MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS . ..

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS . ..

Keystone Cops—An audit of Houston’s crime lab revealed on Wednesdaythat a Houston crime scene investigator made errors in 65 cases since 2015, throwing the outcome of every one of them in doubt. According to the Houston Chronicle, the audit by the Houston Forensic Science Center found the errors made by HPD Officer Justin McGee were grave enough to raise questions about major pieces of evidence in cases including 26 homicides, five officer-involved shootings, and six child deaths. Of the 88 cases handled by McGee that were reviewed in the audit, 65 were found to have incomplete documentation, including 32 with administrative errors, and evidence had been misplaced in eight cases. McGee repeatedly failed to collect DNA swabs or test for fingerprints, left sometimes-bloody evidence sitting at the scene, and, in at least two cases, failed to take measurements of bloody footprints. In one instance, McGee once said he did not take crime scene photos because he “did not want to contaminate his camera equipment.” According to the Chronicle, McGee has been reassigned back to patrol duty.

Texas-Sized Outbreak—Texas has seen more mumps cases reported this year than any year in the last two decades. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 221 cases of mumps in the Lone Star State this year, the highest total since 1994, when there were 234. The latest outbreak happened among spring break-revelers on South Padre Island, according to the Dallas Morning News. State health officials are tracking an outbreak there that infected 13 people who traveled to South Padre Island between March 8 and March 22—the cases span six states, including two in Texas. In Dallas County, 78 cases have been confirmed this year, including 57 cases involving students and teachers in Cedar Hill ISD. Mumps is a highly contagious disease that is easily preventable by vaccination. But a growing number of Texans are opting out of having their kids receive vaccinations. While that may not be the specific source of these major outbreaks, it certainly doesn’t help.

Small-Town Scandal—Three more La Vernia High School students were arrested on Wednesday in connection with a hazing scandal in the school’s athletics department, bringing the total number of arrests to thirteen, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The trio of arrests came on the heels of a lawsuit filed against the school district on Tuesday by the parents of a La Vernia football player, who accuses the district of allowing the hazing to continue for years despite knowing about it. The scandal has rocked La Vernia, a small town outside San Antonio. Officials have reportedly discovered at least ten victims who had been brutally hazed, raising allegations that older members of the football, baseball, and basketball teams sexually assaulted younger members—including sodomizing them with objects like a flashlight and the threaded end of a carbon dioxide tank—supposedly as part of an “initiation ritual.” Six adults and seven juvenile students have been arrested so far. The three arrested on Wednesday were charged with second-degree felony sexual assault.