Kansas Court Upholds Death Sentence for Sheriff's Killing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence imposed on a man convicted of fatally shooting a sheriff during a 2005 drug raid. Kansas hasn't executed anyone in more than 50 years, and Friday's decision in Scott Cheever's case is only the second time the court has upheld a death sentence under the state's 1994 capital punishment law. The decision came four years after the court ordered a new trial for Cheever over questions about an expert's testimony. The U.S. Supreme Court directed the Kansas court to reconsider. Cheever acknowledged shooting Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels as he tried to serve a warrant at a rural home about 75 miles northeast of Wichita. But Cheever's attorney argued he was too high on methamphetamine for the crime to be premeditated.
Suspect in Kansas Police Captain's Death Appears in Court
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old man charged in the killing of a Kansas police captain is on suicide watch. Jamaal Lewis wore an anti-suicide prison smock when he made his first court appearance Friday. Lewis is charged with capital murder in the shooting death Tuesday of Kansas City, Kansas, police Capt. Robert Melton. The judge read the charges against Lewis, which also include aggravated assault and criminal discharge of a weapon At the end of the hearing, Lewis turned to his family at the back of the courtroom and mouthed "I love you." A man moved toward Lewis and responded: "I love you son. I love you." Jail official Jeff Fewell says Lewis was placed on suicide watch after a mental health evaluation. His next hearing is set for September 23.
Kansas Attorney General Sues to Get Guantanamo Bay Records
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is suing the federal government to obtain documents related to planning by President Barack Obama's administration to move prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Fort Leavenworth. Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court in Kansas against the U.S. Department of Defense. Schmidt's office filed a freedom of information request in December and said in the lawsuit it has not received any records. The Democratic president's campaign promise to close the prison for terror suspects in Cuba has been blocked by strong congressional opposition. The Defense Department last year surveyed seven potential sites for housing the prisoners, including Fort Leavenworth. Schmidt and other Kansas Republicans have strongly condemned the idea. A Defense Department spokeswoman declined comment.
Judge to Monitor State of Kansas Action on Gay Marriage for 3 Years
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has told Kansas that for three more years he will monitor its compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision legalizing gay marriage across the nation. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a permanent order Friday barring the state from treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples in allowing them to marry or extending the benefits of marriage to them. He ruled in lawsuit filed in 2014 against the state's health and revenue departments. The Department of Revenue also issues driver's licenses. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision last year. Crabtree said the state's actions since the high court ruling suggested Kansas might not fully comply without a permanent injunction. The attorney general's office did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment.
Judge to Hear Challenge to Two-Tiered Voting System
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A judge will hear arguments on whether to block the two-tiered voting system in Kansas just days before the primary election. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks has set a July 29 hearing in Topeka on the American Civil Liberties Union's request for a temporary restraining order. The primary election is August 2. The ACLU is challenging Secretary of State Kris Kobach's plan to throw out thousands of votes cast in state and local races by people who registered at motor vehicle offices or used a federal form without providing documentary proof of U.S. citizenship. A state board approved that process the day before the start of advanced voting for the primary. Another judge ruled earlier this year that the right to vote is not tied to the method of registration.
Lawsuit: Worker for State Contractor Sexually Coerced Mother
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal lawsuit alleges that a caseworker for a Kansas foster care and family preservation contractor sexually harassed and coerced a mother seeking to regain custody of her children. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a Sedgwick County woman is suing St. Francis Community Services and a former employee. She is accusing him of taking advantage of his authority to force her to send sexually charged messages and photos. The lawsuit charges that St. Francis had received complaints about him and that chronic insufficient staffing led to inadequate supervision. The Kansas Department for Children and Families called the allegations "disturbing" in a statement. The department oversees the state's privatized foster care and family services system.
Kansas City Solar Businessman Sentenced to Prison for Fraud
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The owner of a Missouri solar energy installation company has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in a $1.4 million fraud scheme. Thirty-six-year-old Trevor Dryden also was ordered Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri, to repay the $1.4 million to a local utility and the U.S. government for rebates he wrongly received. Dryden pleaded guilty in February to charges the he fraudulently obtained the rebates and made false statements. Prosecutors said Dryden, who owned a St. Joseph company named U.S. Solar, was involved in fraudulently obtaining rebates from Kansas City Power & Light by overstating the number of solar panels installed. A U.S. Solar co-owner, Richard Schonemann, pleaded guilty last year to his role in the plot and is to be sentenced August 8.
Wichita Police Chief Lands White House Invitation after Community Cookout
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita police chief has received a White House invitation after a cookout that included law enforcement and leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay was invited to go to the White House today (FRI) to discuss community policing. City spokesman Ken Evans said he had to turn down the invitation because he's serving as the justice of the peace at a weekend wedding. But Evans says Ramsay will try to reschedule. The invitation came after Ramsay met with local activist leaders about replacing another planned protest with a cookout that aimed to open a dialogue. Nearly 2,000 people attended Sunday's event. Videos of officers dancing with people at the cookout have been viewed tens of thousands of times.
Kansas Man Convicted of Raping, Killing 100-Year-Old Woman
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas man has been convicted in the 2014 death and sexual assault of 100-year-old woman. The Wichita Eagle reports that a Sedgwick County jury deliberated about two hours Thursday before convicting Kasey Nesbitt of first-degree felony murder, rape and aggravated burglary with the intent to commit a sexual assault. Jurors concluded that Nesbitt kicked in Martha Schell's door and assaulted her in September 2014. Marc Bennett, the county's district attorney, told jurors that Schell died from blood clots that formed after the attack, which left her with a broken back and other injuries. Nesbitt's sentencing is scheduled for August 18. He faces up to life in prison on the murder conviction, as well as up to 54 years for the rape.
Aphids That Plague Sorghum Fields Return to Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say the sugarcane aphid has returned to Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that the tiny Southern pests have threatened grain sorghum, or milo, fields in the Sunflower State the previous two years. Kansas is the nation's leading producer of grain sorghum. Aphids were reported and confirmed in fields in Sumner and Cowley counties this week. Officials are scouting fields but haven't determined how far north the aphids have spread. Last year, some sorghum producers saw heavy yield losses due to sugarcane aphids. Kansas State University says the pest spread to 36 Kansas counties, making it close to the Nebraska border.
Kansas Man Admits DVD, Blu-Ray Movie Fraud Scheme
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas man faces up to 11 years in federal prison after admitting he fraudulently obtained more than 60,000 DVD movies at discount prices from the Disney Movie Club. Forty-seven-year-old Harvey Self of Derby pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of filing false tax returns and one count of giving the U.S. Postal Service false names and address for fraudulent purposes. Self admits he created aliases to qualify for discounts while buying DVD and Blu-Ray movies, then resold the movies at a profit. Authorities say the net sales of the movies totaled more than $106,000. Self also admitted overstating business losses for tax years 2011 and 2012. Self has told The Associated Press he was just trying to supplement his income so he could support his eight children.
Grand Opening Planned for New Home of Naismith's Rules
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Grand opening festivities are planned for a new center built to house James Naismith's original rules of basketball on the University of Kansas's Lawrence campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the celebration is planned for Saturday for the $21.7 million donor-funded DeBruce Center, which was completed in May. It's the permanent home for "The Original 13 Rules of Basket Ball," which Naismith wrote in 1891. Besides the rules themselves, the celebration will include family-friendly activities such as face painting, balloon animals and games. Artifacts from the university's archives relating to the lives of James Naismith and famed coach Forrest "Phog" Allen also will be on display. Because the game was originally played using peach baskets, the cafeteria will follow that theme by offering specials such as peach tea.
Missouri Woman Gets 15 Years in Stabbing Death of Boyfriend
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, woman has been ordered to spend 15 years in prison for the stabbing death last year of her boyfriend. The Kansas City Star reports that 49-year-old Emma Hyson was sentenced Friday in Clay County. She pleaded guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter. She had been charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Authorities say Hyson reported that she stabbed 52-year-old Kenneth Wilcock in the neck in their apartment after the two had been arguing. Hyson says she passed out for several hours and called police after waking up and finding Wilcock dead.
Man Suspected of Impersonating a Police Officer Arrested
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police have arrested a man suspected of impersonating an officer during a Kansas City traffic stop. The Kansas City Star reports that the arrest was made Thursday. Police said a motorist called police Wednesday after the driver of a Ford Crown Victoria signaled him to pull over with a flash red light. The motorist said a non-uniformed man who appeared to be armed told him to slow down. The motorist asked the man whether he was a police officer and was told not to worry about that. The motorist said he drove back into the interstate traffic as the man walked back to his vehicle. Eventually, the motorist began following the man but lost sight of him when he swerved across several lanes of traffic and exited the highway.
Joplin Hospital to Be Turned into University Campus
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A former hospital built for temporary use after a 2011 tornado in Joplin is being transformed into a new campus for the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. The Joplin Globe reports that the original building was donated to the school for use as a medical school by Mercy Hospital. Officials said Wednesday that raised ceilings, green space and open social areas will be among the key features of the school once it's completed. Kansas City University Joplin dean Paula Gregory says the building will have an anatomy lab, and one lane of the former ambulance bay will be kept intact so students will be able to learn how to handle mass trauma. The building is expected to be ready by April 2017.
Royals Come to White House, Press Secretary Gets Jersey
WASHINGTON (AP) — A dream came true for one long-suffering Kansas City Royals fan in the White House when the reigning World Series champion team paid a visit. President Barack Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest is a Kansas City, Missouri, native and longtime Royals fan. It's been more than three decades since the team won the World Series and came to the White House. Earnest grinned from ear to ear Thursday in anticipation. He donned a pair of Royals socks for the occasion. For weeks, he's been taking sips of water from a Royals mug during his daily briefings. Several Royals players interrupted Thursday's briefing to give Earnest a team jersey with his name and the number "15" across the back. They also gave him an upgraded mug and an autographed World Series baseball.
Survey Shows Rural Economy Continues to Weaken in 10 States
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of bankers suggests there's been a drop in the already weak economic outlook for rural areas of 10 Western and Plains states. A report issued Thursday on the Rural Mainstreet Index says it fell to 39.8 this month from 43.9 in June. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey's indexes suggests a decline in that area. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the overall index has remained below growth-neutral for 11 straight months. He says that over the past 12 months, farm prices are down 9 percent and livestock prices are down 16 percent. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.