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Headlines for Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

Kansas Supreme Court to Hear School Funding Case in July 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court plans to hear arguments from attorneys July 18 on whether a new school funding law complies with the state constitution. The court set an expedited schedule Monday for its review. A four-page order from Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said the new law will take effect July 1 as planned and remain in force during the court's review. The law phases in a $293 million increase in spending on public schools over two years. It also creates a new per-pupil funding formula for the state's 286 local school districts to provide more funds to programs for low-performing students. The court ruled in March that the state's $4 billion a year in education funding is inadequate under the state constitution. Four school districts sued Kansas in 2010.


Former Kansas Lawmaker Kicks-Off Campaign for Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas legislator who was the Republican nominee for governor in 2006 is launching another campaign for the Republican nomination with an announcement in Topeka this (TUE) morning. Former state Senator Jim Barnett is appealing to Republican voters who are upset with GOP Governor Sam Brownback and his now-ended tax-cutting experiment. The 62-year-old Barnett is a Topeka physician. He plans stops in eight other cities over the next two days. Barnett said during an interview that bipartisan legislative majorities showed courage in overriding Brownback's veto of a measure that will increase income taxes to raise $1.2 billion over two years. The new law rolls back past tax cuts championed by the governor. He also supports expanding the state's Medicaid health coverage for the poor.


Feds Say Kansas Rule Reduces Competition, Harms Home Buyers 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Justice Department's Antitrust Division says a proposed Kansas rule barring real estate brokers from offering gift cards would reduce competition and cause "significant harm" to the home buyers. The federal government doesn't often weigh in on Kansas real estate regulations and its letter comes as the Kansas Real Estate Commission considers public comments. Wisner says Monday's public hearing on it lasted less than an hour during which commissioners heard from speakers "various tones of opposition." Kansas law prohibits real estate brokers from offering "rebates" on part of a broker's commission. The Justice Department says Kansas brokers are now able to compete by offering home buyers gift cards redeemable at retailers such as home improvement or furniture stores. The commission will take up the issue at its August 21 meeting.


Cigarette Buying Age Increase Discussed in Shawnee County
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County commission chairman is pushing for an increase in the minimum age at which people can legally buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Bob Archer called for the change Monday. No formal proposal has been put before the commission. County health officer Gianfranco Pezzino stressed that the county commission is legally empowered to increase the minimum cigarette purchase age only in the county's unincorporated areas, where the presence of outlets that sell cigarettes is minimal. Imposing such a restriction in Topeka and the county's four other incorporated areas would require the approval of their governing bodies. Archer said he thought the county government should nevertheless take the lead. Similar policies already are in place in more than 200 municipalities and two states.


Drug Courier Sentenced After Troopers Find 117 Pounds of Cocaine 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A drug courier from California has been sentenced to three years in federal prison after he was stopped in Kansas with 117 pounds of cocaine. The U.S. attorney's office says 48-year-old Marco Antonio Aispuro was sentenced Monday for one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He was arrested in October after the Kansas Highway Patrol stopped him and found cocaine hidden in a rear quarter panel and a spare tire. The traffic stop happened west of Topeka on Interstate 70 in Wabaunsee County. 


Wichita Man Arrested After Threatening Post on Facebook 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 28-year-old man is jailed on suspicion of making a terroristic threat after several people reported a threatening post on Facebook. Police say the man was arrested at a business Monday morning. Officer Charley Davidson says Sedgwick County 911 dispatchers started getting calls Sunday night from people concerned about the post that includes threats from a person who sounded suicidal. Davidson said the threat didn't mention a specific target. The post included a picture of a large rifle and bullets. When the suspect was arrested, he had a BB gun with him.


Man Sentenced to Nearly 60 Years for Manhattan Kidnapping 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to nearly 60 years in prison for kidnapping a woman in Manhattan. The Riley County Attorney says 39-year-old Sergio Guerra was sentenced Monday for aggravated kidnapping. Police say in March 2016, Guerra got into the car of a 19-year-old woman he didn't know and tried to drive off with her inside. The woman tried to flee but was unable to get out of the vehicle. She was partially out of the car when Guerra took off, dragging her about 800 feet. The woman suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries. Guerra was found guilty in April of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. He was found not guilty of attempted rape.


Huge Fire at Furniture Warehouse in Kansas City; No Injuries 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Up to 90 firefighters are battling a massive fire at a three-story furniture warehouse in western Kansas City. Fire Chief Paul Berardi says no one was inside the building when the fire was reported Tuesday afternoon and he was not aware of any injuries. Local media showed dark black smoke billowing from the warehouse at the location of Friday's Only Furniture Outlet. Reports on social media indicated the smoke could be seen miles away. The building's owner told Berardi the warehouse is full of furniture but it wasn't immediately clear if it was an active business. The building is on a busy street lined with several restaurants and other businesses. Berardi says firefighters are working to ensure no embers spread to surrounding buildings.


2 Men Arrested in Kansas Charged in Missouri Abduction and Georgia Death 

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Georgia man is accused of killing a neighbor, stealing his car and later kidnapping a Missouri woman before he was finally apprehended in Kansas. Prosecutors in Georgia have charged 53-year-old John Czarnecki with murder in the death of 56-year-old Abraham Rudolph Jacobs. Czarnecki and 43-year-old Christopher Smith of Cave Springs, Georgia, are charged with kidnapping and robbery in Missouri. Police found Jacobs's body Thursday inside Czarnecki's apartment in Chamblee, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. The men lived in the same apartment complex. Authorities say Czarnecki picked up Smith and they drove Jacobs' stolen SUV to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where they kidnapped a woman Thursday morning outside a Wal-Mart store. She was taken to a cornfield and robbed but released unharmed. Both men were arrested Friday night in Grinnell, Kansas.


Kansas Resident Sentenced to Life in Killing of Nebraska Man 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to life in prison in the killing of a Lincoln, Nebraska, man in the parking lot of central Kansas motel. The Salina Journal reports that DiAntre Lemmie was sentenced Monday for first-degree murder and five other charges in the April 2016 death of 32-year-old Adonis Loudermilk at the Starlite Motel in Salina. He must serve 25 years of the life term before becoming eligible for parole. He also faces another 11 years for the other charges. Prosecutors say Loudermilk was shot during a botched robbery. A co-defendant was sentenced last month to nearly 31 years in prison for her role in the killing. Lemmie was arrested after a chase in which he hoped a curb and traveled about 200 yards in a railroad right-of-way.


Kansas City Man Charged in Neighbor's Killing 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with killing his neighbor one day before what would have been her 25th birthday. Twenty-five-year-old Cedrick Russell was charged Monday with first-degree murder in the May 31 killing of Ashley Geddes. He's also charged with sodomy or attempted sodomy, first-degree burglary, stealing, tampering with a motor vehicle and tampering with physical evidence. Prosecutors are requesting a $500,000 bond. Court records say Russell told police that Geddes stopped breathing as he choked her during sex. Geddes's mother, who found her daughter's body inside her Kansas City townhome, said Geddes barely knew Russell. He is accused of taking her car, phone and jewelry. Prosecutors say the missing jewelry was pawned shortly after her death.


Kansas City Police Estimate Body Camera Cost at $6 Million

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City police are planning to equip hundreds of officers with body cameras at an initial cost of about $6 million. The Kansas City Star reports that the price tag is expected to cover the initial start-up costs, equipment upgrades, storage expenses and hiring additional workers to manage the effort and to respond open records request for the video recordings. Interim Police Chief David Zimmerman says body cameras would have been added months ago if "money were no object." Officials have not identified a sustainable funding source and said it could take three years before officers can begin wearing the recording devices. The city had a pilot study last summer. Zimmerman says the cameras "ensure accountability," ''identify any issues that could require training" and "provide indisputable accounts of incidents."


Kansas City Businessman Reportedly Focus of Corruption Case 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that an Iranian-born aviation mogul described as holding a stay-out-of-jail card over his past work for the CIA is the focus of a new global criminal corruption case. The businessman is Farhad Azima, an American citizen who lives in Kansas City but frequently travels the globe. Authorities in the U.S. and abroad are investigating Azima as part of a global corruption case. Investigators are examining whether Azima, now 75, paid a kickback to a former United Arab Emirates official to reap the profits from a hotel sale in Tbilisi, Georgia. Azima declined to answer written questions from the AP or to be interviewed.


Kansas Wheat Harvest on Track Compared to Year Ago

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A government report shows the Kansas winter wheat harvest is mostly on track compared to this time a year ago. The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated on Monday that 22 percent of the wheat in the state has been cut. That is the same progress at this point a year ago and near the 25 percent average _ despite widespread rains this past week that slowed the harvest. Harvest activity has begun across much of the state. The exceptions are in the northwest and west-central parts of Kansas where cutting has yet to start. The agency reports harvest is about 48 percent finished in south-central Kansas and 62 percent completed in southeast Kansas. It is just ramping up in north-central Kansas where 7 percent of the wheat has been harvested. 


Kansas Man Sentenced to 7 Years for Fatal Crash 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to seven years in prison in connection with a 2016 head-on collision that killed a central Kansas woman. The Salina Journal reports that 34-year-old Patrick Driscoll was sentenced Monday in Saline County District Court after pleading no contest to felony involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor reckless driving and endangerment charges. Court records say Driscoll was driving a pickup truck south in a northbound lane early April 27, 2016, when he crashed into a sport utility vehicle driven by 55-year-old Song Horton. Horton died the next day at a Wichita hospital. Police allege Driscoll's blood-alcohol content was more than double the legal limit two hours after the crash. Driscoll says he never intended to hurt anyone.


Kansas Colleges to Expand Nursing Education Opportunities 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Two colleges are planning to launch new programs that would expand opportunities for nursing education in central Kansas. The Salina Journal reports that Salina Area Technical College announced plans Monday to begin a one-year practical nursing program with a 40-student capacity beginning fall 2018, followed by a two-year associate in nursing degree program in fall 2019. Both programs still need approval from the Kansas Board of Nursing before Salina Tech can accept applications. Kansas Wesleyan University will be launching an online registered nurse to bachelor of science degree program beginning January 2018. The program will allow nurses who already have an unencumbered registered nursing license to complete a bachelor's degree with a major in nursing in one year. Salina Tech President Greg Nichols says there's a statewide nursing shortage.


2 Sentenced in 2014 Killing of Pittsburg State Student 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Two men have been sentenced for the shooting death of a Pittsburg State University student. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that Darius Rainey was sentenced Monday to life in prison and Corbin Spragg to 27 years and six months in the death of Taylor Thomas. Rainey won't be eligible for parole for 25 years. Thomas was a 20-year-old junior at the school in October 2014 when he was killed during a planned robbery at his home. Authorities allege the intruders were seeking drugs and money, with the drugs belonging to Thomas' roommate. Several others also were charged, including the shooter, who was sentenced earlier this year to life in prison. Rainey previously pleaded no contest to first-degree murder, while Spragg pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.


Hammel Helps Royals to 4-2 Win over Red Sox 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Whit Merrifield drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer and the Kansas City Royals beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 on Monday night for their eighth win in nine games. Royals' starter Jason Hammel (4-6) pitched seven sharp innings before turning it over to Mike Minor, who loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth. Red Sox batter Christian Vazquez proceeded to send a slow bounder toward third base that Cheslor Cuthbert fielded cleanly and fired to first to end the threat. Kelvin Herrera worked around Andrew Benintendi's triple in the ninth for his 16th save. Red Sox reliever Blaine Boyer (0-1) gave up Merrifield's bouncing RBI single in the seventh.

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