Independent Candidate Joins Senate Race in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Greg Orman is now officially on the November ballot as an independent candidate in the Kansas U.S. Senate race. The Kansas Secretary of State's office said Friday it has certified enough signatures on Orman's campaign petition to qualify him for the general election. Orman is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, who is seeking a fourth, six-year term. The Democratic nominee is Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor. Orman is an Olathe businessman and the co-founder of a business capital and management services firm. He says in a news release that his candidacy offers voters a choice between partisan politics of the past and an independent approach that focuses on practical problem-solving. Orman is on an eight-day, 18-stop bus tour around the state.
KS Regents Give Preliminary OK to Projects Budget
VALLEY FALLS, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents gave preliminary approval to a $38.6 million budget for specific projects. However, the Regents on Thursday rejected a request for $23.8 million to increase funding for post-secondary school to cover inflation. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the board will finalize the recommendations in September and forward it to Governor Sam Brownback to consider while he devises a budget to present to the Legislature. The list included top priorities from each of the state's post-secondary schools, including $10 million to build a technical institute in Dodge City as part of a proposed merger with Fort Hays, $5 million for ongoing funding of a drug and discovery institute at the University of Kansas, and $5 million to renovate and expand Seaton Hall at Kansas State University.
Hundreds in KCMO Protest Police Brutality
KANSAS CITY, Mo.- Hundreds of people gathered in Kansas City, Missouri last night (THUR) to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old near St. Louis last weekend. The rally was one of dozens taking place across the country as part of the National Moment of Silence, a movement encouraging people to assemble peacefully to protest police brutality. The Kansas City protesters gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain on the Country Club Plaza last night, holding signs, chanting and encouraging cars to honk in support of citizens in Ferguson, Mo. Many people at the rally say they decided to come after seeing something about it on the internet. Organizers of the rally read the names and stories of a dozen unarmed people killed by police officers. Five mounted officers with the Kansas City Police Department waited on horseback away from the crowd, but the protest remained peaceful.
Supreme Court Upholds Murder Conviction of Teen
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the convictions and sentence of a northeast Kansas girl who was 13 when she was charged with murder during a botched carjacking. Justices unanimously agreed Friday that the district court was justified in prosecuting Keaira Brown as an adult for felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery in the 2008 killing of Scott Sappington Jr. The 16-year-old victim died of a gunshot wound to the head. Sappington had just dropped off his younger siblings at his grandmother's house and was on his way to work when he was killed. Brown, of Kansas City, Kansas, will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years. The Supreme Court held the mandatory minimum sentence could be constitutionally applied to a person under 18 years of age.
Supreme Court Upholds Conviction in Baby's Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the felony murder conviction of a southwest Kansas man in the 2009 death of his girlfriend's baby daughter. The justices on Friday rejected all arguments raised by Gabriel De La Torre on appeal for his murder conviction. They ordered a retrial on the child abuse conviction because a required jury instruction was not given. At his first trial, a jury convicted the Dodge City man of abusing 11-month-old Joselyn Hernandez but deadlocked on the murder charge. A jury at a second trial convicted him of felony murder. Authorities said the baby had more than 40 bruises when De La Torre brought her to a hospital on September 6, 2009, because she had stopped breathing. Her mother was at work at the time.
10th Circuit Nixes Appeal in Wichita Quadruple Murder Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has refused to consider the appeal of a Kansas man convicted of killing four people in a Wichita duplex. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Cornelius Oliver waited too long to seek federal relief after the Kansas Supreme Court made his convictions final in December 2005. The Kansas Supreme Court had upheld Oliver's four first-degree murder convictions and his life sentence for each. Because a judge ordered him to serve the sentences consecutively, the 23-year-old Oliver wouldn't be eligible for parole for 150 years. The shootings occurred in December 2000 in the home of Oliver's estranged girlfriend, 18-year-old Raeshawnda Wheaton. Wheaton was killed as were her roommate, 17-year-old Odessa Ford, Ford's cousin, 17-year-old Quincy Williams, and another man, 19-year-old Jermaine Levy.
Deere Plans Layoffs at Midwest Sites, Including Coffeyville
MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Agricultural equipment maker Deere is announcing it will indefinitely lay off more than 600 employees at four of its factories in the Midwest as demand slumps. The affected sites are in the cities of East Moline and Moline in Illinois, as well as Ankeny, Iowa, and Coffeyville, Kansas. Deere & Co. said in a news release Friday that "to remain globally competitive, the company must align the size of its manufacturing workforce with market demands for products." Deere is the world's biggest farm equipment supplier. The company said it is also implementing seasonal and inventory adjustment shutdowns and temporary layoffs at the four affected factories as well as one in Ottumwa, Iowa. Earlier this week, the company announced that its third-quarter profit dropped 15 percent as sales weakened.
Kansas Man Dies After Being Shot by Police Officer
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Harvey County authorities say a man died after being shot by a Newton police officer responding to a domestic violence call. Sheriff T. Walton said 52-year-old Sonny Wagner was shot Thursday after he refused orders from the officer to drop a hunting knife. He was shot twice and died at Newton Medical Center. Authorities say the officer went to the home after Wagner's 52-year-old wife reported that her husband had beaten her. The shooting occurred inside the couple's home. The officer who fired was a 20-year veteran of Newton's police force. The officer has been placed on administrative leave while the sheriff's office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation investigate the shooting.
Kansas Man Sentenced for Shooting at Motel
WESTMORELAND, Kan. (AP) — A man who was wounded by police after firing shots at a Kansas motel has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. The Manhattan Mercury reports that 34-year-old Dustin Monroe, of Wamego, told the judge at Thursday's proceeding that he was ashamed of himself. Monroe pleaded no contest in May to charges including aggravated assault on an officer. Police were called to the Quality Inn in Manhattan last December 10 and found Monroe outside, firing a shotgun into the air and at the building. Officers shot Monroe several times after he fired at them. No one else was injured. A defense witness said Thursday that Monroe had been suffering from a drug-related delusion that he was being pursued by the "Mexican mafia" and was firing shots to attract police attention.
2-Year-Old Shoots Self at Kansas Home
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — A 2-year-old boy is recovering after shooting himself in the hand at his grandparents' home in south-central Kansas. KAKE-TV reports that the toddler was released from a Newton hospital after being treated for a wound to his finger Friday morning. Police said a handgun had been left on a table at the grandparents' home in Newton. The toddler picked up the gun when his grandmother went to answer the telephone and fired one shot, grazing his finger. The bullet went through the front door and struck a neighbor's house. The Harvey County prosecutor will determine if the grandparents will be charged.
American Royal Asks KC to Tear Down Kemper Arena
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - American Royal officials asked a Kansas City Council committee to recommend tearing down Kemper Arena, rather than renovating it. American Royal wants to replace the little-used arena with a smaller building for equestrian-related and other events. The proposal conflicts with one offered by a developer, who wants to renovate Kemper for use as a youth sports complex. Royal officials told the committee Thursday that they plan to spend $60 million to demolish the 40-year-old Kemper and erect a new building. The Royal has a long-term lease that requires the city to provide space for its events through 2045. The committee hopes to make a recommendation to the full city council next month, after a public hearing on August 25.
Health Officials: Toxic Algae Levels in Kansas Lakes
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is cautioning the public about toxic levels of blue-green algae in several lakes. The agency issued health warnings Thursday for all of nine lakes and part of another, saying water conditions are unsafe. Officials say people, pets and livestock should not drink the water and should avoid swimming or wading. The warnings are posted for Cedar Park Lake, Deanna Rose Farmstead Pond and South Park Lake in Johnson County; Brown County State Fishing Lake; Hiawatha City Lake; Chisholm Creek Park Lake in Sedgwick County; Memorial Park Lake in Barton County; Jewell State Fishing Lake in Jewell County; Lake Warnock in Atchison County; and part of Milford Reservoir. A less serious advisory was also issued for Antioch Park Lake in Johnson County.
Judge Upholds Award Against Missouri Diocese
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has affirmed an award of $1.1 million against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph for violating the terms of a 2008 settlement with victims of sexual abuse by priests. The Kansas City Star reports Jackson County District Judge Bryan Round agreed with an arbitrator's ruling in a breach-of-contract lawsuit. The plaintiffs argued the diocese failed to abide by the non-monetary terms of the 2008 settlement, including a requirement to report suspected abuse immediately. The diocese said Thursday it disputes many of the arbitrator's findings but would continue to honor a pledge to provide a safe environment for children. The breach-of-contract lawsuit centered on the failure of the diocese to quickly report suspected abuse by a priest who later pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.
Lawrence Man Sentenced for Child Rape
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Lawrence man will go to prison for raping a 13-year-old girl with whom he said he had consensual sex. Mackenzie Lottinville was accused of having sex with the girl last October after sneaking her into the trailer where he lived with his parents. The Lawrence Journal-World reports he pleaded guilty in June to one count of raping a child younger than 14. 6NewsLawrence reports a Douglas County judge on Friday sentenced Lottinville to nearly 13 years in prison. Lottinville told the judge that he had simply been hoping to make a new friend and "have some fun." He also said the sex was consensual but that he understood he was guilty. Lottinville worked as a night custodian in Lawrence schools from late January until his arrest in February.
Wichita State Opens New Dorm
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Students will begin moving into a new, high-tech residence hall at Wichita State University this weekend. The university says Shocker Hall, which opened Thursday, represents the Wichita State's commitment to residential living on campus. The Wichita Eagle reports the hall offers about 780 beds in five different room styles, with a 24-hour front desk, five Wi-fi connections per person and high-tech lounges. Residents also will enjoy a 400-seat dining hall and coffee shop, a kitchen and laundry room on each floor and a main lounge. The project cost about $60 million.
Feds: No Charges Against Company in Guard Probe
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities say they have no plans to file charges against a company that contracted to provide dental services for the Kansas Army National Guard. The U.S. attorney's office in Wichita confirmed Thursday that the FBI has concluded its investigation of Dentrust, a Pennsylvania company that performs dental screenings and treatment for Guard soldiers. Both state and federal governments prohibit employees from accepting gifts from outside entities. The company's attorney says the investigation stemmed from a coupon that a dental worker gave a Guard member who mentioned he was going skiing. The coupon saved the Guard member $17. Attorney Ernest Baynard says Dentrust had no knowledge of the coupon or the interaction, and that no other interactions of any type were found. The federal reporting limit for gifts is $40.
Wichita Police Chief Will Resign in September
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams, who has served in the department for nearly 40 years, says he will resign, effective September 5. Williams announced his resignation Thursday in a news release and police briefing. He began his career as a police officer in Wichita in 1975 and moved up to through the department before becoming chief on April 14, 2000. He said he had been considering retirement for about a year but wanted to wait until his command staff was in place. City Manager Robert Layton said information regarding an interim chief or successor will be released at a later date.
Kansas City Council Approves Subsidies for Cerner
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Council has approved city subsidies and rezoning necessary for Cerner Corp.'s 10-year, $4.45 billion expansion plan. The incentives and zoning passed Thursday will allow the health care information technology company to build a sprawling office campus on 290 acres in south Kansas City. The campus will have 3.7 million square feet of office space, with room for 16,000 employees. The council approved $1.7 billion in incentives for the campus. The Kansas City Star reports the project will include shops, restaurants, a hotel, parking, a conference and training facility, and an employee health clinic. Cerner says site preparation is expected to start this year and the first office building will be ready for occupants by the end of 2016.
Traveling Thieves Suspected in KC Wallet Heists
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Restaurant patrons throughout the Kansas City metro area are being urged to be careful with their wallets. KMBC-TV reports that police have widened their investigation into a series of wallet thefts from women's purses, apparently by a group of traveling thieves. In many cases the purses were left open and hanging on the backs of restaurant chairs. The thieves quickly run up thousands of dollars in charges on stolen credit cards and bank cards. Investigators said some gift cards bought with the stolen cards have been spent in St. Louis, Chicago and Wisconsin. Police believe the thieves are from outside the Kansas City area and have been traveling across the Midwest. Surveillance pictures released this week show two men and three women thought to be involved.
Kansas Bicyclist Struck, Killed by Pickup Truck
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A bicyclist who was struck and killed by a pickup truck in northeast Kansas has been identified as a 66-year-old university librarian. The Douglas County sheriff's office says the collision happened Wednesday afternoon south of Clinton Lake, near Lawrence. WIBW-TV reports the bicyclist was identified Thursday as Lawrence resident Cal Melick, who worked as a public services librarian at Washburn University in Topeka. Deputies said Melick was riding eastbound when he was hit by a westbound pickup truck that was trying to pass another vehicle. The 69-year-old pickup driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Kansas Judge Receives National Excellence Award
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Court of Appeals judge is this year's recipient of the national William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. The National Center for State Courts announced its selection of Judge Steve Leben on Thursday. Leben will receive the award from U.S. Supreme Court Chief John Roberts in November. The Rehnquist Award is presented to a state court judge who demonstrates excellence in fairness, integrity, ethics, intellectual courage and other qualities. The Center for State Courts noted what it calls Leben's groundbreaking work in procedural fairness, including an influential national paper on the topic. Leben is a former Johnson County district judge. He was serving as president of the American Judges Association when he was appointed to the state Court of Appeals in 2007.
Northwest Missouri County Cuts Sheriff's Services
SAVANNAH, Mo. (AP) — Andrew County, Missouri residents will see a reduction in services from their sheriff's department after voters rejected a law enforcement tax earlier this month. The St. Joseph News-Press reported Wednesday that Sheriff Bryan Atkins told county commissioners three deputies who recently resigned will not be replaced and road patrols and public services will be reduced. The sheriff's administrative office will be open only three days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and deputies will stop offering vacation household checks, unlocking assistance and other services. And Atkins says concealed-carry gun permits and sex offender registration will be offered only by appointment. Services at the county jail and 911 communications will not be reduced. On August 5, voters rejected a proposed levy of 30 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
NFL Gives Chiefs WR Bowe 1-Game Suspension
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has been suspended for the season opener against Tennessee for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Bowe was pulled over for speeding in a Kansas City suburb on November 10, and was arrested after police found a black bag containing his wallet, driver's license and two containers of suspected marijuana. He later pleaded guilty to amended charges of defective equipment and littering, and his attorney said there was no admission of guilt for the marijuana charge, which was dismissed. Bowe issued a statement through the NFL Players' Association shortly after the suspension was announced in which he apologized for having to miss the Titans game on September 7. Bowe remains eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.