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Headlines for Thursday, October 20, 2016

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Judge Revives Kansas Voting Citizenship Case 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has revived a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Kansas law requiring prospective voters to prove they are U.S. citizens. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson gave Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach a pass on Wednesday for failing to file a timely response to the lawsuit. She set aside a court clerk's default judgment issued last week against the state. Robinson says the case is of constitutional significance and public interest, and that it deserves to be decided on the merits and not through procedural default.  Kansas law requires people who register to vote to provide documentary proof of U.S. citizenship. Kobach is facing four separate lawsuits challenging various aspects of that law.

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Kansas Secretary of State Backs Trump on Election Fraud Claims 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top elections official in Kansas is defending Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee claims that election fraud could cost him the election. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a Trump supporter and a vocal advocate of tough voter ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements for voters. But the Kansas Republican Party's executive director said Thursday that the party will accept the results after the Electoral College meets in December to formally choose the president. Kobach said if the vote is close in a swing state like Florida, there is what he called a "legitimate question" about the results. Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker said there might be some election problems but no "massive election conspiracy." A Loyola University law professor's recent study concluded that voter-impersonation cases are extremely rare.

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Senator Moran Says He'll Accept Vote Results 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  U.S. Senator Jerry Moran is saying that he'll accept this year's election results and will encourage all candidates for office to do the same. The Kansas Republican issued a statement Thursday in response to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claims that election fraud could cost him the White House. Trump wouldn't agree during the final presidential debate Wednesday night to accept the results. Moran said American democracy depends on the country's ability to elect leaders in a fair and open process. He said for more than 200 years, people have respected the outcome of elections. Moran added: "I will accept the will of Kansans and Americans, and encourage all candidates running for public office to do the same."

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Bond Debt in Kansas More Than Triples over 2 Decades 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Researchers have found that the bond debt in Kansas has more than tripled in size since the late 1990s. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that legislative researchers created a chart showing that debt levels stand at more than $5 billion in the 2017 fiscal year. From fiscal year 1997 to 2017, the total amount of bond debt increased by 336.4 percent, or $3.8 billion. The bond debt has increased under both Republican and Democratic governors. Bond debt for general government has rocketed upward by 4368 percent over the past 20 years. General government includes the Department of Administration, Commerce, Insurance and pension bonds. The debt of the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees the state universities, rose by 1062 percent. 

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Feds: 3 Suspects in Somali Plot Pose 'Substantial Danger'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Prosecutors say the three Kansas men accused of conspiring to attack Somali immigrants in Garden City pose a "substantial danger'' to the community and should not be released pending trial.  A filing Thursday makes public new details about the plot and the arsenal they had amassed. The government also cited the men's backgrounds, arguing they pose a flight risk. Detention hearings for Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright are set for Friday, and one for Curtis Allen is set for Monday.  The three are charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Prosecutors say the men were part of a small militia group called the Crusaders. They allege the three planned to detonate truck bombs around a small Garden City apartment complex where about 120 Somali immigrants live.  

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Kansas Cites Slavery-Era Decision in Abortion Case, Backpedals

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is withdrawing a court brief that cites the slavery-era Dred Scott decision to support the state's position that the Kansas Constitution does not guarantee a right to an abortion. Schmidt said Wednesday that the filing submitted to the Kansas Supreme Court a day earlier does not accurately reflect the state's position and should not have been made. The state used the 1857 Dred Scott case to bolster its argument that the Declaration of Independence had no legally binding effect. Schmidt says the reference was ``obviously inappropriate,'' and he ordered it withdrawn once he became aware of it. In the infamous 19th Century decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a black person whose ancestors were slaves could not be a U.S. citizen.  

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Only Half of Saline County Homes with High Lead Levels Investigated 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Health officials say only about half of the 33 cases of elevated lead levels reported in Saline County children were investigated because some people were reluctant to allow officials into their homes. Saline County official Shawn Esterl, who helped the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with the investigations, said other parents didn't like the information they were given by health officials. The Salina Journal reports the families who didn't participate will not receive specific information about the source of lead in their homes but can still follow general recommendations for controlling lead hazards. The state began an investigation in June because of the high number of children affected. In August, the state notified families that no single cause for the elevated lead levels was found.

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Food Distribution Company Plans Topeka Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A food distribution company is set to make an $86.5 million capital investment in Topeka, including a new 250,000-plus square-foot facility. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Joint Economic Development Organization awarded the Oregon-based Reser's Fine Foods $665,000 in performance incentives on Wednesday. The company's expansion also includes 180 new jobs and upgrades to its current Topeka plant. The new plant will be located nearby. The company plans for its project to be done in two phases, with a groundbreaking in early 2017. Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and GO Topeka, says the one-time economic impact of Reser's expansion is projected to be $115 million. The recurring impact each year is expected to be $90 million, assuming the 180 jobs are created.

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Earthquake Reported in Sumner County

CALDWELL, Kan. (AP) _ A 3.6 magnitude earthquake has been reported in Sumner County. The Hays Post reports that the United States Geological Survey reported the earthquake at just before 7:15 am Thursday. It was centered about 13 miles southwest of Caldwell. No damage or injuries were reported.

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Man Accused of Choking Stranger's Baby at Johnson County Wal-Mart

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A former pastor is accused of trying to choke a 4-month-old baby he didn't know at a Kansas City-area Wal-Mart. The Kansas City Star reports prosecutors in Johnson County charged 54-year-old Oleh Zhownirovych of Clinton, New Jersey, with felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor battery. It was not immediately clear if Zhownirovych has an attorney. Overland Park police say a man walked up to a woman who was in a checkout lane early Wednesday and began choking her baby. The woman screamed, and the man stopped. Police say people in the store helped the woman and held the man until officers arrived. The baby was not injured. Investigators say the man possibly was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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Lenexa Officer Shoots Man, Suspect Flees

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) - Police say a suburban Kansas City officer shot at a suspect who then fled in a vehicle and remains at large. Police say it's not clear whether the suspect was injured early this (THUR) morning during a failed arrest attempt at a QuikTrip convenience store in Shawnee. The Shawnee officer requested help from neighboring Lenexa after a check of a license plate showed that a person associated with the vehicle had an outstanding warrant. When the two officers approached the car, the driver backed up the vehicle in effort to make an escape. The Lenexa officer fired one gunshot. The driver sped away traveling north on I-35.W. The Lenexa officer suffered minor scrapes and has been placed on paid leave as a matter of standard procedure. The other officer wasn't hurt. Police say they are still looking for the driver and are now evaluating the store's surveillance recordings for more information.

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Mentally Ill Kansas Man Pleads No Contest in Man's Beating Death 

GREENSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A mentally ill Kansas man has pleaded no contest to killing a man three days after he was released from a state psychiatric hospital in a case that prompted a state inquiry. The Kansas City Star reports that Brandon Brown, of Haviland, pleaded no contest Tuesday in Kiowa County to second-degree murder. Prosecutors said he beat 61-year-old Jerry Martinez so severely in May 2015 at a residential care facility that Martinez died a few weeks later. Brown spent a week at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Osawatomie after he scuffled with two other residents at the Haviland Care Center west of Wichita. The beating happened after he returned to Haviland. Brown's father, James Brown, has argued his son was released too quickly because of state budget problems.

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Kansas Woman Charged in 26-Year-Old Unsolved Murder Case

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A woman has been charged in the death of an 18-year-old woman whose body was found nearly 30 years ago in Kansas City, Kansas. The Wyandotte County District Attorney's office said in a release Thursday that 48-year-old Carolyn J. Heckert is charged with first-degree murder in the December 1989 death of Sarah DeLeon, who was found stabbed to death along some railroad tracks. Heckert is being held on $1 million bond following her arrest Wednesday in Smithville, Missouri, which is about 20 miles north of Kansas City, Kansas. Police have said new DNA collection and testing technology prompted investigators to reopen the DeLeon case in July 2014. A lawyer for Heckert didn't immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday. Gail Elieson, DeLeon's mother, says she is "quite pleased" charges were filed.

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2nd Man Arrested in Connection with 2012 Topeka Homicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A second person has been arrested in the 2012 homicide of a 19-year-old man in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the 24-year-old suspect was booked into jail Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Geovani Plakio. The suspect also is being held on two counts of attempted murder. Earlier this month, 27-year-old Cortez Tyrell Timley was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Plakio's death. Timley also is charged with first-degree murder in the June 2014 shooting death of 26-year-old Jermel Robbins Sr. Three weeks before the 2014 killing, Robbins was believed to have been in a SUV from which shots were fired that killed Tiffany Davenport-Ray. The 42-year-old bride was shot after leaving her wedding reception.

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Lawrence Teacher Suspended After Complaints About Remarks

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The Lawrence school district says a middle school teacher has been suspended with pay after allegedly making racist comments during class. The district announced the suspension Wednesday but did not provide the name of the South Middle School teacher or the content of the alleged remarks. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that district officials they had received a complaint against the teacher from the family of a student. South Middle School administrators contacted the district's human resources department, which conducted its own investigation. Superintendent Kyle Hayden suspended the employee, with pay, in accordance with Lawrence Board of Education Policy and to ensure a fair investigation.

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Kansas Man Gets Probation in Octopus-in-Throat Case 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas man who admitted to endangering a child after a 2-year-old boy in his care ended up with a small octopus lodged in his throat has been sentenced to two years of probation. Thirty-seven-year-old Matthew Gallagher also was sentenced Thursday to a suspended one-year jail term. Gallagher pleaded guilty to a reduced count of child endangerment, as well as charges of battery and interference with law enforcement. All are misdemeanors. The boy's mother told investigators she returned from work April 5 to find Gallagher performing CPR on her son at her Wichita home. A small octopus was found in the boy's throat. He was treated at a hospital. Police say Gallagher told them he had been eating sushi and small octopi when he fed one to the boy.

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Body of Victim in 1974 Abilene​ Killing Exhumed to Determine Identity

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) _ The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office says investigators exhumed the remains of a person believed to be a possible victim of a serial killer. Sheriff Gareth Hoffman said in a news release the remains were exhumed Wednesday from the Abilene Cemetery in Abilene.  Hoffman says the sheriff's office was contacted last April by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation of a possible match between the remains found near Upland in 1974 and a person reported missing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, that year. The Salina Journal reports that a KBI investigation in 1974 identified a serial killer, Cecil Henry Floyd, as the suspect in the Dickinson County case. Investigative reports indicate that Floyd admitted to killing 11 people _ four in Florida, one in Kansas, one in Nebraska and five in Indiana.  

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Chiefs' Houston Returns to Practice After Knee Surgery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since having surgery in February to repair the ACL in his left knee. The four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher was expected to do individual drills only as the Chiefs slowly get him back into playing shape, and coach Andy Reid did not say when he might be ready to take the field. Reid did say it was a virtual certainty that Houston will not play Sunday against Oakland. Houston missed several weeks late last season then came back for the playoffs, but was limited in games against the Houston Astros and New England Patriots.
 

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