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Headlines for Friday, October 28, 2016

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

Health Insurance Premiums for Kansas Consumers Expected to Spike

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An analysis for The Associated Press shows Kansas consumers next year will see their premiums increase by 46 percent in health insurance markets created by the federal health care overhaul. That exceeds what the Obama administration says will be an average 25 percent jump in premiums for across the 39 states served by the federally run online market. But the analysis by Avalere Health and the AP also shows Kansas still will have two participating insurers in all 105 of its counties, as it had when the Affordable Care Act was rolled out in 2014. Nationwide, about one-third of U.S. counties will have one health marketplace insurer in 2017 — double the number of counties with a single insurer in 2014. Sign-up starts next Tuesday.

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Kansas High Court Justices Defend Handling of Capital Cases 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four Kansas Supreme Court justices facing a campaign to oust them in the November 8 election are defending the court's handling of capital punishment cases. Past high court rulings overturning death sentences are at the center of the effort to remove Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles and Marla Luckert. Justice Caleb Stegall also is on the ballot for a vote on his retention, but he's a 2014 appointee and not a target of the ouster campaign. The four targeted justices declined to discuss specific cases this week in written answers to questions from The Associated Press, citing judicial ethics rules. But all four said the court is fair and impartial. Nuss and Luckert also noted that the court has upheld several death sentences.

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Kansas GOP Focuses on Islamic State in Legislative Race Mailers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party is sending out mailers in legislative races depicting explosions and Islamic State fighters. The move comes as GOP candidates face a backlash against Governor Sam Brownback over the state's budget problems. The Wichita Eagle reports that one mailing to homes in Republican state Representative Joseph Scapa's district in Wichita shows an Islamic State fighter holding a machine gun with a message that reads: "Have you met the new neighbors?" It touts Scapa as a supporter of funding for law enforcement to help deal with threats. But critics said Friday that the mailer was anti-Muslim. Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker confirmed that similar mailings have been sent across the state. He said internal polling showed that security is a good issue for Republicans.

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Defeated Kansas Congressman Eyes Possible 2018 Comeback 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp is eyeing the 2018 election in a move to possibly reclaim the Kansas congressional seat he lost in the Republican primary. The Hutchinson News reports that Huelskamp quietly filed his statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on October 17 for the sprawling 1st District of western and central Kansas. The ultra-conservative Republican was defeated in August by physician Roger Marshall, a political newcomer backed by farming and business groups. Marshall faces independent Alan LaPolice in the general election. Huelskamp's clashes with former Speaker John Boehner helped get him booted from the House Agriculture Committee, and the state's loss of that seat became a campaign issue during the GOP primary in the farming district. Huelskamp is a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus.

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Kansas Man to Be Tried on Multiple Sexual Assault Charges

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A judge has found sufficient evidence for a northeast Kansas man to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting five women and a teenager. The final preliminary hearing for Jacob Ewing ended Thursday with Jackson County Judge Norbert Marek finding probable cause to bind the 21-year-old over for trial on charges of sodomizing a 13-year-old girl in a rural cemetery. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Marek previously ordered Ewing to stand trial in the other cases. During the hearing, Ewing pleaded not guilty to charges in several cases brought against him. Marek also set trial dates. County Attorney Shawna Miller alleges that Ewing took the girl for a car ride that ended in the assault. The defense argued that the girl initially testified that nothing had happened.

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Kansas Sheriff Calls Lawsuit Claims 'Baseless'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff's detective claims in a lawsuit he was fired after refusing to end an investigation into rape allegations against a Holton man. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, Al Dunn claims Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse pressured him to back off the investigation into rape allegations against Jacob Ewing. The lawsuit claims Morse faced complaints from Ewing's family and friends who believed they could influence Morse's re-election bid. Morse told The Topeka Capital-Journal the claims are "baseless" and "ludicrous," and his department hasn't faced pressure to back off the investigation. He also said he wouldn't discuss Dunn's termination because it's a personnel matter. Ewing has pleaded not guilty to charges including rape and aggravated indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14.

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University of Kansas Police Investigating Alleged On-Campus Rape 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An 18-year-old man is in custody in Lawrence after he was accused of rape and sexual battery at a University of Kansas residence hall. University police arrested the man Thursday morning at Oliver Hall. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the suspect's name has not been released but school officials confirmed he is a KU student. University police and the Douglas County District Attorney's Office declined to comment or provide further details. The man was booked into the Douglas County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

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Voting Heavy at Early Polling Sites Across Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More than twice as many Kansas voters are now casting ballots at early polling sites across Kansas, compared to the last presidential election. The latest figures from the Kansas Secretary of State's office show 67,211 people voted in-person as of Thursday morning— almost double the 33,832 who did so at that point in the 2014 election. Mail-in ballots are going out at roughly the same pace, with 173,893 mail-in ballots sent out since October 19. Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metzger says his county has broken all-time records every day since in-person voting began Monday. Metzger says they are also processing a backlog of 9,700 voter registrations — part of what he calls a "tsunami" that hit during the two days before last week's deadline.

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Government Resists Paying Expert in Prison Recordings Case 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say the government isn't required to pay for an expert to investigate whether recordings inside a private prison violated inmates' constitutional rights. Attorneys say some of their meetings and phone calls with clients at the Corrections Corp. of America prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, have been recorded in violation of the inmates' Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has appointed Ohio attorney David Cohen as special master to look into possible violations of attorney-client privilege. He will be paid $500 an hour to identify confidential information in possibly hundreds of hours of recordings, and Robinson ordered the Department of Justice to pay him. Prosecutors argue in a motion filed Thursday that Robinson isn't authorized to force the government to pay for Cohen's services.

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$2 Million Lawsuit Filed in Hutchinson Store Robbery
 
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A convenience store clerk has filed a $2 million civil lawsuit against four men serving prison time for a Hutchinson robbery in which the clerk says she was beaten. The Hutchinson News reports attorney Matt Bretz filed the lawsuit on behalf of Jo Dee Samples. Authorities say Dakota Ney, Drake Lindsay and Karl Koenig, all 19, and 20-year-old Kurt Koenig robbed the Hutchinson Kwik Shop on Jan. 27 and attacked Samples. The lawsuit says Samples was beaten and a stun gun was used on her. Samples says she'll likely be permanently disabled. The men appeared in court Thursday. In written responses to the lawsuit, Karl Koenig said he did not assault the Samples during the robbery and asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Kurt Koenig and Lindsay deny the lawsuit's allegations. Ney didn't file a response.

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Kansas Energy Company Requests $17.4M Rate Increase

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Westar Energy has filed a request to raise its prices by about $17.4 million, which would raise the average residential bill in Kansas by about $1.54 per month.  Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig says the company filed the request with the Kansas Corporation Commission to recover costs that weren't available when last year's full price was conducted. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bulk of the $17.4 million request is related to environmental upgrades at power plants to meet federal requirements , primarily at the LaCygne Generation Station. Other costs include $6.5 million used to make investments in the grid design for improved reliability.

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Lawsuit Filed over Fatal 2014 Crash at Wichita Airport 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — FlightSafety International is suing nearly 20 companies over a fatal plane crash at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport.  A Beechcraft King Air B200 crashed into a FlightSafety building at the airport in October 2014, killing four people and injuring six. The building and several flight simulators were destroyed. The lawsuit filed this week alleges the various companies contributed to the crash because of negligence, breach of implied warranty and other counts. The amount of damages FlightSafety is seeking has not been disclosed. The National Transportation Safety Board says the plane was in the air for just over a minute when it crashed. The pilot, Mark Goldstein, was among the dead.

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3-Year-Old Boy Dies of Gunshot Wound in Kansas City 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a 3-year-old died from a gunshot wound inside a home in eastern Kansas City. Police spokeswoman Stacey Graves says police were called to the home Thursday morning and found the boy with a gunshot wound. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and he died at the home. Several people were inside the home when the shooting occurred. Police are investigating to determine the circumstances of the shooting and few other details were immediately available.

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Wichita Man Charged with Murder in Crash that Killed 91-Year-Old 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged with crashing into and killing a 91-year-old driver while fleeing from police in a stolen car. Eighteen-year-old Alex Davis was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the crash that killed James Dexter on Monday. Davis also is charged in the alternative with second-degree murder, and with fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, leaving the scene of an accident, burglary, theft, attempted aggravated robbery and driving with a suspended license. The Wichita Eagle reports that he is jailed on $250,000 bond. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has said the pursuit started after an officer saw Davis run a stop sign and that the cahse lasted just 14 seconds before the fatal crash.

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Missouri Woman Convicted for Scamming Lottery Winner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal jury convicted a former Kansas City woman of defrauding another woman out of hundreds of thousands of dollars from lottery winnings. Federal prosecutors say 43-year-old Freya Pearson used the money to support a gambling habit and for personal extravagances. Pearson also improperly received federal housing benefits and didn't pay income taxes, causing a total loss of more than $640,000. She was found guilty Thursday of nine counts arising from the schemes. Prosecutors say she convinced a woman who won $2.4 million in the Missouri Lottery in 2008 to transfer money from an annuity to Pearson's account. Pearson didn't tell her victim that she intended to use the money for such things as gambling, buying cars and travel. She faces up to 100 years in federal prison without parole.

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Kansas Deputy Charged with Domestic Battery Retires 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff's deputy who faces two criminal charges after an altercation at his home has retired. The Wichita Eagle reports that Burton Garrett is charged in Sedgwick County District Court with aggravated assault and domestic battery. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said Thursday that Garrett was placed on administrative leave at the time of his arrest but has since retired from the force. Sheriff Easter said that Garrett, who has been a deputy for more than 20 years, was arrested on October 12. Easter said the arrested followed a "disturbance at the deputy's home." A family member contacted authorities. Garrett's preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 9.

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Hallmark to Hire 400 More Workers at Distribution Warehouse 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hallmark plans to hire about 400 more employees at its warehouse in Liberty, Missouri, as it consolidates its warehouse and distribution work. The Kansas City Star reports the jobs will be added during the next 12 months. By this time next year, the plant will have between 1,100 and 1,200 full-time employees. The plant currently has about 700 full-time employees. Those gains are offset by losses at another Hallmark warehouse. About 570 employees at the company's distribution center in Enfield, Connecticut, were told Tuesday that they would lose their jobs. That center will close by the end of June. It's the latest of several cost-cutting moves in recent years by Hallmark. The company's U.S. employment now is about half what it was at its 1997 peak of 13,500.

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Salina Zoo Prepares for Birth of Giraffe 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Rolling Hills Zoo near Salina has announced that it is preparing for the birth of a baby giraffe. The Salina Journal reports that Zuri, a 6-year-old giraffe, is pregnant. The baby giraffe is expected to arrive in late November or early December. The gestation period for giraffes can last up to 15 months, and newborns can weigh close to 150 pounds and be 6 feet tall. The name and sex of the newborn giraffe will be determined at birth.

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