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Trucker Gets Nearly 34 Years In Smuggling Deaths & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – A judge has resentenced a truck driver to nearly 34 years in prison after an appeals court last year overturned the multiple life sentences he received for his role in America's deadliest human smuggling attempt.

Tyrone Williams was given his new sentence on Monday during a hearing in Houston federal court.

The 39-year-old Williams had faced possible death sentences on 19 counts of transporting illegal immigrants. But a jury in 2007 sentenced him to life in prison without parole for the failed May 2003 smuggling attempt, which resulted in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants.

The appeals court said Williams was not death-penalty eligible and his sentence should have been issued by the judge. Twenty other counts Williams was sentenced on were upheld by the appeals court.

Order to fast-track sonogram bill delivered

Gov. Rick Perry has declared an emergency issue of efforts to require a woman considering an abortion to first have a sonogram.

The Texas House received the official filing from Perry Monday. He first announced the plan Saturday at an anti-abortion rally in front of the Capitol.

Perry said that allowing a woman to understand "what's truly at stake seems a small step to take."

Making the issue an emergency item allows lawmakers to begin considering the legislation in the first 30 days of the legislative session.

Perry has also has declared emergencies of plans to protect private property owner rights, abolishing sanctuary cities in Texas, requiring voters to present proof of identification when voting and efforts to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

J.C. Penney exiting catalog, closing some stores

J.C. Penney Co. is getting rid of its catalog and outlet businesses and closing some stores and call center locations in an effort to streamline operations and boost profits.

The department store operator also said Monday that Vornado Realty Trust Chairman Steven Roth and activist investor William Ackman - who is a Penney shareholder - will become board members. Penney's enacted a "poison pill" in October after Ackman took a large stake in the company.

Penney plans to close six stores and two call center locations. It is also reorganizing its custom decorating business.

The retailer based in Plano, Texas, expects the moves to add about 7 cents per share to 2012 earnings. It will take one-time charges of about 8 cents a share in the fourth quarter and 5 cents per share in 2011 related to the actions.

Man who defends self convicted of Dallas robberies

A man who represented himself in court has been convicted of holding up two Dallas banks.

The U.S. Attorney's Office on Monday announced the bank robbery convictions of 48-year-old Benjamin A. Potts. Potts also was convicted of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime.

He faces 20 to 25 years on the bank robbery counts, and at least seven years in prison on the weapons violation. Sentencing is April 22.

The bank robberies happened Jan. 8 and Jan. 19 of 2010.