Year 2000 in Review
Shelton trial, Routier case, WaterView
controversy highlight top stories
1. Shelton gets life for
Hierro shooting death
A somewhat bizarre murder case closed a chapter in 2000 when Clinton Shelton was found guilty of the Dec. 20, 1999, shooting death of Rowlett resident Michael Hierro and the wounding of his wife, Marisa Heirro.
Shelton received two maximum sentences according to news accounts -- a life prison term plus a concurrent 20-year term.
Shelton was charged with the crime in which Michael Hierro was shot in his driveway in the 3000 block of Chaha Road. The Hierros had been shopping and Marisa Hierro told police when her husband attempted to get out of their car a man with a black mask shot him with a 12-gauge shotgun. Marisa was shot in the left arm during the attack.
She also told police she recognized the voices of the attackers as Clinton and Catherine Shelton. Marisa Hierro was a former business associate of Catherine Shelton, and their business dealings apparently ended sourly prior to the attack.
The Rowlett Police Department found numerous evidence incriminating Shelton for the Hierro murder.
Police found a pair of pantyhose and latex gloves in a portable toilet in a construction site behind Shelton's home. The police also collected several bags of trash from Shelton's Denton County home and found a pair of purple Hanes briefs with eye-holes cut out and a receipt for the purchase of 12 gauge shotgun shells.
Catherine Shelton, who claims she was at home on the phone when the murder took place, remains the only other suspect in the case, but she isn't being charged as investigators testified that no evidence ties her to the crime scene.
2. Darlie Routier
It has been four years now since Darlie Routier was found guilty of the stabbing deaths of her two sons. She remains on death row as family members fight for another trial, refusing to surrender their beliefs she is innocent.
Darlie Routier was convicted in February 1997, after the case had been moved to Kerrville, of capital murder and sentenced to death for the stabbing death of her 5-year -old son, Damon. Her 6-year-old son was also killed in the stabbing attack in the Routiers' former home in Rowlett.
Darlie Routier's case was sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal last September after a state district judge canceled a hearing that would have determined the validity of a reconstructed transcript of her trial. The case was also featured on the Court TV documentary series "Mugshots."
The appellate court will have to determine if the reconstructed transcript is legal for an appeal of the case.
The Routiers' objections to the transcript were not overruled in Francis order, but were sent to be reviewed by the appellate court. Routier's attorney, Stephen Cooper, claims he has a two-year goal of getting his client a new trial.
To this day, Routier and her husband, Darin, maintain her innocence and insist the murders were the result of an intruder entering their home.
3. WaterView Gold
The WaterView Golf Course development turned controversial in 2000 as it became somewhat of a thorn in the side of the City of Rowlett.
The course opened more that a year late and went $2.9 million over initial cost estimates.
Attorney General John Cornyn's office got involved in a request to release a forensic accounting audit that pointed out many problems associated with the initial construction and oversight of the course.
Also, the City Council learned that as many as 35 trees at the course died due to a lack of water in a work session.
The trees were surfaced in a disagreement between American Golf Corp, which manages the course and the city. City attorney Pam Liston reviewed the city's lease agreement with American Golf and determined that the company was indeed responsible for all the trees on the course, not only on the interior of the course, but also in rough and remote areas of the course.
The original plans for the course featured irrigation lines for the trees, but budget constraints forced the irrigation system to be cut.
4. Watkins calls it a career
at Rowlett High School
The year 2000 marked the end of an era at Rowlett High School.
Tommy Watkins, the only football coach RHS has ever had, announced his retirement and walked away from coaching with 300 career wins.
"It is time for me to call it quits," Watkins said at the time. "It takes a long time to win 300 games. You have to be lucky enough to be around that long."
In 42 years as a football coach, Watkins tallied a 301-153-8 record. He gained win No. 300 against South Garland this season, after believing he had reached the mark a few weeks later.
Watkins will remain coaching through the end of the school year, and then he will turn his title over to a short list of replacements to follow the only coach Rowlett High School has ever known.
Watkins continued to win at RHS, just like he had at LakeView Centennial. As the Patriots' head coach, he led the team to a 12-1 record and the furthest trip the school has ever seen in the playoffs.
At the time of his retirement, Watkins was the winningest coach in Class 5A.
5. Drought parches Lake
Ray Hubbard communities
Many Rowlett and Rockwall residents were devastated over the summer as drought conditions caused water levels continued to plummet at Lake Ray Hubbard.
Over the summer the lakes went moths without measurable rainfall, as the lakes level fell 3 feet.
Not only did the lake suffer the lack of rain, but increased water usage during the heat and evaporation were also concerns.
The Rowlett City Council approved a drought contingency plan to help decrease the use of water. The plan called for an average reduction of daily water by $50 to $200 fine.
Toward the end of September the lake had fallen to 430.42 above sea level.
Portions of the old State Highway 66, which had been underwater, were visible from the new SH 66 bridge in Rowlett. The area of the lake near Rowlett Road going into Garland had gotten so low that several small sand islands were exposed.
Around November lakes and creeks were starting to rise as the area received significant rainfall. Ray Hubbard levels came up as much as 2 feet. Although the lake was on the rise, it was still running below normal conservation pool.
6. Rowlett plays a
part in Olympic bid
Rowlett got involved in the effort by the City of Dallas to bring the 2012 Olympics to the Lone Star State. The community donated $10,000 to assist in the effort.
The majority of the council members voted for a $10,000 sponsorship that would bring a quarter-page ad in the event program and guaranteed placement of the city logo on signs outside the hotel during the event.
It took an Olympic-sized effort, but Rowlett, Rockwall and Garland came through, making Lake Ray Hubbard the official site for the yachting competition if Dallas lands the Olympics in 2012.
Along with the promotion of the event, Mayor Shane Johnson said the Olympics gives Rowlett a chance to be in partnership with the other cities in the Metroplex. Eighteen cities would be host to the 38 venue locations. Dallas received seven and Arlington received four.
7. City takes the plunge
with new aquatic center
In April 2000, Big Sky construction gave the City Rowlett a bid of $2.5 million for the new aquatic center, which was originally approved for $3.5 million.
The city conducted a survey in 1995 and found that swimming was a popular choice among Rowlett residents. The survey showed that a significant number of residents leave the city for swimming activities.
The City of Rowlett is now happy to provide residents with an aquatic center at their convenience. The new aquatic center will feature water slides, a zero-depth entry pool, a "lazy river" floating areas, aerobics area and separate lap pools.
The aquatic center also has several interactive features for kids, including a water-gun play area, a children's area with waterfalls, fountains and foam flotations.
8. Garland teen dies after
jumping from I-30 bridge
A night of drinking turned tragic for a Garland teen-ager in October.
Timothy Dallas Passmore, 16, was reported dead Oct 23 when he and a 20-year-old friend jumped off the IH 30 bridge into Lake Ray Hubbard.
According to Senior Cpl. Cheryl Convery of the Dallas Police Department, Passmore was reportedly drinking at the 20-year-old friend's apartment on Chaha Road night of Oct 21 when the two decided to plunge into Lake Ray Hubbard. According to the incident report, after the two jumped off the bridge, they started swimming back to shore. But Passmore began to struggle in the cold, rough Ray Hubbard waters.
Several law enforcement agencies searched for Passmore, a search made difficult by high winds, rain and poor visibility. The search was also conducted with the Dallas Department of Public Safety helicopter. Passmore's body was found close to where he originally went under.
No criminal charges were filed and police closed the case.
9. Three men drown in lake
within five-day period
Three men in three different incidents died within five days while boating at Lake Ray Hubbard.
On May 24, Dallas resident Alfonso Mejia, 25, was riding on a jet ski with another man when they were both thrown off. A current pulled the jet ski away from the men and Mejia took off his life jacket to swim after the jet ski and drowned, authorities said.
A search for Mejia's body began immediately, and the Dallas Police Department found him about 3:45 p.m. after a resident saw Mejia's body floating near the Interstate 30 bridge between Dalrock and Chaha roads.
That same day, Dallas police responded to another man's disappearance. Heiu Huynh, 28, of Albuquerque, N.M., had gone boating with a friend. The men left the boat to go swimming, and Huynh disappeared and drown. The other friend was helped by a jet ski and taken back to his boat, reports said.
Huynh's body was found May 26, about 200 yards off the northwest shoreline of Heath.
The last incident happened on Memorial weekend when a 60-year-old Canton resident was found dead 6 to 8 feet off the shore near Captains Cove in Garland. The man had been missing for approximately 12 hours before his body was found. Police were unsure how he had drowned.
10. Olympic memorabilia
saved from costly fire
A malfunction in a smoker pit may have been the cause of a fire that caused nearly $50,000 in damage to Sammy Walker's Barbecue on April 6, according to the Rowlett Fire Department.
The fire damaged the building's roof and attic and essentially gutted the restaurant's kitchen, according to the fire report. Walker said wind gusts of up to 30 mph made the fire spread particularly quickly through the restaurant.
However, Walker was able to save his treasured collection of Olympic memorabilia ... including a signed photo of Dallas sprinter Michael Johnson.
Walker competed as a power lifter in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, fishing ninth. Walker quickly rebuilt and reopened.
|©The Lakeshore Times 2003|