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Headlines for Thursday, September 15, 2016

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

Kansas Regents Call for Restored Higher Education Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents is urging the governor and lawmakers to restore higher education funding. The regents approved the request Wednesday unanimously and without comment. For fiscal years 2018 and 2019, their proposal calls for reinstating about $30 million per year sliced from the fiscal 2017 budget. The cuts announced in May represented a 4 percent higher education reduction. The University of Kansas and KU Medical Center lost about $10.7 million, and Kansas State University's campuses lost about $7 million. Regents chairwoman Zoe Newton says the board is "not unaware of the straits that we are in as a state." But she says the board feels it needs to "put out there what it is that we feel we need as a system."


Kobach: Effort Underway to Identify Voters Affected by Order 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says county election offices are sorting through thousands of records to identify voters affected by a recent federal court order. The Wichita Eagle reports that the effort stems from last week's ruling blocking Kansas and two other states from requiring proof of citizenship from people who register to vote using the federal form. Kobach says the state's voter database does not differentiate between people who register with the federal form and the state form. That means local election officers will have to physically go through paper records of people who tried to register since January to determine which voters were affected by the ruling. Kobach estimates that the number of people affected would be between 200 and 400 statewide.


Judge in Kansas Orders Courthouse Video Preserved 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Kansas has ordered courthouse surveillance video preserved in a case involving a prosecutor's visit to the judge's chambers. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson's order Wednesday directs authorities to produce all video from August 25 to early August 26 showing Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic and a deputy marshal on the floor where Robinson's office is. The Kansas City Star reports the allegation that Tomasic entered the judge's chambers without authority was made public during a recent hearing involving an investigation into recordings of attorney-client meetings at a private prison. The U.S. attorney's office says Tomasic wanted to deliver materials Robinson requested and had the marshal open a door to a hallway leading to the chambers, where she intended to slide the documents under the door.


Kansas State University Distances Itself from Racist Post 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is distancing itself from a derogatory photo tagged to its Facebook site that depicts two young women in apparent blackface along with a racist slur. University spokesman Jeff Morris says neither woman is a student at Kansas State. He says one attended last spring, but had not enrolled for the fall semester. He says the offensive photo came to the university's attention Thursday morning and was taken down because it was not considered appropriate. He says Kansas State can't control who tags to their site. Morris says there is "nothing else for us to do," other than to continue to meet with students and encourage people to be nice and kind to each other. The posting caused a dustup in social media and made national headlines.


Resentencing Date Set for Kansas Abortion Provider's Killer 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The man convicted of killing abortion provider George Tiller will face a new jury this fall. That jury will be tasked with deciding how long he must stay in prison before he is eligible for parole. Sedgwick County District Court records show resentencing procedures for Scott Roeder are set to begin November 28. A status conference is scheduled September 21. Roeder's life sentence with no chance of parole for 50 years was among many vacated after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that juries, not judges, must decide whether to increase punishment. Jurors must decide whether to resentence him to at least 50 or 25 years before being eligible for parole. Prosecutors are seeking a second Hard 50 prison sentence, while the defense contends the lesser term is sufficient.


Feds: Suspect in Fatal Kansas Crash Had Previous DUI 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities say a man charged in a crash that killed a Johnson County deputy could face eventual deportation proceedings because of suspected immigration violations and a previous drunken driving conviction in California. Adrian Espinosa-Flores, of Kansas City, Kansas, is being held in Johnson County on $2 million bond after being charged in the drunken driving crash that killed Johnson County Sheriff's Master Deputy Brandon Collins. Collins was making a traffic stop Sunday when a pickup hit his stopped patrol car. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking custody of Espinosa-Flores if he's released in Kansas. ICE officials say he'd face deportation proceedings because of a 2001 DUI conviction in California.


Planned Smoking Areas at Kansas State Fair Delayed 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Plans to restrict smoking to specific areas of the Kansas State Fair have been postponed, at least for this year. After much debate, the fair board voted in May 2015 to establish designated smoking areas across the fairgrounds for this year's fair. The effort was led by a Reno County youth organization called Communities that Care. The Hutchinson News reports the designated smoking areas are being delayed because grants to pay for benches and smoking receptacles weren't received in time to install them for this year's fair, which runs through Sunday. Fair Manager Susan Sankey says she didn't want to implement the policy until it could be done correctly. Officials say they plan to have the designated smoking areas ready for the 2017 fair.


Memos: Kansas City Police Child Crimes Unit 'Incompetent' 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Internal Kansas City police documents show a police unit set up to investigate crimes against children failed to properly investigate thousands of cases, with some detectives doing no work at all. A special squad asked to clear backlogged cases found such serious problems that Police Chief Darryl Forte in January suspended nearly all of the detectives and sergeants in the Crimes Against Children Unit. The Kansas City Star's review of internal police department memos uncovered the depth of the problem. The memos describe 148 "severely mishandled" cases, "incompetence," and evidence of efforts to cover up the problems. A unit created in April has reviewed tens of thousands of cases. Forte, prosecutors and child care advocates say they have seen marked improvement in investigations since the unit was overhauled.


Small Earthquake Reported in Ellis County, Kansas 

ELLIS, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded a small earthquake in central Kansas Wednesday afternoon. The USGS says the 3.5 magnitude earthquake was felt throughout Ellis County. The earthquake was centered 4.3 miles north of Ellis. The Hays Post reports no damage or injuries. The Geological Survey says a quake of 3.5 magnitude causes weak to light shaking.


Appeals Court Upholds Sentence for Hutchinson Bail Bondsman

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Hutchinson bail bondsman who prosecutors say forced women to perform sex acts after he bonded them out of jail. The appeals court this week rejected Dwight Jurgens's appeal of his sentence for aggravated human trafficking and other crimes. He is serving a 21-year sentence.  The Hutchinson News reports that Jurgens was convicted of forcing four women he bonded out to perform sex acts or go back to jail. Jurgens's attorneys argued in the appeal that the evidence didn't support the convictions, his constitutional right to speedy trial was violated, and that the district court should have told the jury not to reach a verdict out of sympathy for the women. The appeals court rejected all of those arguments.  


Man Accused in Deadly Wichita Crash Ordered to Prison 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of driving drunk and killing two people when he crashed into a van that was transporting people with developmental disabilities has been ordered to serve 15 months in prison for a probation violation. The Wichita Eagle reports that 56-year-old Bret Blevins was under probation after thefts last fall. The items stolen included a 6-foot-tall bronze eagle statue taken from in front of a Boy Scouts of America council building in Wichita. Blevins admitted Wednesday in Sedgwick County District Court that prosecutors had enough evidence to prove he violated the probation terms because of the hit-and-run crash this spring that killed Dirk MacMillan and Leonard Atterbery and injured four others. He faces multiple charges, including two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence.


Man Dies in South Wichita House Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Wichita house fire has left one person dead and another critically injured. The Wichita Eagle reports that the fire was reported Wednesday night in the brick, two-bedroom 1946 home. Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell says a woman who lived in the home met firefighters as they arrived and told them a man was in the basement. Blackwell says a search-and-rescue team found the man quickly, but he died. The person critically injured in the fire is being treated in the burn unit of a Wichita hospital. Two firefighters also required medical treatment — one for an injured ankle and the other for heat and physical stress. The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known.


Man in Court on Charge Linked to Missing Missouri Woman 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has entered a not guilty plea for a man accused of burning a missing Missouri woman's vehicle last week. Kylr Yust is charged with knowingly burning 21-year-old Jessica Runions' vehicle. The woman from the Kansas City suburb of Raymore was last seen leaving a party a week ago. Police say Yust is a person of interest in the 2007 disappearance of an ex-girlfriend, Kara Kopetsky, who was 17 when she vanished days after filing for a protection order against Yust. She was last seen at her high school in Belton, south of Kansas City. Yust has not been charged in the disappearance of Runions or Kopetsky. During Yust's brief court appearance Thursday, the judge also read Yust his rights and scheduled his next court appearance for Sept. 29.


Weak Farm Income Hurts Economy in Rural Parts of 10 States 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bankers say weak farm income continues to weigh down the economy in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The overall rural economic index for the region remained in negative territory and declined to 37.3 in September from August's 41.1. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey's indexes suggests a decline in that area. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says farm income is expected to decline 12 percent over last year. That is limiting spending by farmers and hurting the economy in rural areas. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed. Goss says the number of farm loan defaults hasn't increased significantly over the past year, but more loans are being restructured.


Kansas City Woman Sentenced for Embezzling from Bank 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman was sentenced to nearly two years in prison without parole for stealing from a bank where she worked. Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that 36-year-old Elisha Nicole Araiza was sentenced to 21 months and ordered to pay $213,090 in restitution to Bank of America. She pleaded guilty in April to embezzlement. Araiza worked as a portfolio officer on the Small Business Accounts Team at Bank of America, which involved working with small businesses on financial questions. She admitted that she deposited a bank customer's money in her own account in July 2011 because her account was overdrawn. The diversion of client checks to her account continued until the embezzlement was discovered in March 2015. Bank of America found 121 loan payment checks diverted to Araiza's personal account.


Conservation Awards: Whooping Cranes, Pond Turtles, Gorillas 

Work to bring back whooping cranes and turtles received top honors for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' 2016 North American Conservation Award, while the group's international award recognizes gorilla conservation. Nine U.S. zoos were recognized for a project to care for rescued gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, and zoos in Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Florida, and Wichita, Kansas. The award for the whooping crane recovery program went to the International Crane Foundation, based in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, the San Antonio Zoo and the Calgary Zoo in Canada. The 25-year effort to bring back western pond turtles in Washington State is a project of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and the Oregon Zoo in Portland.


Bail Now $2 Million for Man Charged in Kansas Shooting

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has doubled the bail for a man suspected in an attempted robbery and shooting at a suburban Kansas City Wal-Mart. The suspect, 27-year-old Arthur Fred Wyatt III, made his first court appearance Wednesday in Johnson County. The Kansas City Star reports that Wyatt's bail was increased to $2 million from $1 million.  Investigators say he and another man attacked a woman Sunday in the parking lot of a Shawnee Wal-Mart. Another man in the lot intervened and was shot several times. Shawnee police say another person in the parking lot shot and killed one of the attackers, John Simmons of Kansas City. Police say Wyatt fled and was arrested Tuesday in Overland Park. Wyatt told a Johnson County magistrate judge Wednesday he would hire his own attorney. 


Kansas Man Charged in Fatal 2014 Hit-and-Run

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Sedgwick County authorities have charged the suspect in a 2014 hit-and-run that killed a man near Clearwater. Fifty-four-year-old Cary Whitlock of Clearwater was charged Wednesday with failure to stop at an accident, resulting in great bodily harm. He is accused of hitting and killing Jeremy Napier as he was walking along a road in September 2014. Whitlock's preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 20. He's free from jail on $25,000 bond. No defense attorney is listed in court records. Whitlock was arrested last week. Authorities have not detailed what led to his arrest after nearly two years.


Royals Lose Third Straight to Oakland, 8-0

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics beat the Kansas City Royals 8-0 Wednesday night. It was the third straight loss for Kansas City and further damages the Royals' postseason chances. The 2015 World Series champion Royals are five games out in the American League wild card with 17 regular season games left and would have to climb over five teams. A's rookie left-hander Sean Manaea (5-9) picked up his first career road victory, retiring 13 of the final 14 batters he faced in five scoreless innings, striking out five and walking one. The A's acquired Manaea from the Royals in July 2015 as part of the Ben Zobrist trade.


Chiefs Release 3rd-Round Pick KeiVarae Russell

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have released third-round pick KeiVarae Russell and brought back linebacker Dezman Moses in a surprise move just one week into the regular season. Russell, a cornerback, had been passed over for sixth-round pick D.J. White and recent acquisition Kenneth Acker on the depth chart. Russell was the Chiefs' second player chosen in the April draft. The move Wednesday was likely made to shore up the special teams unit, though it was unexpected given the high draft pick the Chiefs used on the former Notre Dame standout. Moses was cut last week when the Chiefs needed to reach the NFL's 53-man roster limit.

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