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Closing Arguments Scheduled Thursday In Kaufman DA Murder Trial

Bill Zeeble
Mike McLelland, the Kaufman County district attorney, was killed at his home in Forney in 2013.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: how much did Ebola cost Dallas?; the latest on the old brains in Austin; learn about the North Texas beer scene; and more.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday in the capital murder trial of a former justice of the peace accused of killing a North Texas district attorney and his wife. The prosecution rested Wednesday after calling witnesses over three days in the trial of Eric Williams. The defense declined to call any witnesses before also resting. The jury on Wednesday heard testimony that Williams sent anonymous emails to law enforcement claiming credit for the 2013 killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife. Prosecutors say Williams used cloaking software to mask the origins of the emails to a Crime Stoppers tip line. Prosecutors say he sought revenge for being convicted of stealing county equipment, resulting in the loss of his law license and judicial job. [Associated Press]

  • Officials say the emergency response to the Ebola crisis in Dallas cost the city about $155,000 -- including nearly $27,000 to care for the dog of a nurse infected with the virus. City officials released a statement Wednesday outlining the expenses incurred since Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in September. Duncan died about a week later and two nurses who treated him became infected. Both recovered. Officials say the cost to care for the dog belonging to Nina Pham, one of the nurses, will be offset by $19,000 in grants and donations. [Associated Press]

  • School officials say dozens of human brains reported missing from a University of Texas research lab in Austin were actually destroyed about 12 years ago because they were in poor condition. The university released a statement Wednesday saying environmental workers disposed of between 40 and 60 jars, some of which contained multiple brains, after faculty members said the specimens weren't suitable for research or teaching purposes. The university says it came to the conclusion after a preliminary investigation. It also says there's no evidence to support claims that one of the missing preserved brains belonged to Charles Whitman, who fatally shot 16 people from the university's clock tower in 1966. The Austin State Hospital transferred the jars to the university about 28 years ago. Read more from KUT in Austin. [Associated Press]

  • Did you know the Roller Derby World Cup is in Dallas? The 2014 Blood & Thunder Roller Derby starts Thursday. Teams from all over the world are participating – they’re coming from Norway, Japan, Colombia, Chile, South Africa, and many other countries. They’ll face off at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.  In 2011, 13 countries competed in Toronto at the very first World Cup. The event has only grown since. According to one post on the derby’s Facebook page: “The lionesses are in Dallas, registered and getting ready to rock it and block it” Learn more here.

  • Cheers! Learn about the North Texas beer scene Thursday night. Paul Hightower and Brian L. Brown have published North Texas Beer, which explores local beer history. (Did you know North Texans began to brew beer in 1857?)  KERA’s Stephen Becker will moderate. The event is at 6:30 p.m. at Four Corners Brewing Co. at Trinity Groves in Dallas. Learn more here and here.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.