Texas woman admits to sending ricin to Obama
DALLAS (AP) - A Texas woman has pleaded guilty to sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Shannon Guess Richardson entered her guilty plea Tuesday in Texarkana, Texas.
Her attorney, Tonda Curry, has said the plea deal caps any prison sentence at 18 years.
Curry said Richardson was ready to admit her role in sending toxic letters to Obama, Bloomberg and the head of Bloomberg's pro-gun control group.
Prosecutors say that before her arrest in June, Richardson tried to frame her now-estranged husband for mailing the letters containing ricin, a powdery substance that can cause respiratory failure if inhaled.
Richardson has had minor roles in the television series "The Walking Dead" and the movie "The Blind Side."
SUPREME COURT-DOWNWIND POLLUTION
Court looks at EPA rule on cross-state pollution
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is indicating it could revive a federal regulation intended to reduce power plant pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.
Several justices suggested during a 90-minute argument Tuesday that they believe the Environmental Protection Agency did not exceed its authority when it issued its cross-state air pollution rule in 2011. A divided federal appeals court panel invalidated the rule last year.
The EPA sought to reduce pollution from power plants in more than two-dozen Midwestern and Southern states that drifts above states along the Atlantic coast. Texas led 14 states and industry groups in challenging the rule. Most downwind states support it.
Justice Department lawyer Malcolm Stewart said the EPA is trying to be "an honest broker" between the upwind and downwind states.
Man wanted for murder caught in East Texas
HOUSTON (AP) - Investigators say they've apprehended a Houston-area man wanted for murder after his girlfriend turned up missing and traces of blood were found at her home.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday that 29-year-old Colt Morgan was taken into custody in Leon County, in East Texas.
He's accused in the Nov. 3 death of 44-year-old Wende Marshall of Cypress. Investigators have said they believe Marshall was stabbed during an argument and her body was burned at her residence, which showed signs of a cleanup. Fresh paint was on the walls. Her body has not been found.
The Houston Chronicle reports Morgan had been camping out in a storage building in the Leon County town of Buffalo, about 150 miles north of Houston.
Man sentenced for role in Texas-to-Wis. drug ring
MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Sheboygan man convicted of helping run a drug ring that trafficked cocaine and marijuana from Texas to Wisconsin has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday the recent sentencing of 30-year-old Randy Martinez.
Prosecutors say Martinez was part of the so-called Balderas Organization. The group is accused of conspiring to transport at least 10 pounds of cocaine and several thousand pounds of marijuana to Wisconsin.
Authorities say the group transported drugs by using cars filled with hidden narcotics and driven by couriers often recruited by Martinez. They say Martinez ran Wisconsin's operations, helping to distribute drugs and launder money.
Martinez's defense attorney, Chris Donovan, says he's happy the judge handed down the sentence that Donovan and prosecutors agreed to recommend.
South Texas man convicted of weapons possession
LAREDO, Texas (AP) - A South Texas man has pleaded guilty in Laredo to a weapons charge for intending to smuggle to a Mexican gang.
A Tuesday statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Laredo said 40-year-old Richard John Medina admitted to planning to smuggle five guns and five grenades to the Zetas drug cartel. Medina was caught in a sting by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and arrested Oct. 9 after taking delivery of weapons from a confidential ATF informant.
Medina had previously been convicted of marijuana possession in Williamson County, near Austin.
Organized crime groups in Mexico regularly obtain weaponry bought in the United States and smuggled across the border.
He could receive to up to 10 years in prison at sentencing. No sentencing date has been set.
Air Force: Bird strike caused wreck of $8M jet
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) - U.S. Air Force investigators have confirmed that a bird strike caused an $8 million jet to crash in North Texas during a training flight in July.
Two pilots suffered minor injuries when they ejected from the T-38 Talon before it plummeted to the ground south of Sheppard Air Force Base and burst into flames.
Maj. Christopher Thompson was instructing a member of the German Air Force at the time. They were part of the base's Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. The program trains students from nine NATO countries.
Sheppard officials said Tuesday the bird struck the jet's canopy, shattering it and sending fragments into an engine that then failed.
The incident was compounded by the pilots' attempts to execute a turn that increased drag. The jet lost airspeed and then stalled.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY-DWI ARREST
Travis County DA takes stand in her civil trial
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A contrite Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg has taken the stand on the second day of a civil trial that will determine whether she remains in office.
She told an Austin court Tuesday that her behavior toward sheriff's deputies and corrections officers during her April arrest for drunken driving was "totally inappropriate." Witnesses during testimony Monday described Lehmberg as shouting and threatening officers that night.
Lehmberg pleaded guilty within days of her arrest, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and took a leave of absence to check into rehab. She then returned to her job, which oversees a state Public Integrity Unit that investigates wrongdoing by public officials statewide.
A visiting judge will determine whether Lehmberg is fit to remain in office.
Texan convicted of smuggling teen bound for NJ
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - A Texan has been convicted in a human smuggling case in which a teen says she was forced to wear revealing clothes and sexually assaulted while bound for New Jersey.
A federal jury in Corpus Christi on Tuesday convicted 47-year-old Jose Gallegos (guy-YAY'-gohs) of Austin of harboring and transporting an undocumented person. No sentencing date was immediately set for Gallegos, who remains in custody and faces up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors say Gallegos in August was caught at a Texas border checkpoint with the scantily clad 18-year-old passenger.
The teen testified she was being smuggled from Mexico to New Jersey and was forced to have her face pierced and have sex with Gallegos under threat of death.
Further details on her and the New Jersey destination weren't released.
BUS STATION SHOOTING
Bail $150K for man in Vegas bus station shooting
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Details emerged about a shooting at a downtown Las Vegas bus station as a judge set bail at $150,000 for a 64-year-old Texas ex-convict facing attempted murder and other charges.
James Abney of Forney, Texas, said little during his initial appearance Tuesday in Las Vegas Justice Court.
A judge noted Abney's criminal history in Texas.
Abney's public defender, Benjamin Saxe, declined immediate comment.
No one was injured in the Thursday evening shooting at the Greyhound bus station about block from the Fremont Street Experience casino pedestrian mall.
Abney faces five felony charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm within a structure.
Police say Abney was ushered out of the bus station several times before pulling a small handgun and shooting at uniformed guards.
Crude oil injected in Okla. pipeline to Gulf Coast
CUSHING, Okla. (AP) - TransCanada has begun injecting crude oil into its $2.3 billion pipeline between Cushing and the Gulf Coast.
The company says that Saturday's development means the 485-mile pipeline is another step closer to commercial operation.
The Oklahoman reports (http://bit.ly/1gXeYyb ) the pipeline, called the Gulf Coast Project, is the southern leg of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada's oil sands and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to refineries in the Houston area.
President Barack Obama refused to issue a permit for part of the project last year amid concerns about its potential impact on a large aquifer in Nebraska. The administration is considering another application, but TransCanada has received clearance for the pipeline's southern leg.
It will carry up to 700,000 barrels of oil a day.
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