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updated 2:44 PM UTC, Sep 20, 2019

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MacGinnis given life sentence plus 99 years

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – A man who was recently arrested in a cold case murder investigation was handed a life sentence and 99 years in a Tyler County courtroom for convictions unrelated to the murder arrest.

Daniel Andrew MacGinnis, a 60-year-old Warren man, was sentenced to life in prison and 99 years in prison for the charges of possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He received the life sentence for the firearm conviction and the 99 years for the drug charge.

The sentence was handed down last Tuesday in the courtroom of District 1A Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker. The charges the jury convicted MacGinnis of came from a Sept. 29, 2017 arrest in Woodville, and the punishment range was enhanced due to his extensive criminal record.

MacGinnis, a registered sex offender, was arrested on Aug. 27 for the murder of Patricia Ann Jacobs of Hardin County. Jacobs was found dead under the Rainbow Bridge in Jefferson County in 1988.

Recent DNA testing on newly discovered evidence from the crime pinpointed MacGinnis, who is listed on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Public Sex Offender Registry for three convictions dating back to 1984, ranging from aggravated kidnapping to rape by force.

According to Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham, MacGinnis had been placed into the custody of the Jefferson County Jail under a $1 million bond but was transferred to Tyler County to await trial for the two charges. He is expected to stand trial in Jefferson County in the future for the murder charge.

Following MacGinnis’s August arrest, the DPS noted that Texas Rangers are continuing their investigation in East Texas and have reached out to law enforcement agencies in other states such as California and Idaho to determine if MacGinnis is tied to any other cold cases.

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City of Woodville schedules special meeting for budget

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Woodville City Council approved the scheduling for a budget workshop, public hearing and special meeting on Monday, Sept. 23 to discuss, consider and adopt the tax rate and budget for the coming fiscal year. The new budget will have to be approved by Sept. 30, as the next fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

The current tax rate for Woodville residents is .3865 and the proposed rate for fiscal year 2019-20 is .375. City Administrator Mandy Risinger said “We’ve tried to maintain a pretty stable tax rate for the last 30 years.”

The workshop will begin at 5:15 p.m. and will last about 30 minutes, followed by the public hearing on the tax rate and then a meeting will be called to order at 6 p.m., where the tax rate and proposed city budget will be considered and put up for a vote.

In other items of information presented at Monday evening’s brief meeting, Risinger presented news pertaining to the $2 million flood mitigation grant the city received in February.

The grant, which was earmarked by the Texas General Land Office for the CDBG Disaster Recovery Program, was designated for a series of street improvements in the city. The engineering contracts have been signed and were approved. Under one of the agenda items, the firm KSA Engineering, based out of Lufkin, was approved for its services on the project. As previously reported, next spring is likely the earliest starting point for construction on the project.

Risinger also reported that two new houses are being built in Woodville with funds from the GLO’s disaster recovery program; one of them on Robin Lane and another on Magnolia Lane.

In news of other construction projects within the city limits, Risinger said the planned remodel and upgrade of McDonald’s is in the works. The restaurant submitted its plans for the project, which are being reviewed.

Other Business
The Woodville City Council approved the following items on Monday night’s agenda:
• An ordinance was approved to declare unopposed candidates in the Nov. 5 general city election; to cancel the election providing a severability clause; providing an effective date and providing an open meetings clause.
• A resolution was approved to designate the Tyler County Booster as the official newspaper for the City of Woodville for FY 2019-20.
• Council approved utility bill write-offs for the current fiscal year. The debts are still attached to customers’ accounts, Risinger explained, should they re-connect services, but the city writes the debts off its books in preparation for the coming fiscal year.

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‘Second Chance’ scholarship named in White’s honor

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By Chris Edwards
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AUSTIN – State Representative James White (R-Hillister) has dedicated much of his career as a public servant to the cause of criminal justice reform, and now he has been honored with a scholarship named “The James White Second Chance Scholarship”.

The scholarship, which was recently announced by the Texas Young Republican Federation, grants up to $500 to a first-time offender and recent mother in order to help with continuing education, starting a business or other training. The first winner of this scholarship will be announced next month at the TYRF convention in Houston.

“The scholarship is a celebration of second chances and is meant to shine a light on Rep. White’s efforts to drastically reform the justice system for women,” TYRF Policy Director Jason Vaughn said.
White, who serves Tyler, Polk, Hardin, Jasper and Newton counties in the District 19 House seat, currently serves as chairman for the House Committee on Corrections and is on the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and Redistricting committees.

During the last legislative session, he introduced and passed House Bill 650, which was written to ensure better nutrition and medical treatment for women who give birth in Texas prisons. The bill, which was signed into law in May, also severely limits the use of restraints and solitary confinement for pregnant women. Vaughn made note of the bill in a news release announcing the scholarship and said TYRF has partnered with other conservative groups to make criminal justice reforms a priority for the Texas GOP. When the scholarship was first announced by TYRF in Austin, Vaughn called the bill “one of the most amazing bills I’ve seen.”

The scholarship, Vaughn said, “is one way we wish to honor legislators who are championing reform.”

In the last legislative session, TYRF supported nearly 100 bills, according to the news release, with the majority of them focused on criminal justice reform, and 16 of them were filed by White.

The scholarship is funded by donations taken in by TYRF, and has gathered bi-partisan support, Vaughn said. He added that recently a donor stepped up to purchase a nursery and the first year’s supply of diapers for an expectant or recent mother who receives the scholarship.
White, who is a former member of TYRF, posted on his Facebook page that he is honored to work with the group in helping to maintain safe communities.

“Our criminal justice system ensures safe communities by deterring wrongdoing, holding wrongdoers responsible, restoring survivors of crime, rehabilitating and successfully reintegrating the justice-involved,” he said.

TYRF, according to its mission statement, is an auxiliary of the state GOP focused on Republicans aged 18-40. The group boasts more than 20 chapters across Texas and states a purpose to be a force in Texas politics.

White’s efforts toward criminal justice reform issues recently drew plaudits from Texas Monthly when it named him to its Top 10 Best Legislators list. The magazine highlighted White’s work in criminal justice reform, such as his effort to update the Sandra Bland Act; an effort to limit arrests for misdemeanors.

Although the effort failed to pass, the magazine’s writers praised him for his “willingness to tackle the issue,” and made note of his standing as “one of his party’s leading advocates for criminal justice reform”.

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Warren man arrested for 1988 murder

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By Chris Edwards

badguyBEAUMONT – A Warren man was arrested and charged with a murder that has remained unsolved for 30 years.

On Tuesday, Aug. 27, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office issued a statement announcing the arrest of Daniel Andrew MacGinnis for the 1988 murder of Patricia Ann Jacobs of Silsbee.

According to the statement from Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham, MacGinnis is in the custody of Jefferson County with a $1 million bond. He was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Ben Collins on Wednesday.

Wortham’s office said that in recent months, the Texas Rangers and the Port Arthur Police Department discovered items of evidence that were subjected to DNA testing that was not available when the crime occurred.

Jacobs, a 36-year-old Hardin County woman, was found deceased in the Neches River beneath the Rainbow Bridge in Port Arthur on Oct. 6, 1988, according to Wortham. The discovery of Jacobs’s body came a day after she was reported as missing. She had not returned home from a meeting at the Silver Spur Tavern in Hardin County, where she was employed.

An autopsy revealed that Jacobs died as a result of drowning and had sustained trauma to her head and face. The manner of death, according to Wortham’s statement, was listed as “probable homicide.”

According to a story published in the Silsbee Beeat the time of the murder, Jacobs was a native of Winnfield, La., and had lived in Silsbee for 18 years at the time of her death.

MacGinnis was a suspect in the initial investigation, which was conducted at that time by the Texas Rangers, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office and Port Arthur PD, however the investigation revealed no previous contact between Jacobs and MacGinnis, according to Wortham. Numerous witnesses identified MacGinnis as a suspect, and he was interviewed in California by Texas Rangers. During the interview, he denied any knowledge or involvement in the crime. “The investigation languished for lack of evidence,” Wortham said.

The recent DNA testing came by way of the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, which developed a DNA profile from the recently discovered evidence that matched MacGinnis, who is a registered sex offender.

The 60-year-old Warren man is listed on the DPS’s Texas Public Sex Offender Registry for three convictions dating back to 1984, and as recent as 2004. They range from aggravated kidnapping to rape by force, and occurred in Texas and California.

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