HOUSTON (AP) – A jury in Texas has begun deliberating whether a Jordanian immigrant convicted in what prosecutors describe as two “honor killings” will receive a death sentence or life in prison without parole. The Harris County jury began deliberations Monday in the penalty phase of Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan’s capital murder trial. Deliberations are to continue Tuesday. Irsan was convicted last month in the deaths of his son-in-law and his daughter’s friend. Prosecutors say the conservative Muslim became enraged when his daughter left home to marry a Christian and convert to Christianity, so he orchestrated the killings. The daughter’s friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, died in January 2012. And the son-in-law, Coty Beavers, died in November 2012. Irsan testified that his daughter aggrieved his family after eloping with Beavers, and that Bagherzadeh had encouraged the union.
LUBBOCK (AP) – Robert Duncan, a longtime West Texas lawmaker before serving as chancellor of the Texas Tech University System for the past four years, has announced his retirement. The 65-year-old chancellor had served 18 years as a state lawmaker, the final 14 as a state senator, before his appointment as head of the West Texas university system. In a letter to the Tech system “family” Monday evening, the one-time Texas Tech University student body president from Vernon, Texas, said that, at his age, “it’s time to retire, move on and begin to tackle new challenges.” The retirement takes effect Aug. 31. During his chancellorship, the Tech system had pursued a veterinary school in Amarillo and a dentistry school in El Paso, efforts that remain uncompleted.
HOUSTON (AP) – Union leaders and state lawmakers say many Texas cities are denying workers’ compensation to firefighters with cancer. The Houston Chronicle reports that state figures show more than 90 percent of the 117 workers compensation claims filed by Texas firefighters with cancer have been denied in the past six years. Union officials say cities have ignored a state law requiring the government to presume that firefighters’ cancers are caused by exposure to carcinogens on the job. Houston’s benefits provider didn’t respond for comment. But firefighters say cities use a memo by the Texas Intergovernmental Risk Pool to dodge the cancer presumptive law. The memo only presumes three types of cancer are caused by firefighting: testicular, prostate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A bill to allow workers to challenge bad faith claim denials died in the Senate this past session.
DETROIT (AP) – A former Detroit man released from custody 15 years ago after an error in the murder investigation now faces arraignment in the 2003 killing and a 2000 sexual assault. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 65-year-old James Matthews is scheduled to go before a Detroit judge Tuesday on first-degree murder and criminal sexual conduct charges. Matthews was charged in 2003 in the slaying of a 40-year-old Detroit woman, but was released from jail when a warrant against him wasn’t filed within the required time frame. Matthews was arrested in April in New York City after the murder case was reopened. Police have said he also is being investigated in three homicides in Texas and one in New York. Detroit court records did not list an attorney for Matthews.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a complaint against a Texas-based sports bar over allegations managers sexually harassed female workers at an Albuquerque location. The complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque last week said women employees at Ojos Locos Sports Cantina were regularly subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct by supervisors and co-workers. Court documents say since 2014 the women received a text message of a supervisor’s private parts, received requests for sex and endured constant derogatory comments about their bodies. The commission says at least one female was fired after she refused advances. It is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and reforms within the company. The Plano, Texas-based Ojos Locos Sports Cantina did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.
HOUSTON (AP) – A popular Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston is facing backlash after it posted a photo of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has pushed for a wide crackdown on immigration. El Tiempo Cantina was targeted by hundreds of tweets and Facebook posts after Roland Laurenzo, president of the company that operates the chain, posted a photo Friday with Sessions. The photo caption said it was an “honor” to serve Sessions, who delivered a speech in Houston that day. The post drew the ire of people who oppose President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and Sessions, a key official administering the zero-tolerance policy that led to family separations. Laurenzo tells KHOU-TV he does not support family separation and regretted that the post “angered so many people.” The chain later deleted the photo.
ABILENE (AP) – A U.S. Army ring has been found at a West Texas landfill and a veteran is trying to track down the owner. KTXS-TV reports Tristan Allen says a relative discovered the ring at a landfill in Abilene. Allen, who also served in the Army, posted photos of the ring on his Facebook page and says a name is engraved inside. The owner must provide that information to get the jewelry. The ring says “United States Army” on the top, “Victory” on one side and “Spartans” on the other. Allen believes a boat wheel under the “Victory” means a motor transport operator. Allen says – from one soldier to another – certain things just can’t be replaced and he wants to get the ring back to its rightful owner.