wins KC DA race
Manning edges out Windham for Precinct 4 Commissioner
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKEKaufman County has a new District Attorney. In a runoff election
Tuesday, voters chose Mike McLelland in an upset vote, ousting incumbent Rick Harrison.
In the race for Precinct 4 Commissioner, dairyman Tom S. Manning narrowly won over
businessman Joe Windham in the runoff. Unofficial results posted on the county website
show Manning capturing 51.97 percent with 790 votes, to Windhams 48.03 percent and
730 votes. Windham led in election day results but was swamped in the early voting
I will do my best to represent the citizens of Precinct 4 with honesty and
integrity, Manning said.
Neither winning candidates have an opponent to face in the Novembers general
election. They will both be sworn in the first days of January, 2011, to serve a four-year
According to unofficial results posted on the countys website, the trend started
with early voting results continued into election day.
McLelland pulled in 58.43 percent of the vote to garner a win with 2,687 votes for county
DA. Harrison tallied 1,912 votes for 41.57 percent of the total. Of the countys
57,056 registered voters, 4,723 voted in the runoff election comprising just 8.28 percent.
This is the second time in a row these two battled to become the face of justice in
Kaufman County, and both times the races were hotly contested, but with different results.
This time around, Harrison stressed his performance, citing a 100 percent conviction rate
on all felony jury trials, their speedy prosecution and indictment and the doubling of
restitution collections over the previous three-year record of $280,000 to $700,000.
However, his second DWI charge coming just last summer, may have forced the loss.
Harrison had been driving on the wrong side of a divided roadway when he struck a car that
was turning onto Seagoville Road from a side street.
No one was seriously injured in the accident that took place shortly after midnight June
Harrison was charged with one count of driving while intoxicated with a previous
conviction, a Class A misdemeanor. The previous conviction came 14 years ago, in December,
1994, when he was working as an assistant district attorney in Dallas County. Harrison had
been an assistant DA for five years before the arrest prompted his resignation.
McLelland used this to his advantage, making the race one of character. Though Harrison
fought back in advertisements, pointing out what he called misrepresentations in
McLellands resume, the voters decided against his reappointment.
I want to thank the voters of Kaufman County and assure all those who believe in me
that I will uphold their trust by my honorable conduct and trustworthy performance in
office, McLelland said.
Drug lab found at Athens motel
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENSHenderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt reports three arrests in two separate drug
The Henderson County Drug Enforcement Unit assisted the Athens Police Department lto ocate
and dismantle an active meth lab at an unidentified Athens motel March 26.
Investigators recovered a quantity of liquid substance in the manufacturing process
believed to be methamphetamine and multiple ingredients in the manufacture of the illicit
Danny Worthy, 31, was charged with manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance more
than 4 grams and less than 200 grams.
If convicted, Worthy faces from 5 to 99 years in prison for the first-degree felony and a
fine up to $10,000.
Bond was set at $35,000. Worthy remained in the Henderson County Jail at presstime.
The drug task force completed another investigation March 29, in Malakoff, resulting in
Though officers focused attention on several subjects at the Wheeler Apartments in the 200
block of Sunset, they charged only two young women Sara Joe Hill, 24, and Laura Ann
Hill was arrested for manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance over 1 gram and under
4 grams, a second-degree felony.
Adams was charged with possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram and
endangering a child, both state jail felonies.
The endangerment charge developed when she attempted to hide a baggie of methamphetamine
on her 2-year-old child while being interviewed by officers.
The Malakoff Police Department assisted investigators Ronnie Halbert, David Faught, Greg
Hill and Darrell Waller.
Crime victims try to make sense
April is Alcohol Awareness Month Crime Victims Awareness Week is April 18-24
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE-In the newspaper business, crime is news. It makes the front page. The
next week, there may be a follow up-story.
If its really big news, months later, news of the trial and sentencing appear, but
soon, other crimes are reported, and that specific crime usually fades from public view
but not from the memories of the victims.
Victims live with the effects of the crime for years onward. The crime forever changes
them, their family members and those who care about them. Crime Victims Awareness Week is
For the most part, these victims are invisible. Rarely, a few rise above their personal
tragedy, such as former Canton teacher Abby Rike.
Abby (who found a new life and fame as a contestant on TVs The Biggest
Loser) lost her entire family to a drunk driver Oct. 11, 2006.
Today, Abby uses her new-found confidence and outlook to help others take a new look at
their experience, so that it need not cause further destruction. She has become an
inspiration to many.
Others, like Tammi Branch, who lost her 18-year-old son Eric when his friend Dylan Whitten
wrapped a little Dodge Neon around a tree just over a year ago, still search for meaning
Whitten was recently sentenced to seven years in prison for intoxication manslaughter,
leaving both families devastated.
My biggest concern is that he died for no reason, Tammi told The Monitor.
There was no reason for him to die in that manner.
Thats why she has replaced her job as a clerk with Allstate in Irving for
volunteering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
While volunteering with MADD, Tammi has twice participated in the Victims Impact Panel.
She was one of four victims who told their stories to offenders, so they would realize the
impact of their crimes and stop the offense, in this case drinking and driving.
Tammi recalls how it took five months before she was able to sleep in her own room without
a light on, or to pull into her own driveway if there were no lights on inside the house.
They say the first year is the worst, but thats the numb year, she said,
when you still expect him to walk through the door.
Its the second year thats harder, she added. Hes on my mind
a lot more.
Mothers Day was really tough, as was Erics birthday (April 4), she said.
I feel everyone should take one (a Victims Impact Panel), to stop it before it
starts she said. Some of his friends have turned themselves around. Some have
changed. So it (his death) wasnt for no good reason. He did get through to
But that holds little comfort for Tammi.
It would be a comfort, if he could still be here, but Im glad some have
changed, she said.
Since MADDs inception 30 years ago, heightened awareness has been achieved about the
horrific results of driving drunk.
Along with changes in public policy, there has been a shift in societal norms against
drunk driving its no longer funny, or acceptable, to be driving drunk.
All of that has cut the number of people killed annually in alcohol-impaired crashes by 50
In 1980, more than 30,000 Americans lost their lives due to drunk driving; in 2009, just
11,773 were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes, including Mabank High School graduate Eric
But, according to the Centers on Disease Control, that translates to three in every 10
Americans being involved in a drunk-driving accident during their lifetime.
We became a statistic the moment Eric died, Tammi said. But my family
shouldnt be one. We are trying to survive that death intact, but most couples
April also happens to be Alcohol Awareness Month.
Drunk driving threatens families and communities. Consider these staggering statistics
A drunk driving traffic fatality occurs every 30 minutes in the United States.
Every month, more than 1,000 families have a loved one killed by drunk driving, and
even more have someone injured.
At any given moment, American families share the roads with an estimated 3 million
drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving at least three times and with
600,000 drivers who have five or more convictions.
As many as 75 percent of drunk drivers continue to drink and drive, even after
their licenses have been revoked.
A first-time drunk driving offender, on average, has driven drunk 87 times prior to
Alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost an estimated $114.3 billion in 2000,
including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in
People other than the drinking driver paid $71.6 billion (63 percent) of the
alcohol-related crash bill.
From speaking and listening to Tammi, it is abundantly clear that her sons needless
death from drinking and driving causes her daily pain.
Through the ordeal, she attended every court hearing but never alone.
Someone from MADD went with her to explain the process and stand as a buffer
between her and the District Attorneys office, and that has meant the world to
They didnt have to be there, she said. Theyve become an
extension to my family.
Tammi felt she needed to be there, even when the DAs Office told her nothing much
was going to take place.
I needed to represent my son, because my son no longer has a voice, she
explained. Im his voice, his stand-in.
March 9, one year and three months after the fatal crash, Dylan Whitten, bearing visible
scars as a reminder of his own near-fatal injuries from the wreck, was sentenced to seven
years in state prison for intoxicated manslaughter.
Is Tammi satisfied with the judgment? Its what her husband Richard wanted, jail
Im OK with it. I want to believe that when this is all said and done,
hell come out a better person. I can only hope, Tammi said.
There are no winners, she pointed out. There are losers everywhere you
look. I want time to be reversed and I cant have that.
I cant have anger or hate against Dylan. Hes someone I know, she
added. Two boys lost their lives that night.
How does she keep moving forward?
Volunteering helps, in that it keeps me busy, she said. If I were
working, I couldnt help anyone.
Tammi asks that the community stand with her as she supports MADD in its efforts to serve
the victims of drunk driving, and prevent the meaningless deaths of other sons and
She and her team of walkers are raising money by selling T-shirts for an upcoming MADD
walk in Dallas. Their goal is to raise $500 by Saturday, April 24.
Tammi will have her T-shirts for sale at a blood drive at the Henderson County Jail, from
noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 21. You can even become a virtual walker by helping to
Contact Tammi through her e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org to donate or order a shirt.
She has quite a few.
Also, ask her to send you a flyer, accepted at Chilis the last Wednesday of each
month. Those with the coupon will get 10 percent of their check donated to MADD on
Perhaps by helping Tammi, others can not only prevent further suffering, but also tell
other crime victims they are not invisible.