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Headlines for Friday, October 24, 2014


Polls Indicate Brownback Support Strengthening in Governor's Race

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — After lifting the spirits of Kansas Democrats eager to oust conservative Republican Governor Sam Brownback, challenger Paul Davis now appears to be losing ground. The state's longstanding GOP loyalties and negative television ads seem to have been eroding his onetime lead in the polls. Incumbent Brownback has been gaining since the Republican Governors Association began bombarding television viewers with spots focused on how Davis was caught as a young attorney in a strip club during a 1998 meth raid. Davis has attacked Brownback for sharp tax cuts that led to a projected budget shortfall and a downgrading of the state's credit rating. The latest independent polls have indicated the race is a toss-up or with Brownback slightly ahead.


Judge Nixes Opposite-Sex Couple's Bid to Join Suit

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has spurned an effort by a heterosexual couple to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the Kansas ban on gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled Friday that Phillip and Sandra Unruh, of Harper, have no legal right to join the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas. The Unruhs claimed in a Wednesday filing that they have a property right in their traditional marital status. They argued an adverse decision on the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban could diminish their marital status and harm their property right. Crabtree concluded the Unruhs' interests are already represented by the Kansas attorney general's office, which is defending the ban. But the judge also invited the couple to file a friend-of-the-court brief stating their arguments.


Brownback Unveils Urban Opportunity Zone Plan

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has unveiled a new program intended to bring new economic development to financially struggling metropolitan areas in Kansas. Brownback said Thursday his Urban Opportunity Zone initiative will offer tax breaks and other financial incentives to people who start small businesses or other economic activities. The program is similar to the governor's Rural Opportunity Zone program. The Kansas Department of Commerce, working with the Department of Revenue, will run the program. The pilot program will include the Kansas City ZIP codes 66101, 66102, 66104, 66106 and other high-poverty areas in Wichita and Topeka. Brownback's Democratic challenger in the governor's race, Paul Davis, said the governor's programs and policies have harmed urban and rural areas of Kansas and the state cannot afford four more years of his "experimenting."


KS Gov Backs Ouster of 2 High Court Justices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback says he's voting against retaining state Supreme Court Justices Lee Johnson and Eric Rosen on November 4th. The governor has criticized the court for its July ruling that overturned the death sentences of Jonathan and Reginald Carr, who were convicted of killing five people in Wichita nearly 14 years ago.  Members of the victims' families formed a group to work to remove the justices.  Brownback would fill any vacancies on the seven-member court.


Kansas State Troopers Backing Davis

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A political action committee for Kansas state troopers is backing Paul Davis in the governor's race. The troopers' PAC says it's endorsing the Democrat because he has a strong record on public safety issues as a Kansas House member. Governor Sam Brownback has tried to portray Davis as soft on criminal justice issues.  


Judge Seals Affidavits in KU Rape Allegations

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Douglas County judge says probable cause affidavits in the alleged rapes of two women last month at the University of Kansas will not be open to the public. University police said the alleged rapes occurred September 28 in Hashinger Residence Hall. Two 21-year-old men, one a Kansas student and the other a Johnson County Community College student, were arrested. They both posted $50,000 bonds last week and are still enrolled at their schools. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 16. After a hearing Tuesday, Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff ruled that the probable cause affidavits will remain sealed but did not explain her decision. Defense and prosecution attorneys asked that affidavits be sealed. The Lawrence Journal-World sought the affidavits, citing a new state law.


Kansas Court Upholds Verdict in Abortion Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a man who admitted shooting abortion provider Dr. George Tiller to death at his Wichita church in 2009. But the court also overturned Scott Roeder's sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years and ordered him to be resentenced. Roeder was sentenced under an older version of the state's "Hard 50" law later deemed unconstitutional under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2013. Roeder testified that he killed Tiller to prevent future abortions. Tiller's clinic in Wichita was among a handful in the U.S. known to perform late-term abortions. The state Supreme Court rejected Roeder's argument that he should have been allowed to present a defense that the shooting was necessary to stop abortions.

51 Animals Taken from Salina Boarding Facility

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina officials removed 51 animals from a boarding business that authorities believe was operating without proper permits. The 50-year-old owner of Playful Pets owned most of the animals at the facility but some pets were returned to their owners. The Salina Journal reports that the business was searched Thursday after the Salina Animal Shelter received complaints. The owner could face up to 18 charges of violating Salina codes and several requirements for animal care. Vanessa Cowie, animal services supervisor for the shelter, said Playful Pets advertised day and overnight boarding for all types of animals but did not have a permit and the facility had not been inspected. The animals, which included birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, rats and pigs, are being cared for at the city animal shelter.

Woman Pleads Guilty in Highway Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence woman has pleaded guilty to arranging the shooting of her ex-boyfriend on a highway south of Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 22-year-old Brittany Nicole Smith pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The victim, 24-year-old Skylar Workman, survived after being shot May 26 on Highway 59. Testimony at a preliminary hearing in July indicated that Smith persuaded 25-year-old Edward Joseph Parker to shoot Workman. Sentencing was scheduled for January 9. Parker pleaded not guilty in July to attempted first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for December 1.


Man Guilty of Using Girlfriend as Police Shield

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man is guilty of kidnapping after using his girlfriend as a shield to escape from police. After a Reno County jury convicted 32-year-old Todd Lloyd Thursday, he was arrested as he was being led to the jail for allegedly complaining and threatening to kill several police officers. The Hutchinson News reports that prosecutors alleged Lloyd pointed two knives at his girlfriend's head in April when police came to arrest him on a warrant. He also placed her between himself and armed officers. Lloyd's attorney contended the girlfriend voluntarily went with Lloyd and stood between him and officers to keep him from being shot. State records show Lloyd has 11 convictions since 2001 in Reno, Sedgwick and Leavenworth counties.


Student Brings Gun to Northwest Missouri School

LATHROP, Mo. (AP) — A middle school student in northwest Missouri was taken into custody after pulling out an unloaded gun in the lunchroom. The incident happened around 11:30 am Friday at Lathrop Middle School. Superintendent Chris Fine says many other students were present when the boy waved the gun at the end of the lunch period. The school's principal heard about the gun and safely took it from the student, then called authorities. Lathrop police and the Missouri Highway Patrol responded along with Clinton County sheriff's deputies, who took the boy into custody for questioning. Lathrop is located about 40 miles northeast of Kansas City.


Crowd-Sourcing Website Kanstarter Goes Live

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A crowd-sourcing website aimed at helping Kansas communities has gone live with its first four projects. Kanstarter is powered by the Kansas Sampler Foundation. The site, which went live Thursday, allows people to donate time, talent or money to the projects. The Hutchinson News reports that the four projects on Kanstarter all have a common theme of improving Kansas rural life. One project is aimed at helping Burdett update its public miniature golf course. Another wants to help Plains purchase land to build a grocery store. The foundation's director described the website launch as soft, since the projects are new and everyone involved is still in the learning process. The foundation received $200,000 in community service tax credits from the state's commerce department to build the website.


Reno County Finds Cemetery Vases Too Late

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Reno County Sheriff's Office was too late when it found more than 25 vases that were stolen from cemeteries. Detective David Post says 26 brass vases were reported stolen from graves at the Turon Cemetery in October. The Hutchinson News reports a check with area scrap yards found more than 26 vases, and they all were crushed. Reno County investigators are advising other cemeteries in the region to check for similar thefts. Rolla Fetterman, the sexton of the Turon Cemetery, says monument and ground-mounted vases were stolen. Cemetery brass vases cost $400 to $500. The market price for scrap brass is about $2 per pound and the typical vase weighs about 7 pounds. Fetterman says people who own the burial plots and vases are responsible for replacing them.


Dole Concluding Statewide Homecoming Tour

MOUND CITY, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole returns to Kansas next week for the 10th and final leg of a statewide homecoming tour that began in April. The 91-year-old Russell native has scheduled stops in nine southeast Kansas communities Tuesday through Thursday. Those visits will complete his tour of all 105 counties to greet friends and supporters. Dole, who lives in Washington, spends about an hour at each stop.The tour will begin Tuesday with a stop at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Mound City. On Wednesday, Dole is to visit Fort Scott, Pittsburg, Columbus and Oswego. He concludes the tour Thursday with stops in Fredonia, Chanute, Iola and Garnett. The visits are separate from campaign appearances Dole plans to make on behalf of Republican candidates next week.


Still No Cause Identified in Plane Crash that Killed 3 Kansans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The NTSB's preliminary report on an Illinois plane crash that killed three doctors from Kansas doesn't say what caused the crash. But it says there was mist and skies were overcast on the night the plane went down and suggests the pilot could have become disoriented in the darkness. The crash occurred near Chicago nearly two weeks ago.  


Brownback Appoints District Court Judge in Salina

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback has appointed a veteran public defender in Salina to fill a soon-to-be vacant district court judgeship. Brownback announced yesterday that Paul Hickman will replace Saline County District Judge Jerome Hellmer, who is retiring in January. Hickman is currently the deputy public defender in the state's Salina public defender office.  


Deer Cam Captures Mountain Lion on KS Trail

OSWEGO, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas wildlife officials have confirmed a mountain lion sighting in Labette County. They've verified the authenticity of a recent photo from a deer hunter's trail camera that shows the mountain lion walking down a trail. It's the first confirmed sighting in Kansas in two years.  


SCOKAN Travels to KCK

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court is traveling to Kansas City next week for a special session to hear arguments from attorneys in five cases. The court's session begins Wednesday morning at Kansas City Kansas Community College.


Sheriff: Kansas Teen Injured in Police Chase

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The Sumner County Sheriff's Office says a 14-year-old driver has been hospitalized after a police chase that ended in a crash. Deputies tell KAKE-TV that the teenage boy from Wellington crashed into a lumberyard on Thursday. He was taken to a Wichita hospital. His condition is unclear. No other injuries were reported. The sheriff's office didn't say how the pursuit began. It says the chase ended when the teen ran a stop sign and crashed into Rothgeb Belle Plaine Lumber.


Police Seek Man in Alleged Hatchet Attack

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are searching for a man who they say struck his brother in the head with a hatchet. The 19-year-old victim was hospitalized yesterday morning with a laceration and skull fracture. Witnesses say he was arguing with his 20-year-old brother before the attack on Wednesday night.


Former Bail Bondsman Sentenced on Sex Charges

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas bail bondsman convicted of forcing women to have sex has been sentenced to 21 years in state prison. KWBW-AM reports that 66-year-old Dwight Jurgens told the judge at his sentencing Friday that the women who testified against him had lied. A Reno County jury convicted Jurgens last month of rape, aggravated human trafficking and attempted human trafficking. Prosecutors said Jurgens told four women he would revoke their bonds if they didn't have sex with him. The crimes occurred while Jurgens was a bonding agent for TNT Bonding. In at least one case, a woman was given drugs by Jurgens and passed out, only to discover him on top of her.


Religion Keeps Runner from Competing for State Championship

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) — One of the top high school cross country runners in Class 3A in Kansas won't be competing in this weekend's regional qualifying races because of her religious beliefs. Hesston senior Mikala Heddin has won three races of her five races this season and her fastest 4-kilometer time of 15 minutes, 2 seconds would make her a strong candidate to win a state title. The Wichita Eagle reports that Heddin says she can't compete because her beliefs won't let her run on the day of the Sabbath, which is Saturday. Heddin's family does not consider the faith they practice Jewish or Christian. They say they strictly follow the Ten Commandments and the Fourth Commandment prohibits work or to make others work on the Sabbath.


Orange-Clad Marlins Fan Stands Out at World Series

MIAMI (AP) — Among the standouts at the World Series has been a Miami Marlins fan in the front row behind home plate. Laurence Leavy's orange Marlins jersey made him easy to spot at Games 1 and 2 amid a sea of Kansas City Royals blue. He says a Royals official approached him offering to move him to the team owner's suite, but Leavy (pronounced Leh'-vee) declined. Two nights of network TV air time made Leavy a celebrity. Since the World Series began, his followers on Twitter have climbed from 175 to 6,800. The 58-year-old South Florida attorney describes himself as a sports geek who can afford to go to games around the country because he has no wife or children. He has been traveling to big events for 15 years, buying tickets on the Internet.




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