More Budget Woes for Kansas Mental Health Centers
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Mental health advocates say funding cuts to mental health services in Kansas have spawned layoffs at some of the state's 26 health centers. Many of them are positions that help families in crisis manage day-to-day care. There's a $30 million budget hole for mental health for the current fiscal year, the Association of Community Mental Health Centers said last month — a figure that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services does not dispute. Association director Kyle Kessler says funding cuts will result in an estimated loss of 200 positions statewide in mental health centers. The latest funding cuts come in a sector that never saw its pre-Recession state funding restored, and advocates are warning of more hospital admissions, emergency room visits and interactions with law enforcement.
Kansas Supreme Court Grants Appeal Opportunity
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court says a Wichita man may be allowed to appeal his prison sentences for murder and kidnapping even though the appeal deadline has long since passed. The court said Friday that Shelbert Smith may be entitled to file an appeal now because his defense attorney failed to file the appeal when Smith asked him to years ago. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Smith was 16 when he was sentenced to life for first-degree murder and other charges. He's spent 23 years in prison. In 2013, Smith filed his own motion to appeal his sentence. A Sedgwick County district court denied the motion saying the deadline had passed. But the high court says the late appeal may be allowed and sent the case back to the district court.
"Hard 50" Sentence Dropped in Wichita Stabbling Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say they won't seek a second "Hard 50" sentence against a Wichita man convicted in a fatal 2009 stabbing. Rogelio Soto was 16 when he took part in the March 17, 2009, stabbing death of 28-year-old Arturo Moreno. Soto was convicted and sentenced to at least 50 years before becoming parole eligible. But a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling essentially voided the Hard 50 sentences, which sent Soto's case back to Sedgwick County court. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett told The Wichita Eagle recently that his office isn't seeking the Hard 50 sentence for Soto, in part because two key witnesses are no longer in the United States. Bennett's office has notified the court that instead prosecutors will seek a 25-to-life prison term.
Mohatt Will Lead Kansas National Guard
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas National Guard has a new general in charge of its troops.In a ceremony Saturday in Topeka, Brigadier General Robert Windham handed command of the Kansas National Guard forces to Brigadier General Anthony Mohatt. Mohatt now reports to Adjutant General Major Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the top uniformed officer for National Guard forces in the state. As assistant adjutant general, Mohatt has responsibility for 5,000 men and women in uniform. Windham is set to retire in two months. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Mohatt graduated in 1990 from the Kansas Military Academy. He served in the Iraq War and held command positions in the 35th Infantry Division, 69th Troop Command, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion and 137th Infantry Regiment, among others.
Kansas City, Kansas Police Leader Critical of KCMO Chief
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's police chief is taking some criticism from area police union leaders for his recent comments about shootings of black men by officers. Chief Darryl Forte told The Kansas City Star that there's "an issue with too many African-American men being killed by police officers," and that he feels part of the problem is "unreasonable fear," as well as poor training.Kansas City, Kansas, police union leader Scott Kirkpatrick, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, responded in an open letter posted online Wednesday, pointing to recent deaths in the line of duty of two Kansas City, Kansas, police officers. He says the fear is real.Forte stood by his comments, which he says can be best understood in the context of the whole interview.
Eudora Man Gets Life in Prison for Sexual Abuse
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 40-year-old Eudora man has been sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing a child. Sean Weeks was convicted in May of three felony charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was sentenced Friday in Douglas County court to life in prison.District Court Judge Peggy Kittel denied a defense motion for a new trial and a request to deviate from the mandatory life sentence.For each of the three felony convictions, Kittel sentenced Weeks to serve life in prison with a mandatory minimum time of 25 years. If he is released after that minimum time served he will be on parole for life. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Weeks was accused of abusing the victim over about four years in Lawrence and Eudora.