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Battery recycler claims injury damages

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - A Recovery and Reclamation employee who claims he was
injured in an explosion at the battery recycling plant on Western Avenue
Sept. 28, 1993 has filed suit in 143rd District court for $3.5 million
in damages.

Vicente Rodriguez claims in the suit that he was working at R&R when
stored reactive material caused an explosion that injured his nervous
system and gave him headaches, breathing problems, stiffness to the
neck, eye and vision problems and possible mental disorders with loss of
thought processes.

Rodriguez originally filed as an intervenor in the multi-plaintiff suit
resulting from a fire at R&R on Oct. 7, 1993. His attorney, Timothy D.
Raub of Odessa, claimed that the two incidents conntitute a pattern of
ongoing acts.

He alleges that R&R failed to use the proper equipment for disposal of
reactive material, failing to store the material safely and failing to
train and supervise employees in handling reactive material.

Scott Johnson, who represents R&R, said today that his clients have not
been served with the new petition.

"I was not aware of any other problem at R&R prior to the October 7
fire," Johnson said.

During the Oct. 7, 1993 fire, which lasted about eight hours, the Texas
Natural Resources Conservation Commission took two 30-minute air samples
for analysis.

They also did a computer modeling study of "worst case scenarios" to
determine possible effects to the public from contaminants.

A report filed with the court shows little danger beyond ¼ mile from the
burning building, except for nausea, headaches or irritation of eyes,
nose, throat and skin.

That fire erupted in a battery storage building when an employee opened
a 55-gallon drum containing aluminum and an unknown material that
reacted with aluminum. It caught fire and spread to pallets and
cardboard containers of batteries.

R&R's report to TNRCC showed materials stored in the building included
2,400 pounds of glass, 15,000 pounds of plastic, 15,000 pounds of dry
lead acid batteries, 750 automotive lead acid batteries, 276,260 pounds
household batteries, 13 drums of aluminum scrap plates with unknown
scrap material, 26,572 pounds comput board and 27 drums of household

Another fire occurred in a smaller lithium battery processing building
in June. Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire said he has been unable to
determine the cause of the fire, but has ruled out arson.

Stored batteries may have gotten hot and set the containers on fire, he

Brother admits helping Madrid flee

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - One of three persons charged with hindering apprehension
of Sandra Madrid during her trial in Rankin pleaded guilty Friday in
143rd District Court.

Madrid's brother, Felix Madrid Juarez, confessed to his part in taking
Madrid to Mexico after an 83rd District Court jury found her guilty last
December of injury to a child by omission.

District Judge Bob Parks sentenced the young man to four years probation
with no fine. Richard Abalos of Odessa represented Madrid.

District Attorney John Stickels dismissed a similar charge against Roque
Rodriguez Madrid, Sandra Madrid's father, also Abalos' client.

"The only evidence against him was from the co-defendants," Stickels
said Friday. "They confessed and implicated him, but there was no
corroborating evidence as required under the accomplice witness rule."

Horlando Carrasco Garcia is the third defendant in the case. He has
hired Randy Reynolds to defend him.

Others entering guilty pleas Friday were Gerardo Pina Rodriguez, drug
delivery, 10 years deferred-adjudication probation, a $1,000 fine and
$140 restitution to the Department of Public Safety. A second indictment
was dismissed in the plea bargain.

- Ramon Caderon Garcia, drug possession, two years in state jail, $1,000
fine, $140 restitution to the DPS. A drug possession charge against his
co-defendant, Robert Lara Ybarra, was dismissed.

- Carlos Vasquez, burglary of a building, four years
deferred-adjudication probation, $1,000 fine.

Charges were dismissed against Javier Rayos, possession of a controlled

An arraignment for Benjamin Valeriano, accused of murder, was reset for
August 11 because his attorney, Roddy Harrison, was out of town.

Jodi Lynn Enmon Millan pleaded not guilty to theft by check.

Parts building owner

sues trade center partner

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - When the Pecos Trade Center went up in flames two years
ago, heat from the six-hour fire damaged the front windows and roof of
American Car Parts across the street in the 200 block of Cedar.

American Car Parts has sued an officer of the Pecos Trade Association,
Dr. Charles Gann, for $10,088 in damages to their building.

Dr. Gann was negligent in failing to remove items such as remnants of
cotton from the building; to have the building checked periodically to
determine its fire worthiness and heat combustion factors which would
produce or contribute to a fire; failed to have the building properly
insured; and failed to properly maintain the building and its
environment in such as manner as to avoid a fire, the 143rd District
Court suit alleges.

"Of course, I deny any reponsibility on my part because I just happened
to be an officer in the Pecos Trade Association," Dr. Gann said today.

The association invited small business owners to locate in the historic
building, which once housed the Leader Grocery, and operated it as a
mini-mall catering to tourists.

No commercial activity took place in the center since 1990, the suit

Bus contractors sue supplier

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - Partners in a defunct bus company transporting Pennzoil
employees to and from the sulphur mine 40 miles northwest of Pecos have
sued their bus supplier under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Jack Duke, Kevin Duke and Randy Graham claim they purchased two used
buses from American Trade-a-Bus of Texas Inc. of Sealy in February,
1994. While driving them to Pecos from out-of-state, they found both to
be in poor mechanical condition, the suit alleges.

Ralph Dickenson, American's representative, arranged for repairs, the
suit claims. However, when the buses arrived in Reeves County, both
needed engines overhauled and were short on air bags.

Dickenson promised to repair the buses but didn't, and the fledgling
company lost their Pennzoil contract in July 1994 because of poor
service and their inability to transport workers on a dependable basis,
the suit alleges.

Both buses were returned to Sealy. Dickenson sold one for $2,000 and
kept the money as a "finders fee," and returned the second bus with the
assurance it was in excellent running condition.

The partners leased that bus to a third party, but after it failed to
operate, they found tht both heads were cracked, the cylinder walls were
scarred, and the pan was full of metal shavings and parts, the suit

American and Dickenson breached implied warranties and made
misrepresentations and misleading statements, the suit claims.
Plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of actual damages plus $2,000 for
sale of the bus and statutory damages up to three times the amount of
actual damages.

A representative of American Trade-a-Bus, the parent company
headquartered in Anoka, Minn. said this morning he had no knowledge of
the transaction. Efforts to contact Dickenson were unsuccessful.

Parks revokes, modifies probation terms

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - District Judge Bob Parks this morning revoked the
probation of one defendant, amended terms of probation for three others
and balked at appointing attorneys for two defendants who are working.

Sheila Juarez pleaded "true" to charges she violated her probation on a
forgery conviction, and Judge Parks sentenced her to four years in
prison, with 177 days credit for time spent in jail, plus a $750 fine.

"I hate to lose one of my clients to the prison system," said Juarez's
attorney, David Zavoda, "but you have a considerable problem with
heroin. You went through one rehabilitation program and spent some time
in a halfway house."

Judge Parks said he has no reservations about sending Juarez to prison.

"Your case represents a very dramatic failure of a lot of effort by your
attorney, the state, probation department and Clover House, who I
believe went well beyond the call of duty trying to get you past your
heroin habit and establish a life for you and your children.

"There comes a time when we can't manage your life for you, and you are
not willing to invest very much...," Parks said. "I hope you will take
advantage of the opportunities offered in prison."

He warned Juarez that if she comes back to the same friends and "folks
that want to see you on heroin," she will have very little chance of

Judge Parks declined to discharge Lenard Carson from probation, but did
amend the terms of probation to allow him to travel anywhere for up to
two weeks without obtaining prior permission from the probation

Carson said he wants to go to Arizona for treatment of arthritis by an
Indian doctor.

Joan Britz testified she has found Carson at his home unable even to get
out of bed, and she had to spoon feed him. She has been taking him to
Midland to see a doctor for diabetes and other health problems.

Jose Louis Jasso of Toyah agreed to changes in his probation program,
but Judge Parks admonished him to do the 20 hours of community service
required and get someone to document it so he will get credit.

"You are facing up to 10 years in prison, versus doing work that can
help your small community," Judge Parks said. "There's plenty to do
there, so even if you are working long hours, you can plan it."

Manuel Antonio Carrasco agreed to have his probationary period extended
12 months, with payments of $460 per month.

"This is your last shot," Judge Parks said. "If you don't get this done,
I have done all I can do."

Carrasco said he is working and can make the payments.

Adan Martinez Salcido and Arturo Quezada Saenz also said they are
working, but asked Judge Parks to appoint them an attorney.

Saenz said he makes $10.50 an hour working 48 hours a week for a
drilling company, but his check is only $300 every two weeks because
child support payments are deducted. He is paying Herrera Bonding $150
every two weeks, he said.

Child support payments for four children are $1,000 per month, Saenz

Judge Parks said he didn't understand why Saenz couldn't hire a lawyer
and required that he fill out a financial statement. Then he appointed
Randy Reynolds with orders for Saenz to pay $100 per month into the
court registry to reimburse the county.

Salcido said he has been working one week at Anchor West and has not
received a paycheck. However, he said he receives $1,200 per month in
veterans benefits, which are paid to his custodian in Waco.

Judge Parks said he will contact the custodian to determine if Salcido
has a savings account and will reconsider his request for appointed
attorney next Friday.

David Vasquez Martinez failed to appear for arraignment on an indictment
for driving while intoxicated. Judge Parks raised his bail from $7,500
to $10,000 and ordered him arrested.

Clerk loses case against ex-employer

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - A Fort Stockton woman who sued her ex-employer in 143rd
District Court here lost her case Monday on an instructed verdict in
favor of the defendant.

Sonia G. Rosas claimed that she was fired from her job at a convenience
store owned by Southwest Marketers Inc. and then denied unemployment
benefits because she was accused of selling beer to a minor.

Rosas said that John King, the minor son of Southwest Marketers owner
Bentley King, filed an affidavit with the Texas Employment Commission
alleging she sold him beer on Sept. 25, 1992.

John King was an employee and agent of the company, she said. Rosas
denied his allegations.

"She never did sell beer to a minor, and they shouldn't have been
telling that," said Rosas' attorney, Alfredo Soza of Odessa.

Since being fired, Rosas has been unable to get a job as cashier because
of King's allegations, she said.

When Soza rested the plaintiff's case, defense attorney Scott Johnson
made a motion for instructed verdict, which Judge Parks granted.

An instructed verdict for the defendant means the plaintiff takes
nothing and must pay court costs.

Southwest Marketers operates La Tienda in Monahans and Kings Crown in
Fort Stockton.

District Clerk Juana Jaquez said that only 60 of 200 jurors summoned for
duty Monday appeared for court. "It had never been that bad," she said.

Jaquez said that many of the "no shows" were parents who took their
children to register for the first day of school.

Those not chosen for Monday's trial were instructed to return Wednesday
and Thursday.

Wednesday's civil trial involves a dispute between Cynthia Lopez of
Andrews and Wal-Mart over what she terms "malicious prosecution."

Lopez was charged with attempting to leave the Odessa store without
paying for a vacuum cleaner valued at $169. The charges were later

Wal-Mart's attorney, Richard Bonner, sought a change of venue to Ector
County because the plaintiff does not live in Reeves County, and the
incident did not happen here.

However, Lopez's attorney, Michael McLeaish of Odessa, countered that
Wal-Mart is a foreign corporation doing business in Texas, and that they
have an agent or representative in Reeves County.

Lopez seeks $20,000 in actual damages and $25,000 punitive damages.

A competency hearing is set for Thursday.

Jury grants Andrews woman damages

on shoplifting charge

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - District court jurors on Thursday agreed with an Andrews
woman that Wal-Mart employees had her arrested for shoplifting without
probable cause and with malice.

Cynthia Lopez claimed she was shopping in the Odessa Wal-Mart store Dec.
11, 1993 when two employees stopped her near the front doors and asked
to see a receipt for the merchandise in her cart.

She showed them a receipt for Christmas gifts and decorating items she
had paid for in the garden department, but she had not yet paid for a
$169 vacuum cleaner because she wanted to get her husband's approval
first, Lopez said.

Taken to the office by a security guard and several employees, Lopez
said she protested that she was not thief and offered to pay for the
vacuum cleaner. They refused her offer and turned her over to a police
officer, who booked her into jail for the night.

Her attorney, Michael McLeaish, said that the Ector County attorney
declined to prosecute Lopez for shoplifting and the charge was dismissed
June 22, 1994. He then filed the damage suit, claiming $20,000 actual
damages and $25,000 punitive damages.

The jury awarded Lopez $21,000 despite defense attorney Richard Bonner's
assertion that Wal-Mart employees had good cause to believe she intended
to leave the store without paying for the vacuum cleaner.

He established that Lopez passed two rows of check-out stands to meet
with her husband near the front doors of the store, where she stayed for
some time talking with him and with relatives who had entered the store.

Lopez said her husband was at the Vision Center near the foyer doors
waiting for his eye glasses to be corrected, and she had gone to him to
get his approval of the vacuum cleaner purchase.

In an unrelated hearing Thursday, a jury found Hepolito Vasquez
incompetent to stand trial, and he was remanded to a state facility for

Florez lodges employment

discrimination charge

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - Employment discrimination is the charge lodged against the
Reeves County Law Enforcement Center in a suit filed in 143rd District

Elizer G. Florez of 1314 S. Pecan St. alleges that he applied for a job
at the LEC on March 1, 1994 and later went for an interview.

"During the course of the interview the plaintiff was questioned
regarding his disability and was asked if he felt he could perform the
duties required of a correctional officer," Florez claims in the

He was denied the position for which he applied and was told that no
more hiring would be done. Then the defendant ran an advertisement for
employnment availabilities for the same position, Florez claims.

Florez filed charges with the Texas Commission on Human Rights on July
7, 1994 and received a notice of right to sue July 5, 1995.

He claims the LEC agents intentionally discriminated on the basis of his
disability: four missing fingers on a hand. He seeks recovery of lost
wages and other employment benefits past and future, plus actual and
exemplary damages.

Florez also asks the court to direct the defendant to hire him.

Reeves County Attorney Bill Weinacht said this morning he has not seen
the suit and would have to look at the specific allegations and review
the matter.

"I don't think there's any way in the world Reeves County would treat
anyone unfairly," he said. "In general, the county and county employees
don't discriminate against anybody based on a disability."

Reeves County earlier settled a federal court suit filed by Michael D.
Pearce under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Weinacht said he does not recall the amount paid to Pearce, but "it was
a nice sum of money."

Pearce claimed in the suit that he was employed at the LEC on July 26,
1993 as a correctional officer. Because he was an insulin dependent
diabetic, Pearce ws allowed to keep his insulin and syringes in the unit

After being accused in August, 1993 of using a syrine owned by the LEC,
Pearce was told to remove his insulin from the infirmary and not to
bring it back to the workplace.

Although that order was later overturned, Pearce claimed he was
discriminated against and sued for $1 mmillion in actual and punitive

Odessa Wal-Mart shopper sues here

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - A Wal-Mart shopper who claims a cart-full of merchandise
fell on her in the Odessa store has filed suit for damages in 143rd
District Court.

Christina Garcia of Monahans said she was shopping on March 6 when a
fully-loaded merchandise cart became unloaded on top of her, causing her
to suffer severe personal injuries.

She said she was 4½ months pregnant, and her neck and back injuries
could not be properly diagnosed and treated because of her pregnancy.
Her earning capacity was reduced because of the injuries, the suit

Plaintiff's husband, Arturo Garcia, has completely taken over household
duties and has suffered a loss of consortium as a result of defendant's
negligence, the petition claims.

They seek an unspecified amount of damages for Wal-Mart's alleged

Wal-Mart co-manager Roger Casey said Friday that he has not seen a copy
of the petition and "I don't know anything about it."

Mercury poisoning claim

lodged against R&R

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - Two former employees of Recovery & Reclamation Inc. have
filed suit in 143rd District Court, claiming they suffered mercury
poisoning as a result of breaking up batteries for recylcing.

Ernest Dominguez claims he was employed by R&R from August to October
1994, where he was required to pour acid from batteries into specially
treated thick plastic-type bags, thereby exposing himself to hazardous
toxic waste.

He claims he became ill in October 1994, and Dr. Orville Cerna diagnosed
his problems as a high level of mercury in the body.

Dominguez alleges that R&R was negligent in failing to provide a safe
work place and to protect him from toxic wastes. He seeks $500,000
damages for emotional distress, past and future; $5,000 for medical
bills; $1 million for injuries to his future health; and $500,000 for
lost wages.

His wife, Belinda, seeks $750,000 for impairment of the marital

In addition, they seek $1 million in punitive damages.

Scott Johnson, attorney for the defendant, said he is preparing a
general denial of the allegations.

Margarito Carrasco and his wife, Yolanda, seek an unspecified amount of
damages for what he terms mercury poisoning sustained as a result of the
negligence of the defendants.

Carrasco said that he was employed at R&R through May 1995.

Johnson said he has not seen that petition and could not comment on the
specific allegations.

Sheriff and deputy charged with abuse

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EL PASO, Texas (AP) - The Hudspeth County sheriff and one of his former
deputies have been indicted on charges of abuse of official capacity and
government record and witness tampering.

Sheriff Arcadio Ramirez was indicted on two counts of witness tampering
and, if convicted, could receive mandatory probation of up to five

David Weaver faces charges he made false entries on arrest warrants, and
on evidence, accident and offense reports. He could face probation on
four counts and imprisonment and fines on two others.

Both were indicted last week.

Weaver has been fired.

``He is no longer working for the department as a result of the
indictments ... It was something I felt had to be done,'' said Ramirez,
who is still sheriff.

Ramirez referred all questions about himself to his attorney Bill Ellis,
who could not immediately be reached for comment.

Valeriano manslaughter trial set

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - District Judge Bob Parks this morning set a December trial
date for Benjamin Valeriano on a charge of manslaughter.

Valeriano is charged with causing a vehicle driven by his wife, Yolanda
Montano Valeriano, to crash into a pole on South Eddy Street May 18,
killing her.

He pleaded not guilty July 7 and filed a motion for psychiatric
examination to determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.

That examination was completed on September 7, according to court

District Attorney John Stickels and defense attorney Roddy Harrison held
a brief pre-trial conference at the bench this morning.

Stickels said the trial will be held in early December.

Trials were also set for Gilbert Vasquez on a drug possession charge,
and for Mingo Jimenez, charged with aggravated assault.

Adan Martinez Salcido and Delma Campos Hernandez pleaded not guilty to
drug possession charges.

Ortiz kidnap/murder trial

moved to Amarillo

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Staff Writer
AMARILLO, 1995 - Jury selection began today in 47th District Court in
Amarillo for the kidnap/murder trial of Henry Lopez Ortiz of Midland.

Midland County District Attorney Al Schorre and assistants Teresa
Clingman and Brian Carney are prosecuting for the state.

Lopez, 42, is charged with kidnapping a neighbor, 10-year-old Julie Ann
Powell, on February 10, sexually assaulting and strangling her. Police
found Powell's nude body in a laundry hamper in Lopez's apartment during
a search for the missing girl.

The trial will be Lopez's second on sexual assault charges. He was
acquitted by a 143rd District Court jury on July 22, 1991 of assaulting
an 18-year-old female at his residence in Pecos.

The alleged victim testified that she and other youth gathered at
Ortiz's house for Bible study. She said that on Dec. 22, 1990, she was
alone with Ortiz at his home when the attack occurred.

Pecos Police Captain David Montgomery said that he sent information
about that investigation and two other sexual abuse allegations to
Midland Police shortly after Ortiz's arrest.

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324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321