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Headlines for Thursday, November 27, 2014


Kansas Tax Collections $3.1M Over Estimates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas says its tax collections in November exceeded estimates by $3.1 million. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that revenue collections totaled more than $409 million this month, while about $406 million was estimated. Corporate income tax receipts came in $1 million above estimates, while individual income tax receipts were $3.8 million above estimates. But sales tax receipts fell short of estimates in November, coming in about $1 million below expectations. The positive November revenue report came after Kansas fell $23 million short of estimates in October.


Lawmakers Study Corrections Employees Pension Fund

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering where to place the state's pension obligations to more than 2,000 state corrections employees. The issue is whether to keep the corrections employees in a distinct group within the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System or to move their pensions to a division of the system serving police officers and firefighters. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the 2013 Legislature studied the issue last year but left the decision to an interim committee that will consider the issue in December. Members of KPERS' correctional fund have the same benefit formula as other KPERS members. But corrections employees can retire at a younger age than others — 55 or 60 — with 10 years of service.


Pilot Inexperience Blamed for Fatal 2012 Plane Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal aviation officials say pilot inexperience is the likely cause of a 2012 plane crash that killed a Kansas businessman, his wife and their four children in a swampy area of Florida. The Kansas City Star reports that the National Transportation Safety Board released its findings earlier this week. The report noted that Ronald Bramlage had purchased the turboprop plane about five weeks before crashing about 50 miles southwest of Orlando, Florida. The Junction City businessman was returning home with his family after a vacation in the Bahamas when the plane's autopilot disengaged. A statement of probable cause from the NTSB found that Bramlage could not maintain control of the aircraft. Ronald Bramlage was the grandson of Fred Bramlage, for whom Kansas State University's basketball arena is named.


Auto Dealership Employee Stabbed During Test Drive

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are looking for a man accused of stabbing an auto dealership employee and fleeing in the car he was test driving. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 65-year-old Kenneth Gorman was attacked Wednesday night in a bank parking lot in Topeka. Police say the suspect then fled in the 2014 Chevy Malibu he was test-driving. The Malibu was recovered less than an hour later. Gorman was in critical condition when he was transported to a Topeka hospital. But Topeka Police Lieutenant Ash Kaboudan says Gorman is improving and is expected to survive. Gorman worked for Doug Richert Cadillac.


32-Year-Old Arrested After Deadly Olathe Crash

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after a deadly crash at a northeast Kansas intersection. The Kansas City Star reports that a vehicle headed west on an Olathe street collided around 3 am Thursday with car going north on U.S. 56. The driver of the northbound vehicle was taken to a hospital, where he died. The 32-year-old driver of the westbound vehicle wasn't injured, and police arrested him. The news release says "driving under the influence is being investigated as a possible contributing factor in this accident." No other details were immediately released.


Group Tries Again for Vote on Heartland Park

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group seeking to force a vote on the purchase of a Topeka racing facility is appealing a judge's decision. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Chris Imming initiated a petition drive. He wants to overturn the city governing body's vote to buy the financially troubled Heartland Park and expand its redevelopment district. Petition backers contend it's not a financially good deal for the city. After more than enough signatures were gathered to force a vote, the city sued, contesting the petition's validity. City officials have said buying Heartland Park would help address the need to cover bond debt on the property. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks ruled the petition was invalid earlier this month. Imming then announced his intent to appeal Wednesday afternoon.


Mom Pleads for Hit-and-Run Driver to Come Forward

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A mother is pleading for the driver who struck and injured her 2-year-old son to come forward. The Kansas City Star reports that Eduardo Lopez Martinez was critically injured in Monday's crash in Kansas City, Kansas. The driver didn't stop, but the boy's mother, Teresa Martinez, said Wednesday through an interpreter that the person had to have felt the crash. Police said an older, white four-door Chrysler sped off after striking the boy. The director of the University of Kansas Hospital pediatric intensive care unit says Eduardo was breathing with the assistance of a ventilator. The child also suffered rib fractures, but there is no apparent brain damage. Eduardo is expected to survive. Police are asking anyone with information to come forward.


Suspect in Deadly Assault Charged with Murder

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A man accused of raping and setting a Kansas woman on fire has been charged in her death. Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office spokesman Dan Dillon says charges against 26-year-old Cornell McNeal were amended Wednesday to include one count of capital murder or an alternative count of first-degree murder. Thirty-six-year-old Letitia "Tish" Davis died Saturday, a day after McNeal was formally charged with attempted capital murder, rape and arson related to the November 14 attack. The mother of four suffered burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head McNeal is being held on a $1.25 million bond in Sedgwick County. His attorney, Mark Rudy, didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. District Attorney Mark Bennett hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty.


Thanksgiving Feast of Lard, Crickets for KC Zoo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Horse meat, crickets and lard are more appetizing than a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for some Kansas City dwellers. Instead of turkey and stuffing, The Kansas City Star reports that animals at the Kansas City Zoo get to feast on fruits, vegetables and a slew of raw meat. The zoo spends about half a million dollars a year to feed 1,100 animals from about 215 species. The zoo's nine lions eat a total of 45 pounds of horse meat a day and 11 tons of grain per year. Two tigers tear through 15 pounds of meat a day. Elephants prefer hay, fruits and veggies. The six elephants together eat about 800 pounds of hay a day.


NW Missouri Prosecutor Admits Stealing from Client

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri county is looking for a new prosecutor after the one residents elected earlier this month pleaded guilty to stealing more than half a million dollars from his elderly client. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City says 39-year-old Richard F. Turner of Bethany pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements on his tax return. The former Harrison County prosecutor admitted stealing more than $540,000 from his elderly client, who was suffering from memory issues. Authorities say more than $327,000 was spent on paying off and improving his Bethany home. U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson called the crime an "egregious case of elder abuse."


Couple Sues Owner of Plane That Crashed into Home

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago couple is suing the owner of a small cargo plane that crashed into their home. Roberta and Raymond Rolinskas were asleep in their bedroom, just inches from where the plane struck last week. The pilot was killed. The home's residents are both in their 80s. They were unhurt. But their attorney, Matthew Jenkins, says they suffered "severe emotional distress." The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court alleges Central Airlines, Inc. was negligent and failed to adequately maintain and inspect the aircraft. A representative of the company, based in Fairway, Kansas, said he was unaware of the lawsuit. The plane had just taken off from Midway Airport when the pilot reported engine trouble and asked to return. It crashed a quarter mile short of the runway.


2 Die in Shooting in Suburban Kansas City

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Police say two people have died in a shooting at a home in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs. The Kansas City Star reports that police were called to the home around 7:30 am Thursday and heard gunshots as they arrived. Police Sergeant Joe Fanara says both people were dead when officers entered the home. Fanara says a third person was in the home but didn't witness the shooting. Fanara says police are investigating the deaths but that no suspects were at large. No other details were immediately available.


Body Found on Shore of Georgia's Lake Lanier Identified

CUMMING, Ga. (AP) — Authorities in Forsyth County say they've identified a body found on the shore of Lake Lanier. Forsyth County sheriff's officials say the body found Monday was identified as 46-year-old Chad Lovett, a homeless man who is believed to have drowned in the lake. The Forsyth County News reports that the drowning has been deemed accidental. Authorities said Lovett had not been reported missing, and had been homeless in the Cumming area in the months before his body was found. Sheriff's spokesman Doug Rainwater said authorities found his tent near Mary Alice Park. Rainwater said investigators determined that Lovett was originally from Kansas City area, where his mother and sister still live. Visitors at Mary Alice Park saw the body as they were walking around the beach Monday morning.


ACLU Revises Gay Marriage Suit to Raise New Claims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union has revised its lawsuit over gay marriage in Kansas to raise new claims that the state is refusing to recognize the unions performed in Kansas and other states. Their amended complaint, filed Wednesday, seeks to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages for spousal health insurance benefits, tax filing purposes and driver's license name changes. The group is also adding more same-sex couples as plaintiffs in the suit including a recently married University of Kansas employee seeking to add his partner to his state health insurance plan. ACLU attorney Doug Bonney says he is disappointed with Kansas leaders and accused the state of continuing to play an "obstruction game." The attorney general's office didn't immediately return a phone message. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month blocked Kansas from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriages while the lawsuit proceeds in federal court. Same-sex couples in Kansas have since been marrying in some but not all of the state's 105 counties.


Foster Dad Pleads Guilty in Hot Car Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A foster dad has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for leaving a 10-month-old girl inside a sweltering car outside of his house while he and his partner smoked marijuana. The Wichita Eagle reports that Seth Jackson entered the plea Wednesday. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says Jackson went to a drug dealer's house July 24 before picking up the girl from a baby sitter. After arriving home, he went inside with a 5-year-old child, but left the baby in the vehicle. It was around 90 degrees outside, and police say the girl was inside the car with the windows up for more than two hours. An autopsy showed she died of hyperthermia due to heat exposure. Sentencing is set for January 30th.


Reward in 10-Year-Old Girl's Death Grows to $7K

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The reward has grown to $7,000 for information leading to an arrest in a drive-by shooting that killed a 10-year-old girl in Kansas City, Kansas. Machole J. Stewart died October 26 while she was inside a home that was sprayed by bullets from a passing vehicle. No one else inside the home was hurt. Her death came a little more than a week after a 6-year-old Angel Marie Hooper was shot to death at a convenience store in Kansas City, Missouri. Two men have been charged in Angel's killing. The Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers says that the reward grew after an anonymous donor offered $5,000 for information.


Kansas City Area Man Seeks Delay in Iowa Murder Trial

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Missouri man charged with killing his wife in Iowa is seeking a delay in his January trial so he can care for his 5-year-old daughter while she fights cancer. Alex Fazzino is free on bond while awaiting trial for first-degree murder in the 2012 death of 32-year-old Emily Fazzino at their home in Boone. He's pleaded not guilty and contends her death was an accidental drowning in their bathtub. Fazzino has since returned to his hometown of Lee's Summit, Missouri, where he has been working and raising their three children. Defense attorney William Kutmus says Fazzino's youngest child has been diagnosed with leukemia and faces chemotherapy in coming months. He's asked for the trial to be delayed until April or May. A judge is considering the request.


20-Year-Old Charged with Killing Wichita Couple

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man has been charged with killing a Wichita couple during a robbery. Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office spokesman Dan Dillon says 20-year-old Steven Wade Edwards II was charged Wednesday with capital murder in the deaths of 70-year-old Martha Moreno and her husband, 72-year-old Godofredo Moreno. Prosecutors also filed, as an alternative, two counts of first-degree murder, along with charges of burglary, theft and criminal possession of a weapon by a felon. A 17-year-old suspect previously was charged as a juvenile in the killings. The Morenos' son found their bodies October 16 on a bedroom floor of their home. Edwards is being held on $1 million bond. His attorney, Mark Rudy, declined to comment. Dillon says District Attorney Mark Bennett hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty.


Missouri Driver Arrested After Police Chase

NEVADA, Mo. (AP) - A southwest Missouri man suspected of drunken driving led sheriff's deputies and state troopers on a chase spanning two counties before being taken into custody. The Joplin Globe reports the pursuit began early Tuesday in Vernon County after deputies checking out a report of a pickup truck driving in the median of Interstate 49 spotted the vehicle, which took off in the wrong direction on the interstate. Officials say the driver got off the interstate and fled into Cedar County, where the Missouri State Highway Patrol put out spike strips. He continued driving despite most of the truck's tires being deflated before being taken into custody on a dead-end road. The Nevada, Missouri, man was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and traffic violations.


Pittsburg Clears Way for Potential Casino Project

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Pittsburg city commissioners have approved an ordinance annexing 130 acres of land near the city's outskirts at the request of a casino development group that wants access to city services. The Crawford County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Crawford County Commission last week approved similar measures at the request of Southeast Kansas Casino Group. The Joplin Globe reports the developers want to build a casino at the junction of U.S. highways 69 and 400 southeast of Pittsburg. An attorney representing the landowners and developers says he anticipates the group will submit an application to the state Lottery Commission by the December 19 deadline. Two other groups also have indicated they will apply to build and run a state-owned casino in the southeast part of the state.


Missouri Holiday Travel Launch Basically Smooth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Motorists hit a brief snag after up to an inch of snow fell across parts of eastern Missouri Wednesday morning, but other than that and some canceled flights, things went smoothly on one of the year's busiest travel days. Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Paul Reinsch says at least a half-dozen semitrailers slid off Interstate 70 near Montgomery City on Wednesday morning after a small band of snow came through three counties, but no serious injuries were reported. Reinsch says midday temperatures in the lower 40s melted any lingering snow as the Thanksgiving traffic volume began to increase. International airports in St. Louis and Kansas City both reported some flight cancellations because of a winter storm system moving through the Northeast, but traffic through the airports was brisk nonetheless.


Chiefs' Charles Dedicates Game to Drowning Victims

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is dedicating Sunday night's game against Denver to two teenagers who drowned in a Missouri farm pond over the weekend. Charles met one of the boys, Andre Lance, a few years ago at training camp and remembered taking a photo with him. The 17-year-old Lance and his high school classmate, Tyler Brandt, were found in the ice-covered farm pond Sunday night near Savannah in northwest Missouri. Charles said that he learned of the drowning through social media. The Chiefs were already playing with heavy hearts after learning safety Eric Berry has a mass in his chest that could be lymphoma. Berry was still undergoing tests Wednesday but will miss the remainder of the season.



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