KSAM News

KSAM News

FINAL DEFENDANT CONVICTED IN GRUESOME MS-13 MURDER

Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae has announced that a 23 year-old El Salvadoran citizen has pleaded guilty for his role in a horrific gang slaying, admitting he and two others murdered a teenager in the Sam Houston National Forest here in Walker County.

Jose Leonel Bonilla Romero, who resided in Houston, entered a plea of guilty to aiding and abetting others with the murder of a 16-year-old male victim on September 22, 2013. The others, 28-year-old Cristian Alexander Zamora, and 23-year-old Ricardo Leonel Campos Lara, both also of El Salvador, who resided in Huntsville and Houston, respectively, previously pleaded guilty and are currently serving their federal prison sentences.

Romero, Zamora and Lara lured the juvenile victim to Sam Houston National Forest where the three of them attacked him with bats and machetes.

All three defendants admitted to being members of the transnational MS-13 gang.

Judge Werlein accepted the plea Tuesday and has set sentencing for June 21, 2019. At this time, Romero faces up to life in prison.

NEW EXPRESS-VOTE MACHINE DEMONSTRATED TUESDAY (WITH CORRECTION)

We attended a demonstration of the new voting systems for Walker County at the Annex Tuesday featuring the ExpressVote, an ADA compatible electronic ballot-marking device, and the DS-200, an all-in-one scanner and vote tabulator.

Walker County elections manager Diana McRae demonstated the new systems . . . .

One-hundred-sixty new Express Vote machines have been purchased by the County along with 19 tabulators to greatly improve the vote-counting process. It will be rolled out in the November election. Here’s a correction from earlier newscasts: You will still have to vote in your own precinct.

Voters are encouraged to attend one of the scheduled public demonstrations on Tuesday, May 14th at the Walker County Storm Shelter. Demonstrations will be at 10 AM, 12 noon, 2 PM and 5:30 PM.

On election day a paper option will be available. During Early Voting they will use the ExpressVote only. There will be no more straight-party voting beginning in this November’s election.

HOSPITAL DISTRICT BOARD OF MANAGERS MEET TONIGHT

The Board of Managers of the Walker County Hospital District will be holding their regular meeting, which is open to the public, this evening at six at Huntsville Memorial Hospital in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room A. Board managers will hear comments and reports from the Huntsville Memorial Hospital administration. Anna Smith will give a quarterly report on Indigent Care. The Board will hear comments from members of the public who registered prior to the meeting. The Board will hear comments and reports from Chairman Anne Woodard. Board members will look at approving payment of indigent care bills, review and consider accepting the monthly financial report and review and consider accepting payment of monthly bills.

COMMISSIONERS APPROVE SEEKING REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS ON TEMPORARY FACILITIES REMODELING WORK FOR EMS

At Walker County Commissioners’ regular session Friday, commissioners discussed possible action on issuing a Request for Proposal for the remodeling work at the EMS Highway 19 location. It’s estimated to exceed the $20,000 threshold requiring Court approval.

County Purchasing Agent Mike Williford addressed the court on the matter . . . .

County auditor Patrica Allen said the money would come from Project Funds.

County EMS Director John Nabors explained further . . . .

Commissioners approved moving on the Request for Proposals. It will be brought back to court later. EMS has a July 1st deadline to move.

WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY HOGAN GIDLEY COMMENTS ON DON MCGAHN TESTIFYING ABOUT OBSTRUCTION

The Judiciary Committee in the House has subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn in their investigation into obstruction of justice.

Catching Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley outside the White House Tuesday, a reporter asked him, “Is McGahn going to respond to the subponea and testify before congress?” . . . .

TxDOT UPDATE

This in this morning from TxDOT:

WALKER COUNTYNorthbound and Southbound IH-45 and SH 19 Southbound Direct Connect will be closed at 8:00 PM until 4:00 AM each night Tuesday, April 23, 2019 and Thursday April 25, 2019 weather permitting. All northbound IH-45 traffic must exit using PR 40. All southbound IH-45 traffic must exit using Exit 114, Veteran’s Memorial Parkway. Southbound SH 19 to IH-45 Southbound traffic must exit at SH 75. This closure is necessary to place overhang brackets, concrete on the bridge beams and bridge deck panels on the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway Bridge over IH-45. Message Boards have been placed advising of the closure, and detour signs will be placed along the detour routes to alert and guide traffic through the detour.

COMMISSIONERS DISCUSS AGRI-LIFE/4-H ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE FINDINGS

One of the agenda items discussed at Monday morning’s meeting of Walker County Commissioners Court involved a presentation from Commissioner Bill Daugette on the findings of the Agri-Life/4-H Assessment Committee and a discussion of options for better facilities.

One of the options was do nothing, which would result in overcrowding at the present Agri-Life/4-H location and other issues.

Option #2 involved building a two-story facility on land next to the present site. Option #2 doesn’t allow for growth.

Commissioner Daugette said the committee felt Option #3 was “the most promising for the future of the organization to construct a new facility at a new location.” This would be possibly on a token-leased 25-acre section of property owned by Sam Houston State University. He gave a slide-show presentation . . . .

On the slide projected, Commissioner Daugette pointed out a big parking lot, a headquarters building, operations building, Master Gardener’s area and a training area for use in archery, pistols and rifles.

Option #4 included a skeet shooting range. There is, however, an issue with a skeet shooting range—amount of room needed and liability issues. Mr. Daugette said the university seemed interested in including the skeet shooting option, so he is going to talk with them again about not including it to see how they felt.

He next referred back to Option #3 . . . .

Judge Pierce wasn’t at Monday’s meeting because of a very important matter that came up that required his immediate attention.

Commissioner Daugette wanted to wait for the judge to return to court to discuss the matter further. He also wanted to further talk with SHSU officials and also get a good idea on price of the project from others. The project will likely come back up for discussion several weeks from now.

BUILDING NEXT TO HEARTFIELD FLORISTS BURNS

There was a pretty damaging fire to the old building next to Heartfield Florists on Sam Houston Avenue this weekend. The Fire Department is still investigating the blaze.

Judge Danny Pierce, who is also owner of Heartfield Florists and the building that burned, talked to us this afternoon.

We asked him if the fire department knew how it started . . . .

Judge Pierce said they had stock for his florist shop stored inside along with some valuable family antique items.

MOCK COMMISSIONERS’ COURT HELD MONDAY

In celebration of County Government Month in Texas, there was a Mock Commissioners’ Court featuring local youth in the Commissioners’ courtroom Monday. The event, organized by Administrative Assistant Sonja Tennant, was well done.

All the youthful participants were prepared for their roles.

Mock County Judge Braden Brock kicked it off . . . .

Participants addressed agenda items from filling potholes on County Roads to taking action on a Proclamation on Lieutenant Colonel Taylor Swift Day.

Sitting in for us in the media, mock court participant Yaneshby Sanchez addressed the court with a question . . . .

All in all, each participant did an outstanding job and just may have a future in Walker County Commissioners Court.