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INSIDE • Opinions Page: West needs to work out water issues. A10 • Obituaries, A11-12

Shelter board moves Bryan deal forward The Brazos Animal Shelter board met Wednesday night and overwhelmingly voted to move forward with the contract approved by the Bryan City Council at its Tuesday night meeting. Board president Judy LeUnes said there was one dissenting vote, from a board member who was opposed to having a 7.5 percent cap on increases for the city next year. “We’re so excited about this,” she said. “With the Leonard Road facility being open, for the first time we haven’t had to put down any adoptable animals.” LeUnes said the euthanasia rate was more than 60 percent prior to the opening of the larger facility, but has dropped to just 26 percent in a week’s time. The next step is for the city to review the proposal it received for the expansion to the building. The city voted to spend up to $500,000 to cover the cost of the project.

Needy job hunters getting new clothes An organization is holding a professional clothing drive to help economically disadvantaged people looking for jobs. The Young Professionals of Aggieland is staging “The Twin City Suit Up” through July 29. Donations of suits, dress shirts, slacks, khakis, women’s business attire, dress shoes and belts can be dropped off at two Pride Cleaners locations, 4031 East 29th St. in Bryan or 1800 Harvey Mitchell Parkway South in College Station, or Harley’s, 520 University Drive East in College Station. All donated clothing will be cleaned by Pride Cleaners, which is sponsoring the drive, along with Harley’s and KBTX.

Children’s magician Brett Roberts of Learning While Laughing out of Fort Worth entertains a full house at the Clara B. Mounce Public Library in Bryan by performing as a ventriloquist with his puppet Wordsworth, a bona fide bookworm, during his show Wednesday. His performance is part of the library’s 2011 Children’s Summer Reading Program, which features two more different shows in July.

TEA laying off 178 employees The Texas Education Agency is laying off 178 employees this week as part of budget cuts ordered by the state Legislature. TEA spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said the agency is reducing its operating budget by $48 million, or 36 percent, most of which will come from the layoffs since payroll and benefits are the bulk of their costs. The state education agency oversees pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade education and allocates billions of dollars to school districts. — Wire report

The Eagle

Defense cites lack of physical evidence tying man to murder By JONATHAN RESENDEZ jonathan.resendez@theeagle.com

More than 40 crime scene photographs and items were entered into evidence during the first day of trial for Michael Allen Peck, who pleaded not guilty to the 2010 murder of Julie Perez by strangulation. In his opening statement, prosecutor Jarvis Parsons said the tire marks tying Mich- PECK ael Allen Peck to the driveway where 28-year-old Perez’s body was found, along with the string of inconsistencies he told police regarding her disappearance, were signs he committed the crime. “We’re going to ask you in this case to put one plus one together and to realize the person that’s lying about every single thing, about knowing Julie, about what happened with Julie ... [is guilty],” Parsons told the jury. After investigators disproved his claims of not knowing Perez, Peck proceeded to minimize everything about their relationship, Parsons said. “When there’s no other

Eagle photo by Dave McDermand

Police: CS man found with meth A 33-year-old College Station man was arrested early Wednesday after an officer reported finding drugs during a traffic stop. Christopher Eugene Arnold was charged with manufacture or delivery of from four to 200 grams of a controlled substance. An officer said he noticed Arnold make a wide turn from Central Park Lane onto Southwest Parkway around 2 a.m. During the traffic stop, Arnold appeared nervous, the officer said. The officer said he found a glass pipe that had methamphetamine residue in it in Arnold’s pocket, and a search of the vehicle revealed a pouch containing four small bags of crystal methamphetamine. The charge is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Arnold was being held in the Brazos County Jail in lieu of $12,000 bail. — Staff reports

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prosecutors press case in Peck trial

Calling all bookworms

IN BRIEF

A9

place to go, he then minimizes his conduct again,” Parsons said, referring to Peck’s claims that a struggle took place after Perez tried to rob him. Parsons did acknowledge that Perez had been known to abuse crack cocaine and had engaged in prostitution in the past. “This is a case about drugs and desperation,” he said. Peck was the last person seen with Perez, whose body was found the next morning without identification, money or a phone, after she left a known drug house, Parsons said. The ligature, or strangulation, marks around Perez’s neck were signs of a struggle which led to her death, he said. Perez had a weak heart, which required a defibrillator, due to complications with delivering her two children, now 10 and 3 years old. Court-appointed defense attorney Craig Greening said no physical evidence existed tying Peck to the murder. He cited a lack of DNA, blood, hair, skin or saliva as proof of his client’s innocence. “Nothing from Michael Peck was found on Julie Perez’s body,” Greening said. He also said authorities

See MURDER, Page A12

Officials: Thirsty cattle dying Families By BETSY BLANEY Associated Press

LUBBOCK — The unrelenting Texas drought has produced a cruelly ironic twist: cattle dying from too much water. Agriculture officials in parched Texas said Wednesday there are no hard numbers on how many head of cattle have died but reports of deaths from too much water or too little are showing up across the nation’s leading cattle production state. “They over drink because they’re thirsty,” said Dr. Robert Sprowls of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in Amarillo. “Once they fill up on water it happens pretty quickly.” Producers are losing cattle after moving them from withered pastures where water tanks have dried up.

stock.xchange photo Ranchers are noting more deaths among cattle that, often going without fresh water because of the drought, drink too much when they gain access. Once in new pastures, cattle that die take in too much water too quickly. The animals die within minutes and their carcasses are found near the stock tanks from which they were drinking, Ted McCollum, a

beef cattle specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Amarillo, said. Texas is coming off its driest nine-month period ever and its hottest June on record. More than 90 percent of the state is in the two

most severe drought stages. The cattle deaths are occurring earlier, in part because of lack of forage growth in pastures. “We are seeing more incidents of heat stress in cattle,” he said. “More incidents of death and problems with health.” As with humans, water intoxication can occur when there’s too much water in the body, which disrupts electrolyte balance in cells. Death can occur. Typically an average cow grazing green forage consumes as much as 8.4 gallons of water a day from it. This year, because drought precluded forage growth and there’s been a relatively low intake of dry forage, daily water consumption is around 0.6 gallons. That’s why stock tanks are so important, especially with this drought’s searing temperatures.

2nd drone to protect Texas border By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Associated Press

McALLEN — Texas will receive a second unmanned drone by the end of the year to patrol its 1,254-mile border with Mexico for drug and human trafficking, two congressmen announced Wednesday. The Predator drone, along with another to be based in Arizona, will bring to six the number of unmanned U.S. planes making daily surveillance flights along the Southwest border. The drones have overlapping territory, meaning “on any given day there could be three or more aircraft in Texas,” Maj. Gen. Michael Kostelnik, who oversees the program for Customs and Border Protection, testified during a Tuesday congressional hearing. “And

they’re routinely now flying nightly not only in the Rio Grande Valley but up through Laredo and up to El Paso.” The new Texas drone will be based with the existing one at Naval Station Corpus Christi. Texas’ first drone splits its time between patrolling the Gulf Coast and the border. The Predator can fly for 20 hours without refueling, extending by many hours the surveillance capability of a helicopter. The planes are controlled remotely by flight crews. “It’s a technology that provides surveillance in a particular manner that can be very useful to direct resources,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, a member of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee in the House Homeland Security Committee. Flying at about 19,000 feet above the

border, the planes can monitor not only what is happening on the U.S. side, but also several miles into Mexico. “It behooves the Mexicans to really work with [Customs and Border Protection] on these things,” he said. Cuellar, along with Texas Republican congressmen Michael McCaul and Blake Farenthold, asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in April to place two newly funded drones in Texas. Kostelnik confirmed Tuesday that Texas would get one. In addition to the two total in Texas, four also will be based in Sierra Vista, Ariz., Kostelnik said. Cuellar, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Caucus, said eventually there should be four to six of the aircraft based in Texas flying missions deep into Central America.

show emotion on stand Man faces prison for friend’s death By MAGGIE KIELY maggie.kiely@theeagle.com

The grandmother of a defendant facing 20 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter deviated from her testimony while on the stand Wednesday to apologize to a family that lost its 21-year-old son. “I’m sorry for Brad’s family,” Betty Jackson said, looking at the victim’s mother sitting behind prosecutors. VANHOOSE “We couldn’t contact them to let them know because the law wouldn’t allow us to, but I want them to know we tried many times.” Earlier in the day, the mother of 21-year-old Brad David Abbe had been in the same seat as Jackson, telling jurors what she missed most about the son whose life was unexpectedly ended in April 2009. Kasey Lynn Vanhoose, 24, was driving on Wellborn Road near Millican when he lost control of his pickup and flipped several times before landing in a patch of trees. Abbe, the only passenger, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

See TRIAL, Page A12


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