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Headlines for Friday, September 20, 2019

Kansas Judge Whose Tweets Sank Higher Court Bid to Step Down

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas trial-court judge whose past political tweets sank his nomination for a higher court has announced that he will step down from the bench early next year. Labette County District Judge Jeffry Jack said Friday that he will retire Jan. 2 and take a job as a regional director for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly nominated Jack in March to fill a Kansas Court of Appeals vacancy. But his nomination was doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate within days when tweets from Jack in 2017 surfaced. The tweets criticized President Donald Trump and other Republicans. The Senate later voted 38-0 against Jack's confirmation, forcing Kelly to nominate another candidate. Jack has been a district judge since 2005 and previously served in the Kansas House as a Republican.

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Kansas Board of Regents Changes University Admission Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents approved changes in admissions standards that will allow more students to qualify for state universities.  The board voted Wednesday to eliminate a rule that required students to take high school courses in English, math and science. Class rank will no longer be considered, and most students with a C or C+ grade point average will be accepted at most of the universities.  The Wichita Eagle reports the new rules will qualify 87% of Kansas high school graduates for admission to Wichita State, Emporia State, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State.  Kansas State will have the same requirements as those schools, except students will need a 3.25 GPA, while the other four schools will require a 2.25.  The University of Kansas is not changing its standards other than eliminating the curriculum requirement.

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Regents Seek $95.3 Million Increase for Higher Education

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Board of Regents is requesting a $95.3 million increase in state tax funding for 32 universities and colleges in the system. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports $50 million of that proposal advanced this week would go to the six public universities that some regents hope could result in a second year of tuition freezes for resident undergraduate students. Under the proposed budget, Kansas community and technical colleges would share an additional $13.5 million. Most of that would be for promoting a statewide program that allows high school students earn college credit. Other items in the budget include $10 million for need-based student financial aid, $10 million for deferred maintenance and $1 million for Washburn University. The proposed budget goes to the governor's office, which will make budget recommendations in January.  

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Kansas Jobless Rate in August Was Lowest in 20-Plus Years

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that unemployment in the state dropped to 3.2% in August and was at its lowest rate in more than 20 years. The state Department of Labor said Friday that the state gained private-sector jobs during the month and over the past year. Labor economist Emilie Doerksen said the state has seen broad economic growth, and Gov. Laura Kelly hailed the report as good news for Kansas. The department said the unemployment rate declined from 3.3% in July. It was also 3.3% in August 2018. It was the lowest unemployment rate since May 1999. The rate has been below 4% since January 2017. Kansas had nearly 1.18 million private, nonfarm jobs in August, up about 4,200 since July and 17,800 from August 2018. The over-the-year growth was 1.5%.

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Catholic Diocese Names 15 Priests Accused of Child Sex Abuse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Catholic Diocese of Wichita has published a list naming 15 priests accused of child sexual abuse. It also released on Friday a letter from Bishop Carl Kemme saying the diocese will soon provide information on the substantiated allegations to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting a statewide investigation of Catholic priests. The diocese posted on its website the names of nine priests of the Wichita diocese against whom allegations have been substantiated. The other six priests have had allegations substantiated in other parishes and served in Wichita for a period of time. It details their ordination dates, assignment histories and status. All have been removed from the clergy or are dead. The diocese says the disclosures were made after an independent audit of all clergy files. 

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Girlfriend of Kansas Man Who Wounded 2 Lawmen Charged

LYONS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested the girlfriend of a man who wounded two Kansas law enforcements officers, killed his father and then killed himself this spring.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday that 27-year-old Erin Baker, of Ellinwood, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of interference with a law enforcement officer, aggravated child endangerment and obstruction of apprehension.  The KBI says she put her 7-year-old in danger by continuing a relationship with David Madden, who's a suspect in the 2015 disappearance of a former girlfriend, despite knowing he was a convicted felon who possessed a firearm.  The KBI says the child was present in April when Madden wounded a Rice County undersheriff. Baker previously told KWCH-TV that she and her son got away after dropping Madden off at his father's home, where the other shootings happened.

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Man Found Guilty of Holding Woman Captive, Raping Her

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man has been convicted of holding a woman against her will in her suburban Kansas City apartment for several weeks and sexually assaulting her.  The Kansas City Star reports that jurors found 38-year-old Anthony Darryl Allen guilty Wednesday of one count aggravated kidnapping and two counts of rape.  Police arrested Allen in August 2015 after officers were dispatched to the woman's apartment in Lenexa for a welfare check. Allen initially refused to come out of the apartment but eventually surrendered to police.  Charges were filed after the woman told police Allen wasn't allowing her to leave the apartment and had raped her.  His sentencing is scheduled for November 7.

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Jurors Rule Against Fired Unwed Pregnant Missouri Teacher

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jurors have ruled against a teacher who alleged that she was fired from a Catholic school in Kansas City, Missouri, because she was pregnant, unmarried and refused to have an abortion.  The Kansas City Star reports that jurors sided Wednesday with the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which said St. Therese School teacher Michelle Bolen was let go in 2015 because of poor performance. Bolen testified that a priest told her that had she terminated her pregnancy, the school would not have to deal with the "scandal" of a pregnant, unmarried teacher.  Her attorney, E. E. Keenan, says state law exempts churches from being sued for pregnancy discrimination. Instead he argued that the diocese violated a state law that protects women from being fired for refusing to have an abortion.

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Catholic Bishops Ask Missouri Governor to Halt Upcoming Execution

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's four Catholic bishops are asking Governor Mike Parson to spare the life of a convicted killer whose execution is approaching.  Russell Bucklew faces execution Oct. 1 for killing Michael Sanders in Cape Girardeau County in 1996. The Southeast Missourian reports that the bishops are urging Parson to change the sentence to life in prison.  An email message left Thursday with Parson's spokeswoman wasn't immediately returned.  Bucklew is 51 and suffers from a rare condition called cavernous hemangioma, which causes blood-filled tumors in his head, neck and throat. His lawyers say he could suffer during the execution process.  Twice before, in 2014 and 2018, last-minute reprieves from the U.S. Supreme Court spared Bucklew. But the Supreme Court ruled in April that Missouri could move ahead with the execution.

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Missouri Man, Widow to Receive Highway Patrol Honor

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol will honor a Missouri woman and her late husband, who was killed by the suspect in four Kansas murders. The patrol announced Friday it will bestow its highest non-employee honor, the Honorary Trooper Certificate, on Julie Nordman and her husband, Randy Nordman. Randy Nordman, of New Florence, was killed in March 2016 by Pablo Serrano-Vitorino, who was fleeing authorities after the shooting deaths of four Kansas men.

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Kansas Man Shot with His Own Gun Heads to Prison

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old Kansas man who was shot with his own gun was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison after admitting he was not legally allowed to have the weapon.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release that Keeno DeVonte Collins, of Ozawkie, was sentenced Wednesday after previously pleading guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Collins was shot in the arm in June 2018 on the Topeka West High School campus. DNA from blood on the pistol matched Collins' DNA.  He told emergency responders he didn't remember what happened. A school employee found the gun in the grass at the school's football practice field the day after Collins was shot.  Collins wasn't allowed to have the handgun because of a prior felony drug conviction.

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Man Sentenced for Shooting Death in Wichita Last Year

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 15.5 years for a fatal shooting in Wichita last year. Douglas Pete, of Wichita, was sentenced Friday in the death of 25-year-old Deonte Mitchell. Mitchell was found dead in February 2018 outside a Wichita home. He was shot in the back. District Attorney Marc Bennett said in a news release that Pete pleaded guilty Aug. 9 to second-degree murder, armed criminal action, criminal discharge of a firearm and interference with law enforcement. Pete initially claimed the shooting was an accident. Before sentencing, Pete apologized to Mitchell's family but did not provide a motive for the killing.

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Fleeing Kansas Driver Accused of Hitting 5 Vehicles

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a fleeing driver rammed five vehicles before crashing in Wichita.  KSNW-TV reports that police responded Thursday night in nearby Andover after someone reported that a truck with a trailer was running into cars in a parking lot.  Andover police Lt. Don Roberson say police began pursuing the driver after he ran a red light. The driver then continued into Wichita, where he is accused of running another red light and rear-ending a car. Roberson says the driver then ran another red light, hitting more cars.  The chase ended when the driver crashed into railing. The driver, who's 32, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, fleeing and eluding, hit-and-run and running several lights.  Roberson say two vehicles were hit in Andover and three in Wichita.

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Man Dies After Being Trapped in Grain Hauling Truck

MULVANE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 39-year-old man has died after becoming trapped in a grain truck in southern Kansas. WIBW reports that Sedgwick County deputies say the man was in the back of tractor-trailer that hauls grain and somehow became trapped. Crews were called to a grain bin near Mulvane Friday afternoon, after reports that a man was not breathing. He was dead at the scene. Mulvane is about 15 miles south of Wichita  The man's name was not released.

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4 Students Suffer Minor Injuries in Wichita School Bus Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Four Wichita middle school students suffered minor injuries when a semi-trailer truck ran into the back of a school bus.  Wichita schools spokeswoman Susan Arensman said the accident happened Thursday morning in southwest Wichita.  She said the bus, which was headed to Allison Traditional Magnet Middle School, was stopped at railroad tracks when the truck, which did not have an attached trailer, hit it.  Arensman said of the 21 students on board, four complained of injuries and two were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.  The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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Dozens of Cats Discovered in Augusta "Hoarder Home"

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) — The Butler County Sheriff's says at least 60 cats — some of them dead— were removed from a home in Augusta.  Sheriff Kelly Herzet says crews cleared the animals from the home Thursday. He said a dead and decaying dog was found inside the house and it's possible more animals would be found.  KAKE -TV reports Stephanie Heinz, who lives next to the home, said the woman who rented the home would show up periodically to feed the animals and then would leave again.  Herzet said because the renter paid her utilities, crews couldn't go into the home until she recently surrendered her rights to the animals.  Sheriff Herzet said his office hopes to forward a criminal case of animal cruelty to the Butler County attorney.

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Police: 2 Stole Life-Sized Cutout of QB Mahomes, Crashed Car

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two suspects are being penalized after they allegedly stole a life-sized cutout of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, then crashed their getaway car.  Lawrence police spokesman Patrick Compton says a man and woman grabbed the cutout at a McDonald's restaurant Monday, ran out the door, then jumped into a car and sped away.  Officers investigating a nearby two-car accident saw the cutout in one of the vehicles. Compton said the vehicle also matched the description of the car that drove away from the McDonald's.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the two were issued notices to appear for theft and were cited in the accident. One person was treated for minor injuries.  The cutout of the popular Chiefs quarterback wasn't damaged and is back on display at the McDonald's.

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Kansas Man Sues Leading E-Cigarette Maker

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City man who began vaping in high school and now suffers respiratory problems has sued a leading e-cigarette maker, alleging that it fraudulently concealed the addictive nature of its products.  KCUR Radio reports that Isaac Gant, of Johnson County, Kansas, filed the lawsuit this week in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. He's seeking class action status on behalf of all Kansas residents who bought or used products made by Juul. The suit seeks unspecified damages.  The filing comes as health officials investigate hundreds of breathing illnesses nationwide reported in people who used vaping devices. Seven deaths have been reported, including one in Kansas.  San Francisco-based Juul said last week in a statement that it's "never marketed to youth" and has ongoing campaigns to combat underage use.

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Bankers Expect Slow Economic Growth Amid Trade War

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bankers in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states expect slow growth in the months ahead, but the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China is weighing on the economy.  The Rural Mainstreet survey's overall index climbed into positive territory at 50.1 in September from August's 46.5. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says bankers are less confident because of the ongoing trade disputes and the lack of approval for a new North American trade agreement.  The confidence index remained low at 42.9 in September — up slightly from August's 42.  Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Woman, 19, Charged in Deadly Kansas Trailer Park Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman has been charged in the deadly shooting of a man at a Kansas City Kansas, trailer park over Labor Day weekend. The Kansas City Star reports that Alexia Lasha Hendricks is jailed on $150,000 bond on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the death of 30-year-old Maurice Hunter Jr. No attorney is listed for her in online court records. The district attorney's office alleges in charging documents that Hendricks took a Chevrolet Trailblazer from Hunter "by force or by threat of bodily harm" and killed him. He was pronounced dead at the scene on Sept. 1.

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Driver Killed When SUV Rolls Off Kansas Bridge

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a driver was killed when a sport utility vehicle rolled off a bridge in Kansas City, Kansas. Police say the SUV was traveling south on a highway when it left the roadway and tumbled off the bridge. The Kansas City Star reports that the driver was the only person inside and was pronounced dead at a hospital. The driver's name wasn't immediately released. The cause of the wreck is under investigation.

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Oklahoma Newspaper Executive Named Publisher of Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A newspaper group publisher in Oklahoma has been named the new publisher of The Joplin Globe. Dale Brendel was appointed to the position Thursday by CNHI, the Globe's parent company. As group publisher for CNHI, he had oversight of the Stillwater News Press, Muskogee Phoenix, Tahlequah Daily Press and the Ada News. The Joplin Globe reports Steve McPhaul, executive vice president of newspapers for CNHI, said Brendel's appointment will be effective immediately. Brendel will continue as publisher for the newspaper group in Oklahoma but will move his family to Joplin for his new role at the Globe. A Missouri native, Brendel received his journalism degree from the University of Missouri. He has previously worked at the Blue Springs Examiner, The Independence Examiner in Missouri and the Leavenworth Times in Kansas.

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