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Headlines for Monday, December 8, 2014

Governor Works to Fill Vacancy on Kansas Appeals Court 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback says he's working on filling a vacancy on the Kansas Court of Appeals created when one of its judges was appointed to the state Supreme Court. Brownback says he expects to name a nominee well before the early February deadline set by state law. A seat is open on the 14-member Court of Appeals because Brownback named Caleb Stegall to the Kansas Supreme Court. Stegall was sworn in Friday. The conservative Republican governor will be making his fourth appointment to the Court of Appeals. Under a 2013 law, the governor appoints the appeals judges, subject to Senate confirmation. Stegall was Brownback's chief counsel before being named to the Court of Appeals last year.


Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent to Retire 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The head of the Kansas Highway Patrol says he plans to retire, effective January 5. The state announced the retirement plans of Colonel Ernest Garcia in a news release issued Monday. Garcia was appointed to the job in 2011. Before that, he was a 40-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He also was the Sergeant at Arms for the U.S. Senate. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports ( ) the retirement comes months after a patrol survey indicated low morale among troopers and broad dissatisfaction with the agency's leaders.


Preliminary Injunction Sought in Gay Marriage Case 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a judge to stop officials in Kansas from prohibiting same-sex weddings and denying benefits offered to opposite-sex married couples. The ACLU filed the request for a preliminary injunction Monday in federal court, saying that its case is likely to succeed. The U.S. Supreme Court last month blocked Kansas from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriages while the lawsuit proceeds in federal court. Same-sex couples in Kansas have since been marrying in some but not all of the state's 105 counties. But the ACLU's motion notes that the state isn't recognizing same-sex marriages for spousal health insurance benefits, state tax filing purposes and driver's license name changes. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has vowed to uphold the state's ban on same-sex nuptials.


Brownback Moving Forward on 50-Year Water Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The administration of Governor Sam Brownback is moving forward on a plan for the state's long-term water supply. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the more ambitious parts of the plan include dredging state lakes and possibly building an aqueduct from the Missouri River to western Kansas. They would require large amounts of new revenue, as well as cooperation from other states. During a meeting of the governor's Council of Economic Advisers last week, Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey asked for help forming a panel to come up with options for long-term funding of the plan. In western Kansas, farm irrigation is depleting the underground Ogallala Aquifer. In some counties, irrigation has been forced to halt entirely.


Military Appeals Court to Hear Kansas HIV Assault Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The nation's highest military court will hear oral arguments this week in the appeal of a Kansas airman's conviction on aggravated assault charges for exposing multiple sex partners to HIV at swinger parties in Wichita. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will hear arguments on Tuesday in the case against David Gutierrez. Gutierrez was a sergeant at McConnell Air Force Base when he was sentenced in 2011 to eight years and stripped of his rank for aggravated assault. He was also found guilty of violating his commander's order to notify partners about his HIV status and use condoms. The military judge also convicted Gutierrez of indecent acts and adultery. At issue is whether the likelihood of transmission was so great as to constitute aggravated assault.

Man Charged with Running Down Muslim Teen in Court 

A man charged with deliberately running down a Muslim teenager outside a Somali center has made his first court appearance. Thirty-four-year-old Ahmed Aden, of Kansas City, appeared Monday in Jackson County (Missouri) Circuit Court where he is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, leaving the scene of an accident and unlawful use of a weapon. Prosecutors said he crashed Thursday evening into 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein. The teen's legs were nearly severed, and he died in a hospital. Aden is being held on $250,000 bond. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Police said Monday that Aden was questioned in October after a vehicle with an anti-Islamic message on its back window crashed into another vehicle. Police said the case was dropped after the victims didn't press charges.


2 Companies Announce Expansion at Kansas Center 

EDGERTON, Kan. (AP) — Two companies plan to bring a total of more than 200 new jobs to a distribution and warehouse park in southern Johnson County. Flexsteel Industries of Dubuque, Iowa, a furniture manufacturer, plans to add 141 jobs at a new building in the Logistics Park Kansas City center near Edgerton. And Kubota Tractor Corporation of Torrance, California plans to open a nearly 450,000-square-foot parts distribution center and employ about 75 workers by the end of its first year in operation. The Kansas City Star reports that the expansions were announced Friday. The 1,500-acre Logistics Park is anchored by the BNSF Railway's intermodal freight facility. Flexsteel and Kubota are the fourth and fifth major distribution businesses to open in the complex.


Topeka Ends Police Reserve Program 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Topeka police department has ended its reserve program, which allowed trained volunteers to carry firearms and help stop crime with the same authority as official law enforcement officers. The program began more than 60 years ago but had dwindled to only five people before it was officially ended December 1. Topeka officials say the program was eliminated because Kansas law doesn't provide guidance for reserve officers and there was concern about liability issues. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that reserve officers didn't need a law enforcement background but underwent all necessary police training and received equipment free of charge. They needed to complete 340 hours of classes and then attending monthly training and to volunteer 16 hours of assistance per month.


Brownback Considering Options to Remedy Budget Shortfall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback isn't publicly ruling out any ideas for helping to close state budget shortfalls. That's left officials and lawmakers to speculate about the proposals he's expected to roll out before the Legislature convenes again January 12. The Republican governor's administration is working on a plan to close combined shortfalls of more than $700 million in the current and next state budgets. A few GOP legislators have talked about diverting money set aside for big highway projects or backtracking on aggressive personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback's urging in 2012 and 2013 in an effort to stimulate the economy. The budget problems also could jeopardize increased funding for public employee pensions aimed at stabilizing the long-term health of the retirement system for teachers and government workers.


Wichita Mission Evaluating New Restrictions for Long Term Homeless

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Union Rescue Mission in Wichita is evaluating a decision to end a policy of providing a bed and food for the homeless with no strings attached. The mission decided to phase out that policy after realizing some men had used the mission for decades. Now, it is experimenting with programs designed to help the men move on, without shutting the doors on them. Director Denny Bender says the mission hasn't seen as much progress as he'd hoped, but it has been able to allocate 10 beds a night for a program that provides a place to stay for men who work but are still homeless. The Wichita Eagle reports 21 men are in various stages of obtaining housing rather than just staying at the mission.

Police: Man Put Gun in Baby Seat Next to Daughter
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 20-year-old man has been arrested after placing a loaded, cocked gun in a car seat with his infant daughter. The Wichita Eagle ( ) reports the man was arrested late Sunday night after he burst into a house and demanded at gunpoint to be given the girl. Police say he "threatened to shoot everyone if he did not get his baby" and pointed the gun at several people inside the home to reinforce his threat. Police say he put the baby in a car seat and placed his gun next to her and tried to leave. Officers were called to the scene and arrested him there. The man was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated burglary and child endangerment.


Wichita Minister Threatened After Same-Sex Weddings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita minister says she is starting to become frightened by a growing number of death threats she has received since performing a wedding ceremony for 15 same-sex couples on the steps of the Sedgwick County Courthouse last month. Reverend Jackie Carter, pastor of the First Metropolitan Community Church, says some of the threats have been reported to police, but since the numbers of the callers don't show up on her phone, she's simply been told to "be careful."  Carter told The Wichita Eagle someone called on Monday and she heard heavy breathing before someone rang the doorbell and someone else started throwing rocks at the windows.  She says the church has instructed people to leave the building in pairs, especially at night.


Family of Wichita Assault Victim Questions Suspect's Release

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The fiance of a woman who was raped and set on fire in a Wichita park said the man charged in the attack should have been kept in jail. Twenty-six-year-old Cornell McNeal, of Wichita, faces one count of capital murder or an alternative count of first-degree murder in the death of Letitia "Tish" Davis. She suffered from burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head in the November 14 attack and died November 22. Davis' fiance, Marty Bell, says he wonders why McNeal had not been kept in jail. McNeal had been accused of pummeling his 52-year-old neighbor nine days before the park attack. But McNeal left a work-release facility two days before the attack. McNeal's attorney has declined to comment.


Topeka Fire Victim's Family Gets $16K Bill from City

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Relatives of an 18-year-old who was killed in a house fire last month were outraged to receive a more than $16,000 bill from Topeka for tearing down the damaged structure. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Morgan Duncan's family members had a memorial service for the 18-year-old Saturday afternoon. While the mother and grandparents were preparing to say their final goodbyes, they received the bill. The city of Topeka told Duncan's mother, Cheri Duncan, she could make payments. But Duncan's grandmother, Mary Johnson, says her daughter didn't have homeowner's insurance and probably won't be able to handle even a small monthly payment. Johnson says Cheri and Morgan Duncan were on a fixed income of about $1,400 per month before the fire.


Chiefs' Eric Berry Diagnosed with Cancer 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and will begin chemotherapy for what doctors called a "very treatable and potentially curable" form of cancer. Hodgkin's disease is a form of lymphoma originating in white blood cells. Berry had been undergoing tests at Emory University in Atlanta since an MRI exam nearly two weeks ago showed a mass on the right side of his chest that was suspected to be lymphoma. Berry said in a statement that he will "embrace this process and attack it the same way I do everything else in life. God has more than prepared me for it." The former All-Pro safety has already been ruled out for the remainder of the season.


Bystanders Come to Aid of Purse-Snatching Victim 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 77-year-old woman whose purse was snatched in a grocery store parking lot has her belongings back after bystanders chased the man down. Wichita police say the theft happened around 1:45 pm Sunday in a Dillons parking lot. The Wichita Eagle reports two men and a woman heard the victim's protests and took off after the thief in separate vehicles. At one point during the chase the woman got out of her vehicles and started running after the suspect, but stopped after he threatened to shoot her. Police spokesman Lieutenant James Espinoza says the suspect later ran toward one of the men, who knocked him down and held him for police. The 20-year-old suspect, who was unarmed, was arrested and the victim got her purse and keys back.


David Beaty Introduced as New Head Football Coach at KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — David Beaty was introduced as the University of Kansas's third coach in the past five years Monday, promising to rebuild the long-stagnant program through "hard work and earning everything." Beaty was hired Friday to replace Charlie Weis, who was fired four games into his third season on the job. Beaty wasted no time in announcing that Clint Bowen, who had been serving as interim coach, would remain on his staff as defensive coordinator. In an interview with The Associated Press, Beaty said he would spend the next week working simultaneously on filling out his staff and hitting the recruiting trail. Coaches only have until Sunday before the NCAA begins a "dead period" in recruiting. Beaty takes over a program that won just three games last season.


6 Injured in Butler County Crash

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) - Kansas authorities say six people have been hospitalized and released after a SUV carrying 11 people struck a car. Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet says the rollover accident happened Saturday night near the border of Sedgwick and Butler counties. He says the 78-year-old car driver failed to yield when making a U-turn on Kansas 254. He says most of the passengers from the SUV are related and were headed to visit a family member in a Wichita hospital. They range in age from 3 to 50. Five SUV passengers and the car driver were treated. No charges have been reported.


Woman Killed at KCK Lowe's Store

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Police are investigating the death of a woman who was shot in a Lowe's Home Improvement store parking lot in Kansas City, Kansas. Officers found the woman dead on Sunday afternoon. They haven't released her identity but say she was in her 20s. Kansas City, Kansas, Officer Thomas Tomasic tells KCTV-TV the shooter likely knew the woman. He says there isn't a danger to the general public. Officers are examining surveillance footage from Lowe's.


Rebuild Joplin Project Ends with 180 Homes Completed

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - A building effort that began when a May 2011 tornado devastated Joplin has wrapped up its efforts. Rebuild Joplin dedicated the 180th home it has constructed on Saturday, marking the end of a project that involved more than 10,000 volunteers working nearly 200,000 hours. Rebuild Joplin co-founder Jerrod Hogan says the project gave residents hope after the tornado destroyed a large swath of the city and killed 161 residents. The Joplin Globe reports that tools, vehicles and other equipment Rebuild Joplin used will be donated to organizations rebuilding homes in the northeast United States hit by Superstorm Sandy.


Woman Killed in Ottawa County Crash

DELPHOS, Kan. (AP) - Troopers say a 21-year-old woman has been killed in northern Kansas in a single-vehicle crash. The Kansas Highway Patrol says Carrie Brayton died Sunday after she was ejected from her pickup truck near Delphos in Ottawa County. Troopers say the Glasco woman was driving south on a rural road when her truck drifted across the northbound lane and entered a ditch. Brayton was ejected when the truck rolled. Troopers say she wasn't wearing a seat belt. She was pronounced dead at the scene. 


Traylor Will Not Play for KU vs Georgetown
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas basketball player Jamari Traylor has been suspended for Wednesday night's game at Georgetown after he was arrested over the weekend for interfering with a police officer. Coach Bill Self said Monday that Traylor would travel with the No. 10 Jayhawks but would not play against the Hoyas. He said that Traylor is "a good kid who made a bad choice" and that Self hopes the situation has been put behind him. Traylor was arrested shortly after 2 am Sunday near campus, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said. He posted $100 bond and was released. He is due in court December 23. Rodriguez Coleman, a backup wide receiver, also was arrested early Sunday, posted $100 bond and was released. New coach David Beaty said he was handling the matter internally.


Cardinals Rally in 2nd Half to Defeat Chiefs 17-14

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals came from behind to beat Kansas City 17-14 on Sunday. The NFC West-leading Cardinals (10-3) took the lead when Drew Stanton threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown in the third quarter. Jamaal Charles scored two first-half touchdowns on a 63-yard run and 18-yard pass from Alex Smith, but the Chiefs (7-6) were shut out in the second half. Arizona won a crucial call reversal when it challenged that tight end Travis Kelce fumbled deep in Cardinals territory late in the fourth quarter.


KU Beats California 62-39 in Women's Basketball

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Chelsea Gardner had 22 points and eight rebounds as Kansas beat No.10 California 62-39 on Sunday. The Jayhawks (7-2) led 36-20 at halftime. California (7-1) lost starting forward Courtney Range to an apparent left knee injury in the second half. Brittany Boyd had 12 points and five steals for the Bears.


K-State, UCLA to Meet in Alamo Bowl

UNDATED (AP) — Kansas State and UCLA will face off in the Alamo Bowl on January 2, the first matchup of 2 top 15 teams in the game's history. The appearance is the second for Kansas State (9-3, No. 11 CFP), which lost to Purdue in San Antonio in 1998. It's the fifth straight bowl game for the Wildcats and coach Bill Snyder. The Bruins (9-3, No. 14 CFP) were second in the Pac 12 South this season and had won five games in a row before a regular-season-ending loss against Stanford. The two schools played a 2-game series in 2009-10, with each team winning one match.


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