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Texas hit man gets life in Michigan killing

DETROIT (AP), A Texas man who killed a suburban Detroit couple has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.

Miguel Servando pleaded guilty in November to two counts of murder-for-hire. The 41-year-old El Salvador native was hired to kill Brij Chhabra and Aasha Chhabra to settle a financial dispute. They were shot at their Troy home in March 2008.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen told Servando on Thursday he deserved the death penalty for killing the Chhabras and might have received it if he had not cooperated with federal and state officials.

Michigan has abolished the death penalty for state offenses, but the federal death penalty can be imposed for certain crimes.
The Detroit News reports Servando is cooperating against two Houston men accused of hiring him.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Headline:Texas hit man gets life in Michigan killing


11 horses found dead on North Texas ranch

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WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP), Authorities in North Texas are investigating the deaths of 11 horses, possibly from a lack of food and water.
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler says 40 horses total were on the 3,000-acre ranch near Lake Weatherford.

He says nine horses were found dead Wednesday and two were euthanized Thursday.

Fowler says the owner of the horses leased the land and hired someone to feed and provide water to the horses.

He tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "That's when things went wrong."

Fowler says there was no water and the well was broken. He declined to name the owner or the person hired to care for the horses. He says that once the owner found out what happened, he got a veterinarian to the horses and had the well repaired.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Average fuel prices fall across Texas

HOUSTON (AP), Retail gasoline prices are falling this week heading into the July 4th holiday.

The weekly AAA Texas gasoline price survey released Thursday shows the average price of regular unleaded self-serve fell by four cents this week to $2.49 per gallon. It also fell four cents nationally to an average of $2.63.

Auto club spokeswoman Sara Schimmer says July 4th is the time of year when gasoline prices often peak. If so, they've peaked at a level nearly $1.50 per gallon below last summer's high.

Texarkana has the cheapest gasoline in this week's survey at $2.43, seven cents below last week. The highest was in El Paso, where the average price fell three cents to $2.58 per gallon.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Kids found in shed behind daycare center

SEALY, Texas (AP), A Southeast Texas couple was in jail Thursday after authorities found a half dozen children locked and unsupervised in tool shed behind an unlicensed daycare center.

State officials said the children were surrounded by lawn equipment, gasoline and insecticide when they were found Wednesday morning after a child welfare inspector responded to a complaint that an illegal daycare center was being operated at the home.

The children in the shed were among 14, ranging in age from 3 months to 5 years, being cared for by the couple, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Gwen Carter said. They legally could care for only three children, she said.

Police found the remaining children hidden in the house and at another residence next door.

Paramedics examined all the children and found they were unharmed. Parents were summoned to pick them up.

Austin County District Attorney Travis Koehn said Marietta Patek, 55, was charged with six counts of child endangerment. Her husband, Freddie Patek, 47, faced an evidence tampering charge.

Bond was set at $10,000 for each. They have no attorney of record to comment on their behalf, jail officials said Thursday.

"They're the sweetest people," a neighbor, Christalynn Bell, told Houston television station KRIV. "They always think about the children first. That's why right now, it's totally mindboggling."

The case remains under investigation by Sealy police and state child welfare authorities.

Sealy is about 45 miles west of Houston.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

House approves new roads bill

AUSTIN, Texas (AP), The Texas House has approved legislation allowing $2 billion in bonds to be spent to build new roads.

The bonds were approved by voters statewide in 2007, but the bill approved Thursday authorized the spending.
Lawmakers added a provision that would prohibit the money from being used to turn existing roadways into tollways.

The House has yet to approve two of the three issues Gov. Rick Perry asked them to address when he called the special session.

A bill to prevent state agencies from expiring in 2010 is expected to get House approval later Thursday. The third issue, allowing the state to continue contracting for privately built toll roads, is in doubt as lawmakers try to wrap up the session before the holiday weekend.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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Dallas/Ft. Worth News



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