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

May 2, 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Reminder: This information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change.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:

ELECTION 2020-TEXAS SENATE

AUSTIN, Texas _ Joaquin Castro, the Texas Democrat who leads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he is again passing up a Senate run despite hinting for months that 2020 might finally be his year. It makes Castro _ whose twin brother, Julián Castro, is running for president _ the latest in a line of well-known Democrats around the country who have resisted prodding from party allies to jump on the ballot and help efforts to reclaim a Senate majority next year. It also sharpens the field into focus for Republican incumbent John Cornyn, who even without Castro may still face his first serious re-election challenge since joining the Senate in 2002. Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, who nearly won a House seat last year and became an overnight Democratic sensation over her viral campaign ads, announced a Senate run last week. By Paul J. Weber. SENT: 680 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-MEXICO BORDER-MILITARY

WASHINGTON _ Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has told Congress the military needs to return to its traditional missions, and he wants to know how much longer troops will be needed at the U.S.-Mexico border. In testimony to a House Appropriations subcommittee, Shanahan said he needs to determine how many more agents and other workers the Department of Homeland Security must have to fulfill the border mission. “We’ve really been on this kind of a la carte approach where we’ve been asked to support DHS,” he said, when asked how the deployment is affecting military readiness. “We’re now in a position where we need to ask the question, how long will we be there?” By Lolita C. Baldor. SENT: 490 words, photos.

TEXAS GOVERNMENT & POLITICS:

TEXAS-GUNS IN CHURCH

AUSTIN, Texas _ Nearly a year and half after a gunman killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church during a Sunday service, state lawmakers are working to advance a measure that would remove places of worship from a list of places that ban licensed handguns. By Clarice Silber. SENT: 400 words.

DNA-BORDER FRAUD

WASHINGTON _ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin voluntary DNA testing in cases where officials suspect that adults are fraudulently claiming to be parents of children as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The decision comes as Homeland Security officials are increasingly concerned about instances of child trafficking as a growing number of Central American families cross the border, straining resources to the breaking point. Border authorities also recently started to increase the biometric data they take from children 13 and younger, including fingerprints, despite privacy concerns and government policy that restricts what can be collected. By Colleen Long. SENT: 540 words.

UNACCOMPANIED CHILD DEATH

WASHINGTON _ A 16-year-old unaccompanied migrant boy from Guatemala who fell ill has died in government custody in Texas. Officials say the boy was transferred to the care of U.S. Health and Human Services on April 20 and didn’t appear ill. But the next morning, he had fever, chills and a headache and was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released that day. He didn’t improve and was sent to another hospital, where he was transferred to a third facility, a children’s hospital. He died Tuesday. SENT: 130 words. Will be updated.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-LAWSUIT

NEW ORLEANS _ Congress rendered former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law completely unconstitutional in 2017 by eliminating the tax penalty for not having insurance, the Trump administration and a coalition of Republican-led states has told a federal appeals court. The “Obamacare” opponents hope to persuade the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to uphold the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas late last year striking down the law. By Kevin McGill and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 580 words. Moved on political, health and financial news services.

With:

_ HEALTH OVERHAUL-LAWSUIT-THE LATEST

Also:

_ ELECTION 2020-BETO O’ROURKE _ Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is pledging not to take large donations from the fossil fuel industry _ an about-face from his star-making run for Senate in oil-rich Texas last year when he was one of the top candidates backed by the sector. SENT: 160 words.

AROUND THE STATE & NATION:

TEXAS POLICE SHOOTING-TRAFFIC STOP

DALLAS _ A Texas police officer has been charged with criminally negligent homicide for fatally shooting a black man during a traffic stop last year. A Tarrant County grand jury indicted Arlington Officer Bau Tran eight months after he shot 24-year-old O’Shae Terry in the Dallas suburb. Tran’s indictment marks a rare criminal prosecution of a police officer in the historically conservative North Texas county and may draw greater attention to a case that was largely overshadowed when a white Dallas police officer’s fatal shot of a black man in his own apartment in the same month. SENT: 280 words, photos.

EX-TEXAS A&M PLAYER-SLAYING

DALLAS _ A former Texas A&M football player has been sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of a Dallas jogger who was hacked to death with a machete in 2015. A Dallas County jury found Thomas Johnson guilty of murder Tuesday for the seemingly random killing of David Stevens and returned the sentence. Johnson was accused of waiting on a trail in East Dallas four years ago and attacking the 53-year-old mechanical engineer as he ran by. SENT: 270 words, photos. Moved on general and sports news services.

SEVERE STORMS-OKLAHOMA

OKLAHOMA CITY _ Authorities say a man and woman were killed in separate incidents when severe storms swept across Oklahoma, and officials warn more severe storms are on the way. There is an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms through Thursday across south-central Oklahoma and parts of northern Texas, with heavy rain likely to cause flooding and a chance for large hail, damaging winds up to 70 mph and a few tornadoes, the National Weather Service reported. SENT: 250 words.

MENTAL ILLNESS DIVERSION-JAIL

HOUSTON _ Houston-area law enforcement officials are expanding a program to keep low-level misdemeanor offenders with mental health problems out of jail following the success of new facility that resulted in diverting more than 1,000 people from incarceration and saving taxpayers $9 million. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced has announced that officials will increase the types of low-level misdemeanor offenses that can be referred to a mental health diversion center that opened in September. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 440 words.

COLLEGE CORRUPTION

NEW YORK _ A former aspiring business manager for NBA players has taken the witness stand at a college basketball bribery trial to deny charges that he paid off coaches at major programs to get their help in landing clients with potential for lucrative pro contracts. “I never paid a coach with the intent of bribing or influencing anyone,” Christian Dawkins told a jury in federal court in Manhattan. Dawkins, 26, described resisting pressure from FBI agents posing as investors in his fledging sports management company to make payouts to coaches at schools including the University of Arizona, University of Southern California, Creighton and Texas Christian University. By Tom Hays. SENT: 470 words, photos. Moved on national general, financial and sports news services.

AMERICAN BURYING BEETLE

OKLAHOMA CITY _ Federal wildlife officials say a large scavenging beetle that has been classified as endangered since 1989 has become more plentiful and should be downlisted to threatened, a decision that environmentalists said is not justified by scientific data. The American burying beetle was once found in 35 states and three Canadian provinces. It was on the brink of extinction when it was classified as endangered three decades ago, when it was found only in small populations in eastern Oklahoma and Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. Conservation efforts over the past 30 years have helped the beetle recover and it is now also found in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, and on Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts, said Amy Leuders, southwest regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. By Tim Talley. SENT: 430 words, photos. Moved on national general and science news services.

WILDFIRE PROJECTIONS

SPOKANE, Wash. _ Most of the country can expect a normal wildfire season but residents along the West Coast of the United States should be ready for another busy season, the National Interagency Fire Center said. In the southwest, below normal fire potential was expected across northern Arizona, northern New Mexico and west Texas in May and June, the report said. Above normal fire potential was expected in southern Arizona in those months. By Nicholas K. Geranios. SENT: 360 words, photos. Moved on national general and weather news services.

INTERSTATE 70-FATAL PILEUP

DENVER _ The company that owns a semitrailer involved in a fiery pileup that killed four people near Denver had two trucks taken out of service for brake-related issues in the past year, including one about two months before the Colorado crash. Federal records say a March 6 inspection in Texas found that one of the five trucks owned by Houston-based Castellano 03 Trucking did not have adequate brake tubing or hoses, a violation that required the truck to be pulled off the road and fixed. In August, another Castellano truck was taken out of service for chafing or kinking of a brake hose or tubing, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records. By Colleen Slevin. SENT: 530 words, photos.

IN BRIEF:

_ JET TRAINER CRASHES-OKLAHOMA _ The pilot and co-pilot of a Texas-based Air Force training aircraft ejected before the jet crashed in southwestern Oklahoma. SENT: 120 words.

_ CHILD SHOT-ROAD RAGE-TEXAS _ An 18-month-old boy has been wounded in what Houston police are calling an apparent road-rage shooting. SENT: 130 words.

_ POKER CLUBS-ARRESTS _ Nine people are facing charges after officers raided two poker clubs in Houston as part of an organized crime investigation. SENT: 130 words.

_ CHINA-FOREIGNERS SENTENCED _ A group of at least six foreigners who have been punished by a court in southern China for their alleged involvement in an international methamphetamine operation includes a Houston man who was sentenced to death. SENT: 130 words.

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