THE THIRD LIFE OF RICHARD MILES: In the state of Texas, exonerees get $80,000 per year they wrongly spent behind bars, plus an annuity of up to $80,000 a year going forward. Across the border in Arkansas and in 17 other states, an exoneree isn’t guaranteed a dime. I explored how Texas’ came to its progressive law and what it’s meant for one Dallas exoneree.
ELDERLY KILLERS OFTEN GET AWAY WITH MURDER: An oddball trend I discovered after an 88-year-old war veteran received probation for killing his wife in a failed murder-suicide: The justice system tends to let the perp go when they’re of a certain age. Searching through 15 years of FBI records for Missouri, I found 30 cases of murder by a man or woman over 75, with just one resulting in jail time. The complex psychology associated with the cases and an inability of the prison system to handle elderly inmates make a judge or jury’s decision even tougher.
ELECTED DESPITE A CRACK CHARGE, HEBRON’S MAYOR WREAKS HAVOC | PART TWO: An investigation into the dysfunction in small-town Hebron under its new mayor. With part two, we revealed the reason he was fired from his job as a janitor at a local community college: For repeatedly viewing pornographic images. The stories earned a 1st place in Investigative Reporting from the Illinois Associated Press.
THE RISE OF TONY AQUILA: The philosopher’s CEO goes from “Silicon Ghetto” to founder of a unicorn.
CURTIS MATHES IS STILL ALIVE, SORT OF: The TV brand once billed itself as “The most expensive TVs in America, and darn well worth it.” Now it belongs to a couple guys operating a small office in Frisco, and selling… LED light bulbs?
‘THIS COULD BE A BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS.’: Sean Minter sold his previous ventures. This one is in artificial intelligence, and he’s in it for the long haul.
DATA AND INVESTIGATIVE
WITH THE DBJ PRESSING, TEXAS GETS TOUGH ON CODE SCHOOLS: After we started asking questions about the many code schools operating in Texas without proper licensing, the state got more interested—drawing many schools into compliance.
DFW MISSES OUT ON STATE IT WORK: You’d expect state contracts to skew in some capacity toward companies based in the capital, but nobody I shared my analysis with expected a discrepancy like this.
AT MIZZOU, ONLINE THREATS CAUSE A REAL-LIFE PANIC: The anatomy of a panic following protests for equal racial treatment at the University of Missouri. Originally reported for the New Yorker before the Paris attacks flipped the news cycle.
THE HOUSE THAT CRANE BUILT: A witty older guy named Joe Crane lets his habit of collecting history get out of hand, and a museum is born.
THE STORY THAT FREED SLAVES: Three AP reporters tell me how they tracked a fishing operation staffed by Burmese slaves back to American dinner tables.
PRODUCT OF MEXICO: Behind the LA Times’ deep dive into working condition on Mexican farms.
PTSD THERAPY: I spent some time at an alternative therapy group for veterans with PTSD. The therapist, David Welch, strayed from traditional forms of PTSD therapy, which ask vets to drudge up old war stories.
PHUBBING: A very light feature on “Phubbing,” the phenomenon of snubbing real-world people by putting your face in your phone.
CHALLENGER LITTLE LEAGUE: Faith restored in the form of a baseball league for special needs children.
ANONYMOUS ATTACKS: When the City of Woodstock went soft on punishing a longtime police sergeant for misconduct, the hacktivist group Anonymous attacked online, then in person.