Texas Matters: Real 'CSI' Crisis, Climate Talk & Pickle Politics

Jul 30, 2018

On this episode of "Texas Matters":

  • A re-examination of a 1985 murder raises questions about the use of blood spatter evidence and how murder convictions are minted in Texas. 
  • An effort to build the country's largest wind farm might be in jeopardy but is wind energy the answer?
  • Some believe U.S. politicians have failed to address the threat of global warming and sea level rise. But one expert believes both sides are closer than you might think.
  • So what exaclty is a pickle? That's what is being argued in a Texas court. 


A Real 'CSI' Crisis

A re-examination of a 1985 murder and the arrest of the victim’s husband is raising serious questions about the use of blood spatter evidence and how murder convictions are minted in Texas.

The murder of a beloved small town school teacher and the suspicion cast at her school principal husband shocked the Texas town of Clifton, and is still shocking today — but for different reasons.

Writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and Pro Publica senior reporter Pamela Colloff has spent the last year investigating the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of Joe Bryan for the murder of Mickey Bryan. But could his conviction be based on flawed evidence, shoddy police work and small town gossip?

Wind Power Setback

A Texas regulator has dealt a major blow in building the largest wind farm in the country. The Texas Public Utility Commission voted Thursday against allowing American Electric Power Company to charge some Texas ratepayers for part of the cost of building the two-gigawatt Wind Catcher Project in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The project would have provided the Texas grid energy, and the company said it would benefit Texas ratepayers by providing a hedge against spikes in natural gas prices, while PUC chair DeAnn Walker and her fellow commissioners said the savings is not a sure thing.

“The costs are known," she said. "... The benefits are based on a lot of assumptions that are questionable.” 

Climate Change Agreement 

Why has the U.S. failed to address existence of global warming and sea level rise?

Political polarization of the climate has been successful in preventing public policies from being adopted to address these concerns. But Leaf Van Boven, a professor of social psychology at the University of  Colorado Boulder, said the two side are closer on this than we might think.

The Politics of Pickles

When is a pickle not a pickle, and what the Texas legislature has something to say about it.

A Central Texas retired couple wanted sell their farm gown pickled veggies — and now they are in a pickle.

The state says the only real pickle is a pickled cucumber. They are suing Texas for the right to pickle and sell their pickled products at the local farmers market.

Baylen J. Linnekin, author of “Biting the hands that feed us: Fewer, smarter laws would make out food system more sustainable," wrote about the Texas pickle lawsuit for NewFoodEconomy.org.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi