Nearly 40 Detention Officers Disciplined in the Case of Man Trapped in Feces-Covered Cell For Weeks

Categories: Crime

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Last fall Channel 13 published photos from a whistleblower showing the squalid conditions in Terry Goodwin's jail cell.
More than six months ago, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia told reporters he was "damn mad" upon learning that a mentally ill inmate at his jail had been confined in a squalid, feces-covered cell for weeks on end. Today, heads rolled at the sheriff's office.

Garcia announced on Friday that he's fired six jail supervisors, including two jail sergeants who have already been indicted on felony charges of tampering with government records. Garcia says he's also suspended 29 employees, ranging from detention officers to sergeants and deputies, without pay from anywhere between one and ten days. One other jail commander has been relieved of duty and demoted, while Chief Deputy Fred Brown, who oversees jail operations, has agreed to resign, Garcia announced.

Ultimately, Garcia said guards isolated Terry Goodwin in a bug-infested cell with mounds of trash and feces clogging the sink, toilet and shower drain in a "poor attempt not to engage in a physical confrontation" with the inmate.

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Authorities File Charges in Alleged 2012 Honor Killings

Categories: Crime

Officials have charged Ali Irsan and three family members in the death of Gelareh Bagherzadeh and Coty Beavers
Nesreen Irsan told federal authorities she was a prisoner in her Montgomery County home, under the strict control of her devout Muslim father, Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan. In June 2011, while Irsan was away visiting his native Jordan, Nesreen's mother and sister discovered voicemails, emails and text messages between Nesreen and her soon-to-be husband Coty Beavers, a Christian.

Nesreen knew her father would punished her when he returned, so one day she escaped out a bathroom window, according to testimony federal officials gave in court last year. The next month, Nesreen and Beavers married. Soon afterward, the couple got a protective order against Irsan.

What followed was a relentless campaign by Irsan -- aided by his wife, 21-year-old son, and another daughter, authorities say -- to track down his daughter and reclaim his family's honor. Irsan not only blamed Beavers for his daughter's escape, according to authorities, but he also targeted one of Nesreen's best friends, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, a 30-year-old Iranian-American activist and Christian convert who berated Irsan for thinking he could control his daughter.

On Wednesday, more than three years after Bagherzadeh was gunned down as she pulled into her parents' Galleria-area townhome complex, authorities charged Irsan, his wife, and his 21-year-old son Nasim in the killing. Authorities say Irsan, who has been charged with capital murder, also killed Beavers, his daughter's 28-year-old husband, just 11 months after Bagherzadeh's slaying.

Flanked by FBI and Homeland Security officials in a press conference on Wednesday, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said the killings are unlike anything she's ever seen. "The family involvement, the lengths that were gone to to commit these murders, the premeditation. ... The efforts are unprecedented."

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Ex-Con Allegedly Posts Pics Showing Off His Guns #facingmorefederaltime

Categories: Crime

And here's to you, Mr. Robinson.
OK, say it with us one last time, folks: "If I'm a convicted felon who is not allowed to possess firearms, I will not post pics and videos of me possessing firearms."

That's from an introductory political science class we sometimes teach outside the Houston Public Library downtown, called "Tips For Dipshits 101." And it's a class that should have at least been audited by one Frederick Ramon Robinson, who has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm after allegedly taking to Twitter and other social media to show off his guns and say things like "if white people hate ISIS so much, then I like ISIS. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. #chopthemheadsoff Amerikkka is the Black Man's Foe."

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Group Says its Training Videos Could Cut Down on Dogs Getting Shot By Cops

Categories: Crime

Screenshot from NCRC training video
"Good Cujo....."
The National Canine Research Council says its training videos on police and dog encounters could reduce the amount of fatal dog shootings like the one that occurred in Santa Fe April 9.

In that incident, a police officer responding to a complaint of dogs barking in a storage unit arrived to find a woman living inside the unit with two adult pit bulls and seven puppies. When the officer went to talk to the woman, "the female pit attacked, clamping on to his forearm. He shot and killed the dog," according to KTRK.

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Two Jailers Indicted for Fudging the Log Books As Terry Goodwin Sat in a Squalid, Feces-Covered Cell

Categories: Crime

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Last fall KTRK published photos showing the squalid conditions in Terry Goodwin's jail cell.
Last September the Texas Commission on Jail Standards got an anonymous tip about the squalid conditions a mentally ill inmate at the Harris County jail had been forced to endure. Photographs an unidentified whistleblower eventually provided to KTRK showed Goodwin had been trapped inside a bug-infested cell with mounds of trash and feces clogging the sink, toilet and shower drain. Orange peel was scattered around the toilet bowl, perhaps in a futile attempt to mask the stench. Goodwin hadn't been outside his cell for weeks.

While a jail compliance team pulled Goodwin from his cell in October 2013, it wasn't until KTRK broke the story last fall that Sheriff Adrian Garcia knew anything about the incident. He looked rattled in a press conference his office called the day after the story aired, repeatedly telling reporters he was "damn mad" about what had happened on his watch. It remains unclear why Garcia was never told about the incident.

Yesterday the Harris County District Attorney's Office announced that a grand jury has indicted two jail sergeants for falsifying records, a felony, while Goodwin sat in his foul jail cell. If convicted, Ricky Pickens-Wilson and John Figaroa could face up to ten years in prison. While the DA's investigation sheds some new light on what happened to Goodwin at the Harris County lockup, there's still much we don't know.

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Family of Houston Artist's Widow Says She's Being Financially Exploited

Categories: Crime

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So, about that one case....
The family of a prominent Houston artist's elderly widow say she's the victim of financial exploitation, and that police and prosecutors don't seem interested.

Hazel Biggers' husband, John Biggers, who died in 2001, founded Texas Southern University's art department, and his own work has been exhibited in museums across the country. According to a November 2013 Harris County probate court investigator's report, Hazel Biggers suffers from dementia and "she has allegedly been the victim of a handyman who has taken advantage of her to the tune of over $200,000 in the last 18 months."

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The Rookie and the Zetas: How an FBI Agent Took Down a Drug Cartel's Horse-Racing Empire

Categories: Crime, Longform


It was a matter of seconds, closer to six than seven, before what was happening became obvious, the colt masked in pink kicking up clouds of red on its way into the lead. It was late November 2009. This race, the Texas Classic Futurity, was among the last of the year at Lone Star Park, the last chance to watch the two-year-olds run. The last chance at a payday: $1.1 million up for grabs, a half million to the winning owner.

All eyes were on that horse in pink. The muscular sorrel colt, with a white racing stripe tracing the bridge of its nose, had first edged into the lead several weeks earlier, catching many in the crowd off guard. It had never raced in the United States, let alone placed. But it won that first race, and the next, and the next, and by the time it burst from the gates of the Classic, it was the odds-on favorite.

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UPDATED: What We Know So Far About the Local Uber Driver Accused of Raping a Passenger

Categories: Crime

Courtesy Houston Police Department
Duncan Eric Burton is charged with sexual assault.
Update, Feb. 7: The Houston Uber driver charged with raping a passenger served 14 years in federal prison for drug-related charges, The Houston Chronicle is reporting. Duncan Eric Burton was released from prison in Beaumont in November 2012.

Citing Laura Cottingham, deputy assistant director with the city's Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department, the story states that "Someone with a negotiated drug conviction on his or her record would not be eligible for a city-issued permit, but could appeal and attempt to receive one."

Uber Spokesperson Debbee Hancock told us in an email Monday that, "When the city implemented its permitting process, thousands of driver partners were already using the Uber platform to make a living. We have been working closely with the city to move these drivers through the permitting process as quickly as possible, and every week hundreds of drivers complete the process, but the system is not designed to quickly and efficiently issue permits to a large volume of applicants."

Hancock did not provide a phone number in her email, and has not yet responded to an email request Tuesday regarding discuss Burton's criminal history.

A Houston Uber driver charged with raping a passenger in January told police the woman was intoxicated and he took her back to his apartment because she was unable to locate her home.

Duncan Eric Burton, 57, "admitted to performing oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex with the [woman] once they were at his apartment," and then went to work, according to a Houston police officer's affidavit filed in Harris County District Clerk. The woman "stated she has no memory of a cab ride, any sexual activity, or the defendant, was unaware any sex acts were occurring, and did not consent in any manner."

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Officer in Ticket-Rigging Scheme Accused of Lying Under Oath

Categories: Courts, Crime

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Scott Davidson via flickr
In January, Gregory Rosa was one of three Houston police officers charged with falsifying police reports in an apparent ticket-rigging scam. Authorities now claim Rosa lied under oath when one of his bogus traffic cases went to trial.

Per a felony indictment filed in Harris County yesterday, Rosa has been charged with aggravated perjury. According to court records, Rosa went before a municipal court judge in June 2013 and testified under oath that he'd witnessed a June 2013 traffic stop along Katy Freeway. Problem is, prosecutors allege, Rosa never witnessed that traffic stop.

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How Will Henri Morris Defend Himself Against Claims He Drugged and Molested an Employee He's Already Admitted to Drugging and Molesting?

Categories: Courts, Crime

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screenshot via KPRC

On a Wednesday morning last December, 67-year-old Henri Morris sat slumped over in his chair at a defense table inside the federal courthouse in downtown Houston. Morris listened intently, occasionally shaking his head as his attorney quietly talked him through a plea deal he'd arranged with federal prosecutors.

The day before, jurors had listened to opening statements that previewed the nauseating details of the case against Morris: How Morris, former CEO of the local tech company Edible Software, asked younger female employees to accompany him on business trips; how Morris insisted on pouring the women drinks that tasted unusually, bitterly strong; how women who traveled with Morris kept blacking out; how some awoke disoriented and naked in hotel rooms alone with Morris; and how, upon executing a search warrant, FBI investigators found date-rape drugs in Morris's luggage and photos of nude, incapacitated women on his thumb drives.

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