News briefs from Austin, the region, and elsewhere
• Homicide detectives seek help Austin Police Department homicide detectives are asking for help finding several suspects involved in an altercation last month on Sixth Street that resulted in the death of 21-year-old Nikolas Evans. Evans was found unconscious in the street near Sixth and Neches around 2am on March 27. According to the APD, witnesses said Evans and his "companions" were arguing with a group of men when a second group of people approached and "incited a fight" between Evans and the first group. After the incident was over, four people from the second group – reportedly a black male, a Hispanic male, and at least two Hispanic females – began arguing with Evans. Police say the black man struck Evans, knocking him to the pavement. The group, police say, then fled, leaving Evans on the ground. He was taken to Brackenridge Hospital with a serious head injury; he died Sunday, April 5. Police say they're looking for a black man in his 20s who was described as wearing a dark sports coat with a "shiny" red button-down shirt. He was clean shaven with a "short fade" haircut. Police are also looking for a thin Hispanic male with a shaved head and two "heavy set" Hispanic women, one who was wearing a "flower style" dress. Police ask for anyone with information about the assault to call APD's Homicide Unit at 974-5210 or the tip line at 477-3588. – Jordan Smith
• Suspect held for murder of priest The body of the Rev. Jesse Euresti of the East Austin Cristo Rey Catholic Church was found April 6 on the side of a highway in Nuevo Laredo Mexico. Euresti, 69, had planned to retire to Mexico this summer and reportedly made the trip there last week to begin readying his home. But Euresti failed to return to Austin last week as planned. A relative reported the priest missing; authorities did not find him at his home in Mexico but did find blood stains and a bloody knife. Authorities subsequently arrested Manuel Martín Torres Saldaña, who worked for Euresti as a caretaker of his Nuevo Laredo home. Reportedly Saldaña called Euresti's family asking for $3,000 in exchange for information that would lead investigators to Euresti's remains. Saldaña remains in custody. – J.S.
• CLIMATE PROTECTION AND YOU The city is co-sponsoring a Climate Protection Resource Fair this week (Friday, April 10, noon-2pm, at City Hall) with helpful information for city employees and the public. Austin Climate Protection Plan office staff will be on hand to share information and discuss environmental programs throughout the city that can lower greenhouse-gas emissions and help city departments implement their climate-protection plans. Co-organizers include Clean Air Force of Central Texas and Capital Metro. ACPP Program Manager Jake Stewart also will make presentations to four city boards and commissions in April, in preparation for an annual ACPP progress report going to council by May. The first will be to the Environmental Board on Wednesday, April 15 (6pm at City Hall, Council Chambers). Public presentations to the Solid Waste Advisory Commission, the Resource Management Commission, and the Electric Utility Commission will follow at their next meetings. – Katherine Gregor
Long-Awaited Justice for Wrongly Convicted
Nearly 23 years after he was convicted of a Lubbock rape he did not commit, Timothy Cole was officially exonerated in a 16-page opinion written by Travis Co. District Judge Charlie Baird. Unfortunately, the strongly worded opinion – which lays blame for the wrongful conviction on the Lubbock police and courts – comes too late to free Cole, who died in prison in 1999. Baird concluded that Lubbock police developed "tunnel vision" in the case against Cole, ignoring – and even destroying – evidence that strongly suggested they had the wrong man. Baird said the photo lineup administered by police was biased and that police manipulated the tentative identification of Cole made by rape victim Michelle Mallin to make it seem that she was positive he was her attacker. "Was Tim Cole innocent of the charges against him?" Baird wrote in his opinion. "Yes. The evidence is crystal clear that he died in prison an innocent man, and the Court finds to a 100% moral, legal, and factual certainty that he did not commit the crime for which he was convicted." – Jordan Smith