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View Sample Pages : New Braunfels Herald Zeitung, March 07, 1999

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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 7, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas ► Sculpture work Haydn Larson of Canyon Lake creates a variety of creatures in his studio, including gargoyles, jesters and geckos. Meet the entire menagerie in Lifestyle./ 1B could put students’ future and public education dollars at stake. The forum was sponsored by Comal Area League of Women Voters and featured four speakers with a vested interest in the future of KUEMPEL public education. State Rep. Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin), Coalition for Public Schools spokeswoman Carolyn Boyle, Comal Independent School District super ROBIN CORNETT/ Heraid-Zertung NEw^ihMiHFBLs    "Her ald-Zeit ONG ll* Annual <m—rot nm HMV Thirsty horse Travis County Livestock Show trail rider Michael Martin waters Richs Feature during a break along River Road Saturday. The trail riders started in the morning from the Comal County Fairgrounds and reached the Canyon Lake area on Saturday evening. Vol, 148, No. 76    48    pages    in    3    sections March 7, 1999 Sunday Serving Comal County since 1852 $1.00 InsideOfficials, residents debate school vouchers intended Jerry Major and New Braunfels 1SD superintendent Ron Reaves discussed pros and cons of the voucher issue. Kuempel said he was a proponent of a pilot school voucher program in Texas as a way to improve public education. “I’ve supported voucher bills on every vote that I’ve cast,’’ he said. Currently, four bills proposing a limited school voucher program are in the Texas House of Representatives. Senate Education Committee Chairman Teel Bivins filed a voucher bill Thursday. Under that bill, an estimated 149,000 public school students in Texas’ six hugest urban counties — Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Tarrant and Travis — would be eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private school tuition. The five-year trial program would be restricted to students who didn't perform satisfactorily on the most recent state-man-dated tests and were participants in the free and reduced-price lunch program. Groups that support vouchers say such a program will help children by giving parse© VOUCHERS/5A Our special section has everything you need to know about this week’s 4-H and FFA Stock Show./ INSIDE Weather Expect cloudy skies today, with a chance of showers or thunderstorms tonight. See page 2A for the extended forecast. Index Abby.........................................2B Business............................9A Classified............................4-14B Crossword................................2B Forum.......................................6A Local.........................................4A Sports...............................11-14A Stammtisch...............................3B Today........................................2A Television..................Montage-1    C Evidence ‘just didn’t fit’ Defense attorney recalls victory in 1992 Griffith murder trial ► Stock showKuempel supports pilot program for Texas By Heather Todo Staff Writer As state legislators battle over a proposed taxpayer-funded school voucher system in Texas, local residents wonder how the future of public education will affect their families. More than 30 residents attended an informational forum Thursday night to learn more about a controversial issue that ^ 2 7-4A champs Canyon High School’s boys’ soccer team celebrated its second con- secutive *« » * * district title after at Hays all about it in Sports./11A Guadalupe cleanup enters final stages on Monday By Chris Crews Staff Writer Construction crews will fire up their equipment on the Guadalupe River at three locations Monday morning in what is expected to be the final push remove to flood debris from the river channel. J.R. Ramon and Sons of San Antonio won a $400,000 contract to clear the river from Farm-to-Market Road 306 to the New Braunfels city limits near Gruene. Three-fourths of the money for the project will be provided by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, with a Comal County contribution of about $100,000. Joe Ramon Jr., president of the company, said three crews would work different sections simultaneously. One crew will work begin at FM 306 and work toward the third crossing bridge, a second from the third crossing to the first crossing bridge and the third from the first crossing See CLEANUP/10A By Bill O’Connell Staff Writer Accused of murdering his wife, Larry Marlin Griffith needed a good lawyer. He hired Charles D. Butts, a tall, white-haired Texas attorney with more than 40 years of experience. Nearly IO years had passed when Griffith went on trial in 1992 for the murder of his wife, Sandra. The 37-year-old Bulverde woman was bludgeoned, shot and burned to death at her home in the early morning hours of April 7,1982. A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law in 1949, Butts had prosecuted and defended cases for 43 years and was 70 years old when Griffith hired him. Comal County District Attorney Bill Reimer was the prosecuting attorney at the 1992 murder trial. Reimer had ordered investigators to revive the case shortly after he took office in 1989. The state’s case against Larry Griffith centered on a chronological series of events that Reimer attempted to use to prove to jurors that the defendant had both the motive and opportunity to kill his wife. Reimer sifted through mileage worksheets Griffith had maintained while driving a company car, receipts from gas stations in Central Texas and pawnshop slips showing Griffith had “hocked” a couple of firearms he initially reported destroyed in the 1982 fire. Reimer tried to weave the documents with expert testimony from investigators into a case against Griffith. The mileage worksheets and gas receipts apparently were intended to suggest Griffith was not where he said he was on the night Sandra was killed, and the pawnshop tickets perhaps were used to indicate the defendant was untruthful. “Bill (Reimer) tried to hang his hat on a rubber peg,” Butts said in a recent interview. He said the investigation of Sandra Griffith’s murder from 1982 to 1991 ROBIN CORNETT/HemW-Zeduno Evidence from the 1992 jury trial of Larry Griffith remains in the Comal County Courthouse. Griffith was found not guilty of the 1982 murder of his wife, Sandra. Charles Butts, Larry Griffith’s attorney, said former Comal County District Attorney Bin Reimer failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. ‘Bill (Reimer) tried to hang his hat on a rubber peg,” Butts said. The Sandra Griffith Murder a four-part series The Crime— Feb. 21 The Investigation — Feb. 28 The Trial — Today The Aftermath — March 14 produced nothing more than circumstantial evidence against Larry Griffith. “It just didn’t fit,” Butts said. Reimer recently declined to comment on the 1992 murder trial. Comal County’s lead prosecutor from 1989 to ‘96, Reimer tried to accomplish a difficult task by taking the Griffith case to court. Proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt without a murder weapon and in spite of the defendant’s alibi was a formidable challenge in the quest for conviction. The scraps of paper and expert testimony he had compiled failed to convince the jury that Griffith had murdered his wife. Jim Parsons, a member of the jury at the Griffith murder trial, said recently, “A lot of assuming went on during that whole thing.” Parsons said Reimer did not prove that Griffith was not where he said he was on the night of Sandra’s murder. Griffith had checked into a South Austin hotel in the early evening hours of April 6, 1982, and left the next morning for a business trip to Taylor. Sandra Griffith was found dead at the couple’s Bulverde home after firefighters responded to the scene a little after 4 a.m. on April 7. Parsons said he believed he and his fellow jurors were waiting for Reimer to give them the tangible evidence needed to erase any reasonable doubts they might have had about Griffith’s guilt. That didn’t happen, and the jury set Griffith free with a not guilty verdict. Parsons criticized Reinter^ performance as Comal County’s lead prosecutor during the trial. “The DA didn’t do his job,” Parsons said. Other jurors agreed with Parsons. “There were too many unanswered questions,” juror Virgil Wiley said. He said the state might have been able to present a stronger case against Griffith if it had not taken almost IO years to go to trial. “It was too long from the time it happened until the time it went to court,” Wiley said. See EVIDENCED ;