’s falling now, but it ain’t stickin.

Mysterious Booms Remain Mysterious. Yesterday what sounded like a series of bomb explosions were heard from Grand Prairie to Southlake. No one is certain what caused the noises, but the leading contender is demolition activity at a National Semiconductor plant in Arlington.

Southwest Airlines Grounds 128 Uninspected Planes. About 90 flights were canceled yesterday. The FAA says it’s working with both Southwest and Boeing “to evaluate a proposal that would allow the airline to continue flying the planes until the inspections are completed over the next few days.”

Fort Worth Didn’t Disinfect Drinking Water Last Week. The city has been cited by The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which is a thing. About a quarter of the water processed during a 24-hour period didn’t meet required standards.

Rajon Rondo Benched. The Mavs beat the Raptors last night, but the did it without the services of Rondo for the last 20 minutes of play. Rick Carlisle benched him after a “profanity-laced shouting match” about play-calling duties. At one point, an assistant coach had to step between the two men to keep them from yelling in each other’s faces. Instant analysis: this isn’t good.

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Grapevine Charity GRACE Needs Help After Fire

One day when I was 7 and in elementary school, the apartment building where I lived burned down. The fire was started when the kid who lived upstairs was playing with matches, and it spread fast. We lost just about everything: clothes, furniture, even the dishes in the cabinets. All of my toys and video games were gone, and the few stuffed animals my mom tried to save were singed and smelled like smoke for years. I can still remember seeing my little piggy bank, melted into a strange new shape, with the small amount of money I’d collected sealed inside forever.

There were a lot of groups that helped us, including several churches and some of the teachers at school. But no organization helped more than Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange, better known as GRACE. They helped with food and clothing and furniture and dishes and, the thing that fixed most permanently in my 7-year-old brain: toys. Nothing grand, but when you have nothing, anything is great. And they gave me a new (to me) piggy bank.

I mention all of this because now GRACE needs help. Last week two men started a fire that destroyed the donation center, took out months worth of donations, and caused more than $75,000 in damages. Grapevine Craft Brewery (maker of the controversially delicious Sir William’s English Brown Ale) has already stepped in to help raise funds. (With beer!) But they need more help. There’s an event this Saturday at the GRACE facility in Grapevine, where you can drink beer, eat barbecue, and listen to music, all while helping an organization that has helped a lot of people. You can also donate through this GoFundMe page.

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Some Things We’ve Learned in the Trial of Chris Kyle’s Killer, Eddie Ray Routh

We had a debate here about whether I should be down in Stephenville, covering the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, the man who killed Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield. Part of me wishes I was there, because I’m obviously very interested in the story. (The part of me that sees the massive media presence, though, is happy I’ve got other things that need finishing.) But I’ve been following the coverage. And through the first few days of testimony we’ve learned some interesting new information. Here’s a quick rundown:

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Leading Off (1/30/15)

Fort Worth Officer Involved in Shooting. The officer is in stable condition after surgery on his abdomen. The suspect, a 40-year-old man with a reported history of mental illness, is dead.

Arlington Swingers Club Shutdown for Zoning Violations. Neighbors say it’s a sexual-oriented business. The city stresses that nobody found any criminal activity, though some of the parties had upwards of 200 guests. The “host” says he isn’t running a business because he only asks for donations ($80 for couples, $20 for single ladies), and he vows to keep “Eutopia” open.

Dallas Woman Convicted of Kidnapping Son. Erica Lonzetta Dominque abducted her son during a fight with the boy’s father, then drove the boy to an embankment and reportedly told him: “This is it for us. … You’re going to have to get killed.” (Side note: Sarah Mervosh is one of the best reporters at the DMN and her coverage of this story is proof. I dare you to read her description of the 6-year-old boy testifying against his mother and not get emotional.)

“Everest” Opera Opens Tonight. It tells the story of the men trapped on the mountain in the famous 1996 climbing disaster, including Beck Weathers, the Dallas man who at one point was left for dead in the blizzard.

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Tea Party-Supported Giovanni Capriglione Called ‘Turncoat’ By Local Tea Party

Giovanni Capriglione is a State Representative from Southlake. In 2012 he was elected with heavy Tea Party support. Now he’s being called a “turncoat” by the president of the Arlington Tea Party. In this video, you’ll hear just how mad Capriglione has made Joshua Finkenbinder. (The definition of “turncoat” is printed across the bottom of the screen.)

This is because Capriglione said he’d vote for Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, to become Speaker of the House, and not Scott Turner, a Tea Party favorite from Rockwall. Straus has been called “The Harry Reid of Texas.”

Capriglione has said in the past that he’s worked with Turner, “broken bread” with him, and thinks of him as a brother, but that Turner “doesn’t have the depth on policy.”

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Earthquake in Dallas

UPDATE 3:28 p.m. The USGS says it was a 3.5, centered in Irving. I’m sure Tim, Brad, and Zac will all be along soon with some of their delightful brand of color commentary. It will be both much more informative and much more entertaining than this post.

Original: I felt it in North Oak Cliff. It felt like the building I was in was shivering. I’ve seen reports on Twitter saying people felt it in the Design District, in Downtown, and in Deep Ellum, too. As Brad just said, when I asked him if he felt anything at the office, “Every media member in Dallas just said the same thing.”

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Leading Off (1/5/15)

Cowboys Win First Playoff Game Since 2009. Glorious day! Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys came from behind to beat the Detroit Lions yesterday, 24-20, notching the team’s first playoff win in five years. There was drama, and controversy, and in the end, a lot of screen shots of New Jersey governor Chris Christie awkwardly hugging Jerry and Stephen Jones.

Haters Complain About Picked-Up Penalty Flag. Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens was flagged for pass interference while Dallas was down 20-17, but a few seconds later the flag was picked up and waved off, driving non-Dallas fans crazy. Even Cowboys players called it “a break.”

Redemption Thy Name Is Lawrence. Rookie Demarcus Lawrence could have essentially ended the game by falling on a fumble late in the fourth quarter. But he tried to return it, eventually fumbling the ball himself and giving Detroit another chance. A few plays later though, Lawrence redeemed himself with the forced fumble and recovery that sealed the victory.

Other Stuff Happened. A few other things happened, too. Some of them seem pretty important.

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Key to Cowboys Victory: Ignoring Andrew Luck’s Compliments

With that wonderful win Sunday night, the Cowboys have put themselves in position to win the division, and possibly even earn a bye in the first week of the playoffs — or to completely rip the hearts out of fans who could resist hope until only recently.

This week’s game against the Colts will be the biggest challenge. And the Cowboys have a lot to deal with. In addition to DeMarco “Spray Tan” Murray’s surgically repaired hand, and Orlando Scandrick’s seems-like-a-real-life-Chappelle Show-sketch desire to run up the score on hospitalized children who dare play him in Madden, this week the team has to face the unrelenting kindness of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

The Wall Street Journal has a great story about just how jarring Luck’s niceties can be. Apparently, any time he’s knocked down he retaliates with love. From the WSJ:

Luck has become famous for congratulating—sincerely and enthusiastically—any player to hit him hard. Any sack is met with a hearty congratulations, such as ”great job” or “what a hit!” He yells it after hard hits that don’t result in sacks, too. It is, players say, just about the weirdest thing any quarterback does in the NFL.

When New England pass rusher Rob Ninkovich pulverized Luck last month in a Patriots’ 42-20 win, he got the customary congratulations. As Ninkovich tells it, he found himself paralyzed with confusion by the well-wishes, so he blurted out “Thanks for…uh…accepting that hit?” before running back to the huddle.

Also, Dallas is 3-4 at home this year. So there’s that.

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No, The Guy in That Fight Video Is Probably Not Mike Brown

A video has been circulating recently that purports to show Mike Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, beating an older man over a backpack. I’ve seen this video passed around on Facebook in the last few days, mostly by people working backward from the notion that Brown was a menace to society who deserved to die. Some of the individuals sharing the video without skepticism are local journalists — because the industry just hasn’t had a hard enough time of late.

The footage is brutal and disturbing, and you probably shouldn’t watch it. Especially since the person in that video almost certainly is not Mike Brown. The rumor-debunking site Snopes looked into the matter and has determined that the video has been mislabeled. (It was also taken off of Facebook at one point, not because of the content or label or any policy of the social network, but because the person who first shared it removed the post and that’s how that works.)

Turns out, this footage was shot two years ago, when Brown would have been 15 or 16. Also, it was shot in Dallas, in the Woodland City Apartments (the original video is titled “Only in Woodland City”), and there is no indication Brown ever spent time in North Texas.

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DeMarco Murray Accused of Having Affair With Former Teammate’s Wife

Well, this is about as salacious as it gets. And the ultimate source for all things salacious: TMZ.

Yesterday Brennan Clay took to Twitter to announce that his soon-to-be-ex wife was having an affair with Cowboys star running back (and MVP candidate) DeMarco Murray, a former teammate of Clay’s at the University of Oklahoma. Clay told TMZ he found an old cell phone of his wife’s that had more than 50 “inappropriate” messages to and from Murray, along with explicit photos.

Clay’s wife, Gina D’Agostini, is a fitness instructor in Dallas. She deleted her Twitter and Facebook accounts not long after the allegations went public.

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