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Headlines for Friday, September 12, 2014

Kansas High Court Hears Offender Registry Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The attorney representing a convicted child molester has urged the Kansas Supreme Court to take a fresh look at the state's criminal offender registry because social media has made the Internet the new town square for public shaming. Attorney Chris Joseph said during oral arguments Thursday that the world has changed dramatically since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court found criminal offender registration was not punitive. But Assistant Attorney General Christopher Grunewald argued that justices should overturn a Kansas judge's finding that removed a Lenexa man's name from the offender registry. The state contends the case seeks to end the dissemination of public information to third-party websites. The outcome of the case has implications for people whose listing requirements were retroactively lengthened when the state changed its law in 2011.


Kansas Court to Hear US Senate Ballot Dispute Next Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court will hold a hearing next week on a petition by the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate to get his name removed from the November ballot. The court on Thursday scheduled arguments on Democrat Chad Taylor's petition for 9 am Tuesday. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said in a two-page order that the court was hearing the case without a review by a lower court because of the need for an authoritative ruling. Taylor dropped out of the Senate race last week. But Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Taylor's withdrawal letter didn't comply with a state law limiting when nominees' names can be removed from the ballot. Taylor's withdrawal could boost the chances of independent candidate Greg Orman defeating three-term GOP Senator Pat Roberts.


Stegall to Join Kansas Supreme Court on December 5

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Caleb Stegall is scheduled to be sworn in as the Kansas Supreme Court's newest justice on December 5. The Supreme Court announced the swearing in-ceremony Friday. Stegall currently serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals. Governor Sam Brownback appointed him to the state's highest court last month. It was Brownback's first appointment to the seven-member Supreme Court. Stegall will replace former Justice Nancy Moritz, who was appointed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Stegall is 42 and was serving as Brownback's chief counsel when the governor appointed him to the Court of Appeals last year. He served as Jefferson County's elected prosecutor for two years before joining Brownback's staff in January 2011.


Kansas Senator Has 1st Web Ad; Foe Calls It 'Fake'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Senator Pat Roberts's re-election campaign has posted an online ad attacking independent candidate Greg Orman as a liberal pretending to be conservative. But Orman's campaign demanded Friday that Roberts' team remove the ad because it edits audio from their recent debate at the Kansas State Fair. The ad accuses Orman of pretending to be conservative like Roberts. It features a string of video clips from the debate in which Orman agrees with Roberts. The last of those clips features audio edited from two parts of the debate. Orman spokesman Sam Edelen called the audio "fake" and said it had been manipulated while being represented as exactly what Orman said at the debate. Roberts campaign manager Corry Bliss called the criticism laughable.


KU Creates Sexual Assault Task Force, Requires Training

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas will create a task force and require training in response to criticism of its handling of sexual assault complaints. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced Thursday that the task force will review the university's current policies and practices and recommend improvements. In a message on her website, Gray-Little said she wants to ensure that students, faculty and staff take training on the subject and not completing the training will lead to sanctions. The actions come after some university students and activists released a video telling prospective students that the university was not safe. A panel discussion on sexual assault also will be held next Thursday during Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Gray-Little says she will attend the discussion.


Lawmakers Send Letter Opposing Transplant Changes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Fifty-two U.S. House members have signed a letter voicing concerns about a proposal to change the map that governs how donated livers are distributed around the country. The letter, dated Friday, was written by Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder, a Republican. It comes in advance of a meeting Tuesday in Chicago to discuss a proposal to redraw the nation's transplant regions. The issue is that some areas have fewer donated organs, and higher demand for them, than others. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which runs the nation's transplant network, has proposed basing the map on the distribution and demand for donated organs. The lawmakers who signed the letter are largely from the South and the Midwest. Those regions have higher organ donation rates and fear they would be negatively affected.


Services This Weekend for Slain Topeka Officer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officials and people from across Kansas are remembering a Topeka police corporal killed in the line of duty. Corporal Jason Harwood will lie in state from 3 to 6 pm today (FRI) in Exhibition Hall at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. His funeral is Saturday morning. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports officers from the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Topeka Police Department and several other departments gathered at a Topeka church Thursday as a U.S. Honor Flag was delivered. The flag was brought from Texas to Kansas, where members of the Topeka Police Department honor guard carried it into the church. Harwood was a decorated 15-year police veteran who was shot after he pulled over a car Sunday.


Kansas Courthouse Evacuated for Suspicious Item

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas courthouse is open again after being evacuated when an employee found a couple of liquid-filled bottles taped together near a handicapped entrance. Douglas County sheriff's spokesman Lieutenant Steve Lewis says investigators decided not to take any chances after the suspicious bottles were found around 8:30 am Friday at the old courthouse in Lawrence. Lewis says the Olathe bomb squad was called in to handle the items, and after a robot retrieved them a search dog sniffed around and didn't find any signs of explosives. The courthouse was reopened at 1 pm Friday and Lewis says the incident is considered resolved.


Investigators: Fire at Northeast Kansas Mansion Was Arson

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Investigators in northeast Kansas say a fire that destroyed a 9,000-square-foot home this week was intentionally set. The owner of the secluded mansion near Lake Quivira in Shawnee was out of town in Colorado when the fire broke out Wednesday afternoon. The Shawnee Fire Department said Friday someone had also stolen items from the house and vandalized it. Investigators did not specify how the fire was set. KCTV reports that the four-bedroom, eight-bath house sits on 15 acres and also has a pool, a greenhouse and a fish pond. The home had recently been listed for sale for $1.5 million, but the listing had been pulled and the house was not for sale at the time of the fire.


Ogallala Aquifer Subject of State Fair Discussion

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Ideas for sustaining the Ogallala Aquifer will be discussed this weekend at the Kansas State Fair. A Kansas State University group called the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy is organizing round-table discussions Sunday afternoon at the fairgrounds. The Ogallala is an underground source of water locked inside gravel and sand hundreds of feet below the surface. It stretches across several states, from Nebraska to Texas, including about 30,500 square miles in western and central Kansas. But water is being pumped out of it to irrigate crops faster than it can be replenished. The goal of the nonpartisan Kansas State group leading the discussion is to understand the issues and options.


Deal in Works on Some Claims over Monsanto Wheat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A potential settlement appears to be in the works on some claims in lawsuits over the May 2013 discovery of genetically engineered Monsanto wheat in an Oregon field. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil in Kansas has given the parties until September 29 to file stipulations of dismissal of claims brought by growers of soft white wheat. She has also stayed proceedings to give the remaining parties a chance to explore a possible settlement. An order filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas gives the parties until October 27 to file a joint report on efforts to resolve the case. At least 13 lawsuits against St. Louis-based Monsanto over have been consolidated in Kansas. The lawsuits were initially filed in Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas, Mississippi, Washington, Arkansas and Idaho.


Kansas State University Restricts Travel to African Countries

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State University is restricting travel of university-sponsored students, faculty and staff to several African countries affected by the Ebola virus. The university said in a letter Wednesday to the Kansas State community that it will deny university-sponsored travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have been placed on a federal travel alert list. Travel requests to nearby Nigeria and the Congo will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The university also said that anyone who has traveled to those countries in the last four weeks needs to be screened at the Lafene Health Center on the Manhattan campus. The Manhattan Mercury reports that as of Wednesday, 16 people who were screened were found to be not at risk of contracting Ebola.


Kansas Supreme Court to Hold Session at College

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court plans to hold court late next month at Kansas City Kansas Community College as part of its outreach effort in which sessions occasionally are held at various sites across the state. The justices will be in session from 9 am to noon October 29 in the Performing Arts Center on the KCKCC main campus. The schedule includes oral arguments in two criminal cases and three civil cases. Prior to the Supreme Court's visit, its staff will work with the college's faculty to identify classes of students who would like to attend the special session. That will include providing background information about the cases to the students so they know the basic legal questions being argued. The court began visiting various communities in 2011.


Police Chase Ends in Fiery Crash in Kansas

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — A law enforcement chase of a vehicle ended with a crash and fiery accident in north-central Kansas. Ottawa County Sheriff Keith Coleman says the chase started Friday morning in Minneapolis when an officer tried to stop a pickup truck because a taillight was out. The driver fled and was chased by Minneapolis police and Ottawa County sheriff's deputies on U.S. 81 into Saline County. It eventually hit a Saline County Sheriff vehicle, went down an embankment and caught fire. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the truck was stolen. KCLY reports that Coleman said the vehicle was carrying several cans of gasoline, which likely caused the fire. The 51-year-old driver of the truck was treated for minor injuries and is jailed in Ottawa County. The trooper was treated for minor injuries.

Thieves Target Wichita Habitat for Humanity Site

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials of Wichita Habitat for Humanity are scrambling to make up for a costly break-in at a storage unit. KWCH-TV reports that subcontractors and electricians at a home-building site discovered earlier this week that all of the power tools being stored in the pod had been stolen. Wichita Habitat for Humanity executive director Ann Fox says someone used a saw to cut through a padlock. She says the replacement cost is about $12,000. Police had not recovered any of the tools by Friday. But members of the Wichita Area Builders Association have replaced some of the items out of their warehouses. Fox said she's grateful for the help. The project has been underway for several months, and Fox said the donated tools will help keep the work going.


Kansas Corn Crop Forecast Larger than Anticipated

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The latest government forecast on Kansas crop production is painting a far rosier picture than had been anticipated for most fall crops just a month ago. The National Agricultural Statistics Service predicted Thursday that Kansas growers would bring in 578 million bushels of corn this season. That figure is 14 percent above last year's production. Higher yields that are averaging 154 bushels per acre are making up for the fact that harvested corn acreage this year is expected to be down 6 percent this year to 3.75 million acres. Production of grain sorghum in Kansas is now estimated to come in at 182 million bushels, up 10 percent from a year ago. Harvest of soybeans is forecast at 147 million bushels, up 15 percent from last year.


Woman Sentenced for Texting-While-Driving Fatality

PRATT, Kan. (AP) - A southern Kansas woman has been placed on a year of supervised probation for a texting-while-driving crash that left another driver dead. The Pratt Tribune reports that 36-year-old Jennifer Dale, of Preston, must also pay a $1,000 fine under the sentence she received Wednesday. Dale pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of vehicular homicide in the December 2012 crash that killed 78-year-old Virginia Sell, of Stafford. Authorities said Sell had slowed on Kansas 61 to make a left turn when her car was rear-ended by Dale's vehicle. The impact sent Sell's car into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer. Sell was thrown from her car and died at the scene. Dale's probation requires her to speak at six schools about the consequences of texting while driving.


FBI Probes Vandalism at Missouri Congressman's Office

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal investigators are looking into what appears to have been an attempt to firebomb a U.S. congressman's office in Missouri. Kansas City police were called to U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver's office in Kansas City around 2:50 am Thursday after an alarm sounded at the building. Police Sergeant Kari Thompson says two alcohol bottles - one rum and one Jagermeister - were found shattered on the ground outside below a broken office window. Thompson says paper towels were sticking out of the necks of the bottles and it appeared they had been ignited but were extinguished during flight. Cleaver was in Washington, D.C., and there were no staff members in the building at the time. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton says the agency is investigating the incident.


Kansas Conference Reviews Higher Education Courses

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Faculty from state universities, community colleges and technical colleges in Kansas are meeting to review courses as part of an effort to make sure students can transfer some credits among all institutions. Nearly 300 people were registered to attend Friday's annual Kansas Core Outcomes Group Project conference at Johnson County Community College. The project is coordinated by the state Board of Regents. Faculty members review course materials and set common outcomes across institutions, so that the transfer of credits is then guaranteed for students. The conference then recommends courses to add to the board's list for guaranteed credit transfers, with the regents making the final decision. There are 46 courses on the list, and 11 others are under consideration.


3 Missouri Residents Sentenced for Selling Meth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 40-year-old Kansas City man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possessing firearms while trafficking in drugs. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City says Carlos Olivas, also known as "Chuco," was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in April. A northwest Missouri mother and her son were sentenced on Wednesday for participating in the same meth-dealing conspiracy. Prosecutors say 47-year-old Onis Eads - also known as Onis Jones - of Humphreys was sentenced to three years and 11 months, while her son, 25-year-old John Carr of Galt, was sentenced to eight years and 11 months. Carr and his mother both admitted purchasing large amounts of methamphetamine from Olivas so they could sell it.


Newton Police Shift Patrols to Combat Vandalism

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Newton police warn that a rise in the amount of city graffiti could lead to gang fights over turf. Sergeant Bryan Hall told KAKE-TV on Thursday that there have been 57 cases of new graffiti found in the past six months. He says gangs often use the tags to mark their territory. Hall says the increase has caused police to shift patrols to downtown and near the skate park. Police hopes residents will report graffiti using the department's crime tracking application.



Former Bank Worker Sentenced for Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City woman is going to prison for embezzling more than $650,000 from the bank where she worked. The U.S. Attorney's office says 54-year-old Lisa L. Taylor was sentenced Thursday to six years and six months without parole. Taylor pleaded guilty in February to defrauding UMB Bank, where she worked as a closing account specialist from May 2006 until October 2010. Eleven of her friends and relatives in Missouri and Kansas also pleaded guilty to taking part in the conspiracy. Taylor admitted generating 377 fraudulent checks, some of them payable to friends and relatives who cashed the checks and gave Taylor part of the proceeds. The scheme also involved $97,000 worth of checks made payable to fictitious names. Taylor forged the signatures and deposited the checks into her own bank account.


Police Chase Ends with Arrests in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Kansas City, Kansas, police say they've arrested a homicide suspect after a chase that crossed state lines. Police say the tried to stop a vehicle in Kansas because the driver fit the description of a homicide suspect. They say the chase ended in North Kansas City, Missouri, after the vehicle crashed. They say the driver and two other men attempted to flee on foot. Police have not released their identities.


Wichita Police Plan Arrests in Junior Football Brawl

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say they plan to arrest some of the people who beat up a coach at a junior football league practice. Lt. James Espinoza told KAKE-TV on Thursday that charges are pending and arrests will be made "in the near future." He says several people involved in the Monday fight have been banned from the league. Police say the fight began in Wichita's Linwood Park after one man complained his son wasn't getting enough playing time. They say six men attacked the coach, with one using brass knuckles and another indicating he had a gun. They say the coach's wife pulled out a gun and fired a shot into the air. No one was seriously hurt. A league representative says the coach is no longer with the team.


Royals Fall to Red Sox But Holland, Duffy Could Return For Weekend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The last-place Boston Red Sox took advantage of three critical errors by the first-place Kansas City Royals, pulling away late in a 6-3 victory Thursday night Kansas City's advantage in the AL Central dropped to a half-game over idle Detroit. Royals pitcher Liam Hendriks failed to last three innings while making a spot start for left-hander Danny Duffy, who is shelved with shoulder soreness. But Royals manager Ned Yost said before Thursday night's game that All-Star closer Greg Holland could be available by this weekend after dealing with some tightness in his right arm, while Duffy was awaiting word from doctors before beginning to throw again. Holland has not pitched since saving a 4-1 win over Texas on Sept. 3.


Jayhawks Hope to End Road Suffering at Duke

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Charlie Weis may not know exactly how long it's been since the Jayhawks last won on the road, but he has a decent grasp of the drought. He calls it an eternity. It's been 1,827 days, or just about five years exactly. When the Jayhawks beat the University of Texas, El Paso 34-7 on September 13, 2009, every player on the current Kansas roster was still in high school — or middle school. KU hopes to break their long, away-game, losing streak when they visit Duke this weekend.


Dissecting the Kansas City Chiefs' Terrible Season Opener

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Was last year a smoke-and-mirrors mirage? Did the Kansas City Chiefs go from 2-14 to 11-5 and the playoffs on the strength of dumb luck? There's an argument to be made for it after their season-opening loss to Tennessee. Alex Smith threw three interceptions after receiving a big contract extension. Running ball Jamaal Charles touched the ball 11 times after getting his own new deal. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended. First-round draft pick Dee Ford got on the field for just three snaps. Defensive starters Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito were lost to season-ending injuries, too. Now, the Chiefs will have to pull out of a downward spiral at arguably the toughest place in the AFC: Denver. They visit the Broncos in Week 2 on Sunday.


Chiefs Starting Lineman Allen Likely Headed to IR

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Jeff Allen had surgery Friday on his right elbow and will likely be out the rest of the season, the latest blow to a team already ravaged by injuries and suspensions. Allen hurt his elbow after starting Sunday's season-opening loss to Tennessee. In the same game, Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson and starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito ruptured their right Achilles tendons, ending their seasons. Allen was supposed to be the starting left guard, but he moved to right tackle when Donald Stephenson was suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy. Ryan Harris is expected to start at right tackle when the Chiefs visit Denver on Sunday.



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