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Former Dallas officer accused of rape pleads to lower charge

DALLAS (AP) — A former Dallas police officer accused of raping a sleeping woman at his home has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated assault.

Forty-one-year-old Oscar Araiza pleaded guilty Monday in exchange for prosecutors dropping the sexual assault charge, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Araiza's attorney told the newspaper that her client maintains his innocence.

An 18-year veteran of the force, Araiza was fired in February 2014 after being arrested on a charge of sexual assault.

Internal investigators alleged Araiza raped the friend of a woman he had known for years after the three left a bar in 2013.


Lynch: Easing distrust between minorities, police a top goal

HOUSTON (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says one of her top priorities remains alleviating an "epidemic of distrust" between communities and law enforcement.

Lynch discussed tensions between minority communities and police agencies during a speech Monday in Houston at the national convention of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the country's largest African-American women's organization.

Lynch did not mention any specific incidents related to this tension, including the in-custody death in nearby Waller County, Texas, of Sandra Bland, a black woman who authorities say hanged herself earlier this month in her cell after a traffic-stop confrontation with a white officer.

Lynch says she's determined to take on the tension between minorities and law enforcement as well as other issues "not only to build a stronger nation, but to empower its people."


Fort Worth man killed in Oklahoma plane crash identified

COLBERT, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has released the name of a Texas man who was killed when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed in Oklahoma.

A report released Monday says 64-year-old Charles Fehr of Westover, Texas, was dead at the scene of the crash near Colbert in southern Oklahoma. The report says 64-year-old passenger Vick Fehr of Westover Hills is hospitalized in critical condition from injuries suffered in the Sunday afternoon crash.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman has said the two on board the plane were husband and wife and were flying to Fort Worth.

The FAA says the pilot reported losing engine power shortly before the crash.


Man with no ticket arrested, boarded plane at Dallas airport

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — Police have arrested a man who got through security at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and boarded a plane without a ticket.

Airport officials said Monday that a car parked curbside outside a terminal was searched and no threat was found.

Authorities say the 26-year-old man somehow got through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint Sunday night despite not having a ticket. The then man boarded a commercial flight.

An airport agent contacted law enforcement after the man boarded. He was arrested on a charge of criminal trespassing.

The man's name hasn't been released.

The flight was delayed because of the incident. Additional details about the flight weren't released.

TSA spokesman Mike England says the agency is reviewing the incident and has added more barriers to screening areas at the airport.


Man gets prison, must pay $1.8M for tax fraud in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston businessman who for more than five years skipped paying employment taxes is going to prison and must repay more than $1.8 million

William John Shoemaker was sentenced Monday to more than three years in federal prison. Shoemaker in March pleaded guilty to willfully failing to truthfully account for and pay federal withholding tax.

The plea deal says Shoemaker failed to pay the IRS employment taxes owed by clothing retailer AA Concepts Inc. The company operated under various trade names.

Shoemaker was operations director for AA Concepts and was responsible for paying income and employee withholding taxes. The time frame for the failed payments was mid-2007 through 2012.

Shoemaker, who was sentenced to 41 months, remains free on bond pending his surrender to a prison yet to be determined.


Lawyers: immigrant mothers coerced to wear ankle monitors

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Lawyers say immigrant mothers held in a South Texas detention center with their children have been pressured into accepting ankle-monitoring bracelets as a condition of release, even after judges made clear that paying bonds would suffice.

In a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Sarah Saldana, heads of a pro-bono lawyers' project raised concerns that women were being misled about their rights before being released.

A court decision last week found holding children to be unlawful, and families are being released from immigrant detention centers faster.

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told The Associated Press in an email Monday that the agency would respond later in the day.


Dallas dad charged in 2-year-old daughter's hot-car death

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas man has been charged with child abandonment in the death of his 2-year-old daughter who was left in a hot car.

Dallas police on Monday arrested 40-year-old Hamuda Raufu in the July 17 death of his daughter, Sekinat.

The girl's parents told police the family spent the day at Fair Park, drove home and went inside and took naps. The father awoke and went outside to work on the car, then noticed the girl still strapped in her child safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle.

The toddler died at a Dallas hospital.

A judge set bond at $5,000 for Raufu. Online jail records do not list an attorney who could comment on the allegations.


Inmate who fled while headed for jail recaptured in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston police say a 17-year-old suspect who fled while being transported to the Harris County jail has been recaptured.

Police say Jorge Mendez was located late Monday morning at an apartment in southeast Houston.

Investigators say Mendez early Sunday was being taken to jail when he freed himself from his restraints and fled when departing a transport bus.

Mendez, who's being prosecuted as an adult, was arrested on an organized crime count. He now also faces a felony escape charge.

Houston police didn't immediately release more information on the original case.


Former 41-pound fat cat in Texas slims down to 19 pounds

DALLAS (AP) — A former 41-pound cat dubbed Skinny has lost more than half of his weight to become the darling of a Dallas veterinary clinic.

Dr. Brittney Barton says the orange tabby she adopted in 2013 has slimmed to 19 pounds with exercise and a special diet. Barton calls Skinny the "resident cat" at her practice, HEAL Veterinary Hospital.

Barton said Friday that Skinny spends weekdays roaming the clinic. The ex-fat cat's weekends are spent at home with Barton and her family.

The vet says Skinny, who was found abandoned near Dallas in 2012 and ended up at a shelter, just had his annual checkup and he's healthy.

Barton says Skinny is living proof that while he's supposed to be a large cat, "he's not supposed to be an obese cat."


Texas prosecutor names committee to review Sandra Bland case

HEMPSTEAD, Texas (AP) — The district attorney investigating the death of Sandra Bland says he's bringing in a committee of outside attorneys to review evidence as it's collected.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said Monday that the panel of lawyers will help his office make decisions based on "credible evidence and not rumors."

Mathis released an initial toxicology report Monday with findings that Bland had marijuana in her system at the time of her death.

Bland, who was black, died in the county jail after a traffic stop by a white state trooper for failing to use a turn signal escalated into a physical confrontation. Authorities have said Bland hanged herself, a finding her family disputes.

Her arrest has gotten international attention and questions about whether she was mistreated due to her race.


Man with no ticket arrested, boarded plane at DFW airport

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — Police have arrested a man who never had a ticket but allegedly got through security at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and boarded a plane.

Airport officials said Monday that a car parked curbside, outside a terminal, was searched and no threat was found.

Authorities say the 26-year-old man somehow got through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint Sunday night. The man, whose name wasn't immediately released, boarded a commercial flight without having a ticket.

An airport agent contacted law enforcement after the man boarded. He was arrested on a charge of criminal trespassing.

The name of the airline and further details on the investigation weren't immediately released.

TSA did not immediately comment Monday.


Police: Full impact of Austin's hands-free law still unclear

(Information in the following story is from: Austin American-Statesman, )

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Austin police say it's still too early to determine the full impact the city's ban on cellphone use while driving is having on traffic crashes.

Police officials say that's largely because it's difficult to tell which crashes are actually caused by distracted driving. Unless a witness or driver reports that a crash involved a cellphone, police say there's no way to know whether using the device was to blame.

The city's hands-free law was enacted in January.

This year has seen an increase in overall crashes during its first six months, compared to the same period in 2014, but relatively few crashes so far this year have been cellphone-related.


Abilene police investigate woman's body near abandoned house

ABILENE, Texas (AP) — Investigators are seeking a cause of death for a body found outside an abandoned West Texas house.

Abilene police on Monday identified the victim as 39-year-old Latisha Hilley. Police are treating the Abilene woman's death as a homicide.

Police say some people riding an all-terrain vehicle came upon the body Sunday afternoon on a dirt trail near a wooded area. Police say the body was in an advanced state of decomposition.

Authorities have ordered an autopsy.