Texas judge shot in front of home plans to return to post

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2015 4:19 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Texas judge who was shot in front of the driveway of her Austin home earlier this month, in an attack described by police as an assassination attempt, plans to return to the bench once she recovers, a family spokesman said on Monday.

District Judge Julie Kocurek, 51, remains in stable condition at an area hospital. "(She) is making great progress after being treated for an infection last week," family representative Bill Rhea said in a statement.

A suspect in the shooting is being held without bail in Houston on a separate murder charge.

Prosecutors there have charged Chimene Onyeri, 28, with felony murder for the death of Jacobi Alexander last May. Alexander was shot four times in the head and four times in his torso, prosecutors said.

Austin police have not released a motive for the judge's shooting. The suspect or suspects fired several shots at the judge and into her car, Austin police said.

Onyeri faces a motion in Kocurek's court that would revoke the conditions of a previous plea deal for a fraud conviction and send him to prison, local media reports said.

Kocurek, a former prosecutor, was appointed to her position in 1999 by then-Governor George W. Bush.

Among her early cases was the high-profile capital murder trial of Celeste Beard Johnson, who is serving a life sentence for killing her millionaire husband, Steven Beard, in 1999.

Kocurek was initially named to preside over the 2014 felony case involving former Texas Governor Rick Perry, in which he was charged with abuse of power, but she recused herself. Perry was lieutenant governor when Bush appointed her to the bench. That case is still pending.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)