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Posted: Sep 19, 2012 2:31 AM

Updated: Sep 19, 2012 2:31 AM

WEST NILE-TEXAS

El Paso woman at least 54th Texas West Nile death

EL PASO, Texas (AP) A 67-year-old woman has become the third El Paso resident to die of West Nile virus, bringing the virus death toll in Texas to at least 54 this year.

Interim El Paso Public Health Director Bruce Parsons says the woman lived on the city's east side and had other health problems.

Federal health officials say this is the nation's worst year for the mosquito-borne virus since it was discovered in New York 13 years ago. Texas has about half of the U.S. deaths from the illness.

HELICOPTER CRASH

Pilot uninjured in chopper crash in West Texas

SLATON, Texas (AP) A West Texas official says the pilot of a small helicopter landing at a city-owned airport escaped injury when he bailed out of the cockpit while trying to land on a platform trailer.

Slaton's city administrator Mike Lamberson said Tuesday the two-person helicopter exploded about 4 p.m. Tuesday at Slaton Municipal Airport after tipping off his trailer. Lamberson says the blades hit the ground after the helicopter tipped sideways while the pilot was trying to put the craft down on his trailer.

Lamberson says no one else was in the helicopter, which burned up after the explosion. He didn't know the pilot's identity.

Online Federal Aviation Administration records show the Robinson R44 helicopter was registered to Lubbock-based crop-duster G.B. Aerial Applications.

Slaton is about 17 miles southeast of Lubbock.

TEXAS-BURNED CHILD

Prosecutors seek to charge man for childhood crime

(Information in the following story is from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com)

HOUSTON (AP) Prosecutors want a judge to allow them to bring to trial a man accused of burning a child when he was just 13.

Robbie Middleton survived those burns for 12 years until dying in 2010 of a rare skin cancer related to the many skin grafts he received for burns he suffered on his eighth birthday north of Houston. A medical examiner ruled the death homicide.

Don Wilburn Collins was accused of setting the child on fire when he was 13. Now, the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/Obwfdd) reports Montgomery County prosecutors have asked a judge to move a murder case against the now-27-year-old Collins from juvenile court to state district court.

MULES EUTHANIZED-MUSEUM

Lubbock museum euthanizes mules for exhibit

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) A West Texas museum has purchased two old mules and euthanized them for a farm display.

The American Museum of Agriculture in Lubbock says in a statement that it bought the two mules from a local trader after a long search for already preserved animals came up empty. The mules were euthanized for eventual display.

One mule was 28 years old. The other was 32.

Museum officials said in a Monday statement that the mules would have otherwise been sent to Mexico and slaughtered. The museum said using real animals will allow a more accurate portrayal of they're used in the field.

However, a Tuesday statement from the Humane Society of the United States said "the killing and stuffing of animals solely for museum exhibits is frivolous and unnecessary."

TAX COLLECTOR GUILTY

Waco-area official admits misusing public assets

WACO, Texas (AP) An elected Central Texas county official has resigned after pleading guilty to misusing county assets.

McLennan County Tax Assessor-Collector Buddy Skeen could get up to two years in a state jail for his Tuesday plea. A McLennan County jury will begin hearing testimony Friday in state district court on his punishment.

Skeen interrupted jury selection for his trial to enter his plea.

Skeen was accused of trading in a county-owned tuck in 2008 as credit for a truck he bought for personal use.

TEXAS-IMMIGRANT SMUGGLING

12 charged with smuggling immigrants into Texas

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Federal authorities have charged 12 people with immigrant smuggling and harboring after a roundup netted 28 suspects.

A federal indictment unsealed in San Antonio Tuesday accused the 12 in custody and eight others not yet arrested of conspiring to smuggle immigrants into the country from last September to last month.

According to court documents, authorities allege the suspects used stolen vehicles to smuggle more than 100 undocumented immigrants from Laredo to staging areas in San Antonio.

Another indictment partially unsealed in Laredo accuses the 16 others arrested of conspiring to smuggle immigrants over the latter half of last year.

DALLAS FIREFIGHTER-ROBBERY

Ex-firefighter pleads guilty to robbing bank

DALLAS (AP) A former Dallas firefighter has pleaded guilty to robbing a city bank by first apologizing to a teller before taking money from her and then handing her a tip.

The U.S. attorney's office in Dallas says Jesus Ventura pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery Tuesday. The 37-year-old Ventura faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 10.

Authorities say Ventura robbed a Chase bank in west Dallas in April. They say Ventura confronted the teller by holding up a black backpack and raising his voice. She eventually gave him the money.

Ventura then allegedly took a $20 bill from the cash and handed it back, telling her, "Here is a tip for you."

He was arrested by Dallas police shortly afterward.

OBIT-FORMER EDITOR

Dick Tarpley, ex-Abilene editor, dead at 92

ABILENE, Texas (AP) Former Abilene Reporter-News Editor Dick Tarpley has died at the age of 92.

Abilene lawyer Beverly Tarpley says her husband died at their home Monday afternoon after a lengthy illness.

After graduating from the University of Texas in 1941, he worked at what is now the Wichita Falls Times Record News until he entered the Army Signal Corps in 1942.

He returned to that newspaper after his 1946 discharge, then moved to the Abilene Reporter-News five months later. Beginning as a courthouse reporter, he rose through the ranks before serving as editor in 1979-86. He continued to write a column in the Reporter-News until 1997.

Funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Abilene, with burial at Elmwood Memorial Park.

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