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Talks resume of wife's penalty for burning husband
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A Central Texas jury deliberates for a second day punishment of a woman convicted of arson in the bathtub burning death of her husband.
The Travis County jury deliberated five hours Monday evening before recessing in the punishment trial of Shriya Patel (pah-TEHL'). Deliberations continue Tuesday. She faces a sentence of five years to life in prison for the April 2012 incident that killed 29-year-old Bimal Patel.
Jurors deliberated two days before acquitting the 27-year-old woman of capital murder Monday but finding her guilty of first-degree arson. A capital murder conviction would have meant life imprisonment without parole.
Prosecutors say she lured her husband to the tub, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. Her attorney says the man wanted to kill himself and made her help.
CHILDREN DROWNED-GROUP OUTINGS
Texas mom who killed kids drops bid for outings
HOUSTON (AP) - A Texas mother who drowned her five children in 2001 had dropped her request for permission to participate in group outings with other patients in the psychiatric hospital where she's under treatment.
The Houston Chronicle reports reports Andrea Yates dropped her request Monday because of the public scrutiny it has drawn. Last month, the 49-year-old woman and her doctors at Kerrville State Hospital had asked for a day pass to participate in supervised outside activities, such as picnics.
Her attorney George Parnham says she's the only Kerrville patient who has never received a group-outing pass.
Yates was convicted in 2002 of drowning her five young children, but an appeals court overturned the conviction. In a 2006 retrial, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
3-year-old boy shot dead, perhaps by 8-year-old
CORSICANA, Texas (AP) - Investigators are calling the deadly shooting of 3-year-old Central Texas boy an accident, perhaps involving an 8-year-old child.
Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner tells the Corsicana Daily Sun the shooting happened just before noon Monday outside a house in the town of Eureka, about 12 miles southeast of Corsicana and 65 miles south of Dallas.
Tanner says the toddler was shot in the head at close range with a 20-gauge shotgun in a shed next to the house. Tanner says the shooter appears to have been an 8-year-old child, but it's still uncertain who discharged the firearm.
Tanner also said deputies believe the shooting to have been accidental, but the investigation is still open.
PUBLIC TRANSIT TRIPS-HOUSTON
Houston sees public transportation ridership rise
HOUSTON (AP) - Long known for big pickup trucks and even bigger traffic jams, Texas' largest city is seeing its public transportation ridership rise.
Houston's Metro Transit Authority recorded nearly 2.26 million trips on buses, trains and its light-rail system in 2013, up 2.76 percent from the previous year.
That's among the largest increases in the nation, according to data released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association.
Metro spokeswoman Margaret O'Brien-Molina said Houston's booming economy has created more jobs locally - which means more residents using public transportation to get to them.
But she also said ridership is up at suburban park-and-ride centers in the country's fourth-largest city.
In all, Americans took nearly 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2013 - the highest total since 1956.
SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST-SNOWDEN
Edward Snowden speaks at SXSW conference
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - NSA leaker Edward Snowden spoke via live video conference Monday to a packed audience at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival.
The former NSA contractor remains in Moscow living in temporary asylum as he faces felony charges in the United States. That's after he revealed the agency's mass surveillance program by leaking thousands of classified documents to media outlets.
Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, spoke to Snowden from the Austin event - along with Snowden's legal adviser, Ben Wizner of the ACLU.
The hour-long conversation was extensive and Snowden touched on a number of issues. He dispensed advice on how U.S. citizens can keep their web-surfing activities more private by using a free service called Tor, which encrypts web traffic. He also called on the technology industry to create more software and services that help guard individual privacy.
Snowden appeared to have no regrets about exposing the U.S. government's surveillance methods.
Kimbell acquires Dutch landscape masterpiece
DALLAS (AP) - The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has acquired a 17th century work by a Dutch artist considered one of the greatest landscape painters.
The museum over the weekend announced the purchase of Jacob van Ruisdael's "Edge of a Forest with a Grainfield" from Oxford University's Worcester College, which has had the painting since it was donated by an alumnus in 1811.
The painting, measuring about 3 feet by 5 feet, depicts billowing clouds above a scene featuring a stream with a forest on one side and a field on the other.
Ruisdael expert Seymour Slive says that the painting is "a world-class masterpiece," noting it's unusually large, signed and "almost miraculously well-preserved."
It will go on display at the Kimbell in April.
Bieber surprises with performance during SXSW
NEW YORK (AP) - Justin Bieber has kicked off the music portion of South by Southwest before the real program begins.
The 20-year-old pop star surprised a small crowd at Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden in Austin, Texas, on Sunday night.
Audience member Ashley Gregg said Monday that Bieber performed two songs, dedicating "Boyfriend" to ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez, who was backstage.
"This goes out to my baby girl," Bieber told a crowd of about 100 people.
The bar was hosting an event for Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun. Surprise performers included Bieber and boy band The Wanted. Cody Simpson, Dan + Shay, Tori Kelly and Rixton, who are among Braun's clients, also performed.
The music portion of South by Southwest, which will feature Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Willie Nelson and Kendrick Lamar, starts Tuesday.
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