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Headlines for Thursday, May 12, 2016

Here's a look at area news headlines from the Associated Press, as compiled by the KPR News Team.

Kansas Justice Warns Against Being Swayed by Rhetoric
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Supreme Court justice is urging the public not to be swept up by rhetoric about the judiciary. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Justice Marla Luckert says the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life disagrees with a small number of the thousands of opinions she has been involved in while sitting on the court. Her speech Wednesday at the YWCA Network Lunch in Topeka was one of the opening acts in the campaigns several justices will wage during the next few months. The speech came a day after the state's high court heard arguments in a school finance case that has angered lawmakers and brought calls for voters to toss out the justices. Most of the justices are up for retention votes on the November ballot.


Transgender Advocates Decry Kansas Proposal on Birth Records

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Transgender rights advocates have called on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to abandon a proposal to make it far more difficult for people to change the gender on their birth certificates. Topeka resident Stephanie Mott said during a KDHE hearing Thursday that regulatory changes under consideration will lead more transgender youth to attempt suicide. She sued the department earlier this year because it hasn't allowed her to change her birth certificate to show she is a woman. The changes would repeal a regulation allowing someone to change the gender listed on a birth certificate by submitting medical records. Department spokeswoman Cassie Sparks said the regulation conflicts with a 2002 state Supreme Court decision, making it contrary to state law. The changes could take effect within six weeks.


Kansas Governor Signs Bill Aimed at Filling Patrol Vacancies
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas motorists will pay higher vehicle registration fees starting in July to provide extra funds for the state Highway Patrol to hire additional troopers. Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill boosting fees into law Thursday during a ceremony in Salina. It is home to the patrol's training center. The new law also includes another fee increase to provide additional funds for a center in Hutchinson that trains other law enforcement officers. Vehicle registration fees will increase $3.25. Most vehicle owners now pay $35. A $2 increase will raise $5.4 million a year for the patrol so it can hire an additional 75 troopers. Thirty-five of the state's 105 counties have no assigned trooper. An additional $1.25 fee increase will raise $3.4 million annually for the Hutchinson training center.


Kansas Governor Signs Bill Allowing Bioscience Agency Sale

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will be selling off the assets of its Bioscience Authority a dozen years after creating it to nurture emerging biotechnology companies. Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill authorizing the sale into law Thursday during a ceremony in Salina. He and legislative leaders will oversee the sale. The measure also tightens up the rules for using bonds backed by sales tax revenues for major economic development projects. The new law was part of efforts to keep the budget balanced because Brownback believes selling the Bioscience Authority's assets will raise $25 million. Lawmakers in 2004 viewed the authority's creation as a major economic development initiative. But Brownback and others thought the agency ultimately had only a mixed record. They also argued its activities could be better handled by private companies.


Capital Murder Charge Filed in Detective's Death 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been charged with capital murder in the shooting death of a police detective during a confrontation that ended when the suspect was shot by officers in Missouri. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman announced the charges Wednesday against 28-year-old Curtis Ayers, of Tonganoxie. Authorities allege Ayers fatally shot Kansas City, Kansas, Detective Brad Lancaster, on Monday as he responded to a suspicious person report near the Kansas Speedway. Ayers also is charged with two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm. He was arrested in Kansas City, Missouri, after he wrecked a car and was shot by officers. Jackson County, Missouri, officials charged Ayers with seven counts, including carjacking, on Tuesday. He remains hospitalized as authorities in both Kansas and Missouri discuss which jurisdiction will be the first to prosecute him. The Wyandotte County District Attorney said he has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty against Ayers.


Kansas Again Delays Medicaid Cutoff for Planned Parenthood 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has for a second time delayed cutting off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and postponed its action against the group until June 7. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri spokeswoman Bonyen Lee-Gilmore said Wednesday that the state sought another extension to prepare for the first hearing in a federal lawsuit challenging the cutoff. She said the delays show there's no public health emergency. But Governor Sam Brownback's spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, said the delays give both sides adequate time to prepare their arguments and the judge time to review them. The state initially planned to cut off Medicaid funds on Tuesday and then delayed the action until May 24. A hearing on Planned Parenthood's request for a court order blocking the cutoff is scheduled for May 25.


Kansas Officials' Private Emails to Be Subject to Disclosure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill to subject officials' emails about public business to disclosure even if they're on private accounts or devices. Brownback signed the measure Wednesday. The new law will close a loophole in the Kansas Open Records Act that has allowed government officials to use private communications to discuss public business without facing disclosure. Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued an opinion last year saying the records law didn't apply to such situations. The issue arose after The Wichita Eagle reported in January 2015 that Budget Director Shawn Sullivan used a private email account to give two lobbyists a preview of budget proposals. Brownback later acknowledged using a private cellphone for most of his communications. 


Woman Arrested in California for 2007 Kansas Killing 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal officials say a woman has been arrested in California in connection with a 2007 Kansas killing. Deputy U.S. Marshal Jerry Viera says the 44-year-old suspect, Michelle A. Filby, was arrested Wednesday in Torrance, California, in the shooting death of 16-year-old Michael Torneden in Topeka. She is jailed in California on $250,000 bond. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that several people were inside the house when Torneden was shot. His death was originally reported as a possible suicide but was ruled a homicide after an autopsy. In 2013, three other people were found fatally shot inside the same house where Torneden died. A fourth victim of the 2013 shooting died after she was found in a nearby parking lot. No arrests have been made in that case.


Man Charged in Two-State Spree to Stand Trial 

MONTGOMERY CITY, Mo. (AP) —  A Missouri judge has decided that a Mexican national accused of killing a New Florence man as part of a March spree will stand trial. Montgomery County Associate Circuit Judge Kelly Broniec set a June 1 arraignment date for Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino following a preliminary hearing Thursday. Serrano-Vitorino is accused of killing a Kansas City, Kansas, neighbor and three other men at the neighbor's home March 7, then driving nearly 200 miles and killing 49-year-old Randy Nordman in New Florence the following day. The state Attorney General's office is assisting in the prosecution, and the death penalty is being sought. Serrano-Vitorino is in the country illegally. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say he was deported in April 2004 and illegally re-entered the country sometime later.


Haysville Middle School Students Arrested After Threats 

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Four Kansas middle schools students were taken into custody after officials became aware of social media posts threatening violence at the school. Haysville Police Chief Jeff Whitfield said in a statement that Haysville Middle School staff and the school resource officer learned of "threatening messages made via the internet" Thursday morning. He says the threats involved several students causing violence against classmates and staff members at the school. The Wichita Eagle reports that four students were arrested. School District spokeswoman Liz Hames says the district is taking disciplinary action and the students could also face criminal charges. Haysville is a town of about 10,000 residents about 10 miles south of Wichita.


Suspect Arrested in Kansas Serial Burglaries, Police Say

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a man suspected in a series of burglaries in central Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that a 59-year-old man was arrested overnight Tuesday at a burglary in Derby. Newton police Lieutenant Scott Powell says the man also was connected to burglaries in Newton, Wichita and Park City. The suspect was imprisoned for more than 20 years in Kansas for crimes that included aggravated kidnapping, rape and aggravated robbery. He was released on parole in August, Police said that in Newton alone, the man is suspected of committing up to 20 burglaries between September and late January. Newton police Lt. Bryan Hall says the department is analyzing an additional 46 calls made in that time frame about suspicious characters and "prowlers."


Salina Military School Mourns Students Killed in Colorado Crash

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A military school in central Kansas is mourning two current students and a recent graduate who died in a rollover crash in Colorado. The Salina Journal reports that St. John's Military School cadets John Yoder and Akinwumi "A.J." Ricketts and graduate Jake Whitting, the Salina school's valedictorian in the Class of 2016, died Tuesday at the scene of the crash about 40 minutes southwest of Denver. A fourth student, Marshall Otter, survived and was taken to a hospital. His condition wasn't available Wednesday. Colorado State Patrol says Whitting lost control of the pickup truck that the four were in, causing it to leave the road, roll down an embankment and come to rest in a creek. The school, which held commencement ceremonies Saturday, is offering grief counselors on campus.


American Royal Barbecue Contest Moves to Kansas 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Royal annual barbecue contest is moving from Missouri to Kansas. The American Royal Association announced Thursday that the contest will be held at the Kansas Speedway from October 26-30. The Kansas City Star reports it's the first time the event, which started 36 years ago, will be held in Kansas. The contest, which draws hundreds of amateur and professional barbecue teams and tens of thousands of attendees, has had three locations in Kansas City, Missouri, including at Arrowhead Stadium. The American Royal Association said in a release that the move to the Speedway was necessary because of scheduling conflicts at the Truman Sports Complex. Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren said in a statement he looks forward to showing contestants and fans "a great time at our unique venue."


Authorities Investigate Shed Fire Death in Western Kansas

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person has died after a small backyard shed caught fire in western Kansas. The Hutchinson News reports that the officers responded to the fire Wednesday afternoon in Dodge City. Police said in a news release that an unidentified person was found dead. The fire is under investigation.


Electrocution Death Under Investigation in Western Kansas

COLBY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a man who was electrocuted by a high-voltage line in western Kansas. The Thomas County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that the 19-year-old man died Saturday after climbing a utility pole. The Salina Journal reports that the man was dead before emergency workers arrived. No other information was immediately released.


Police Name Person of Interest in Shawnee Woman's Killing

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a person of interest in the death of a suburban Kansas City woman. The Kansas City Star reports that the 53-year-old man may have been living with 44-year-old Monica Lee. Her body was found Monday in her Shawnee apartment, and her car is missing. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.


Wichita Man Sentenced in Crash That Killed 3

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in a drunken driving crash that killed three people and injured two others. The Wichita Eagle reports that Juan Pablo Gandara-Rodela was sentenced Wednesday for second-degree reckless murder in the July 2014 deaths. The hit-and-run crash killed Zachary Taylor and Jake Hallacy, both 26 and of Valley Center, and 21-year-old Emily Phillips of McPherson. Gandara-Rodela also admitted in January to leaving the scene of an accident and aggravated battery. Police have said Gandara-Rodela had been at a bar before running a red light in a sport utility vehicle and slamming into the side of a car. Gandara-Rodela was working toward becoming a U.S. citizen. Under his plea, he will be deported after he is released from prison.


US Won't Appeal Court Rulings on Lesser Prairie Chicken

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. government won't appeal recent court rulings that stripped the lesser prairie chicken of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wild Service said Wednesday that the Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss its appeal of rulings in Texas. The rulings found that Fish and Wildlife failed to make a proper evaluation of a multi-state conservation plan when it listed the lesser prairie chicken as threatened. Fish and Wildlife says that despite dropping the appeal, it "intends to reassess the status of the species based on the court's ruling and the best available scientific data." Oil and gas corporations opposed the listing, saying it would cost the industry millions of dollars. The lesser prairie chicken lives in Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado.


Friend of Man in Lottery Scandal Says She Cashed $15K Ticket

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ A friend of the former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association who is implicated in a jackpot-fixing scandal says she was given a winning Kansas Lottery ticket worth $15,000 in 2011 as an engagement gift. Amy DeMoney testified Wednesday in a hearing for Eddie Tipton, who faces trial in July for ongoing criminal conduct and money laundering charges for games he allegedly fixed in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Separately, Tipton is appealing last year's fraud conviction related to a 2010 Iowa Hot Lotto ticket. He denies prosecutors' allegations that he manipulated the games' number-picking computers. DeMoney says she drove to Kansas to collect the winnings and gave Tipton $6,000 back as he requested. She says Tipton said he couldn't turn in the ticket because he'd lose his job.


Kansas Man Sentenced to About 17 Years for 1999 Attack 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 38-year-old man has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for attacking a woman in her Kansas City, Kansas, home nearly 20 years ago. The Kansas City Star reports that Jibri Liu-Kinte Burnett was sentenced to 17 years and eight months in prison during a hearing Thursday in Wyandotte County District Court. He pleaded guilty last month to sexually assaulting the woman and stabbing her multiple times in the August 1999 attack. In 2001, before the identity of the suspect was known, prosecutors filed criminal charges under the name of "John Doe" so the statute of limitations would not run out before a suspect could be identified. Authorities say DNA evidence in 2014 linked him to the crime.


Kansas City High School Senior's Death Ruled a Homicide 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The death of an 18-year-old high school senior in Kansas City has been ruled a homicide. The Kansas City Star reports that the body of Daizsa Laye Bausby was found in March in a Kansas City hotel room. Bausby's mother filed a missing-person report the following day. Police say she had been suffocated. No other details of the slaying were immediately released. Bausby was an honors student who until this year was first in her class at Southwest High School. She ran track, played basketball and was a member of Junior ROTC. She would have graduated from high school with enough dual credit hours to earn an associate degree. School leaders said she had been offered scholarships to more than a dozen colleges.

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