ArkLaTex Year in Review: 2013 - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

ArkLaTex Year in Review: 2013

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Elio Motors announced big plans to move into the former GM plant in Shreveport at the beginning of the year, in a deal that will have a Caddo Parish governing body owning the plant and leasing it to the Phoenix-based startup automaker. Elio Motors announced big plans to move into the former GM plant in Shreveport at the beginning of the year, in a deal that will have a Caddo Parish governing body owning the plant and leasing it to the Phoenix-based startup automaker.
The KSLA News 12 at 10 broke out their own version of the Harlem Shake, which quickly went viral. The KSLA News 12 at 10 broke out their own version of the Harlem Shake, which quickly went viral.
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(KSLA) -

From earthquakes to Elio, to the tragic loss of lives through fate, forgetfulness or brutal crime, 2013 brought news that puzzled us and broke our hearts. Some stories, like the EBT card glitch in October, sparked outrage and a conversation about entitlement and greed. But there were also moments of amusement and a few headlines that just left us scratching our heads.

Here is our roundup of the year's top stories in the ArkLaTex.

2013 began with earthquakes in East Texas with a 4.1 magnitude trembler striking right around 1 a.m. on January 25 about 2 miles west of Timpson. Another quake four days later just south of Timpson measured 2.8 on the Richter scale.

Three more quakes would hit the area in the first week of September, ranging in magnitude from 2.4 to 4.3. Geologists are studying what possible connections there could be between these quakes and the series that shook the same area and parts of north Texas in 2012.

While it wasn't literally earth-shaking, January also brought news that a startup automaker was making plans to move into the former GM plant. Phoenix-based Elio Motors claims to be "the next big thing in transportation" and features a small, 3-wheeled vehicle that runs on regular unleaded gas capable of getting 84 miles per gallon on the highway. Retail price: $6,800.

In spite of opposition, including a lawsuit filed by Caddo Parish Commissioner Stephanie Lynch, the parish Industrial Development Board closed on a deal just last week to buy the plant from RACER Trust for $7.5 million. Elio still needs to come up with $200 million in funding before production on the vehicles, which is expected to begin in 2014.

In February, the Harlem Shake was all the rage, and the viral video trend proved irresistible even to the KSLA News 12 at 10 crew. They ended the show one night with a version of their own that ended up going viral in its own right. It was even featured on CNN.

But the trend spelled trouble for students at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, when some of them pitched in on a version featuring members of school's baseball team and got suspended. The suspensions were later reversed for some of the students.

The entire Homer Police Department was disbanded in February, and police chief Russell Mills was removed as chief by the town's Board of Selectmen in an ongoing battle of wills over funding, leadership style and lawsuits. A judge reversed the elimination of the police department and Mill's firing in March,  but the budget woes continue. The board approved $80,000 in funding in early December to keep the police department afloat and officers off furlough through the end of the year.

Plans to execute convicted killer Christopher Sepulvado on Ash Wednesday were met with opposition from the Louisiana Conference of Bishops. Sepulvado would be the first person executed in Louisiana since 2010. He has been on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola since his conviction in the 1992 beating death of his 6-year-old stepson, Wesley Mercer.

Sepulvado's attorneys ended up winning a stay of execution, after convincing the court that there was not enough information available on the drugs or method the state planned to use to carry out the death sentence.

Another date with death was set for November 5, but the Louisiana Supreme Court canceled that one, too, ruling that a state judge erred in setting the execution date when a federal appeals court still had jurisdiction in the case. No new execution date has been set.

March was a month for odd news. Gusty winds brought a KFC bucket down on a car in West Shreveport, smashing the windshield and the roof of the car. Fortunately, no one was in it at the time. That same month, snake got the blame for the blaze that burned down a Liberty Eylau home, after the homeowner spotted the limbless lizard and set it on fire before it slithered off into the dry brush nearby. The home was a total loss and the strange headline made the news as far away as Japan.

In May, CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier announced the closure of one hospital and the expansion of another, in what it is calling a "new strategic direction." The closure of the St. Mary campus includes the ER, as well as the Sutton Children's Medical Center.

Threatening letters sent to President Barack Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the head of Mayors Against Illegal Guns turned out to be mailed from the post office in Shreveport. The federal investigation ultimately led to the arrest of Shannon Richardson, a 35-year-old year-old New Boston mother and aspiring actress. Prosecutors say she tried to frame her husband for the crime. She pleaded guilty in December and is awaiting sentencing.

Joyce Bowman, the first African American woman to chair both the Caddo Commission and the Shreveport City Council, died on June 26 after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 60. Her son Jerald Bowman was appointed to fill her District 5 seat until an election could be held in October. He went on to win the election and has vowed to carry on his mother's work and spirit of public service.

A Shreveport toddler's death in the back seat of her mother's car in July reignited debate about whether forgetting a child in a vehicle should be prosecuted criminally. The Caddo Parish Coroner found that 3-year-old Sariah Delafosse died of hyperthermia and ruled her death an accident. Just this week, the Caddo District Attorney's Office announced the decision not to file charges against Krystle Delafosse in her daughter's death.

The kidnapping at gunpoint of Tony Procell on August 13, allegedly by 35-year-old Natchitoches police officer Robert Barthelemy set off a chase for both the victim and the suspect. Barthelemy was captured early the following morning in DeSoto Parish after a brief high-speech chase through 3 parishes. Procell's body was found 5 days after he disappeared, in a shallow grave  near the edge of Saline Lake in the Kisatchie National Forest. Barthelemy has pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder, second degree kidnapping and home invasion.

In September, well-known Shreveport restaurant owner Orlando Chapman died after falling in the water at a CrossLake marina. It was later determined that Chapman died of a cardiac event, and not from drowning.

In October, a glitch in the system that operates EBT cards used by SNAP beneficiaries allowing unlimited purchases led to chaos as food stamp recipients flocked to the stores, clearing shelves and loading carts to overflowing.  The video obtained by KSLA News 12 from some of the witnesses to the incidents in Springhill and Mansfield quickly went viral. The whole thing prompted U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) LA to call for aggressive action. TheUSDA, which runs the program, ultimately granted the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services permission to strip those found to have deliberately overspent their balance during the outage of their benefits. To date, no criminal charges have been filed against any individuals involved. It was our most talked about story of the year.

The disappearance and search for Annie Bond in mid-November ended with the discovery of the Bossier woman's charred remains in Webster Parish. Her estranged husband, 53-year-old Robbie Bond, is behind bars at Bossier Max, charged with second degree murder. He was transferred there after spending 3 weeks in a Mississippi hospital recovering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In December, U.S. Immigration and Homeland Security investigators and the FBI put out the call for help in identifying "John Doe," a child pornographer they believed could be in the Shreveport or Jonesboro, Louisiana areas. They released tightly-cropped photos of their suspect, apparently in the act, and within a matter of hours, 22-year-old Christopher Nixon was in custody in Jackson Parish. He's charged with sexual exploitation of children.

A Dixie, Louisiana family made a startling discovery when they found they were able to light their tap water on fire. They don't live far from a natural gas drilling site, but experts say that may have nothing to do with it. The water has been tested by the DEQ, but the results have not yet been released.

The year is ending on a heroic note for Colton Williamson, who leapt into action last Friday when he saw a woman chasing a man with a purse across the Walmart parking lot on Mansfield Rd. "I don't know, I didn't really think about it much, I just took off after them," Williamson said, explaining that it was his instincts that kicked in when he also started running after the guy with the purse, "because I knew they weren't just playing tag in the parking lot," he said. He was right, and he was faster than the purse-snatcher. Williamson tackled the man and held on until police arrived. Heather Cagle got her purse back, and 33-year-old Christopher Masters got charged with purse snatching and resisting an officer.

Copyright 2013 KSLA. All rights reserved.

  • KSLA Online Poll

  • What do you think was the top story of 2013 in the ArkLaTex?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    East Texas earthquakes
    7%
    45 votes
    GM plant purchased for startup automaker Elio
    5%
    31 votes
    Harlem Shake KSLA News 12 Edition goes viral
    6%
    43 votes
    Justice delayed: Sepulvado execution battle
    1%
    5 votes
    New Boston ricin letter case
    12%
    82 votes
    Toddler found dead in back seat of mother's car
    6%
    42 votes
    Kidnapping and murder of Tony Procell
    16%
    109 votes
    Walmart EBT glitch and resulting chaos
    32%
    221 votes
    Annie Bond disappearance and murder
    12%
    85 votes
    Dixie family finds tapwater flammable
    3%
    21 votes
  • ArkLaTex year in Review: 2013
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