News Roundup: Harris County Sheriff’s Office Looking For Man Who Killed 7-Year-Old Girl

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJanuary 2, 2019 12:52 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A manhunt is underway for a man who shot and killed a 7-year-old girl in Houston just days ago. Jazmine Barnes was in a car with her mother and three sisters early Sunday morning when an unknown man pulled up next to them and opened fire. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says the gunman was driving a red or maroon four-door pickup truck. The suspect is believed to be a white male, possibly in his 40s, with a beard.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a press conference Monday that his office is going to do everything in its power to find the gunman.

“We’re very committed and we’re not going to let up. We’re extremely upset by this, and I know that our community shares those sentiments as well, not only here locally but nationally. A lot of folks have taken interest in this, and we’re happy because we don’t want the death of Jazmine Barnes to be forgotten,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez called on the public to share any information they have.

Jazmine’s father, Christopher Cevilla, echoed that call to action during the press conference.

“And I just want anybody, whoever, that knows anything about the murder of my daughter to please step up as if it was your own,” Cevilla said.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is asking people with information to call either 713-221-6000 or 713-222-TIPS.

Texas has launched a new system to track death and birth records.

The database is part of the state’s effort to get better records as officials try to address a rise in maternal deaths. Ashley Lopez with KUT News has more.

Texas lawmakers have been trying to tackle maternal mortality in Texas for years now. More women are dying while giving birth or shortly after giving birth, and state officials have been trying to figure out why and how to stop that trend. However, researchers have said good data has been hard to find in Texas. That’s why lawmakers pushed for a new system for birth and death records:  it’s called the Texas Electronic Vital Events Registrar system.

The old tracking system was shut down at the end of December.

Harris County, which is the most populous county in Texas and third most populous in the country, swore in its new elected officials Tuesday. That included seventeen African-American female judges.

The women, who are all Democrats, made national headlines during the November midterm elections after a photo of the candidates posing together went viral. One of the incoming judges is Latosha Lewis Payne. She spoke with KHOU, the local CBS affiliate in Houston, the day before the swearing-in ceremony.

“I know there are others who are looking to make sure that every person who has a legal case has an equal opportunity for justice,” Payne said.

The Democratic sweep to power in the Houston area also includes new Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, whom, the Houston Chronicle reports is the first Latina and first woman to hold that role. She replaces longtime Republican County Judge Ed Emmet, who helped pass a massive Hurricane Harvey bond package.