News Briefs

Murderous mom gets life sentence

Dr. Kimberly Molina of the Bexar County Medical Examiner's office testified recently that 2-year-old Diamond Alexander Washington suffered at least 26 blows to her body, administered during a 24-hour period June 5, 2004, which ended the toddler's life. `See "Party Lines," December 15-21, 2005.`

A 12-person jury, consisting of seven women and five men, deliberated for little more than an hour last week before returning with a capital-murder verdict.

Diamond's mother, 26-year-old Kimberly Alexander, averted her eyes from graphic photos on a giant screen in Judge Mark Luitjen's 144th District Court, as Molina described various bruises that adorned the baby's body, from the top of one foot to the top of her head.

Diamond's injuries included a contusion that spanned her forehead. There were bruises and abrasions on both sides of her head, and at least one of the five blows to the head could be considered fatal, causing blood to seep into the membrane that lies between the skull and brain.

Star witness Elizabeth Youngblood testified that Alexander punched Diamond at least three times in the chest, which sent her sprawling across the living room floor, and, after several hours of verbal and physical assault, dealt a blow to the top of her head with a hard plastic vacuum cleaner attachment.

Youngblood testified that she left the apartment to make a telephone call to a friend - sadly, not to 911 to call for help - and returned to find Alexander carrying baby Diamond around the apartment by one arm, "like a chicken."

Dr. Molina testified that Diamond suffered a minimum of five "blunt trauma" blows to her face and head; three or more to her body; at least two to both arms; a minimum of six blows to her left leg; and a minimum of 10 blows to her right leg.

The photos showed that Diamond was severely bruised along the entire length of her legs. Molina also said that one of the blows to the thorax, or abdomen area, partially severed her liver from a ligament that holds it in place, and that the liver damage likely contributed to the baby's death.

Nobody knows what the mother did to her daughter during Youngblood's absence from their Northeast area apartment.

Youngblood says she begged Alexander to call 911 as she administered CPR, but that Alexander instead made up an "official" excuse for her daughter's fatal injuries.

Youngblood played along with the story until the next day, when she heard that Diamond Alexander was taken off life support and had died. Luitjen gave Alexander an automatic life sentence for the murder of her daughter.

In an aside, as Luitjen entered the courtroom and walked past a phalanx of news reporters, he referred to the members of the local media as "carrion birds."

Michael Cary

On-line scratch-offs

The Texas Lottery Commission has proposed a new rule to offer on-line lottery games, thereby extending the reach and availability of "instant games," or scratch-off games, as we know them. In November, the commission requested an opinion about the legality of the rule from the Attorney General's office. The Attorney General is still processing the request, and will render a legal opinion on the matter within the next week, says Tom Kelly, spokesman for the Attorney General.

According to the letter, written by C. Tom Clowe Jr., chairman of the Texas Lottery Commission, "the commission would develop on-line games in much the same way `it` has historically developed instant games." Aligning the rules would allow the commission to rapidly attend to players' needs and wants, explained Bobby Heith, director of media relations for the Texas Lottery Commission.

Players would still purchase a play slip from a retailer, make choices, and hand the slip to a clerk, who would enter the players' choices and print the ticket from an on-site terminal. The commission also intends to make the on-line games more appealing because, as stated in the letter, "on-line games have historically been relatively static." The commission plans to "introduce more frequent, sometimes temporary, changes to on-line games," for example, "a change in a game matrix or the play style," or "change in the means of selecting the winning combination of symbols or numbers."

Kathy Pyka, controller of the Texas Lottery Commission, has determined "there will be no significant fiscal impact for state and local government as a result of the new rule." On the contrary, Heith explains, "the new rule is intended to recuperate a 30 percent loss of sales since May 2003. Money also goes into the foundation school fund."

Francesca Camillo

What's the "All"?

Patrons of the city's first Beer 'N All are greeted by attractive young women in matching outfits waving from the corner of San Pedro and Cypress. But during last weekend's grand opening of the drive-thru convenience store, the young ladies were welcomed to San Antonio by a startling visit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the San Antonio Police Department's vice squad.

The operation is housed in a former quick oil change business that was converted into a drive-through beer, cigarette, and margarita business. Owner Steve Bergenholtz has Beer 'N All locations in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and plans to expand in San Antonio.

Allegedly acting on a tip that Beer 'N All could be housing an underground prostitution ring, approximately 10 SAPD vice and two TABC officers surrounded the business late Friday night.

Manager Yadira Ocampo said the TABC officers identified themselves immediately, but the vice officers did not until later. "Regular inspections are not like that," said Ocampo. "The vice officers really made us very uncomfortable and were very rude to us. I want to know if this is the way they go inspect a place like Hooters."

The SAPD incident report states that the mandated certificate of occupancy and food and beverage permit were not displayed properly, in addition to a few other minor infractions. Bergenholtz said he had paid for the permits, but was arrested because he did not have them on hand.

"After explaining the situation to them all weekend, I finally received a call from the vice squad saying they would no longer interfere with our business and that we could reopen on Sunday," said Bergenholtz. "We have nothing to hide, but this was just an abuse of police force and privileges."

When the Current visited the business December 15, Ocampo and a fellow employee were wearing bright orange fuzzy pants with matching white jackets. She said the girls make their own outfits. "We have all different colors, and we decide on a different outfit every day," said Ocampo. "Look at me, do I look like a prostitute to you? These look more like pajama pants to me."

Brian Chasnoff