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This Hour: Latest Texas news, sports, business and entertainment

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Texas inmate charged with murder for 2004 death

HOUSTON (AP) - Harris County authorities say a Texas inmate has confessed to killing a man 10 years ago.

Sheriff's officials say Thursday that Allan Eugene was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Richard Sepulveda (seh-PUL'-veh-da) in 2004. The two men had been arguing over a parking spot in southwest Houston. Sepulveda was 44.

Officials say 32-year-old Eugene confessed after the investigation was reopened in 2013. Eugene was identified as a suspect during the initial investigation but wasn't charged.

Eugene is currently an inmate at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville for aggravated assault and possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver. Officials say he was scheduled to be released in April but will be transferred to Harris County Jail.


Exoneration hearing set for convicted rapist

DALLAS (AP) - A North Dallas prosecutor is going to court to seek exoneration of a man who served 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to raping a 16-year-old girl.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins will ask a state district judge on Friday to exonerate Michael Phillips because DNA tests identified another man as the culprit.

Phillips, who's black, has said he pleaded guilty in 1990 to raping the white teen at the advice of his attorney, who warned against putting his fate in the hands of a jury.

Watkins says the tests identified another man as the culprit, but a Watkins spokeswoman says the statute of limitations allows him to remain free.


Ex-top staffer to South Texas sheriff gets prison

McALLEN, Texas (AP) - The former chief of staff to former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino (treh-VEEN'-yoh) has been sentenced to 11 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to failing to report a crime.

A federal judge in McAllen sentenced Maria Patricia Medina on Thursday. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa (ee-noh-HOH'-sah) also fined her $2,000.

The 40-year-old Medina could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison for her April 11 guilty plea.

Prosecutors say Trevino received cash donations from a suspected drug trafficker in 2011 and 2012. Medina, as chief of staff and campaign treasurer, admitted helping Trevino conceal the donations by falsifying election records.

Trevino was sentenced to five years in prison July 17 after pleading guilty to money laundering. He resigned as sheriff March 28.


Dallas-area doctor convicted of health care fraud

TYLER, Texas (AP) - A North Texas physician who ran a now-closed hospital near Dallas has been convicted of conspiracy, identity theft and health care fraud.

A federal jury in Tyler found Dr. Tariq Mahmood guilty Thursday of more than $1 million in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.

The Cedar Hill physician faces up to 10 years imprisonment for the conspiracy conviction, 10 years for each fraud count and two years for each identity theft count. No sentencing date has been set.

He owned the Renaissance Terrell (TEHR'-ruhl) Hospital, which closed in February 2013 after a federal agency halted funding. Mahmood also operated Cozby Germany Hospital in Grand Saline (gran suh-LEEN'), Central Texas Hospital in Cameron, Community General Hospital in Dilley, Lake Whitney Medical Center in Whitney and Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center.


Thousands of birds nest near abandoned Austin mall

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Outside an abandoned Austin shopping mall is a little-known visual phenomenon to rival the bat flights from the downtown Congress Avenue bridge.

Six oak trees stand in a bank parking lot on the north side of Highland Mall. For decades, every July, birds called purple martins have flocked to the trees by the thousands to roost for the night. And the spectacle draws dozens of bird-watchers each night.

The birds, which are the largest North American swallow breed, migrate to the spot in July and August as they head north from Brazil to breed. The Purple Martin Conservation Association says flocks have shown up on National Weather Service radar.

The Travis Audubon Society holds watching parties from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Friday and Saturday evening in July.


Deliberations in Ventura trial to enter Day 4

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The trial in former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit will enter its fourth day of deliberations Friday.

Jurors broke for the day Thursday after about 7 ½ hours of discussions that brought their total to about 19 hours since Tuesday, minus breaks.

Ventura says the late Chris Kyle defamed him by fabricating a story in his best-seller "American Sniper" about decking Ventura in a California bar in 2006 after Ventura allegedly said Navy SEALs "deserve to lose a few."

To rule for Ventura, the jury must find by "clear and convincing evidence" that Kyle knew or believed his story was false, or that Kyle had serious doubts about whether it was true. Ventura's attorney has asked for millions in damages if they agree Kyle lied.

Kyle died last year.

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