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Headlines for Saturday, June 8, 2019

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State: Destroy Rhododendrons Bought at Kansas Walmarts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state is asking anyone who bought a rhododendron plant at Walmart stores in Kansas since April to destroy them. The Kansas Department of Agriculture reported Friday that confirmed cases of the Sudden Oak Death disease have been found in rhododendrons sold at 60 Walmarts in Kansas and one Home Depot in Pittsburg. The plant disease has infected trees and native plants in California and Oregon and has also been identified in 10 Midwestern states. It is the first time the disease is in Kansas. The diseased plants sold in Kansas originated from the Park Hill Plants nursery in Oklahoma. The plants must be destroyed because there is no cure for the disease. The plants should be burned or double-bagged and thrown away. The root ball should also be thrown out. The disease poses no risk to humans or animals.


New Trial Ordered in 2008 Death of Insect Exterminator

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has unanimously overturned the conviction of a man who killed an insect exterminator in February 2008. The court ruled Friday the case against 61-year-old Howard Barrett should be returned to Riley County for a new trial. Barrett beat and fatally stabbed 48-year-old Thomas James, who was doing extermination work in Barrett's apartment in Leonardville. His attorney argued that Barrett, who is schizophrenic, felt irrationally threatened by James. Barrett was convicted in November 2014 of second-degree murder but appealed, saying jurors should have been instructed they could find him guilty of imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter. The Court of Appeals ruled that error was harmless because Barrett's second-degree murder conviction nullified a possible manslaughter conviction. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying the jury could have reasonably convicted Barrett of manslaughter.


Child's  Death at Wichita Motel under Investigation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a 2-year-old boy who was on the radar of child welfare officials died at a Wichita motel. The Kansas Department of Children and Families identified the boy as Zayden Jaynesahkluah. Police say he was pronounced dead on May 31st after a woman called to report that he wasn't breathing. No information has been released about how he died, and no arrests have been made. Police say they are awaiting a toxicology report. Kansas Rep. Michael Capps told KSNW-TV that welfare officials had been involved with Zayden's family before he died, although he had no specifics. He says the welfare agency needs to be reformed. The Wichita area has seen several child abuse homicides. The victims include 3-year-old Evan Brewer, whose body was found encased in concrete.


Woman Sentenced for Taking Child from Kansas to Russia

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Russian woman has been sentenced to seven years in prison for taking a child she had with a Kansas man to her native country and demanding money before she would allow the father to talk to his daughter. Bogdana Alexandrovna Mobley was sentenced Thursday for international parental kidnapping and two counts of attempting to extort money. She was convicted in March. Prosecutors say she left Kansas in 2014 with two children, one from her marriage to Brian Mobley. He was awarded joint custody of the girl in Sedgwick County, Kansas, when the couple divorced and his ex-wife didn't have permission to leave with the children. Prosecutors say she allowed Brian Mobley to talk to the child until 2016 but then demanded money before he could see her. The child still has not returned to the U.S.


Missouri Chief who Helped Save Baby Resigns amid Inquiry

GREENWOOD, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City-area police chief has resigned after he was accused of using excessive force against a father charged with trying to drown his 6-month-old daughter in a pond. The Kansas City Star reports that Greg Hallgrimson formally quit last week as the Greenwood police chief. He had been on administrative leave since Dec. 26 , about a week after Jonathon Stephen Zicarelli's daughter was rescued. Charging documents say Hallgrimson and another officer rushed to the icy pond after Zicarelli said he had tried to drown his daughter. They found the infant floating face up in the pond, and she was treated for severe hypothermia. Zicarelli's defense attorney says bodycam video from another officer shows Hallgrimson punch Zicarelli. Hallgrimson hasn't been charged, and the video hasn't been released. Hallgrimson's attorney declined to comment.


Overland Park Nursing Home Worker Charged with Stealing Jewelry from Patient

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Charging documents say a suburban Kansas City nursing home worker stole rings valued at nearly $10,000 from a 99-year-old dementia patient by using lotion to slip them from the woman's hands in the middle of the night. The Kansas City Star reports that 23-year-old Leah Anne Goodall was arrested Saturday ahead of her preliminary hearing. The certified nursing assistant is charged with mistreatment of an elder. A daughter of the elderly woman noticed her mother was missing four rings in April 2018. Court documents say staff at the Overland Park, Kansas, nursing home, told her that Goodall had cared for her mother the previous day and didn't return to work. When officers told her there was surveillance video of the room, Goodall allegedly admitted to taking the rings. They have been returned.


Prosecutor: Criminal Investigation of KC Chiefs' Hill No Longer Active

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A prosecutor says he is no longer actively investigating a criminal case against Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill involving alleged injuries to his 3-year-old son. Johnson County Attorney Steve Howe told The Kansas City Star he would reconsider his decision if new evidence emerges against Hill, who has been suspended from the team since April 25 after a television station aired a recording of a conversation between Hill and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, about the boy's treatment. In news conference a day earlier, Howe said he believed the boy had been hurt but would not file charges because he couldn't prove who did it. The Kansas Department for Children and Families continues to investigate the couple after police were called to the Hill's home twice in March. Hill has maintained his innocence. Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews declined comment Friday.


Topeka Zoo: Protocols Not Followed Before Tiger Attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Topeka zoo says a tiger attacked a zookeeper after protocols for handling potentially dangerous animals were not followed. The zoo released a lengthy report Thursday detailing its internal review of the April 20 attack, when zookeeper Kristyn Hayden-Ortega was seriously injured by a 7-year-old Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv. The report said "multiple" protocols and procedures concerning spaces occupied by tigers had prevented any similar attack at the zoo for decades. The report says protocol was not followed when the keeper entered the tiger's outdoor habitat without ensuring that the animal was locked inside. Other zoo employees lured the animal away with meat so emergency responders could treat Hayden-Ortega. The city said Thursday it could not release any information on her current condition.


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