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BC-TX--Texas News Digest 12 am, TX

February 28, 2019

Good morning! Here’s a look at AP’s general news coverage in Texas at this hour. Questions about coverage plans are welcome and should be directed to the Dallas AP at 972-991-2100, or, in Texas, 800-442-7189. Email: aptexas@ap.org. Jill Bleed is at the desk after 5:30 a.m.

Reminder: This information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change. Expected stories may not develop, or late-breaking and more newsworthy events may take precedence. Advisories and digests will keep you up to date. All times are Central.

For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at newsroom.ap.org.

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TOP STORIES:

TEXAS EXECUTION

HUNTSVILLE, Texas _ A Texas death row inmate once described by a prosecutor as having “a heart full of scorpions” was set to be executed Thursday for killing his estranged wife’s parents and her brother, who had been a police officer. Billie Wayne Coble was condemned for the August 1989 shooting deaths of his in-laws, Robert and Zelda Vicha, and their son, Bobby Vicha, at their homes in Axtell, northeast of Waco. Coble, 70, would be the third inmate put to death this year in the U.S. and the second in Texas, which is the nation’s busiest capital punishment state. By Juan A. Lozano and Michael Graczyk. UPCOMING: 620 words, photos by 1 a.m. Will be updated. Execution is scheduled for after 6 p.m.

TEXAS-VOTER ROLLS

AUSTIN, Texas _ Saying there is no evidence of widespread election fraud in Texas, a federal judge has blocked the removal of any registered voter after state Republican leaders loudly but wrongly questioned the U.S. citizenship of tens of thousands of people. The decision by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio temporarily halts a bungled search for illegal voters in Texas, which began in January with the release of a deeply flawed list of 98,000 voters who were flagged as possibly not being citizens. Those names were immediately referred to prosecutors, and Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton amplified the announcement as a “VOTER FRAUD ALERT.” Within days, however, it emerged that the list wasn’t vetted and included scores of U.S. citizens. Biery called the search a “a solution looking for a problem” and barred elections officials from asking anyone on the list to affirm their citizenship. By Paul J. Weber. SENT: 570 words, photos.

TEXAS GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS:

ELECTION 2020-BETO O’ROURKE

AUSTIN, Texas _ Beto O’Rourke has made up his mind about a 2020 presidential run and said he will announce his intentions soon, further increasing anticipation that one of the most buzzed-about candidates in the already crowded Democratic field may finally be ready to formally join the race. The former congressman became a national political sensation while nearly upsetting Sen. Ted Cruz last November in deeply conservative Texas. He said in a statement that he and his wife, Amy, “have made a decision about how we can best serve our country” and were “excited to share it with everyone soon.” By Will Weissert. SENT: 330 words, photos.

Also:

_ TEXAS-OPEN MEETINGS LAW _ Texas’ highest criminal court has struck down a key provision of the state’s open meeting laws as “unconstitutionally vague.” SENT: 120 words.

IMMIGRATION:

BORDER ARRESTS-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. _ Another large group of migrants has been arrested after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, marking the latest in a wave of Central Americans who have been apprehended in remote areas of New Mexico, authorities said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the group _ made up primarily of families and unaccompanied children _ crossed early Tuesday near Sunland Park, a community just west of the busy border city of El Paso, Texas. By Susan Montoya Bryan. SENT: 400 words.

AROUND THE STATE & NATION:

TRUMP-YEMEN HOSTAGE

DALLAS _ The son of an American citizen from Texas who has been freed after being abducted from his vehicle by armed by men in Yemen 18 months ago says his father is getting reacquainted with his Yemeni wife and their children and he hopes to talk to him soon. “All I know right now is that he’s safe and that’s all that really matters to me,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Cale Burch, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. President Donald Trump announced Monday that Danny Burch had been freed and thanked the United Arab Emirates for its role in reuniting Burch with his family. By Jamie Stengle. SENT: 550 words.

BORDER WALL-PROTOTYPES

SAN DIEGO _ A jackhammer has reduced prototypes of President Donald Trump’s prized border wall into piles of rubble, a quick ending to an experiment that turned into a spectacle at times. The four concrete and four steel panels, spaced closely together steps from an existing barrier separating San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, instantly became powerful symbols associated with the president and one of his top priorities when they went up 16 months ago. For Trump’s allies, the towering models were a show of his commitment to border security and making good on a core campaign promise. For detractors, they were monuments to wasted taxpayer dollars and a misguided display of aggression toward Mexico and immigrants seeking a new home in the United States. By Elliot Spagat. SENT: 1130 words, photos, video.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-HAWAII

DALLAS _ The Federal Aviation Administration said it has granted Southwest Airlines approval to begin flights between California and Hawaii, capping the airline’s effort to extend its reach 2,400 miles across the Pacific. The Dallas-based airline’s chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ven, said Southwest will announce timing for selling tickets and beginning flights in the coming days. SENT: 200 words, photos. Moved on financial and travel news services.

IN BRIEF:

_ SCHOOL SHOOTING-TEXAS _ A judge has ordered the trial of a teenager accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school be moved to another county. SENT: 120 words, photos.

_ FATAL SHOOTING-AMBUSH _ A 20-year-old man is jailed on a capital murder charge in the fatal shooting last week of two brothers in an ambush attack from a Houston rooftop. SENT: 130 words, photos.

_ POSTAL WORKER-SLAIN _ A Los Angeles man has pleaded guilty to murder in the killing of a postal worker during a road-rage attack on a Dallas expressway last year. SENT: 120 words.

_ MURDER CHARGES-TWO ARRESTED _ Authorities In North Carolina say a second person wanted in the deaths of two people has been apprehended in Texas. SENT: 130 words.

_ EX-BROTHER-IN-LAW-CORPSE _ Prosecutors say an Arkansas man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for not reporting the 2017 drug-overdose death of his ex-brother-in-law and burying the body under a shed. SENT: 130 words.

_ POLICE SHOOTING-KILLEEN _ Police say a suspect in a Central Texas drug investigation has died in an exchange of gunfire with officers serving a no-knock search warrant at a home. SENT: 130 words.

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