Thursday, March 6, 2008






  McKee upsets Bennett
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–In a bitterly contested race, Athens attorney R. Scott McKee upset veteran Henderson County District Attorney Donna R. Bennett Tuesday.
Amongst a record turnout, McKee polled 5,699 votes to Bennett’s 3,531, or nearly 62 percent to just over 38 percent.
During the campaign, both candidates submitted sharply critical advertisements.
Bennett had been district attorney for more than 13 years, and touted her experience in her advertisements, noting McKee had only two years experience as a prosecutor.
In his advertisements, McKee charged Bennett had returned more than $50,000 to convicted drug dealers over the past four years.
Attempts to reach McKee and Bennett for comment late Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Another incumbent, County Attorney James Owen, was also defeated, as challenger Clint Davis took more than 62 percent of the vote, 5,521 to Owen’s 3,307.
In his advertisements, Davis had charged Owen with being a “part-time” county attorney, saying Owen continued to run a law practice and chose not to represent the county in at least one major lawsuit.

Brown beats Gent again
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Betty Brown earned a sixth term in the Texas House of Representatives by beating back a strong challenge by Wade Gent in the Republican primary election Tuesday.
It was the second straight win for Brown over Gent, as she also narrowly defeated him in the 2006 Republican primary.
Although Brown led from start to finish, the contest was in doubt until the final votes were counted.
Early voting results in the District 4 race mirrored returns the rest of the night. Brown led 1,927 to 1,375 in Henderson County and 1,765 to 1,516 in Kaufman County.
Brown just slightly edged Gent in the overall vote in Kaufman County, 3,890 to 3,819. The incumbent’s lead was a little larger in Henderson County, 4,876 to 4,313.
“Hard work always helps, but I know my opponent worked hard as well,” Brown said Tuesday. “Experience was important. People who have known me as long as they have, and have seen my voting record, I hope that influenced a lot of people when they saw that I stuck with my conservative principles.”
In a campaign that turned a little chippy at times, Brown had the backing of several powerful state Republicans, including State Secretary of Agriculture Todd Staples, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Congressman Jeb Hensarling and State Sen. Robert Nichols.
“I am grateful to everyone of those endorsements I received,” she said.
Gent, the son of Kaufman County Judge Wayne Gent, ran on a campaign of what he called classic conservatism.
“I appreciate all my supporters. I am grateful to all the supporters that helped us come within few hundred votes,” he said Tuesday.
“I think that the closeness of the race illustrates that there really is a desire for change in the way that the Texas Legislature does business,” he added.
House Speaker Tom Craddick appointed Brown to serve as Chairman of Budget Oversight for the Agriculture and Livestock Committee for the 78th, 79th and 80th Legislative Sessions, a position which places her on the Appropriations Committee.

Allison, Nutt in runoff for sheriff
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Veteran law officer Ray Nutt fell just short of winning an outright majority in Tuesday’s three-man race for the Republican nomination for Henderson County Sheriff.
A former Texas Ranger, Nutt garnered 4,225 votes, or just under 47 percent of the total.
Two current deputies split the remaining votes between them, as chief deputy A.W. “Tony” Allison had 2,453 votes (27.28 percent) and patrol deputy Mitch Baker had 2,314 votes (25.73 percent).
Because none of the three had an outright majority, Nutt and Allison will face off in a runoff election Tuesday, April 8.
The runoff winner will face Democratic challenger Bill Casey, who was unopposed in Tuesday’s primary, in the November general election.
Incumbent sheriff Ronny Brownlow announced earlier he will be retiring at the end of his term, and endorsed Allison.

Tri-County voters go for Clinton, Huckabee
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Voters in the Tri-County area favored Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee in the Democratic and Republican primary elections Tuesday.
Sen. Clinton’s win further tightened an already neck-and-neck race with Sen. Barak Obama for the Democratic nomination for president, and her wins in Texas and Ohio broke Obama’s string of 11 straight primary or caucus victories.
At 1 a.m. Wednesday, with 85 percent of Texas precincts reporting, Clinton held a narrow 51 percent to 47 percent lead over challenger Sen. Barak Obama, and was projected by national media to win the state’s delegates.
Henderson County voters strongly supported Clinton, giving her nearly 64 percent of the vote, 5,260 to 2,815.
Kaufman County voters gave her nearly 56 percent of the vote, 5,457 to 4,176.
In Van Zandt County, a number of difficulties resulted in a couple of Democratic boxes being delayed past 1 a.m., and complete results were not available by presstime.
Although Arizona Sen. John McCain clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with strong victories in both Texas and Ohio, Tri-County voters went for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, formally dropped out of the GOP race Tuesday, but outpolled McCain in both Kaufman and Van Zandt counties, although he trailed McCain in Henderson County.
Huckabee had the best showing in Van Zandt County, where he took 50 percent of the vote, 2,807 to 2,412.
In Kaufman County, Huckabee took 48 percent of the vote, 4,881 to McCain’s 3,601, but in Henderson County, McCain took nearly 53 percent of the vote, 4,999 to 3,683.
Republican ballots in all three counties listed eight presidential candidates, including a few (former New York mayor Rudy Gulliani and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, for example) who had bowed out of the race weeks or months ago.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul led the other contenders in both Kaufman and Van Zandt counties, but more Henderson County voters voted “uncommitted” than voted for Paul.


Body surfaces in Cedar Creek Lake
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–Authorities recovered a body Sunday afternoon floating under near a boat dock in a Gun Barrel City subdivision.
They believe it is the body of a man family members reported missing two weeks ago.
Neighbors alerted the Gun Barrel City Police Department to the body.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dale Blaylock pronounced the man dead at the site about 3:30 p.m.
The body is believed to be that of 43-year-old David McVey of Payne Springs.
The cause of death is to be determined by an autopsy, Blaylock said.
A source close to the investigation said foul play is not suspected.
Sheriff’s investigator David Vaught hopes to have a positive identification in the next few days.
McVey is thought to have been a resident of the Leisure Land subdivision.

Three remain in jail after triple slaying
Monitor Staff Reports
EMORY–Three Rains High School students and a 20-year-old man remain in custody after a triple murder early Saturday that allegedly was carried out over a forbidden romance.
The murders were discussed between the pair for about a month, according to a Rains County Sheriff’s report following interviews with the suspects and the lone survivor of the ordeal Monday.
County law enforcement officials found the bodies of 37-year-old Penny Caffey and her two sons, ages 13 and 8, in their burning home on Rains County Road 2370, about halfway between Emory and Alba.
Terry Caffey, father of the family, suffered five gunshot wounds to the head and upper body, dragging himself over 300 feet through wooded land to get to his neighbor’s. He was treated at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.
The Caffey’s 16-year-old daughter Erin was arrested along with three others later Saturday, and all were charged with three counts of capital murder. She is being held at the Hunt County Juvenile Detention Center. Erin had recently enrolled at Rains High School in January, after years of being home schooled, according to published reports.
Charlie James Wilkinson, the girl’s 19-year-old boyfriend, and Bobbi Gale Johnson, 18, were the other two Rains High School students charged in the murders. Johnson was the girlfriend of Charles Allen Waid, 20, who was also arrested.
They’re are being held in the Rains County Jail on bonds of $500,000 for each count.
Wilkinson’s police statement said he and Erin had been dating and that her parents decided they could no longer see each other. He also stated Erin wanted her parents dead because they would not let her see him, and they even took away her cell phone. Further, he states discussions to kill Erin’s parents have been ongoing for about a month.
Wilkinson stated that he and Erin were in love and the only way they could be together is to kill the parents.
A first attempt was made by Wilkinson and Waid, Feb. 29, but the barking of the dog held them off. The young men returned to their parked car on RCR 2370. He continued stating Caffey called and advised them to return in an hour, so she could keep the dog quiet.
The young men returned and picked up Caffey at the end of the driveway, then parked down the road while they discussed among them, including Johnson, on how to do it.
Wilkinson and Waid left the two girls in the car and went to the house, entering the Caffey’s downstairs master bedroom first carrying a gun. Wilkinson shot at Mrs. Caffey twice and left the room. He handed the gun to Waid who returned to the bedroom and shot more at both Caffeys.
The Caffey sons came downstairs hearing the noise and Wilkinson told them to return to their beds. Afterwards the young men went upstairs and shot and stabbed the two boys. Then they found the small lock box with cash inside and opened it, having gotten the location and combination from Erin. Jewelry, a wallet, purse and clothes were packed earlier and ready for them to retrieve, Wilkinson stated.
The girls were called to drive the car back to the driveway to pick them up.
Waid and Wilkinson said they used pocket lighters to set fire to bedspreads, laundry and furnishings.
Waid admitted assisting Wilkinson and said he was promised about $2,000 for his help in killing Erin’s parents, admitting to the participated in the shooting and stabbing of the Caffey family.
Terry Caffey swore out a complaint stating Wilkinson broke into his house and shot him. The attack occurred around 4 a.m. At the time of the attack, Caffey believed his daughter was also a victim inside the house.
A small-caliber gun and a “sword” were allegedly used in the killings and the house set on fire in an attempt to cover the murders. When authorities arrived, having been alerted by a 911 call from Caffey’s neighbor where the lone survivor landed, the house was fully engaged in flames.

Act of mercy results in death of nurse
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN COUNTY–An act of mercy by pediatric nurse June Nalls, 41, ended in her death on State Highway 243, at about 10:45 p.m. Saturday.
Nalls was killed in a head-on collision as she was rushing a wounded teen to the hospital in Kaufman.
Her teenaged son Devin and a 15-year-old friend were walking across the yard of a 74-year-old neighbor, W.C. Frosch, who said he saw someone on his property he didn’t recognize.
The homeowner fired a revolver through his window but was not sure he had hit anyone.
The friend was hit in his left side and both boys ran to the Nalls home where the son awakened his parents.
Being a nurse, June Nalls thought it would be quicker to take the boy in her own pickup truck to the emergency room in Kaufman.
A shooting call was received by the Kaufman Sheriff’s Department at 10:41 p.m. At 10:46 p.m. the call about the accident came in. Only five minutes separated the two calls.
Her husband Mark Nalls, was quoted as saying, “I didn’t even get to say, “I love you.”
The couple were married 20 years.
The teen who was shot, Brandon Robinson, was air lifted to Parkland Memorial in Dallas where he is listed in stable condition.
Robinson explained the circumstances in which he was injured and his friend’s mother was killed.
He was quoted in the Tuesday edition of the Dallas Morning News.
“We kept hearing music so we wanted to check it out.We walked across this Dude’s yard. I heard gunfire and we ran.”
The Nalls’ teen was taken by ambulance to Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman. He has since been released.
The driver of the 1996 Ford pickup that collided with Nalls, Augustine Renteria, 27. of Kaufman, was arrested for failure to stop and render aid.
He is currently being held under a $75,000 bond and is in the Kaufman County Jail.
The shooting remains under investigation by the Kaufman Sheriff’s Department.
The accident is being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A fund has been set up at the Citizens National Bank of Texas in Kaufman and in Waxahachie to benefit the family of June Nalls.
Mark Nalls is on disability following an accident in which he was crushed by an electrical transformer while he was working to restore power to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina.


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