Pissed Off Inmate Admits to Mailing Judge Threatening Letter

Categories: Crime

Parée via flickr
In 2005, George Yarbrough filed a boilerplate, handwritten civil rights complaint in federal court, claiming Texas prison guards in Huntsville pummeled him and broke his jaw while handcuffing him back in 2002.

Locked up on multiple charges -- evading arrest, unauthorized use of a vehicle, assault on a public servant -- Yarbrough sued Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials, claiming they failed to properly investigate his case and ignored his grievance. Nine days after filing his lawsuit, local U.S. District Judge David Hittner threw out the case.

Yarbrough appealed, to no avail. Court records show he wrote numerous letters to Hittner's court asking for an update on his case. When he filed a motion asking Hittner to clarify his decision to toss the case, Hittner rejected that, too.

Evidently Yarbrough let his anger toward Hittner stew for a while. Last September, while still in prison, Yarbrough wrote a whole different kind of letter to the court.

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Why Do People Plead Guilty to Drug Crimes When They Don't Have Drugs?

Categories: Courts, Crime

Thumbnail image for labshot.jpg
iT@C via flickr
In its annual report released this week, the National Registry of Exonerations highlights a troubling oddity of the criminal justice system that's become more visible in Harris County than perhaps anywhere else in the country: People convicted of drug crimes in cases where there's no evidence of a controlled substance.

Back in October, the Houston Press received copies of hundreds of notices the Harris County District Attorney's Office sent out to defendants who'd pleaded guilty to drug offenses, telling them that forensic lab reports ultimately showed they were "convicted in error." In some of those cases, testing showed a lesser quantity of the drug than they were convicted for (the difference between, say, class A and class B misdemeanor possession). But in many of those cases, lab reports simply showed there was no controlled substance whatsoever.

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Rosenberg Police Release the Least Helpful Police Sketch of All Time

Categories: Crime

Rosenberg Police/KTRK
Super helpful, right?
Last weekend in Rosenberg, a man in a mask robbed a father and daughter at gunpoint outside an apartment complex on Vista Drive.

To help catch this criminal -- who police say may have robbed some people at another Rosenberg apartment complex the very same day -- police have released a sketch of a man in a mask. You know, just in case you recognize a man in a mask.

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Local Banker Stole Money From the Accounts of Dead Nigerian Man

Categories: Crime

Ben Husmann via flickr
Back in early 2010, a Nigerian man named Benjamin Onweni dumped some $2 million into a couple of accounts he'd just opened at a local Chase branch. When banker Carlos Lavin Ibarra learned of Onweni's death later that year, he was supposed to inform the bank.

Evidently he didn't. Instead, Ibarra siphoned money from the dead man's account, buying nearly $800,000 worth of cashier's checks. Ibarra, who pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of bank fraud last summer, was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison yesterday.

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Cleveland Woman Hid Meth Pipe in Vagina During Drug Search

Categories: Crime

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Christina Searcy
When Montgomery County deputy constables pulled over the car Christina Searcy was traveling in on Friday, they smelled pot, found a joint, and ultimately turned up several small baggies of cocaine. The party clearly busted, it's unclear why at that point Searcy still felt she needed to hide a meth pipe in her vagina.

Searcy and three others were traveling on U.S. 59 Friday when Precinct 4 deputies investigating a bad check-writing scheme pulled over the car, according to the Montgomery County Police Reporter. When they pulled up to the car, deputies got a whiff of marijuana and decided to investigate further. When driver Kevin Hales opened the door, a joint fell out of the car. Deputies ultimately found several small bags of cocaine, according to the Police Reporter.

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DNA Leads to Arrest in 30-Year-Old Cold Case

Categories: Crime

Edmond Degan
HPD announced this morning that it has made an arrest in the fatal stabbing of two sisters in the Heights that went unsolved for three decades.

Police say a relative found the bodies of Yleen and Lillie Kennedy, 33 and 23 years old, around March 5, 1984 on the 600 block of east 12th street. Yleen had been beaten, shot, stabbed and sexually assaulted, while her sister had been shot to death. When police arrived, they found the home had been ransacked.

The case went nowhere until 2009, when HPD's cold case unit reviewed the murder, processed some evidence taken from the scene and found DNA. But back in 2009, there wasn't a hit when HPD ran the DNA profile through CODIS.

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UPDATED HISD History Teacher Accused of Choking Student

Categories: Crime, Environment

HISD's Jane Long Academy

(See update at the end of this post)

The Houston Independent School District has accused a Jane Long Academy history teacher of choking a student in class, according to a statement the district sent out this afternoon.

HISD began investigating Scott Christopher Matthews -- who, according to the school's website, teaches seventh grade Texas history and eighth grade American history -- after an incident in the classroom last Thursday. "Matthews was accused last Thursday of choking a student in his classroom," according to a statement from the district. "School administrators responded immediately, aiding the student, removing the teacher from the classroom and notifying HISD Police and Child Protective Services." District officials did not disclose the age of that student.

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Tim Miller Thinks He Knows Who Killed His Daughter, But Is He After the Right Monster?

Categories: Cover Story, Crime

Photo by Max Burkhalter
Shortly after Tim Miller's teenage daughter Laura went missing from her League City home in September 1984, he had a feeling he wasn't really searching for Laura but for her body.

Six months earlier, a dog had dug up a human skull in a pasture off Calder Road in League City, leading police to the rest of what turned out to be a 25-year-old woman who'd disappeared in October 1983. Heide Fye lived with her parents, about three blocks from the Millers. The medical examiner believed she'd been beaten to death. She was last seen at the same convenience store where Laura's mother dropped Laura off in September 1984. The 16-year-old had planned to use the pay phone to call her boyfriend and walk home afterward.

Miller was bothered by the coincidence.

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Alvin Man Arrested in Multi-State Crime Spree Has a Violent, Drug-Fueled Past

Categories: Crime

Brazoria County District Clerk
Mugshot of Edward Campbell from a previous arrest in Brazoria County, Texas.
When Edward Campbell's wife came home from work the night of September 19, 2014, her house was a wreck and Campbell was fuming. According to an affidavit she filed in a Brazoria County court in October, Campbell had spent the entire day emptying out the cupboards, closets and drawers inside their Alvin, Texas, home instead of shuttling their three young kids to and from school. When Campbell's wife started to grab her things to leave, he shoved her to the couch, choked her and dragged her to the bedroom.

With their three children -- ages five, seven and nine -- still in the house, Campbell held a gun to his wife's head and told her to say good-bye to her kids, according to the affidavit, threatening to kill her in front of the children. After striking her with a piece of wood, Campbell asked her: Would you rather be shot or beaten to death?

When Campbell eventually dozed off, his wife escaped, drove to the parking lot of a nearby elementary school and called the police, according to court records. Campbell, 54, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but he bonded out December 8, weeks before he embarked on what authorities have called a multi-state crime spree that left an elderly North Carolina couple dead and ended with a New Year's Day shootout that put two West Virginia police officers in the hospital.

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40 Weeks Later, No One Has Been Charged With the Murders of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson

Brian Stauffer
The bodies were impossible to miss. They were the first thing the beer-truck delivery man saw when he stepped out to haul the trash to the dumpster behind the little convenience store on Bolivar Point on Friday morning, March 7, 2014. They'd been left in a messy pile and could almost be mistaken for stacked mannequins if it weren't for the trail of blood dribbling toward the street.

One was dressed in men's clothing and work boots and was lying face-down on the pavement. Her head was swaddled in a reddish-brown plaid sheet that covered her face entirely and caught most of the blood. She was small-framed and only about five feet tall, and at first detectives mistook her for a teenage boy because of her clothes. She'd been beaten to death, with the killing blows administered to her head. A young black woman was piled on top of her, their legs tangled. Pretty with a triangle of a face composed of high cheekbones and a small rosebud mouth, the woman was even shorter, with long, dark hair. Her large brown eyes were wide open and blank, her mouth shaped in an almost-perfect circle of surprise. A quarter-size gunshot wound marked her right temple.

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