“Sometimes, winning and losing becomes more important than justice.”

April 29, 2008 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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That was a quote from the Honorable Mark Stoltz, as he addressed James Lee Woodard. He said it to highlight how the legal system is flawed.

Woodard was freed, after spending 27 years and four months in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

The Innocence Project of Texas started the proceedings. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins , and Mike Ware followed. Watkins even apologized to Watkins…on behalf of the county and state, and a legal system that failed him.

Then, Judge Stoltz spoke to Woodard. 

Stoltz’s face was flush, and he fought back tears as he told Woodard “Unfortunately Mr. Woodard, you’re not getting justice today. You’re just getting the end of injustice.”

Finally, Mr. Woodard stood up to talk.

He praised DA Watkins for the job he’s done. He thanked the IPOT for their countless hours of work. He thanked Texas Wesleyan Univ law student Alexis Hoff for her work, and she hasn’t even passed the bar.

Then he thanked God for letting him live through the experience. The gallery, from journalists to family members, attorneys and friends, all gasped when he said that. Those words made me bite my lip.  He went through a long nightmare, but was thankful he survived.

It made people think. Could they last 27 years in prison, trapped behind four walls, trapped in your own mind for a crime you know you didn’t commit? Not many people could. But James Lee Woodard did.

He didn’t give up. He kept writing letters asking for help. He even prayed, but Woodard said “I figured out a long time ago, God is not a bondsman; he’s not a parole commissioner.”

He kept the faith, but prison bars kept his thoughts in perspective.

 When asked what he went through his mind when he walked into court on Tuesday, Woodard said: “After living in a controlled environment, a door is just a door, but now, I feel a lot different.”

Woodard walked out today a free man. I talked to one of his attorney’s later in the afternoon. She told me he didn’t want to do interviews. He was busy enjoying his first meal outside of prison: beef soup.

I’m sure it was the best tasting meal he’s ever had.


Round 1 Deja Vu

April 29, 2008 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s not 2007, although it may seem like it.

The Mavericks were eliminated from the 1st round of the NBA playoffs…again.

Jason Kidd, in most people’s opinion, had a “less than stellar” showing in the series. You can see his stats for the series in the link.

Chris Paul had a great series, and a tripe-double in the closer.

I have no clue what is next for the team or the franchise, but Mavs fans are already sounding off over on a website that wants Avery Johnson to hand over his coaches whistle.

Interesting, useless observation: I heard crashing and smashing and breaking from my neighbor’s apartment as the buzzer sounded. Either he’s an angry Mavs fan, or an ecstatic Hornets fans. I bet it looks like this. Either way, I’m pretty sure he just lost the deposit on the place.

Any suggestions on what to do from Mavs fans? Post a comment.

Crackhouse for sale? SOLD!

April 21, 2008 at 7:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Oak Cliff gets a bum rap.  There are more than crime stories coming out of Oak Cliff.

Earlier this month, Friendship-West Baptist Church, volunteers and the DPD went door to door, talking to residents about how to improve the area.

On Saturday, I met with the guys from the Brooklyn Avenue Development Group.

The group’s leader, Matt Christensen (right), bought a crackhouse.

I’m not talking about a run down house. The police actually told him it was a crackhouse, where drug users would go to get high. The inside of the house was a mess. Spray paint on the walls, holes in the ceiling, dust coating everywhere, broken windows, a used toilet without plumbing (yeah, gross).

Matt and the group are buying these houses on their block to fix up.  Not to flip mind you, fix up. They haven’t sold them, but people are renting them. That’s all the start they’re looking for.

All the heavy work is contracted out (plumbing, electric), but the guys, with no carpenter skills, do the work. Matt says they’ve beaten a path to Home Depot to learn what to do and bookmark all the DIY sites.

Check out what they’ve done so far to the latest house:

(above: the master bathroom. Those aren’t bowls, those are the sinks!)

(above: the living room. They redid the brick for a gas burning place.)

(above: kitchen and living room ceilings)

Not bad for a few accountants and flight attendants! Their handy work looks great. 

They hope to clean up their neighborhood house by house, and get neighbors moved in.

Just another good story coming out of Oak Cliff.

Mother Nature’s Shotgun

April 21, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The hail that pelted North Texas this past week was pretty impressive….although I’m sure car dealers have a different word for it :

This is after more than 12 hours of hail sitting in the sun.  Car dealers in Weatherford told me the pellets were originally as big as tennis balls. Ouch.

This pile of hail had accumulated on a tent, collapsed the tent, and poured off the top. It’s sort of strange to see a pile of hail, in April, in 80 degree weather.

We’ve all seen the hail damage pics, but this one reminded me of a shot out window:


If you have any odd damage pics, send them my way at omar.villafranca@nbcuni.com


For the record…

April 19, 2008 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Not to bore you with NBA basketball talk… but here goes:

The playoffs start today, and I want to be on record as saying both the Spurs and Mavericks won’t make it to the conference finals.   As a Spurs fan, it hurts to say that.  It’s an even numbered year, and we never when on even numbered years. Plus, the West is just too strong this year for an older team like the Spurs to survive the pounding. When I heard the Spurs were playing the Suns, my first thought was “WHY NOW?”. As we speak, the Spurs are down 11-8 in the first quarter.

The Mavs are still missing a piece.  I don’t think Jason Kiddwas the piece they were missing.  Kidd is a HOF’er, but he’s never won a title in the NBA, and can’t tell Mavs players what it’s like.

That being said, I think the Mavericks will win the first round, due to the Hornets lack of experience (remember, a few years ago, Tyson Chandler was a punchline, Chris Paul was a rookie, and Bonzi Wells was a bench regular). After the Mavs win the first round,  bet on the other team.

For all you Spurs fans out there, Pounding the Rock is a great Spurs blog, covering plenty of team and player news. And if I’m right, a place to comment on the end of the dynasty.


I hope I’m wrong about this year. I’d love to see this for the fifth time.

“It sounded like a freight train!”

April 10, 2008 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday night’s storms looked nasty on radar, but even worse on the ground.

Photojournalist Roy Hernandez picked me up from our Dallas office at 3:30am, and we hit the tollway going north.

Driving in this stuff as it blew through was like trying to sprint in a swimming pool. In some places on the tollway, it was pitch black.  The only light we had was from lightning.

We finally made our way to where we were hearing reports of bad damage. We found an apartment off Marsh Lane heavily damaged by the winds.

Those cars were lucky. The wind only bent the sheet metal covering their cars. But some car owners weren’t so lucky.

The winds had started peeling back the metal, then collapsed the support beams. That left smashed car windshields and dented roofs.

Cars weren’t the only thing scuffed up. Besides shattered windows, we also found roof shingles littering the area.

By this time, residents were walking around, looking at the damage. Several of them told me when the storm hit their place, it sounded like a freight train. One man told me it sounded like several freight trains. He said the wind was so loud, he couldn’t hear the thunder.

Most of the shattered trees were Bradford Pears, which are notoriously weak. But the damage was still significant.

After leaving the complex, we drove around and saw folded street signs, shattered store signs, and even found this :

That’s a huge metal street post that supports street signals. Notice the city worker at the base. That tells you how thick the pole was and what kind of wind it took to double it over.

Roy and I also found a neighborhood, oddly enough, named Bent Tree Hill.

Dozens of trees were bent over in the road.

More than 150,000 people lost power, but from what we found out, no one was seriously hurt.

If you have storm damage pictures, email them to me at omar.villafranca@nbcuni.com

I’ll try and put as many up as I can.


Nascar Drivers Don’t Do Traffic

April 7, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I didn’t go to the Samsung 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend.

Instead, I covered the traffic nightmare that forms before the race. This is the view from Northbound I-35W at 114, at around 8am on the day of the race:

Notice the orange cones already up and the police officers directing traffic? With 200,000+ people showing up to one place, plus thousands more just for the party, you can imagine all the wheels on the ground.

But for the few hours I was out there, I noticed plenty of helicopter traffic in the air. I mean, it sounded like a military operation going on above me, or a helicopter race going on at 2,000 feet.

Turns out, it’s not only the high-rolling race fans taking choppers, but some NASCAR drivers.

While some drivers stay in fancy RVs at the racetrack, others choose hotels and a helicopter to get to and from the track.

Must be nice.

Got any Samsung 500 pics and stories you want to share? Send them to omar.villafranca@nbcuni.com

I’ll see about posting them.



Weather < Nascar

April 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ugly weather blew through the Texas Motor Speedway, but it didn’t seem to bother Nascar fans.

I posted up near dozens of really nice RVs, looking for damage or for some rattled race fans. I didn’t find one!

This was the only damage I saw:


An outhouse, knocked over by the wind.
After I realized no one was inside, I couldn’t stop laughing.

But it also got me thinking.

I don’t think thunderstorms are going to scare away NASCAR fans.  Drivers and officials might freak out about course conditions and possible wrecks , but not fans.

 I know several NASCAR fans who show up JUST TO SEE THE CRASHES! There’s even a blog that chronicles nasty NASCAR wrecks.

While other sporting fans worry about weather,  NASCAR fans just see it as Mother Nature participating.

Plus, don’t those cars have windshield wipers?

Great… he’s blogging now.

April 2, 2008 at 9:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Miracle of miracles.

Welcome to my first blog post at “What Did Omar Say?”

I’m the new guy here at NBC 5, but I’m not new to Texas, or the area.  I’ve been gone a few years (more like seven years, but no one is counting, except my college friends).

Since I can blabber on this page without having a producer yelling in my ear to “WRAP!”, I’ve got a list of general things I plan on talking about:

 *my stories on NBC 5

* random things I see on the road

*local bands I see live in concert

*things I am trying to cook correctly


*other things I can’t cram into 60 seconds on TV, or would never make the news.

This is where you get involved.

If there is something I should know about, drop me a line at omar.villafranca@nbcuni.com

My first post will follow soon. 

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