New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 12, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas
SATURDAY May 12, 2001
18 pages in 2 sections
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Vol. 150, No. 156
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852
Brooke Castillaja looks at a cucumber held by her babysitter, Teresa Munoz, Friday during the first day of Farmer’s Market in the parking lot of New Braunfels Marketplace.
AG postpones McVeigh’s death
WASHINGTON (AP) — Timothy McVeigh’s countdown to execution was suddenly interrupted Friday, five days before he was to die, as Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered an investigation into the FBI’s bungling of records in the Oklahoma City bombing.
President Bush said he was sure of McVeigh’s guilt but did not want the government “rushing his fate.”
McVeigh, on death row in Terre Haute, Ind., is now scheduled to die by lethal injection on June ll.
Attorney Rob Nigh described his client as frustrated and possibly reconsidering his earlier decision against challenging the execution order.
“He’s distressed about this in that he knows the impact that it has upon his family and those who care
about him,” Nigh said outside the federal prison where he consulted with McVeigh.
Some victims said they were sickened, others resigned, after the dramatic turn of events in what is to be the first federal execution since 1963.
“It’s like a big old clamp squeezing my gut,” said Dan McKinney, whose See MCVEIGH/10A
Vetter family participates in ceremony
Washington, D.C., event honors fallen officers
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
The family of slain Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Randy Vetter is going to Washington, D.C., Sunday
for ceremonies honoring officers killed in the fine of duty.
The ceremonies are conducted each year as part of National Police Week, May
Vetter’s wife Cynthia Vetter, his son Robert, father Sheriff’s Lt. Kermit Vetter and sisters Amanda and Sandra are among those going to Washington. Randy Vetter comes from a law enforcement family.
His father is commander of the Comal County Jail.
Also going to Washington is Israel Camacho, Randy
Vetter’s former partner when he was stationed in New Braunfels.
Vetter allegedly was shot by Melvin Hale, 73, on Aug. 3, 2000, in a traffic stop in Kyle, north of San Marcos.
Hale’s trial on capital murder charges is set for late August or September, a district court official in Hays County said.
One for Dad
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Smithson Valley's Becca Thomas takes the lead in the early laps of the 3200-meter run Friday morning at the UIL State Track and Field Championships in Austin. Thomas took third place. She participated in the event even though her father died this past week and dedicated the race to him. For more results, see Sports, Page 1B.
Council set to discuss attorney choices
Peny signs hate crimes bill into law
By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer
New Braunfels City Council will narrow its choices for city attorney at Monday night’s regular meeting.
Council interviewed seven prospective candidates this past week and plans to discuss the candidate list in closed session Monday night, Mayor Stoney Williams said.
Williams said the group had not officially decided which ones to call an interview or who they will hire. After meeting in executive session, council will make that decision publicly, he said. The city attorney position has been open since Floyd Akers took a position as municipal judge in Bryan. After advertising the position, the council chose seven candidates to interview.
The seven candidates interviewed were:
• Mark A. Flowers — Midland
• Sara A. Hartin — Copperas Cove
• Gregory D. Humbach — Wichita Falls
• John D. Lestock — Hewitt
• C. Stephen Smith — San Antonio
• Timothy D. Walker — New Braunfels
• Nancy O. Williams — Lake Kiowa.
Move ends years of debate
By Kelly Shannon
Associated Press Writer
AUSTIN (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Friday a hate crimes bill named for dragging death victim James Byrd Jr., ending years of emotional legislative debate.
“As the governor of a very large and diverse state, in all matters it is my desire to PERRY seek corn
in o n ground, common ground for the common good. In the end, we’re all Texans,” Perry said.
The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act received final legislative approval Thursday. The law strengthens penalties for crimes motivated by the victim’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual preference, age or national origin.
Perry, a Republican who had been noncommittal about the bill until Friday, was surrounded by four Democratic legislators and Byrd’s parents, James and Stella Byrd.
Byrd, a black man, was killed when he was dragged behind a pickup truck by three white men in Jasper in 1998. Two of them are on death row and the third is serving a life prison sentence.
“You’va endured unimaginable pain that no Texan should have to endure. I hope you can find some peace in knowing that his death was not in vain,” Perry told Byrd’s parents.
Stella Byrd, with tears in her eyes, clutched a pen Perry used to sign the bill. She said the law might prevent others from committing a crime of hate.
“This is the best Mother’s Day gift that I’ve ever
received. It’s something that I will cherish and remember all of my life. I have something good to remember from his death,” she said.
Texas already has a hate-crimes law that increases penalties if a crime is proven to be “motivated by bias or prejudice,” but it does not list specific categories of people who would be protected. Some prosecutors have said it is too vague to enforce.
Two years ago, a similar bill passed the House but died in the Senate when critics complained it created unnecessary distinctions for homosexuals.
Then-Gov. George W. Bush refused to support the measure, saying all crimes are hate crimes. Democrats criticized him for that decision during the White House campaign.
Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat and a sponsor of the bill, praised Perry for having the courage to sign the legislation and said several lawmakers had “battle scars” from years of fighting for the law.
Earlier this legislative session, the Senate sponsor, Democrat Rodney Ellis of Houston, accused Perry of trying to discourage Republican senators from bringing the bill up for debate.
But on Friday, Ellis stood at Perry’s side and thanked him.
“This bill needed Governor Rick Perry’s name on it, and I’m very grateful for that, sir,” Ellis said.
Perry could have allowed the bill to become law without his signature.
Ellis also noted that acting Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, also a Republican, cast a vote for the bill.
Thompson, though, was a driving force behind the bill, ElUs said.
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Key Code 76Comal ISD superintendent search continues
By Martin Malacara
Comal Independent School District Trustees are undecided about choosing the next superintendent.
After spending one and a half hours in closed session Thursday, trustees returned to open session and unanimously approved postponing the matter for at least two weeks
“We’re confident it will be a short time,” board president John Clay said.
However, Clay said the board had narrowed its choices to two of the four
“The board is still working veiy hard to decide between the candidates. Its been a whirlwind path,” Clay said.
The Herald-Zeitung submitted a public information request to the school district to obtain a list of the four candidates.
School officials denied the request, citing state law which exempts divulging names of applicants for superintendent positions.
According to the statute, the name or names of finalists being considered for the position must be presented to the
public at least 21 days before the date of the meeting at which a final action or vote is to be taken on the employment of the person.
School officials said the candidates were not finalists.
“The people are all so qualified. We’re trying to work through the process to come to a unanimous decision,” Clay said.
The district’s previous superintendent, Jerry Major, resigned from the district in February to become superintendent in the Waco School District.See SUPERINTENDENT/4A