Sunday, February 28, 2010

No good deed goes unpunished

And to think it all started out because the officers were trying to be nice and just take him home.


Drunk Bridgeton man calls 911 from patrol car, claims kidnapping

By The Associated Press

BRIDGETON — State police said an intoxicated man being driven to his southern New Jersey home by troopers called 911 and claimed they were kidnapping him.

The incident began after the Bridgeton man — whose name was not disclosed — was taken to the state police barracks in that Cumberland County community earlier this month.

Law enforcement officers had found him while investigating a disorderly persons call in Bridgeton and decided to transport him home, putting him in the cruiser's back seat.

After making the fake 911 call, he continued to be disorderly despite repeated warnings. When the troopers pulled over and tried to arrest him, he resisted but was eventually restrained and taken back to the barracks.
He was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstruction.

Its the sauce

Hmmm.

It could have been worse I guess, at least it wasn't this hot sauce.



Ala. man attacked with Worcestershire sauce bottle

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - Police said a 38-year-old man was charged with beating another man at a motel with a sauce bottle and a fire extinguisher. Police said the suspect was being held at the Lauderdale County Jail on $6,000 bond on charges he attacked a 43-year-old man who was returning to his motel room.

Officers said that as the man opened the door to his room Wednesday night, the suspect hit him on the head with a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, then grabbed a fire extinguisher and hit him on the head and face.

Officials at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital said the victim was treated in the emergency room and admitted to the hospital, where he was listed in good condition.

No wonder he keeps wanting burgers

Poor guy has to go through life with that name.

No wonder he smokes weed.


Ronald McDonald arrested for pot
Iowa City Press-Citizen


Police arrested Ronald McDonald for possession of marijuana and allowing others to use drugs at his residence on Sunday.
According to police, officers responded to the 44-year-old’s residence, 2023 Taylor Dr. at 5:43 after receiving a report of a suspicious odor. Outside McDonald’s residence, officers could smell a strong odor or marijuana coming from the residence.

Further investigation revealed a quantity of marijuana and other drug use paraphernalia, police said. Officers interviewed McDonald and other people present and were given consent to search the McDonald house. Upon searching the residence, officers found a jar containing marijuana residue in McDonald’s room.

Police said McDonald admitted to smoking some marijuana located in the kitchen, as well.
McDonald was charged with possession of marijuana and permitting a gathering for the use of drugs.

Also charged Sunday were Deandre Lamar Ronald Irby, 18, of 2021 Taylor Dr., and Sven Micheal Jones Hovland, 20, of 1808 Rochester Ct. Police said Irby admitted to smoking marijuana at the residence. He was charged with possession of marijuana.

According to police, Hovland had marijuana a scale, ledgers, a pipe and cash in his possession. Police said Hovland admitted to providing the marijuana for the gathering and selling marijuana. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

One score he doesn't need

I hope for his sake that the charges prove not to be true.



Ex-Spur's guard's lawyer denies sex allegations
By Guillermo Contreras - Express-News 
 
A lawyer for former Spurs guard Alvin Robertson said Saturday his client has been wrongly linked to a sex-trafficking ring in Bexar County because of his prominence on and off the basketball court.

“He's adamant that he's done nothing wrong,” said attorney Jimmy Parks Jr., who spoke with Robertson during his arrest Friday. “He's willing to get back to Bexar County as quick as he can to try to clear himself of these charges.”

Robertson was arrested in Bentonville, Ark., where he was to attend a basketball shooting clinic over the weekend.

The rest of the story:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

No one's fault and everybody's fault

Will this be enough to spare Estrada from the death penalty?

That his mother, at least, seemed to blame everyone else for her son's problems and they never were addressed properly?

I still don't think this will spare him given the nature of the crime.


Accountability for killing starts at Estrada's home
Veronica Flores-Paniagua - Express-News
 
It's in our community's nature to be optimistic, to want to give others the benefit of the doubt.
So it wasn't entirely surprising that, early on after the death of Viola Barrios in April 2008, while some were aiming barbs at her accused killer and his family, many hung on to the hope that a mother and father in our midst hadn't spawned a monster who could kill a defenseless old woman.

The implications were too horrific — for Joe Estrada Jr.'s parents, for us. Had Estrada's parents failed in their responsibility to raise a law-abiding, God-loving child? Had they reared a spoiled brat who took things for granted? Had they reared a murderer?

But the ugly truth lurked behind the trappings of the family's middle-class life. He lived in his parents' well-appointed house in a nice neighborhood near the Medical Center. He and his father spent time together engaged in their archery hobby. He didn't appear to want for much.

The rest of the story:

Shake, rattle, and roll

According to a USGS geophysicist the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that just hit Chile is 500 times greater in strength than the 7.0 earthquake which devastated Haiti a month ago.

See here: Chile shock energy


Huge quake hits Chile; tsunami threatens Pacific


SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- A devastating magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, shattering buildings and bridges, killing at least 78 people and setting off a tsunami that threatened every nation around the Pacific Ocean - roughly a quarter of the globe.

Chilean TV showed devastating images of the most powerful quake to hit the country in a half-century: In the second city of Concepcion trucks plunged into the fractured earth, homes fell, bridges collapsed and buildings were engulfed in flames. Injured people lay in the streets or on stretchers.

Many roads were destroyed and electricity and water were cut to many areas.

There was still no word of death or damage from many outlying areas that were cut off by the quake that struck at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. EST, 0634 GMT) 200 miles (325 kilometers) southwest of Santiago.

Experts warned that a tsunami could strike anywhere in the Pacific, and Hawaii could face its largest waves since 1964 starting at 11:19 a.m. (4:19 p.m. EST, 2119 GMT), according to Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The rest of the story:

Job security

Just call it prosecutor job security.



Deputies arrest suspect in Wednesday shooting
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GUADALUPE COUNTY — A 30-year-old Guadalupe County resident was arrested on an aggravated assault allegation early Thursday in the shooting of a Hays County man.

Mario Natal was booked into Guadalupe County jail on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

If proved at trial, the allegation is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Bail had not been set on Natal Thursday evening.

Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Investigator Sgt. Bruce Tubbs said San Marcos police called Seguin at about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday to report they’d pulled a 32-year-old Hays County resident over on Interstate 35 and found he was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

“He was travelling down the interstate in an erratic manner,” Tubbs said of the reason for the traffic stop. “San Marcos said they would be taking him to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, and that they didn’t know exactly where the shooting had occurred.”

The victim, who Tubbs did not identify, was recovering from his wounds Thursday evening and was listed in stable condition.

Investigation revealed the shooting had occurred in Guadalupe County, and sheriff’s deputies who went to a residence off Aspen Street in Redwood called in Tubbs and Investigator Mark Reyes late Wednesday night.

“We were able to locate a crime scene, processed that crime scene, and were able to get some leads on a suspect,” said Tubbs, who worked most of the night. “We were able to interview the suspect, and during the investigation, it was indicated that he was the individual who had shot our victim.”

Tubbs didn’t offer a motive for the shooting or say precisely where it was believed by investigators to have occurred.

He said investigation was still under way Thursday night, and would continue today.

Crossing the t's and dotting the i's

Judge Clawson is a good judge and a friend of mine.  (full disclosure)

His advice to always pay the filing fee is a good one.  I always paid even when I had more than enough signatures to file.

Belt and suspenders, belt and suspenders.


Judge: Cass will stay on the ballot
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SEGUIN — Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Edmundo “Cass” Castellanos is on the Democratic primary ballot, and will be on the general election ballot next November, a visiting state district judge ruled Thursday afternoon.

Visiting District Judge James F. Clawson Jr. declined to overturn a Feb. 12 ruling by the Fourth Court of Appeals that dismissed a lawsuit by Sheryl Sachtleben, who is the incumbent judge’s Republican opponent in next November’s general election.

Sachtleben sought to force Guadalupe County Democrat Party Chair Phillip Bennett to remove Castellanos from the ballot, alleging that several of his signatures on the petition in lieu of filing fee submitted back in December were no good.

After Clawson issued his ruling, both sides alleged irregularities in the other’s application for a place on the ballot.

Sachtleben’s attorney asked that his client be allowed to state into the court record her allegations, and she leveled charges of election fraud against Castellanos, known as “Judge Cass” to his constituents, to whom she lost a hard-fought election four years ago.

“If you go through the database, clearly when Judge Cass was verifying those signatures, he provided eight of them with different voter identification numbers,” Sachtleben alleged. “I took great offense to that, and if we don’t do anything else here today, I want the public to know, and I’ve taken this action because I feel people need to know we have a judge who did this, and it’s not right.”

Castellanos declined comment on the petition issue at the advice of Bennett, a retired U.S. Air Force non-commissioned officer and grade school teacher who successfully represented the party and his candidate in the hearing.

But Bennett answered the allegations with one of his own.
“Look at her petition,” Bennett said outside the courtroom. “The statement she made in court was blatantly false on its face. She had a petition, we challenged it, and there were up to 40 signatures that were invalid.”

Even still, Sachtleben had more than the required 53 signatures, while Castellanos came up two signatures short.

Some of Sachtleben’s signatures, Bennett said, were in handwriting that he believed indicated that one person had signed for more than one voter.

“We want to run a clean, quality election — we want to take our message and our candidate to the people and we want the people in Precinct 2 to vote for their candidate,” Bennett said. “Judge Cass has served our community in Precinct 2 for 14 years with honesty, integrity and distinction, and when all this started coming out in the press, the community in Precinct 2 came to his support.”

After Clawson told both sides he wouldn’t rule contrary to the ruling by the appeals court, he explained to the sides why.

Sachtleben’s attorney, Paul Finley of New Braunfels, said the judge explained that appeals judges don’t rule on cases involving disputed facts — only on cases in which they review what other judges do.

Sachtleben said she’d originally filed her dispute at the appeals court on Feb. 11 because the Texas Election Code and an employee in the Secretary of State’s office that oversees elections told her to do so.
She filed the same demand that Bennett pull Castellanos from the ballot in 25th Judicial District Court on Feb. 12 because she became concerned that she may have originally filed it in the wrong place.

No matter, Sachtleben said afterwards.

“I’m not stopping, and I look forward to winning a good election,” Sachtleben said. “But I’m also interested in pursuing what I consider are fraudulent voter identification numbers.”

Had the judge considered Sachtleben’s pleading on its merits, Bennett’s defense to the allegation was two-fold: first that Sachtleben had notified him after he’d certified the signatures on the ballot in good faith and at a time when Castellanos had no recourse, and second, that it was too late under the law because of a case in which another Texas state court had ruled that such a challenge had to be mounted by when absentee ballots are accepted — Jan. 15 instead of Feb. 16.

Castellanos submitted his petition on Dec. 29, and had he realized some of the signatures were invalid then, Bennett said, Castellanos would have had a couple days before the Jan. 4 deadline to get the two additional signatures he needed.

The judge listened, and then spoke briefly to offer Castellanos what he called a “little friendly advice.”

“The next time you run for office, I suggest paying the filing fee,” Clawson said.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Stop! Bad car... Sit!

Possibly wonderful news for the defendant.

Possible bad news for Toyota.


'Toyota defense' might rescue jailed Minnesota man
My Way News-

LINO LAKES, Minn. (AP) - Ever since his 1996 Toyota Camry shot up an interstate ramp, plowing into the back of an Oldsmobile in a horrific crash that killed three people, Koua Fong Lee insisted he had done everything he could to stop the car.

A jury didn't believe him, and a judge sentenced him to eight years in prison. But now, new revelations of safety problems with Toyotas have Lee pressing to get his case reopened and his freedom restored. Relatives of the victims - who condemned Lee at his sentencing three years ago - now believe he is innocent and are planning to sue Toyota. The prosecutor who sent Lee to prison said he thinks the case merits another look.

"I know 100 percent in my heart that I took my foot off the gas and that I was stepping on the brakes as hard as possible," Lee said in an interview Wednesday at the state prison in Lino Lakes. "When the brakes were looked at and we were told that nothing was wrong with the brakes, I was shocked."

The rest of the story:

Contrite

Ummm....okay then?

You are all forgiven?


Mexican drug lord apologizes for a lifetime of 'mistakes'
By Dane Schiller - Houston Chronicle 
 
As Mexican drug kingpin Osiel Cardenas Guillen — whose ruthless Gulf Cartel took hundreds of lives while smuggling tons of cocaine — stood before a federal judge in Houston, he made his first public statement in years, saying he was sorry for his “mistakes,” according to a transcript obtained by the Houston Chronicle on Thursday.

“I apologize to my country, Mexico, to the United States of America, to my wife, especially my children, for all the mistakes I have made,” a shackled Cardenas said, according to the transcript.

Cardenas, 42, was known for hands-on leadership and bringing a new level of brutality to Mexico’s warring underworld with his squad of former Mexican special forces soldiers turned cartel enforcers.

The rest of the story:

Not his fault

I guess it is all some one else's fault.  His mother drank while she was pregnant.

His teachers "ganged-up" on him.

His parents didn't give him his meds for ADD.  His girlfriend told him she couldn't get pregnant.

And on and on and on.  Meanwhile Viola Barrios lies dead, killed with an arrow shot by him into her head who then was partially burned to cover up his deed.


Fetal alcohol syndrome cited in Estrada defense
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News 
 
VICTORIA — From the time he was born, capital murderer Joe Estrada Jr. had a damaged brain and parents who refused treatment, his attorneys said Thursday as they began calling witnesses in an effort to keep him off death row.

Estrada, 20, was born with fetal alcohol syndrome as a result of his mother's heavy drinking during the first weeks of pregnancy, attorney Therese Huntzinger told jurors during an opening statement for his punishment hearing.

While not an excuse for the murder of restaurateur Viola Barrios, the brain deformity does help explain why her client is troubled, she said. Defense attorneys also revealed for the first time Thursday that Estrada is a father.

The rest of the story:


Its wasn't my fault!

Hit and Ran

No comment other than this is NOT a photo from the incident.

I have no idea as to how that car got up there.


Police, CPS adjusting charges for man in SUV

-

Police and Child Protective Services are reworking their charges for a man who police say crashed his truck into a neighbor’s house and then ran away, leaving his 7-year-old behind.

Police have not arrested the man yet and were working Child Protective Services to determine a full range of charges, Police Lt. Mike Penshorn said previously.

Investigator’s met with the Comal County District Attorney’s office Wednesday but charges were not finalized, Penshorn said. It is unclear whether the man faces felony or misdemeanor charges.

Investigators will present final charges again to the DA’s office in the next week or so, Penshorn said, just in time for the March 3 round of Grand Jury indictments.

The 32-year-old man, who police have not identified yet, is accused of crashing his 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe into a neighbor’s duplex Feb. 9 while the neighbor was on her couch which the SUV brushed. Neighbors could not give the man’s name, and his wife declined to comment or provide her or her husband’s name.

Police say the man was driving around the cul-de-sac of his neighborhood in the 100 block of Morales Court, when police he let his 7-year-old son sit on his lap to drive the vehicle and crashed into a home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crying wolf

This is the thing most men fear and what, I think, hurts many sexual assault cases and allegations.

The fear that the story is made up does a huge disservice to those who are the actual victims of rape and sexual abuse.

I do feel badly for her children.



The truth hurts rape liar

3 yrs. in prison for framing innocent man
By LAURA ITALIANO - NY Post

A young mother who falsely cried rape, sending an innocent man to prison for nearly four years, will experience firsthand what he suffered -- she'll spend one to three years behind bars for perjury.
"I wish her the best of luck," said William McCaffrey last night of Biurny Peguero Gonzalez.
"Jail isn't easy."

McCaffrey, 33, of The Bronx, was locked up after Gonzalez accused him of raping her at knifepoint on a Bronx street back in 2005.
It was a lie she repeated to doctors, cops, prosecutors, a grand jury and the jury that convicted McCaffrey.

"What happened in this case is one of the worst things that can possibly happen in our criminal-justice system," Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon said as he pronounced sentence.
McCaffrey said he has some sympathy for Gonzalez and hopes she "doesn't go through what I went though.
"I was an accused rapist in prison," he said, adding that in prison, "rape is the worst crime possible."
All is clearly not forgiven.

A person who would "lie and paint somebody as a rapist is worse than a real rapist or a real murderer," McCaffrey said

He also blamed "the arresting officers, the prosecution." Everyone, he said, "wanted to believe the lie, the ADA [assistant district attorney] first and foremost."

Judge Solomon said, "It's hard to imagine why anyone could have done this."

It turned out Gonzalez robbed McCaffrey of four years of his life for the most trivial of reasons.
She'd been hanging out with a group of girlfriends when she accepted an invitation to get into his car.
After she returned, her pals were furious that she'd ditched them -- so she made up the rape story to gain their sympathy.

She will be eligible for parole in a year -- after serving a one-quarter of the time her victim was imprisoned.
Gonzalez was taken away after making a tearful apology to McCaffrey, who was not in court.
She also begged for mercy on behalf of her two sons, ages 3 months and 7 years.
"To Mr. McCaffrey, I am aware that nothing I do or say to him can bring back the years he spent in jail," she said. "I want him to know I will carry this guilt for the rest of my life."

Gonzalez, 27, had recanted her story last year after new DNA evidence proved she'd been lying and a priest to whom she'd confessed urged her to come clean.

Gonzalez had repeatedly insisted she was "110 percent" sure McCaffrey had raped her after they met in Inwood, in upper Manhattan, and she drunkenly accepted a ride.

"It was a complete and utter lie," Assistant DA Evan Krutoy told Judge Solomon.

The outraged prosecutor asked that she be sentenced to two to six years "so that there's a chance that she will serve what he served."

Krutoy conceded that Gonzalez -- with a previously clean record -- looked like a good candidate for probation.
But ultimately, she needed to serve time, Krutoy said, "because of the extent of harm that she caused . . . She came into court and she lied."

Her lie -- blurted out as her girlfriends were slapping her around -- took on a life of its own, fueled in part by McCaffrey's long rap sheet of violent arrests.

Gonzalez could have pulled the plug on the prosecution at any time, but instead she watched McCaffrey get sent up the river for a rape he never committed.

Her lawyer, Paul Callan, conceded of the perjury, "It is not defensible."

He insisted that Gonzalez suffered horrible abandonment and sexual abuse as a young teen, and has now had "a spiritual awakening."
"She is not the same person as the one who committed this crime at age 22," Callan said.

The lawyer said that at their first meeting, she'd told him, "I don't care what happens to me. You have to get Mr. McCaffrey out of jail."

Putting the nails in his coffin

This does not bode well for the young Mr. Estrada.



Estrada bragged of wealth before Barrios killing, witness says
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News 
 
VICTORIA — A month after turning 18, Joe Estrada Jr. walked up to the front office at Clark High School and signed the papers required to quit.

“What are you going to do with yourself now that you're a dropout?” Sgt. Monica Adams, a campus officer, recalled an administrator asking Estrada as he left the school a final time.

“He said he dropped out because his grandparents were rich,” Adams told jurors Wednesday as prosecutors continued to call witnesses in the punishment phase of his capital murder trial. “(He said) they owned a bunch of hotels and they were going to buy him a Ferrari or a Mercedes.”

The rest of the story:

Give that dog a steak!

It truly was a recreational vehicle.

Good doggie!  Good bust!


Cocaine worth $7.2 Million found in RV
By Lynn Brezosky - Express-News 
 
BROWNSVILLE — Border Patrol agents at the Sarita checkpoint on U.S. 77 found more than 200 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $7.2 million hidden in a wall of a recreational vehicle, Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday.

The seizure occurred Monday after a drug sniffing dog alerted to the vehicle. One person was arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Border Patrol spokesman Joe Trevino said information about the vehicle, such as the state or province on the license plates, was being withheld as part of the investigation. The checkpoint is about 80 miles north of the border.

Former teacher sentenced

I would certainly hope that the lawyer for the girl depicted is also suing those who profited from hosting the photos and videos on the Internet.


Former teacher sentenced in child porn case

A retired educator was sentenced Wednesday to 6 1/2 years in federal prison for receiving child pornography, but will learn later whether he'll have to pay any of the $3.4 million in restitution demanded by a victim in a series of images he viewed.

Fernando Silva, 60, was a substitute middle and high school teacher in San Antonio's Northside Independent School District after he retired in 2002 from the Corpus Christi School District, where he was a band director for 31 years.

Silva was targeted in 2008 by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of a national crackdown on a criminal organization that operated a series of child porn Web sites known as the “Home Collection.”

The rest of the story:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Suspected child molester

Even though there are no allegations that he molested any boy scouts or cub scouts this news is surely something the Boy Scouts of America do not need.


Man suspected of sexually assaulting children
By Eva Ruth Moravec - Express-News

A local Boy Scouts of America pack leader was recently arrested on allegations he sexually assaulted two of his stepchildren, even though the children's mother refused to believe repeated claims from one of the victims that he was being abused, authorities said.

Scott Thomas Hartman, 33, was being held in Bexar County Jail on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bond was set at $150,000.

While the allegations are not related to his service with the Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts, Hartman has been removed from the Boy Scouts of America program, said John Coyle, a spokesman for the organization's Alamo Area Council.

The rest of the story:

Git 'er done

Take care of your tickets.

Sooner rather than later.

Warrant round-up to begin soon
By Eva Ruth Moravec - Express-News

More than 300,000 San Antonio residents with outstanding municipal court fines have about a week to pay them before police officers and city marshals come knocking on their doors.

People with outstanding fines for Class C misdemeanors have until March 5 to pay their tickets in full online or at one of five service centers. They may also request a payment plan at Municipal Court, according to Fred Garcia, Municipal Court clerk.

Before March 5, volunteers with the San Antonio Police Department's Volunteers in Policing program will call people with outstanding warrants, said Chief William McManus. From March 8 until March 12, police and city marshals will make arrests.

The rest of the story:

Lightning strikes twice

I feel badly for the folks who live in Littleton, Colorado.

First Columbine, now this.

This math teacher is a hero.  If he hadn't acted who knows how many more students would have been wounded or even killed.

Here is the link to the new Facebook fan page:  Dr. Benke is a hero 



Teacher tackles gunman suspected in school shooting


LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) -- Math teacher David Benke says he had no time to fear for his life when he tackled a man he said was preparing to reload a rifle to shoot students at a Colorado middle school who were heading home for the day.

And Benke doesn't consider himself a hero for stopping the 32-year-old accused of wounding two students Tuesday at the Littleton school that's just miles from Columbine High School, the site of one of the nation's deadliest school shootings.

"You know, it bugs me that he got another round off," Benke said of the two shots that authorities say Bruco Strongeagle Eastwood fired.

The rest of the story:

Tubers be aware

The ordinances apparently are still in effect for the upcoming tubing season.

This is NOT a legal opinion. I am NOT rendering legal advice.  Do not rely on it.


Austin court: Cooler, Jell-O shot rules stay
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An appellate court in Austin upheld some of the city of New Braunfels’ liquor laws this past week, including bans on both beer bongs and Jell-O shots on local rivers.

A group of outfitters and former New Braunfels Mayor Stoney Williams formed the group “Stop The Ordinances Please” in 2007, and fought in district court to have a number of the city’s alcohol-related ordinances passed in 2006 and ’07 ruled as invalid.

Those ordinances included city council-imposed bans on beer bongs, Jell-O shots, coolers over 16-quarts and alcohol in city parks.

The local district court ruled in June of 2007 that the city could enforce those laws, and that the outfitters had no standing. STOP subsequently filed an appeal with the Third District Court of Appeals in July of 2007.

That ruling was finally handed down Friday, with the appellate court upholding most, but not all, of the district court’s earlier findings.

The court of appeals agreed that the city could implement bans on volume drinking devices, Jell-O shots less than five ounces and alcohol in 17 parks and city-owned properties. It also agreed with restrictions requiring no more than one cooler per tuber on the river.

“I had a feeling that was going to be their ruling,” said Williams, who was involved in the suit after he purposely floated the river with an oversized cooler to see if the city would enforce its new ordinance. He was ticketed and said he later received deferred adjudication. “But it still goes back to the same issue of people in charge wanting bigger government and making up ridiculous rules.”

Outfitters could, however, still try to get some money back.

The court also ruled that the four outfitters involved in the suit — Texas Tubes, Corner Tubes, Rockin’ R’ River Rides and Gruene Home Run Batting Cages & Tubing — could challenge the cooler size ordinance. The court ruled that the outfitters had standing because they had purchased large coolers that could no longer be rented out to tubers.

“Now, if the outfitters chose to pursue it, we would have to determine how much those coolers are worth,” said City Attorney Alan Wayland. “But I think it was a good ruling for the city overall, since they could have potentially agreed with all of (the outfitters) claims.”

In addition, the court ruled that the outfitters could continue to fight whether the city can enforce its laws at all on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, which are state-owned waterways.

“The kid floating down the river from Houston owns just as much of that river as the people who live on it,” Williams said.

Wayland called the issue of enforcement “ridiculous,” citing other cities ability to enforce laws on state-owned beaches, as well local police officers’ ability to enforce laws on state-owned highways.

“I think ultimately they’re going to find that the city can regulate the rivers,” he said, “but that’s up to a judge to decide at this point.”

Those two issues could now be back into district court for a final decision, if the outfitters choose to pursue further litigation.

Representatives from the individual outfitters could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

High times at Ridgemont High....err ....... Nursing Home

What are we going to do with these folks?

Lock them up in a geriatric jail?


Marijuana use by seniors go up as boomers age
By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer

MIAMI – In her 88 years, Florence Siegel has learned how to relax: A glass of red wine. A crisp copy of The New York Times, if she can wrest it from her husband. Some classical music, preferably Bach. And every night like clockwork, she lifts a pipe to her lips and smokes marijuana.

Long a fixture among young people, use of the country's most popular illicit drug is now growing among the AARP set, as the massive generation of baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s and '70s grows older.

The number of people aged 50 and older reporting marijuana use in the prior year went up from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent from 2002 to 2008, according to surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The rise was most dramatic among 55- to 59-year-olds, whose reported marijuana use more than tripled from 1.6 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent.

The rest of the story:

Day is done, gone the sun........

You may stand down now Colonel you have earned a grateful nation's thanks.



A true hero is laid to rest.

Rest in peace, Sir, rest in peace. 


Vietnam War hero from S.A. is buried
By Gary Martin - Express-News
 
WASHINGTON — Col. Robert L. Howard, an Army veteran from San Antonio and one of the Vietnam war's most highly decorated soldiers, was laid to rest Monday at Arlington National Cemetery as friends and family looked on.

A survivor of five tours in Vietnam, he received the Medal of Honor for directing a counterattack when 250 enemy troops almost overwhelmed his platoon in December 1968 when he was a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Wounded by grenades and unable to walk, he continued to command and was the last to board a helicopter that took his troops out of harm's way.

The rest of the story:

The Barios murder trial continues

You know I, of course, feel badly for the Barios family but I also feel bad for the Estrada family too.

This has got to be a nightmare for both families.

I do not feel badly for Joe Estrada, Jr. however, who was found guilty of capital murder and whose fate awaits final determination by the jury.


Estrada's family says he burglarized them
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News 
 
VICTORIA — Joe Estrada Jr.'s cousin told jurors Monday he began to fear for his safety in 2008, after his family's home was burglarized and an epithet was left for him in shaving cream on a bathroom mirror.

“Right around my senior year, when I changed my hairstyle and my friends started calling me ‘Jose Elite,' he (Estrada) changed his (MySpace) profile name to ‘Elite,'” said Jose Ruiz, 20, as testimony in the punishment phase of Estrada's trial resumed. “I guess it upset him that he couldn't totally be me.”

Estrada, 20, was convicted of capital murder last week in the April 24, 2008, death of San Antonio restaurateur Viola Barrios. Jurors in Victoria County, where the trial was moved because of intense media coverage in San Antonio, are now hearing evidence to determine if Estrada should be given the death penalty.

The rest of the story:

Two more homicides

This first homicide is only about two miles from my house in a very nice apartment complex.

I hope the police can determine who killed both of the victims in these two separate incidents.


Police investigate two separate slayings in less than 36 hours
By Eva Ruth Moravec - Express-News 
 
San Antonio Police Department homicide detectives are investigating the slayings of two men found dead in separate incidents Sunday and Monday.

Troy Clattenburg, 24, was fatally shot in a North Side apartment he shared with his mother early Sunday morning. According to a police report, his mother awoke and discovered his body in their ground-floor home in the Carmel at Deerfield Apartments, 1440 W. Bitters Road, around 7:15 a.m. Sunday.

Although police originally believed Clattenburg committed suicide, investigators later determined he had been slain. Police found one shell casing near the door, which showed no sign of forced entry, an incident report states. Officers did not find the murder weapon, police said.

The rest of the story:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Skippering while intoxicated

Almost sounds like Gilligan's Island doesn't it.

Except, of course, only if most of the passengers, on the three hour tour, were killed when the shipwreck occurred.


Harbour fatal boat crash: skipper gave drunk control, court told
smh.com.au

Sydney - An intoxicated skipper accused of the manslaughter of six boat passengers handed over the vessel's steering to an unlicensed passenger affected by drugs and alcohol, a Sydney jury has been told.

In his opening address today, Crown prosecutor Mark Hobart, SC, said the skipper also failed to supervise the passenger and failed to keep a proper lookout.

Matthew Norman Reynolds, 32, of Tweed Heads, in northern NSW, has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to six counts of manslaughter.

Sydney man Percy Small, 24, has pleaded not guilty to six counts of dangerous navigation causing death.
Mr Reynolds faces alternative charges to the manslaughter counts of aiding and abetting Mr Small in his dangerous navigation causing death.

Mr Hobart told the jury the Crown contended that Mr Small was behind the wheel of the boat when it collided with a fishing trawler in Sydney Harbour about 2.30am on May 1, 2008.

Six of the 14 people on board the boat died - Ashlei Ayres, 32; Alexander Rumiz, 22; Jessica Holloway, 25; Elisabeth Holder, 20; Stacey Wright, 21; and Alex Nikakis, 30.

Mr Hobart said the boat was licensed to carry eight people.

The prosecutor said all of the passengers on the boat were affected to some extent by alcohol and or drugs, having earlier been at a party at Balmain.

Before the collision, Mr Hobart alleged, Mr Reynolds had handed over the steering to Mr Small.

"The Crown says Mr Small was so intoxicated that it would have been obvious to Mr Reynolds, except for one thing: Mr Reynolds himself was intoxicated," Mr Hobart said.

"He had alcohol in his system and he also had cocaine in his system."

The trial is continuing before Justice Michael Grove.

Be careful out there

Road rage apparently happens pretty much everywhere.

So beware.

Road rage sparked deadly hammer and knife attack
NICK RALSTON - smh.com.au

Sydney - A road rage incident is believed to have led to a 43-year-old man being bashed with a hammer then stabbed to death outside his home in Sydney's inner west last night.

The Malaysian-born Australian citizen - identified by police as Mohd Shah Saemin - was bashed and stabbed by two men outside his home in Marion Street at Leichhardt just before midnight.

Local Area Commander, Superintendent Shane Woolbank, said today that police believe Mr Saemin - who was a driver for the Malaysian consulate - was involved in a car accident with the two men moments before the attack.

Mr Woolbank said Mr Saemin was set upon by the two men as soon as he got out of his car and was attacked with a number of items, including a hammer.

"It was a ferocious attack," he said.
"He was then chased across the road and further attacked."

Police said a woman passing by tried to intervene and stop the fight.

Numerous items had been seized from the area for forensic examination and detectives were interviewing witnesses, confirming that at least one person saw the entire attack.

‘‘There was a lady, a passer-by, a very brave lady. She tried to intervene in the assault. She’s at the moment assisting police with inquiries,’’ Superintendent Woolbank said.

Police arrived  and performed CPR but Mr Saemin died.

Witnesses said the two men then fled in a black sedan last seen travelling north on Cromwell Street.
Police do not believe the attackers wore balaclavas, as previously reported.

They confirmed that one of the attackers had curly hair.

Dr Mohd Nasir Abu Hassan, at the Malaysian consulate, said staff were shocked by the attack.
"He is an extremely nice person, he doesn't talk too much. He is a very, very composed and generally very obedient," he said.

Dr Abu Hassan said preparations were now being made to send Mr Saemin's body back to his family in Malaysia.

He said Mr Saemin had lived in Australia for the past 10 years and had worked for the consulate for  three years.

Family feud

Its sounds like the Hatfields and McCoys I reckon.

Man shot in ongoing dispute
By Michelle Mondo - Express-News 
 
A man was shot twice in the abdomen Sunday night, possibly because of an ongoing feud between his family and the family of the shooter, officials said.

The shooting occurred on the city's far West Side at 7 p.m. near the 500 block of Tomar Drive off the U.S. 90 West access road.

San Antonio Police Sgt. Mark Hubbard said the victim, 30, was taken to Wilford Hall Medical Center in stable condition. Hubbard said the shooter, 26, fled the scene in a vehicle but police were getting conflicting descriptions of the car.

The rest of the story:

Burning down churches

I am glad they caught the fellows who were allegedly doing this.

I imagine that after this earthly jurisdiction is done  with them there may be further sanctions in another jurisdiction.


2 arrests made in East Texas church fire case
Staff and wire reports -Express News
 
TYLER — Two arrests were made early Sunday in a series of east Texas church fires that authorities believe were intentionally set, a fire official said.

One of the suspects, Daniel George McAllister, 21, of Ben Wheeler, was arrested by Texas Rangers in San Antonio. It was not immediately known why he was here.

Jason Robert Bourque, 19, of Lindale, was arrested in Van Zandt County.

The rest of the story:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I have an emergency and not enough money to call 911

Living in a state with budgetary problems can be hell.



Tracy Residents Now Have To Pay For 911 Calls

TRACY, Calif. (CBS13) ―Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency.

But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year which allows them to call 9-1-1 as many times as necessary.

Or, there's the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead, they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.

"A $300 fee and you don't even want to be thinking about that when somebody is in need of assistance," said Tracy resident Greg Bidlack.

Residents will soon receive the form in the mail where they'll be able to make their selection. No date has been set for when the charges will go into effect.

Stop!

Just curious.  Did the Deputy ever know the truck was stolen before the guy bailed?

Not that it has anything to do with it.

I am presuming that the officer had put his overhead lights on to stop the vehicle when he sped up and broke the traffic law.


Stolen pickup recovered after chase
-

SEGUIN — Sheriff’s deputies recovered a pickup stolen in the Hutto area after a high-speed chase early Thursday — but the driver escaped.

Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said a deputy was driving onto westbound Interstate 10 at Guadalupe Street at about 4:15 a.m. when he noticed a pair of pickups — a Dodge and a Ford F-250, following one another closely, westbound on Interstate 10.

“The officer knew from his training and experience that those type vehicles moving in the middle of the night are often stolen and used for human trafficking,” Zwicke said.

The officer pulled onto the interstate behind the trucks, and when they split at the bottom of the State Highway 46 exit, he followed the F-250 as it turned right on FM 78 and then right again to go eastbound to New Braunfels.

As the driver turned onto Huber Road, he accelerated even though the following deputy hadn’t attempted to stop him, and turned left on Rudeloff Road and then back north onto Huber, reaching speeds of 90 mph. At Cordova Road, Zwicke said the deputy reached speeds of 100 mph — and the pickup was still pulling away. It crossed State Highway 123 and then turned left into a pasture off Laubach Road, where the vehicle rammed a ranch gate.

The driver bailed out and ran off across the field on foot and then into the brush.

He wasn’t found, Zwicke said.

No one was hurt, but the truck and the gate were damaged, Zwicke said. Investigation continues.

Inexplicable mystery

How does someone do this to their own child?

Its inexplicable to me, and yes i know this happens and folks have psychological issues but still?


Police say couple admits feeding girl just barely
By Valentino Lucio - Express-News 
 
A couple remained in custody Saturday night after police say they admitted refusing to adequately feed the woman's 4-year-old daughter, giving her only cereal once a day.

Robin Palafos, 24, and Luis Valenzuela, 27, were booked into Bexar County Jail on one count each of injury to a child — serious bodily injury, officials said. Bonds were set at $150,000.

Authorities became aware of the situation Friday as the girl was being treated for “severe starvation” at Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The rest of the story:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hot race

The general election is still a long way off and this race is heating up.


Bexar probate judge sues agency over right to free speech
By Guillermo Contreras - Express-News 
 
Bexar County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff has taken the unusual step of suing the state agency that investigates allegations of judicial wrongdoing, claiming a probe it launched over the way he is handling his re-election campaign is thwarting his right to free speech.

His federal lawsuit against 14 members of the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct centers in part on a June 6, 2009, letter the Republican jurist mailed out in which he claimed Democratic lawyer Barbara Scharf-Zeldes has no trial experience.

It also outlines behind-the-scenes scenarios tinged with allegations of political underhandedness. The dispute came to a head last summer when Scharf-Zeldes filed a complaint with the commission against Rickhoff.

The rest of the story:

Horrible crime

Forty years doesn't sound like much considering what was done to the victim.


Man gets 40 years in kidnap, torture
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News 
 
Jurors sentenced a San Antonio man to 40 years in prison Friday for kidnapping a woman, raping her and subjecting her to an hours-long torture session that included burning her and pulling her teeth out with pliers.

Matthew Earl Gaither, 22, was found guilty Thursday of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping — first-degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison.

In addition to the 40-year term for rape, Gaither was ordered to pay $20,000 in fines and serve a concurrent 30-year term for the kidnapping charge.

The rest of the story:

The curtain goes down

The tragic drama is over and both parties received life sentences.

Momma gets no chance of parole and will spend the rest of her life in prison.

The two children however, get no reprieve.


Mother receives life without parole for killing babies
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News

A San Antonio mother convicted of killing two of her babies and leaving their bodies to rot in plastic bags under her home was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.

Valerie Lopez, 22, had agreed to the term in July 2008 — on the same day her capital murder trial was set to begin.

The sentencing hearing was delayed a year and a half because part of the plea agreement required her to testify against her former boyfriend Jerry Salazar at his capital murder trial if necessary. Salazar, however, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in December and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The rest of the story:

Busted!

From our neighbors to the north, Kerr County.

Well done Officer Gaige.


Traffic stop leads to drug bust
-

Kerrville police officer Scott Gaige stopped a vehicle in the 1300 block of East Main Street in Kerrville Thursday night containing six passengers — five of them minors.

As Gaige approached the vehicle, the 20-year-old driver rolled down the window, and Gaige reported that he smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside, according to a Kerrville Police Department report.

The driver stepped out of the vehicle, and Gaige asked the front passenger, an underage woman, to also exit the vehicle. They consented to a search of the car, and, when Gaige opened the rear passenger door, he reported that he found a bag of marijuana.

Gaige searched the passenger who had been sitting where he found the bag of marijuana and found brass knuckles in his back pocket. He also found several small pipes in the glove box and a bowie knife under the front passenger seat, according to reports.

The driver was arrested for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana and taken to the Kerr County jail.

The minor with the brass knuckles was arrested for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana and possession of a prohibited weapon. He was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center.

The other four passengers were released.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The family business?

Tiny footprints at the crime scene?

Pitiful.

Was he the lookout?


Cops: Toddler at crimes
BY CRAIG CROSBY Staff Writer

A Richmond couple is facing charges in connection to a string of burglaries that the couple allegedly committed with their toddler in tow.

Bruce Tillson, 33, and his wife, Jessica Tillson, 23, are each charged with three counts of burglary, Lincoln County Sheriff's Lt. Michael Murphy said.

The Tillsons are being held at the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset on $50,000 cash bail each.

The burglaries occurred during the past couple of weeks in Richmond and Alna, Murphy said. The items stolen include numerous handguns and rifles.

Police have recovered all of the stolen items, Murphy said.
The 11 stolen firearms were found in Augusta and Winthrop, said Murphy, who believes the weapons are worth several thousand dollars.

"All the ones we know are missing have been recovered," Murphy said.

The investigation is ongoing. Police believe there may have been additional victims not yet identified, Murphy said.

Charges could still be brought against the Tillsons or others involved in the illegal sale and possession of the firearms, Murphy said.

Police believe the Tillsons took their 3-year-old child with them inside the homes and buildings they were burglarizing, Murphy said.

"We knew about that because my officers found little footprints," he said.

The Tillsons, when interviewed by police, acknowledged taking the child, Murphy said.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Child Protective Services is investigating, Murphy said. In the meantime the toddler has been temporarily placed with friends of the family.

The Sheriff's Department asks anyone with information concerning the investigation to contact Detective Sgt. Kenneth Hatch at (207) 882-7332.

Yup, it was intentional

What I thought yesterday was confirmed.


Angry with IRS, Austin man flies plane into building
AUSTIN — A small plane apparently piloted by a suicidal Austin man upset with the IRS crashed into the federal agency's offices in a multi-story building fronting a busy highway intersection Thursday morning in Northwest Austin.

He is believed to have left a suicide note on his company Web site before setting his house on fire, going to the Georgetown airport, taking off in his private plane and deliberately crashing it into the building, officials said.
Witnesses told reporters the plane was flying fast and low when it hit the building, which fronts U.S. 183, also known as Research Boulevard, near a major highway intersection.

Austin's police chief called it “an isolated incident” and a criminal act. Two Austin congressmen called it domestic terrorism.

The rest of the story:

Estrada found guilty of capital murder

The punishment phase of the trial starts today, I believe.

I still believe the death penalty will be assessed.  A lot will depend on what the defense does in the way of mitigating evidence of course.


Estrada guilty of killing Viola Barrios
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News 
 
VICTORIA – A Victoria County jury found Joe Estrada Jr. guilty of capital murder Thursday afternoon for killing well-known San Antonio restaurateur Viola Barrios after deliberating for about two hours.

Estrada's mother hurried out of the courtroom after the verdict was read and could be heard wailing loudly from the women's bathroom. Afterward, her family and defense attorneys tried to calm her.

Estrada showed no reaction when the verdict was read, but appeared stressed as he heard his mother cry.

The rest of the story:

Tossing it out there

If insane and she snapped, which is what seemed to be implied by her attorney, where'd she get the gun and the wherewithal and presence of mind to bring the gun, concealed, into the meeting.

It would seem to me to be an act of premeditation and planning.  IMHO.



Lawyer: Prof. accused in slayings likely insane
-

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- An Alabama college professor accused of killing three colleagues during a faculty meeting is likely insane, and she can't remember the shootings, her attorney said.

Roy W. Miller, the court-appointed attorney for Amy Bishop, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that his client has severe mental problems that appear to be paranoid schizophrenia. Miller discussed the case hours after hundreds of mourners attended the first funeral and memorial services for Bishop's slain co-workers.

Authorities said three more people were hurt when Bishop pulled out a handgun and started shooting during the routine meeting with colleagues last Friday. Charged with capital murder and attempted murder, she is being held without bond.

Miller said Bishop's failure to obtain tenure at the University of Alabama in Huntsville was likely a key to the shootings. Bishop, who has a doctorate from Harvard University and has taught at the University of Alabama in Huntsville since 2003, apparently was incensed that a lesser-known school rejected her for what amounted to a lifetime job.

The rest of the story:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Intentional attack?

This is exactly what an already over-heated political landscape didn't need.

An apparently intentional act directed at the IRS which will, excuse the unintentional pun, only fuel the flames of DHS saying that this "man-caused disaster" was promulgated by a right-wing nutjob.

Or was it a left-wing nutjob?  Or perhaps a citizen fed up with the system he thought was screwing him over?

Time will tell, time will tell.



Texas Small Plane Crash Might Be Intentional Act, Officials Say
Fox News

Officials are investigating whether a small plane that crashed into an office building in Austin, Texas, Thursday morning was an intentional act, an NTSB official told Fox News.
 

An NTSB spokesman, however, told FoxNews.com that "we can't confirm any of that."
 

Authorities said they have identified the pilot as Joseph Andrew Stack, a 53-year-old software engineer who lived in Texas.

The small single-engine plane crashed into a seven-story office building in Austin around 10 a.m. local time Thursday.

The FAA said a Piper Cherokee took off from an airport in Georgetown, Texas, at 9:40 a.m. and crashed into the building in Austin shortly thereafter. Officials are investigating whether Stack, 53, owned the plane or stole it.

The rest of the story:

Rest in peace Private Adame, rest in peace

My heart goes out to his family and loved ones, especially the daughter who will never know her father.

Rest in peace Victor.

Please everyone, be careful out there.

Soldier's trip back to S.A. ends tragically
By Eva Ruth Moravec - Express-News

U.S. Army Pvt. Victor Adame had finished basic training in Virginia and was driving Saturday to see his family in San Antonio, eagerly calling several times as he was getting closer to home.

But somewhere near Houston, Adame, 18, told his mother and stepfather he was starting to have problems with the late-model BMW he was driving.

The speedometer wasn't working and it was making strange noises, he told his wife, Hilda. He also told her he was tired, but was too excited about getting home to see his year-old daughter to pull over and rest.

The rest of the story:

Will sanctions of some sort be assessed?

The special prosecutors are continuing the hunt for sanctions of some sort against Judge Sharon Keller.

I believe they might disregard Judge Berchelmann's findings and levy a sanction.

I do not believe she will, as some want, be removed from her position.


Discipline sought against Keller
By Peggy Fikac - Express-News 
 
AUSTIN — Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller should suffer consequences for her conduct in a death row inmate's failed effort to file a last-minute appeal, special prosecutors in the case against her contended Wednesday.

“This is not a case as to whether the death penalty should or should not be administered. This is a case, however, concerning whether a judge should allow herself to disregard at will a long-standing established protocol of her court that is designed to safeguard proper handling of all time-sensitive communications on an execution day,” said the filing, which objected to a special master's earlier conclusions in the case.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct accused Keller of discrediting the judiciary after death row inmate Michael Wayne Richard was unable to file an appeal after the court clerk's closing time on the day of his execution, Sept. 25, 2007. Keller said the clerk's office wouldn't stay open past 5 p.m.

The rest of the story:

Well done Sir!

What an uplifting story.

Well done Chris you are an inspiration to us all.



'I decided to lend a hand'

  -

Christopher Martz was not supposed to make it. That is what his doctors said, at least, after a tragic car crash that flung him, his sisters and his father from their SUV more than six years ago, while the family traveled through the Nevada desert on their way home to Sacramento from a vacation in Salt Lake City.

His sisters were injured, his father died and Chris Martz suffered a broken arm and lesions on his skull, resulting in traumatic brain injury that left him in the hospital for six months to recover.

“I was airlifted by a hospital jet out of the middle of nowhere to Reno,” Martz said. “The brain damage was really severe.”

In fact, many doctors considered the brain damage he endured irreparable. Through rehabilitation, he had to relearn everything — speaking, reading, writing and walking.

While rehabilitating in the Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nev., Martz’s sisters and mother stayed at a Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House is a facility that houses families that have children in the hospital usually for severe illness, injury or disease, housing them close to the hospital.

“The Ronald McDonald House helped me remain stable during recovery,” he said, by keeping his family close by his side.

“I’m known as the million dollar man now because of the amount of money that went into my treatment,” he said.

That was more than six years ago. Now Martz, 17, a New Braunfels resident, has been recognized as one of ten finalists for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. He received a Presidential Letter of Achievement for logging more than 500 hours of community service this past year, all going toward a toy drive he set up while a freshman in high school four years ago. That toy drive, in its fourth year, collected more than 2,700 toys, gifts and supplies in 2009. Volunteers in the toy drive also made Christmas dinners for families staying at the Ronald McDonald Houses in San Antonio.

A long recovery

After being discharged from the medical center in Reno, Martz family went back to Sacramento to find a medical community skeptical that his mind could fully recover and return to normal. They needed a fresh start.

So they moved to San Antonio, and found a group of neurologists — including Dr. Tomasavich out of the Stone Oak Medical Center — who believed in his recovery, helping him recover to full mental capacity.

“It’s funny, I used to be a math whiz, I was doing high school level math in the fifth grade, but after the accident I struggle with math and science,” Martz said.

Upon entering high school at the Health Careers High School, magnet high school in Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Martz noticed something familiar down the street — the Ronald McDonald House on Sid Katz Road.

“It was less than 500 yards away. It was really bleak and dark, so I decided to lend a hand,” Martz said.

His efforts that first year were small, recruiting a few volunteers from his high school and help from ReMax Realty where his mother, Leslee Martz, is employed.

“Always make sure your mom is on board, because she is half the work force,” he said.

Over the intervening years, Martz has built a relative toy-drive empire, with about 200 volunteers a year, from his high school and from groups in New Braunfels where he and his family now live, such as Independence Title, All Star Elite Cheer, Gruene Kountry 4-H, New Braunfels Girl Scouts, Office Max, Schoebel’s Restaurant, Walgreens on Walnut Avenue and Loop 337 in New Braunfels.

Wal-Mart’s headquarters also donates to Martz’s toy drive, and in 2009 shipped in 72 lbs. worth of toys and towels.

“These things may seem tedious,” Martz said of the dinners and toys, “but a meal or Christmas presents are the last thing you need to think of when your child is in the hospital.”