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Texas Woman’s Killer Returns from Hiding in Mexico to Plead Guilty — 34 Years After Her Murder

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More than 30 years after a 22-year-old Texas woman was found strangled to death inside a bathroom stall, her family finally got to witness her killer plead guilty to murder and be sentenced to prison.

Earlier this week inside a Travis County, Texas, courtroom, 52-year-old Robert Van Wisse was sentenced to 30 years for the murder of Laurie Stout after he’d evaded arrest for years, PEOPLE confirms.

“We don’t typically negotiate with a fugitive, but this was a very unusual circumstance,” says Travis County Assistant District Attorney Amy Casner.

The guilty plea will help “bring some closure to the family of the victim,” Casner tells PEOPLE.

The plea was the result of a months-long process that began in December when Van Wisse was added to the FBI’s list of 10 Most Wanted Fugitives.

He was living in Mexico when he heard the news and decided he was ready to surrender to authorities. He turned to his attorneys Perry Q. Minton and Rick Flores, in Austin, Texas, and negotiations with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office soon began.

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Texas Democrats building for 2018

A big wall is coming to Texas but it isn’t the border wall proposed by Donald Trump. Instead, it will be a big blue wall built by Texas Democrats signifying the party’s unity to regain control of state politics.

That’s the message state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa brought to a gathering of party workers and organizers at a regional summit in Tyler last month. Hinojosa is traveling the state to encourage party faithful to begin organizing for the 2018 state elections.

Hinojosa told the assembly of several dozen Democrats that he wants them to focus on organizing the rural areas of Texas because the party already has strong positions in urban areas. In the 2016 elections, Democrats swept nearly all the offices in Harris County (Houston), Dallas County and Bexar County (San Antonio).

He told a cautionary tale of the outcome of the 2004 and 2008 elections by the Democratic nominee. In Ohio, a battleground state in 2004, John Kerry established campaign offices in all the urban areas, but failed to put any effort into the rural areas. The election results showed he did well in the urban areas, as expected, but was trounced by George W. Bush in the rural areas.

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