Man pleads guilty to manslaughter for motorcycle crash


A Danbury man pleaded guilty Tuesday to manslaughter in the 2017 death of a woman who was riding on a motorcycle with him when he crashed on a county highway.

Ricki Dewey Brooks, 61, pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle, according to county court records. Brooks was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but because of the terms of his plea agreement, he could be free on probation in six months, according to county court records.

Brooks in February 2018 was indicted on the same charge over the death of Susan Krenek, 49, of Danbury, on Nov. 5, 2017. Krenek was riding on a motorcycle driven by Brooks when he crashed in the 9800 block of FM 2004 in Hitchcock, according to police.

Krenek died at the scene.

Brooks was accused of being drunk when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed, which caused Krenek to be ejected and killed, according to court documents.

As part of the plea deal, Brooks was made eligible for “shock probation,” which allows him to be re-sentenced by a judge within 180 days of his original sentence.

The legal tool allows a prison sentence to be significantly reduced if a judge decides the “shock” of the prison sentence has inspired a person to reform.

— John Wayne Ferguson

Police awaiting autopsy results in homicide case


Investigators have identified a person of interest in the death of a man whose body was found in an apartment, but are awaiting autopsy before determining whether the death is a crime, officials with the League City Police Department announced Tuesday.

“The cause of death is an important element to any potential charges,” said Matt Maggiolino, spokesman for the League City Police Department.

League City police have been treating the death of Tommie McKee, 38, of League City, as a homicide since finding his body in an apartment at the Briar Palms Apartment complex, 1215 E. Main St. on Thursday afternoon.

But investigators have been largely tightlipped in the days since the discovery, except to refute some initial reports that McKee had been shot.

“We know there was a physical fight, that he was involved in a fight and that he had injuries consistent with being in a fight,” Maggiolino said Tuesday.

But, without an official cause of death, police can’t move forward with the investigation, Maggiolino said.

Officials with the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office are waiting for pending investigation and toxicology results before determining an official cause of death, said John “D.J.” Florence, chief investigator with the office.

That means officials in the police department will need to interview more witnesses and crime scene interviews as officials with the medical examiner’s office completes more forensic examinations, Florence said. The tests could take an additional two or three weeks, officials said.

— Matt deGrood


Groups pitch for millions in Deepwater

Horizon money

County judges, residents and environmental leaders from the upper Texas coast met Monday with state officials to pitch projects for funding through a multi-billion-dollar trust established because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The hearing was about $360 million to be divided among five Gulf Coast states for environmental restoration efforts.

It sounds like a lot of money, but divided up, it’s not that much, Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said.

“The reality is we’re not even scratching the surface,” Baker said.

Projects ranged from acquisition of land along coasts and bays, supported by Ducks Unlimited, to wastewater treatment plants to efforts to restore shorebird habitats and oyster reefs.

The most passionate and frequent testimonials came from a Matagorda County delegation asking for money to build a breakwater at Sargent Beach along with a beach nourishment project. Sargent Beach is an 8-mile stretch of the most eroded coastline in Texas, proponents said.

The city of Galveston advocated for money to help move West End residences and businesses off septic tanks and onto the sewer system.

“We’d consider it a huge step for communities like ours with aging septic systems,” said Sally Bakko, Galveston’s legislative coordinator. “This is a shovel-ready project and we can start tomorrow.”

Galveston environmental educator and conservation advocate Karla Klay of Artist Boat spoke in support of using the money to acquire land for preservation by leaving it alone and said barrier islands like Galveston should come first in that effort.

“We’d get an economic lift by doing nothing but preserving what’s already there,” Klay said.

Six projects from a list of 23 will move forward for consideration by the council and final approval will be forthcoming in about a year, Baker said.

The money is part of the Restore Act, which was enacted in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, during which 200 million gallons of crude oil leaked into the Gulf Mexico.

— Kathryn Eastburn

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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