Tag Archives: Katy

Judge orders girl, 12, accused of father’s murder to remain in custody

By Calvin Palmer

A 12-year-old Katy girl charged with murder in the shooting death of her father was today ordered by a juvenile judge to remain in custody for at least 10 days as prosecutors continue to investigate.

Mark A. Nelson, 38, was shot in the back of his head on Wednesday morning as he lay in bed after finishing a night shift.  He died in hospital later that day.

Assistant District Attorney Bill Moore said the girl faces a wide range of possible punishments if convicted — from probation up to 40 years in jail.

The girl’s attorney, Windi Akins Pastorini declined to discuss today’s proceedings, which were closed to the public and the press, citing the judge’s orders.

Harris County prosecutors have filed murder charges against the Cardiff Junior High School seventh-grader but she cannot be tried as an adult because she is under 14.

Assistant police chief of Katy Tim Tyler said detectives were investigating allegations by neighbors that the girl may have been a victim of abuse.

“She did not make an outcry to the Katy Police Department, but we are following up on some of the statements made by neighbors about any kind of abuse between her dad and her,” Tyler said. “At this time, we haven’t been able to verify any of that.”

He said records show a report was filed with Child Protective Services, but the results were inconclusive as to whether the 12-year-old had suffered abuse.

“We don’t have a public record on that family. That means we’ve never had to take custody of a child, or investigate a child death or serious injury,” CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin said, adding she could not discuss whether there were other contacts with the family.

The girl did not express regret about her father’s death during lengthy questioning at the police station, Tyler said.

“She didn’t show any remorse,” Tyler said. “She was acting like a typical 12- year-old girl would be if something like this didn’t happen, just a normal kid, talking about school and athletics.

“There was nothing out of the ordinary, other than a father disciplining his child for certain things.”

[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]

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Texas girl, 12, held over shooting of her father

By Calvin Palmer

A 12-year-old girl is in police custody accused of shooting her father in the back of the head and killing him.

Mark A. Nelson, 38, of Katy, Texas, died yesterday evening at Memorial Hermann Hospital-Texas Medical Center.

Harris County prosecutors filed murder charges against the Cardiff Junior High School seventh-grader today, said Donna Hawkins, a prosecutor and spokeswoman for the Harris County district attorney’s office.

The girl will be adjudicated in the juvenile court system. She cannot be tried as an adult because she is under 14.

A detention hearing has been set for Friday morning. She is being held at Harris County Juvenile Detention Center.

The shooting occurred yesterday morning. Nelson was shot while he and his daughter were alone at the family home in the Heritage Park West subdivision.

Another family member reported the shooting to police in a 911 call.

Katy police detained the girl and cleared the home before finding her father lying on his side in the master bedroom. He had been shot one time, Tyler said.

The father worked a night shift and police believe he was trying to sleep when the shooting occurred.

Police took a .38 revolver into evidence. Another handgun and shotgun were also found in the house.

Police have not released a motive for the shooting.

[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]

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Two cheerleaders in Texas hazing case strike ‘probation’ deal

By Calvin Palmer

Two of the former Morton Ranch High School cheerleaders facing trial on hazing charges were placed on a form of probation yesterday for their part in an incident in July where bound and blindfolded junior varsity cheerleaders were allegedly pushed into a swimming pool.
 
Adelynn Frances Garner, 18 and Hayley Spincer Davis,17, will be on so-called pretrial diversion for a year, said George Flynn, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
 
The two must write a public letter of apology, complete 60 hours of community service and report to the Harris County probation office once a month, where they could be tested for drugs or alcohol, said Flynn.
 
If the pretrial diversion contract is successfully completed, the charges against the two girls will be dismissed and the girls can ask for them to be expunged from the court record.
 
“A pretrial diversion is not granted very often,” said Garner’s defense attorney Robert Fickman.  He said Garner is grateful for the opportunity to put the case behind her.
 
Davis and Garner are among seven Morton Ranch High School cheerleaders indicted on misdemeanor hazing charges after a police investigation at the Katy Independent School District, Texas.
 
Friday’s agreement does not affect the status of the other five and if any of those girls go on trial, Garner and Davis must testify.
 
If convicted, the cheerleaders face up to six months in jail and a $2000 fine.
 
The other five cheerleaders accused of taking part in the July 25 incident are 17-year-olds Anna Buffa, Kirsten Marie Davis and Madison Gabrielle Tanner; and 18-year-olds Hannah Rose Cochran and Meigan Taylor Goff.
 
[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]

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Katy cheerleaders make first court appearance

By Calvin Palmer

Six former cheerleaders and the former mascot from Morton Ranch High School in Katy, Texas, made a court appearance today accused of hazing.
 
The charge relates to an incident last year when the seven girls allegedly restrained several junior varsity cheerleaders, blindfolded them, bound their hands and pushed them into a swimming pool.
 
No further details were revealed in court this morning but the seven teenagers were told to appear before the judge next month.
 
The indicted students – 17-year-olds Kelly Anna Buffa, Haley Spincer Davis, Kirsten Marie Davis and Madison Gabrielle Tanner; and 18-year-olds Adelynn “Addie” Garner, Hannah Rose Cochran and Meigan Taylor Goff – each appeared in court on one charge.
 
Neither the girls nor their parents commented after the hearing but attorneys for two of the girls said outside the courtroom their clients are caught in a tough situation and have the full support of their families.
 
“This is probably a case where teenagers used poor judgment,” said attorney Robert Fickman who represents Garner, the varsity squad’s former mascot.  “There is no evidence anyone was harmed or endangered.”
 
Attorney Jed Silverman, who represents Hayley Davis, said his client just wants to get on with her education and her life.
 
“It’s just very unfortunate for anyone to have to go through this during the holidays,” Silverman said.  “She has a good family behind her 100 percent.”
 
Some of the girls were ordered to reappear before state District Judge Larry Standley on December 12 and others were assigned court dates on December 22.
 
Although several junior varsity cheerleaders are alleged to have been hazed, the indictments focus on only one.  The varsity girls are accused of pushing that cheerleader into a swimming pool on July 25 while her hands were bound and she was blindfolded as part of an initiation ceremony into the varsity squad.
 
The girls face probation and community service to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted of the class B misdemeanor charge.  They will be tried as adults.
 
Earlier this fall, school district officials suspended Morton Ranch High School’s cheerleading activities for the remainder of the school year.
 
[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]

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Indicted high school cheerleaders could face jail if convicted of hazing

By Calvin Palmer

Seven Morton Ranch High School cheerleaders, from Katy, Texas, have been indicted by a Harris County grand jury on charges accusing them of illegally hazing other cheerleaders.

The misdemeanor indictments were issued today, accusing the cheerleaders of restraining several junior varsity cheerleaders, blindfolding them, binding their hands and pushing them into a swimming pool on July 25.

One 15-year-old recalled: “I could hear some of the other members yelling, ‘I can’t swim. Stop. Please don’t push me in.'”

Katy school district officials launched an investigation during which cheerleading activities were suspended. After the investigation was concluded, cheerleading at Morton Ranch High School was suspended for the school year.

If the girls thought that was an end to the matter, they were clearly mistaken. It now appears they will go before a court.

Seven members of the varsity squad, ages 17 and 18, were charged as adults with hazing, a Class B misdemeanor that could bring a maximum six-month jail sentence and a $2,000 fine upon conviction.

Five more cheerleaders, all minors, may still face prosecution in juvenile court, said Tucker Graves, an attorney representing one of the girls.

Named in the indictments were Kelly Buffa, Haley Davis, Kirsten Davis and Madison Tanner, all 17; and 18-year-olds Hannah Cochran, Adelynn Garner and Meigan Goff.

The defendants, all of whom still attend class, are expected to surrender to authorities as their cases move through the criminal justice system.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Diane De La Cruz, mother of Laura De La Cruz, 15, one of the junior varsity cheerleaders. “We are thankful that the grand jury came up with an indictment because we have known all along that the (varsity) girls were guilty of hazing.”

Some parents of JV cheerleaders said their daughters have been harassed at school during the hazing investigation.

“The victims in this case are being treated like guilty parties,” said David Cruz, whose daughter, Danielle, was listed as a victim in the case.

Kim Armstrong, the mother of another JV cheerleader, said she voiced concerns about harassment to school officials.

“They haven’t given us any assurance that our kids will be safe,” Armstrong said.

School officials did not respond Wednesday to inquiries about the parents’ concerns.

“Frankly,” said Casie Gotro, an attorney representing defendant Kirsten Davis, “I don’t think anybody should have been indicted. It’s been blown way out of proportion.”

Gotro said her client got lost and wasn’t present when the younger girls allegedly were pushed into the pool.

“Nobody got hurt,” said Allen Isbell, attorney for Kelly Buffa. Isbell said his client didn’t push anyone into the pool.

Robert Fickman, attorney for Adelynn Garner, said his client is “contrite.”

National experts on hazing say the activity, which can leave its victims scarred for life, has grown more severe in recent decades.

“There has been a natural negative evolution,” said Cincinnati lawyer Gary Powell, who for two decades edited a newsletter for schools and fraternities. “It’s more creative, and, unfortunately, more violent.”

Chicago psychologist Jean Alberti termed hazing “child abuse by children.”

“If it happened to an adult,” she said, “it would be called assault, battery, robbery — all life-threatening stuff. Until we call it ‘child abuse,’ we won’t generate the outrage to change it. (Youths) think it’s funny, parents think it’s funny. They think it’s normal adolescent development, but this is an aberration. It didn’t happen 30 or 40 years ago. Now we have video on YouTube showing girls kicking other girls in the head.”

[Based on reports by the Houston Chronicle and Sante Fe New Mexican.]

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