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Top Morning Stories 11/17/11: Texas Executes Child Murderer, Arraignment in Killeen Bomb Plot

Photo by KUT News.

Texas Executes Man who Murdered Child

The State of Texas executed a man last night for killing a child in June 1999. Guadalupe Esparza was put to death for raping and strangling seven year-old Alyssa Maria Vasquez after kidnapping her in San Antonio. Esparza was the 13th Texas inmate put to death this year. No more executions are scheduled until January.

Arraignment Today in Killeen Bomb PlotA soldier accused of planning to bomb a restaurant filled with Fort Hood soldiers is due back in federal court in Waco today. Private First Class Naser Abdo is scheduled to be arraigned on six new charges including trying to use a weapon of mass destruction. Abdo hasn’t entered a plea since he was first indicted on three other charges in August. He could face up to life in prison if he’s convicted.

Austin State Hospital Doctor Accused of Child Sex Abuse

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has accused a longtime staff child psychiatrist for the Austin State Hospital of sexually abusing at least one child. That's according to a report by theAustin American-Statesman:

The state agency alerted hospital officials three weeks ago that it had confirmed that Dr. Charles Fischer had been involved in two separate instances of sexual abuse, said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the agency. The agency terms an incident "confirmed" if its investigation shows the allegation is supported by a preponderance of the evidence.Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Department of State Health Services, which runs the Austin hospital, said Fischer, 59, has been placed on leave and is in the process of being fired.

As KUT News has reported, talking to children about inappropriate behavior is a tricky conversation. Amanda Van Hoozer of the Center for Child Protection told KUT that parents may want to begin the conversation. "Not so much telling them all about sexual abuse, but talk to them about touching and that it’s OK to talk to you about any problems as a parent, " she said. "So that when, if, something happens, they feel comfortable talking to you about hard subjects because you’ve already started those conversations."

Van Hoozer cautions parents that if they are ever confronted with the situation of sexual abuse, "you don’t want to react in a dramatic fashion. Because if you cry or if you appear to be horribly pained and ‘oh my goodness, I can’t hear this,’ then your child is not going to talk about it."

You can listen to KUT's story here.

I-35 Corridor Open House

The City of Austin wants your input on how to improve one of Austin's busiest, most congested corridors. The city is holding an open house today to get ideas for mobility projects along I-35 from U.S. 290 East down to William Cannon. The city is working with TxDot and other transportation agencies to lay out short term and long term projects for the I-35 corridor. Here are the details for the open house:

3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Austin Energy’s Town Lake Center 721 Barton Springs Road Room 130, First Floor Meeting Room (Free parking at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road)