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Headlines for Friday, December 8, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Judge Dismisses Drug Case, Citing Prosecutor's Misconduct

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge in Kansas has dismissed a man's drug indictment, citing misconduct by a prosecutor who was criticized earlier this year for her handling of case in the 1990s that caused a man to be imprisoned for nearly 23 years for a crime he didn't commit. U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson on Tuesday ordered the release of Gregory Orozco on two drug charges. In her order, Robinson said federal prosecutor Terra Morehead, who works in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas, intimidated a witness and belatedly disclosed evidence that could have helped Orozco's case. In the 1990s, Morehead was accused of witness intimidation and prosecutorial misconduct when, as Wyandotte County assistant prosecutor, she prosecuted Lamonte McIntyre in a double killing. McIntyre was released from prison in October, when the current Wyandotte County attorney dropped all charges. Robinson sharply criticized Morehead in her order, saying the prosecutor told a witness, Jose Luis Ruiz-Salazar, that she would create complications for him in a drug case in Missouri if Ruiz-Salazar "got in her way" by testifying in the Orozco case. Ruiz-Salazar declined to testify, and Orozco was convicted.

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City, County Officials Oppose Kansas Property Tax Lid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Local officials say new limits on the ability to raise property tax revenues from one year to the next are hamstringing Kansas cities and counties as they attempt to cover rising health insurance costs for their employees. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that officials representing local governments voiced their concerns about the new law to an interim legislative committee Thursday. The law is commonly known as a property tax lid because it generally caps how much of an increase in property tax revenue cities and counties can levy from year to year at the rate of inflation, unless they get voter approval. Opponents say cities throughout Kansas are facing increased costs for things like employee health insurance, and that the tax lid prevents them from keeping up with such costs.

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Kansas on Track to Launch Delayed Driver's License System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials with the Kansas Department of Revenue say a driver's license computer program rife with delays and complications is on track to launch next month. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the second phase of the department's computer system replacement is expected to go live Jan. 2. The program will replace part of a decades-old system used to issue drivers' licenses, identification cards and commercial licenses, and process motor vehicle titles and registrations. The project was supposed to replace the old systems in 2011 and 2012. But the first phase replacing the title and registration system launched nearly a year late. The second phase of the system that issues licenses still isn't online nearly six years after its initial targeted launch date. State auditors will release another review of the program next week.

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Filing: Men Accused of Bomb Plot Want Trump Voters on Jury 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Three men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex housing Somali refugees have asked a federal judge to pull prospective jurors from rural Kansas because they are twice as likely to have voted for President Donald Trump. A defense motion filed Friday argues plans to issue summons only to citizens in the more urban counties closest to the federal courthouse is a discriminatory practice that excludes rural and conservative jurors. The trial begins March 19 in Wichita. Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiring to detonate the day after the 2016 election truck bombs at a mosque and apartment complex in the meatpacking town of Garden City. They have pleaded not guilty.

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Committee Endorses Eisenhower Memorial on Statehouse Grounds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Construction of a new memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Kansas Statehouse grounds is a step closer to reality. A volunteer group that oversees the Statehouse grounds voted Thursday to seek legislation next year to authorize a statue of the 34th president at the capitol complex. The Topeka Capital-Journal report s the statue would be a replica of the Eisenhower statue currently standing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The statue depicts Eisenhower speaking to troops before the Normandy invasion on D-Day in World War II. John Milburn, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Administration, said private funds have been raised to buy and install the statue. But lawmakers must authorize the project before it can proceed. Eisenhower was born in Texas but was raised in Abilene.

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No Charges in Fatal Shooting Involving Ellis County Deputy

HAYS, Kan. (AP) _ The Ellis County Attorney's Office says an officer involved in a fatal shooting in November 2016 will not face any charges. Police have not released the name of the man who was killed after a police chase that began early Nov. 8 when Hays police tried to stop a vehicle that was driving recklessly.  An Ellis County sheriff's deputy joined the chase, which ended when the driver lost control and crashed in a field. Authorities have said the suspect confronted the deputy and eventually went for his gun. The suspect was hit with a stun gun, knocking him and the officer to the ground. When the suspect tried to grab the gun, the deputy fired several times. The suspect died at the scene.  

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Worker Dies from Injuries Suffered at Wichita Spirit Plant
 
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit AeroSystems says an employee who was injured in an accident November 3 at its Wichita plant has died. Spirit officials confirmed the death of Sammy Barnett in a statement Friday. The company has not said how Barnett was injured. An investigation is ongoing and Spirit said in its statement that it will use any findings from the investigation to improve its procedures.

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Wichita Man Sentenced to Life for Killing Girlfriend

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old Wichita man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his girlfriend and setting her house on fire. Dane Wright will serve at least 29 years in prison for the death of 36-year-old Reyona Caldwell. Her body was found June 2 in the basement of her burning home. Wright pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated arson and three counts of child endangerment. A coroner determined Wright died from head trauma, smoke inhalation and burns, a coroner determined. Law enforcement issued an Amber Alert for Caldwell's three children after her body was found. They were later found in a south Wichita motel room. Wright told police he left the kids there to use methamphetamine and visit a casino.

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Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Newton Woman, 4-Year-Old Girl

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) _ A transient who killed a Newton woman and her 4-year-old daughter pleaded guilty to capital murder but will not face the death penalty. Twenty-year-old Keith Hawkins will serve life in prison without parole after entering the plea deal Friday. He admitted killing 24-year-old Alyssa Runyon and her daughter, Zaylynn Paz, in August at their duplex in Newton. Investigators have said Runyon apparently was strangled and her daughter was stabbed. Hawkins was a homeless man who was visiting Runyon. He was arrested in Texas in August. Harvey County Attorney David Yoder said the victims' families agreed to the plea deal. The Wichita Eagle reports Hawkins was a sex offender but his prior conviction was not placed on the public offender registry.  

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Police Investigate Deadly Shooting Outside KC Business 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a double homicide outside a Kansas City business. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting was reported around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Police say the victims were found just outside the business' front doors. Police on Friday identified the victims as 57-year-old Darryl Singleton and 36-year-old Reginald Jones. No other details about the shooting have been released. Anyone with information is urged to call police or a tips hotline.

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Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for Years Gets Full Scholarship

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas City, Kansas man who was released from prison after serving 23 years for two murders he didn't commit has been offered a full scholarship to a Kansas City community college. Lamonte McIntyre was offered the scholarship Wednesday by leaders of Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. McIntyre was released from prison in October after Wyandotte County prosecutors dropped charges in a 1994 double murder. The Kansas City Star reports that while McIntyre was in prison he studied for his GED degree and took college courses. McIntyre is already taking classes at a barber academy and hopes to one day open his own salon. He plans to study business at Penn Valley. Kansas does not offer any compensation to people who are wrongly convicted in the state.

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Kansas County Pulls Bid for Tyson Plant Amid Opposition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County has withdrawn its bid for a Tyson Foods chicken processing plant after weeks of public opposition. The Greater Wichita Partnership has confirmed that Sedgwick County has taken itself out of the running for the project. The County Commission stated that there is not enough public support to offer Tyson any financial incentives to build the facility. Commissioners say they don't believe Tyson would locate in the county without an offer of tax breaks or other financial subsidies. Other Kansas communities are expected to make offers to attract the plant. The facility would come with a $320 million construction budget and about 1,600 permanent jobs. Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau said the county made its decision last week, but withheld the news so as to not overshadow Wednesday's announcement of public subsidies to help Spirit AeroSystems expand in the area and add 1,000 to its workforce. Opponents of the poultry plant say they object to offensive odors and possible environmental pollution from the plant. An earlier attempt to locate the facility in Leavenworth County was met by fierce opposition from residents and the county withdrew its offer of subsidies.

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Wounded Independence, Missouri Officer Returns Home 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) _ A Kansas City area police officer who was critically wounded during a home invasion is headed home after months in a Nebraska rehabilitation center. Officers and the public will converge this (FRI) afternoon at Independence City Hall as Officer Tom Wagstaff is welcomed back with a police escort. A public ceremony is also planned for Saturday at a church in nearby Blue Springs. Wagstaff was shot in the head in March when he responded to a report of an Independence home invasion. Investigators say police and two of the men exchanged gunfire when the men fled from the home. Four suspects have been charged in the home invasion.

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Cocaine Dealer with Ties to Crime Organization Sentenced

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal authorities say a member of a Kansas City criminal organization was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Thirty-six-year-old Demond Robins was sentenced for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He pleaded guilty in March to providing cocaine to a co-conspirator, who distributed the drugs and brought the money to Robins. Robins' girlfriend helped launder the drug proceeds. His co-conspirator and his girlfriend have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The Kansas City Star reports Robins and his cousins, James Willis and Dale Willis, and some associates, were the focus of a joint investigation by Kansas City police and federal agents, which led to the charges against Robins. His cousins were convicted of killing a man outside an Overland Park, Kansas, bar in 2016.

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Tattoos May Help Police Identify Woman Found in Southeast Kansas Lake

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a woman found floating in a southeast Kansas lake as a homicide. The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said in Facebook post that hunters found the woman Thursday about a quarter-mile south of a boat ramp at the Card Creek camping area east of Independence. Paramedics loaded her into a boat and took her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Authorities identified her Friday as 33-year-old Cindy "Pinky" Ann Eason, of Miami, Oklahoma.

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Committee Approves Ike Statue for Kansas Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. -- A state legislative committee has approved a new memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the grounds of the state capitol in Topeka. The Capitol Preservation Committee endorsed the plan Thursday and construction could begin as soon as this spring. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the statue would be a replica of the Eisenhower statue that’s housed in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. It depicts Eisenhower speaking to troops before they stormed into Normandy, France, on D-Day in World War II. A spokesman for the Kansas Department of Administration says private funds have already been raised to purchase and install the statue. Eisenhower was raised in Abilene, where his presidential library is located. He died in 1969.

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Oklahoma Border Town Leery of Government's Planned Bio-Terror Test

NEWKIRK, Okla. (AP) — Residents of the small town of Newkirk, Oklahoma and of nearby Arkansas City, Kansas near the Kansas/Oklahoma state line are worried about plans by the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a bioterrorism response drills in the area. The government plans to release what it says are inert chemicals into the atmosphere to gauge how authorities might respond to a bioterror event. But some concerned residents say they've been stonewalled by Homeland Security and don't know enough about the chemicals. The government insists the testing is safe and won't harm humans or animals, but residents say they need more information and they worry the chemicals will drain into nearby waterways.

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Police Investigate Deadly Shooting Outside KCMO Business

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities are investigating a double homicide outside a Kansas City business. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting was reported around 7:30 last (THUR) night. Police say the victims were found just outside the business' front doors. They were described as two men in their 40s or 50s. Their names weren't immediately released. Anyone with information is urged to call police or a tips hotline. 
 

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