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Headlines for Saturday, December 24, 2016

Suspect in Kansas Deputy's Rape Charged in Missouri Assault

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - One of two men charged with kidnapping and raping a Kansas sheriff's deputy has been charged with sexual assaulting a Missouri woman in February with the woman's 2-year-old daughter nearby. Prosecutors say Brady Newman-Caddell was charged yesterday in Jackson County, Missouri, with first-degree rape, two counts of sodomy and first-degree child endangerment. DNA evidence from the October assault of a non-uniformed Johnson County, Kansas sheriff's deputy linked him to the February attack in Independence, Missouri. The deputy was abducted from the parking lot of the detention center in Olathe, Kansas as she was headed to work and released about two hours later. The second suspect in the deputy's rape has not been charged in the Missouri assault. Newman-Caddell's Kansas attorney, Michael McCulloch, declined to comment.


Kansas Educators Seek Return to Standard School Aid Formula

 TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - While Republican Governor Sam Brownback talks about taking a new approach to funding Kansas public schools, educators are hoping lawmakers will return to a familiar per-student formula. Brownback has told reporters he wants a new formula to focus on student performance. But superintendents and local school boards expressed their desire for something more traditional in emails to the governor's office this fall. They're looking to have the state's $4.1 billion a year in annual aid distributed per student, giving extra "weightings" to each student with special needs. With Brownback's support, the GOP-dominated Legislature junked such a formula in 2015 in favor of grants for each district. The change was supposed to be temporary, and lawmakers expect to consider a new formula next year.


New Trafficway May Threaten Kansas Turnpike Revenue

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Turnpike Authority officials say they are keeping a close eye on traffic between Kansas City and Lawrence out of concern that the recently completed South Lawrence Trafficway could take revenue away from the Turnpike. Authority spokeswoman Jeri Biehler tells the Lawrence Journal-World that increases and decreases in traffic have been observed at toll plazas in that area. Biehler says the section of the Turnpike between Kansas City and Topeka is the busiest stretch of the entire roadway. The completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway allows motorists to shave off several miles of their trips and pay a minimal amount in tolls or pay no toll at all.


Heritage Trail Planned to Mark Topeka Landmarks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A trail linking significant landmarks in Topeka's history and combining public art and education is in the planning stages.The Topeka Capital-Journal  reports the Freedom's Frontier group will partner with local students from elementary through high school to design interpretive sidewalk murals depicting the stories of at least 10 local sites for the Topeka Heritage Trail. Locations being considered for the trail include the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and Constitution Hall. The National Parks Foundation has given a $25,000 grant for the project. Freedom Frontier executive director Jim Ogle says the project will hopefully lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the city's culture. The group will seek input about the trail from the community, and more details will be revealed during the summer.

 Wichita Man Gets More Than 6 Years for Killing Friend

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has been sentenced to six years and five months in prison for killing a friend during a drug-fueled argument. The Wichita Eagle  reports that 27-year-old Joshua Thomas was sentenced Wednesday on one count of voluntary manslaughter in the death of 35-year-old Brandon Walters.  He was shot March 3 inside his home but staggered outdoors before dying in his front yard. An affidavit says a witness told authorities Thomas and Walters fought over clothing and laundry. Thomas was captured in April after an hours-long standoff. In court, Walters' mother, Marcia Walters-Hardeman, described the killing as a "willful and brutal act." Defense attorney Quentin Pittman says Thomas "feels horrible" but that Thomas and Walters both were using narcotics and that Walters had attacked Thomas with a knife.


Kansas Man Who Died of Hypothermia is Identified

JOHNSON CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have identified a 52-year-old man as the person who died of hypothermia over the weekend in western Kansas when temperatures had dropped well below zero. The Hutchinson News reports that funeral officials at Dykes Memorial Chapel in Walsh, Colorado, identified the man as Kyle Edward Christiansen. The coroner, Dr. Hubert Peterson, said Christiansen died from hypothermia. The temperature was minus 11 to minus 16 degrees outside where his body was found, and the wind chill was minus 30. Peterson believes Christiansen died between midnight and noon on Sunday after being outside for several hours. He says the precise time of death was difficult to determine because of the body's frozen condition. The Stanton County Sheriff's Office didn't immediately release any information.


 Kansas Group Wants Grass Burning Limits for Flint Hills
 TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas environmental group is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to order the state to impose tighter controls on grass burning in the Flint Hills region. The Lawrence Journal-World  reports the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club wants the agency to order the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to adopt a mitigation plan to protect air quality in the region. Ranchers in the Flint Hills burn grasslands in the spring to kill off invasive weeds and shrubs, creating thick smoke that some officials say is a concern for people with respiratory issues.


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