Thursday, February 12, 2009

     

 

 

 

 

  Bubba bandit busted
Mabank Bank robbery suspect arrested
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–A suspect has been arrested in connection with the Jan. 23 robbery of the First State Bank branch in Mabank.
Tuesday afternoon, Mabank Police Chief Kyle McAfee reported Grapevine police officers arrested Dean Spencer late Monday night on warrants issued by Mabank, Seven Points and Coppell.
“This morning, Lt. Josh Early and officer Keith Bradshaw went up to interview him,” McAfee said. The investigators obtained a written confession to the robbery, he added.
Spencer, believed to be in his 30s, is currently being held at the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Center.
McAfee said Spencer’s bond had not been set. “He’ll be arraigned in the morning, I believe,” he said.
Investigators are in the process of recovering items purchased with the $3,030 stolen from the Mabank bank, McAfee said, adding Spencer had already spent the money. He was also being sought by the Seven Points police for two outstanding speeding tickets.
Spencer is a Euless resident, but for the last 10 months or so has been dating a local resident and living in the Cedar Creek Lake area, McAfee said.
Spencer represented himself as a businessman, saying he owned a construction business in Gun Barrel City, McAfee added.
McAfee said a tip came in about Spencer, and investigators were able to link him with photographs and other evidence.
Employees of the First State Bank Mabank and Citizens State Bank in Seven Points were able to pick Spencer out of a mug shot lineup, he added.
“He was in both banks that week,” McAfee said.

Cook fails to register as sex offender
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Curtis Edward Cook didn’t make it six months.
The former Gun Barrel City eye doctor was arrested last week for not registering as a sex offender – a condition of his probation after he pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child.
According to county officials, Cook was picked up last Friday at the Eagle Inn Motel in Gun Barrel City.
Allegedly, he did not register as a sex offender after moving from Kemp to Gun Barrel City within the seven days required.
Cook originally pled guilty in September, 2008. His victim was younger than the statutory 14 listed in the indictment; an indictment which doesn’t point to intercourse, but to perversion nonetheless.
The Cook case was highlighted in an October, 2008, front page story by The Monitor, exploring why some pedophiles receive probation rather than prison sentences.
In interviews for the story, 173rd District Judge Dan Moore and then-District Attorney Donna Bennett spoke about how the judicial system sometimes listens to the desires of the victim’s family when deciding how to proceed in a child sex assault case.
That was the case with Cook, Moore said.
“The family just wanted it to be over,” the judge said in October.
“As a judge we have to think about what’s good for the state of Texas,” Moore said, “but to some extent, we also have to think about what’s good for the child.”
Both Bennett and Moore said the important thing with the probation is that it gets the sex offender into the system. After pleading guilty, the defendant has to register as a sex offender for life, along with a long list of other requirements.
In addition, revoking probation is easier than getting a conviction – revoking probation does not require a trial, only a hearing before a judge.
“In a trial, we have to prove someone is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Bennett said. “In a probation revocation, all we need is a preponderance of the evidence as proof. We only need 51 percent instead of 100 percent.”
Ty Choate, the director of the Henderson County Probation Department, said 70 percent of sex offenders fail to keep up with all their probation requirements and end up back in front of a judge.
This weekend, current District Attorney Scott McKee said Cook will appear before Moore for his probation revocation hearing. McKee said his office will seek jail time.

Storm brews in Eustace
Barrage of information requests, insults exchanged,
election for mayor and two council members loom

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–The heat is on at Eustace city hall, where about 25 people and city council members exchanged passionate remarks Feb. 3.
Jack Ward read a statement thanking those present for their support during the recent trial of his wife and Eustace mayor, Laura Ward.
(A jury cleared Laura Ward of aggravated assault charges Jan. 30 in connection with an altercation with a Gun Barrel City woman at a nightclub Sept. 23, 2007.)
He then described councilman Mark Sanders’ words and actions as “persecuting my wife with little regard for me and my family.”
Jack Ward also criticized Sanders (a next-door neighbor) for his inaction when both the Ward’s horse and Sanders’ horse damaged the fence separating their properties.
Ward complained Sanders did nothing to help fix the fence, and added Sanders’ many public information requests and calls to the city attorney have cost the city dearly.
“You showed your true colors,” Jack Ward said to Sanders. “If anyone should be made to resign, it should be you.”
When Sanders was elected to the council, his first agenda items repeatedly called for the mayor to resign, or for the council to take a vote of no confidence.
Sanders also operated a website highly critical of the city and its officials. His wife later took over the website, which reportedly takes its information from public documents.
Councilwoman Lisa Roberts submitted a letter to The Monitor in January deploring the “negativity on this great community.”
She wrote, “I am shocked and appalled at the Eustacetexas.com website, run by one of our very own council members’ spouse.”
“I’m still waiting for Mr. Sander to apologize in public,” councilwoman Karyn Mullen said during the meeting.
In addition to requesting copies of the city budget, records retention, council meeting minutes and agendas, policies and procedures, the Sanders have also requested:
• all e-mail correspondence for the city secretary for September, 2007, to the present,
• billing records for all water/wastewater customers since August, 2008,
• all open records requests received by the city since October, 2006, and all documents related to those requests,
• telephone records from Sept. 1 through Dec. 1, 2008,
• all documents stored on the city computer registered to the city secretary,
• itemized records of payments made by the City of Eustace during fiscal year (FY) 2008,
• minutes of all meetings in which the duties of the mayor were discussed since January, 2004, and
• detail of city postage expenses.
In addition, a complaint has been filed with the Attorney General’s office regarding these requests.
The city hasn’t established a fee for providing public information requests before, city secretary Drucilla Haynes told The Monitor.
“I’ve been working with the AG’s office” to comply with the requests and follow a formula for figuring out the costs, she said.
“If I knew what they were looking for, I’d tell them. I’m not trying to hide anything,” she added.
Recently, she sent a response to Sanders with an itemized pricing for most of the couple’s requests, which comes to between $500 and $600, Haynes said.
“I haven’t heard back from them yet,” she added.
Council rebuffs Sanders
Two motions made by councilman Mark Sanders at the Feb. 3 meeting failed, due to the lack of a second.
One was the prohibiting of throwing projectiles (candy) during city-endorsed parades or festivals, with a criminal penalty not to exceed $2,000.
The fine amount was determined with help from the city attorney. “He said this amount is not out of line,” Sanders said.
After much discussion, the council felt issuing reminders to those tossing candy to do so gently. A word to adults on the floats to monitor the activity would be sufficient.
Sanders reported the injury of a young man, who has only one good eye, being hit in that eye by a thrown piece of candy during the annual Christmas on the Square parade.
Sanders also reported an injury to an infant being held by its mother. Both were reportedly all right.
City insurance covers such liabilities as this, Laura Ward said.
“Were you there at the Christmas on the Square?” Mullen asked Sanders.
“No,” Sanders answered.
Sanders’ second failed motion sought to severely limit what a member of the council could do after being accused of a crime.
“This is needed to protect the citizens,” he said.
“I feel this is pointed straight at me,” Ward said. “And at anytime, something could happen to any of you.”
The proposed limitations were to be placed on check writing and hiring or firing.
“This would take the decision maker out of the process until that charge has been resolved one way or another,” Sanders said.
“The state has ruled that an indictment is not grounds for removal,” Ward responded.
Mullen pointed out that no one person has authority to cash checks, or has hiring and/or firing authority.
Councilman Scott Purl said the council already has the authority to take away the day-to-day responsibilities from the mayor, and citizens may petition the district attorney with an official complaint.
“Provisions are already in place,” Purl pointed out.
Sanders responded that the complaint to the DA requires a monetary bond, thus burdening the citizen, and addresses removal from office, while his proposed ordinance would merely restrict certain activities.
In other business, council members:
• ordered the May 9 city election. Seats up for election are now held by Mullen, Roberts and Laura Ward.
‘Yes, I’m running for re-election,” Roberts announced.
Audience member Sondra McAdams also declared her intention to run for a council seat.
“I want to help us put the past behind us, and look to the future with a positive attitude to help find ways to ease future debts and foster a healthier environment for business,” McAdams said.
• adopted amendments to Ordinance 19, prohibiting parking on the south side of U.S. Highway 175.
• adopted an ordinance prohibiting the use of engine brakes in the city limits.
• heard Police Chief Robert Walker report the renovation of the community center to house the police department is nearly complete.
He also reported a $1,500 gift from Walmart to the police department to offset some of the costs of the renovation.


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