Crime & Justice

Courts, trials and crime coverage for Austin and the Central Texas region.

Elizabeth Trovall / Houston Public Media

More low-level misdemeanor offenders will be sent to Harris County’s Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center instead of jail, local officials announced Wednesday.

Eddie Gaspar for KUT

An immigrant teenager from Guatemala died in Texas on Tuesday while in federal custody, according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Julia Reihs / KUT

President Donald Trump is proposing charging asylum seekers a fee to process their applications as he continues to try to crack down on the surge of Central American migrants seeking to cross into the U.S.

Austin Price for KUT

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will no longer share the last written words of death row inmates after criticism from a Houston lawmaker.

Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, left, shot and killed Botham Shem Jean in his apartment.
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office via REUTERS: Guyger/Facebook: Botham Shem Jean

The former Dallas police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in his own home told a 911 dispatcher "I thought it was my apartment" nearly 20 times as she waited for emergency responders to arrive, according to a recording of the call obtained by a Dallas TV station.

Ernesto Guajardo / KACU

A lynching that took place 97 years ago in Abilene, Texas, was publicly recognized for the first time Saturday, in part because of one college student's curiosity.

Prosecutors Plan To Dismiss 27 Cases Tied To Houston Officers In Botched Drug Raid

Apr 26, 2019
The location of a botched drug raid in Houston
Florian Martin / Houston Public Media

Prosecutors on Friday said they plan to dismiss 27 pending court cases linked to two former Houston police officers who are being investigated following a deadly drug raid in January.

KAUFMAN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE VIA REUTERS: GUYGER/FACEBOOK: BOTHAM SHEM JEAN

Prosecutors have dismissed at least nine cases that were investigated by the former white Dallas police officer charged with murder in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in his own apartment, according to court records.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

BOSTON — The former men's tennis coach at the University of Texas at Austin pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting a $100,000 bribe in the widespread college admissions bribery scheme and will cooperate with authorities.

Illustration by Brandon Formby / The Texas Tribune

It’s been more than two decades since an infamous hate crime in East Texas, where three white men were convicted of chaining a black man to the back of a pickup truck, dragging him for miles and then dumping the remains of his body in front of a church.

Twenty years ago, a pair of students killed a teacher and a dozen of their classmates at a high school in Littleton, Colo. The shooters at Columbine High School used semi-automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns in the attack before turning the guns on themselves.

Just a few months before that shooting, the FBI launched the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to try to prevent dangerous individuals from purchasing guns.

Attorney General William Barr has released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election to Congress and the public.

The special counsel spent nearly two years investigating attacks on the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians behind it.

Updated at 7:24 p.m. ET

When President Trump learned two years ago that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, he was distraught.

Trump "slumped back in his chair and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f***ed,' " according to the report by special counsel Robert Mueller that was released Thursday in redacted form.

Reynaldo Leaf for The Texas Tribune

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s policy of returning some asylum seekers to Mexico as they wait for their hearings in an American immigration court.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

In two weeks, two Texas executions have been stopped by the courts.

On Monday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the Thursday execution of Mark Robertson, who was convicted nearly 30 years ago in the Dallas shooting deaths and robbery of an elderly woman and her grandson.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A new study shows a high rate of incarceration for fine-only offenses in Texas, particularly in Travis County.

The study from social justice advocacy nonprofit Texas Appleseed found more than 30,000 jail bookings for class C misdemeanors across 11 Texas counties in 2017. Those are offenses that are typically punishable by a citation of up to $500 – without required jail time. 

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

The state of Texas has banned all prison chaplains from its execution chamber, days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state was violating an inmate's rights by not allowing a Buddhist chaplain into the death chamber with him.

Prosecutors Drop All Charges In Deadly Waco Biker Shootout

Apr 3, 2019
Pat Jones Photography/CC-BY-SA-4.0

No one will be convicted or otherwise held accountable for the 2015 shootout between rival biker gangs in a Waco restaurant parking lot that left nine people dead and at least 20 injured, prosecutors in Central Texas said Tuesday.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

Seven out of 10 driver's license suspensions in Texas are due to drivers' inability to pay fees and surcharges from courts and the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to a new study from nonprofits Texas Appleseed and Texas Fair Defense Project.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The effort to create a public defenders office in Travis County isn't dead after all.

At its board meeting this morning, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission OK'd a move to waive a requirement for a letter expressing interest in a $15-million grant to establish a public defender office in Travis County for adult felony and misdemeanor cases – something the county has tried and failed to do for decades.

Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

Updated 6:10 p.m., March 5 

Lawyers for a woman who says she was sexually assaulted in Austin are asking a court to force Travis County prosecutors to answer questions and provide evidence after learning of a prosecutor’s phone call that they say defames the woman.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo says his department will stop serving "no knock" search warrants, weeks after a raid on a house left two married suspects dead and five officers injured. Acevedo also reiterated that the officer who led that raid may face criminal charges.

"The no-knock warrant's going to go away, kind of like leaded gasoline in our city," Acevedo said. He added that raids that stem from those warrants would only be used in very limited cases — and that they would not be used to nab people suspected of dealing small amounts of drugs.

U.S. Supreme Court Again Reverses Death Sentence Decision For Texas Inmate

Feb 19, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court has for the second time struck down the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' way of determining if a death row inmate is intellectually disabled and eligible for execution.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery for KUT

Anyone who has outstanding warrants with Austin's municipal courts or downtown community court can get their fees waived and settle up with the city without risk of being arrested this month.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and former state Sen. Wendy Davis announced the creation of a Sexual Assault Prevention and Healing Work Group today in response to concerns about how sexual assaults are handled in Travis County.

The group will focus on collecting data about sexual assaults to better advocate for survivors.

Travis Bubenik / Houston Public Media

The trial of the Santa Fe School shooting suspect may be delayed for a year as federal investigators have yet to deliver key evidence, prosecutors said Monday.

Gabriel C. Pérez

City Council Member Alison Alter posted a resolution today that would direct the city manager to find a third-party investigator to look at how sexual assault cases are handled in Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

About 20 young people sit across from one another in two teams in a community room at CitySquare Opportunity Center in South Dallas. Deontra Wade walks around the room with notecards in hand and asks everyone about themselves, using his best Steve Harvey voice.

The federal courthouse in downtown Austin on July 1, 2015.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Keeping track of federal court cases can be confusing even for reporters whose job it is to follow this stuff, let alone the general public.

Nathan Bernier / KUT

A commander with the Austin Police Department was indefinitely suspended Thursday – essentially fired – after an investigation into allegations that he assaulted a woman he met on Tinder.

The woman contacted police in August to report that Jason Dusterhoft had become increasingly violent during sex.

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