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SBHS’ Taylor Josey headed to nationals

Sulphur Bluff High School sophomore Taylor Josey qualified over the weekend to compete at the National Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Conference this summer.

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SSISD board changes April meeting to Friday

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A waiver application for missed school days, funds for an abatament project at Lamar Primary School and a revised dyslexia handbook are among the items Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustees will be asked to consider

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Grand Jury indicts at least 55 people

The Hopkins County Grand Jury during their April 6 session signed at least 75 indictments against about 55 people.

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Duffey to get new trial in death of Cooper

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In a hearing Tuesday afternoon, Eighth Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt ordered a new trial for Roy Dean Duffey on charges of murder in the stabbing death of David Harrison Cooper four years ago and said he would hear the full case on a date to be set in June or July. In the hearing, Northcutt finally rejected a plea bargain deal that had been tentatively agreed to prior to the start of a trial two years ago in which Duffey had agreed to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a probated 10-year sentence and 180 days “shock probation” in prison before then-District Judge Robert Newsom. Northcutt said he had reviewed a pre-sentence investigation to account for the planned sentence and said he would try Duffey on the original indictment either in June or July. Attorney Frank Hughes now represents Duffey in the murder trial. Before announcing the order setting a new trial, Northcutt took about 20 minutes to summarize the events in the case and why he decided to retry the case rather than go back to the plea bargain. Duffey, accused in the Feb. 2011 stabbing death of David Harrison Cooper, was set for jury trial in July of 2013. Just prior to the start of that trial, he agreed to a plea agreement that specified a sentence of 10 years in prison with a provision for “shock probation” which would mean 180 days in prison, including two months time already served. Duffey would have then been released serve the remainder of his sentence on probation. Attorneys for Duffey appealed the sentence after Newsom rejected the plea agreement. Newsom's rejection of the plea bargain came after members of Cooper's family met with the judge and without defense and prosecution attorneys in what was termed an “ex parte” meeting. Following that meeting, attorneys Chad Cable and Frank Long filed a motion to recuse or disqualify Newsom from the case. That motion left Newsom with two options, he could have either removed himself from the case or ask the presiding judge of the First Administrative District to appoint another judge to hear the case. Newsom chose the latter. Presiding Judge John D. Ovard rejected the motion to disqualify Newsom. The conviction was then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District of Texas at Texarkana. The appellate court, after reviewing the trial, sent the case back to the Eighth District Court. “While the recusal testimony indicates the trial judge [Newsom] refused to discuss the details of the case during the ex parte meeting, he clearly listened to the concerns and objections of the Coopers and [Pastor Lavelle] Hendricks regarding a sentencing decision that was not yet final,” the appeals court wrote. “Allowing this trial judge, even if he were to sit mute, to meet privately with a crime victim's family and pastor regarding sentencing and unfinalized plea agreements would create a dangerous precedent that could prejudice injustice in other cases. Characterizing this behavior by a jurist [judge] as harmless would undermine public confidence in the judicial system. “Accordingly, we [appeals court] reverse the trial court's judgment and remand the case for a new trial by a different judge,” the ruling stated. The question before the court Wednesday morning was whether the original plea bargain agreement in the second-degree felony manslaughter trial had been accepted by the court or not.

Saltillo sending at least 9 to regional UIL

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Saltillo High School had several students place and had five teams recognized at the District 24-A Academic UIL Spring Meet. The school was third overall at the district meet.

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