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Headlines for Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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

Judge: Federal Firearms Regulations Override Kansas Gun Law 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected arguments that a Kansas law can shield from federal prosecution anyone owning firearms made, sold and kept in the state. The ruling casts doubt on the legality of similar laws in nine states across the nation. The decision handed down Tuesday by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten allows federal firearms charges against Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler to stand. Jurors in November found Cox guilty of making and marketing unregistered firearms, and found Ketter guilty of having an unregistered gun silencer. Lawyers for the two men argued that the National Firearms Act was unconstitutional under the government's taxing authority and raised Second Amendment and state rights issues. Marten cited Supreme Court precedent in rejecting their arguments. Sentencing is Monday.


Judge Sets Hearing Date on Kansas Citizenship Proof Lawsuits

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has set a joint hearing on the fate of two federal lawsuits in Kansas challenging the state's proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Monday granted the unopposed request to consolidate oral arguments on motions seeking partial summary judgment. She set March 3 as the hearing date.  At the crux of the lawsuits is a disputed voter registration law that requires Kansans to provide a document such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport proving they are U.S. citizens. Robinson will hear arguments from all parties over claims that the state's requirement unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote and violates the right to travel because it allegedly discriminates against U.S. citizens who come to Kansas from other states.  


Kansas Campus Carry Repeal Bill Stuck in Committee 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill that would exempt Kansas colleges from a mandate that they allow concealed carry of handguns is stuck in committee after failing to win approval Tuesday. In an unrecorded voice vote, the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee opted not to advance a bill from Wichita Democratic Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau. The bill provides a permanent exemption for public colleges and several types of medical facilities from a 2013 law that requires public buildings to either allow concealed weapons or provide security measures, like guards and metal detectors. Campuses had until July 1, 2017, to comply. Faust-Goudeau says she might introduce legislation that would require gun owners to get a license and training before carrying a concealed weapon.


Civil Air Patrol Officer: Representative Should 'Swing from a Tree' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A lieutenant colonel in the Kansas Civil Air Patrol said in a Facebook post that a state lawmaker should "swing from a tree" for introducing a bill that would undo a law allowing concealed weapons on college campuses starting in July. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jonathan Holder affirmed he was the person who posted the message earlier this month. Holder said in the initial post that he was offended that Republican Representative Stephanie Clayton, of Overland Park, proposed legislation that he says would undermine his constitutional rights. Kansas Adjutant General's Department spokeswoman Katie Horner said the agency "does not condone the statements." The department oversees the Air Patrol's budget but not its operations. Overland Park Police Officer John Lacy says the case remains under investigation. No charges have been filed.


Report: Kansas Player Vick Likely Hit Female Student

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas found that sophomore basketball player Lagerald Vick likely committed domestic violence against a female student in 2015 but it is unclear if Vick was punished. The Kansas City Star reports the university's Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access recommended two years of school probation for Vick after investigating a report that that Vick hit the female in the arm more than once and kicked her in the face. However, the Star says it's unclear if Vick, a guard from Memphis, Tennessee, was ever put on probation. He has not been charged with a crime. University officials, coach Bill Self and Vick declined to discuss the incident. KU forward Carlton Bragg was suspended this week from the team after being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.


Kansas Pilot Program to Improve Rural Food Access 

ST. JOHN, Kan. (AP) — The Sunflower Foundation has approved a statewide pilot program to help fund community-based strategies for addressing food access in rural Kansas. The Hutchinson News reports the $120,000 pilot project called Project HERO — Healthy Eating: Rural Opportunities is planning to initially fund efforts in eight communities. The 12-month pilot is allowing St. John to receive a $60,000 Sunflower grant to open a grocery store in the town of less than 1,300 people. Stafford County Economic Development Executive Director Carolyn Dunn says that after the town's only grocery store closed almost one year ago, residents have had to drive 12 miles into Stafford to find the closest grocery. GROW Hodgeman and the Harvey County Food and Farm Council are also receiving HERO grants.


Suspect in Alleged Plot Against Kansas Somalis Seeks Freedom 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man accused of plotting to attack Somali immigrants has asked a judge to free him pending trial. A defense motion filed Tuesday asks U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren to review the detention order for Patrick Stein, whom prosecutors say was the leader of a militia group called "The Crusaders." In October, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gwynne Birzer had ordered Stein held in jail until his trial, finding he poses "a grave danger" to the community. Prosecutors say Stein along with co-defendants Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen conspired to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in the meatpacking town of Garden City. One unit is used as a mosque. They have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.


Utilities' Attorney Defends Great Plains Plan to Buy Westar

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a Missouri-based utility has told Kansas utility regulators that the proposal to buy the largest electric company in Kansas will result in significant savings that will keep rates in check for customers. But the Kansas Corporation Commission also heard arguments Monday from attorneys criticizing the proposal from Great Plains Energy to purchase Topeka-headquartered Westar Energy. Great Plains is the parent of Kansas City Power & Light. The acquisition would create an electric company with 1.5 million customers straddling both sides of the state line in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Great Plains would assume $3.6 billion in Westar debt. Attorney Rob Hack argued on behalf of Great Plains and Westar that the deal provides long-term benefits to consumers. But consumer advocates contend the deal is not good for consumers.


Bragg Charged in Municipal Court in Drug Possession Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas sophomore basketball player Carlton Bragg is charged in Lawrence municipal court with possession of drug paraphernalia. Court administrator Vicki Stanwix confirmed Monday that Bragg was given a notice to appear in court after police said they found two glass smoking devices with residue inside. The paraphernalia was found December 17 while university police were investigating a reported rape at McCarthy Hall, home to the men's basketball team and other male students. KU coach Bill Self indefinitely suspended Bragg from the team for violating team rules. He said the suspension is not connected to the alleged assault at McCarthy Hall. Police also said in a news release there is no indication that the drug paraphernalia is related to the sexual assault case. Bragg's first appearance is scheduled for February 14.


Kansas Man for Scheme to Illegally Export Weapons

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man was sentenced to four years and four months in federal prison for his role in a scheme to export firearms using a hidden online marketplace. Federal officials said 36-year-old Michael Andrew Ryan of Manhattan, also known as Brad Jones and GunRunner, was sentenced Monday. He had previously pleaded guilty to six counts of exporting and attempting to export firearms from the U.S. He also was ordered to forfeit all his firearms and ammunition. Ryan admitted that he tried to export the weapons and ammunition using the hidden internet marketplace Black Market Reloaded, a website that allows users to traffic anonymously in illegal drugs and other illegal goods. Ryan tried to export firearms and ammunition to Ireland, England, Scotland and Australia.


KU Sex Violence Prevention Program Marks 1 Year

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas's sexual assault prevention office says it has trained nearly 15,000 people since it was established last year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university is marking the one-year anniversary of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, or SAPEC. The center says almost 15,000 people have received training so far, including training events held with fraternities, sororities and athletic teams. The center's director, Jen Brockman, says students are required to complete the university's sexual assault prevention training created by SAPEC, otherwise they could face a registration hold. She says one of the center's goals is to find more outside funding. Brockman works with two full-time prevention educators and a part-time intern who works on data analysis.


Wichita Man Admits to Bank Heist and Jewelry Store Confrontation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has pleaded guilty to robbing a bank and to brandishing a firearm during a confrontation with a jewelry store owner. The U.S. attorney's office says 25-year-old Terence Thomas entered the pleas Monday. Prosecutors say Thomas admitted he had a knife when he approached the jewelry store owner and his wife as they arrived for work. The owner drew a handgun in self-defense. The two men wrestled and shots were fired before Thomas got the gun. After forcing the owner to open the door to the business, Thomas dragged the owner's wife inside before she feigned a heart attack. Thomas fled after the owner locked him out of the business. Prosecutors say Thomas also robbed a Fidelity Bank branch a month earlier. Sentencing is set for April 19.


Missouri Prison Inmate Charged in 2004 Killing at Homeless Camp

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A man already serving time for a murder in a Kansas City homeless camp is now charged in a 2004 killing that left body parts floating in the Missouri River. Jackson County prosecutors on Monday charged 61-year-old Michael Gullett with second-degree murder in the 2004 death of Ryon McDonald at a homeless camp near the Missouri River in Kansas City. A torso and leg were found in the river but weren't identified until 2015. A witness told investigators Gullett hit McDonald with a piece of wood and another witness said he heard Gullet talk about cutting up McDonald and throwing his body in the river. Gullett is serving a 20-year sentence for the bludgeoning death of Joseph Loehr in 2012 at a homeless camp.


KC Transportation Authority Honors Bus Passenger Who Helped Driver 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man who used his cane to beat a man who was attacking a Kansas City bus driver is being recognized for his actions. Rodney Goldman said Monday he didn't think twice before he jumped to the driver's defense when a disturbed man was holding the female driver in a headlock early Saturday. The Kansas City Star reports that the 56-year-old Goldman beat the attacker until his cane broke and the driver was able to escape. Kansas City Area Transportation Authority officials on Monday presented Goldman two new canes, a lifetime bus pass and a thank you card signed by several transit workers. The bus driver, Lynn Judge, also thanked Goldman. The motive for the attack is not clear. The suspect has not yet been charged.


Kansas Man Sentenced in Fatal Accident 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Topeka man with a long criminal record was sentenced to life in prison for a fatal traffic accident that occurred while he was fleeing police. Sixty-three-year-old Sherman Norman Jenkins was sentenced Monday for first-degree murder in the February 2016 death of Mia Holden. Jenkins won't be eligible for parole for 25 years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Jenkins had 33 offenses dating back to 1972 in his criminal record. Holden, the mother of six children, was killed when the stolen pickup truck Jenkins was driving hit a vehicle she was riding in as Jenkins was fleeing from police. The police chase began when officers tried to stop the truck because its tail lights weren't working.


Woman Charged in Leavenworth Shooting Death

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 50-year-old woman is charged with killing a Leavenworth man in a case involving domestic violence. Barbara Marie Frantz, of Kansas City, Kansas, was charged Monday in Leavenworth County with first-degree murder in the killing of 54-year-old Gary Frantz. Leavenworth police say Gary Frantz was shot several times Friday night in Leavenworth. Police said the case involved domestic violence but did not offer further details. The Kansas City Star reports that Barbara Frantz was arrested several hours later in Burlingame, Kansas. Authorities on Monday said they weren't sure of the Frantzes' marital status. Barbara Frantz referred to Gary Frantz as her ex-husband in a Facebook post in December. 


Ferret Has Successful Pacemaker Surgery at Kansas State 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A ferret is recovering at home after being fitted with a pacemaker during a rare surgery at Kansas State University. The ferret, named Zelda, is owned by Carl Hobi of Olathe, who took her to the Veterinary Health Center in Manhattan after Christmas. Zelda had a third-degree block in her heart, which caused a low heart beat and a lack of energy. The university said in a news release that tests determined Zelda was a good candidate for a pacemaker, although it had to be special ordered because of the small size of her veins. The university says Zelda was released two days after the surgery and should enjoy a normal ferret lifespan. It was the first time the Kansas State center implanted a pacemaker in a ferret.


Wichita Man Wins Lifetime of Super Bowl Tickets 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man says his phone has been "blowing up" since he won a Bud Light promotion giving him Super Bowl tickets for life. The Wichita Eagle reports that it all started at Christmas time when 52-year-old Lyle Randa made a quick beer run. The 30 pack he purchased contained a gold can that allowed him to enter a drawing. Six other contestants won a pair of season tickets to their favorite team for the 2017-18 NFL season. But only Randa's gold can was the Willy Wonka golden ticket for a lifetime of Super Bowl attendance for two — up to 51 years from now. Randa plans to put the gold can in a shadow box along with all his Super Bowl tickets. He described what happened as "bright-lights-kind-of-crazy."


Report: Winter Wheat Condition Mixed in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The latest government snapshot gives the Kansas winter wheat crop a mixed review. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 20 percent of the wheat is in poor to very poor condition. The agency rated 36 percent of the wheat in fair condition, with 42 percent in good and 2 percent in excellent shape. Their assessment comes after a month in which all of Kansas received some precipitation, with the heaviest amounts falling along the state's southern border. Topsoil moisture is rated as adequate to surplus in 63 percent of the state. Temperatures in January were two to four degrees below normal in much of western Kansas, while the rest of the state saw temperatures ranging from two to six degrees above normal for this time of year. 

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