Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Kansas Voting Rules Challenge
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court seems likely to side with voting rights groups trying to stop Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from making residents prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form. Judges heard arguments in the case Thursday. At issue is whether to overturn a decision by a U.S. election official who changed the form's proof-of-citizenship requirements at the behest of the three states, without public notice. People registering to vote in other states need only to swear that they are citizens, not show proof. Two of the three judges hearing the case suggested the citizenship requirement can pose a tough hurdle for many eligible voters. A federal judge in July refused to block the requirement while the case is being decided.
Former Lawrence Mayor Pleads Not Guilty to Embezzlement
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Lawrence mayor has pleaded not guilty to a federal embezzlement charge, but his attorney says his client might reconsider. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Jeremy Farmer is accused of stealing money from Just Food, a Lawrence food bank, and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors say Farmer, who was hired as executive director of Just Food in 2011, embezzled money from the nonprofit food agency beginning in 2013 and ending in 2015. He is accused of taking more than $55,000 in funds. Farmer appeared in federal court in Topeka on Thursday to face one charge of interstate travel of embezzled funds. Farmer was released on $5,000 bond.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Absorbs Clinics in 2 States
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood Great Plains says it will absorb three clinics in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. The organization said Friday it will take over the clinics October 20. In July, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri took over Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma and created Planned Parenthood Great Plains. With the new merger, the organization will oversee 12 health centers in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The Wichita Eagle reports that the latest expansion involves clinics in Fayetteville and Little Rock, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said its headquarters will remain in Overland Park, Kansas. She says no layoffs are expected and more staff might be hired in the Kansas City office.
Kansas College Cancels State Supreme Court Justice's Speech
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Catholic university in Wichita cancelled a scheduled talk by Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier because of concerns about a backlash from people who oppose abortion. Beier was scheduled to speak Friday as part of Newman University's Constitution Day. She was to discuss the role of the judiciary and how to get into law school. The Wichita Eagle reports that Newman vice president and provost Kimberly Long became concerned about the tone of opposition expressed on social media. Long says she was worried that Beier would not be treated well and for the safety of those who attended the speech. She declined to reveal specific content of the messages. Long said most of the unsettling messages came from people not affiliated with Newman students or faculty.
Chelsea Manning Starts Hunger Strike to Protest Treatment
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A transgender soldier imprisoned in Kansas for leaking classified information to the WikiLeaks website says she is on a hunger strike until her treatment improves. Chelsea Manning says she began the hunger strike Friday because her pleas for better treatment at Fort Leavenworth have been ignored. She says she will not voluntarily consume anything except water and prescription medication. In the statement supplied by her ACLU attorney, Manning says the hunger strike will continue until she receives the "minimum standards of dignity, respect and humanity" and she is prepared for the possibility of dying. Manning, arrested as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 in military court of leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents. Army spokesman Wayne Hall said Friday he was looking into the situation.
Sentencing Postponed for Man Accused in Kansas Army Base Bomb Plot
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Sentencing has been postponed for a 29-year-old Topeka man accused of helping a would-be jihadist's unsuccessful plot to bomb an Army post in Kansas. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree said Thursday he is considering whether Alexander Blair's crime qualifies for the five-year sentence prosecutors want. Blair's attorney is seeking a sentence of five years' probation. Sentencing is now set for October 18. Court documents say Blair loaned $100 to another man who tried to plant what they thought was an explosive device outside Fort Riley in support of the Islamic State group. Blair's attorney said Blair has an unusual genetic condition that made it easy for John Booker Jr. to manipulate him. Booker has pleaded guilty to two felonies under an agreement calling for him to serve 30 years in prison.
ACLU Suing Kansas City Public Schools for Handcuffing Boy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas City Public Schools on behalf of a young child whose hands were cuffed behind his back two years ago when he was a 7-year-old second-grader. The lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City claims the boy was "crying and hollering" after a teacher asked him to change seats on April 30, 2014. The suit says a school resource officer came and led the boy away, at times holding tightly onto the child's arm after he ignored the officer's instructions. Eventually the officer put the boy in handcuffs and took him to the principal's office. The lawsuit says the child suffered emotional and physical pain and was removed from the school by his mother. The school district declined to comment.
Flooding Closes Roads, Schools in Southern Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Flooding is closing roads and schools in southern Kansas after the area was inundated with rain. The National Weather Service says the heaviest rainfall was in south-central Kansas, where 6 to 10 inches fell in a deluge that started Thursday night. Parts of southeast Kansas have received 6 to 8 inches of rain. Several creeks and rivers, including the Ninnescah and Arkansas, have overflowed their banks. Crews performed a swift-water rescue Friday in Mulvane. Butler County Emergency Management also says high waters have closed a stretch of Kansas 53 that runs through the town. Significant road flooding also has been reported just south of Rose Hill. Meanwhile, school officials in the Mulvane, Clearwater, Douglass and Rose Hill districts have called off classes.
Former CIA Director Set to Talk During Kansas Book Festival
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former CIA Director Michael Hayden is expected to give a presentation during the annual Kansas Book Festival at the Statehouse. Hayden is scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon in the House chamber about the nation's intelligence gathering after the 9/11 attacks. He published a book about the topic earlier this year and served as CIA director from 2006 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. The festival starts Saturday morning and features presentations throughout the Statehouse and vendors, live entertainment and book signings outside the building. More than 20 authors planned to attend. It's the sixth festival, and the annual event is a project of Kansas first lady Mary Brownback. She said in a statement that fostering a life-long love of reading is essential to expanding people's knowledge and imagination.
Lawrence City Commission Issues Letters After Sit-In
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence City Commission has issued letters of solidarity with Black Lives Matter and with American Indians protesting the Dakota access Pipeline after about 20 people staged a sit-in. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Tuesday's protest delayed a commission meeting by about 45 minutes. Commissioners initially said a letter would be written within 24 hours, but that offer wasn't immediately accepted. The protesters left after the commission decided to issue an initial statement of support Tuesday night and called for a continuation of the meeting Wednesday to issue official letters. Trinity Carpenter, with Lawrence's Black Lives Matter chapter, said the final drafts of the letters "definitely felt well thought out." Mayor Mike Amyx says the commission will work with people of color in the community and continue listening.
Woman Pleads to Reduced Charge in Kansas Factory Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman accused of giving her former boyfriend guns that he used in a shooting at a Kansas lawn equipment factory has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. Sarah Jo Hopkins of Newton acknowledged in court Thursday that she didn't alert authorities that a convicted felon unlawfully possessed firearms. Prosecutors say Hopkins gave a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun to Cedric Ford, who used those weapons in February in a shooting at the Excel Industries plant in Hesston. Four people, including Ford, were killed and 14 others were injured. Hopkins will be sentenced November 28 and could face three years in prison. She originally was charged with transferring weapons to a prohibited person. She told investigators she gave Ford the guns because he had threatened her. They had two children together.
Assault Probe Underway at Fort Leavenworth Medical Facility
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A civilian employee for a health center at Fort Leavenworth is accused of setting one of his co-workers on fire. Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says 54-year-old Clifford Currie of Leavenworth was charged Thursday with one count of assault with intent to commit murder. Prosecutors allege that Currie threw a flammable liquid on his female supervisor Wednesday, lit her on fire and assaulted her with a straight edge razor. Another worker at the Munson Army Health Center was injured when she tried to stop the assault before other hospital employees subdued Currie. A criminal complaint says the supervisor had in the past asked for another employee to be with her whenever she talked to Currie. It was not immediately clear if Currie has an attorney.
Koch Donates $1 Million for KU Business, Engineering Scholarships
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Koch Industries is donating $1 million for scholarships for business and engineering students at the University of Kansas. The Wichita based petrochemical conglomerate said in a news release Thursday that $600,000 will go toward recruiting, retaining and providing scholarships to underrepresented and first-generation business students. The rest of the money is earmarked for scholarships for juniors and seniors studying engineering and business. Jeff Gentry, the CEO of the Koch Industries company INVISTA, said in the release that the hope is that the scholarships will "enable promising KU students to develop their innate talents, succeed, and help others do the same."
Kansas State Fair Begins in Hutchinson
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Live entertainment, stunt dogs and a new butter sculptor are luring visitors to the Kansas State Fair. The event started Friday and runs through September 18 on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. The fair draws a crowd of about 350,000 people each year. Performers will include pop artists Andy Grammer and Rachel Platten, along with the classic rock band Lynryd Skynyrd. Away from the grandstand, there's a petting zoo, camel rides and giant pumpkins. Besides the traditional livestock and food competitions, contestants also can vie in beard and mustache contests. Fairgoers also will be able to meet sculptor Sarah Pratt, who is transforming 700 pounds of butter into a cow and boy. Pratt has been the Iowa State Fair butter sculptor for 12 years.
Kansas City Man Sentenced for Death at Birthday Party
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man was sentenced to 23 years in prison for fatally shooting another man during a child's birthday party at a water park. A Jackson County (Missouri) judge sentenced 25-year-old Divonte Lewis Friday for the May 2015 death of 19-year-old Ryshun Bell at Kansas City's Coco Key Water Resort. Lewis was found guilty in June of second-degree murder. He also was found guilty of armed criminal action and will serve a concurrent 10-year sentence. Lewis had claimed he shot Bell in self-defense. But prosecutors said the shooting occurred after Lewis became angry when he and several others were asked to leave the party area.
Man Admits Aiming Laser Pointer at KC Police Helicopter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 26-year-old Kansas City man could face up to five years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Kansas City Police Department helicopter. U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson says Jordon Clarence Rogers pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony count for an October 8, 2013, incident in which one of the helicopter pilots was hit twice in the eye by the laser. Prosecutors say the pilot sustained eye strain that lasted for hours. The FBI investigated the case. A sentencing date has not been set.
Kansas Man Who Stabbed His Wife Sentenced to Probation
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The man who stabbed his wife at a Lawrence motel will serve intensive probation. Navinkumar Patel, of Shawnee, was sentenced Thursday to five years and eight months of probation in Johnson County. He stabbed his wife twice in the abdomen at a Super 8 Motel in June 2015. He pleaded no contest to attempted second-degree murder and criminal threat. Douglas County District Court Judge Robert Fairchild's sentence came after a doctor who performed a mental health evaluation said Patel was unlikely to re-offend — if he stops drinking and takes medication. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that testimony indicated Patel suffers from bipolar disorder. His attorney, John Kerns, told Fairchild that in Patel's Hindu culture, his wife and children would also suffer if he were sentenced to prison.
Kansas Man Charged in Deadly Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas City, Kansas, man has been charged with fatally shooting another man. Thirty-year-old Daryl Bagby was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm in the death of Steven Sykes. The Wyandotte County prosecutor's office said in a news release that Sykes was killed Sept. 3 in Kansas City, Kansas. Bagby is jailed in Wyandotte County on $750,000 bond. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.
Kansas City Police Launch Homicide Investigation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a man's death as a homicide after his body was found in a Kansas City residence with an open front door. The Kansas City Star reports that officers made the discovery Thursday morning after they were asked to check on the residence. Police had not released information on a suspect or a possible motive. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Man Sentenced for Groping Girl at Wichita High School
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for assaulting a student in a high school bathroom last year. Guy Harris was sentenced Thursday for misdemeanor sexual battery in the September 2015 assault on an 18-year-old female student at East High School. Police said Harris entered the school through and followed the girl into a restroom, where he groped her as she tried to leave. Officers searched the building but Harris had left. He was arrested in April. The overall sentence includes time for a probation violation and a felony flee-and-elude case. The girl has sued the school principal and the Wichita school board, accusing them of negligence and unsafe security at the school.