EAST TEXAS (KTRE)- 2008 was a year that we will never forget. Not only nationally, but here in East Texas as well. So we decided to take a look back at top ten most viewed stories on KTRE.COM from the past twelve months.
#10- The countdown starts with the Nacogdoches High School Cheerleading Squad, after the group performed a mock execution skit at a pep rally. The cheerleaders, used toy guns to depict shooting the opposing team in the back of their heads.
" Not only was it inhumane, but it also bent the rules for the cheerleaders, cause no one else is allowed to bring toy guns to schools, says concerned student, Mollie Garrigan.
The performance prompted one student to circulate a petition against gun promotion at pep rallies. That petition led to an apology from the school district and from the principal.
#9- The ninth highest viewed story on KTRE.COM this year was a much more serious one. On August 18th, around 10:30 p.m., Catfish King Manager, Katie Jeffreys left the restaurant with the night deposit. Her boyfriend, Keith Labrozzi, came to pick her up when they were greeted by an armed robber.
Lufkin Police Department's, Lt. David Young says, "Mr. Labrozzi had a concealed handgun permit and he was armed. He exchanged gunfire with the suspect. Mr. Labrozzi had several gunshot wounds and died a short time later at the hospital."
Police identified 19 year old, Brian Womack as the suspect. He was arrested and charged with capital murder. A few days later, two other men, 21 year old, Robert Buschman, and 18 year old Jarred Berwick, were arrested, as the pair are believed to have helped Womack plan the robbery. Just last week, tentative trial dates were set, with Womack scheduled for September 2009, Buschman in October, and November for Berwick.
#8- The biggest storm to hit East Texas makes its first appearance on our countdown at number 8. KTRE's weather team tracked Hurricane Ike as it made its way into the Gulf of Mexico, and then into East Texas. When it hit, KTRE worked around the clock to keep you updated on Ike's path. Meteorologists Conley Isom and Brad Hlozek were on the air practically around the clock, and the rest of the news team went out into East Texas to show you the damage that Ike was causing.
#7- We take you to San Augustine County, where law enforcement was dealing with a murder investigation. The body of 63 year old John Clifton Hanks was discovered in his living room. Investigators suspected this man, Marvin Revis Lowe.
" This is going to be over a lady. And jealously is the motivation on it. And we have taken previous report a couple of weeks ago that he had made threats against him," says San Augustine County Sheriff Don Michaels.
A manhunt so got underway, and Lowe was finally caught on October 24th in Smith County. thanks to a tip received on Lufkin's Crimestoppers tipline.
#6- Hurricane Ike makes the list again at number six. As East Texas began to regain power in their homes, they were logging on to KTRE.com to see the aftermath of the storm. Downed power lines, massive trees uprooted fro the ground, were just some of the images that we saw. It was so extensive, that FEMA is still offering assistance for people who need help recovering .
#5 & 4- Next on the list at numbers five and four is charges against members of the Corrigan ISD faculty. Jennifer Hudspeth was a fourth grade Corrigan-Camden Elementary School teacher that was arrested and charged with online solicitation of a minor. She was accused of sending explicit text messages to 15 and 16 year old boys. While covering this story, KTRE also learned that a Corrigan Coach, Clay DuBose, was accused of being intoxicated while at a game. Lastly, the junior high principal, Ray Bostick, resigned a month before, after allegations surfaced of him viewing child pornography online at school. Hudspeth's case is expected to go before a grand jury in January or February of 2009.
#3-On Thanksgiving Day, KTRE brought you the tragic story of Trinity County Sheriff Brent Lee, who was killed while responding to an emergency call in Pinecrest Estates. His vehicle slammed into a tree and caught fire. Last week autopsy results were released saying Lee died as a result of the injuries sustained in his car accident. The accident was caused by a combination of speed, weather conditions at the time, and the orientation of the roadway. That was the third most viewed story this year.
#2- Story number two was a KTRE.com exclusive, when we were the first to bring you the story of the closure of the Lufkin DaVita Dialysis Center. The closure forced nearly 150 patients to find immediate dialysis treatment elsewhere. A month long investigation led to the arrest of Kimberly Clark Saenz, a former nurse with DaVita. Saenz was accused of intentionally injecting bleach into two patients at the center, injuring both of them. Saenz was arrested on two counts of aggravated assault, a second degree felony.