Violent Crime

Texas Judge Julie Kocurek Shot in Front of Her Home, Shooter at Large

AUSTIN (Reuters) – Police were searching on Saturday for a suspect in the shooting of a Texas state judge in the driveway of her home, authorities said.

District Judge Julie Kocurek, 51, was in serious but stable condition at a local hospital shortly past midnight (0600 GMT), police said.

Kocurek was shot in front of witnesses outside her home in an upscale neighborhood near downtown Austin, the state capital, at around 10:15 p.m. on Friday, police said.

It’s not known whether the shooting was related to her work as the presiding judge of the 390th District Court in Travis County, where Austin is located.

Police said her injuries were not life-threatening and that no one else was injured in the attack.

Calls and emails to the Austin police for further details were not immediately returned on Saturday.

Kocurek is a former prosecutor who was appointed to her position in 1999 by then Republican Governor George W. Bush. In 2006, she switched her affiliation to the Democratic Party.

Among her early cases was the high-profile capital murder trial of Celeste Beard Johnson, who is serving a life sentence for the killing of her millionaire husband, Steven Beard, in 1999.

Kocurek was initially tapped to preside over the 2014 felony case involving former Texas Governor Rick Perry, in which he was charged with abuse of power, but she recused herself. Perry was lieutenant governor when Bush appointed Kocurek to the bench. That case is still pending.

A colleague, District Judge David Wahlberg, told the Austin American-Statesman newspaper the shooting was “shocking.”

“Judge Kocurek is a wonderful woman,” he said. “It’s unfathomable to think that anyone would be angry with her.”

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