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Storm winds Cause Damage In North Texas & Nightly Roundup


By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Savage thunderstorms unleashed hail and damaging straight-line wind gusts that damaged roofs, downed tree limbs and power lines, smashed sheds and toppled trailers across North Texas.

The storms moved through the area Wednesday afternoon, leaving damage reports in their wake and about 20,000 people in the dark.

Wise County Fire Marshal Marc Dodd says lightning struck and ignited an oil tank battery, which was quickly extinguished. He says winds reported as high as 70 mph toppled four recreational vehicles at a Decatur lot, blew two mobile homes from their foundations and smashed some lightly built sheds and barns. No injuries were reported.

Similar storms raked the Panhandle early Wednesday morning, causing minor damage.

DNA clears Dallas man in 27-year-old rape case

A man who has served 27 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault is due to become the latest person exonerated through DNA testing in Dallas County.

District Attorney Craig Watkins announced Wednesday that 55-year-old Johnny Pinchback has been cleared as a result of forensic testing conducted last year.

Watkins says prosecutors will ask for a favorable ruling on Pinchback's innocence at a writ hearing Thursday.

Pinchback was sentenced to 99 years in prison in October 1984 after he was convicted of raping two girls, both under 16, as they were walking home from school.

He was exonerated after an investigation was launched in 2009 by the Innocence Project of Texas.

He will be the 22nd person cleared by DNA evidence in Dallas County since 2001.

Republicans defeat limit on corporal punishment

House Republicans have defeated a bill to require schools to get parental permission before applying corporal punishment.

The proposed law by Democratic state Rep. Alma Allen would have required schools to contact parents before using any kind of physical punishment. She said parents should have the right to determine how their children are punished.

Under current law, school districts can each set their own rules and procedures for corporal punishment. Allen said her bill would set statewide standards.

Republicans state Rep. Wayne Christian spokes against the bill, saying it would tie the hands of teacher and school administrators.

Republicans defeated the bill on 69-73 vote.

Finders Keepers Turn-Around

Plano High School student Ashley Donaldson may get the two thousand dollars she "found" after all.

In February, she found the money in an unmarked envelope at a north Dallas shopping mall. She turned it in to a nearby Chase bank. She waited for the bank and city of Dallas to try to find the owners.

Yesterday, she was told that under a new policy, the unclaimed money would go into the Dallas general fund, not to the person that found it - as in the past.

Today, Dallas Police Chief David Brown directed the Department to follow "state" law that provides for a 30-day public notice of the "found money" and a 90 day waiting period. If no one claims the money, it will go to Ashley.

House approves new rules on payday loans

Payday loan providers would be required to post the terms, interest rates and fees for their services under a bill approved by Texas lawmakers.

The measure by Southlake state Rep. Vicki Truitt also requires loan companies to provide contact information for the Consumer Credit Commissioner and the consequences of extended refinancing of short-term loans. Truitt said she spent hours striking a delicate balance between industry interests and consumer protection.

Proponents say the bill will require loan companies for the first time to disclose the full costs to the consumer.

Opponents say the bill puts undue regulation on the industry. State Rep. Gary Elkins, who has a payday loan business, said the consumer already has enough information and that the new regulation would be burdensome.