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Headlines for Friday, May 20, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Appeals Order to Register Thousands of Voters 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked a federal appeals court to stay a judge's order to add to voting rolls for federal elections thousands of Kansans who did not provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote at motor vehicle offices. The Kansas Republican argued in a filing Friday to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that the process would be administratively burdensome and would involve thousands of hours of work by election officials. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued the preliminary injunction Tuesday after finding more than 18,000 eligible voters would be disenfranchised in the November federal election under the Kansas law. She put her order on hold until May 31 so the state could appeal. Kobach is asking for a stay while the state appeals the order.


Kansas Changing Interagency Policies for Voter Registration

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has told a federal court he is changing interagency policies that will improve the state's ability to verify proof of citizenship for people who register to vote at motor vehicle offices. The notice filed shortly before midnight Wednesday comes a day after a federal court ruled thousands of Kansans who did not provide such documents must be added to voter rolls for federal elections. The judge stayed her ruling until May 31 so the state could appeal. Kobach contends the new policies were being implemented prior to that ruling. Motor vehicle offices now accept and scan documents proving U.S. citizenship. Another change gives the secretary of state's office and county election officers internet access to check whether motor vehicle offices possess such documents.


April Unemployment Rate Drops Significantly in Kansas, 4 Other States

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department says unemployment rates in April were significantly lower in five states, including Kansas. The other four states were Kentucky, Arkansas, Delaware and Vermont. Four states saw significantly higher jobless rates last month: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Wyoming and Utah. The other 41 states were seen as having stable unemployment rates from March to April. The national jobless rate was unchanged in April at 5 percent.


Former Army Officer Arrested in Kansas Explosives Case 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A former U.S. Army explosives expert has been charged with illegally possessing grenades after investigators found several explosives at his Kansas home. Forty-two-year-old John Panchalk of Overland Park was charged Friday with one count of possessing two fragmentation grenades unregistered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Panchalk was initially charged by Kansas prosecutors with one count of criminal use of explosives. That felony was dropped Friday to give way to the federal charge. Panchalk, who also is a firearms instructor at a Johnson County shooting range, was arrested late Thursday after authorities searched his home. Authorities say Panchalk caught their attention after explosives were found at a storage facility registered to him in nearby Parkville, Missouri. Online court records do not show whether Panchalk has an attorney.


Manning Appeal Seeks Reversal of Charges or Reduced Sentence

Imprisoned national security leaker Chelsea Manning is asking a military appeals court to reverse her conviction for sending classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, or reduce her 35-year sentence to ten years. Manning's lawyers released the appeal Thursday after a security review. They filed the document Wednesday in the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It calls Manning's sentence "grossly unfair and unprecedented." The document says Manning meant to reveal the toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that her disclosures harmed no one. Manning is imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth. The transgender soldier, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for sending WikiLeaks more than 700,000 digital files including battlefield logs, diplomatic cables and video clips.


Wichita School Board Approves $18M in Cuts, Including Job Eliminations

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita school board has voted to eliminate more than 100 district positions, close a high school and stop bus transportation for thousands of students. The Wichita Eagle reports that these and other cuts will trim about $18 million from the district's budget. Six board members voted unanimously to approve superintendent John Allison's first three phases of budget cuts for the upcoming school year. Board member Sheril Logan was absent. Allison says the district will need to trim an additional $5 million to make up for projected cost increases. Wichita schools have projected nearly $23 million in cost increases next year, with revenue under the state's block grant funding system expected to be flat. Under the cuts, Metro-Meridian Alternative High School will close and 65 teacher positions will be eliminated.


Kansas Woman Sentenced to Year Behind Bars for Fatal Wreck

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — An east-central Kansas woman has been ordered to spend a year behind bars for a 2013 fatal crash that killed a bicyclist. KVOE-AM of Emporia reports that a Lyon County judge sentenced 41-year-old Jean Getten on a conviction of vehicular homicide. She was acquitted last month of a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Authorities say a pickup truck driven by Getten, who at the time of the crash was known as Jean McComber, hit and killed 51-year-old bicyclist Ronald Kennedy of Ottawa, Kansas, on a highway west of Emporia.


Kansas City Man Convicted of Role in Home Invasion Killing 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, man faces life in prison after being found guilty of playing a role in a 2011 home invasion that killed a man and critically wounded a woman. The Kansas City Star reports that a Jackson County (Missouri) jury convicted 31-year-old Victor Vickers Jr. on Friday of first-degree murder, assault and two counts of armed criminal action. Prosecutors alleged during the four-day trial that Vickers and two other men approached the 29-year-old girlfriend of Edward Ewing as she returned home early August 16, 2011. After ordering the woman to let them inside, two of the men confronted a sleeping Ewing in his bedroom before he was fatally shot seven times. A co-defendant, Garron Briggs, later was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life term.


Former Merriam City Official Pleads Guilty to Misconduct

MERRIAM, Kan. (AP) — A fired suburban Kansas City public works director has pleaded guilty to stealing fuel. Sixty-one-year-old Randall Carroll admitted Thursday in Johnson County District Court to a felony count of official misconduct. The Kansas City Star reports that a second charge of theft was dismissed as part of the plea. The Olathe man worked for the city of Merriam for 34 years before he was fired last September after the crimes were discovered. Court documents say the thefts began in October 2014. Prosecutors say other public works employees became suspicious when they noticed fuel missing from a large tank. A camera captured Carroll repeatedly putting gas from the tank in his personal vehicle. He also was seen erasing tire tracks from his vehicle. Sentencing is set for July 11.


Kansas Man Charged with Manslaughter over Deadly Wreck
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man is accused of recklessly causing the crash-related deaths of two clients of an organization that helps adults with developmental disabilities. Prosecutors in Sedgwick County charged 56-year-old Bret Blevins on Friday with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the May 6 wreck. He's also charged with aggravated battery, leaving an accident scene and driving with a suspended or canceled license. Authorities say Blevins was driving a borrowed Cadillac sport utility vehicle when he ran through a stop sign and hit a van occupied by three residents and two employees of the Starkey organization. Two of the residents, 46-year-old Dirk MacMillian and 25-year-old Dusty Atterbery, were killed. It was not immediately clear Friday if Blevins has an attorney.


Missouri Plans to Seek Death Penalty for Mexican National
MONTGOMERY CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri prosecutors plan to pursue the death penalty for a Mexican national in the shooting death of a man a day after he allegedly killed four people in Kansas. Prosecutors in Montgomery County west of St. Louis submitted court papers Friday saying they will seek capital punishment for Pablo Serrano-Vitorino if he's convicted of first-degree murder in the March 8 shooting death of Randy Nordman at that man's New Florence home. A judge last week ordered Serrano-Vitorino to stand trial in that case. Arraignment is scheduled for June 1 Serrano-Vitorino also is accused in Kansas of killing a Kansas City, Kansas, neighbor and three other men at the neighbor's home on March 7. An attorney for Serrano-Vitorino did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.


Man Convicted in 2014 Fatal Shooting in Kingman County

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas man charged in the shooting death of another man in Kingman County in 2014 has been found guilty. Fifty-two-year-old David Younger was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder in the death of 62-year-old Danny Ely. Authorities responded to a suspicious death call in Kingman on December 15, 2014, and found Ely dead. Jennifer Rapp, a spokeswoman for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office, says evidence shows Ely died of a gunshot wound to the head.


Costa Rican President: Sovereign Borders Turn Complex

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Costa Rica's president says during a Kansas speech that massive migrations due to terrorism and organized crime are making national security and border control for countries complex. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Luis Guillermo Solis offered that assessment Thursday night as the featured speaker of the Landon Lecture series at Kansas State University. Solis says that it once was easy to talk of borders "as a definitive measure of national security." But he says that the daily challenges he faces as president are resolved not within Costa Rica, but in such far-flung places as Brussels, New York and Washington.


Pearl Harbor Sailor's Remains to Be Buried in Small Kansas Town 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The remains of a U.S. Navy member killed in the Pearl Harbor attack will be returned to be buried in his hometown in Kansas nearly 75 years after his death. The Wichita Eagle reports that the remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Dale Pearce will be flown by military escort to Tulsa. Family members, escorted by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local police, will take the casket to Parsons. It'll be buried Thursday in Dennis, a town of about 300 people. According to military records, Pearce's remains were recovered about a year after the 1941 attack. But advances in DNA technology in recent years have allowed authorities to identify remains of those deceased long ago. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency scientists used family DNA and dental comparisons to identify Pearce.


Tractor-Trailer Driver Arrested in Fiery Kansas Crash

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A tractor-trailer driver from Texas is charged in Kansas in a fiery Interstate 70 crash that killed the driver of another rig. Thomas County court documents say 45-year-old Fednor Duclona, of Fort Worth, Texas, attempted a U-turn on the interstate on the same day as the January crash that killed 52-year-old Rodney A. Hongsermeier, of North Platte, Nebraska. He faces charges that include vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Duclona was released Wednesday from the Johnson County Jail on a $200,000 bond. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.


Kansas Woman Arrested in Death of 13-Month-Old

ENTERPRISE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 29-year-old woman has been arrested in the death of her toddler in central Kansas. The Salina Journal reports that the Enterprise woman is jailed in Dickinson County. Sheriff Gareth Hoffman says the injured 13-month-old was brought Monday night to a hospital in Abilene after the mother reported finding the child unresponsive. The toddler died a short time later. The sheriff's office began investigating after determining that the toddler's death was suspicious. The investigation included an autopsy and several interviews.


2 Unrelated Topeka Deaths Ruled Homicides 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police have ruled that two unrelated Topeka deaths are homicides. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the killings of 60-year-old Robert Williams and 21-year-old Ashlie Hundertfund bring the city's homicide total to eight. Last year at this time, there were four recorded homicides. Police spokeswoman Amy McCarter says no one was been arrested in Williams's February 18 death. She says the preliminary investigation didn't point to foul play, but that an autopsy led to the homicide ruling. McCarter says police have determined that Hundertfund was the victim of a murder-suicide. Police say 22-year-old Robert Fink killed her and then himself. Their bodies were discovered in an apartment when police were called to check on the welfare of a resident who hadn't shown up for work on February 29.


Baby, Woman Fall from Car After Kansas City Shoplifting 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a 4-month-old baby and a woman have fallen from a moving car after a reported shoplifting in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that neither the woman nor the baby was seriously injured. Police say they were among several people who got into a car Thursday after items were stolen from a Target store. Police say one of the car's doors wasn't secured properly and as the car turned a corner, the woman and baby fell out. The baby was taken to a hospital to be examined, while the woman was arrested.


Wichita Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing Wife 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to life in prison in the shooting death of his wife. The Wichita Eagle reports that 32-year-old Derek Campbell must serve 50 years before becoming eligible for parole under the sentence imposed Thursday in Sedgwick County District Court. He was convicted in March of first-degree premeditated murder in the April 2015 killing of Rebecca Campbell. Prosecutors say he killed her because he wanted out of their marriage and had rekindled a romance with an old girlfriend. Evidence presented at his trial showed he had researched divorce online and browsed dating websites before the deadly shooting. Campbell maintains the shooting was accidental. He said at the sentencing that he thought the gun was unloaded and that he loved his wife with "all my heart."


48-Year-Old Man Indicted in St. Joseph Bank Robbery 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a 48-year-old man has been indicted in a St. Joseph bank robbery. The U.S. attorney's office says grand jurors returned an indictment Thursday against Terry Hager. The indictment alleges that Hager stole nearly $14,000 from a UMB Bank in March. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.


Police Investigate Shooting Death in East Kansas City 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating a homicide in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that the killing happened Friday morning. Homicide investigators are at the scene. No other details were immediately available, including the name of the victim. The homicide is Kansas City's 35th of the year, compared to 31 at this time last year.


Survey: Rural Economy Remains Weak in 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The economy remains sluggish in rural areas of 10 Western and Plains states. The monthly survey of rural bankers released Thursday shows the overall remains in negative territory even though it increased slightly. The index increased to 40.9 in May from April's 38.2. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says weak grain prices and farm values continue to weigh on the economy in rural areas. On the survey indexes any score below 50 suggests that factor will decline. The farm equipment sales index remained exceptionally weak at 10.7 in May, just below April's 11.1. Farmers are delaying major purchases because of the environment. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


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