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Headlines for Saturday, May 6, 2017

Regional news headlines from the Associated Press for Saturday, May 6

Kansas Bill Would Exempt Juror Addresses from Public Record

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers Friday passed a compromise bill aimed at protecting jurors from harassment without impairing court transparency. The House passed the bill 118-3 on Friday. The Senate passed it 40-0 on Wednesday. The bill exempts jurors' addresses from the public record. The original bill also exempted jurors' names, but transparency advocates say that would be a step toward court secrecy. They reached a compromise with district judges who say disclosing jurors' names and information leaves them open to harassment. District judges say the disclosure has a "chilling effect" on prospective jurors. Jurors' names would still be public record under the bill. District Judge James Fleetwood says just guarding jurors' addresses would help prevent harassment. GOP Governor Sam Brownback's spokeswoman Melika Willoughby declined to say whether Brownback would sign the bill.

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Kansas Supreme Court Dismisses Casino Challenge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to a new state-owned casino in southeast Kansas.The court on Friday upheld the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board's choice of Kansas Crossing's casino complex near Pittsburg. Two Wichita entrepreneurs who proposed a larger casino called Castle Rock in Cherokee County objected. They and Cherokee County commissioners filed lawsuits challenging the board's choice. A Shawnee County judge dismissed those lawsuits in April 2016 and Castle Rock supporters appealed to the state Supreme Court.The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed all of Castle Rock's arguments. The court said evidence indicated Castle Rock was less economically viable than Kansas Crossing's $70 million complex in Pittsburg. Kansas Crossing Casino opened March 31.

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Kansas Enhances Penalties for Crimes Against Police Officers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new law signed Friday by Kansas GOP Governor Sam Brownback enhances penalties for those who commit crimes against police officers.Lawmakers in the House and Senate worked this week to pass the bill so Brownback could sign it Friday in honor of Kansas Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day. The House passed the bill 115-9 Tuesday. The Senate passed it 38-0 Wednesday. The law enhances penalties for non-drug felonies against police officers if the officer is on duty or if the perpetrator knows the victim is a police officer. It was passed along with measures regarding interrogation recordings and lower sentences for some drug crimes. Some lawmakers wanted the bill to include a broader hate crimes penalty. Brownback says that's unlikely as the legislative session nears its end.

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Judge Clears Kansas Cattle Buyer of Criminal Charges 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas cattle buyer and his company have been cleared of all criminal charges after a federal judge found prosecutors did not present enough evidence at trial for the case to go to the jury. A court notation shows U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten granted the defense's motion Friday to acquit Randall D. Patterson and the Anthony Livestock Company. Federal prosecutors had accused the Harper County cattle buyer of wire fraud for allegedly faxing invoices to JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding that falsely inflated the amount paid for cattle. Defense attorney Kepler Funk said in a news release that they are happy the truth came out, saying their client is innocent. Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said in an email he didn't have anything to add.

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Slain Kansas Boy's Grandmother Seeks Tougher Home School Rules 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The grandmother of a 7-year-old boy who was killed in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2015 is pushing for tougher regulations of home schools in the state. Adrian Jones was supposed to be getting schooling at home from the father and stepmother who are now headed for prison for his death. Kansas does little to regulate home schools beyond requiring parents to register them. Grandmother Judy Conway has contacted legislators about his case and tougher rules for home schools. Some legislators want to discuss oversight of home schools. But that's a tough sell because of the GOP-controlled Legislature's wariness of stepping on parental rights or what goes on in homes. Conway said she's determined to make sure vulnerable children who are home schooled have some contact with people outside their homes.

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Judge Clears Kansas Cattle Buyer of Criminal Charges 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas cattle buyer and his company have been cleared of all criminal charges after a federal judge found prosecutors did not present enough evidence at trial for the case to go to the jury. A court notation shows U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten granted the defense's motion Friday to acquit Randall D. Patterson and the Anthony Livestock Co. Federal prosecutors had accused the Harper County cattle buyer of wire fraud for allegedly faxing invoices to JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding that falsely inflated the amount paid for cattle. Defense attorney Kepler Funk said in a news release that they are happy the truth came out, saying their client is innocent. Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said in an email he didn't have anything to add.

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Former Kansas Missile Silo Converted into Luxury Condo 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A developer says a former Kansas missile silo converted into a luxury condo is sold out, though he's not saying who has bought the spaces in hopes of having peace of mind during a possible disaster. Larry Hall tells KAKE-TV that units inside the so-called survival bunker about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Salina come with appliances and furniture. The complex features a security system, classroom, swimming pool, rock-climbing wall, shooting range, gyms with saunas, and an arcade. Hall says there's also a self-renewing water supply, grocery store and a medical wing with a pharmacy. Hall says the units have fetched millions of dollars, drawing interest from Hollywood and professional athletes. That condo complex is sold out, though Hall says he's building a similar one in nearby Tescott.

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Judge Grants Joint Preliminary Hearing for 4 Suspects in Topeka Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four men charged in a triple homicide in Topeka will have a joint preliminary hearing. KSNT reports a Shawnee County judge on Friday agreed to allow one preliminary hearing to determine if one or all of the suspects will be tried. The four are charged with first-degree murder and various other counts in the March deaths of 29-year-old Luke Davis, 38-year-old Nicole Fisher and 19-year-old Matthew Leavitt. Thirty-four-year-old Joseph Krahn is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in all three deaths. Nineteen-year-old Shane Mays is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in Fisher's and Leavitt's deaths. And 33-year-old Brian Flowers and 30-year old Joseph Lowry are each charged with one count of first-degree murder in Leavitt's death. The preliminary hearing is scheduled July 11-13.

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Police Release Details in Slaying of Kansas Man

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — Police have released details in the killing of a central Kansas man last month. The Hutchinson News reports 25-year-old Travis Belt has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Steven Carlson. A probable cause affidavit released Wednesday says Belt was given permission to use Carlson's truck the day before police found his body. The affidavit alleges Belt used the truck to steal a knife and other items from a Wal-Mart. Police say they found Carlson's body April 14, after his friend called 911 saying it was unusual his garage door was open. Carlson's white truck was missing. A phone message left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Belt's attorney was not immediately returned Friday. Belt's preliminary hearing is scheduled to start July 17.

 

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