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Headlines for Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ruling Deferred in Kansas Voting Law Case

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A judge is weighing the fate of two federal lawsuits in Kansas challenging the constitutionality of a state law requiring prospective voters to prove their U.S. citizenship. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson didn't indicate when she would rule after presiding over a three-hour hearing yesterday (FRI) in Kansas City, Kansas, on motions seeking partial summary judgment. At the crux of the lawsuits is a disputed voter registration law requiring Kansas voters to provide documents such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport. The cases challenge the requirement for people registering to vote at motor vehicle offices. Robinson heard arguments over claims that the state's requirement unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote and violates the right to travel because it allegedly discriminates against U.S. citizens who come to Kansas from elsewhere.


Authorities Release 911 Call from Multi-State Crime Spree that Ends in Kansas

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico authorities have released 911 audio from the first of many victims carjacked and shot at by a man fleeing through three states. Law enforcement officers caught 28-year-old Alex Deaton in Kansas on Wednesday after a multi-state crime spree that included two Mississippi slayings, a New Mexico carjacking and the shooting of a store clerk west of Wichita. In the audio released Thursday, 19-year-old Devon Philo tells authorities Deaton pointed a gun at him and his girlfriend, forcing them into the trunk of his car. Philo told dispatchers they managed to jump out of the trunk and that he was shot, but not badly. Deaton then went on to take a car from another victim and headed toward Kansas.


Truck Overturns, Freeing Dozens of Cows on Kansas Highway

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — A modern day cattle roundup shut down traffic ramps for about four hours on a busy section of Kansas highways in Johnson County. The Kansas Department of Transportation closed ramps about noon yesterday (FRI) near Kansas 10 and Interstate 435 after an semi-trailer truck overturned on the westbound Interstate 35 lanes to Kansas 10, releasing dozens of cows. At one point, between 55 and 60 cows were running loose. The ramps were reopened about 4 p.m. Friday after the cattle were all rounded up and the truck was hauled away. Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the roundup. It wasn't immediately clear what caused the truck to overturn.


DA: Autopsy Finds Suicide Cause of Death in Sedgwick Deputy Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an 18-year-old who pointed a gun at a Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop last year died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Sheriff Jeff Easter released the findings yesterday (FRI) in the death of Caleb J. Douglas. An autopsy ruled his death a suicide after the bullet in his head matched the handgun found in his car. A bullet fragment found in his left shoulder is believed to have come from the deputy's gun. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says no charges will be filed over the September 1st encounter. When the driver pulled a handgun, the deputy ran toward his patrol car before turning and firing multiple shots at the suspect's car. The driver sped off. His car hit a house about two blocks away.


Man Pleads No Contest in Crash That Killed Kansas Toddler

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man will be sentenced in May for causing a fatal traffic crash while he was fleeing from law enforcement. Forty-one-year-old Boyd Chism, of Shawnee, pleaded no contest Thursday to reckless second-degree murder in the November 2015 death of 17-month-old Addilynn Poole. The Kansas City Star reports Chism also pleaded no contest to a charge of aggravated battery for injuries suffered by another child. A Johnson County judge accepted the pleas and found Chism guilty. His sentencing is scheduled for May 11th. Chism's car hit a vehicle driven by Addilynn's mother as he was fleeing from a Johnson County sheriff's deputy who tried to stop him for speeding.


US Oil Rig Count Increases; Kansas Rigs Unchanged

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by two this week to 756. A year ago, 489 rigs were active. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 609 rigs sought oil and 146 explored for natural gas this week. One was listed as miscellaneous. Texas increased by six rigs, North Dakota was up three, Louisiana gained two and Utah one. Oklahoma declined by three, Pennsylvania and Wyoming each dropped two and Alaska, Colorado and New Mexico were off one apiece. Arkansas, California, Kansas, Ohio and West Virginia were all unchanged. The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out last May at 404.


Kansas Lawmakers Say Work Underway on School Finance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Legislature's top leaders say a state Supreme Court ruling on education funding won't require lawmakers to change course on drafting a new school finance law. Senate President Susan Wagle and House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. said their chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature already were working on a new school funding law before the court's decision. The court said the state isn't adequately funding its schools and lawmakers must enact a new education funding law by June 30th. Wagle and Ryckman put a positive spin on the court's decision by saying it recognized the Legislature's power to set school funding policy and appropriate money. While the court said the state's current funding is in adequate, the justices did not specifically say how much spending needs to increase.


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