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Posts published in November 2010

Smith indicted for capital murder

CHAMBERS COUNTY– A Chambers County Grand Jury has indicted a man for the capital murder of a Texas City teen in 1996.
On Nov. 10 the indictment was handed down against Kevin Edison Smith.
Chambers County Sheriff Joe LaRive said that on Oct. 19 Smith confessed to the crime.

Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Lieck said that for a variety of reasons, it is unlikely that her office will seek the death penalty.

On the afternoon of March 5, 1996, the body of 13 year old Krystal Jean Baker was discovered laying beneath the Trinity River Bridge on IH 10 in Chambers County, Texas.

She had been sexually assaulted and strangled. aker had last been seen alive by her grandmother a few hours earlier in Texas City.
Upon the discovery of Smith’s body, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office became the lead investigating agency in the case. Chambers County was assisted at the time by several other agencies, including the Texas City Police Department and the Texas Rangers. Evidence was collected at the crime scene, but no suspects were identified at the time.
The past decade has seen many technological advances in forensic DNA testing; advances that were not available at the time of Krystal’s murder. Chambers County Sheriff’s Office Evidence Officer, Sherry Willcox, re-submitted DNA evidence from Smith’s cold case murder to the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Austin, Texas in February, 2009, and again in December, 2009.
On Jan. 14, 2010, Livonia, Louisiana Police arrested Smith, 45, on a drug charge. A sample of Smith’s DNA was placed on file in a national data base as part of his arrest.
On Sept. 15, 2010, Deputy Willcox was informed that Smith’s DNA from the Louisiana arrest had been matched to the DNA evidence recovered at the scene of Baker’s murder.
Based on that evidence, an arrest warrant was issued for Smith, charging him with murder. Smith was located in Groves, Texas, and arrested while at work on Sept. 22. He was booked into the Chambers County Jail, with bond set at $1,000,000.
A search warrant was then obtained, and a second DNA sample was obtained from Smith. That sample was tested against the evidence from the murder scene for confirmation. On Oct. 1, 2010, DPS Crime Lab sent confirmation that the DNA from the evidence at Baker’s murder scene was a positive match to the DNA sample taken from Smith after his arrest on the murder charge.
Lieck said that advances in DNA technology were key to the case.
“In 1996 there was not enough of a sample to get a good result,” he said. “Today technology allows us to get results from smaller sample sizes. It’s (DNA testing) has come a long way.”

Sheriff’s office warns of serial robbers

EAST HARRIS COUNTY— Harris County detectives need help identifying several serial robbers they consider to be armed and dangerous.
Detectives say they think the suspects are involved in a series of robberies in northeast Harris County. The latest attack occurred on November 3 at a gas station in the 17000 block of the East Freeway. This is about a mile east of the San Jacinto River Bridge,
A 42-year-old was filling up his vehicle with gas when a black four-door car pulled up and a man got out, approached the victim and demanded his wallet. When the man refused to hand it over, the suspect hit him on the head and a short fight followed.

During the struggle, two other men, one armed with a gun, got out of the car and ganged up on the victim. The suspects took the wallet and ran back into their car, where a fourth side was waiting behind the wheel. As the car sped off, one of the suspects fired a gunshot, which struck the victim’s vehicle.
The suspects were described as Hispanic males between the ages of 18 and 27. They were wearing gray or light-colored hoodies. Their vehicle may have been a Toyota Camry. Anyone with information regarding their identities is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.

Crosby ISD seats new board, names Blankenship president; hears comments

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – Last Monday, Nov. 15, the school board meeting started at 7:30 and ended at 10:43 p.m. officially canvassing the board election from Nov. 2. The also heard from citizens, recognized student accomplishments, decided finances, heard presentations, and reviewed approaches to academic goals.
Local school district trustee positions are the toughest unpaid jobs, that sometimes paint a target on your back and yet give opportunity to do the maximum good for your community.

The giant elephant in the room that no one is yet discussing is that the state is about to inform Crosby that it will not return back to Crosby over $1 million due to budget shortfalls, although standards are increasing and so are the number of students.
Election Results
First was the politics. Tanya Shaye Eagleton took 327 votes of 389 cast within the area for the election in Trustee Position 1. Incumbent JoAnn Crawford won with 518 to Ruben Leal’s 351 in Trustee Position 2. John Lindsey took all 534 votes in Trustee Position 3. Incumbent Dan Kasprzak won the at Large Position with 2,360 over Cedric Patterson, Jr. with 1,237 and Will Locke with 595. There were 13,565 registered voters and 6,253 ballots so about 46.1% voted locally.
Having accomplished the official canvassing, Gerald Blankenship was elected President of the Crosby ISD School Board Trustees. Tanya Eagleton was elected Vice President. JoAnn Crawford was elected Secretary. Leaving the Presidency, Carla Mills-Windfont was elected Assistant Secretary.
Concerns and Complaints
Next, a parent stepped forward with a complaint that his son takes home no school books or study guides. His son was disciplined for having his cell phone out and alleges that the principal looked inside his cell phone to see if he had been texting during class. The parent indicates that this is a violation of privacy. The board would later put onto the agenda to look into the matter to see if privacy had been violated. The parent indicates that the purpose of school is to teach and that I.S.F. disciplinary school did not engage students as students frequently napped when they should be studying.
Next a parent questioned the ethics of school board trustees related to a trustee speaking to her about politics as she campaigned outside the voting location, the administration building. She made accusations that he spoke to her at the school board meeting and she finally asked if there was any disciplinary action for school board members. She indicated that she was intimidated. She indicated that he had tried to argue with her again. She said that when she was leaving from campaigning yet another school board member approached her and asked if she knew that there were several raises given to several transportation employees. She indicated that she was a school bus driver.
Plaudits
Megan Sanchez was recognized for Excellence in Academic Achievement by the College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program.
The CHS Tennis Team was recognized for their accomplishments. Coach Leuwellan was called forth to speak to the board by Athletic Director K. Flannigan. The director presented accolades for attracting capable athletes to the team. The team has only lost one match and aspires to Regional.
Jo-El Bennett was awarded recognition for “Our School Needs” contest for Math Tutors.
Coach Flannigan described the Leadership Presentation used to inspire the athletes to achieve goals and to lend aspiration to younger students through contact interaction with the athletes.
Dr. Robert Tatman explained his successes in obtaining grants for the school district. He has accomplished increased technology money. He is involved in the application and qualification process of numerous programs.
Patricia Kay, Assistant Superintendent of Academics made the most detailed presentation concerning new approaches to teaching. She forewarned, ”I could be here all night,”
In money matters, the CRE8 Architects’s Bevins answered questions from the board on the progress of renovations. Some $90,000 has been set aside for renovation furnishings of the Annex that is to become a grade 1 through 4 limited number student campus.
The most intra-board conflict came over the question of some board members going to San Francisco to attend School Board Teaching Conferences. In the past new techniques have been developed for application in the classroom but the expense has come into question.

Chamber hosts First Adult Spelling Bee

CROSBY— Can you spell a word of English origin that has 34 letters and is the title of a song in the popular musical Mary Poppins? (Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious)
The Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce, Crosby ISD, and Huffman ISD hosted the first ADULT Spelling Bee on Nov. 11, in the Crosby High School Commons.

Eight teams of four members each participated in this event. Teams paid an entry fee to compete in the Adult Spelling Bee and all proceeds from the event are being donated to educational programs and projects in the local school systems. The teams had 9 sponsors at $150. Final figures will be around $1,340 less awarding $350 in prizes with expenses running about $70 to $80.
Susan Armstrong donated the trophies and Crosby Office Supplies donated the pens, pads and various items for use by contestants and judges. Crosby Project Graduation group provided concessions. In addition, Boy Scout Troop #1411 was responsible for the Flag Presentation.
Of course, all who participated were winners but the group that walked out with the $200 check was Holy Trinity Episcopal School.
According to team leader Shirley Ellisor the school is preparing for two spelling bees to be performed by their students including the P.I.S.A. and the one that eventually competes at the nationals in Washington, D.C. The check will ultimately go to “Help our kids in their academic achievement.”

Former Constable dies at 82

EAST HARRIS COUNTY— A Harris County Constable who served for this area for close to 30 years passed away last week.
James L. Douglas, 82, of Old River-Winfree was born Jan. 15, 1928 in Quitman, TX and passed away Nov. 10, at home.
He was a U. S. Army veteran and a member of the Goose Crook Masonic Lodge #1192 and the Baytown Shrine Club.
He began his career in law enforcement in 1952 with the Texas Liquor Control Board and retired in 2000 after serving 28 years as Harris County Precinct #3 Constable.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Rabon and Eula Douglas; sister, Johnnie Bullock; and niece, Judy Jones. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Opal Douglas and daughter, Sheryl Fisher, both of Old River-Winfree and grandsons, Cody and Dylan Fisher, both of Beach City.
Funeral services with Masonic Rites was on Nov. 13, at Navarre Funeral Home with Chaplain Kevin Taylor officiating. Burial followed at White Cemetery in Highlands.
Serving as pallbearers were Harris County Deputy Constables.
Arrangements were under the direction and personal care of Navarre Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 2444 Rollingbrook Dr., Baytown, TX, 77521 (281) 422-8111.

Firefighters donate $17k to cancer center

BAYTOWN— On Oct. 25 the Baytown Professional Firefighters Association presented San Jacinto Methodist Hospital Cancer Center with a check in the amount of $17,000.
The funds, that will go to battling cancer locally, were recently raised through t-shirt sales and various activities at the Pink Heals Event on Oct 8.
The hospital assisted in the fundraising efforts by hosting a pink heels decorating contest and sold t-shirts as well.
In addition to the check presentation, Stephen DonCarlos, Mayor of Baytown, presented the firefighters with a proclamation. The proclamation was dedicated to the firefighters’ efforts to raise awareness for women fighting cancer. The firemen, along with all city employees, wore pink for three days starting Oct. 25 – 27, which was part of the Pink Out Baytown initiative.

Former Crosby State Bank officer dies at 66

CROSBY– Jack Sheffield, who worked in the banking industry for nearly 40 years, passed away Nov. 1 at the age of 66.
Sheffield began his career at American National Bank in Beaumont. He later worked for Lone Star Bank in North Shore, which later became Sterling Bank, where he served as vice president of commercial lending.
He ended his banking career at Crosby State Bank.

James Edward “Jack” Sheffield, 66, beloved husband, father and grandfather, died Nov. 1. He was a resident of Mont Belvieu.
Jack was born in Beaumont July 6, 1944 to James and Louise Sheffield. Following his father’s death in 1966 his mother married L.C. Horn, who became a surrogate father to him, his brother and grandfather to his and his brother’s children.
A graduate of Beaumont High School and Lamar University, Jack began his banking career in 1969 at American National Bank in Beaumont.
Over the course of his nearly 40 years in the banking business, he served at First National-Houston, Lone Star Bank and later Sterling Bank of North Shore, and Crosby State Bank.
Among his interest were his membership in the Marine Reserves, the Optimist Club, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the National Rifle Association. Later in life he trained to be an EMT.
He was a staunch conservative and part of the TEA Party movement.
He was preceded in death by his parents and stepparents.
He is survived by his wife Linda Sheffield, daughter Michelle Pustejovsky and husband Clint and grandchildren Charles and Rebecca Pustejovsky; son Jason Sheffield and wife Summer and grandchildren Trevor Turnbough and Bryce and Hayden Sheffield; brother Robert and wife Kathy, beloved nephews Robert and James Sheffield and beloved niece Elizabeth Wenner.
Funeral services were held Nov. 3 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Houston. A private interment followed in Beaumont.

Constable deploys forces to FM 2100

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY/HUFFMAN – Tickets for traffic violations, such as speeding, are being written by Ken Jones’ Precinct 3 Constable Deputies along FM 2100 in response to a public outcry against the number of people killed during the last six months on the highway.
Two patrol deputies are working the traffic along FM 2100 with the specific duties of writing tickets. On November 5, the day the initiative started, some 15 tickets were written during the morning hours.
According to Captain Jack Hagee, “If people want to speed they need to go somewhere else. Due to the loss of life and the loss of property we have pulled out the stops and we are starting to write tickets. This is not short term, they will be there from now on because we intend to shut the speeding down on this Highway as it has become dangerous. We have had numerous complaints to our department concerning dangerous driving patterns. According to the Commissioner, ‘We are going to put a stop to it.’”
The majority of cases will find that if they are pulled over they will receive a ticket. The patrol units will be dedicated to writing tickets if they encounter someone with open warrants they will call other units to transport the suspect. The vehicles will be marked ‘Traffic Enforcement’ on the back bumper of the patrol car.
The measure is in response to five fatalities that have occurred on the roadway since the end of the last May and numerous other collisions. Reasons for the accidents are numerous but mostly FM 2100 has seen an escalation in traffic beyond the capacity of two lanes to handle at excessive speed.

Traveling Vietnam Wall visits Crosby next year

CROSBY– Plans are underway to bring the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall to this area next year in celebration of Veteran’s Day Weekend for a Thursday to Monday stay.
Participants currently include American Legion Post 658 in Crosby, Son Harvest Church, and United American Riders that list is expected to climb dramatically by next May. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is owned and operated by the Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard, a grass roots veteran’s organization out of Cocoa, Florida.
It is a 3/5 scale replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. and measures 144 feet for each wing. The Wall has etched inside the names of those that gave the last full measure in the service of their country during the Vietnam Conflict inside Vietnam.

Plans are to have a motorcycle escort including groups such as Patriot Riders bring in the memorial to be erected on the grounds of the American Legion Post 658’s grounds. Estimated costs to bring the Wall to this area are $6,326 and growing so the need for sponsors is tantamount.
The event will be in conjunction with the Highway of Honor and the Veteran’s Feast as held last Saturday. Current plans are to have the Wall arrive on Nov. 3 and be put together that night and opening ceremonies will be held on Nov. 4. The wall will receive visitors from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Sat. and Sunday. Closing ceremonies will be held Sunday night and Monday the Wall will be deconstructed for its trip back.The Wall hopes to attract students to spark and interest in history.
Vietnam Veterans will be at the Wall to brief students and answer questions. For information on assisting with this community project contact Lynnette Crainer by calling 281-883-8500, 281-328-6295 message phone or e-mail shc.veterans@yahoo.com.

Harris County orders Burn Ban

HARRIS COUNTY– On Oct. 26, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a burn ban due to an increased threat of wildfires across the county.
There are now 67 Texas counties with burn bans, including Harris, Grimes, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller counties.
No outdoor burning is allowed except in an enclosure that contains all flames and/or sparks, outdoor burning activities authorized by TCEQ, ceremonial fires, non-commercial cooking, and prescribed “hot work”.
Backyard cook-outs and barbeques are allowed, as is welding and other “hot work” performed in accordance with county fire code requirements.

Parts of Texas, including Harris County, are extremely dry and vegetative fuels have reached critical dryness. Observed fire danger is high across Harris County, primarily east of U.S. 59.
Area fire departments have reported an increase in fire number and severity, including a fire in the Atascocita area that threatened homes and required a bulldozer and several ground crews to contain.
The Texas Forest Service has reported that fires burned over 1,200 acres ON Oct. 26 in southeast Texas, including a fire in Montgomery County that destroyed three weekend camp houses and six outbuildings.
Violation of the ban is a Class “C” misdemeanor, punishable for up to a $500 fine. In addition, any person who starts a fire that causes damage to property without the consent of the owner may be charged with Reckless Damage or Destruction, a Class C misdemeanor, or Arson, a felony.
Residents are asked to exercise extreme caution when cooking outdoors. A small spark or burning ember can ignite dry vegetation. Winds will fan the flames and spread the fire rapidly.
The Harris County Fire Marshall also recommend that people remove combustibles within 30 feet of any controlled fire or hot work. A small, controlled fire can easily spread quickly and become an out-of-control, dangerous fire.