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The Brief: Awaiting a verdict in grisly border murder case

In a gruesome murder case, a Cameron County jury is set to consider the fate of a Border Patrol agent and his brother on Friday.

Juan Saenz-Tamez, a former high-ranking Gulf Cartel capo currently in federal prison, is brought into State District Court 107 in Brownsville as a possible witness in the murder trial of former Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna. January 17, 2017.

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Jury to decide Border Patrol agent's fate
The fate of Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna and his Mexican-born brother Eduardo, both charged with drug trafficking and the murder of a would-be snitch, falls to a Cameron County jury Friday after almost two weeks of testimony and sparring over evidence.

Texas executes man convicted in double murder
After a nearly four-hour delay while waiting on final appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, Terry Edwards was executed Thursday night for a robbery turned murder he claimed he did not commit.

Analysis: Texas leaders posturing in public for legislative advantage
Texas state leaders are debating several important issues in a very public way, delivering their messages to one another through rallies, press conferences, trade association meetings and the media. Get your popcorn ready.

Trump administration moves forward with construction of border wall (video)
In the Texas Political Roundup: Lawmakers push for school choice legislation, President Trump unveils plans to build a wall on the southern border and Gov. Greg Abbott proposes removing any officeholder who promotes "sanctuary cities."

Amid "sanctuary" standoff, Abbott asks agencies to list Travis County funding
Gov. Greg Abbott's office is asking state agencies to take stock of their funds to Travis County as he further escalates his standoff with the county's sheriff, Sally Hernandez, over her new "sanctuary" policy.

Trump suggests large tax on Mexican imports to pay for border wall
The Trump administration announced Thursday it intended to implement a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for a coming border wall. An official appeared to walk back the statement later that afternoon.

Travis County Sheriff not backing down on sanctuary policy
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez indicated Thursday she is not backing away from her recently introduced "sanctuary" policy.

Muslim leaders denounce "intolerance" as lawmakers hold "Islamic Terrorism" event
As Republican lawmakers met for a "homeland security summit," Muslim leaders said state Rep. Kyle Biedermann discriminated against them in sending a letter to poll their beliefs.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pans Texas House budget proposal
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday panned the Texas House's budget proposal, suggesting it is fiscally irresponsible because it exceeds Comptroller Glenn Hegar's biennial revenue estimate.

What you need to know

In a gruesome murder case, a Cameron County jury is set to consider the fate of a Border Patrol agent and his brother on Friday. U.S. Border Patrol agent Joel Luna and Eduardo Luna face capital murder and drug trafficking charges in a grisly case that started with the discovery of a headless body floating near South Padre island. 

They both have pleaded not guilty to all charges

News from home

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What we're reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $) 

Texas Almost Bought Execution Drugs From 5 Guys Overseas Who Were Accused Of Selling Illegal Party Pills, Buzzfeed

Mission hospital cuts sexual assault forensic unit, The Monitor

Plains All American buys Permian pipeline for $1.2 billion, Midland Reporter-Telegram

Former state Rep. Molly White unleashes profane rant at reporterAustin American-Statesman

Texas' cancer research agency looks to prolong its lifespan, The Dallas Morning News ($)

Trump pressured Park Service to find proof for his claims about inauguration crowd, The Washington Post ($)

Photo of the day

Ahmed Mahmoud of the Austin chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations holds up a letter sent by state Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, to poll mosque leaders and Muslim student associations about their beliefs. Photo by Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"Texas has a tobacco problem. More than 28,000 Texans die each year of smoking-related illnesses. It is estimated that half a million Texans under the age of 18 will die prematurely from tobacco-related causes. That makes tobacco use the single most significant cause of preventable death in Texas."

David Lakey of UT System and Ernest Hawk of UT MD Anderson Center on the tobacco problem in Texas via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.

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