What were the biggest local stories of 2009?

December 31, 2009 10:15:49 AM PST
The year 2009 is coming to a close. It was a year that saw tragedy in the deaths of officers and firefighters in the line of duty. It was a year that saw snow blanketing the Houston area, and a historic mayoral election. Take a look back at some of the bigger stories in the Houston area over the past 12 months. And if there are some that should be on our list, place it in the comments section below and we may add it.

New record at Chevron Houston Marathon
Ethiopia's Deriba Merga broke the 20-year-old Chevron Houston Marathon course record by more than two minutes en route to winning the 37th annual race with the fastest marathon run in Texas.

Two guilty verdicts in Baby Grace trials
The mother and stepfather were both convicted this year in the 'Baby Grace' case. The body of Riley Ann Sawyers, who was called as 'Baby Grace' before she was identified, was found by a fisherman in Galveston Bay back in 2007. In separate trials, two different juries returned guilty verdicts in the capital murder trials for both her mother and stepfather.

R. Allen Stanford's fall from financial grace
Houston financier R. Allen Stanford is accused of bilking investors out of $7 billion as part of a massive Ponzi scheme. His offices were raided earlier this year, and then he and several of his executives were indicted.

Susana De Jesus abducted and murdered
It was a case that had residents in the Pearland area on edge for weeks. A woman was abducted earlier this year outside of her place of work, and the story ended with tragedy. The body of Susana De Jesus was found near Reliant Stadium.

Texans player confronted by Dallas officer
He usually makes headlines on the field for the Houston Texans, but Ryan Moats made headlines off the field earlier this year. The Texans running back was rushing to get to the hospital to see his mother-in-law before she died, but a Dallas officer stopped him from getting inside. His mother-in-law died while Moats was outside being detained.

Two firefighters killed battling blaze
Tragedy struck the Houston Fire Department back in April with two firefighters lost their lives battling an overnight fire on Easter morning. Captain James Harlow and probationary firefighter Damion Hobbs were killed after being trapped inside a burning home.

Swine flu scare hits Houston
Many schools in the Houston area shut down for several days at a time at the end of last school year. One school, Travis Elementary School, in HISD shut down for the last few weeks of the semester after at least a dozen confirmed cases there.

Charles Bolden named NASA administrator
A Houstonian was tapped by President Barack Obama earlier this year to take over for Michael Griffin at NASA. Retired Major General Charles Bolden took over the reins at the space agency, becoming the first African-American administrator.

Fire destroys Gallery Furniture warehouse
A Houston landmark suffered a devastating blow back in May. Flames ripped through the Gallery Furniture warehouse along the North Freeway and damaged the main showroom. The fire would be ruled arson and a former employee was arrested and charged.

Robert Fratta sent to death row again
It was a murder that stunned the Houston area back in 1995. Robert Fratta was convicted for hiring two hitmen to kill his wife and sent to death row. But that conviction was overturned on appeal, leading to a new trial in May. And for the second time, jurors sent Fratta to death row.

Houston police officer killed in the line of duty
The Houston Police Department mourned the loss of a veteran officer killed in the line of duty in June. Officer Henry Canales was gunned down during a shootout with a group of suspected robbers in southwest Houston. And now, two people are facing capital murder charges.

Chambers County deputy fatally shot
A Chambers County sheriff's deputy was fatally shot back in July during a confrontation in Baytown. That deadly confrontation resulted in a SWAT standoff at a home that lasted for several hours.

Turmoil at Houston Fire Department
From reported messages of hate directed at two Houston firefighters to the discovery of a noose, there was a lot of attention on the HFD.

Pasadena police officer fatally shot
It was a tragic hear in the Pasadena Police Department, as they lost one of their own in the line of duty back in August. Officer Jesse Hamilton was fatally shot, reportedly by a mentally ill man who had just gotten out of jail.

Arson fires in the Heights
There were plenty of fires in the Heights that were ruled arson in 2009. One person was arrested and charged in one of those fires, but many other arson fires there remain unsolved.

Persistence pays off in rape case
In October, authorities made an arrest in a nearly 20-year-old case where an eight-year-old Dickinson girl was brutally attacked and left for dead in a field, unable to cry out for help because her throat had been slashed. DNA led authorities to Little Rock, Arkansas, where they arrested Dennis Earl Bradford, 40.

Attorney John O'Quinn killed in car accident
One of Houston's most high-profile attorneys was killed back in October when he and another man were in a vehicle that slammed into a tree on Allen Parkway just west of Montrose.

Snow in Houston
It was the earliest snowfall on record in Houston and the first time for the white stuff to fall in the Bayou City in back to back years. Snow blanketed much of the region in early December, cancelling classes at some schools, and turning the nation's fourth largest city into a winter wonderland.

Annise Parker elected mayor
History was made in 2009, as former city controller Annise Parker was elected in a runoff over former city attorney Gene Locke to become the mayor of Houston. The national spotlight was on Houston for this election as Parker became the first openly gay woman to be mayor of a major American city.

Dangerous prisoner on the loose
A man serving a life sentence in prison somehow managed to get a weapon while on a transport, overpower two prison officers and escape near Baytown. Arcade Comeaux, who had taken weapons form the officers, was on the run for one week before being captured. Comeaux claimed he had help from the inside.

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