Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, August 6, 1998
McLaren appeals kidnapping conviction
By EDUARDO MONTES
Associated Press Writer
EL PASO - Republic of Texas leader Richard McLaren has
appealed his organized crime conviction, arguing that
prosecutors failed to prove he was directly involved in a
kidnapping that sparked an armed standoff.
McLaren, now serving a 99-year prison sentence in the
abduction, asked the Texas 8th Court of Appeals in documents
filed Tuesday to overturn his guilty verdict and enter a
judgment of acquittal. As an alternative, he asked the El
Paso-based court to grant him a new trial.
McLaren's attorney, Frank Brown of Alpine, had previously
called this ``the best appellate case I've ever had.'' He
said Wednesday that he feels even better about it now.
``They alleged that Rick McLaren abducted (his neighbors)
Joe and M.A. Rowe and they did not prove it. It's absolutely
crystal-clear from the record that Rick didn't go up
there,'' Brown said. ``He had nothing to do with it.''
District Attorney Albert Valadez, who prosecuted McLaren,
could not be reached for comment on the appeal.
Testimony in McLaren's trial last October in Alpine showed
that three of McLaren's followers in the Republic, a group
that believes Texas is an independent nation, had stormed
the Rowes' home in the Davis Mountains Resort and taken the
couple hostage on April 27, 1997.
The assault touched off a standoff between McLaren and other
Republic members and scores of state troopers, who laid
siege to the remote resort 175 miles southeast of El Paso
until the group surrendered a week later.
McLaren and an aide, Robert ``White Eagle'' Otto, were
eventually tried and convicted of engaging in organized
criminal activity, essentially participating in a
conspiracy, to commit aggravated kidnapping.
Prosecutors said that while McLaren was not present at the
Rowes' home, he had plotted and directed the kidnapping.
McLaren had been holed up at his estate since December,
1996, when U.S. District Court Judge Lucius D. Bunton reuled
McLaren had violated a June, 1997 court agreement. That case
stemmed from a federal court suit in which McLaren was
ordered to pay Stewart Title Co. $1.8 million for filing
false liens against the company.
McLaren failed to appear at ferderal court in Pecos for that
case, and was arrested at his Davis Mountain Estates
property by U.S. Marshals in early May. He spent a month in
the Ward County Jail before his release.
Brown is basing McLaren's appeal on a Texas court precedent
that says a person can be convicted of engaging in organized
criminal activity only if he agreed to participate in a
criminal conspiracy and performed some overt act to advance
In McLaren's case, his indictment alleged the overt act was
``It is clear from the record that appellant (McLaren) did
no such act. There is absolutely no evidence that appellant
abducted anyone,'' the appeal states.
The appeal also brings up other points, including that
jurors were given misleading and confusing instructions
before they began deliberating the case.
Brown said he expects to be allowed to argue the appeal
before the court, possibly by early 1999.
Eagle 2 lands in Presidio in sale
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members voted Tuesday to
sell one of the district's five transit buses, and made
plans to possibly sell a second in the near future.
Eagle 2, one of the old MCI charter type buses owned by the
school district, has been sold to the Presidio school
district for $18,000.
Superintendent Don Love reported at Tuesday nights board
meeting that two efforts to get bids had been unsuccessful
as the bids submitted were not as high as hoped and had been
Presidio offered $8,000 more than any of the bids and they
might be willing to purchase Eagle 1 as well at a price of
$18,700 with the air conditioning the way it is. If the a/c
is fixed, the price will go up to cover the repairs.
The board approved that transaction.
The two buses are the oldest of the five charter buses in
the P-B-T fleet, having been bought by the district for
$98,000 in 1991. A third MCI bus was bought two years later,
while Eagle 4 and Eagle 5, the district's Sliver Eagle
buses, were purchased in the Fall of 1996.
Eagle 1 and 2 were scheduled to be sold when the two new
buses arrived, but the district opted to keep those two
buses when the others arrived in October of 1996.
Hospital offers advice on skin cancer
By ROSIE FLORES
Is it a mole? Is it a freckle, or could it be something more
serious? Reeves County Hospital was helping individuals find
out if what they had was something normal or could lead to
something more dangerous.
"Anytime you see something on your skin that doesn't seem
normal, you should get it checked out by a physician," said
RN Tojia Criss.
Criss and other Reeves County Hospital health care employees
were on hand Wednesday, offering a free skin cancer
Individuals who attended the screening were asked to fill
out a questionnaire and were diagnosed.
"We're looking at moles and other skin growths or problems
and assessing them, letting individuals know if they do need
to have it looked at by a dermatologist," said Criss.
The group also provided free sun screen, brochures and
refreshments during the skin care screening.
Some of the advice offered included to always wear sun
screen when being out in the sun.
"This applies to small children also and especially, since
they love to play outdoors," said Criss. "You should put sun
screen on them in the morning, afternoon and the evening, if
they plan to be outdoors," she said.
Criss suggested a sun screen with SPF 15. "Anything over
that is just a waste of money, because the 15 will take care
of the skin," she said.
The principal cause of skin cancer is almost universally
accepted by medical experts to be overexposure to sunlight,
especially when it results in sunburn and blistering. Other
less important factors would include repeated medical and
industrial X-ray exposure, scarring from disease or burns,
occupational exposure to such compounds as coal and arsenic,
and family history.
Prevention is a matter of guarding the skin against the
known causes. Since the sun and its ultraviolet rays would
seem to be the principal culprit, the most effective
preventive method is to limit the exposure of the skin to
harmful rays by covering up and by the use of sun screens
with at least a 15 rating.
It is a simple routine to inspect your body for any skin
changes, stated Criss. "Get familiar with your skin and your
own pattern of moles, freckles and `beauty marks'," she said.
Brochures offered at the screening stated that nearly one
million Americans are diagnosed each year with skin cancer,
the most common form of cancer. Of these, more than 40,000
people will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious
form of skin cancer. With careful inspection of the skin,
most melanomas can be detected early and treated
Melanoma is a cancer that begins in melanocytes - the skin
cells that produce the dark protective pigment called
melanin. When you're exposed to the sunlight, the melanin in
your skin increases and your skin darkens.
Melanoma consists of melanocytes which have been transformed
into cancer cells that grow uncontrollably. Melanoma cells
usually still produce melanin, which is why these cancers
tend to be mixed shades of tan, brown, and black.
Unlike basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin
which rarely spread to other parts of the body, melanoma can
spread if not detected at an early stage. Once colonies of
melanoma cells reach vital internal organs and grow, they
are much more difficult to treat. That is why this is a
potentially lethal form of cancer.
Spread of pigment from the border into surrounding skin;
redness or a new swelling beyond the border; change in
sensation...itchiness, tenderness or pain, are warning
signs. Change in the surface of a mole - scaliness, oozing,
bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule are other
things to look for.
If your physician suspects that a change in your skin is a
sign of melanoma, a sample of the tissue will be removed.
This procedure is called a biopsy, and usually can be done
quickly and easily in the physician's office. The tissue
sample is then sent to a pathology laboratory for
examination under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
Surgery is the best way to remove early melanomas. Later
stages may require more extensive treatment. For advanced
melanoma, treatment must be individualized. Again, the best
weapon against melanoma is early detection and prompt
Nature Conservancy buys Republic site
By ARTHUR SPRAGG
The Big Bend Sentinel
FORT DAVIS - The Texas Nature Conservancy purchased the
Republic of Texas compound in the Davis Mountain Resort
during a sheriff's sale Tuesday at the Jeff Davis County
Courthouse in Fort Davis.
The Nature Conservancy purchased the property for $26,500
and $1,356 in back taxes, according to Bill Maline of the
Fort Davis Independent School District's tax office.
The compound, which housed a small travel trailer and
lean-to, was the site of the well-known April 1997 standoff
between a small group of Republic of Texas militant
separatists led by Richard McLaren and local, state and
federal law enforcement officials.
"It's a beautiful piece of property, and a strategic piece
of property," James King, director of land protection for
the TNC said Wednesday from Austin.
The 18.7-acre site within Limpia Canyon will serve to
control access onto property now owned by the TNC, King said.
He said the conservancy already owns about a section within
the Davis Mountains Resort and is a member of the owners
"There's a lot of stuff to clean up there, the place has
been ransacked," King said. "We may have a volunteer work
day in the future to clean up the area."
King said that eventually the property may be sold to a
"conservation minded person" whose views are "more
compatible with outs" so that they can build a home on the
Docs operate on baby to place heart inside
By AMY FRANKLIN
Associated Press Writer
MILWAUKEE -- A day-old baby who was born with her heart
outside her body survived a five-hour operation to place the
organ in its rightful place.
The procedure Wednesday at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
moved roughly 95 percent of the heart within the infant's
chest cavity, leaving only a ``little bump'' protruding,
said lead surgeon Dr. Bert Litwin.
Litwin was cautiously optimistic about the future of tiny
Jazmyn Hope Stumpf, who was in critical condition today.
``When you are placing the heart into the chest there can be
complications,'' said Litwin, who was aided by three other
surgeons. ``The heart can twist and limit the flow of blood.
Most little hearts cannot tolerate the strain, but this
baby's heart function was good most of the day.''
The surgeons had to move organs around in the chest to fit
the heart into the chest cavity, he said.
``I talked to the infant's family and they're relieved,''
Litwin said. ``They knew the risks were high.''
Ultrasound tests had disclosed the defect after several
months of pregnancy. Jazmyn was born by Caesarean section
The rare heart condition is called ectopia cordis. It occurs
in about 6 to 8 out of 1 million live births, according to
the American Heart Association.
Hospital physician Thomas Wigton said the cause is unknown.
The girl will have surgery in a week for more skin grafting,
he said. Further heart surgery will be required in the
Jazmyn will always have to be more careful than other
children because she was born without a sternum, the
protective bone in front of her heart, Litwin said.
Litwin, who has performed three similar operations, said he
was optimistic because the ``infant's heart is so strong.''
San Antonio area dealing with floods
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Heavy rains loosened the drought's grip
on the San Antonio area today, causing some minor flooding
and flash-flood warnings.
At least two inches of rain fell on parts of San Antonio
To the southwest, the National Weather Service issued a
flash-flood warning for Frio County from late morning
through early afternoon.
Up to 8½ inches of rain has fallen in Dilley, with other
parts of Frio County receiving up to 6 inches since last
night. The Department of Public Safety closed Texas 117 near
Interstate 35 and Texas 85 from the Dimmit county line to
Before today, San Antonio had reported only a little over 11
inches of rainfall for the year, about 7 inches below
The rainfall was triggered by a cold front extending across
South and Southeast Texas.
The front, which dropped high temperatures in Pecos on
Tuesday below 90 degrees for the first time in nearly three
months, kept Wednesday's high below 80 degrees, the first
time that's happened since early April. This morning's low
of 67 was just 12 degrees less than the high of 79, but
temperatures were expected to rise back towards 100 degrees
by this weekend.
Elsewhere, residents across Texas have stormed aid centers
in search of financial assistance for their mounting
electricity bills caused by this summer's oppressive heat.
They lined up well before dawn in Fort Worth today for Day 2
of a Tarrant County program to help keep keep air
conditioners running during this summer's heat.
The county has been allotted about $1 million, and at least
600 households were processed Wednesday.
On Wednesday, officials stopped taking applications for
utility bill assistance and closed the doors at the Amon
Carter Exhibit Hall. Officials said there were not enough
workers to process the applications.
``We didn't want people to have to wait and not get
served,'' said Tarrant County spokesman Marc Flake.
All aid-seekers who were turned away had priority when
applications were taken again today, he said.
As dawn broke today, hundreds already were in line, so
county officials had about 100 workers on hand to help take
Dallas County has opted to rely on those who know the
neediest best for help in spending the federal money.
``We're going to work with the existing agencies and let
them identify the specific individuals in their area,
because that lends itself to a win-win process,'' said Zach
Thompson, deputy director of the Dallas County Health
Delia Perez, client services manager for the Bexar County
Housing and Human Services Department, said the county asks
residents seeking heat aid for utilities to call on Tuesdays
to schedule appointments.
The county sees 450 people each week.
On July 28, the county received 161,000 calls, Ms. Perez
There is no count yet for this Tuesday, but the load was
even larger than the 161,000 of the previous week.
``We know it was more than that because it brought down the
county's phone system,'' Ms. Perez said.
Bexar County initially was allocated $1.3 million for this
year. The recent emergency aid arranged for by President
Clinton added $1.6 million to the allotment.
Only a few of those who have sought aid have been turned
away because their incomes were too high, Ms. Perez said.
Amalia Garza, executive director of the Cameron and Willacy
Counties Community Project Inc., a social service agency
that is handling applications for federal heat aid, said
about 3,000 people had attended informational meetings in
Harlingen, Rio Hondo, Raymondville, Lyford, Port Isabel and
Brownsville by Wednesday afternoon.
Tomas Ornelas, 85, of Pecos, died Tuesday, Aug. 4, 1998,
at Reeves County Hospital.
A rosary will be held today at 7:30 p.m., at Martinez
Funeral Home Chapel.
Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Friday, Aug. 7, at Santa Rosa
Catholic Church with burial at Greenwood Cemetery.
He was born Dec. 22, 1912, in Shafter, was a retired janitor
and a Catholic.
Survivors include his wife, Paula Gonzalez Mata Ornelas of
Pecos; one son, Thomas Ornelas, Jr. of Odessa; four
daughters, Maria Ocon, Adelaida Jurado and Virginia Edwards
of Pecos, Estella Olivas of Houston; 27 grandchildren; 43
great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Celestine Lady "Mama" Woodard, 87, died Tuesday, Aug. 4,
1998 in Pecos, following a lengthy illness.
A chapel service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, at
Martinez Funeral Home Chapel with burial in Greenwood
She was born July 12, 1911, in Clarksville, was a homemaker
and a Pecos resident.
Survivors include three sons, Billy and Bobby Woodard of
Pecos and Elmer Woodard of Dallas; four grandchildren and 24
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
High Wednesday 79. Low this morning 67. Forecast for
tonight: Partly cloudy with a less than 20 percent chance of
thunderstorms. Low in the mid 60s. Light wind. Friday,
partly cloudy. High around 90. South to southeast wind 5-15
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise