By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Tommy Lynn Johnson, now age 60, won the lottery in federal prison clemency terms.
The former Tool resident was one of just 95 federal prisoners granted commuted sentences by President Barack Obama Dec. 18. Johnson was serving a federal prison sentence of 40 years on a list of charges from 2003, the height of the nation’s war on drugs. His charges centered around conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine; conspiracy to possess a listed chemical, knowing it will be used to manufacture a controlled substance; and possession of an unregistered firearm.
Johnson is one of 33,000 prisoners who applied for the federal clemency program of which a little more than 9,000 applications met the criteria. Under the program which began in the spring of 2014, Obama has commuted just 184 sentences, of which Johnson made this third round of 95 newly commuted sentences, Dec. 18. The action released Johnson from serving another 12 years left on his sentence.
“I commuted the sentences of 95 men and women who had served their debt to society, another step forward in upholding our ideals of justice and fairness,” Obama said.
It is the third time this year that the president has used his clemency power to release drug offenders, whose harsh sentences have contributed to the phenomenon being called “mass incarceration.”
The commutation of sentences is the president’s effort to make significant changes in the nation’s criminal justice system in decades. He and former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. have spoken passionately about the need to fix what they say is a broken system — one they argue has subjected too many nonviolent inmates to decades behind bars.
According to the Athens Daily Review dating back to 2003, it was a Navarro County Sheriff’s Office Capt. who learned that Johnson had purchased 1,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia (a key ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine), and was returning to Henderson County. Capt. Jimmie Spencer followed Johnson to a spot on U.S. Highway 175, but lost him. However, a few days later, while in line at a Corsicana store, Spencer noted a woman purchasing numerous packages of pseudoephedrine, another key ingredient to meth manufacture. Officers were able to track her and Johnson back to a residence in Tool and obtained a warrant to search. Inside, officers found materials that appeared to be the makings of a drug lab. At that time Johnson was 47 years of age. His accomplice, Reisa Lynn Pettiette, of Terrell, was also arrested and convicted.
Posted by : December 24, 2015| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Posted by : December 22, 2015| On :
Candidates filing for next election set
By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–With the closing of the election filing period for the March 1, 2016 Party Primary, a few key races have taken shape in the tri-county area. One of the most prominent is Lance Gooden of Terrell is challenging Republican incumbent Dr. Stuart Spitzer of Kaufman in a bid to regain a seat in the Legislature as Representative of District 4.
Dan Flynn is facing a similar challenge in Van Zandt County to retain his seat as District 2 Representative from Bryan Slaton. Additionally, current Sheriff M.L Ray did not file for re-election. The office drew four Republican candidates, Anthony “Big Tony” Katsoulas, Dale Corbett, Ron Carroll and Sam Mayer.
A three-way race for sheriff is shaping up in Kaufman County between retired Dallas Police Officer Bruce N. Bryant, Chief Deputy Bryan Beavers and Assistant Chief Tim Spillman. In Henderson County a regular horse race for sheriff is featured between two candidates both with impeccable service careers in the Sheriff’s Office, Investigator Billy Jack Valentine and Deputy Chief Botie Hillhouse.
Judge Carter Tarrance announced in September he was not seeking reelection to the bench of the 392nd District Court. Two have filed for that seat in the Athens courthouse: longtime family law practitioner Marianne Warren of Athens with 23 years experience and two-term D.A. Scott McKee are both seeking the Republican nomination. No Democrats have filed for the office. Mark Hall is the sole candidate for District Attorney.
In addition, County Attorney Clint Davis faces a challenger in the Primary from former officeholder James H. Owen.
In Kaufman, Judge B. Michael Chitty faces challenger Harry Weaver for the 422nd bench. Other races by county are listed below:
Kaufman County – Tax Assessor-Collector Tonya Ratcliff drew two challengers Brenda Samples and former officeholder Dick Murphy.
Both county commissioners drew challengers from their party in Precinct 1, Jimmy Joe Vrzalik is being challenged by Greg Starek. Precinct 3 Commissioner Kenneth Schoen drew two challengers, Don Scarborough and Terry Barber. The winner in the Primary will face Democrat J.C. Jackson in November. Only the Precinct 4 Constable office drew more than one competitor on the Republican ballot, between Chad Jones and Dan Sharp. Bryant Morris did not seek re-election.
Henderson County – Both County Commissioners have said they will not seek re-election. Keith Pryor and Ken Hayes have filed for Precinct 1, now held by Scotty Thomas, who has held the office for one term.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence is stepping down after four terms in office. Four contenders have filed to take his place. They are Mark Tillison, Sammy Scott, Kevin Head of Murchison and Charles “Chuck” McHam of Chandler. The winner will face Democrat challenger Aleciah Joyce Sims in the fall.
All five constable offices are on the ballot. In Precinct 1 Kay Langford, an investigator with the Sheriff’s office, is unopposed in the Republican Primary but will face incumbent Daryl Graham in November 2016.
In Precinct 2, Iinterim officeholder Mitch Baker, with his office in Seven Points, will face Danny Howard.
Precinct 3 incumbent David Grubbs of Brownsboro is unopposed.
Precinct 4 incumbent Rick Stewart is not seeking re-election. Former Constable John Floyd has filed along with Wilford “Wick” Gabbard for the Republican ballot.
Precinct 5 Constable Brad Miers is challenged by Eric Adair.
Tax Assessor Collector Peggy Goodall is running for her first full term in office after filling an unexpired term of Milburn Chaney in January. She is unopposed.
Van Zandt County – Tax Assessor-Collector Shirley Chisham faces Democratic challenger Linda Kay Tucker in November. Precinct 1 County Commissioner Brandon Brown faces challenger Tom Elliott March 1. Bobby Chaney is stepping down from Precinct 3, leaving it open to three competitors: Keith Pearson, Rusty Miracle and Stanley Brown. Constable 2 C.B. Wiley faces challenger Jesse Ison in the Primary. The other constables are running unopposed.
Statewide offices appearing on the ballot include eight Republican contenders and three Democrats for their party nomination for Railroad Commissioner. Places 3, 5 and 9 have drawn two challengers each for the Supreme Court on the Republican ballot. The winner will each face a Democrat opponent in November. Republicans are also competing for places 2, 5 and 6 on the Court of Criminal Appeals. Each winner will then face a Democrat candidate in the fall
Voters in Henderson and Van Zandt counties will see two filers for the 12th Court of Appeal, both unopposed for Place 2 and 3, on the Republican ballot.
Locally, District 9 of the State Board of Education has put up four Republican contenders, the winner of which faces a Democrat in the fall.
Posted by : December 22, 2015| On :
Services for Jimmy Murphy were held Dec. 21, 2015, at Anderson-Clayton Bros. Funeral Home in Kemp.
Jimmy was born Sept. 26, 1936, in Dallas, to parents Leslie Murphy and Sarah Elsie Bailey, and entered into eternal rest Dec. 17, 2015, at the age of 79.
Jimmy was called “Murphy” by most of his friends. He was a hardworking man who always kept his word.
Jimmy served in the United States Army then went to work for International Harvester for 25 years. He became a dedicated International fan and always had an International truck. Jimmy then worked at Schepp’s Dairy where he retired with 35 years of service.
Jimmy enjoyed working on classic cars. His favorite thing was the family gatherings at home, especially at Christmastime.
Jimmy was a loving, caring man, who will be missed by all who knew him.
Jimmy was preceded in death by his parents, stepdad “Red” Shanz, brother Marvin “Buddy” Murphy, first wife Torchy Fern Murphy, second wife Virginia Murphy, and son Gary Lynn Murphy.
He is survived by wife Sharon Murphy of Kemp, daughters Cindy Davenport and Joel of Eustace, Jackie Ingram and Gary of Kemp; son Jimmy H. Murphy and Tammy of Mesquite, brothers Henry Lane and Betty of Balch Springs, Steve Lane of Dallas; sister Patricia Washmon and Patrick of Bedford, grandchildren Laurie Neustupa and Jimmy of Mabank, Misty Daffin and Trey of New Braunfels, Jason Davenport and Amanda of Kemp, Jeffrey Ingram and Angela of Gun Barrel City, Shaun Ingram and Tonya of Gun Barrel City, Brandi Favors and Anthony of Kaufman, Jimmy R. Murphy and Nikki of Crandall, Brittny Kidwell and David of Balch Springs, Harley Morgan of Waxahachie, Bianca Humphrey of Waxahachie, Shelby Morgan of Midlothian; 17 great-grandchildren with one on the way, many more family members and numerous friends.
A personal tribute may be made at www.andersonclaytonkemp.com.