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Headlines for Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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

Judge Agrees to Appoint Special Master to Probe Jailhouse Recordings 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Kansas has agreed to appoint a special master to determine whether a private prison violated attorney-client privilege by video recording meetings between inmates and their attorneys. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Tuesday asked attorneys to provide her with their thoughts on the special master's scope. The master would investigate defense attorneys' claims that Corrections Corporation of America made video and audio recordings of confidential conversations and passed some on to prosecutors. Robinson said she didn't expect to appoint the master until next month. The practice at CCA — a private, for-profit company that manages dozens of U.S. facilities — surfaced in a case over distribution of contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center in which audio-less video recordings were subpoenaed by a grand jury.


Kansas School Funding Court Saga Continues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Plaintiffs in the ongoing Kansas school finance lawsuit have told the state Supreme Court that some student test scores show the state is failing to fund its public schools adequately.  But attorneys for the state counter that funding is at record levels, that all schools are meeting state accreditation standards, and a court order for additional funding would be "a flagrant violation of the separation of powers."  The Lawrence Journal-World reports both sides in the dispute filed briefs with the court Friday.  The Supreme Court could have a lot to say about what that new formula looks like and how much money needs to go into it when it weighs the two sides' arguments and rules on the lawsuit later this year.  Oral arguments are scheduled for September 21.


Health Officials Rescind Manhattan Boil Water Advisory 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Health officials have rescinded a boil water advisory that was imposed in Manhattan after a power outage created the potential for bacterial contamination. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment made the announcement Tuesday, one day after the order was issued. The agency said in a news release that laboratory testing samples collected from Manhattan's public water supply showed no evidence of contamination.


State Launches Audit of Kansas Mental Hospital's Finances 

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has launched an audit of a state mental hospital's finances a day after the announcement that its chief financial officer no longer was affiliated with the site. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Larned State Hospital's superintendent and special counsel announced David Fender's departure Monday in an email to staff. Fender was hired last year. A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, Angela de Rocha, declined to discuss reasons for Fender's departure, calling it a private personnel matter. De Rocha said Tuesday that though the department has "no reason to believe anything is amiss" at Larned, the agency's internal auditing unit is scrutinizing the hospital's finances.


Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2 Deaths at Lenexa Home

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ A 29-year-old man faces at least 50 years in prison for the stabbing deaths of two Lenexa men. Alex Brune pleaded guilty in February to two counts of first-degree murder in the July 2014 deaths of 47-year-old Brian Baskind and his stepfather, 79-year-old Clifford Preston at the men's home in Lenexa. Their bodies were found in the basement. The Kansas City Star reports that Brune was sentenced Monday in Johnson County court to life in prison. He will have to serve 50 years before being eligible for parole. Brune was shot by one of the men during the altercation and initially told officers that he was kidnapped and taken to the house, where he found a knife and stabbed both men during an escape attempt. 


3 Accused of Plotting to Kill 3 Others Make Court Appearance

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Three Kansas men who are under investigation in last month's shooting of an Illinois police officer have appeared in court on charges accusing them of plotting to kill three other men. The Salina Journal reports that 22-year-old Alex Karcher, 22-year-old Xavier McCray and 24-year-old Xavier Lewis met Monday in Saline County District Court with the judge who will handle their cases. They each are jailed on $1 million bond. Karcher's attorney didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment. The other two men don't have attorneys. Carbondale, Illinois, officer Trey Harris was wounded during the same time frame in which the three men are accused in a criminal complaint of agreeing to travel to the state to commit capital murder. No one was killed.


Police Arrest Man in Pittsburg Killing

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a suspect in the killing of a man whose body was found in a wooded area of Pittsburg. Police say the 38-year-old man is jailed in Crawford County on suspicion of second-degree murder in the death of 46-year-old Raymond Cleffman of Pittsburg. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that Cleffman's body was found Sunday near an automotive salvage business. His death was classified as a homicide. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Crawford County Sheriff's Department and Pittsburg State University Police Department are assisting with the investigation. 


Woman Dies in Topeka House Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a woman died in a Topeka house fire early Monday. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that city workers noticed smoke coming from the home and when fire crews arrived, flames were coming from the roof. Firefighters found an unresponsive woman inside the house. She was rushed to a Topeka hospital, where she died. Her name wasn't immediately released. Topeka Fire Marshal Mike Martin says the cause of the fire hasn't been determined.


Man Charged with Murder in Shawnee Woman's Death

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A 54-year-old man has been charged in the May death of a Shawnee woman.  Authorities have brought Gregory P. Wright back from Virginia to Johnson County, where is charged with first-degree murder in the May 9 death of 44-year-old Monica Lee. She was found dead in her apartment.
The Kansas City Star reports that Wright was arrested in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in June and was being held on a fugitive warrant.  He's being held in Johnson County on $1 million bond.


Police: Weights in KCK Water Park Death Within Limits

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Police say combined weights for a 10-year-old boy and two other people riding a raft with him at a water park when he was killed were within the ride's limits.  Caleb Schwab died August 7 while riding the 168-foot ``Verruckt'' at Schlitterbahn WaterPark in Kansas City, Kansas. Riders are weighed to ensure each raft carries between 400 pounds and 550 pounds. Police released a report Monday showing one rider at 140 pounds, another at 170, and an unclear weight for Caleb. Police said weights taken at a hospital after the accident put the combined weight at 545 pounds.

Wichita Police Scale Back Animal Shelter Photo Ban 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A public campaign has led Wichita police to back away from a total ban on photographing dogs and cats in the city animal shelter. The Wichita Eagle reports that the ban went into effect Friday, drawing an angry reaction from animal rescuers and their supporters. They say the ban would cover up problems in shelter care and limit their ability to publicize and save animals. An online petition was started against the ban, and police said during a news conference Monday that they would scale back the ban. Photos and videos of animals will still be barred in some parts of the shelter, including where sick and dangerous animals are housed. Captain Doug Nolte says the ban was put in place after a dog that had been adopted through the rescue process attacked and seriously injured another dog.


OSHA Probing 2 Workplace Deaths Last Week in Missouri 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal workplace safety officials are investigating two separate on-the-job deaths last week in Missouri. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the investigation Monday of a 25-year-old tree trimmer killed in Columbia. Police said that worker died at a hospital August 10 shortly after the limb fell on top of him. OSHA also is probing the suspected heat-related death August 11 of a worker who was found unresponsive after prepping soil and laying sod for a new housing project in Kansas City, Missouri. OSHA says preliminary reports indicate the worker sustained heat stroke while working outdoors in conditions with a heat index of 105 degrees. The victims' names haven't been released.


Ex-Officer Plans to Change Plea in Kansas Embezzlement Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A retired Wichita police officer accused of embezzlement has agreed to change his plea in a federal prosecution stemming from a $56,400 contract to train law enforcement agencies on responses to armed engagement. A court notice posted Tuesday shows Kevin P. Vaughn of Wichita is scheduled for a change of plea hearing on August 23. Vaughn retired in March 2015 after 28 years with the Wichita Police Department. He is charged embezzling Department of Homeland Security funds, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Vaughn is accused of falsifying reports to make it look like his company, Red Mist Tactical, had completed 15 eight-hour classes the company agreed to provide last year. The indictment alleges he fabricated student sign-up sheets for the classes and forged signatures of officers.


Body Found on Top of Freight Elevator at Wichita Apartment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita authorities are investigating the death of a man whose body was found on top of a freight elevator at a 10-story apartment building.  Police reports show the man's body was found on top of the apartment's freight elevator Saturday. The man's identity hasn't been released.  Police say the death appears to be accidental, but the coroner's office is investigating.  It's unclear how far the man had fallen down the elevator shaft.


Kansas Regents May Seek More Control over Campus Projects
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents may consider changing some of its policies so the board can have more oversight and control over new building projects on university campuses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the board is examining public-private partnerships in which a private, outside entity gives a university money for construction and then leases the building to the university until it's paid off. The University of Kansas used such a partnership to finance the $350 million Central District project, currently under construction on the Lawrence campus. Several lawmakers said the university used the process to bypass the Legislature, which would have had to approve the project first if the school used the state's own bonding agency. Lawmakers are concerned that if something goes wrong with the project, taxpayers will be responsible for the cost.


Jenkins, Pompeo Warn of 'Attack' on Kansas Fossil Fuel Industry 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas oil and gas producers listened to dire warnings about their industry's future from two U.S. House members during their convention in Wichita. U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins told the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association on Monday that the industry is under assault by President Obama's administration on a range of issues from environmental regulations  to tax proposals. She claims the administration wants to put the oil and gas companies out of business. U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo recounted the coal industry's problems, and told oil and gas producers they could be next. He called it a "full-scale assault" by environmentalists on the fossil fuel industry. The Kansas delegation has been a staple fixture at the industry's annual meeting in Wichita, but only Pompeo and Jenkins attended for the panel this year.


Royals, Nats Minor League Pitchers Suspended 72 Games Each 

NEW YORK (AP) — Pitchers Miguel Medrano of Kansas City and Yonaiker Oropeza of Washington have been suspended 72 games each under baseball's minor league drug program following positive tests for Stanozolol. Medrano, a 21-year-old right-hander, has a 0.66 ERA in eight relief appearances this year for the Dominican Summer League Royals. Yonaiker Oropeza, an 18-year-old right-hander, has a 4.50 ERA in two relief appearances this season for the Dominican Summer League Nationals. Both suspensions were announced Tuesday. There have been 71 suspensions this year under the minor league drug program and 13 under the major league program.


Royals Defeat Tigers 3-1 in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — The Royals' Ian Kennedy pitched effectively into the seventh inning as Kansas City beat the Detroit Tigers 3-1 on Monday night. The Tigers lost first baseman Miguel Cabrera after four innings to a strained left bicep. Cabrera appeared to injure himself in a collision with the Royals' Cheslor Cuthbert at first base, but batted again twice before leaving the game. Kennedy (7-9) ended an eight-start winless streak, allowing one run on five hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings. Three relievers finished, with Kelvin Herrera pitching the ninth for his fifth save. Detroit's Daniel Norris (1-1) took the loss, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

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