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Headlines for Thursday, September 8, 2016

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

Appeals Court Sympathetic to Voting Rules Challenge 

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court seems likely to side with voting rights groups trying to stop Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from making residents prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form. Judges heard arguments in the case Thursday. At issue is whether to overturn a decision by a U.S. election official who changed the form's proof-of-citizenship requirements at the behest of the three states, without public notice. People registering to vote in other states need only to swear that they are citizens, not show proof. Two of the three judges hearing the case suggested the citizenship requirement can pose a tough hurdle for many eligible voters. A federal judge in July refused to block the requirement while the case is being decided.


Sentencing Postponed for Man Accused in Army Base Bomb Plot 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Sentencing has been postponed for a 29-year-old Topeka man accused of helping a would-be jihadist's unsuccessful plot to bomb an Army post in Kansas. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree said Thursday he's considering whether Alexander Blair's crime qualifies for the five-year sentence prosecutors want. Blair's attorney is seeking a sentence of five years' probation. Sentencing is now set for October 18. Court documents say Blair loaned $100 to another man who tried to plant what they thought was an explosive device outside Fort Riley in support of the Islamic State group. Blair's attorney said Blair has an unusual genetic condition that made it easy for John Booker Jr. to manipulate him. Booker has pleaded guilty to two felonies under an agreement calling for him to serve 30 years in prison.


Kansas Lawmakers Question Proposed State Employee Policy Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lawmakers are raising questions as Governor Sam Brownback's administration plans to overhaul the state's protocol for employee layoffs and rehiring. Legislators on a regulatory advisory committee are studying the Kansas Department of Administration's plan for altering policy on employee layoffs and rehiring, annual performance ratings, and donation of unused sick leave. Some of the proposed alterations include capping the donation of unused sick leave at 80 hours, and restricting worker options for appealing regular job performance ratings. Some lawmakers say the proposed regulations are too vague and could be manipulated to weaken the standing of the most experienced staff. Legislators are also unhappy that the state workers or employee unions were asked for their input. A department spokesman has said the changes have been in development since 2014.


Federal Judge Holds Hearing in Kansas Prison Recordings Case

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge says she'll appoint an expert to determine the scope of Sixth Amendment violations she says have been committed against inmates at a private federal prison in Kansas. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday questioned federal prosecutors about how much they knew about the Corrections Corporation of America prison in Leavenworth taking silent recordings of inmate-attorney meetings and phone calls. Defense attorneys say such recordings violate attorney-client privilege guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The judge later told the courtroom that an assistant prosecutor had entered her chambers August 25 while she was on vacation and, she said, some evidence was taken. The judge stopped short of calling the prosecutor's actions sinister but said she felt everyone needed to know what had happened.


Assault Probe Underway at Fort Leavenworth Medical Facility

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A civilian employee for a health center at Fort Leavenworth is accused of with setting one of his co-workers on fire. Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says 54-year-old Clifford Currie of Leavenworth was charged Thursday with one count of assault with intent to commit murder. Prosecutors allege that on Wednesday Currie threw an inflammable liquid on his female supervisor, lit on her fire and assaulted her with a straight edge razor. Another worker at the Munson Army Health Center was injured when she tried to stop the assault before other hospital employees subdued Currie. Further details about the assault were not released. If convicted, Currie faces up to 20 years in federal prison. It was not immediately clear if Currie has an attorney.


Woman Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charge in Factory Shooting 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman accused of giving her former boyfriend guns that he used in a shooting at a Kansas lawn equipment factory has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. Sarah Jo Hopkins of Newton acknowledged in court Thursday that she didn't alert authorities that a convicted felon unlawfully possessed firearms. Prosecutors say Hopkins gave a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun to Cedric Ford, who used those weapons in February in a shooting at the Excel Industries plant in Hesston. Four people, including Ford, were killed and 14 others were injured. Hopkins will be sentenced November 28 and could face three years in prison. She originally was charged with transferring weapons to a prohibited person. She told investigators she gave Ford the guns because he had threatened her. They had two children together.


Koch Donates $1 Million for KU Business, Engineering Scholarships 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Koch Industries is donating $1 million for scholarships for business and engineering students at the University of Kansas. The Wichita based petrochemical conglomerate said in a news release today (THUR) that $600,000 will go toward recruiting, retaining and providing scholarships to underrepresented and first-generation business students. The rest of the money is earmarked for scholarships for juniors and seniors studying engineering and business. Jeff Gentry, the CEO of the Koch Industries company INVISTA, said the hope is that the scholarships will "enable promising KU students to develop their innate talents, succeed, and help others do the same." Gentry has a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Kansas.


Kansas Shop Owner Charged in Fatal Shooting 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas City, Kansas, tire shop owner has been charged with fatally shooting a man in front of the store. Celestino Zavala-Ruiz was charged Wednesday in Wyandotte County District Court with second-degree murder in the death of David Burkin. Prosecutors said that Burkin was rushed to a hospital late Sunday after he was found in a stolen vehicle that had crashed. Medical staff determined he had been shot and he died of his wounds. Investigators say the shooting happened in front of Zavala-Ruiz's Zavala Tire Service. Zavala-Ruiz is jailed on $150,000 bond. 


University of Kansas Hospital Forms Partnership with Hays Hospital 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The only academically-affiliated hospital in Kansas is working with a hospital in the western part of the state to improve rural health care. The Kansas City Star reports that leaders of the University of Kansas Hospital and Hays Medical Center signed a letter Wednesday formalizing the working partnership. The two hospitals have been talking for years about ways to collaborate. They already are working together in various ways. One effort involves the University of Kansas Hospital linking up with Hays and 14 critical access hospitals to provide virtual or telemedical care tied to heart disease and strokes. Both hospitals will maintain their current leadership. But a new operations council, made up of members from both organizations, will be formed and tasked with directing the partnership.


Report Criticizes ATF Storefront Illegal Gun Sale Stings

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has found that federal agents lacked proper guidance and experience when they conducted undercover sting operations in several cities since 2010 that were aimed at disrupting illegal gun sales. The Justice Department's inspector general's office released a report Thursday examining shortcomings with storefront sting operations set up by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Milwaukee; Pensacola, Florida; St. Louis; Wichita; and Boston. The report found that agents who worked the operations lacked policies, experience and supervision. It also noted the operations have to do a better job defining the problem they're trying to solve. Problems with the ATF's storefront operations surfaced in 2013 after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an investigation detailing multiple problems with the operation in that city.


Man Sentenced for Groping Girl at Wichita High School 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for assaulting a student in a high school bathroom last year. Guy Harris was sentenced Thursday for misdemeanor sexual battery in the September 2015 assault on an 18-year-old female student at East High School. Police said Harris entered the school and followed the girl into a restroom, where he groped her as she tried to leave. Officers searched the building but Harris had left. He was arrested in April. The overall sentence includes time for a probation violation and a felony flee-and-elude case. The girl has sued the school principal and the Wichita school board, accusing them of negligence and unsafe security at the school.


Man Admits Aiming Laser Pointer at KC Police Helicopter 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 26-year-old Kansas City man could face up to five years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Kansas City Police Department helicopter. U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson says Jordon Clarence Rogers pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony count for an October 8, 2013, incident in which one of the helicopter pilots was hit twice in the eye by the laser. Prosecutors say the pilot sustained eye strain that lasted for hours. The FBI investigated the case. A sentencing date has not been set.


ACLU Suing Kansas City Public Schools for Handcuffing Boy 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas City Public Schools on behalf of a young child whose hands were cuffed behind his back two years ago when he was a 7-year-old second-grader. The lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City claims the boy was "crying and hollering" after a teacher asked him to change seats on April 30, 2014. The suit says a school resource officer came and led the boy away, at times holding tightly onto the child's arm after he ignored the officer's instructions. Eventually the officer put the boy in handcuffs and took him to the principal's office. The lawsuit says the child suffered emotional and physical pain and was removed from the school by his mother. The school district declined to comment.


Kansas Woman Killed, Husband Injured in Nebraska Crash

STROMSBURG, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska authorities say a Kansas woman has been killed in a rollover crash. Polk County Sheriff Dwaine Ladwig said in a news release that first responders reached the crash site east of Stromsburg around 2:30 pm Wednesday. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that 80-year-old Deloris Marshall, of Kansas City, was pronounced dead at the scene. She'd been thrown from the vehicle. Her husband, Maewethers Marshall, was taken to Osceola for medical treatment. Ladwig says Maewethers Marshall had been driving. The crash is being investigated.


Wichita City Council Approves Ordinance to Punish Drunken Biking 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has approved a new ordinance that will separate the offense of biking under the influence from driving a motor vehicle under the influence. The Wichita Eagle reports that the ordinance was approved Tuesday. Under current city ordinances, drunken bicycle riding and drunken driving are treated the same. That poses a conflict with state law, which doesn't have a crime for operating a human-powered vehicle under the influence. The city attorney's office says the legal difference has caused some problems in calculating penalties for drunken drivers in court. The new ordinance will make it a crime to operate a human-powered vehicle while drunk if the rider causes a traffic or safety hazard. The penalty for a BUI would be $500 maximum and six months in jail.


Education Leaders to Speak at Kansas State Landon Lecture

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Three national higher education leaders are participating in a special Landon Lecture panel discussion at Kansas State University later this month. The panel participants are Lieutenant General Robert Caslen Jr., superintendent of West Point Military Academy; David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands; and Bud Peterson, president of Georgia Institute of Technology. The discussion is planned for September 26. The lecture series is named for former Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who was the 1936 Republican nominee for president. The series was established in 1966 to bring in speakers to discuss issues facing business, politics and international relations.


Kansas Police Identify Woman Killed in Suspected Murder-Suicide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified a woman found dead with her husband in their home in what investigators suspect was a murder-suicide. Police spokesman Tom Tomasic said Wednesday that a 17-year-old girl returning home Tuesday afternoon found the bodies of her 45-year-old mother, Jennifer Combs, and her stepfather. The man's name wasn't released. Tomasic said both victims had been shot. Tomasic says the officer retreated before authorities applied for a search warrant to further investigate the scene. 


Royals Miss Series Sweep by One Run, Losing to Twins, 6-5 

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Kansas City Royals lost another game by one run last night. Those one-run losses have plagued the Royals for the past several weeks. The Minnesota Twins dodged a sweep last (WED) night with a pair of early runs and an RBI double by Miguel Sano to tie the game in the decisive seventh inning, helping the Twins beat the Royals 6-5. Kansas City had won the first two games in the three game series. Minnesota's Alex Wimmers (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh in relief of Kyle Gibson to record his first major league victory. 


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