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This Hour: Latest Texas news, sports, business and entertainment

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Perry's lawyer in veto probe hired at $450 hourly

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The attorney Gov. Rick Perry hired amid a grand jury investigation into abuse of power allegations has a $450 hourly contract.

Austin attorney David Botsford is being paid with taxpayer dollars. Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said Tuesday that using state funds is appropriate since the case involves "actions by the governor while acting in his official capacity."

A watchdog group claims Perry carried out an unlawful threat upon vetoing $7.5 million for public corruption prosecutors last summer.

The state Public Integrity Unit is under Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who was convicted of drunken driving last year. Perry called for Lehmberg to resign and vetoed the funding when she didn't.

His aides say Perry had the right to use his veto power.

A judge seated a grand jury Monday.


UT official: Maroon bluebonnets will be plucked

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Officials at the University of Texas in Austin say they intend to pluck the maroon bluebonnets that have mysteriously appeared in the shadow of the UT Tower.

It's believed that Texas A&M pranksters at some point planted the seeds for a variant of bluebonnet known as Alamo Fire, which is a shade of maroon. The Texas A&M colors are maroon and white, which Longhorn fans find unsightly in light of their loyalty to burnt orange.

Markus Hogue, UT's coordinator for irrigation and water conservation, tells the Houston Chronicle ( ) the Alamo Fire will be removed soon. He says any maroon bluebonnet that's seen next year will be immediately pulled.

But with much of Texas deep in drought, Hogue did give the suspects credit for choosing a plant that needs little watering.


Texas candidate faces thorny death penalty choice

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The death penalty has strong public support in Texas. Political candidates don't dare get in the way of the state's use of the ultimate punishment. But Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for governor, must soon make a decision as attorney general that could disrupt the nation's busiest death chamber. Abbott must decide whether Texas must disclose the source of its execution drugs, which could prompt suppliers to halt their deliveries.

Abbott's predicament should provide a political opportunity for Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, but it doesn't. Davis also supports the death penalty. But Abbott's record as a law-and-order attorney general makes it difficult to portray him as soft on crime. In a state where more than 70 percent of the people support capital punishment, there's little room to maneuver on the issue.


Wendy Davis schedules neck surgery in Fort Worth

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is scheduled to undergo neck surgery to relieve pain in her shoulder and right arm.

Spokesman Zac Petkanas said Tuesday that doctors will remove bone spurs and degenerative discs that are creating compression on the nerves in her neck. The procedure is scheduled for Wednesday in Fort Worth.

Petkanas described the procedure as routine. He said Davis will return to a normal campaign schedule following the Easter holiday.

Davis campaigned Tuesday in Dallas, where she criticized Republican opponent Greg Abbott and his prekindergarten plan at a meeting of retired Texas teachers.


40 immigrants with criminal records arrested

TYLER, Texas (AP) - Federal authorities say a three-day operation has resulted in the arrest of 40 people in East Texas who were in the U.S. illegally.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Tuesday that the 37 men and three women arrested last week all have criminal records.

Authorities say 14 of the Mexican nationals were found in Tyler, 12 in Longview, six in Canton and the others in the surrounding area. They ranged in age from 21 to 60.

Their offenses include assault with bodily injury, driving while intoxicated, burglary and injury to a child.

The Smith County Sheriff's Office along with police in Tyler, Longview, Kilgore and elsewhere assisted in the operation that concluded Saturday.


Man with long history of sex crimes sentenced

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A convicted pedophile whose sex crimes date back at least 30 years has been sentenced to prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

The 70-year sentence imposed by a Tarrant County judge Tuesday effectively amounts to a life sentence for 69-year-old Lloyd Gibson.

Prosecutors say Gibson's latest offense was for removing his ankle monitor and relocating from Fort Worth to Austin without notifying authorities. He was added to the state's list of the 10 most wanted sex offenders before he was arrested in December 2012.

Prosecutors say during his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Gibson disclosed he was the man wanted for breaking into dozens of Houston homes at night in the late 1970s and exposing himself to children. The suspect came to be known as the "baseball cap bandit."


Remains of woman found in trash in Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - Corpus Christi police are investigating after the remains of a 41-year-old woman were discovered when a trash truck dumped its contents at a garbage collection business.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times ( ) reports that police were called to the business early Tuesday morning.

Corpus Christi police Senior Officer Kirk Stowers says an employee discovered the remains after the truck dumped its contents.

The remains were sent to the Nueces County medical examiner, who will determine cause of death. Officials are trying to notify the woman's family.


Energy Future misses deadline to file SEC report

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Energy Future Holdings says it's still not ready to file its already delayed annual report, taking the company one step closer to bankruptcy and potentially jeopardizing environmental reclamation funds owed to Texas.

The company acknowledges in a filing Tuesday with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission that the decision not to submit the report places it in breach of agreements with creditors for TXU Energy and Luminant, the largest power generator in Texas.

Spokesman Allan Koenig says negotiations are ongoing among Energy Future's owners, management and holders of the company's $45.6 billion in debt. The company had bet on a rise in natural gas prices that instead have plummeted.

Dallas-based Energy Future was acquired in 2007 by private-equity firms KKR & Co., TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.


4 Houston schools get new mascots after ban

HOUSTON (AP) - Four schools in the Houston school district have new mascots following the school board's vote to ban the use of any race or ethnic group for such symbols.

The Houston Independent School District unveiled the new mascots Tuesday.

The Houston Chronicle ( ) reports that the Lamar High School Redskins will become the Texans. The Welch Middle School Warriors will become the Wolf Pack. The Huskies will replace the Westbury High Rebels and the Hamilton Middle School Indians.

The ban takes effect next school year.

The newspaper reports that a school district document says nearly $50,000 will be spent on new uniforms for fall sports, and additional costs were expected for spring sports uniforms and to replace mascot names and images on gym doors and other facilities.


Condemned killer of 3 in Corpus Christi set to die

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - Attorneys for a Corpus Christi man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, her 3-year-old son and her mother are trying to keep him from execution this week.

Jose Villegas (vee-AY'-gus) is set to die Wednesday evening in Huntsville for the three slayings in January 2001. His lawyers say they've found new evidence that he's mentally impaired and ineligible for execution and need more time to investigate.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday refused to stop the punishment and his attorneys have said they'll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Villegas' former girlfriend, 23-year-old Erida Salazar, her son, Jacob, and her mother, 51-year-old Alma Perez, were stabbed repeatedly at the Perez home in Corpus Christi.

At the time, Villegas was out on bond on a sexual assault charge.


Runner dies after collapsing in Galveston race

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - A woman has died after collapsing at the finish line of a half marathon in downtown Galveston over the weekend.

The Galveston County Daily News ( ) reports that organizers of the Run Like a Diva half marathon said in a statement that the woman collapsed Sunday morning and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

They did not release her name, age or cause of death.

Tommy Lee of Galveston Emergency Medical Services tells the newspaper that medical personnel treated the runner for full cardiac arrest.

He says first responders were unable to revive her, and she was transferred to the emergency room at the University of Texas Medical Branch.


Texas man gets life term for fatal stabbings of 3

DALLAS (AP) - A 52-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after being found guilty in the 2012 stabbing deaths of his estranged wife and her parents.

William Gerard Palmer was convicted Monday of capital murder by a Dallas County jury and sentenced later in the day.

Palmer in January 2012 stabbed 48-year-old Donya Palmer; her mother, 67-year-old Mary Davis; and father, 69-year-old Raymond Davis in the Davises' East Dallas home. Palmer and his wife had separated a week before the killings.

The Dallas Morning News reports ( ) William Palmer's lawyers had argued their client suffered from depression and medication caused a psychotic episode that led to the violence.

The jury deliberated less than 45 minutes before returning a guilty verdict.

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