Ex-Texas neurosurgeon sentenced to life for maiming patients
DALLAS (AP) — A jury has sentenced a former neurosurgeon to life in prison for maiming patients who had turned to him for surgery to resolve debilitating injuries.
The decision came Monday, almost a week after the Dallas County jury convicted 44-year-old Christopher Duntsch of first-degree felony injury to an elderly person.
Prosecutors alleged numerous cases of malpractice against the former Plano physician, including that he improperly placed screws and plates along patients’ spines, left a sponge in another patient and cut a major vein in another.
Records show he operated on the wrong part of a patient’s spine and left one woman wheelchair-dependent. Two patients died.
A surgeon testifying for prosecutors said it was like letting an amateur loose in surgery.
Duntsch’s attorneys argued he wasn’t a criminal, just a lousy surgeon.
This story has been corrected to show the former physician’s last name is Duntsch, not Dunstch.
SEVERE WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Several tornadoes hit Central Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Authorities say severe storms have pushed several tornadoes through parts of Central Texas, ripping the roofs from homes in San Antonio and toppling freight train cars near Austin.
No major injuries have been reported from the storms that moved across the area late Sunday and early Monday.
Officials estimate the weather damaged roughly 150 structures, most of them homes and apartments in the San Antonio area. The National Weather Service has confirmed at least six tornadoes touched down, though not all in populated areas.
The Weather Service says at least two twisters touched down early Monday near the tiny town of Thrall northeast of Austin. Local officials say 20 homes were damaged, along with outbuildings, and topped train cars.
Other twisters hit in northeast San Antonio, damaging 43 homes in one area, including three that collapsed, along with several apartment buildings. At least 30 other homes were damaged just outside the city.
Texas child welfare agency adding 400-plus new staff members
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The head of Texas’ troubled foster care system says emergency state funding helped hire 441 new employees in December and January, a two-thirds increase over the same period the previous year.
Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman told a state House committee on Monday that an additional around 250 staff should be hired soon. The Legislature approved nearly $150 million for about 830 extra employees.
More than 100 children died in Texas child protective services last year alone, when a federal judge had already ruled that the system violated youngsters’ constitutional rights.
A major House bill would make it easier for at-risk children to be adopted by relatives. Two others seek to increase case management privatization and separate Whitman’s agency from the state’s larger, omnibus health agency.
Deadline looms for Dakota Access pipeline protest camp
CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — State and federal authorities have told Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters at an encampment in North Dakota to leave. But many in the camp say they’re not going.
The deadline is Wednesday. It comes amid concerns that spring flooding could wash tons of trash into nearby rivers. State officials are warning of an environmental disaster if the camp isn’t cleaned up and closed.
Some in the camp say the flood fears are overblown. They plan to seek higher ground, but have no plans to leave despite the threat of arrest.
Tiffanie Pieper, of San Diego, says: “If we don’t stand now, when will we?”
Pipeline opponents say the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois threatens the environment. Dallas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners disputes that.
DAD’S DISAPPEARANCE SOLVED
Missing Texas dad of 3 is found in Ohio, met someone online
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio say they’ve safely located a father of three whose mysterious disappearance from the San Antonio area spurred weeks of searching by his family and volunteers.
Police tell the Akron Beacon Journal a tip led them to 44-year-old Lee Arms near Bath Township. They say he tried to escape his life in Texas and ended up in Ohio after meeting someone online.
Police notified his family but wouldn’t release details because Arms wasn’t charged with a crime.
WOAI-TV in San Antonio reports Arms was located Thursday and his actions are under review by the Bexar (bayr) County sheriff’s office.
The Falls City, Texas, man vanished Feb. 5. His car was found still running and abandoned with its lights flashing, with his wallet and belongings still at the scene.
Hunters charged in Texas shooting had blamed immigrants
(Information from: KOSA-TV, http://www.cbs7.com)
PRESIDIO, Texas (AP) — Two hunters accused in a shooting on a Texas ranch near the Mexican border had told authorities they were attacked by immigrants who had entered the U.S. illegally.
Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez told Odessa television KOSA that a grand jury indicted Michael Bryant and Walker Daugherty on charges of using deadly conduct by discharging firearms in the direction of others.
The charges stem from a Jan. 6 incident where police found Daugherty and another hunter, Edwin Roberts, with gunshot wounds. Dominguez says an investigation found that Daugherty shot Roberts and Bryant shot Daugherty.
The hunters’ claim that immigrants shot them became fodder for a Facebook post by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. He wrote the attack was another reason why a wall must be built along the border.
OIL PIPELINE-PROTEST CAMP
ND governor, tribal leader discuss camp cleanup, evacuation
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has talked with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault about efforts to clean up and vacate a camp protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
Burgum’s office says the governor and the tribal chairman talked on the phone Monday about the importance of evacuating and cleaning up the camp.
State and federal authorities have told protesters to leave the camp by Wednesday or face possible arrest. Authorities are concerned spring flooding could wash tons of trash into nearby rivers.
Burgum’s office says more than 230 truckloads have been hauled out as of Monday.
Protesters have been at the campsite since August to fight the $3.8 billion pipeline. Opponents say the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites. Dallas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners disputes that.
SANTA MUERTE-US BISHOPS
US Bishops join Mexico colleagues, denounce ‘Santa Muerte’
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Bishops in the United States are denouncing La Santa Muerte — the skeleton folk saint in Mexico linked to the illicit drug trade.
Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, and San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis in Texas joined their counterparts in Mexico last week in urging Catholics to avoid honoring the folk saint. Wester called her “antithetical” to the teachings of Jesus.
The denouncement comes after Ciudad Juarez Bishop Jose Guadalupe Torres Campos attacked La Santa Muerte, which means Holy Death, in a recent newspaper interview.
Popular in Mexico, Santa Muerte is folk saint also worshipped by some immigrant small business owners, gay activists and the poor.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras.
Court considers constitutionality of Ohio execution process
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal appeals court is hearing arguments over the constitutionality of Ohio’s lethal injection process as the state tries to start carrying out executions once again.
State attorneys say they’ve provided plenty of evidence to show that the contested first drug in Ohio’s three-drug method will put inmates into a deep state of unconsciousness.
The state also argues that the U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld the use of that drug, midazolam (mih-DAY’-zoh-lam), in a case out of Oklahoma.
Lawyers for death row inmates are challenging the effectiveness of midazolam.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati scheduled arguments Tuesday.
Ohio is appealing a federal judge’s decision that rejected the state’s current three-drug execution method.
Ohio plans to execute condemned child killer Ronald Phillips on May 10.
High school transgender wrestler wins Texas regional title
(Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com)
ALLEN, Texas (AP) — A 17-year-old Dallas-area high school transgender wrestler who is transitioning from female to male has won a girls regional championship after a female opponent forfeited their match.
Mack Beggs, a Euless Trinity High School junior who is undefeated this wrestling season, hugged opponent Madeline Rocha, from Coppell, on the victory stand Saturday after their match for the 110-pound Class 6A Region 2 championship never took place when Rocha declined to wrestle.
Beggs and Rocha advance to the state championships next weekend. The top four finishers in the region qualified for the state tournament.
Beggs’ coach, Travis Clark, told The Dallas Morning News the forfeit was expected but declined further comment. Coppell’s coach and athletic director also declined to comment.
Beggs’ grandmother and guardian, Nancy Beggs, says the outcome was about “bias, hatred and ignorance.”