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Death Row Inmate Granted Reprieve in East Texas Murder Case

Adams, Beunka

HUNTSVILLE — A 29-year-old Texas inmate set to die this week for a fatal shooting during the robbery and abductions at a Cherokee County convenience store has won a reprieve from a federal judge.

Beunka Adams was set for lethal injection Thursday evening in Huntsville for the September 2002 slaying of 37-year-old Kenneth Vandever outside Rusk. Vandever and two women were abducted during the robbery, one of the women was raped, and all three were shot. The women survived.

Lawyers for Adams convinced U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider in Texarkana, Texas, that the execution should be delayed until the courts review allegations that Adams had poor legal help in the early stages of his appeals.

It’s unclear if the Texas Attorney General’s office would or could appeal Monday’s ruling.


Jail Groundbreaking
Dave Goldman

Groundbreaking for New Smith County Jail

TYLER – Smith County Commissioners joined Sheriff J.B. Smith and other dignitaries today to break ground on a new jail to be built in Downtown Tyler.

The new facility will be located at Spring Ave. and East Erwin Street adjacent to the existing Smith County Jail. Construction is set to begin next week and finish in early 2014.

Smith County Commissioner Jeff Warr who chaired last year’s jail bond issue said the new facility will save the county the cost of housing inmates in other counties and provide an in- house infirmary saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses.

The downtown jail is part of a $35 million dollar bond issue approved by voters last year.

Earlier this year construction on the first phase of the jail bond began at the low risk facility in North Tyler.

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