Christopher Connelly | KERA News

Christopher Connelly

Fort Worth Reporter

Christopher Connelly is a KERA reporter based in Fort Worth. He specializes in politics and criminal justice, and his reporting is regularly picked up by national shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace.

Christopher’s a supremely versatile reporter. He profiled Opal Lee, the 89-year-old who walked many miles between Fort Worth and Washington, D.C., to make her pitch for a national Juneteenth holiday. He got a rare look inside William “Tex” Moncrief’s home while reporting on a remembrance for powerhouse lawyer Dee Kelly. A story about a reclusive state Board of Education candidate in East Texas who’d called then-President Obama a gay prostitute earned Christopher a Lone Star Award from the Houston Press Club.

His coverage of policing after five Dallas officers were gunned down on July 7, 2016 was key to KERA winning “overall excellence” honors among the biggest radio stations, public and commercial, in Texas and Oklahoma in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Last year, Christopher deployed to Houston to cover the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. He heard harrowing stories of evacuees and the first slow, heart-breaking steps of a family beginning to recover.

Christopher came to Texas from WYPR in Baltimore, where he was state legislative reporter. He also dodged tear-gas canisters (and lost a microphone) while covering the the unrest after the death of Freddie Gray, an African-American who died while in police custody.

He cut his public-radio teeth as a Joan B. Kroc Fellow at NPR – that’s a prestigious one-year post-graduate fellowship that allowed him to train as a reporter, show producer and digital producer at network HQ in Washington, D.C.

Christopher is a graduate of Antioch College in Ohio, and he earned a master’s in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. He was born in Ohio, but his Texas roots run deep: He spent summers visiting family in Fort Worth.

Ways to Connect

Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Downtown Dallas
Shutterstock

Across Texas, Catholic dioceses are releasing lists of priests and laity suspected of sexual abuse since 1950. It's being done with the goal of restoring trust to a Catholic Church that has been rocked for years, in Texas and around the world, by allegations of sexual misconduct and cover-ups.


Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A Fort Worth police officer is getting his job back after being fired for ordering excessive force against an unarmed woman who’d called 911 for help. 

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Texas ranks second in the nation for human trafficking cases, and Texas Sen. John Cornyn was in Dallas Tuesday to highlight a new federal law he co-wrote to provide resources and funding to fight traffickers and support victims. It’s called the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, though Cornyn acknowledges there’s still a lot of work to be done to end what he calls “modern-day slavery.”

Under the Texas Capitol dome in the Rotunda.
State of Texas

Texas lawmakers are expected to look at a range of criminal justice issues during the 2019 legislative session. Criminal justice reforms have been a bipartisan bright spot for a decade in Austin, as conservative and liberal lawmakers have sought to reduce the number of people behind bars, increase public safety and cut costs.

MICHAEL COGHLAN / FLICKR

Brick-and-mortar debtors’ prisons were once common in the United States, locked institutions where people were sent to work off unpaid debts. 

Allison V. Smith / KERA News Special Contributor

When John Creuzot takes office in January as Dallas County district attorney, he promises to usher in a new era of prosecution.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The Fort Worth City Council voted Tuesday night to approve changes to shore up its ailing employee retirement fund. The pension plan for police, firefighters and workers across city government faces a $1.6 billion shortfall. The council vote is just one step toward filling that gap.

Christopher Connelly

For the last year and a half, Fort Worth’s Task Force on Race and Culture has been studying racial disparities in the city, and working on a plan to make the city more inclusive and equitable. On Tuesday, the task force presented 22 recommendations to the city council aimed at closing racial gaps in all aspects of city life from housing and health to education, transportation and economic development.

Facebook/Kaufman County Sheriff's Office via AP

A former Dallas police officer who fatally shot her upstairs neighbor in his apartment in September will be tried for murder.

Andy Jacobsohn / AP

Democrats are now in control of the House of Representatives — and North Texas Democrat Colin Allred will be joining them to form the new majority.

Sessions: J. Scott Applewhite, AP; Allred: Chris Connelly, KERA News

In North Texas’ most heated congressional race, health care has become the dominant issue. Longtime Republican Rep. Pete Sessions is facing his toughest political challenge in years from Democrat and civil rights lawyer Colin Allred for his North Dallas seat. And the two candidates and their supporters are spending millions of dollars on ads to paint the other guy as a bad choice.

So where do the two stand?

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

In a nondescript West Dallas office complex, David Villalobos is on a roll, talking to about three dozen men and women – mostly black and Latino – all in matching teal shirts. They are canvassers for the Texas Organizing Project, preparing to hit the streets and knock on doors. Villalobos is answering a question about getting people to talk about the election when they’re not very interested in voting.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Elections for local prosecutors are traditionally pretty sleepy affairs, and historically, candidates have competed to show how tough they are on crime. But this year, the race to become Dallas County district attorney is bucking those trends as both candidates seek to portray themselves as changemakers working to make the criminal justice system fairer, rather than tougher.

Daxis / Flickr Creative Commons

Dallas County is a major battleground this election season, from a marquee congressional race between longtime Republican Pete Sessions and civil rights lawyer Colin Allred to a tough fight over a state Senate seat that stretches from Irving to Rowlett.

But perhaps the most overlooked races are for the Texas House: More than half of Dallas County’s 14 state House districts are seen as competitive this year.

Vice President Mike Pence, right, stumped for Rep. Pete Sessions, left, in Dallas on October 8, 2018.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The race for Texas’ 32nd Congressional district is drawing a lot of national attention, and a lot of money. 

Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Tarrant County voters will soon decide whether to approve the largest bond package in the county’s history.

The $800 million bond proposal is for the county’s public hospital system, known as the John Peter Smith Health network.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A man who spent almost 19 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit was declared innocent in a Tarrant County courtroom on Wednesday.

John Nolley, now 44, was wrongfully convicted in 1998 of murdering a Bedford woman based largely on the testimony of a lying jailhouse informant. Two decades later, his good name has been restored, and his case helped spur changes in Texas law.

Kaufman County Sheriff's Office via AP, File

When Officer Amber Guyger fatally shot Botham Jean in his apartment, she was off duty, coming home after working a long shift. But was she acting as a Dallas police officer when she pulled the trigger? Lawyers say she might have been, and that could have big legal implications.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Botham Jean was remembered for his dedication to service, his deep faith, and for having a ready smile and an open heart. He will be buried in Saint Lucia, but Thursday’s funeral in North Texas was a chance for American friends to say goodbye.

Jeff Montgomery / Harding University via AP

Update, 7:09 a.m. Tuesday

A white Dallas police officer said she didn't realize she was in the wrong apartment until after she shot her black neighbor and went into the hallway to check the address, according to an affidavit released Monday.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

In Texas, organizations that work with victims of sexual violence are seeing more women and men coming forward to report assaults this year.

One Tarrant County group has seen a 9 percent increase in calls from victims since January. It’s not entirely clear what is behind the trend, but the increased demand for services for sexual assault survivors comes as sexual harassment and violence have made national headlines.

Rose Baca / The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool

Late Wednesday night, a Dallas County jury sentenced former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver to 15 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.

Rose Baca / The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool

The trial of former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver continues this week in Dallas.

He’s facing murder charges for shooting into a car full of teenagers leaving a party in April 2017 and killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. It’s one of several controversial police shootings of black men, teenagers and boys that have grabbed national headlines.

But it’s rare that a case like this makes it to court.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

If Texas' major cities were ranked by the availability of public pools, Fort Worth would be dead last.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth is scrambling to find a fix to shore up its pension fund, which will go bankrupt within 30 years if nothing is done, according to city leaders.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

North Texas congressman Pete Sessions is drawing criticism for recent remarks about a domestic violence incident, in which he seems to imply a woman was killed by her husband because she won an “unfair” divorce settlement.

A Sessions spokeswoman says the longtime North Dallas congressman misspoke, but his Democratic challenger pounced, accusing Sessions of excusing domestic violence.

U.S. Air Force / Flickr

Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth factory has already added 1,800 workers in the past year. And on Monday, the aerospace giant held a hiring fair to add 400 more workers to its Fort Worth workforce.

The Maryland-based defense company needs the labor as it ramps up production of the F-35, its next-generation stealth fighter jet.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Texas regularly leads the nation in drowning deaths, and this year is shaping up to be no different. At least 122 people have died from drowning in Texas this year, according to statistics kept by Swimming USA, and most of those deaths have happened since May 1.

Abbott: Sue Ogrocki; Valdez: Richard W. Rodriguez / AP

Democrat Lupe Valdez accepted an invitation Wednesday to debate Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — it's just not the same debate Abbott agreed to last week.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A petition to let Dallas voters decide whether employers across the city should be required to give employees paid sick leave fell short. Now, organizers are demanding the city secretary take another look at the signatures. 

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