Dallas Crime Watch: Thursday, April 21, 2011

A sampling of crime, courts and public safety news in and around Dallas:

• Plano police on Wednesday confirmed that the body found in Frisco was that of 40-year-old fitness instructor Susan Loper. She disappeared Tuesday morning from Plano’s Gleneagles Country Club, where police said there were signs of a violent struggle. Her body was found about 8 a.m. Wednesday in a wooded area east of the Dallas North Tollway just south of Lebanon Road in Frisco. Her abandoned car was discovered near the tollway and Parker Road in Plano with evidence indicating she was kidnapped, police said.

The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday rejected a Dallas judge’s recommendation that a man who has served more than 20 years in prison for a fatal carjacking should be declared innocent. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said it was not convinced that poor lighting discredited the eyewitness identifications that formed the basis of the prosecution’s case against Benjamin John Spencer. Had the court accepted Spencer’s claims, it could have made it easier for prisoners to obtain exonerations in convictions that rested on eyewitness testimony but lacked DNA evidence.

• On Wednesday, a woman who was raped by Joseph Houston in 1984 was finally able to address her attacker. It was the first time a 2009 state law allowed a woman raped decades ago to confront her attacker in court, even though the statute of limitations had run out. Houston is linked to the assault by DNA evidence. He pleaded guilty this week to to two counts of indecency with a child by contact and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He admitted fondling an 11-year-old girl through her clothes.

• A Dallas federal judge today sentenced a 61-year-old former church music minister from Kaufman County to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges. David Ray Gray was ordered to report to prison May 24. After his prison sentence, he will be on supervised release for 10 years.

Dallas police have arrested one of two suspects wanted in a violent purse snatching caught on tape last month. Javier Duenas, 19, was taken into custody Tuesday in Grand Prairie on a charge of aggravated robbery. A Crime Stoppers tip led police to Duenas, and he was arrested without incident during a traffic stop after officers observed him leaving a home.

• Authorities are asking for help in catching two masked armed robbers who robbed an Irving Wells Fargo bank branch Monday morning. The bank heist occurred about 9:15 a.m. when two men entered the branch located at 1050 Mark Place. The two masked robbers, wielding handguns, ordered everyone to get on the ground.

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–Jason Trahan/Reporter

Source: Crime Blog