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Headlines for Friday, September 13, 2019

2 Teens Charged with Bringing Guns to Kansas Middle School

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Two 13-year-olds have been charged with bringing guns to a suburban Kansas City middle school.  The Kansas City Star reports that prosecutors in Johnson County announced Thursday that the teens are charged with being juveniles in possession of a firearm. The announcement was made one day after the guns were found in the students' backpacks at Hocker Grove Middle School in Shawnee.  Principal Chris Kase said in a letter to parents that administrators were tipped off by concerned classmates. The principal noted that no evidence suggests that the teens planned to use the guns at the middle school.  Johnson County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Kristi Bergeron says other details, including the teens' names, won't be released because of their age.

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Remains of Kansas Soldier Killed at Pearl Harbor Returned to Home State for Burial

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Nearly 78 years after he died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Navy Seaman 2nd Class Wilbur Clayton Barrett will be laid to rest in his native Kansas.  Barrett's remains were returned to Wichita Thursday. He will be buried in El Dorado on Saturday.  He was an El Dorado native who enlisted in the Navy in May 1940 at age 25.  The Wichita Eagle reports Barrett's remains were commingled in mass graves in Hawaii with hundreds of others killed on the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack. Advances in DNA and a renewed push by the military to identify remains led to Barrett being positively identified last June.  Barrett's great nephew, 72-year-old Joe Binter, said the Navy used DNA from one of his aunts to identify the sailor.

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State Rejects Westar Proposal, Saving Kansas Customers Millions

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State utility regulators have rejected a request by Westar Energy to pass along the cost of buying 8% of the Jeffrey Energy Center.  The Wichita Eagle reports the request would have cost electric customers an estimated $93 million during the next 15 years.  The Kansas Corporation Commission's order, released Thursday, said Westar doesn't need the extra power to meet customer demand.  Westar purchased the 8% share of Jeffrey Energy Center, near St. Marys, from its previous owner, in a deal that closed in August. The remaining 92% of the plant is owned by Westar and Kansas City Power & Light, which have merged.  Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said the company is evaluating the commission order. She said Westar disputes the estimate that the purchase would cost customers $93 million.

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Another Republican Announces Run for 1st District Congressional Seat

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Republican commissioner for western Kansas' Finney County has kicked off his campaign for the state's 1st District seat in Congress after two-term incumbent Roger Marshall announced plans to run for the Senate.  Bill Clifford said Thursday in announcing his candidacy that he will stand with President Donald Trump and represent "conservative values."  The announcement comes after Marshall announced last weekend that he will run for the U.S. Senate held by Sen. Pat Roberts, who is not seeking re-election.  Clifford is a Garden City ophthalmologist, Air Force veteran and father of six. He pledged in a written statement to defend the Second Amendment, the "Right to Life" and to "work to secure the borders."  Former Kansas Lt. Governor Tracey Mann also has announced plans to run for Marshall's seat.

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Woman Convicted in Shooting Death of Kansas Boyfriend

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old woman has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her boyfriend in Kansas.  Gregoria Elizabeth Baez, who was convicted Thursday. She was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Felix Florez of Manhattan, who was a Geary County correctional officer, but the jury convicted her of the lesser charge.  The Manhattan Mercury reports Florez was shot in September 2018 at a home he shared with Baez. She claimed they were joking around and pulled guns on each other when she accidentally shot Florez.  She will be sentenced November 12.

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Police Investigate Deadly Western Kansas Shooting

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting outside a western Kansas restaurant.  Police responded around 11 pm Thursday to a report that the victim was lying on the ground at the El Conquistador restaurant in Garden City. The victim was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police aren't immediately releasing the victim's name, pending notification of relatives.  Police say no suspects are in custody.

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Ohio Gamer Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison in 'Swatting' Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An Ohio video game player upset about an online bet has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for recruiting another man to make a bogus emergency call in 2017 that led to police killing a Kansas man. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Friday also imposed a restriction on gaming activity by 19-year-old Casey Viner of North College Hill, Ohio, for two years. Viner pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He has admitted trying to hide his involvement after realizing the antic got someone killed. Viner and Shane Gaskill of Wichita, Kansas, got into a dispute while playing Call of Duty: WWII online. Viner then asked Tyler Barriss of Los Angeles to "swat" Gaskill. Police responding to the call shot Andrew Finch when he came to the door at Gaskill's old address.

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Ex-ICE Agent Accused of Impersonating Officer to Free Inmate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been accused of impersonating an immigration officer during a foiled attempt to help an inmate escape from a local jail in Kansas.  A criminal complaint made public Thursday charges 41-year-old Andrew J. Pleviak with attempted aiding of escape, false impersonation, forgery, making a false information and interference with a law enforcement officer related to the escape attempt last week from the Kingman County jail.  Pleviak does not yet have a defense attorney representing him.  He is accused of falsely identifying himself as another man who is an actual ICE agent in an effort on Sept. 3 to free an inmate who is being held on local charges and on an ICE detainer. Pleviak was arrested Sept. 3 at the jail.

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Forecast: Kansas Farmers to Harvest Record Corn Crop

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report forecasts that Kansas farmers will harvest a record 816 million bushels of corn this this year.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Thursday that the anticipated corn production, if realized, would be up 27% from a year ago.  Kansas growers are expected to cut corn off 6 million acres, up 20% from last year. Average yields at 136 bushels per acre are also higher by 7 bushels from a year ago.  Production of other major fall crops in the state is expected to be down this season.  The anticipated sorghum harvest of 197 million bushels is down 16% compared to last year.  The projected soybean production fell 2% from a year ago to 200 million bushels.  Forecasts are based on crop conditions as of September 1.

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Agreement Means Feds to Decide on Prairie Bird Designation

DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge has approved an agreement that will require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a recommendation by May 2021 whether the lesser prairie chicken should be federally protected as a threatened or endangered species. The agreement was reached Thursday between the federal agency and three conservations groups: the Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians. The groups sued the federal government in June to force it to make a designation for the lesser prairie chicken and its habitats. Once a designation is proposed, there will then be a public comment period followed by a final determination made later by Fish and Wildlife. The agency also could decide that no federal protections be provided for the bird. It was listed as threatened in 2014 but a federal court overturned the designation. The grouse roams parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, but the groups said fewer than 38,000 remain .

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Kansas Law Enforcement Officers Seize More than $880,000 in Suspected Drug Money

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have filed four cases seeking to keep more than $358,000 in suspected drug money recovered by Kansas officers in separate traffic stops on Interstate 70 in August and September.  The U.S. Attorney's office filed the four cases involving traffic stops in Ellis, Ellsworth, Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties.  In the most recent case filed Wednesday, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper reportedly found $98,600 during a stop in Ellis County. The money was wrapped in rubber bands inside vacuum-sealed plastic bags hidden in a quarter panel.  The Wichita Eagle reports federal prosecutors filed four similar cases in June in Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Ellsworth and Chase counties.  The eight cases filed since June total about $884,000 in suspected drug money seized by law enforcement officers on interstate highways in Kansas.

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Police Investigate Fatal Shooting of Restaurant Owner

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City police say a 69-year-old restaurant owner was fatally shot outside his business. Ernest Ortiz died at a hospital from wounds he suffered Thursday night. He was found lying on the ground outside the El Conquistador restaurant in Garden City. Police say no suspects are in custody. Police Capt. Randy Ralston says Ortiz may have been killed during an attempted robbery.

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Rains Change Planned Water Releases into Missouri River

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water to be released into the lower Missouri River will change in the coming days to accommodate recent heavy rains in the Upper Plains. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a news release Friday that water releases from Gavins Point Dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will be reduced to 65,000 cubic feet per second on Saturday and down to 60,000 cubic feet per second on Sunday. The Corps says that reduction will last no longer than three days before releases are incrementally increased by 5,000 cubic feet per second, per a day going up to 80,000 cubic feet per second. The Corps says it hopes that briefly lowering releases may curtail possible flooding on the Missouri River between Sioux City, Iowa and Omaha.

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Shawnee Mission District to Settle Sexual Assault Lawsuit

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee Mission School District will settle a lawsuit that alleged school officials didn't act when a male student was repeatedly accused of sexual offenses before he assaulted a student in a middle school classroom.  The Kansas City Star report s the amount of the settlement was not disclosed.  The lawsuit claimed an eighth-grade student at Westridge Middle School was accused of making unwanted advances toward three students before he assaulted a female student in 2017.  The district says in court documents that it was investigating the reports of unwanted advances when it learned about 2017 assault.  The student was expelled in March 2017 and the school resource officer filed a police report that month.  The boy was convicted in December 2017 of three counts of battery and one count of aggravated liberties with a child.

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Missouri AG to Release Report on Church Sex Crimes

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Friday will release details of a lengthy investigation into sex crimes involving Roman Catholic clergy.  A news conference is scheduled for 10 am in St. Louis.  Schmitt's predecessor, Josh Hawley, began the investigation in August 2018. Hawley was elected to the U.S. Senate in November and Schmitt was appointed as his replacement.  In recent months, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Diocese of Jefferson City and the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau have all issued their own findings of abuse investigations.  The investigations followed the release of a report in Pennsylvania last year that cited the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests since the 1940s and the efforts of church leaders to cover it up.

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U.S. Senate Approves Trump Nominee with Kansas Connections for Federal Reserve Board

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's nomination of Michelle Bowman to serve a full 14-year term on the seven-member Federal Reserve board.  Bowman, a graduate of the University of Kansas and Washburn University's School of Law, was approved Thursday on a 60-31 vote.  She had initially taken the spot on the Fed board designated for a community banker in November 2018 to fill an unexpired term ending on January 31 of next year. Trump, who has been highly critical of the Fed over the past year, renominated her to fill a full 14-year term on the board.  Before joining the Fed, Bowman served as state bank commissioner of Kansas.  The board currently has two vacancies. Trump has not yet submitted his nominations to Congress.  Bowman spent part of her childhood in Kansas and graduated from high school in Council Grove.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Storage Units Broken into in Wichita Last Year

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A break-in at storage units in Wichita, Kansas, became a diplomatic security issue last year because two of the units belong to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  A Wichita police statement says the State Department sent a security officer to the East Side Mini Storage last November to discuss the case with police. A State Department official said it is standard procedure to send an agent to investigate any incidents involving the secretary.  The case has been temporarily closed without any viable leads or suspects.  The Kansas City Star reports a police report obtained through an open records request said the former Kansas congressman's units contained tables, chairs and some campaign items.  Wichita police spokesman Officer Charley Davidson said it appears the theft was random and Pompeo's units were not targeted.

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Lawrence Man Gets Probation for Giving Drugs to Teenager

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 56-year-old Lawrence man was sentenced to three years of probation for giving a teenager drugs that nearly killed him. Dana Wingert pleaded no contest Wednesday to seven charges, including two counts of endangering a child. He had previously pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go to trial in October. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a police affidavit says the boy and his 16-year-old friend passed out from a cocktail of drugs and alcohol they took at Wingert's home on April 21. Police were able to revive the 16-year-old but the 15-year-old was taken to a hospital in critical condition and placed on life support. Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to the Douglas County district attorney, said Thursday she could not update the boy's condition.

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51-Year-Old Kansas Man Convicted in 1988 Double Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been convicted of fatally shooting a Baptist church pastor and choir director three decades ago in Kansas City, Kansas. Wyandotte County prosecutors announced Thursday that 51-year-old Melvin Shields was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the April 1988 killings of 27-year-old Jolene Jones and 33-year-old Steve Ray. The Kansas City Star reports that victims were longtime friends who had a daughter together. They had met for lunch one day before their bodies were found in a secluded area near the Kansas River. Authorities say Jones' purse was found several blocks away, and her car was abandoned. A few months after the killings, Jones was sentenced to prison for unrelated burglary and theft convictions. He later was convicted of other crimes, including aggravated battery and burglary.

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Judge: 10-Year-Old Involved in Arson, Missouri Boy's Death

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A judge has found enough evidence existed to believe a 10-year-old boy was involved in the death of a 14-year-old boy whose body was found in a burned out house.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports the judge found the boy committed involuntary manslaughter and arson in the death of Cameron Satterley.  Investigators believe Satterley died in a house fire on February 20 but his body was not found until April 25. A hearing will be held September 24 to determine whether the boy should be placed on probation or turned over to juvenile authorities.  An 11-year-old boy charged in the case is scheduled for a court hearing November 13. A judge earlier dismissed a charge of abandonment of a corpse against a third minor.

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