Perry staying mum as special session talk ramps up
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Governor Rick Perry is staying mum about whether he'll order lawmakers to stay at the Capitol for a special legislative session as speculation intensifies.
The regular 140-day session ends Monday. But Republican state Senator Kevin Eltife on Friday was among a growing number of lawmakers convinced their work won't be finished next week.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst raised expectations after telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he wants to keep working this summer to revive failed conservative issues. Those include tighter abortion restrictions and drug tests for welfare recipients.
Perry visited the House on Friday but wouldn't say whether a special session was in the works.
Eltife says redistricting is the most likely issue that will keep lawmakers from going home.
Overhaul of troubled cancer agency heads to Perry
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas lawmakers are giving new life to the state's troubled cancer research agency.
In a unanimous vote Friday, the Senate gave final approval to sweeping reforms at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The bill now heads to Governor Rick Perry.
Created in 2007 and authorized to hand out $3 billion for research and drug development, the agency has come under withering scrutiny for its methods of awarding lucrative grants. The agency is under criminal investigation and state budget writers had threatened to withhold funding.
The changes would dissolve the agency's 11-member governing board, prohibit salary supplements for the chief executive and specify the role of top officers.
Republican Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound said she's convinced "we have established all the transparency and oversight needed."
Lawmakers set up endangered species task force
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - How the state responds to the listing of an endangered species in Texas will be coordinated by a special task force under a bill approved by the Legislature.
Lawmakers sent the measure to the governor on Friday. The bill would create the Coordinated State Endangered Species Response Committee. The committee would include the attorney general, the comptroller and officials from the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation, Railroad Commission, General Land Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Republican leaders have long complained about federal endangered species laws, saying they hurt the Texas economy. More than 100 species could be added to the endangered list in Texas in the next decade.
The committee would make sure all state agencies respond in a coordinated manner, either by failing lawsuits or drafting conservation plans.
JUDICIAL BRIBERY SCANDAL
Jury deliberating Villalobos bribery case
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A South Texas jury is deliberating in the bribery trial of a former South Texas district attorney charged with helping a crooked judge.
The Cameron County jury heard closing arguments Friday in federal court in Brownsville in the trial of former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos (vee-yah-LOH'-bohs). The defense rested its case Thursday after Villalobos testified in his own defense.
He told a federal jury in Brownsville that no one gave him money to fix criminal cases and that he gave no money to former state District Judge Abel Limas for similar purposes.
Villalobos is the top target to stand trial after an investigation into legal corruption involving Limas, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and awaits sentencing.
Galveston leaders to meet over Ike housing story
GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Leaders of a Southeast Texas city will meet Tuesday to discuss legal options over a newspaper story about where to build new public housing since Hurricane Ike.
The Galveston City Council voted Thursday to call a special meeting and consider legal action against The Galveston County Daily News.
This week's Daily News story cited a document obtained by the newspaper on plans for potential legal action to challenge future public housing sites. The 2008 hurricane destroyed nearly 600 units.
The newspaper reported Friday that the story was based on an April legal opinion by attorney Terry Morgan for the city. Council members received Morgan's report.
City Attorney Dorothy Palumbo says the documents were confidential.
A lawyer for the newspaper says the documents were obtained through legal newsgathering methods.
Man faces arson charge after Houston fire
HOUSTON (AP) - Houston police have arrested a man on an arson charge in an apartment complex fire allegedly started by a thrown Molotov cocktail.
The Houston Fire Department says one firefighter suffered a minor hand injury in the blaze extinguished early Friday. Several units suffered heavy damage.
Investigators say 26-year-old Darrius Owens allegedly was in a dispute with another family member at the apartments. Authorities are trying to determine the reason for the argument.
City jail records show Owens was in custody Friday with no immediate details on bond or an attorney for him.
Further details weren't immediately released. Red Cross officials were assisting displaced residents.
Mother killed, kids hurt, after shoplifters crash
HOUSTON (AP) - A 20-year-old woman has been charged with murder after her car being pursued by police who suspected her in a shoplifting incident slammed into another car at a Houston intersection, killing a woman and seriously injuring her three children.
Shiquinta Franklin was held in jail Friday on $50,000 bond.
The chase began Thursday afternoon outside a shopping mall in suburban Humble and ended miles later in northeast Houston when her fleeing vehicle ran a red light and crashed.
The 43-year-old woman in the struck car was dead at the scene. Her children are hospitalized.
Police say Franklin and two female companions tried to run away on foot but were caught.
Names of the others involved have not been immediately released. Online court records did not list an attorney for Franklin.
MURDER TRIAL-TEEN KILLED
Man sentenced to 50 years for cold case killing
McKINNEY, Texas (AP) - A North Texas man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for killing a teenager whose body was dumped in a rock pit in 1984.
Collin County prosecutors say 50-year-old Alonzo Grayson Junior was sentenced Thursday after a jury earlier in the day found him guilty in the death of 18-year-old Bobby Ray Taylor.
Authorities say Grayson was dating Taylor's younger sister when the couple shot the teen outside a Frisco pool hall in January 1984. Bobby Taylor and Grayson were angry with each other because Taylor objected to Grayson dating his sister. The couple took the injured Taylor to the rock pit where Grayson shot him twice more.
Authorities say a break in the case occurred in 2011 when Taylor's sister attempted to reconcile with her estranged son and told him of the shooting. The son then contacted police.
YOGURT SHOP MURDERS
Ex-'Yogurt shop murders' figure seeks compensation
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A man whose conviction in the 1991 slayings of 4 teenage girls at an Austin yogurt shop was overturned wants compensation for his imprisonment.
Robert Springsteen the Fourth spent nine years in prison before an appeals court overturned his sentence, but Travis County prosecutors haven't declared him innocent. Now, the Austin American-Statesman reports he wants a federal judge to clear him and award him more than $700,000 from the state.
A judge dismissed murder charges against Springsteen and another man in 2009 after the appeals court ruled they were unfairly kept from cross-examining each other. Both had implicated each other. The dismissal came after prosecutors failed to meet a court-imposed deadline for retrial.
A confession by Springsteen was presented at his trial, but his attorneys argued it had been coerced.
Bush hosts 2nd day of bike ride for veterans
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - Former President George W. Bush is hosting the second day of a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride at his Central Texas ranch for military members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Riders were back on the trail Friday morning, with the event scheduled to conclude Saturday.
This is the third year for Bush to host the Warrior 100K. Last year the ride was held at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, with the previous year's ride in the Big Bend region of West Texas.
Fifteen wounded veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are participating in the ride, which is part of the George W. Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative. The institute is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.