New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 28, 1982, New Braunfels, Texas
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Comp.Judicial system 'gearing up' for murder caseBy DEBBIE TURNER Staff writer
The Comal County Grand Jury will reconvene on its original Aug. 19 meeting date (instead of a special session) to consider possible capital murder charges against two San Antonio men.
If the panel returns those charges, it will be the first such case in Comal County in almost 20 years.
“We really don’t have to be in a rush,’’ District Attorney Bill Schroeder said Wednesday, after deciding it was unnecessary to call a special Grand Jury session.
“The two are in custody in the Bexar County Jail, charged with aggravated kidnapping and rape, under very high bonds. So we (Comal County) can take our time, and do it right.’’
However, Schroeder was quick to add, “if it looks like they might get out, by some chance, you can bet we’ll
file our charges to keep them in custody. But until that situation arises, we’re going to concentrate on going directly for indictments.’’
The capital murder charges are being considered against George Edwin Pittmann, 37, and Francis Irving Chandler, 41, both of 3519 Blanco Road. The two men are accused of kidnapping Robert Williams, 58, and his 46-year-old wife, Josephine, from their San Antonio home last Friday, then raping Mrs. Williams, and killing her husband.
Williams’ body was recovered at 1:40 a.m. Sunday in a brushy area off Bear Creek Road. An autopsy ruling Monday stated Williams was hanged.
Mrs. Williams was left tied to a tree near Medina Lake, but she managed to escape and was taken by a passerby to the Medina County Sheriff’s Office. The two suspects were later arrested at the Williams’ home, which they were apparently attempting to burglarize.
“We’re going for capital murder because the murder occurred along with another felony offense — kidnapping,’’ stated Schroeder, who contacted the Attorney General’s Office in Austin Tuesday to request assistance.
“Linda Walton, an assistant attorney general assigned to law enforcement, will be helping me with this one,” the district attorney said. “There’s no way I’d be able to do it without her help, me being a one-man office. I estimate it would take anywhere from four to six weeks for the trial.”
Capital murder trials are complicated, which leaves more room for error, Schroeder said. “It’s unfortunate, but true, that the worse crimes are the most protected in our society.
“In a capital murder trial, there must be individual voir dire (questioning of prospective jurors), careful questioning, and no mistakes even of the slightest nature,” he added, “because everyone is just looking for
a reason for reversal.”
Since a capital murder conviction could result in the death penalty, if the trial results in a hung jury,
Schroeder said the case would have to be retried. “There is a statute trying to achieve passage now, giving a jury the option of going with automatic life, but the statute hasn’t made the books yet,” he cautioned.
Even though this crime originated in Bexar County as aggravated kidnapping, and carried on into Medina County, Williams’ murder occurred in Comal County.
That places the burden of filing murder charges on Comal County.
But has there ever been a capital murder trial, that originated in this county? Comal Courthouse veterans Sheriff Walter Fellers and County Clerk Irene Nuhn both recalled a case in the 1960s, which was tried here on a
See MURDER, Page 12A
New Braunfels, Texas
Vol. 91 - No. 147
32 Pages —3 Sections
WEDNESDAY July 28,1982 25 cents
City appealing Herrera ruling
By HENRY KRAUSSE Staff writer
The City of New Braunfels hasn't yet received a bill for unemployment compensation to former police Sgt. Domingo Herrera, and has appealed to the Texas Employment Commission to overturn a ruling that granted it.
Herrera, who won the right to collect unemployment after a TEC appeals tribunal held hearings on the case, was fired last February for the alleged theft of $50 from a police charity fund drive.
A Dallas firm, R. E. Harrington Inc., is handling the appeals process for the city. A company spokeswoman who is familiar with the case,
Pamela Ygartua, said Wednesday she couldn't comment on the city’s chances of overturning tile tribunal ruling.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” she said.
The three-member Commission will review the evidence presented at the June 4 hearing. Ygartua said it was “more than likely” that no new hearings would be scheduled and no new evidence presented.
“It’s hard to say, but yes, they do have a chance (to reverse the tribunal ruling)," City Attorney Irvin Boarnet said. “When they have all the evidence, the city does have a pretty good chance.”
Appeals referee Dick Kingsley cited Herrera’s denial, under oath, that he took the money. That, plus the city’s refusal to name its witness against him, was the basis for reversing an initial TEC decision disqualifying Herrera for compensation.
Herrera was fired because a Department of Public Safety polygraph or “lie detector” test in Austin indicated he was giving “deceptive" answers. His accuser passed the polygraph exam.
Herrera, a 12-year veteran of the force, was never brought to trial for the misdemeanor theft and was “no billed" by a Comal County grand jury for any felony offense.
“It’s not possible to name the individual (the city’s witness) until we see what’s going to happen with the EEOC,” Boarnet said, referring to a discrimination complaint filed by Herrera with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s San Antonio office.
Boarnet will meet with EEOC attorney Servando Pena Aug. 17. A “huge sta'k of information” on the police department’s minority hiring practices will be provided by Aug. 13, Boarnet said.
“Fortunately, we have prevailed in every EEOC case we’ve ever had. My relationship with I Pena)
See HERRERA, Page 12A
. ..to speak Friday
on guest list
Candidates to appear at local GOP event
At least two statewide GOP candidates will attend the Comal County Republican Jumping Jellybean Fund Raiser Friday, July 30.
So far, Congressman Jim Collins of Dallas, running for U.S. Senator from Texas, and State Senator Bill Meier, vying for the Texas Attorney General post, have said they will be at 21 Cedar Grove off Highway 1863 at 7:30 p.m. Republican Precinct Chairman Marian Benson and her husband Howard are hosting the event in their backyard.
Tom Loeffler may also attend, and Comal County candidates for office will bi* present as well. Collins is
tentatively scheduled to address the group at 8:15.
Plans call for political speeches, and an auction starring Edmund Kuenipel of Seguin, state representative candidate, as auctioneer.
Anyone with auctionable items to donate may call Bobbie Borchers, event chairman, at 625-3170, or Marie Maddux, publicity chairman,
The Comal County Republican Executive Committee is sponsoring tile fundraiser to pay for its County Headquarters.
DEAR ABBY ........2B
PLO decision due by Friday— Habib
JERUSALEM (AP) - U.S. presidential envoy Philip C. Habib has promised to have a firm commitment by Friday on whether the Palestine Liberation Organization will leave Beirut peacefully, Prime Minister Menachem Begin said today.
“Habib will clarify this in the next two days, that he promised us," Begin told a group of Israeli academics here. “He told us he had to have an unequivocal commitment that they will leave.”
Begin said Syria, Jordan and Egypt each had apparently agreed to take in some of the 8,000 PLO guerrillas trapped in Beirut, which could clear one of tin-major obstacles to a diplomatic solution of the Lebanese crisis, which began with the Israeli invasion June 6.
But Begin, uncompromising on his ne ; and that every ia^t guerrilla leave Lebanon, said, “It is still not clear if the terrorists have even really decided to leave Beirut.”
Begin did not specify the consequences if the PLO refused to go.
“We are deliberating,” he said. “We
are hesitating. First of all we don't want our soldiers injured. We do not want to injure civilians.”
But he has said in the past that unless the guerrillas get out on their own, he would order an assault by the 35,000-40,000 Israeli troops and 300 tanks ringing the Lebanese capital.
Habib was in Israel as Begin made his surprise announcement, but was scheduled to return to Beirut later today. He had arrived here Tuesday after seeing the leaders of Syria, Saudi Arabia,
Jordan and Egypt.
Habib, who has been dealing with the PLO through Lebanese intermediaries for seven weeks, told Begin he had made progress and there was “a chance he will succeed in fulfilling his mission," an Israeli official reported.
None of the Arab nations, except Sudan, has offered to a < opt the entire guerrilla army, which has been based in Lebanon during the 12 years since Jordanian King Hussein expelled Yasser Arafat and the PLD during a bloody civil war.
The PLO on Tuesday rejected Sudanese President Gaafar Mohammed Nimeiri’s offer of asylum in his country.
Israeli forces and Palestinian guerrillas dueled with artillery and rockets on the outskirts of west Beirut today, following a 30-hour bombardment by Israeli jets, tanks, gunboats and cannon that Lebanese police said killed or wounded 500 people, mostly Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.
lebanese police said 203 people were killed and 297 were wounded in t ie air, sea and land bombardment that began at midnight Monday. However, a PIJ) communique said put the toll at 247 dead and 395 wounded in Palestinian camps, where police have no access, and in residential neighborhoods.
Witnesses said it was the heaviest Israeli bombardment of tile beleagurcd Lebanese capital since Israel invaded Lebanon June 6 and drove to the gates of Beirut to ensnare the PLO fighters.
Shift photo by Clinty Richardson
Dr. Joe Diamond addresses the committee's at its first meeting
County growth committee selects panels, chairmen
forcement, transportation, emergency medical services and roads) and its water supply and quality.
Besides leading the steering committee, Knibbe was also named as chairman of the upper Guadalupe River subcommittee. Other subcommittee chairmen (and their subcommittees) include Comm. O.K. Heitkanip, head of the lower river group; and Palmer Gilleland, Canyon Lake.
Others included, Texas Ranger Ray Martinez, head of the public safety (traffic and transportation) subcommittee and Ken Ikels, who will lead the water study subcommittee.
In conjunction with Evans’ statements, Dr. Joe Diamond, a specialist from the Texas A&M Extension Service, outlined the objectives facing the growth committee.
“It is not to promote tourism, to discourage tourism or to promote any special interest," said Diamond.
“It is to find means for taxpayers to meet the demands placed upon the counties resources,” he added. “And to investigate all facets of water-oriented recreation and tourism.”
Although committee members talked of deadlines for accomplishing their goals, no specific dates were set — with the exception of Sept. 14, when the subcommittee chairmen will report to the steering committee.
“We need to arrive at target dates to make interim and permanent recommendations to Commissioners Court,” said Evans.
See COUNTY, Page 12A
They came from all walks of life and all parts of the county. But their objective was the same — to study the effect of the Comal County's “exploding population.”
“They” were the newly named members of the Comal County Growth and Development Committee which held its first meeting Tuesday night.
leading the discussion was County Commissioner J.L. “Jumbo” Evans who suggested in March that the 13-member committee be formed “to study the aspects of water-oriented recreation and tourism in the county.
“Our objective is not to promote tourism (or any special interest group), nor is it to demote it,” Evans told the IO committee members present. “We’re here to learn how to accomodate to it.”
With the help of four specialists from the Texas A&M Extension Service, the committee began tackling its task by appointing Spring Branch resident Charles Knibbe as chairman of the main steering committee.
Following that, the group — at the suggestion of County Agricultural Extension Agent Bill Schumann — organized three subcommittees to study the lower Guadalupe River area, Canyon Lake area and upper Guadulupe River area.
In addition, the steering committee agreed to organize (at a later date) two additional subcommittees to determine how growth is affecting the county’s public safety (law en-
By JACQUELINE SMITH Staff writer