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Headlines for Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kansas Court to Hear US Senate Ballot Dispute Next Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court will hold a hearing next week on a petition by the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate to get his name removed from the November ballot. The court on Thursday scheduled arguments on Democrat Chad Taylor's petition for 9 am Tuesday. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said in a two-page order that the court was hearing the case without a review by a lower court because of the need for an authoritative ruling. Taylor dropped out of the Senate race last week. But Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Taylor's withdrawal letter didn't comply with a state law limiting when nominees' names can be removed from the ballot. Taylor's withdrawal could boost the chances of independent candidate Greg Orman defeating three-term GOP Senator Pat Roberts.


Kansas High Court Hears Offender Registry Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The attorney representing a convicted child molester has urged the Kansas Supreme Court to take a fresh look at the state's criminal offender registry because social media has made the Internet the new town square for public shaming. Attorney Chris Joseph said during oral arguments Thursday that the world has changed dramatically since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court found criminal offender registration was not punitive. But Assistant Attorney General Christopher Grunewald argued that justices should overturn a Kansas judge's finding that removed a Lenexa man's name from the offender registry. The state contends the case seeks to end the dissemination of public information to third-party websites. The outcome of the case has implications for people whose listing requirements were retroactively lengthened when the state changed its law in 2011.


Candidate's Claim in Kansas Senate Race Disputed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is attacking a key argument made by the Democratic candidate waging a legal battle to get his name removed from the ballot in the U.S. Senate race. Kobach on Thursday released an affidavit from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brad Bryant contradicting a sworn statement from Democrat Chad Taylor. Kobach provided a copy of Bryant's statement exclusively to The Associated Press before posting it online and said it would be key evidence. Taylor submitted his statement to the Kansas Supreme Court in petitioning it to force Kobach to remove his name from the ballot. Taylor said Bryant assured him that a withdrawal letter Taylor wrote was sufficient to get his name off the ballot. In his statement, Bryant said he never did so.


Kansas State University Restricts Travel to African Countries

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is restricting travel of university-sponsored students, faculty and staff to several African countries affected by the Ebola virus. The university said in a letter Wednesday to the Kansas State community that it will deny university-sponsored travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have been placed on a federal travel alert list. Travel requests to nearby Nigeria and the Congo will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The university also said that anyone who has traveled to those countries in the last four weeks needs to be screened at the Lafene Health Center on the Manhattan campus. The Manhattan Mercury reports that as of Wednesday, 16 people who were screened were found to be not at risk of contracting Ebola.


Capital Charge Filed in Topeka Officer's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A 30-year-old man has been charged with capital murder in the shooting death of a Topeka police officer. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced Wednesday that he had filed the charge against Ross Preston Lane, who was being held without bond. Kansas law allows the death penalty for the slaying of a law enforcement officer. Police Corporal Jason Harwood was shot to death Sunday after stopping a car in east Topeka. Lane also was charged with possessing a stolen firearm and criminal possession of a firearm as a past felon. Another 30-year-old man, Anthony Allen Ridens Jr., was charged with obstructing apprehension of a felon and possession of a stolen motorcycle.


KS GOP Wants Appointee Removed from Education Task Force

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback and some Republican state senators say a man appointed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis to a school efficiency task force should be removed because of comments he made in 2011 about school consolidation. Davis appointed John Vratil, a Republican who is a former vice president of the Kansas Senate, to the task force. The panel is studying ways for schools to use more of their state funding for classroom instruction and less on other expenses. Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a Hutchinson Republican, says Vratil said in a 2011 interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal that rural school districts should accept that they will have to consolidate.


Kansas Corn Crop Forecast Larger than Anticipated

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government forecast on Kansas crop production is painting a far rosier picture than had been anticipated for most fall crops just a month ago. The National Agricultural Statistics Service predicted Thursday that Kansas growers would bring in 578 million bushels of corn this season. That figure is 14 percent above last year's production. Higher yields that are averaging 154 bushels per acre are making up for the fact that harvested corn acreage this year is expected to be down 6 percent this year to 3.75 million acres. Production of grain sorghum in Kansas is now estimated to come in at 182 million bushels, up 10 percent from a year ago. Harvest of soybeans is forecast at 147 million bushels, up 15 percent from last year.


Missouri Enacts 72-hour Abortion Waiting Period

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri women seeking abortions will face one of the nation's most stringent waiting periods, after state lawmakers overrode the governor's veto to enact a 72-hour delay that has no exception for rape or incest. The new requirement will take effect 30 days after Wednesday's vote by the Republican-led Legislature. About half the states, including Missouri, have 24-hour waiting periods. The new law will be the second most-stringent behind South Dakota, where weekends and holidays don't count in the 72 hours. Utah also has a 72-hour delay, but grants exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances. Democratic Governor Jay Nixon had denounced the measure as "extreme and disrespectful" toward women. Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri's only licensed abortion clinic, has not said whether it will challenge the 72-hour law in court.


Commission Approves $3.5M for Westar Energy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Westar Energy has agreed to delay a request for a rate increase related to nuclear power plant upgrades as part of an agreement approved by a state commission. The Kansas Corporation Commission on Tuesday approved a plan that would allow Westar to receive about $3.5 million in revenue related to costs that haven't been recovered for improvements at the La Cygne power plant. Westar also agreed not to ask for a rate increase until March. That means about two-thirds of the company's customers who are expected to see an increase of about 16 cents on their bills won't pay more until October 2015. Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light own the plant together and need to make upgrades to comply with federal emissions rules.


Woman Sentenced for Texting-While-Driving Fatality

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas woman has been placed on a year of supervised probation for a texting-while-driving crash that left another driver dead. The Pratt Tribune reports that 36-year-old Jennifer Dale, of Preston, must also pay a $1,000 fine under the sentence she received Wednesday. Dale pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of vehicular homicide in the December 2012 crash that killed 78-year-old Virginia Sell, of Stafford. Authorities said Sell had slowed on Kansas 61 to make a left turn when her car was rear-ended by Dale's vehicle. The impact sent Sell's car into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer. Sell was thrown from her car and died at the scene. Dale's probation requires her to speak at six schools about the consequences of texting while driving.


Not Guilty Plea in Death of Kansas Woman's Fetus

WAKEENEY, Kan. (AP) - A northwest Kansas man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend's fetus by putting a crushed abortion pill on her pancake has entered a not guilty plea. The plea was entered Tuesday for Scott Bolling during his arraignment on a first-degree murder charge in the death of the 8- to 10-week old fetus. He is accused of causing Naomi Abbott to lose her fetus in January by lacing her food with the drug mifepristone. Bolling also is charged with aggravated battery and misdemeanor distribution of adulterated food. The Salina Journal reports Bollig's attorney, Dan Walter, was granted an deadline extension for discovery of information. During Bollig's preliminary hearing in July, WaKeeney Police Chief Terry Eberle testified that Bollig admitted to putting the drug on a pancake he served to Abbott.


Kansas Senator's Team Using Romney in Voter Calls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Senator Pat Roberts is trying to bolster his support among GOP and unaffiliated voters in Kansas with a recorded telephone message from former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Roberts's campaign said the call with Romney's endorsement was going to 400,000 voters across the state Wednesday. Roberts is in a tougher-than-expected race for re-election against independent candidate Greg Orman. Orman is running as a centrist, and his campaign says voters are tired of gridlock in Washington. Romney was the 2012 Republican nominee against Democratic President Barack Obama. In the message, Romney calls Roberts a trusted conservative. Romney says Roberts is needed in Washington to block the agenda of Obama and Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Orman has said voters are interested in solving the nation's problems, not partisanship.


Body Found in Lawrence Creek Identified

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A body found in a Lawrence creek last month has been identified as that of a 57-year-old man. Two people walking in Burcham Park discovered the decomposed remains August 31, in a small creek near a bridge over the Kansas River. Police said Wednesday the Douglas County coroner has identified the man as Lawrence resident Mark Kemberling. Officers said there was no sign of foul play, but the cause of death may not be known for several weeks. Investigators also don't know how long Kemberling had been dead. They're asking to hear from anyone with information about the case.


FBI Probes Vandalism at Congressman's Office

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal investigators are looking into what appears to have been an attempt to firebomb a U.S. congressman's office in Missouri. Kansas City police were called to U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver's office in Kansas City around 2:50 am Thursday after an alarm sounded at the building. Police Sergeant Kari Thompson says two alcohol bottles — one rum and one Jagermeister — were found shattered on the ground outside below a broken office window. Thompson says paper towels were sticking out of the necks of the bottles and it appeared they had been ignited but were extinguished during flight. Cleaver was in Washington, D.C., and there were no staff members in the building at the time. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton says the agency is investigating the incident.


Suspected Intruder Turns Out to Be New School Employee

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — Reports of a suspicious man seen trying to get into a southern Kansas school turned out to be a new employee who forgot the correct way to enter the building. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita police and officers from the Maize School District began searching for the man based on a description from a witness who saw someone rattling outside door handles at the school Monday afternoon. As a result of the witness report, staff members at other Maize schools also were placed in a state of heightened awareness. The school district posted a statement on its website Wednesday saying the man had legitimate reasons to be in the building but was not following the district's safety protocol. The statement says the employee was being dealt with administratively.


Former Bank Worker Sentenced for Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman is going to prison for embezzling more than $650,000 from the bank where she worked. The U.S. Attorney's office says 54-year-old Lisa L. Taylor was sentenced Thursday to six years and six months without parole. Taylor pleaded guilty in February to defrauding UMB Bank, where she worked as a closing account specialist from May 2006 until October 2010. Eleven of her friends and relatives in Missouri and Kansas also pleaded guilty to taking part in the conspiracy. Taylor admitted generating 377 fraudulent checks, some of them payable to friends and relatives who cashed the checks and gave Taylor part of the proceeds. The scheme also involved $97,000 worth of checks made payable to fictitious names. Taylor forged the signatures and deposited the checks into her own bank account.


Overland Park Residents Evacuate During Apartment Fire

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Firefighters helped evacuate residents during a fire at an Overland Park apartment complex shortly before a roof collapsed. No residents were injured during the fire early Wednesday at the two-story Aspen Lodge Apartments. The fire was brought under control in less than an hour. The Overland Park fire department said in a news release that residents from 16 units are displaced. The apartment management and Red Cross are working to help find new homes for residents. One Overland Park firefighter was taken to a hospital with minor medical issues. Officials say the fire started after someone discarded a burning cigarette in a planter on a balcony and the blaze quickly spread to the wood roof and the rest of the building.


$12.5M to Repair Amtrak Route in Colorado, Kansas

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — A $12.5 million federal grant will pay for urgent repairs on the route of Amtrak's Southwest Chief in western Kansas and eastern Colorado, but funding for upgrades in southern Colorado and New Mexico remains uncertain. U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado announced Tuesday the Transportation Department approved the grant after Kansas and Colorado communities committed $9.3 million. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says the money will pay for repairs allowing passenger trains to maintain 60- and 70-mph speeds. Magliari says BNSF Railway, which owns the tracks, runs only slower-speed freight trains and doesn't need to keep the track up to high-speed standards. Magliari says Amtrak is discussing funding for repairs in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico with state officials and BNSF. 


Mental Exam for Atchison Man Charged in Fatal Chase

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - An Atchison man charged after a police chase ended in the death of a 5-year-old girl will undergo a mental competency evaluation. A Leavenworth County District Judge on Wednesday approved the mental examination for 30-year-old Marcas McGowan, who is charged with first-degree felony murder and several other charges in the July 18 chase near Leavenworth. Authorities allege McGowan abducted Cadence Harris from a home they shared with the girl's mother in Atchison. Cadence was found dead from a gunshot in McGowan's car after a police chase ended when McGowan was shot after he pointed a gun at officers. The Leavenworth Times reports the competency evaluation will be done through The Guidance Center in Leavenworth. A September 24 hearing is scheduled to determine McGowan's competency to stand trial.


2 Charged in Death of Joplin Man

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Two men are charged with second-degree murder in the beating and strangling death of a 71-year-old Joplin man. Joplin police say 21-year-old Anthony Carter and 26-year-old Kristopher Smith, both of the Joplin area, were arrested and charged Wednesday in the death of David McKibben, a treasurer at the First Baptist Church. McKibben's body was found in his apartment Saturday. The Joplin Globe reports police said in a news release that the suspects appeared to target McKibben and his death was not a random act of violence. Some items were taken from McKibben's home but police would not say if he was killed as part of a robbery or if the items were taken as an afterthought. Online court records do not show that either suspect has an attorney.


Kansas Authorities Reject Inmate's Parole Request

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The state's prisoner review board has denied parole for a man convicted of beating to death a Kansas elementary school teacher in 1990. The Kansas Prisoner Review Board on Wednesday decided to deny parole until September 2017 for 42-year-old Peter Spencer. Spencer pleaded no-contest to first-degree murder when he was 18 years old. He was convicted of killing 36-year-old Sherryl Crowder, who lived in Manhattan and taught in Wamego. An autopsy showed she was sexually assaulted and died of internal bleeding from a blow to the head. A Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman says the board denied parole in part because of the serious nature of the crime. Spencer is serving a life sentence at the Lansing Correctional Facility.


Royals Lead Division After Shut Out of Tigers

DETROIT (AP) — James Shields allowed two hits over seven innings as the Kansas City Royals edged Detroit 3-0 on Wednesday night to take a one-game lead over the Tigers atop the AL Central. Shields gave up a single to Ian Kinsler leading off the first. Then he picked off Kinsler — and retired every other batter he faced until another Detroit single in the seventh. The Tigers put two on base that inning, but Shields worked out of the jam. Rick Porcello pitched well for the Tigers, but Kansas City pushed across two runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain. Alcides Escobar added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.


Mykhailiuk Lands at Kansas After World Cup Ouster

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — In the course of a week, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk went from playing against some of his biggest heroes on the U.S. team at the World Cup to figuring out where all his classes were on the University of Kansas campus. Talk about a whirlwind for the 17-year-old shooting guard from the Ukraine. Mykhailiuk rose to prominence on the international circuit, where players often sign with pro teams out of high school rather than attend college. But his dream is to play in the NBA, and Mykhailiuk thought playing at Kansas gave him a better chance of realizing it. Now, after playing of the Ukrainian team the past couple weeks in Spain, he'll begin trying to chase that dream with the Jayhawks.


Personnel Changes Give Chiefs a New Look in Week 2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was back on the Kansas City Chiefs' practice field Wednesday after serving his weeklong suspension following an arrest last November. He wasn't the only player who wasn't there a week ago. After getting routed by Tennessee in their season-opener, and losing Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson and starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito to season-ending injuries, the Chiefs were forced to frantically retool ahead of Sunday's game in Denver. Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who spent the past four seasons with the Broncos, was signed on Monday, while linebacker Jerry Franklin has been elevated to the practice squad. The Chiefs also turned over half of their practice squad in the search for help.


Dissecting the Kansas City Chiefs' Terrible Season Opener

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Was last year a smoke-and-mirrors mirage? Did the Kansas City Chiefs go from 2-14 to 11-5 and the playoffs on the strength of dumb luck? There's an argument to be made for it after their season-opening loss to Tennessee. Alex Smith threw three interceptions after receiving a big contract extension. Running ball Jamaal Charles touched the ball 11 times after getting his own new deal. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended. First-round draft pick Dee Ford got on the field for just three snaps. Defensive starters Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito were lost to season-ending injuries, too. Now, the Chiefs will have to pull out of a downward spiral at arguably the toughest place in the AFC: Denver. They visit the Broncos in Week 2 on Sunday.



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