Yesterday at the Earle Cabell Federal Building, in the fine city of Dallas, Texas, a fellow named Andrew Blake wore a curious t-shirt to Judge Sam Lindsay’s court for a hearing to determine how much longer Barrett Brown ought to stay in prison. Blake got his shirt while covering the trial of Chelsea Manning. It was black, with one word, in white, printed across its chest: “truth.” Before things got started yesterday, a federal marshal approached Blake and told him he had to cover up the word. In case you missed that: he had to cover up “truth.” In a courtroom. That’s how it went for much of yesterday, like a script for a bad movie that any reasonable studio executive would read and reject because no way could the plot transpire in real life.Full Story
Tim finally got access to his phone and tweeted that Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution. So, with time served, two more years. (In a surprise move, Tim, aka “Jim Rogers from the Dallas Morning News,” was called to speak by the defense.) More later, obviously.
UPDATE: Barrett has released a statement:
The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system. I want to thank the Department of Justice for having put so much time and energy into advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a grudge against me for the two years of work I put into in bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald, the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I received this very prestigious assignment.
Wish me luck!
Four More Earthquakes Strike Unsuspecting Region I didn’t feel any of them. Go about your life until you’re told this is all just a viral marketing campaign for the Left Behind reboot. Yes, they remade the Left Behind adaptation! No, it’s probably not any better than the original starring Kirk Cameron! But it has Nicolas Cage, you say! I can’t keep these exclamatory sentences going so I’ll just rebut by saying have you even seen Joe?! It was pretty good and reminds you that Nic Cage probably doesn’t have to do Left Behind movies!
Toyota Breaks Ground on New Plano Headquarters Plano, not Dallas. I know that’s hard to differentiate for some mayors.
DISD Officer Involved in Shooting So many questions, but I’ll just leave it at “Why did a DISD officer try and intervene in a traffic infraction off-campus and why did this suspect try to run and what was that altercation about and why did a DISD officer shoot at (but not hit) this suspect?” Very straight-forward.
Fort Worth Undertakers Slapped With Additional Charges… The mortuary owners were tagged with felony theft charges yesterday, in addition to the multiple “abuse of corpse” counts from last year.
...and the Undertaker May Slap Some Fools in Arlington Because Wrestlemania is coming to Jerry World. (That link is for WrestleZone.com, which I intend to use in every Leading Off henceforth.)Full Story
British Prime Minister David Cameron today called on U.S. internet companies to give intelligence agencies greater access to their members’ communications so that authorities can better fight terrorism. He has in mind something like a back door that law enforcement could use to step around encryption. Our friend Ladar Levison doesn’t much care for the idea, which he called “insane.” Here’s what he told the Guardian:
“The rallying cry is that we have to stop terrorism. Everyone hates terrorism. The only thing we hate more than terrorism is hurting children. Whenever they want additional authorities, these are the issues they put on parade.”
“It reminds me of that quote from Benjamin Franklin: ‘Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.’”
Embattled Prime Prep Academy Continues To Find Reasons To Stay Embattled. The latest? “Prime Prep Academy employees unknowingly lost their health insurance late last year after school administrators failed to pay premiums” and the “school didn’t make payments to the state teacher retirement system for months, issued its most recent paychecks late and was briefly locked out of the Fort Worth campus by its landlord during Christmas break.”
New DA Susan Hawk Expanding Animal Cruelty Unit. To highlight that, yesterday she visited the SPCA, allowing reporter Jenny Doren to double down: “The new ‘top dog’ in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has literally gone to the dogs.” Can’t say I would have played it any differently, though I feel there was room for “dog days” and “doggedly” somewhere in there.
Scott Linehan Reportedly Agrees To New Contract. The Cowboys’ de facto offensive coordinator was a key reason the team surpassed expectations. Next up for the team: bringing back Dez Bryant and Demarco Murray, and get Stephen Jones to start working on his core.
Another Earthquake Hits Irving. This one was a 2.3. Feels like there is going to be a bigger one at some point, no?Full Story
Dallas ISD Dropping Some Tests. Kindergarteners, first-graders, and second-graders in DISD will no longer have to take twice-a-year Assessments of Course Performance in music, art, and gym after changes announced by district administrators on Thursday. The move comes after a widespread community outcry about the number of exams students must face. Results from the December ACPs will still count toward students’ grades. In case you’re curious about what’s on a second-grade gym test, one part required the kids to “demonstrate mature form in skipping.” Pretty sure I’d fail.
Deputy Fire Chief to Retire After Line-of-Duty Death Investigation. Bobby Ross was the commander on the scene when Dallas firefighter Stanley Wilson died. An internal affairs complaint filed with the department indicated that Ross made a “false and evasive” explanation of the orders he’d given that day. He wasn’t officially punished but was reassigned to the communications section. His resignation is reportedly official on Tuesday.
Did Diabetes Cause Murder of Kaufman County DAs? Eric Williams was sentenced to death last month for killing Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia. On Thursday he underwent a brain scan that his attorneys hope will show diabetes-caused brain damage that led to his rampage. Then they would argue he deserves a new trial or a reduction in punishment.Full Story
If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt already aware that D Magazine Partners does far more than publish a group of glossy monthly magazines. Each day our editors are involved, primarily through our family of blogs, in an ongoing, lively conversation about what’s happening in Dallas.
These were the most popular blog posts of the year on our site:Full Story
Mavs Acquire Rajon Rondo. In a move that signals the 19-8 Dallas Mavericks are planning a serious run at the NBA title this season, the team traded three players and draft picks to the Boston Celtics to get the point guard. Rondo is set become a free agent after this season.
Pilot Dead After Small Plane Crash. He was attempting to land his aircraft at Mesquite Airport just after 6 p.m. last night when he struck two homes in Seagoville about 9 miles south of the airport and landed in an open field. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
Cow Thefts on the Rise. Just two or three cows are now worth $4,000 to $5,000 thanks to our insatiable appetite for beef, so the number of incidents of cattle rustling at North Texas ranches is up. As this great recent Planet Money podcast episode explains, the crime is fairly easy to get away with.
UT-Dallas Graduates Its Youngest Ph.D. Ever. Austin Howard started college at age 13 and earned his bachelor’s degree before he was 16. Now, at 22, he’s got a doctorate in physics. Yeah, so what have you done with your life, slacker?Full Story
“Lots of bench conferences and long recesses — this hearing has it all!” That was the sarcastic assessment yesterday of Tom Korosec, who was covering Barrett Brown’s sentencing hearing for Bloomberg. Tom and I know each other. He has written for both D Magazine and D CEO. We were standing around during an afternoon recess, marveling at how little Tom would have to work with when it came time to file his story. Before lunch, Judge Sam Lindsay had already warned everyone that things were moving so slowly that he wouldn’t issue his sentence until January 22.Full Story
Female Marathon Winner Doesn’t Get to Break Her Own Tape. Shitaye Gemechu of Ethiopia lead the whole 26.2 miles, and then she got passed up by a relay runner who mistakenly crossed the finish line meant for Gemechu. Gemechu’s time was 2:46:46—20 minutes under her personal best. The female runner-up was 22-year-old Jessica Harper from Southlake, and Sunday marked her first marathon. The overall winner was Kimutai Cheruiyot, with a time of 2:17:10.
4-Year-Old Boy Missing After Mother Killed. Maria Isabel Romero Medina, 27, was found dead in the Denton insurance office where she worked Saturday night. An Amber Alert was issued for her son, and police are looking for the boy’s father, Ricardo Lara Martinez, in connection with his abduction as well as her death.
Tyson Chandler Rejects a Shoe. I’m going to attempt to write something else sports-related without royally screwing it up. Golden State Warrior Marreese Speights lost his shoe near the end of the third quarter. Teammate Stephen Curry tried to toss it to him. Tyson Chandler whacked the shoe out of bounds.
Man Last Seen With Christina Morris Arrested. If you remember, Christina Morris is the young woman who disappeared from the Shops at Legacy on August 30. She was last seen walking in the parking lot with a man in the wee hours of the morning. That man was later identified as Enrique Arochi, who was arrested by Plano police Friday and charged with aggravated kidnapping, in part due to DNA samples collected earlier in the investigation. Previously, he has maintained he did not know where Morris went after they parted ways. There is still no sign of Morris.Full Story
A video has been circulating recently that purports to show Mike Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, beating an older man over a backpack. I’ve seen this video passed around on Facebook in the last few days, mostly by people working backward from the notion that Brown was a menace to society who deserved to die. Some of the individuals sharing the video without skepticism are local journalists — because the industry just hasn’t had a hard enough time of late.
The footage is brutal and disturbing, and you probably shouldn’t watch it. Especially since the person in that video almost certainly is not Mike Brown. The rumor-debunking site Snopes looked into the matter and has determined that the video has been mislabeled. (It was also taken off of Facebook at one point, not because of the content or label or any policy of the social network, but because the person who first shared it removed the post and that’s how that works.)
Turns out, this footage was shot two years ago, when Brown would have been 15 or 16. Also, it was shot in Dallas, in the Woodland City Apartments (the original video is titled “Only in Woodland City”), and there is no indication Brown ever spent time in North Texas.Full Story
The U.S. Department of Education has determined that SMU has violated the federal law prohibiting gender-based discrimination. The Morning News reports:
Investigators determined that SMU violated Title IX “by failing to promptly and equitably respond to student complaints of gender-based harassment and sexual violence, including sexual assault, and to reports of retaliatory harassment,” according to a Thursday news release.
In one case, investigators found that SMU did not respond “promptly and equitably” to a complaint of a sexual assault of a male student by another male student. The student withdrew from SMU after other students harassed and retaliated against him.
They also found SMU’s sexual harassment and sexual violence policies and nondiscrimination notice didn’t comply with Title IX requirements, according to the news release.
SMU has already reached an agreement on steps it can take to comply with the law, including revision of its grievance procedures, and the university’s official response to the Morning News tried to spin the news as a positive (which is what university PR departments are supposed to do.)
“We appreciate OCR’s recognition of the new policies and procedures SMU has implemented prior to and during its investigation, as well as recognition of the work of the President’s Task Force on Sexual Misconduct. Although we take issue with some of OCR’s conclusions and generalizations, we look forward to taking additional actions as outlined. The well-being of our students is our highest priority.”
WHAT?! SNOW?! NO WAY.
Not only does that projection not even reach Dallas, it also shows the trend from yesterday through Christmas Eve. So that means that, even if Old Man Winter did buck that projection, the snow would likely melt before Christmas itself.Full Story
The Dallas City Council’s Public Safety committee was presented with the latest crime statistics (through Nov. 11) for 2014 today. Overall, crime is down 12.7 percent as compared to 2013, and 45.38 percent from 10 years ago.
However, aggravated assaults are actually up 6.61 percent in the last year. (Though, it should be noted, that’s still down 56.85 percent from a decade back.)Full Story
Twitter Bomb Threats: Textbook Definition Of Not Awesome. This weekend, some monster (or monsters) decided to make air travel even more of a nightmare by tweeting a bomb threat at an airline carrier. This caused Delta flight 1061 from Los Angeles to Orlando to be diverted to DFW Airport Sunday afternoon, where it was grounded and evacuated. Two other planes, a JetBlue and a SkyWest, were evacuated in Seattle.
Filing For Local Elections Starts Wednesday. Three board seats are up for election in DISD, including the one held by Elizabeth Jones, the subject of a bi-weekly “what in the world is this lady talking about” series over on Learning Curve.
Money For Earthquake Research? The Lege is considering it, per the Texas Tribune. It’s an item in Speaker Joe Straus’ budget proposal—$2.5 million for a seismic monitoring program.
A Significant Play For Dallas Theater Center Opens Friday. Yes, I am using this space to plug a thing I did for the January issue. But I have a couple good reasons. The official opening of Stagger Lee, written by SMU Meadows Prize recipient and DTC playwright-in-residence Will Power, is the Center’s first fully self-produced premiere of a new musical. It’s also huge—an 18 person cast. Overall, it’s a big investment for the DTC, and it redoubles a commitment to new work, to diversity, and to an ongoing conversation about race in this country. I sat in on a rehearsal, and some of the music I heard gave me chills. I interviewed Power, who is fascinating and talks a mile a minute. And check out KERA’s big interactive piece on the making of the show. Impressive stuff.Full Story
High-Speed Rail Line Likened to Berlin Wall. Judging by the responses we’ve seen in the comments of previous articles about the possibility, Dallas residents seem generally excited about the prospect of a high-speed rail line being built that will mean Houston is just 90 minutes away by train. But WFAA spoke with several Ellis County landowners who are none too excited about their property being divided by the project.
Prime Prep to Merge With Another School. The struggling charter academy, co-founded by former NFL star Deion Sanders, will reportedly hook up with another Oak Cliff campus, Triple A Academy. It’s not clear whether Triple A’s recent 117-10 basketball win had anything to do with the decision.
Cowboys Fan Sues NFL For $88 Billion. Terry Hendrix is upset about the officials’ reversal of Dez Bryant’s catch during this year’s playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, claiming damages for the league’s “negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and also reckless disregard.” The hand-written lawsuit was filed on Wednesday. Also of note, Hendrix is incarcerated in a Colorado correctional institution.
Dogs Mysteriously Disappearing in Wise County. And there’s “not one shred of physical evidence that proves the dogs were taken.” Has the pet rapture begun?Full Story
Barrett Brown To Learn His Sentence Today. Finally, after already spending more than two years in the joint, Brown will find out how much longer he has to remain behind bars. As entertaining as it has been to read his dispatches from various lockups, I agree with this guy: give him time served and send him home. Tim is, of course, at the courthouse, and will report back when it’s all over.
Mike Morath Has Some Hot Sports Opinions On Education In Dallas. First, read our Eric Celeste on the end of home rule. Okay, now you’re ready. Morath, the DISD trustee and driving force of the home rule initiative, told WFAA the following in a phone interview: “I think the real problem is, we as a city don’t actually care about our school system, and that is reflected in the people we elect to the board and the way that they behave.” Also: “You’ve got three or four people that are very seriously harming the decisions of the majority of the board.” Gonna be some fun board meetings coming up.
Bishop T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest Coming Back to Dallas In August. Jakes is bringing back his three-day faith/film/family festival, even though I recall the turnout being a bit of a disappointment the first time MegaFest was here, in 2013. And that was with Oprah Winfrey (Ohhh-pruhh WIN-freeeee) in town. But that was a test run. They expect 80,000 attendees because they have faith.Full Story
Chelsey has the longest title at D Magazine. In our staff box, she is listed as “assistant to chairman & publisher/administrative coordinator.” Short version, though, she’s pretty awesome. Which is why, when I heard that she’d been mugged on a DART train yesterday, I was happy to learn that she was unharmed. Her mugging was a timely one. A petition was just launched demanding that DART increase security on trains and at stations. So I asked Chelsey to tell us her story:Full Story
I Am Really Super Sorry, Cowboys Fans. This catch-not-a-catch thing is…infuriating. Until next season.
Former Mavericks Center Roy Tarpley Dies. He was 50. No cause of death was listed by the medical examiner, according to reports.
Everyone Wants To Make Sure Their Homeowners Insurance Covers Earthquakes. Not a terrible idea, I guess, since while I was very busy tuning in to the Golden Globes, I felt yet another one. It registered a 2.5. Probably the ghost of Texas Stadium is just extra-mad about the Cowboys loss.
Boy Injured in 2009 DWI Case Dies. This one was already a sad case. Abdallah Khader, 8, was in a near vegetative state for almost six years. The driver of the vehicle that struck the car Khadar was riding in, Stewart Richardson, is a repeat offender and, per WFAA, holds the distinction of waiting for trial in a Tarrant County jail longer than any other currently-incarcerated inmate.Full Story
In the past year, it has been our privilege to bring our readers another slate of thoughtful and engaging stories about the people, institutions, and places that make Dallas and North Texas a special place. These were the most popular narratives on our website:Full Story
It’s almost Christmas, so I will try not to gloat too much and revel in the downfall of Officer David Kattner, a 26-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. Just the facts.
In 2007, we published a story that involved Kattner. The story revealed how Kattner and his fellow officers would harass prostitutes and homeless people, writing them tickets for offenses they didn’t commit so that the cops could later arrest the people on felony charges after they didn’t take care of their tickets. The five cops in that story — Kattner, Jeffrey Nelson, Alfred Schoelen Jr., Timothy Stecker, and Walter Clifton — sued us for defamation. They appealed a trial court’s decision in our favor, taking the matter to the Fifth District Court of Appeal. They lost there, too. It took us four years to get these guys off our back.
Kattner was arrested yesterday on a sexual assault charge. It appears that he was forcing a prostitute to perform oral sex on him by “showing her her outstanding warrants and telling her he knew where her daughter lives.” Detectives are trying to determine whether there are other victims.
The end.Full Story
Kevin Gallagher runs Barrett Brown’s legal defense fund. On Twitter, he is reporting that Barrett has been threatened by inmates. Gallagher shared some more details with me, and I’ve talked to Barrett’s mother. Here’s what I can tell you:
Last night, Barrett was threatened by two inmates, one an associate of the Aryan Brotherhood. Barrett’s cellmate called Barrett’s mom this morning to tell her about these threats — Barrett having already been moved to SHU (isolation) for his own protection. Then Barrett called his mom this afternoon but not from the Seagoville unit, where he has been incarcerated. He has been moved to the Kaufman County jail, and all his belongings have been sent to his mother. Barrett’s cellmate told Barrett’s mom that he thinks yesterday’s op-ed in the Morning News might have had something to do with the threats. Like the bad guys were all like: “You think you’re so fancy? We’ll show you.” But that’s speculation.
Anyway, Barrett’s mom says he sounds fine. He requested one of Robert Caro’s LBJ books and something on the Renaissance. No telling at this point where things go from here, how long he’ll be in Kaufman, but here’s his new address, if you’re inclined to send him something to read:
Barrett Brown, No. 45047-177
Kaufman Law Enforcement Center
P.O. Box 849
Kaufman, TX 75142
Former Dallas U.S. Attorney Named ICE Head: Senate Republicans—including our own illustrious John Cornyn—tried a bunch of shenanigans to keep Sarah Saldaña from the post, but in the end it was Ted Cruz (and his bizarre, maybe-I-didn’t-think-this-through shenanigans) that actually allowed the Senate to vote on Saldaña’s appointment.
Oak Cliff Native Stevie Ray Vaughan Voted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Green Day was also voted in, which means that previous sentence holds absolutely no worth.
After Kaufman Killings, Eric Williams Went to a Barbecue: And that’s not even the most bizarre stuff to come out of his sentencing, which has been extended to today. “…Williams planned to use a crossbow to kill him. Kim Williams said he also planned to cut a hole in the judge’s stomach and pour in the homemade napalm he made as an extra coup de grace.” The death penalty is on the table, so the delay is understandable.
Barrett Brown Not Sentenced: Meanwhile, someone who should be out of prison is not. It’s been delayed until late January.Full Story
Dallas City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins has been cited for misdemeanor assault after allegedly grabbing a female security guard at City Hall.Full Story
OSHA to Investigate Thanksgiving Tower Fire. Thursday’s blaze beneath the downtown Dallas building’s parking garage claimed the lives of three men working in a thermal storage tank. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined. Officials don’t know if the workers may have been welding or cutting even though the company that employed the men hasn’t had a valid permit for that sort of work since 2009.
10th Irving-Area Earthquake in 2 Months. Last night at 9:25 p.m., a 2.6-magnitude quake struck near Spur Road and the Trinity River northeast of the former Texas Stadium site.
Dallas DA’s Office Dismissed Cases Without Informing Victims. WFAA reports on two family violence cases dropped by the district attorney in violation of the Texas Bill of Rights, which states that crime victims are entitled to be told about all proceedings involving their cases.
Former Fort Worth Cop Not Indicted For Shooting Dog. Kenneth Wayne Flynn shot a neighbor’s German shepherd back in September after being led to believe the dog had killed his cat. A grand jury yesterday no-billed him on animal cruelty charges.Full Story
David Allen was a three-year starter for the Highland Park basketball team, and is now a walk-on player at Georgetown. He plays sparingly. Last night, he did something that no other white athlete in America has done: he wore an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt.Full Story
Dr. Kent Brantly Honored: The Fort Worth-trained doc was regaled by Tarrant County officials after he donated possibly life-saving plasma to at least three Ebola patients, following his own bout with Ebola. I heard something recently about how, in the United States, all of our statues are of generals and politicians, while in Europe they’re mostly of writers and philosophers. Maybe doctors should be added to the list.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show Comes to Denton Today: Yeah, sure, why not. Maybe it’s to cover fracking.
Arlington Man Sentenced to 22 Years in Drunken Hit and Run Deaths: Benjamon Stewart was convicted on three counts of intoxication manslaughter, and fleeing the scene, following a 2013 incident on Interstate 30. Uber, people. Uber.
Well, If You Live in Dallas, Maybe Uber: Dallas City Council is set to vote on the legality of Uber and Lyft today. This is your reminder of the city government’s hand in keeping those two companies out of Dallas.
Jordan Spieth Wins at Isleworth. Spieth, who is 21, dominated the Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge. He won by a record-setting 10 strokes. 9:37 Update: Look, if there’s a sport I know less about than football, it’s golf.
How is the US Airways/American Airlines Merger Going? Very well, according to CEO Doug Parker, one year later. However, milestones for 2015 include the pesky merger of frequent flier programs, as well as booking systems.
Three Families Robbed at Gunpoint in One Night. This all happened on Saturday evening in Allen, within a little over an hour. Police are also investigating a fourth home invasion Friday night in Coppell that played out similarly. The families were tied up and held at gun point by one of the robbers, while others searched the house for money and valuables.
No College Football Playoffs For TCU. Or Baylor. The two schools end regular season play as the Big 12 co-champions. I am gathering that people are upset about a few things here.
Two Charged With Murder of Fort Worth Woman. I mentioned this story last week. Ashlea Harris was found dead in her burning Fort Worth apartment building after working a late shift at Hulen Mall on Black Friday. Two men have been arrested for her murder. These two men were also arrested in connection with an $18,000 theft from the American Eagle store where Harris worked.Full Story