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The nation in brief: Officers hunt for escaped Texas killer

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | May 14, 2022 at 4:10 a.m.
RaDonda Vaught listens to proceedings during her sentencing hearing Friday in Nashville, Tenn. (AP/The Tennessean/Nicole Hester)

Officers hunt for escaped Texas killer

CENTERVILLE, Texas -- Authorities were searching Friday for a Texas inmate serving a life sentence for murder who escaped from a transport bus after stabbing the driver.

Gonzalo Lopez, 46, escaped custody Thursday after he overpowered the driver, whose injuries were not considered life-threatening, said Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The department said Friday that a $15,000 reward was being offered for information leading to the capture of Lopez.

Lopez was convicted in 2006 of killing a man along the Texas-Mexico border.

Lopez escaped in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston. Classes in the nearby Centerville Independent School District were canceled Friday as a precaution.

The Leon County sheriff's office said several agencies were involved in the search, including aircraft from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sixteen prisoners were aboard the bus, but no one else escaped, Clark said.

California man accused of hate crime

LOS ANGELES -- A California man who drove his car through a "Stop Asian Hate" rally and yelled racial slurs has been indicted by federal prosecutors.

Steve Lee Dominguez, 56, of Diamond Bar, cut off several protesters in a crosswalk, including a 9-year-old, almost hitting them with his black Honda at the March 2021 rally in Diamond Bar, according to prosecutors.

Dominguez yelled racial slurs to protesters, some of whom were Black or Asian American, the indictment said.

The indictment, dated April 29 and unsealed Thursday, charges Dominguez with intimidating pedestrians on a public road with his car -- a dangerous weapon -- on the basis of their race.

He faces a second count of intimidating and interfering with people who were exercising their right to free speech and assembly to protest racially motivated violence.

Dominguez, who was arrested Thursday and pleaded not guilty, faces up to 20 years in federal prison if he is convicted.

According to the indictment, Dominguez called 911 after driving through the crowd, making a false report that protesters were blocking the street and he had to run a red light because "they were about to trample [his] car."

Kate Morris, a public defender assigned to defend Dominguez, did not respond to a request for comment.

Search on for migrant boat survivors

Federal and state authorities in Puerto Rico continued searching for survivors Friday after a boat carrying Haitian migrants capsized near the U.S. territory's western coast the day before, leaving 11 women dead.

Thirty-eight survivors have been found so far. Nearly all are Haitian, but there were two Dominican nationals among those found in the water.

Eight Haitians were taken to a hospital in Aguadilla and the bodies of the dead were sent to the Puerto Rico Forensic Sciences Institute.

Maria Conte Miller, the director of the institute, confirmed in a press release Friday morning that DNA samples will be taken to confirm their identities.

"We established communication with the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in Puerto Rico in an effort to locate the families of the deceased," she said.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft noticed the capsized vessel and over 20 people in the water near noon Thursday about 11 miles from Desecheo Island.

Customs and Border Protection is interviewing survivors to figure how many people were on the boat before it overturned.

Nurse sentenced for medication error

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A former Tennessee nurse whose medication error killed a patient was sentenced to three years of probation Friday as hundreds of health care workers rallied outside the courthouse, warning that criminalizing such mistakes will lead to more deaths in hospitals.

A state judge imposed the sentence on RaDonda Vaught, 38, after she apologized to relatives of the 75-year-old victim, Charlene Murphey. Vaught was found guilty in March of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult.

Nashville Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith said Vaught would receive judicial diversion, a way for first-time offenders to have their charges dropped and their records expunged after successfully completing probation.

Vaught said words will never fully express her "remorse and sorrow."

"I'll be forever haunted by my role in her untimely passing," she said.

In weighing whether to grant Vaught judicial diversion, Smith cited Vaught's remorse as well as her honesty about the medication error.

Vaught reported her error as soon as she realized she injected the paralyzing drug vecuronium instead of the sedative Versed into Murphey on Dec. 26, 2017. Vaught admitted making several errors that led to the fatal injection, but her defense attorney argued that systemic problems at Vanderbilt University Medical Center were at least partly to blame.


Print Headline: Officers hunt for escaped Texas killer

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