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Dallas Death Penalty Case Thrown Out By Court & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has thrown out the conviction of a man sent to death row for the the abduction, robbery and fatal shooting of a Dallas man more than 11 years ago.

The state's highest criminal court said Wednesday it agreed with a Dallas judge who found prosecutors at the 2000 trial of 32-year-old Roderick Newton improperly withheld evidence that could vindicate him.

Newton was condemned for the 1999 death of 20-year-old Jesus Montoya, of Dallas. His body was found in a vacant lot in Mesquite.

Newton was scheduled to die last year. His punishment was stopped after prosecutors gave Newton's lawyers a police questionnaire uncovered in a review of the case. That evidence never had been given to Newton's trial attorneys.

Audit of Texas environmental agency to be released

In the decade that Texas' environmental regulatory agency has received two scathing audits, it has changed its name, increased collection of fines and gone head-to-head with oil giant BP.

It has also engaged in a high-profile - and sometimes ugly - battle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a fight it acknowledges hinders its regulatory abilities. Critics also accuse the agency of having a too-cozy relationship with the industries it's supposed to keep in line.

On Thursday, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will get a preliminary look at what six investigators from the Sunset Advisory Commission think of the agency's functioning after a seven-month review. In 2000, the commission harshly criticized TCEQ. The State Auditor's Office also did in 2003.

Prosecution rests in DeLay laundering trial

Prosecutors in Tom DeLay's money laundering trial have rested their case against the former U.S. House majority leader. DeLay's attorneys were to begin presenting their defense on Wednesday.

During 10 days of testimony spread over nearly three weeks, prosecutors presented 33 witnesses and volumes of e-mails and other documents in their efforts to prove allegations that DeLay's political action committee illegally channeled $190,000 in corporate donations into Texas legislative races in 2002 through a money swap.

DeLay, who has denied wrongdoing, maintains no corporate money went to Texas candidates and he had little involvement in how the PAC was run.

The former Houston-area congressman is charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Army colonel recommends trial in Ft Hood case

A military official has made an initial recommendation that an Army psychiatrist should stand trial and face the death penalty for last year's deadly Fort Hood shooting.

Col. James Pohl issued his recommendation Tuesday for Maj. Nidal Hasan, but Army officials refused to disclose it.

On Wednesday, Hasan's lead defense attorney John Galligan told the Associated Press that Pohl is recommending that Hasan be court-martialed on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at the Texas Army post.

Pohl's recommendation will go to another high-ranking Army official, but the final decision on whether Hasan will stand trial still rests with a commanding general.