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Duffey stabbing case has new court ruling due Monday

Defense attorney Frank Hughes and District Attorney Will Ramsay spent about 90 minutes Wednesday morning before Eighth District Judge Eddie Northcutt arguing the merits of the sentencing in the murder plea of Roy Dean Duffey, in which the conviction was overturned and the case remanded back to Eighth Judicial District Court for a “new trial by a different judge.” Arguments this morning centered around whether a plea agreement was accepted by the court. Duffey, accused in the February 2011 stabbing death of David Harrison Cooper, was set for a jury trial in July of last year before agreeing 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, before Duffey would have been released to serve the remainder of his sentence on probation. Attorneys for Duffey appealed the sentence last year after then-District Judge Robert Newsom rejected the plea agreement. Newsom's rejection of the plea bargain came after members of David Harrison Cooper's family met with the judge 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 Judge Newsom with two options: he could have either removed himself from the case or asked 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 in Texarkana. The appellate court, after reviewing the trial, sent the case back to Hopkins County in February of this year. “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. At the conclusion of Wednesday's hearing, Northcutt said he would hand down his ruling on the case on Monday, Sept. 27. Roy Dean Duffey, under terms of the plea agreement, was to have spent less than six months in prison, and has now spent more than a year behind bars. Northcutt's ruling could mean that Duffey would either serve the remainder of a 10-year sentence on probation or be returned to prison.

Falling tree kills local man

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A 40-year-old Cumby man, Ramiro Maares Jimenez, was killed Wednesday afternoon when a large oak tree he was cutting down fell on him. According to Hopkins County Sheriff’s deputies, the tree Jimenez was cutting split and twisted as it fell, crushing him under one part of the tree. Justice of the Peace Yvonne King, who was called to the scene, indicated the man may have gotten his feet tangled in brush and briar around the tree and was unable to get out of the way of the falling tree. Rescuers had to call in a piece of heavy equipment to lift the tree off of the man.

Hopkins County deputy arrested on tampering charges

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A criminal investigator for Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office was behind bars Wednesday afternoon after he was arrested on charges of tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony offense, and additional charges are expected to be filed. Daniel Madison Winn, a 10-year veteran with the department, was arrested in connection with the disappearance of controlled substances from the department’s property vault. Winn posted $25,000 bond and was released from Hopkins County jail just before noon today. Winn had served as a criminal investigator for the past year and was one of two officers with specialized training in the area of child exploitation. Sheriff’s Chief Investigator Lewis Tatum said after some discrepancies were noticed, he called in the Texas Ranger from Lamar County to conduct an investigation. The ranger’s investigation led to a formal complaint and an arrest warrant for Winn was issued after he failed a drug test. District Attorney Will Ramsay said he would bring in a special prosecutor to handle the case against the former deputy. Tatum said Winn was placed on administrative leave on Tuesday and was terminated from the sheriff’s department Wednesday morning. The chief investigator said it was disheartening to have to arrest one of his own investigators. “We police ourselves just as we would anyone else,” he said. Winn becomes the second employee of the sheriff’s department to be arrested on charges involving drugs being taken from the secure property vault. Former crime prevention and safety education officer Rex Morgan was arrested after an inventory of the property vault at the sheriff's department revealed a quantity of hydrocodone pills was missing from evidence. Morgan is serving a 180-day term in the county jail and will then have to serve 10 years probation.

2 local schools, 2 salons among those involved in breast cancer awareness efforts in Hopkins County

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Saltillo and Sulphur Springs school districts and at least two local hair salons are among the many around the country decked out in pink to show support of those diagnosed with breast cancer, remember those who have lost the battle as well as to help raise awareness and funds for research for a cure.


Girls Have It Covered

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By JON?LANCE News-Telegram Photographer This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tuesday was a fun night full of cows, horses and tractors for the three contestants for the Hopkins County Fall Festival Cover Girl title. The competition officially began with Shelbie Lackey, Miranda Rushin and Morgan Mayers competing in the first four events in the contest. They will be judged by a panel on instructors, some of whom were previous Cover Girls. The contest is one of the many events of the Fall Festival, the Cover Girls are also participate Saturday to the World Champion Hopkins County stew contest at Buford Park, which will start serving starting at 10:45 a.m. Tickets are $5 for the all-you-can-eat event and can be bought in advance at City National Bank, Alliance Bank, Guaranty Bank and Trust and Texas Heritage Bank. More than 150 stew pots are entered in this year’s contest. But, Tuesday, the focus was not on stew but rather the Cover Girls. “This is the 34th year we have had Cover Girl in Hopkins County,” said contest coordinator Tracy Dennis. “So many events have changed over the eight years since I have been here.” On Tuesday evening, a crowd gathered in the horse pavilion of the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center. As the contestants entered the arena for the first time, three dairy cows were brought out for the event. The were told to pick a cow for the milking contest and were allowed 60 seconds to practice their art of milking before the timekeeper told them they had a two minute time trial. Buckets in hand, the girls filled them up as much as they could in the time allotted. The ruled states that if the cow kicked the bucket or the bucket was dropped, there are no second chances. Next, a horse was brought out into the arena. The girls were expected to saddle the horse as fast as possible then mount the animal. The time would be stopped when the contestant raised her hands straight up in the air once mounted. The judges were then called in to see how well the contestant strapped the saddle to the horse. In the calf scramble, three cows with duct tape on their backs were released in the arena. Judges lined the girls up on a starting line. When the judge yelled go, the girls tried to corner the cows and retrieve the tape off their backs. For the final event of the evening, the contestants had to drive a tractor forward and backward through an obstacle course. The course was marked with tall poles the girls had to avoid as they weaved through the course. On Thursday at 6 p.m., the competition will continue with three more events at the horse pavilion. The contestants will cut up a chicken, stack hay and sew. “The one event that everyone loves is cutting up the chicken,” said Dennis. Hay stacking in a new event this year, she explained. Contestants will move four square bales of hale 20 feet and stack them in a specific pattern in a timed event. The girls are allowed to carry, drag or roll the hay to the finish line. The first place Cover Girl winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship with second place receiving $750. Since only three girls are competing in the contest, Dennis said the girls have great odds this year, unlike previous years when there had been up to 14 contestants. “They have had since July to gather all the stuff for their windows, their float and practice for the competition,” said Dennis.“These girls have been hustling and want it bad. I know they are putting in the work.” The 2014 Cover Girl title will be announced Saturday, Oct. 25, in the Civic Center Arena during the Fall Festival concert. Other events this week at the Fall Festival include: Wednesday, Oct. 22 n The carnival opens on the Civic Center grounds at 6 p.m. Wristbands are available for purchase for $20 in advance through noon Wednesday at Super Handy convenience stores. The cost for all-your-can-ride wristbands will be $25 at the carnival daily. The carnival will run through Sunday. Thursday, Oct. 23 n Cover Girl competition, 6 p.m. at the Equine Pavilion at the Civic Center. n Carnival, 6 p.m. to midnight. n BMX Exhibition, 7 p.m. at the skate park in Buford Park. n Registration for the Creative Arts Contest, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in SSHS Conference Center. Friday, Oct. 24 n Registration for the Creative Arts Contest continues from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in SSHS Conference Center. n BMX Bike show, 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Friday in front of the Civic Center. n Commercial booths, starting at 9 a.m. at the Civic Center and Sulphur Springs High School. n Kids Zone, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Civic Center Equine Pavilion, with food vendors, bounces house, a petting zoo and other activities. n David Wonders Magic Show, 3 p.m. Friday at Equine Pavilion. n Arts and Crafts Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at SSHS. n Carnival, 6 p.m. to midnight. n Cody Johnson Band and Tyler and the Tribe play in concert Friday at the Civic Center. Whiskey Myers and Johnny Cooper will perform a concert Saturday night. Gates open at 6 p.m. and music starts at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the show, or get at two-day concert pass for $30, and pay $35 for the VIP tent. Southern Soul, winner of Muddy Jake’s Battle of the Bands, will open for the Friday concert. Saturday, Oct. 25 n Creative Arts Contest, open for public viewing from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Best of Show winners are to report at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for winner pictures. n Sulphur Springs Corvette Club’s Corvette Show, Heritage Plaza from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Show car registration starts 8 a.m. and ends at 11 a.m. with viewing from 8 a.m. until 2:30 pm. Awards will be presented at 2:30 pm. n Commercial exhibits and the food court opens at 9 a.m. at the Civic Center. n The Legends of Crossroads Western reenactment, 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on the Civic Center grounds. n World Champion Hopkins County Stew Contest, serving starts at 10:45 a.m. in Buford Park. Tickets are $5 for all-you-can-eat. Winners will be announced about 12:45 p.m. n Duck Race, 1 p.m. in the creek along the east side of the Civic Center. n Earl W. Martin 42 Tournament, 1 p.m. at the Senior Citizen Center. Cost is $25 per team. n Lone Star BMX Bike Show, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday in front of the Civic Center. n Kids Zone, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Civic Center Equine Pavilion, with food vendors, bounces house, a petting zoo and other activities. n David Wonders Magic Show, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at Equine Pavilion. n Arts and Crafts Show, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at SSHS. n Dinner Tonight demonstrations, conducted hourly starting at 10 a.m. through 2 p.m., with the drawing for the Kitchen Aid mixer scheduled at 3 p.m., in foyer to the Civic Center Auditorium. n Carnival, 6 p.m. to midnight. n Whiskey Myers and Johnny Cooper will perform a concert Saturday night. Gates open at 6 p.m. and music starts at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the show. The new 2014-15 Cover Girl will be announced during Saturday night’s concert. Sunday, Oct. 26 n Tejano Day activities, noon to 6 p.m. on Civic Center grounds will feature food, music and the carnival.

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