Kansas High Court Justices Defend Handling of Capital Cases
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four Kansas Supreme Court justices facing a campaign to oust them in the November 8 election are defending the court's handling of capital punishment cases. Past high court rulings overturning death sentences are at the center of the effort to remove Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles and Marla Luckert. Justice Caleb Stegall also is on the ballot for a vote on his retention, but he's a 2014 appointee and not a target of the ouster campaign. The four targeted justices declined to discuss specific cases this week in written answers to questions from The Associated Press, citing judicial ethics rules. But all four said the court is fair and impartial. Nuss and Luckert also noted that the court has upheld several death sentences.
Kansas GOP Focuses on Islamic State in Political Mailers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Republican Party is sending out mailers in legislative races depicting explosions and Islamic State fighters. The move comes as GOP candidates face a backlash against Governor Sam Brownback over the state's budget problems. The Wichita Eagle reports that one mailing to homes in Republican state Rep. Joseph Scapa's district in Wichita shows an Islamic State fighter holding a machine gun with a message that reads: "Have you met the new neighbors?" It touts Scapa as a supporter of funding for law enforcement to help deal with threats. But critics said Friday that the mailer was anti-Muslim. Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker confirmed that similar mailings have been sent across the state. He said internal polling showed that security is a good issue for Republicans.
Kansas Sheriff: Lawsuit Claims Are “Baseless”
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff's detective claims in a lawsuit he was fired after refusing to end an investigation into rape allegations against a Holton man. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, Al Dunn claims Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse pressured him to back off the investigation into rape allegations against Jacob Ewing. The lawsuit claims Morse faced complaints from Ewing's family and friends who believed they could influence Morse's re-election bid. Morse told The Topeka Capital-Journal the claims are "baseless" and "ludicrous," and his department hasn't faced pressure to back off the investigation. He also said he wouldn't discuss Dunn's termination because it's a personnel matter. Ewing has pleaded not guilty to charges including rape and aggravated indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14.
Kansas Deputy Charged with Domestic Battery Retires
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff's deputy who faces two criminal charges after an altercation at his home has retired. The Wichita Eagle reports that Burton Garrett is charged in Sedgwick County District Court with aggravated assault and domestic battery. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said Thursday that Garrett was placed on administrative leave at the time of his arrest but has since retired from the force. It wasn't immediately known if Garrett had an attorney. Easter has said Garrett, who has been a deputy for more than 20 years, was arrested on October 12. Easter said the arrested followed a "disturbance at the deputy's home." A family member contacted authorities. Garrett's preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 9.
Hallmark to Hire 400 More Workers at Distribution Warehouse
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hallmark plans to hire about 400 more employees at its warehouse in Liberty, Missouri, as it consolidates its warehouse and distribution work. The Kansas City Star reports the jobs will be added during the next 12 months. By this time next year, the plant will have between 1,100 and 1,200 full-time employees. The plant currently has about 700 full-time employees. Those gains are offset by losses at another Hallmark warehouse. About 570 employees at the company's distribution center in Enfield, Connecticut, were told Tuesday that they would lose their jobs. That center will close by the end of June. It's the latest of several cost-cutting moves in recent years by Hallmark. The company's U.S. employment now is about half what it was at its 1997 peak of 13,500.
Government Resists Paying Expert in Prison Recordings Case
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say the government isn't required to pay for an expert to investigate whether recordings inside a private prison violated inmates' constitutional rights. Attorneys say some of their meetings and phone calls with clients at the Corrections Corp. of America prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, have been recorded in violation of the inmates' Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has appointed Ohio attorney David Cohen as special master to look into possible violations of attorney-client privilege. He will be paid $500 an hour to identify confidential information in possibly hundreds of hours of recordings, and Robinson ordered the Department of Justice to pay him. Prosecutors argue in a motion filed Thursday that Robinson isn't authorized to force the government to pay for Cohen's services.
Man Charged with Murder in Crash that Killed 91-Year-Old
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged with crashing into and killing a 91-year-old driver while fleeing from police in a stolen car. Eighteen-year-old Alex Davis was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the crash that killed James Dexter on Monday. Davis also is charged in the alternative with second-degree murder, and with fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, leaving the scene of an accident, burglary, theft, attempted aggravated robbery and driving with a suspended or canceled license. The Wichita Eagle reports that he is jailed on $250,000 bond. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has said the pursuit started after an officer saw Davis run a stop sign and lasted just 14 seconds before the fatal crash. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.
Missouri Prosecutor: No Charges in Death of Woman in Sheriff's Van
PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A special prosecutor says no charges will be filed after the death of a woman in a Platte County Sheriff's transport van. Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Scroggins announced Friday that he found no evidence of any criminal conduct by officers involved in transporting 50-year-old Emma Lewis, of Platte City, this summer. The Kansas City Star reports Platte County Sheriff's deputies took Lewis into custody June 9 when she refused to comply with an order of protection filed against her by her daughter, who wanted her mother out of the home they shared. When the transport van arrived at the jail, deputies found Lewis not breathing, covered in vomit and face down on the van floor with a seat belt wrapped around her neck.
$2 Million Lawsuit Filed in Hutchinson Store Robbery
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A convenience store clerk has filed a $2 million civil lawsuit against four men serving prison time for a Hutchinson robbery in which the clerk says she was beaten. The Hutchinson News reports attorney Matt Bretz filed the lawsuit on behalf of Jo Dee Samples. Authorities say Dakota Ney, Drake Lindsay and Karl Koenig, all 19, and 20-year-old Kurt Koenig robbed the Hutchinson Kwik Shop on January 27 and attacked Samples. The lawsuit says Samples was beaten and a stun gun was used on her. Samples says she'll likely be permanently disabled. The men appeared in court Thursday. In written responses to the lawsuit, Karl Koenig said he did not assault the Samples during the robbery and asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Kurt Koenig and Lindsay deny the lawsuit's allegations. Ney didn't file a response.
Salina Zoo Prepares for Birth of Giraffe
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Rolling Hills Zoo near Salina has announced that it is preparing for the birth of a giraffe. The Salina Journal reports that Zuri, a 6-year-old giraffe, is pregnant. The baby giraffe is expected to arrive in late November or early December. The gestation period for giraffes can last up to 15 months, and newborns can weigh close to 150 pounds and be 6 feet tall. The name and sex of the newborn giraffe will be determined at birth.