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SAN ANTONIO (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Former San Antonio mayor and Obama housing chief Julian Castro says he’s taking a step toward a possible White House campaign in 2020 by forming a presidential exploratory committee. The Texas Democrat tells The Associated Press that he will announce a decision Jan. 12.

The move Wednesday gives the 44-year-old an early start to what’s shaping up as a crowded Democratic field without a clear front-runner to challenge President Donald Trump.

Castro indicated in an AP interview that his mind was all but made up.

“I know where I’m leaning, for sure,” said Castro, who has said for weeks that it was likely he would seek the nomination.

Julian Castro (Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images)

An exploratory committee usually is a formality before a candidate launches a presidential campaign. It legally allows potential candidates to begin raising money.

But just as important for Castro, the step gives him an early jump on bigger name Democrats who are considering running but are taking a slower approach.

No potential contender is more ascendant than outgoing Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who lost last month in a surprisingly close race against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. O’Rourke has excited donors and activists who are now prodding him to seek the presidency.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey, along with former Vice President Joe Biden, are also potential candidates.

Castro would be among the youngest candidates in the field and the most prominent Latino. He played down the attention that others are generating and pointed to past election cycles in which early favorites ended up faltering.

“People might say right now, ‘Well, hey, you’re way down here in polling that’s taken.’ The most dangerous place to be right now is actually in the pole position,” Castro said. “It doesn’t bother me that in December of 2018 I’m not right up at the top of the list. If I decide to run, it would be because I believe I have a compelling message and I’m going to work hard and get to the voters and I believe I can be successful.”

Castro, who attended O’Rourke’s election-night party in El Paso last month, said O’Rourke doesn’t complicate his own chances.

“He’s talented. He ran a good race against Ted Cruz,” Castro said. “I’ll let him talk about his future.”

Castro said he has not spoken to former President Barack Obama about his potential candidacy but plans on consulting Democratic leaders. Obama has spoken to O’Rourke, who has said he won’t make a decision on 2020 until after leaving Congress in January.

Obama picked Castro to take over the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2014. Two years later, Castro was on the short list of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s potential running mates.

For Castro, running for president would fulfill a destiny that Democrats have projected since he was elected San Antonio mayor at 34, followed by his star-making turn as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

He is the grandson of a Mexican immigrant and son of a Latina activist. His twin brother, Joaquin Castro, is a Democratic congressman from Texas. Julian Castro said the Latino community has been treated “like a pinata” under Trump and deserved a candidate in the field.

“I’m also very mindful, especially now for the Latino community, that there’s a particular meaning to my candidacy,” Castro said. “We can’t go through the 2020 cycle with nobody on that stage because of what’s happened over the last couple of years.”

Young and telegenic, Castro rose to national prominence early in his career as a Latino leader from a state that Democrats are eager to retake after decades of Republican dominance. But in Texas, O’Rourke has eclipsed Castro after getting closer to a statewide victory than any Democrat in a generation. It now puts Texas in the formerly unthinkable position of having two Democratic presidential candidates in the same year.

The last Texas Democrat to run for president was Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, who had a short-lived campaign in 1976.

Maryland Rep. John Delaney is the only declared 2020 Democratic presidential candidate so far. Others are expected to announce their intentions in the coming weeks.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (CBS Local) — Doctors say an Ohio woman, who has battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2009, is cancer free after becoming the first patient in a groundbreaking clinical trial.

Denise Kennan, 66, participated in a new cancer treatment in August called CAR T-cell Therapy at Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Just 30 days later, doctors say they can’t find any trace of cancer.

“The jury’s still out as far as how long this is going last because they just don’t have a lot of long-term data,” Keenan told told WJW.

Kennan, who lives in Youngstown, has been in and out of remission several times over the past ten years with a variety of failed cancer treatments.

“I started getting used to the idea of not being here anymore,” Keenan said.

The trial is delivered in a single syringe and re-engineers T-cells to seek out and destroy the cancer cells.

“We collect the patient’s cells they get modified with a particular virus that introduces the genetic modification over 12 to 14 days,” said Dr. Paolo Caimi, a hematology and oncology specialist.

It is still not clear exactly how the new cancer treatment works and why some people respond better than others. However, experts believe that the clinical trial has shown some very promising results, especially for those suffering from cancers of the blood and organs.

Kennan says she knows the future isn’t guaranteed, but the wife, mother and sister says for now, she will live in the moment.

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BALCH SPRINGS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A dramatic rescue was caught on police body-cam as Balch Springs officers caught a 10-year-old boy who jumped from a second-story window to escape an apartment fire.

The fire happened Monday morning as flames could be seen tearing through the eight-unit apartment building, where some residents were trapped.

Police say one of the officers threw his baton at a window to break it, allowing the trapped residents to escape.

The officers could be seen catching a 10-year-old boy as he jumped from the second story.

Police say everyone was able to escape safely, and there were no reported injuries.

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WCCO/CBS Local) – Two Minnesota police officers have become internet sensations after dealing with a weekend noise complaint by playing video games with the young men inside.

Jovante M. Williams posted video of the encounter to Facebook on Friday, saying: “So the neighbors called the cops on us and now we fighting them…in Smash Bros.”

As of Wednesday, the Facebook video has been viewed more than 260,000 times. On the popular website Reddit, an image of the cops playing with the young men amassed 133,000 up-votes and generated 1,800 comments. The top among them jokes: “I win, you go to jail.”

The Pioneer Press reports that the two cops in the viral video are Isaac Palmer and Kou Yang. The two had responded to a noise complaint around 10:30 p.m. at an apartment on University Avenue and found a few people inside eating pizza, drinking beer and playing “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.”

The latest installment of Nintendo’s popular brawler franchise was released earlier in the day.

“I never played the game, so I said ‘why not,’” Palmer told the newspaper.

The police officers said the that noise complaint was handled, resulting with no charges. It remains unclear who came out on top of the video game brawl.

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(CBSDFW.COM) – A very dynamic storm system will be zipping our way on Thursday. Expect a lot of wind, some rain and, yes, some snow in parts of North Texas.

Wednesday will be quiet – and quite mild for mid-December: Cloudy and in the 60s.

By the evening, a few showers are possible as a cold front gets closer to our area. Most of us won’t see any rain until Thursday afternoon behind the cold front. The front should slam through the Metroplex around lunchtime Thursday. You’re going to know when the front arrives because of the wind. North gusts over 40 mph will whip North Texas tomorrow afternoon and evening. Don’t blow up those inflatable outdoor Christmas decorations Thursday!

Rain will start up in the afternoon Thursday, and then we will see the change-over to snow in our western counties Thursday evening. Along and west of Jacksboro, Mineral Wells and Stephenville, there is a WINTER STORM WATCH that goes into effect Thursday afternoon. In these areas well west of DFW, we will see a slushy, heavy, wet snow start up Thursday evening and linger into early Friday morning. We could see two to five inches of snow in the WINTER STORM WATCH area that could affect traffic.

Even though temperatures will be just above freezing, the bursts of this type of snow can make some roads slushy and thus we could see some travel impacts. Bridges, overpasses and side streets will be most affected.

In the immediate Metroplex and the rest of the I-35 corridor will see a rain/snow mix overnight Thursday night into Friday morning. Amounts of any snow will be lighter compared to our western areas. We could see some of those big, wet snowflakes accumulate on grassy surfaces in the DFW area, but travel problems are expected to be fewer. Temperatures will be safely above freezing, but we can’t rule out an isolated slick spot or two in the Metro Friday morning. Keep checking in to see if the snow forecast changes.

If you live east of DFW, it’ll be all rain from Thursday night into Friday.

Rain or a rain/snow mix will end during the morning Friday, and it’ll just be cold and windy during the day.

The Texas Department of Transportation began pre-treating roads and bridges with brine through the Metroplex on Wednesday in anticipation for the wintry forecast.

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(CBS NEWS) – A woman accused of abducting her son in a case that drew international attention is speaking out in her first U.S. interview. Marcelle Guimaraes, a Houston mother, took her son, Nico, to Brazil in 2013, and never returned. She’s a fugitive, wanted by the FBI, and charged with international parental kidnapping.

Nico’s father has been fighting to bring the boy back to Texas. Now Guimaraes’ parents face sentencing on a kidnapping charge for helping their daughter take the now 9-year-old boy to Brazil. They could face as much as three years in prison when they’re sentenced Wednesday.

Speaking to our Houston affiliate KHOU’s Marcelino Benito from Brazil, Guimaraes insisted she was in a life-or-death situation and told us she’s the real victim.

“The world needs to know the truth because I married a monster,” Guimaraes said, adding, “My ex-husband’s lies and manipulation has destroyed my family, my whole family.”

Photos taken inside the home she once shared with her ex-husband, Christopher Brann, show the holes he punched into the walls in fits of anger.

“He would hit me. He would break TVs, he would break chairs, computers, cell phones, tables. It was escalating,” Guimaraes said.

In a 2012 email to Guimaraes, Brann admits to pushing her onto the bed and floor and hitting her face.

“When I got in Brazil, I started to get desperate. I knew that my situation was really bad,” Guimaraes said.

Guimaraes’ parents, Carlos and Jemima, pointed to the alleged domestic violence at their criminal trial in May, but the jury rejected that defense and found them guilty of international parental kidnapping.

*READ MORE AT CBSNEWS.COM*

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — Computer scientists at William & Mary in Virginia say burglars could potentially break into houses through smart home devices. Those are the products that are connected to the internet and allow people to turn up their thermostat or turn on a sprinkler through apps on their phone.

The university in Williamsburg said in a statement last week that professors and students tested the security of several products and security systems and discovered significant vulnerabilities.

The researchers said hackers can compromise some systems through low-security products like the controls for a sprinkler. From there, burglars could access alarms and cameras and turn them off during a burglary.

They said part of the problem is the use of a centralized system that allows various apps and devices to communicate with each other.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One victim of the recent robbery spree in Dallas told CBS 11 Tuesday he and some of his neighbors called 911 a total of eight times asking for police to respond after the violent attack.

They waited and waited some more.

The victim, who wants to remain anonymous, said he was attacked by four masked gunmen earlier this month.

“They had me on the ground — gun against my head… I did my best not to look at their faces… I didn’t care.. I wanted them to get whatever they needed out of me… They pulled each credit card and ATM card out of my wallet, put it in front of my face, asked me for the pin and said if you give me the wrong pin you’re dead, we’ll shoot you.”

He said a neighbor saw what was happening and called 911.

“I went to a few other neighbors, let them know what happened. They came over, they all called from their personal phones,” the victim told CBS 11.

He said two and a half hours went by as they waited for police officers to show up.

“I kept saying ‘are you kidding me?’ This is ridiculous, this could be a really bad deal! These guys said they’re coming back to get us.”

The next day, the victim said he met with his city council member and Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall.

“She said the root of the problem was 911 and again she apologized immensely, she just could not apologize enough and I’m like I’m glad you’re sorry but what are we going to do about fixing this problem?”

Dallas police sent CBS 11 a statement on the matter:

The Dallas Police Department received a complaint regarding an unacceptable response time to a December 2nd robbery call.  An internal investigation into the incident confirmed that this call should have been updated and expedited but was not due to human error. DPD takes response times very seriously and regrets that our response to this call was not handled in accordance with the standard to which we hold ourselves accountable. The department has taken initial steps in furthering training for dispatchers and will be deploying the necessary supervision to improve oversight and accountability.

The victim said Chief Hall didn’t discuss with him directly how the department plans to improve response times, but says he’s meeting with her again Thursday.

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Carolyn King Arnold was elected to the Dallas City Council for District 4 on Tuesday night.

She defeated Keyaira D. Saunders in a special election runoff to replace Dwaine Caraway who resigned in August after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Arnold received 1,529 votes (59 percent) to Saunders’ 1,060 votes (41 percent).

Carolyn King Arnold (courtesy: Carolyn King Arnold)

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A Texas inmate was executed Tuesday evening for shooting and killing a North Texas newlywed during a robbery more than 25 years ago.

Alvin Braziel Jr., 43, received lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the 1993 murder of 27-year-old Douglas White, who was attacked as he and his wife walked on a jogging trail in Mesquite.

Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Braziel thanks supporters and apologized to the victim’s wife, Lora White.

“I would like to apologize … for her husband dying at my hands,” Braziel said from the death chamber gurney. He also said he loved the White family and a person he named but who was not present, then told the warden he was finished.

As the sedative pentobarbital began taking effect, he took a couple of breaths, gasped, then snored loudly three times. The fourth snore was noticeably less pronounced, and then all movement stopped.

Braziel was pronounced dead 7:19 p.m., nine minutes after the drug injection began.

Braziel became the 24th inmate put to death this year in the U.S. and the 13th executed in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state. He will be the last Texas inmate executed this year.

The execution was delayed about an hour after the six-hour window defined by the warrant began at 6 p.m. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a last-minute appeal from Braziel’s attorneys.

A brother of Douglas White and two friends attended the execution but declined to speak afterward. Braziel selected no one to witness his death.

In 1993, as Douglas and Lora White walked along a community college jogging trail, Braziel jumped out from behind some bushes with a pistol in his hand and demanded money.

The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck. But Braziel became angry with the couple and ordered them to the ground.

“Doug … was praying, asked God to forgive him and Lora their sins because they both knew that this was it,” said Michael Bradshaw, the lead detective on the case for Mesquite police. “The last thing Doug said before Braziel fired the first round, he said, ‘Please God, don’t let him hurt Lora.'”

Braziel shot White once in the head and once in his heart.

(credit: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

Bradshaw said he believes Braziel would have also shot then-24-year-old Lora White but his gun malfunctioned. Braziel instead took her to bushy area near the trail and sexually assaulted her.

Douglas White’s murder was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and a $20,000 reward was raised by the chiropractic college he had worked for as an electrician. Bradshaw said more than 40 potential suspects were interrogated and had their blood drawn for testing.

But White’s murder remained unsolved for more than seven years.

“I really didn’t know that I would ever be able to solve it. But I really did not give up hope,” said Bradshaw, 63, who retired from Mesquite police in 2012.

Braziel was eventually tied to the killing in 2001 after he was imprisoned for sexual assault in an unrelated case and his DNA matched evidence from Lora White’s assault.

At his trial, Braziel said he wasn’t near the college during the killing.

Braziel’s attorneys didn’t immediately reply to emails and calls seeking comment on Tuesday.

Last week, his lawyers asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stop his execution, arguing in part he should not receive lethal injection because he is intellectually disabled.

The Supreme Court held in 2002 that people convicted of murder who are intellectually disabled cannot be executed.

Braziel’s attorneys later withdrew their request.

Courts had previously turned down Braziel’s appeals that have focused on claims of mental illness and that he had suffered a childhood brain injury, saying Braziel refused to be examined by a mental health expert during his trial and that his family declined to help his defense attorneys obtain evidence of any mental health problems in Braziel’s family.

His attorneys also filed a last-minute appeal Tuesday, arguing that an emotional outburst at the 2001 murder trial from Lora White was unfairly elicited by prosecutors when she was shown on the witness stand a photo of her husband’s autopsied body.

Bradshaw said he still keeps in contact with Lora White and that she started a new life and is doing well.

“Lora wants it known that she’s prayed for Alvin Braziel and his family,” Bradshaw said.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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