UPDATE: Appeals Court Won't Block Same-Sex Marriage in KS
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has cleared the way for gay marriages to start in Kansas next week in a legal challenge to the state's ban from two lesbian couples. But the legal climate is complicated by a separate gay-marriage case before the Kansas Supreme Court. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Friday denied a request from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office to put on hold a lower-court injunction preventing the state from enforcing anti-gay marriage laws, including a provision in the state constitution. The injunction is set to take effect 5 pm Tuesday. But the Kansas Supreme Court blocked marriage licenses for gay couples while it considers a separate case filed by Schmidt. The Kansas court's spokeswoman says its order remains in effect.
10th Circuit Court Nixes Kansas, Arizona Citizenship Proof Rule
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Kansas and Arizona residents can register to vote using a federal form without providing proof of citizenship. Most residents in the two states register using a separate state form requiring them to show a birth certificate, a U.S. passport or naturalization papers. Kansas and Arizona had asked the U.S. government to also impose that same requirement on voters who register using the simpler federal form, which only requires a sworn statement. But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Friday that the states have no authority to demand the federal government apply the citizenship proof requirements to the federal form. The ruling effectively gives potential voters a simpler way to register without providing citizenship documentation in order to vote in federal races.
Groups Spent Nearly $17M on Kansas Senate Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal data shows that political and special interest groups spent nearly $17 million in Kansas starting in September in the nationally watched race between Republican Senator Pat Roberts and his independent challenger. Online records of the Federal Election Commission show the three-term GOP incumbent benefited more from the outside spending than independent candidate Greg Orman. Roberts won re-election. Groups spent nearly $10 million on activities supporting Roberts or opposing Orman. They spent about $6.8 million supporting Orman or opposing Roberts This year's election was the first time Kansas saw significant spending. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down limits on such spending in January 2010, but such groups reported almost none during the competitive Republican primary won that year by Jerry Moran, who had an easy general election race.
Federal Judge Tosses Missouri's Gay Marriage Ban
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials in the Kansas City area say they will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following a federal court ruling striking down Missouri's ban on gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Ortrie R. Smith ruled Friday that Missouri's constitutional provision limiting marriage to only a man and woman violates the U.S. Constitution. Smith wrote that he was delaying the effect of his decision pending an appeal. But officials in Jackson County, Missouri...which is home to Kansas City...announced later Friday that they will begin granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The federal court ruling comes days after a state judge in St. Louis also invalidated Missouri's gay marriage ban. Officials in St. Louis city and county already have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Kansas Democrats Look for Reasons Behind Election Losses
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Democratic Party activists and consultants are trying to determine why the party was so soundly defeated in Tuesday's election. The Lawrence Journal World quotes several Democratic consultants and bloggers who say the party did not spend enough time or money in the rural areas of central and western Kansas, concentrating its resources in urban areas and in the eastern part of the state. They also say Democratic candidates largely ignored the concerns of Hispanic and Latino voters in the southwestern part of the state.
Abortion Opponents Say Efforts Helped GOP in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Abortion opponents are claiming some credit for victories in Kansas by Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and GOP Governor Sam Brownback. The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life says it sent about 640,000 mailings to households across during the general election campaign. Executive director Mary Kay Culp said the group also made about the same number of phone calls to get anti-abortion voters to the polls. Both independent Senate candidate Greg Orman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis support abortion rights. Their contests with Roberts and Brownback were close going into Tuesday's election. Abortion-rights supporters counter that the races did not turn on the abortion issue.
Kansas Judge Orders Affidavit Redacted, Released
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Douglas County judge has agreed to release a redacted version of a previously sealed probable cause affidavit in an early test of a new state law. District Judge Sally Pokorny ruled last month that the affidavit in a rape case should be withheld but changed course this week. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that her ruling on Thursday comes under a new state law, which became effective in July, that allows judges to release some legal documents that had previously been withheld. In October, the newspaper cited the statute in filing a motion in October to challenge the ruling in withholding the affidavit. The newspaper has requested 10 affidavits to be released since July, including the rape case affidavit. Seven have been redacted and released, and three more are awaiting court action.
DA Says Probe of Police Shooting Remains Open
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor says he's not ready to determine if a Wichita police officer was justified in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in April 2012. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett read a statement about the status of the investigation at a news conference Friday but did not take questions. Twenty-four-year-old Troy Lanning II was running from a stolen vehicle when he was shot six times by Wichita Police Officer Randy Williamson. Williamson's lawyer has said the officer saw Lanning reach into a bag and feared he had a gun. Bennett said forensic evidence examined so far has not been conclusive. He also noted that the officer's recent plea to a separate case of filing a false report has complicated the Lanning death investigation. Williamson is no longer with the department.
Rural Kansas Man Dies in Grain Bin Accident
VALLEY FALLS, Kan. (AP) — Jefferson County officials say a 58-year-old man died after apparently falling into a grain bin. Sheriff Jeffrey Herrig says emergency crews were called Thursday afternoon to the farm of Mike Miller about eight miles west of Valley Falls. WIBW reports that Herrig says Miller fell into a grain bin and died before crews could rescue him. Details of how Miller fell were not immediately available.
Elderly Kansas Man Killed in Hit-and-Run
CLAY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an 83-year-old man was killed in a hit-and-run accident in northeast Kansas after he got out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer. Clay County Sheriff Chuck Dunn says Joe Knitter, of Clay Center, died in the accident early Friday on U.S. 24. Dunn says Knitter's wife hit a deer. He got out to check on the animal and was hit by another vehicle as he was returning to his car. Knitter died at the scene. The Clay Center Dispatch reports that law enforcement officials recovered a mirror from the other vehicle and hope to use it to determine what type of car hit Knitter. Anyone with information is asked to call the Clay County Sheriff's office.
SE Kansas District Gets Grant for Storm Safe Room
CHEROKEE, Kan. (AP) - Officials with the Southeast School District in Crawford and Cherokee counties are celebrating word that the district will receive a federal grant for a safe room. The district found out this week that it will get a $285,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build the storm-safe room at the Southeast Elementary School in Weir. The school district must provide another $95,000. The Joplin Globe reports that the district, which serves several towns, has suffered severe damage from straight line winds twice in five years. It is in a high risk area for tornadoes. District spokesman Chris Wilson says the proposed 1,886-square-foot structure will have 8-inch concrete walls and miles of steel rebar. It also will be used as the school's music room.
Boeing Discussing Sale of Closed Wichita Site
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Boeing officials say they are discussing the sale of the company's land in south Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports the airplane company declined to provide details of the potential sale but confirmed the negotiations are underway. The company also says it might have to move its Dreamlifter operations to Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. Boeing shut down its Wichita site last summer and moved the work to Oklahoma City, San Antonio and the Seattle area. The company flies specially modified 747s to Wichita to pick up fuselage sections built by Spirit AeroSystems. The planes land at McConnell Air Force Base. Boeing says those operations might have to move to Mid-Continent Airport if the Wichita property is sold.
Thieves Steal $14,000 in Guns from Wichita Store
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police are searching for two suspects who took nearly 30 weapons from a Wichita business. Surveillance images show the two men breaking display cases at Knapp Weaponry in Wichita early Tuesday and leaving with handguns and rifles. Owner Marlon Knapp says the guns were worth more than $14,000. Knapp says he is upset that the guns are now out in the community but he plans to upgrade his security and continue his business.
Guilty Plea Logged in Fatal Fall of ASU Student in March
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — One of the men accused of alcohol-related violations in connection with the fatal fall of an Arizona State University student has pleaded guilty. Court documents show 20-year-old David Siegal pleaded guilty this week to one count of minor in possession of liquor with a second count dismissed. Siegal and 20-year-old Matthew Farberovh were indicted in the case along with a third man who had charges later dropped. Farberovh is facing charges of minor possession of liquor and failing to require identification. Naomi McClendon plunged 10 floors to her death March 30 from an apartment complex near ASU's campus. Tempe police say the 18-year-old woman from Manhattan, Kansas initially attended an "all-you-can-drink" party thrown by ASU fraternity members. Surveillance video showed her stumbling and intoxicated when she entered the residential building.
NTSB: Wichita Plane in Trouble Seconds After Take-Off
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Investigators say the pilot of a small plane that crashed into a flight training building at a Wichita airport last week declared an emergency about a minute after taking off, saying he had "lost the left engine." The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report Thursday that several witnesses reported the plane had its landing gear down before it hit the Flight Safety International building at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The pilot and three people in the building died. Six other people were injured, two of them seriously. The left wing separated after hitting the building just below the roof line. The nose struck the roof and the plane slid for about 20 to 30 feet before the tail section came over the top, followed by a large explosion
Death Penalty Still an Option in Sedgwick County Murder Trial
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say they might seek the death penalty against a woman accused with three others of killing a Kansas couple last year. The Wichita Eagle reports 36-year-old Kisha Schaberg was arraigned Wednesday in Sedgwick County District Court, where District Attorney Marc Bennett announced he wanted the option of seeking her execution if she's convicted. Schaberg, her son, 19-year-old Anthony Bluml, and two of his friends are charged with capital murder in the November 15, 2013, deaths of Anthony Bluml's adoptive parents. Roger and Melissa Bluml were shot in the head as they sat in their car outside their rural Valley Center home. One of the suspects has testified the shootings were part of a plot to gain life insurance, and because of resentment for the couple.
Oil Exploration Set for Arkansas City
ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Officials in a south-central Kansas community expect a petroleum company to begin drilling for oil on city land sometime soon. The Arkansas City Traveler reports the City Commission approved a conditional-use permit this week for exploration and extraction of oil on two parcels zoned for agricultural use. The permit will allow Gulf Exploration LLC to conduct vertical drilling only, for a proposed single well. Any wastewater produced by the drilling will have to be hauled to a disposal facility. A representative of Gulf Exploration says the drilling will take six days. The company's trucks are expected to begin arriving Monday. Arkansas City will be paid for use of the land and receive about 25 percent of any profits derived from the drilling.
Police: Wichita Man Critically Injured in Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police say a man has been shot and critically injured while walking in east Wichita. The man called 911 to report he had been shot Thursday evening. The man says he was walking to an apartment complex from a nearby business when he was shot once in the chest. Police say the man was critically wounded but was able to talk to officers. They think one or two rounds were shot. The man's identity hasn't been released but police say he is in his 20s.
Bird Numbers Likely Up for Pheasant, Quail Seasons
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas wildlife official are predicting that bird populations will be 70 percent higher than a year ago when the state's quail and pheasant seasons open this weekend. But after the lowest pheasant and quail harvest in 75 years, Kansas Department of Wildlife small game specialist Jeff Prendergast says the numbers still will be pretty poor. Prendergast tells The Salina Journal that low bird numbers in recent years have discouraged some hunters, which is partly why there should be more birds when hunting season opens Saturday. Hunting season typically provides area hotels with brisk business for about three weeks. Beloit Super 8 general manager Janet Remus says her motel is lodging hunters from as far away as South Carolina and Kentucky. Quail and pheasant seasons run through January 31.
Salvador Perez Due for Even More Time Behind Plate
NEW YORK (AP) — After making the most starts behind the plate of any big league catcher in a century, Salvador Perez wants more. The Kansas City Royals star was among 29 players on the roster announced Friday for the Major League Baseball all-star postseason tour of Japan. Game 7 of the World Series last week was Perez's 158th start at catcher during the regular season and postseason, the most since at least 1914, according to STATS. Perez topped the 156 starts made by the Chicago Cubs' Randy Hundley during the 1968 regular season. Also on the roster from the AL champion Royals are Game 7 starter Jeremy Guthrie; backup catcher Erik Kratz and shortstop Alcides Escobar. No members of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants are making the trip.
Chiefs Wide Receivers Still Searching for TD
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Perhaps it's just a fluke, but the Kansas city Chiefs are halfway through the season and no wide receiver has caught a touchdown pass yet. The previous time that happened was 2009, when the Cleveland Browns went their first nine games without a wide receiver catching a TD pass. Still, nobody on the Chiefs sideline appears to be worried about it, especially considering they're 5-3 and have won five of their past six games heading into Sunday's game at Buffalo. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith pointed out that his running backs and tight ends have plenty of touchdown grabs, and it's only a matter of time until the wide receivers get involved.