Undercounted Medicaid Application Backlog Irks Lawmakers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lawmakers are voicing frustration after the state disclosed that a backlog in unprocessed Medicaid applications is four times as large as previously thought. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the disclosure late last week that Kansas had under-counted the number of unprocessed applications by 12,000 is drawing fresh attention to the state's electronic eligibility system nearly a year into its troubled rollout. Representative Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, says the state needs to "figure this out" and described the problems as "getting pretty bad." Kansas says a reporting problem from a contractor tasked with implementing the eligibility system produced the under-counting, not the eligibility system itself. An official legislative inquiry will likely have to wait until August. House and Senate leadership have ruled out hearings during the upcoming special session.
Kansas Superintendents Say They Won't Disregard Transgender Bathroom Directive
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several dozen central and western Kansas school superintendents say they have no intention of following the advice of U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp to disregard a recent transgender bathroom directive from President Barack Obama's administration. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that it reached out to 129 school superintendents who were given the Republican congressman's letter and received responses from 30 of them. Huelskamp used the letter to encourage districts to "stand up to the Obama administration." But none said they would directly disobey the directive that students should use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. Many district leaders dismissed debates over transgender students as irrelevant to their rural districts. Others explained the policies and procedures they have established to ensure transgender students are treated fairly.
Sedgwick County Commission to Discuss Immigration Policy
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Commission will consider asking state officials to bar immigrants living in the state illegally from receiving in-state tuition and from participating in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. The Wichita Eagle reports the commission will consider a proposal Wednesday asking the Legislature to bar immigrants who aren't in Kansas legally from receiving in-state tuition. And they might ask the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to block immigrants without legal status from participating in the WIC program, which funds nutritional foods and beverages for low-income families. Commissioner Richard Ranzau says taxpayers shouldn't have to support immigrants who are living the country illegally. But Commissioner Dave Unruh says he thinks county taxpayers want the commission to focus on the county and stay out of state and national issues.
Mistrial Declared in Haskell University Dorm Rape Case
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A mistrial has been declared in the trial of one of two former Haskell Indian Nations University students accused of rape. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a Douglas County judge made the decision Monday after jurors said they wouldn't be able to reach a unanimous verdict. Another trial will scheduled for the 20-year-old suspect during a June 30 court appearance. The suspect faces two felony counts of rape and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy. The second suspect, age 21, faces felony counts of aiding and abetting attempted rape and two counts of rape. His trial is scheduled to begin July 25. The two suspects are accused of raping a 19-year-old Haskell freshman in their dormitory room in November 2014. Both were expelled from Haskell.
Motorist Arraigned in Death of Washburn Art Department Head
GIRARD, Kan. (AP) - A Chanute man has been arraigned in the traffic death of the chairwoman of the Washburn University art department who was struck and killed while riding her bike. Not guilty pleas were entered Monday on behalf of 38-year-old Todd M. Kidwell in Crawford County District Court. Kidwell is charged with reckless second-degree murder and misdemeanor counts of reckless driving and improper passing of a bicyclist. Sixty-year-old Glenda Taylor was participating in an amateur time trial when she was hit in June 2015. The defense argued at the preliminary hearing that the crash happened while Kidwell was trying to avoid a head-on collision with another pickup. A pickup truck passenger testified previously that Kidwell wasn't driving erratically before the crash.
Competency Hearing Ordered for Teen Charged in Lawrence Killing
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A competency evaluation has been ordered for a 17-year-old Lawrence boy accused of killing his grandmother. The Lawrence Journal World reports that court proceedings against the teen have been suspended pending the results. The teen was 16 in December when police found his 67-year-old grandmother, Deborah Bretthauer, dead in the apartment they shared. The teen is charged in juvenile court, but prosecutors have filed a motion to try the teen as an adult. If the boy is convicted of the juvenile first-degree murder charge, he could face up to 60 months in prison, or to the age of 22. In adult court, he could face more than 40 years in prison.
Suspect in Kansas Detective's Death Waives Extradition
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The man accused of fatally shooting a Kansas City, Kansas, police detective has agreed to be returned to Kansas from Missouri for prosecution. Curtis Ayers had been hospitalized under guard until Monday since being shot May 9 by police during his arrest in Kansas City, Missouri, hours after prosecutors say he killed Brad Lancaster near the Kansas Speedway. The Kansas City Star reports Ayers on Tuesday signed extradition paperwork and agreed to be transferred to Kansas, where he faces a murder charge carrying the possible death penalty if he's convicted. Twenty-nine-year-old Ayers also faces charges in Missouri's Jackson County and Kansas's Leavenworth County for alleged crimes that followed the shooting involving Lancaster. Police used Lancaster's handcuffs on Ayers when they transported him Monday from the hospital to jail.
Court: Deputy Must Face Trial for Killing Family's Dog
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court says a Harvey County sheriff's deputy accused of entering a family's front yard without a warrant and killing their dog must face trial in the lawsuit brought by its owners. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided Monday with Kent and Tonya Mayfield in ruling that the Halstead couple asserted sufficient facts to show a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. The appeals court found a district judge properly denied Deputy Jim Bethards's request to dismiss the lawsuit against him. Their lawsuit claims the deputy and his partner entered their property in July 2014 with the intention of killing their two dogs, firing upon both dogs and killing their Malamute Husky, Majka. Their complaint cites a witness who said neither dog acted aggressively.
Relative Describes Quadruple Fatal Crash as 'Nightmare'
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A father is describing the death of his daughter, son-in-law and a grandchild in a head-on crash in northeast Kansas as "our worst nightmare come true." The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jay Pudenz released a statement Monday, one day after pickup truck crashed into the Basehor family's minivan on U.S. 24 near Perry. Thirty-five-year-old Travis Askew, 27-year-old Ashley Askew and 6-month-old Haley Askew were returning coming home from the Topeka Zoo when they were killed. Two other children — ages 5 and 3 — were hurt. The crash also killed the truck's driver, 56-year-old Ronald Heston, of Oskaloosa. Pudenz says Travis and Ashley were hard-working and loving parents, adding they made every decision on whether or not it would benefit their children. He plans to raise the surviving children.
Kansas City Group Homes Operator Sentenced for Tax Evasion
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The former operator of several homes for the mentally and physically disabled in Kansas City will serve two years without parole in federal prison for a tax-evasion scheme. Dedree Carlisle, of Kansas City, was sentenced Tuesday for attempting to evade taxes and ordered to pay $397,213 in restitution. Carlisle owned and operated a group home health care business at several locations in Kansas City. The business leased several houses in residential neighborhoods, under contracts with the Missouri Department of Social Services. It had 12 to 20 employees. She admitted that used money she withheld from her employees' paychecks for her own benefit. She also didn't pay the business portion of employment taxes or pay taxes on her own income. Carlisle admitted that she gambled heavily at Kansas City-area casinos.
Suspect in Kansas Police Detective's Death Released from Hospital
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The man accused of killing Kansas City, Kansas, police detective Brad Lancaster is out of the hospital and in jail. Curtis Ayers was taken into custody by Jackson County, Missouri, authorities after being taken from the hospital Monday. He had been hospitalized since he was shot by Kansas City, Missouri, police several hours after Detective Lancaster was fatally shot May 9 near the Kansas Speedway. He is charged in Wyandotte County, Kansas, with capital murder in Lancaster's death. Ayers also faces charges in Jackson County, Missouri, and Leavenworth County, Kansas. Authorities said Monday they do not know when Ayers will go to court or whether he will waive extradition to Kansas.
Feds Charge Kansas Cattle Buyer with Wire Fraud
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a cattle buyer from Harper County has been indicted on federal wire fraud charges. The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release Tuesday that 62-year-old Randall D. Patterson of Anthony has been charged with 14 counts of wire fraud. He owned Anthony Livestock Co., and is a former president of the National Livestock Marketing Association. Patterson did not immediately return a message seeking comment left at the cattle company in Anthony. The indictment stems in part from an agreement Patterson had with JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding under which he would purchase cattle at sales barns in Kansas and Oklahoma. Prosecutors allege Patterson caused employees at his Anthony company to fax invoices to Five Rivers falsely inflating the amount paid for cattle.
Average Kansas Farm Income Drops to Less Than $5K in 2015
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Officials say Kansas's average net farm income has plummeted from nearly $129,000 in 2014 to about $4,500 last year. According to annual Kansas Farm Management Association data, 2015 was the lowest average level of nominal net farm income since 1985. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the average had been more than $120,000 for several years until 2015. The Wichita Eagle reports that farmers generally saw extraordinary returns between 2010 and 2014 because of high crop and cattle prices, driven in part by drought. But those prices fell drastically over the last 12 to 18 months, and incomes reflect that. The data presented in the 2015 analysis came from 1,159 association member farms and ranches.
Man Sentenced in Crash That Killed Kansas Police Officer
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man was sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison for causing a traffic accident that killed a part-time police officer. Dana Patton, of Olathe, was sentenced Tuesday in the October 2015 crash that killed David Stubbs, a part-time officer in Louisburg. The 25-year-old Patton had previously pleaded guilty to reckless second-degree murder. Prosecutors say Patton was driving a stolen car when he ran a red light at an intersection in Overland Park and hit Stubbs's vehicle. The Kansas City Star reports that at the time of the wreck, Patton was free on bond in several other auto theft cases.
Clinic Seeks to Help Juvenile Offenders
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nonprofit wants to help people who qualify expunge their records of crimes committed as juveniles. Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters is hosting a free Juvenile Expungement Clinic on July 16 in Wichita. Brittany Waldman, recruiter and events coordinator, says the purpose of the clinic is to help anyone who qualifies to expunge their records or to help them successfully complete their diversion programs. She says to qualify applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 24 and have had some type of contact with the juvenile justice system. They cannot have had any adult convictions. Participants will meet with staff to learn how the expungement process works. Waldman says representatives from Kansas Legal Services will also be available.
4-Year-Old Boy Killed in Rolling Kansas City Gun Battle
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a stray bullet from a rolling gun battle struck and killed a 4-year-old as he rode in the backseat of a car in Kansas City. Police said in a news release that Mahsaan Kelley-Wilson, of Kansas City, died at a hospital after the car's driver rushed him there. Police say his parents unknowingly drove into the gunfight early Monday involving people in two vehicles east of downtown. No one else was wounded. The shooting happened after another 4-year-old boy suffered a critical head wound Saturday across the state in St. Louis while riding in a car with his father and another man. Police say another vehicle pulled alongside and someone opened fire. No arrests have been made in either shooting.
Topeka Man Pleads Guilty to Interstate Sex Trafficking
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A 46-year-old man has admitted to conspiring to operate a prostitution business based in Topeka. Sean Hall pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy. Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says Hall was part of a prostitution business that at times used up to 20 women, some of whom lived in houses rented by the organization. The conspirators used Web sites, social media and cell phones to advertise sexual services and to keep track of prostitutes. Hall will be sentenced October 3. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. Co-defendant Frank Boswell, of Topeka, is awaiting trial. Co-defendant Rachel Flenniken, also of Topeka, pleaded guilty earlier this month and will be sentenced October 17.
KC Police Investigate After Dog Was Left in Car at Stadium
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating after someone left a dog in a sweltering car at Kauffman Stadium during a Kansas City Royals baseball game. The dog was rescued by fans who heard it whimpering when they left a game on Sunday. The fans took the dog, which had no access to food and water, into the stadium and left a note for the car's owner. As of Monday afternoon, no one had claimed the dog, which is being kept at a shelter. It will be up for adoption if the owners don't contact the shelter within five days. The Kansas City Star reports one of the dog's rescuers is interested in adopting the puppy. The penalty for animal cruelty is up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.
Stolen Religious Icon Returned to Church in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A religious icon stolen from a Catholic church in Wichita has been found in an antique shop. Spencer Hewitt of Hewitt's Antiques tells The Wichita Eagle that he realized the store had purchased the rendering of Our Lady of Perpetual Help after reading about the theft from St. Joseph's Catholic Church in the newspaper Sunday. Hewitt says a prospective seller visited the store Wednesday afternoon to get a price for what the man claimed was his grandmother's icon. Hewitt declined to say how much the store spent on the icon. Pastoral assistant Mike McDaneld says he was thrilled to hear the icon was found. He says he asked Hewitt about crucifixes the church is also missing, but Hewitt said only the icon was brought to the store. An investigation into the theft is ongoing.
University of Kansas Drafts Plan to Deal with Tree Insect
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas has tentative plans to try and save some notable ash trees on its campus from the invasive beetle known as the emerald ash borer. According to a draft of the University of Kansas's ash tree management plan, about 20 trees that are in significant locations on campus would be injected with insecticide to prevent ash borer infestation. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that trees left untreated would be monitored for signs of infestation. Diseased or distressed trees would be removed. The plan also calls for replacing ash trees with other species over five years. The University of Kansas Facilities Services would carry out the management plan. The ash borer feeds on tree tissue beneath the bark, destroying the ability to move water and nutrients to branches.
Kansas Wheat Harvest Made Progress Before Rains
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A new report shows Kansas farmers have harvested 25 percent of their winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday that wheat harvest progress for the state is near the 27 percent average for this time of the year. It rated wheat still out in the fields as 62 percent good to excellent, with 30 percent in fair condition. About 8 percent of the crop remains in poor to very poor shape. The industry group, Kansas Wheat, reports that rain over the weekend in central Kansas put a damper on what had been an otherwise great yielding harvest. Storms in Reno and McPherson counties brought harvest to a halt on Sunday in parts of the state.
AP Names Sarah Rafi as Central Region Deputy Editor
CHICAGO (AP) — Veteran editor Sarah Rafi, who has helped lead Associated Press coverage of such stories as the massive tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has been promoted to deputy editor for the U.S. Central Region. The appointment was announced Tuesday by Central Region Editor Tom Berman. The region oversees AP journalism in 14 states. Rafi has been an editor on the AP's Central Regional Desk since its inception in 2009. The Chicago-based office oversees, coordinates and edits coverage in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. Rafi, a Northwestern University graduate, was promoted to assistant editor in 2014, a role that includes oversight of the editing operation in Chicago.