Christopher Connelly | KERA News

Christopher Connelly

One Crisis Away Reporter

Christopher Connelly is KERA's One Crisis Away Reporter, exploring life on the financial edge. Based in Fort Worth, he also covers stories of general interest in Tarrant County, specializing in politics and criminal justice. His reporting is regularly picked up by national shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace.

Chris led KERA’s coverage of the 2018 midterm elections, filing frequently for national outlets. He’s also covered criminal justice policy in the Texas Legislature and at the local level, from the election of Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot to the way prosecutors navigate shifting marijuana policy and address wrongful convictions.

Breaking news is a big part of any reporter’s job, and Chris has been an essential part of the station’s coverage of major stories, such as the killings of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth and Botham Jean in Dallas by police officers. Beyond the daily updates to major news stories, Chris focuses on ways to address deeper issues that stand out in the major national stories, like whether a cop is really ever off duty in the eyes of the law.

The Public Media Journalists Association awarded Chris two national honors in 2019 for his reporting – in the Use of Sound and Breaking News categories – and the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters gave his story about a sexual misconduct scandal in the Southern Baptist Convention a Best General Assignment award.

In  2018, the Headliners Foundation of Texas named Christopher the best radio reporter in the state for providing “calm, comprehensive journalism” and “unbiased reporting on controversial issues.” The Texas AP Broadcasters awarded best serious feature to his audio postcard from tiny Moran, Texas, where bump stocks like the one used by the Las Vegas shooter were created and manufactured.

In 2017, a story about a reclusive state Board of Education candidate in East Texas who’d called then-President Obama a gay prostitute earned him a Lone Star Award from the Houston Press Club, and his coverage of policing after five Dallas officers were gunned down on July 7, 2016 was key to KERA winning “overall excellence” honors in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Before moving to Texas, Chris was state legislative reporter for WYPR in Baltimore and spent a year training at NPR as a Joan B. Kroc Fellow. He earned a bachelor’s degree in gender studies from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a master’s degree in journalism at the University of California-Berkeley. His thesis was a radio documentary about heroin addicts getting sober in Zanzibar.

Ways to Connect

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. 

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Federal authorities Friday in Dallas announced indictments for eight alleged MS-13 gang members on a range of criminal charges including racketeering, attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Seven of the men are in custody and one is still at large.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth's Texas Motor Speedway is known for big NASCAR events, but every Friday for six weeks in the summertime, its track is open to amateurs.

The speedway's Friday night drag races draws racing enthusiasts from all over North Texas — and some from hundreds of miles away — to try their luck.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Thousands of immigrant rights advocates took to the streets in Dallas, Fort Worth and across Texas on Saturday – part of a series of protests held across the country against President Trump’s immigration policies.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Kim Olson is running to be Texas Agriculture Commissioner, but when she addressed the Young Democrats Caucus at the Texas Democratic Party Convention in Fort Worth on Friday, she didn’t spend much time talking about farms.

Instead, she had a message for the under-40 crowd: It is up to you.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Thousands of Democrats will gather in Fort Worth starting Thursday afternoon for the Texas Democratic Party Convention.

Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

America’s more than 46,000 Southern Baptist churches are grappling with their own #MeToo moment after a leader from Fort Worth fell from prominence after weeks of scandal around past statements he’d made about women. It follows after other recent scandals in which Southern Baptist leaders have been accused of or admitted to inappropriate behavior toward women.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Dallas voters may have the chance to weigh in on whether workers across the city get paid when they’re too sick to work.

A coalition of Texas-based community groups says it's turning in more than 110,000 signatures to the city clerk's office in a petition to put a paid sick leave ordinance on the ballot in November.

C-Span screenshot

A longtime adviser to Gov. Greg Abbott is awaiting approval from the Senate for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Andrew Oldham was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, alongside two lawyers nominated for federal district courts in Texas, Alan Albright and Micheal Truncale. A vote from the full Senate is the final hurdle before they're confirmed to the federal bench.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

On Tuesday night, Lupe Valdez became the first openly gay and the first Latina candidate to win a major party nomination for Texas governor.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Texas Democrats will choose their nominee to run for governor in Tuesday's runoff election. None of the nine Democratic gubernatorial candidates who ran in the March primary won more than 50 percent of the vote. So the top two vote-getters are now facing off: Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, won 43 percent of the vote, and Andrew White, from Houston, got 27 percent.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

When Rep. Jeb Hensarling announced he’d be stepping down as the congressman from Texas’ 5th District, eight Republicans scrambled to replace the staunch conservative. Now the top two vote-getters from the March primary face off in Tuesday’s runoff election: Hensarling’s former campaign manager Bunni Pounds and state Rep. Lance Gooden of Terrell.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The 32nd Congressional District in Texas is on the radar for national Democrats. They think they can win the seat and give Republican Congressman Pete Sessions the boot after more than 20 years in office. But they still don’t have a candidate yet for this district that covers a chunk of North Dallas and suburbs like Garland and Richardson. Now, the two Democratic hopefuls are competing in the May 22 runoff.

Christopher Connelly

When longtime Congressman Joe Barton announced his retirement in the middle of a sexual scandal, 11 Republicans campaigned to replace him. 

Now, the race is down to two: Ron Wright, who's served as Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector, earned 45 percent of the primary vote. Jake Ellzey, a pilot, got 22 percent.

In their runoff, one thing that’s up for debate? The value of political experience.

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