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Two-semi crash causes injuries

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DPS troopers investigate the scene of a two-semi truck crash. Photo by Emily WootenDPS troopers investigate the scene of a two-semi truck crash. Photo by Emily Wooten

Special to the News-Times

SAN JACINTO COUNTY – The Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers investigated a crash involving two commercial motor vehicles on U.S. Highway 59, near the 453A exit, that occurred Friday.

The preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 6:40 a.m., a 2020 Kenworth truck tractor semi-trailer was traveling south, followed by a 2023 Freightliner truck tractor semi-trailer.

Reports indicate the driver of the Freightliner failed to control his speed and struck the rear of the Kenworth. The Freightliner then left the road to the right and struck several trees in the west ditch while the Kenworth pulled to the shoulder of the road.

The driver of the Kenworth, 43-year-old Grover Colmon of Shreveport, La., was transported to CHI St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment.

The driver of the Freightliner, 41-year-old Ronald Waters of Ringgold, Ga., was transported to HCA-Cleveland for treatment.

Waters was cited for fail to control speed.

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Local man charged with murder

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By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — A Coldspring man is facing murder charges after an argument led to the Oct. 25 shooting death of his sister.

David Kenneth Fulcher, also known as Bubba, 49, of Coldspring, was arrested Oct. 25 at his home.

Lt. Charles Dougherty of the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department said that during the evening, there was a verbal altercation between the suspect and Pamela Clark, 50, his sister, at a residence in the 200 block of Oak Street.

During argument, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun was displayed, and then Fulcher allegedly shot Clark in the chest, Dougherty said.

The Coldspring-Oakhurst Police were first on the scene, and one officer began first aid measures and started CPR once the wound was tended to, Dougherty said.

Clark later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead later by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Christina McGee.

Dougherty said an autopsy was ordered through the Jefferson County Morgue.

Fulcher is facing a charge of murder. He currently is being held at San Jacinto County Jail on a $1 million bond.

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Deputies close cold case

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By Tony Farkas
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Charles Dale ClaryCharles Dale ClarySHEPHERD — New information and a re-examination of evidence led San Jacinto County Sheriff’s deputies to make an arrest in a three-year-old homicide case.

Charles Dale Clary, 65, of Shepherd, was arrested Oct. 31 on a charge of murder in connection with the May 2019 murder of Rhonda Richardson, 59, who worked as a correctional officer at the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Richardson’s body was found in Sam Houston National Forest in May 2019. The investigator at the time, Detective Gary Sharpen, did not find enough evidence to point to a suspect, and then was sent on deployment.

Detective Omar Sheik said Sharpen returned recently, and the two began to re-examine the evidence.

Sheik said that in 2019, Richardson was looking for her dogs. which frequently go loose. He also said that Richardson and Clary were acquaintances, and that Richardson had approached Clary for help in the search.

Later that day, body was found on a trail in a wooded area off FM 2666; however, investigators initially thought the body was moved there.

Sheik said Clary was one that found the body and then had his nephew call the police, something the detective said was suspicious.

At this time, detectives did not reveal any causes for the crime.

Her remains were positively identified during an autopsy at the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Beaumont in 2019, and the medical examiner told investigators that no signs of sexual assault were found on the body. The report listed her cause of death as undetermined.

Sheik said the re-examination went smoothly, and was wrapped up in about 8 days

“It was the result of reopening the case and re-examining all the evidence,” he said. “We interviewed everyone listed as a witness and everyone in the neighborhood. We had a forensic investigation of cell phone records.”

Sheik said that one of the people in the neighborhood that was not found initially turned out to be an eyewitness and helped tie the suspect to the crime. Additionally, examination of cell phone traffic showed the suspect was very likely involved.

Also, investigators requested a review of the autopsy results, and a lot of questions about the crime were answered, giving investigators enough evidence for an arrest warrant, Sheik said.

The detective said there was no clear motive for killing her.

Clary currently is being held in San Jacinto County Jail on a $750,000 bond.

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Nichols to support rape exceptions for abortion

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By Pooja Salhotra 
The Texas Tribune

Republican state Sen. Robert Nichols of Jacksonville said Friday that he’d support a change to Texas’ abortion laws to allow victims of rape to legally obtain the procedure.

“If I get a chance to vote for an exception to rape, I will vote yes,” the East Texas senator said during a panel of Republican lawmakers at the 2022 Texas Tribune Festival. “I think instead of us telling women what to do, we should show our support for women of this state.”

Nichols is one of the first anti-abortion lawmakers to say he would support loosening the abortion laws when lawmakers meet in January.

Texas has one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — the landmark case that established the legal right to an abortion. Under Texas law, abortions are prohibited in almost all cases, including rape and incest, and are allowed only to save the life of the pregnant person.

Texas is competing against private companies who are willing to bus their employees out of state for “pregnancy care,” said Nichols. “And what are we doing?”

At the least, Nichols said, the state should provide a minimum of four weeks of paid maternity leave for state employees.

Nichols self-identifies as “pro-life” and has voted in favor of the state’s abortion laws, including the “fetal heartbeat” law that went into effect last September. The law prohibited most abortions after an ultrasound could detect cardiac activity in a embryo, about six weeks into a pregnancy. Nichols’ office did not immediately respond to questions about whether the senator would support any other exceptions to the abortion law, such as for incest.

In response, members of the Orange County Republican Party of Texas issued a statement in opposition to Nichols’ stance, and drafted a resolution reaffirming “life in the womb even in sexual assault cases.”

The statement said the members rebuke Nichols, and the OCRP seeks to have all GOP groups in Nichols’ district, which for now includes San Jacinto County, to adopt the same resolution.

Public polling shows that Texans overwhelmingly support exceptions for both rape and incest, with only 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively, saying pregnant people should not be able to obtain abortions in those cases.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan also signaled an openness at the Festival on Friday to reexamining exceptions to Texas’ abortion law. Phelan, a southeast Texas Republican, said he was unlikely to personally support such exceptions but that some members of his caucus have said they may want to revisit the matter.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has said in previous interviews that the abortion issue appeared settled.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/23/texas-rape-exceptions-robert-nichols/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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Woman indicted on theft charges

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By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — A San Jacinto County woman was indicted by a grand jury in connection with the theft of more than $25,000 from the Coldspring Dixie Youth League over the course of several years.

Lt. Charles Dougherty Detective said that a true bill for a charge of theft of property of more than $2,500 but less than $30,000 was returned on Deborah Christy Hamilton, 46, of Coldspring, on Sept. 30.

Hamilton was the former president of the league, serving between 2017 and 2019, when the thefts were alleged to have occurred.

Dougherty said the case was brought some time ago after it was reported by an umpire; the umpire went to a board meeting and questioned why a uniform vendor wasn’t paid. 

“He asked questions, but no one had any answers,” Dougherty said. “He started digging and found that over $20,000 was missing.”

Professional audits were ordered, and then all information was given to Sheriff’s Office, he said.

According to case files, during the time Hamilton was president, funds for the league were used at restaurants and other businesses and wasn’t accounted for. Dougherty said that the grand jury felt that since Hamilton was president, she was responsible, and returned the indictment.

The charge of theft of property of more than $2,500 but less than $30,000 is state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.

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