Williamson County

Williamson County Sheriff's Office
Michael Minasi / KUT

A former Williamson County sheriff’s deputy was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on assault and official oppression charges.

The Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown
Michael Minasi / KUT

Early voting began Tuesday in Texas and already 21% of Williamson County’s registered voters have cast a ballot.

Williamson County has 19 early voting locations and will have 57 locations on Election Day.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Early voting kicks off in Texas on Tuesday. In Williamson County, a record number of eligible residents — more than 372,000 — registered to vote. The county expects to see 66% of them vote early this year.

A sign notifies people where they can vote.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

If you live in Williamson County, here are the races that could appear on your ballot in the 2020 General Election. Residents of other counties can find their voter guides here.

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody outside the sheriff's office in Georgetown.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Read this story in English.

El sheriff del condado de Williamson, Robert Chody, fue arrestado este lunes por cargos de manipulación de pruebas en el caso de Javier Ambler, un hombre negro de 40 años que murió bajo custodia el año pasado.

A homemade face mask
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring Texans to wear face coverings in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. But individual jursidictions differ in how they're carrying out face mask requirements. Officials in cities across Williamson County have issued orders with slight variations.

Black Lives Matter and other signs at a rally against police violence at Huston-Tillotson University on Sundy.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The reality cable show "Live PD," which filmed the death of a black Pflugerville man in custody of Williamson County deputies, has been canceled, A&E Network announced Wednesday.

 

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody in 2015.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Members of the Williamson County Commissioner's Court are calling for Sheriff Robert Chody to resign over the death of a black Pflugerville man who was tasered during a traffic stop last year.

Downtown Round Rock
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A number of seats in Williamson County are up for election this year, including district judges, county commissioners and county sheriff.

Will Democratic Nominee Need Star Power To Flip Williamson County-Area U.S. House Seat?

Feb 20, 2020
Round Rock is on the southern edge of the 31st Congressional District.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Democrats who want to be Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter's challenger in November think focusing on health care will turn the 31st District north of Austin blue. But Republicans, who have long held the seat, say their opponents won't have much luck without a high-profile candidate like 2018's MJ Hegar, who is now focusing on a U.S. Senate run.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

If you live in Williamson County, here are all the races that might appear on your ballot for either the Democratic or Republican primary. Put your address into the tool below to find out which congressional, state legislative and state Board of Education districts you're in, then scroll down to find the candidates in those races.

If you don't find your districts listed below, that means they're not up for election in 2020. 

U.S. Senate 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Williamson County voters will decide next month whether to invest $447 million into one of Texas’ fastest growing counties.

Screenshot via YouTube

Williamson County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to end an arrangement with the cable show "Live PD” after the District Attorney's Office requested raw video from the show be kept as evidence. The series follows law enforcement agencies in various locations around the county.

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.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Williamson County Commissioners on Tuesday approved an incentive package for Apple to develop 133 acres of ranch land into an office complex.

Apple announced plans last week to invest $1 billion to build a third complex in the Austin area; this would be the first in Williamson County.

Ilana Panich-Linsman / KUT

Williamson County is leading the state when it comes to the percentage of registered voters casting ballots in-person during the first two days of early voting. Experts say that's a sign political groups are paying more attention to suburban counties near major cities across the U.S.

Williamson County

A 19-year-old in Round Rock is no longer facing the possibility of life in prison for allegedly making marijuana brownies and selling them for $25 each. The case involving Jacob Lavoro attracted national attention. An online petition against the punishment has more than a quarter million signatures. 

Williamson County assistant District Attorney Mark Brunner says they decided not to pursue a charge based on the total weight of the brownies to avoid jury "distraction" during a possible trial. 

http://www.mlkcelebration.com/

Austin’s Annual Community Celebration:

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march from the University of Texas at Austin campus to Huston-Tillotson University starts at 9 a.m. Marchers will meet at the MLK statue near Speedway and West 23rd Street at UT.

An MLK Day festival begins at Huston-Tillotson after the march. It runs until 3 p.m.

There will be some road and lane closures for the march and festival – affected roadways include the I-35 frontage roads, North Congress Avenue and 11th Street.

Click here to see the full parade route.

Last week, Forbes magazine ranked Williamson County America’s fastest-growing county. Although Williamson County’s 7.94 percent growth rate has had positive impacts on its economy, the boom has put a strain on existing infrastructure.

Yesterday, Williamson County voters responded by approving two bond packages aimed at helping county infrastructure keep up with growth. The two propositions:

  • Prop 1, adding $275 million to the county’s budget for road improvements and construction, passed with 64 percent of the vote.
  • Prop 2, earmarking $40 million to upgrade the county’s park system, passed with nearly 55 percent.

Justin Dehn, Texas Tribune

Williamson County state district Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton in 1987, submitted a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Monday resigning his position effective immediately.

Anderson is facing both civil and criminal court proceedings for his role in prosecuting Morton for the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine Morton. Attorneys for Morton allege that Anderson withheld critical evidence that pointed to Morton's innocence and that he lied to the judge about the existence of that evidence. Morton was sentenced to life in prison and spent nearly 25 years behind bars before DNA testing revealed that he was innocent and connected another man to his wife's killing. He was released from prison in 2011.

CAMPO

Starting tomorrow, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization – better known as CAMPO – begins asking for the public’s ideas on a series of projects.

Some projects are being dropped, while others are being picked up for consideration. 

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

SAN ANGELO — Family members of Christine Morton and Debra Baker filled a Tom Green County courtroom with tearful hugs and relieved smiles on Wednesday after a jury found Mark Alan Norwood guilty of murder.

Norwood, 58, received an automatic life sentence after the jury decided he was guilty of the Aug. 13, 1986 killing of Christine Morton, who was beaten to death in her North Austin home. 

flickr.com/jstephenconn

Williamson County is ranked as the healthiest county in the Lone Star State, according to a collection of  county health rankings

The study from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that Williamson County is the healthiest county in Texas this year, ahead of Collin County in Northeast Texas.

flickr.com/rutlo

Good morning. The National Weather Service says sunny and warm weather is the order of the day, with expected highs in the mid-70s.

Lead Story: Ten people have died in traffic accidents in Austin so far this year. That’s twice as many as this time last year.

The city has launched a survey as part of an effort to reverse that trend, looking for feedback on how to make Austin safer for cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. You can find the survey on the city’s website.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Good morning! You’ll need to bundle up: The National Weather Service says cold temperatures are sticking around today, with Austin looking at a high in the upper 40. Here’s what’s happening this chilly Jan. 2:

Here Comes KUTX: New Year’s Day has come and gone, but today marks a new start for KUT: Beginning today, KUT 90.5 FM changes from its current programming mix of news and music to around-the-clock news and information. KUT’s familiar music personalities – including John Aielli, Laurie Gallardo, Paul Ray, Jay Trachtenberg and company – begin broadcasting 24-hour music on KUT’s new frequency, KUTX 98.9 FM.

Mark Norwood, the Bastrop dishwasher who was arrested one year ago for the 1986 murder of Christine Morton, was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on Friday for the January 1988 murder of Debra Masters Baker in Austin.

“It has been excruciating for all of us who loved Debra to wait for this day. Now, we finally have a face to put with her tragic murder,” Baker’s family said in a statement released by attorney Sam Bassett.

Norwood's attorney, Russell Hunt Jr., said his client maintains his innocence in both cases. Hunt said Norwood's mother had been subpoenaed to testify before a Travis County grand jury on Friday morning. 

"There's only one reason why" that would happen, he said. "That's if they intend to indict him."

flickr.com/mattblaze

Williamson County released its unofficial elections totals early this morning, following a technical delay that required one of the voting machines to be read by a technician.

Following poll closures last night, one of the iVotronic machines at a Williamson County precinct malfunctioned and election administrators at the precinct were unable to access the results from that machine. Administrators called a technician to obtain the results from the machine. 

"The backlight went out on one of our voting machines and so the election judge couldn't see the screen in order to get it properly closed. And so we had a technician that had come down from Dallas to repair the machine so that we could get the votes counted from that machine," Connie Watson, Public Affairs Manager for Williamson County, says.

Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Former Williamson County resident Michael Morton was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. Then 25 years later, he was freed after DNA evidence showed he was not guilty.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Morton’s release. He spoke at the Texas Capitol about his experiences over the past 26 years, and the difficulties the Williamson County justice system presented in obtaining the evidence that eventually exonerated him.  

Morton told the audience: 

The odd thing about it is that The Innocence Project was willing to say “Look. Texas statute allows this. We will pay for all the expenses.  Just let us have it and we’ll do it." And for reasons that haven’t been elaborated on or maybe articulated, to mine or anyone else’s satisfaction that I’m aware of, is that they fought this. And fought this. And fought this.

Williamson County Sheriffs Office

Williamson County sheriff's investigators have arrested Steven Alan Thomas, 53, in the 1980 murder of Mildred McKinney, the agency announced Tuesday.

McKinney was 73 when her daughter found her dead in her Williamson County duplex, where she lived alone. She had been beaten, strangled and raped. The murderer stacked a recliner, end table and vacuum cleaner on her head and chest.

The sheriff's office learned that DNA from the nearly 32-year-old murder scene matched Thomas on June 27, and additional testing of DNA collected from Thomas on July 5 also matched the DNA found at the murder scene. Analysis of a fingerprint from the scene of the murder also belonged to Thomas. 

Photo illustration by Brandi Grissom, Todd Wiseman for the Texas Tribune

Update 11:33 p. m.:

Challenger Jana Duty has unseated incumbent John Bradley, garnering 55% of the vote.

Original Post:

Early voting results are in for Williamson County, where the Republican primary race for District Attorney is arguably the one to watch.

Challenger Jana Duty has 53 percent of the vote compared to incumbent John Bradley’s 47 percent. Less than 700 votes separate the candidates. A little more than 1,500 votes were tallied in early voting.

Duty has made Bradley’s handling of the Michael Morton case a central plank of her campaign.

She told YNN last night: "The policies and procedures have to change because those procedures that was in place 25 years ago in the Michael Morton case, are still in place today,” Duty said. “We have to have an open discovery policy, we have to have fairness."

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