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Headlines for Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Election Day Arrives in Kansas, Missouri

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - After months of campaign rallies and thousands of televison ads, Election Day is here. Voters in Kansas face one of the busiest ballots in recent years with races for governor, U.S. Senate, secretary of state, insurance commissioner and the state's four congressional districts all up for grabs. Many voters are also choosing among candidates in local races. Kansas voters also face a ballot question over whether to legalize raffles in the state. If approved, fundraising rafffles would be allowed for nonprofit charitable groups. Voters in Missouri are deciding on only one statewide elected office, for state auditor, but candidates for the state's eight congressional districts are on the ballot in their districts and there are a number of local races. Missouri voters will also decide on a series of ballot questions including a proposed constitutional amendment to base teacher evaluations largely on student performance and an amendment that would create a 6-day early-voting period for general elections. Polls remain open until 7:00.


Judge Orders Kansas to Let Gay Couples Marry

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Kansas to allow same-sex couples to marry, but he delayed enforcement of the order until next week to give the state time to appeal. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday barring the state from enforcing its constitutional ban starting at 5 pm on November 11, pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging it. The American Civil Liberties Union sued to overturn Kansas's ban after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five states seeking to save their gay marriage bans. Among them were Oklahoma and Utah, which are in the same appeals court circuit as Kansas. The ACLU says denying the couples it is representing the right to marry, even for a short period, would do them irreparable harm.


U.S. Attorney Watching for KS Voting Rights Violations

TOPEKA, Kan. - The U.S. attorney for Kansas says his staff will be available today (TUE) to respond to any reports of election fraud or voting rights violations. Barry Grissom says he isn't expecting problems, but with close races on the ballot, he says his offfice will be prepared for any issues. Election fraud or blatant voting rights violations can include  things like physically intimidating or blocking someone from voting. But, Grissom says, voter suppression could be as simple as sending people to the wrong polling place or otherwise trying to confuse them. "Sometimes if somebody is sent to another place and they become exasperated, they just may throw their hands up and say 'what the heck, it doesn't matter anyway.' Well, if you do that enough times, it does matter." Grissom said. Anyone who witnesses or experiences fraud or voting rights violations should contact the Kansas U.S attorney's office (913-551-6730) or the FBI's Kansas City Field Office (1-855-527-2847).


Kansas Republican Streak on Line in US Senate Race

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters aren't exactly known for an independent streak. Not since 1932 have they elected someone other than a Republican to the U.S. Senate. Republican Senator Pat Roberts was looking to continue his party's good fortunes Tuesday against a surprisingly staunch challenge from independent candidate Greg Orman. Roberts has described his re-election campaign as crucial to Republican hopes of regaining the Senate and providing a check to the policies of Democratic President Barack Obama. He's tried to portray Orman as a liberal Democrat. Orman has described Roberts as part of a broken partisan system that has ground Washington to a halt. He's vowed to bridge political divides and has emphasized his business expertise. Orman became the main alternative to Roberts after Democratic nominee Chad Taylor dropped out in September.


Nearly 230K Kansas Voters Cast Ballots in Advance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Nearly 230,000 Kansas voters had cast their ballots before the polls opened on Election Day. The Kansas secretary of state's office says that 114,690 mail-in ballots had been turned in by Tuesday morning, less than in 2010. Another 115,079 advance voters had gone to the polls, an increase from 2010. Combined, 67,498 of the voters were Democrats, 834 were Libertarians, 125,561 were Republican and 35,876 were unaffiliated. The secretary of state's office couldn't yet provide data about Tuesday's turnout. But The Kansas City Star said voters who showed up Tuesday waited as long as 30 minutes to cast their ballots at some Johnson County polling locations. Jessica White of the Johnson County Election Office said polling places were reporting a steady stream of voters on Tuesday.


Season's First Case of Flu Confirmed in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. - A patient in the northeast part of the state has the first confirmed case of influenza in Kansas for this flu season. Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman Sara Belfry says the attention given to a handful of Ebola cases in the U.S. might be better focused on a bigger threat. “Flu is definitely more prevalent in the United States and in Kansas than Ebola." Belfry says. "Last year alone, influenza or pneumonia contributed or was the direct cause of 1,373 deaths in Kansas.” Flu season in Kansas typically gains momentum during the holidays, and peaks in February. Belfry advises everyone to get a flu shot. The vaccine causes antibodies that attack flu viruses to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. Belfry says it’s best to get the shot early in the season while flu activity is still sporadic.


Sprint Cutting 2K More Jobs, Reducing Staff by 5 Percent

NEW YORK (AP) - Wireless carrier Sprint says it is eliminating 2,000 jobs, or about 5 percent of its staff, as part of an effort to cut $1.5 billion in annual spending. The company had announced a round of job cuts in early October, and did not say how many jobs were eliminated at that time. Sprint said Monday that job cuts would reduce its labor costs by $400 million per year. Overland Park-based Sprint Corporation is the third-largest cellphone carrier in the U.S. and is trying to compete better with AT&T and Verizon. Japan's Softbank bought a majority stake in Sprint in 2013 and the company has eliminated thousands of jobs since then. It had 38,000 employees at the end of 2013.


Coroner Identifies 3 Victims of Kansas Air Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Regional Forensic Science Center has positively identified three of the four people killed when a small plane crashed into a flight safety training facility last week at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. KWCH-TV reports the victims are 48-year-old Nataliya Menestrina, 78-year-old Jay Ferguson, and the pilot of the plane, 53-year-old Mark Goldstein. The identity of the fourth victim had not been confirmed as of Tuesday. The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air drifted left of the runway after taking off Thursday, then made a steep left bank before plunging into the Flight Safety International Learning Center at the airport. Goldstein and three people inside flight simulators in the building were killed. Five others were injured.


KU Hospital Dedicates Medical News Network

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Hospital now has its own television studio for medical news. The Dolph C. Simons Family Broadcast Studio was dedicated Monday, launching the hospital's Medical News Network. The fully functioning television studio includes cameras, audio equipment, lighting and green-screen capabilities. It will give media access to medical experts and allows the hospital to distribute video and information about medical research, technology and other subjects. The Medical News Network was used last month to distribute information across the world when the hospital had a patient who was tested for Ebola. The man did not have the disease. Dolph Simons Jr., editor of the Lawrence Journal-World and chairman of The World Company, and his family donated an undisclosed amount to fund the network.


Wichita Chiropractor Sentenced for Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita chiropractor was sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to repay more than $1.8 million for defrauding health care insurers. Federal prosecutors announced Monday that 33-year-old Jeffrey D. Fenn pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of tax evasion. Fenn admitted that from March 2011 to October 20131 he submitted false claims to Medicare, two insurance companies and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program through his businesses, Wichita Health and Wellness, Fenn Chiropractic and Wichita Pain Associates. He also made fraudulent claims for business and personal income taxes.


Police Identify Man Found Dead in Topeka Home

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Shawnee County sheriff’s detectives on Monday identified the victim of a fatal shooting that occurred Sunday night at a home just north of Topeka. The victim was identified as Dustin C. McKinney, 29, of Topeka. Sheriff’s officials hadn’t classified the nature of the shooting death as of Monday afternoon. There was no indication that the death was being investigated as a homicide. Shawnee County Sheriff Herman T. Jones said the investigation is meant to rule out possibilities for McKinney’s cause of death.


Nurse at Kansas Hospital Charged with Sex Crimes

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A nurse at a northeast Kansas hospital has been charged with sexually assaulting three patients. Forty-seven-year-old Dennis Clark was charged last month in Wyandotte County District Court with three counts of aggravated sexual battery. The Kansas City Star reports that the alleged assaults occurred while Clark was a staff nurse in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment. The hospital said in a written statement that it was "cooperating fully with law enforcement" and that Clark no longer works there. State records show that Clark has been licensed as a registered nurse in Kansas since 2001. Prosecutors are urging anyone with information about other possible victims to call police.


Juror Faints During Murder Sentencing Hearing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The sentencing hearing for a Topeka man convicted of murder has been interrupted after a juror fainted while viewing graphic autopsy photos. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the male juror passed out about 45 minutes into Monday's hearing on the sentencing for 25-year-old Troy Allen Robinson. Shawnee County prosecutors are seeking the so-called "Hard 50" - 50 years behind bars before the possibility of parole - for the December 2012 stabbing death of 43-year-old Oma Bennett. District Judge Nancy Parrish released the juror and ordered what's expected to be a three-day hearing to resume Tuesday morning. An expert witness is expected to testify about Robinson's mental health history. A former coroner who had been testifying about the autopsy photos helped the stricken juror, who then drove home.


Man Pleads Guilty to Using Skimmer on Credit Cards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has pleaded guilty to stealing credit card information while he worked at a Taco Bell in Belton, Missouri. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release that 32-year-old Yao Vignon Kpade, of Overland Park, Kansas, pleaded guilty Monday to electronic device fraud. He admitted that he used a device called a credit card skimmer to obtain information from customers' credit cards. He encoded the stolen information onto bank cards in his name and used the cards for personal purchases. Kpade agreed to pay a total of $2,465 in restitution to two banks and to forfeit seized property including computers, electronic tablets and cell phones. He will be sentenced March 2.


Kansas Massage Therapist Charged with Sex Crime

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas massage therapist has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman. The Kansas City Star reports that 47-year-old Freddy Perez-Cartagena, of Olathe, was arrested Tuesday on a Johnson County warrant charging him with rape and aggravated criminal sodomy. Court documents say the alleged sexual assault occurred on August 13 in Shawnee. Perez-Cartagena was released from custody later Tuesday after posting a $100,000 bond. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court records show Perez-Cartagena was previously charged in Johnson County with three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery. But he later pleaded guilty to amended charges of battery and was placed on probation. He was required to register as a sex offender until his probation was completed in 2010.


Prosecutors Charge Suspect in Football Coach Beating

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Prosecutors have charged a suspect in September's beating of a Wichita junior league football coach. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office announced Monday that 31-year-old Bobby Brown Jr. was charged Friday with aggravated battery. His preliminary hearing is November 13. Police told reporters Monday that Brown was spotted by officers Thursday in the driveway of a Wichita house. He took off running and was arrested after a foot chase. The case stems from the September 8 attack by several men on the coach during practice at a Wichita park. The beating stopped after the coach's wife drew a gun and fired a shot in the air. The coach then went to his car and retrieved another gun. Both had concealed carry permits. It's not clear if Brown has a lawyer.


Investigators Wrapping Up Wichita Plane Crash Probe

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Investigators are recovering the remaining aircraft wreckage off the roof of a flight safety training facility in Kansas. Wichita Battalion Chief Stuart Bevis says crews are using a crane to remove the fuselage and other large aircraft pieces from the roof of the building where a small plane crashed on Thursday at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, killing four people. The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air drifted left of the runway after taking off, then made a steep left bank before plunging into the Flight Safety International Learning Center at the airport. The pilot and three people inside flight simulators in the building were killed. Five others were injured.


Court Upholds Ex-Guardsman's Fraud Conviction

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a former Kansas Air National Guard senior airman for lying about where she lived so she could fraudulently collect higher housing benefits. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the evidence was sufficient for a federal jury to convict Eledria J. Bradley of wire fraud. She was sentenced in January to three years of probation and ordered to repay the $55,000 she fraudulently received. Prosecutors said Bradley went online and changed her address to Chandler, Ariz., while she was deployed to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, where she lives. The Arizona address placed Bradley outside the commuting distance for McConnell, allowing her to collect two years' worth of benefits for lodging and per diem expenses.


Group Threatens Lawsuit over Kemper Arena

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A letter obtained by The Kansas City Star shows a developer withdrew plans to renovate Kemper Arena after the American Royal Association threatened a lawsuit. The newspaper reports an attorney for American Royal, which hosts livestock exhibitions and professional rodeos, told Foutch Brothers in a letter to quit its efforts to have Kemper Arena declared a historic structure. The designation would have helped with financing for Foutch's proposal to turn the arena into a youth sports facility. Foutch and American Royal have spent months pitching plans for the future of the arena. While Foutch's proposal would preserve the arena, plans by American Royal call for tearing it down and replacing it with a multipurpose building. The letter claims a historic designation would negatively affect American Royal's lease with the city for the American Royal Complex that includes the arena.


Southeast Kansas Teen Killed in Crash During Police Chase

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) - The state Highway Patrol says a southeast Kansas teenager has died after crashing a car while being chased by police. Four other teens were injured when they were thrown from the car. The patrol says the crash occurred just after 8 am Monday near the Cherokee County town of Columbus while officers were chasing a car driven by 17-year-old Noah Kirsch, of Pittsburg. The car went off the road and rolled over several times. It was not immediately clear why Kirsch was being chased. His injured passengers were identified as two boys and two girls, all 15 and 16 years old and from Pittsburg. They were taken to hospitals in Pittsburg and Joplin, Missouri.


Church Sues Garden City over Zoning Dispute

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas church has sued Garden City over an order prohibiting worship at its property in the central business district. Mount Zion Church of God in Christ alleges in a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court that the city has threatened to prosecute it in municipal court for violating a zoning ordinance. The city has said in a letter that it also could seek an injunction in Finney County District Court to enforce its zoning regulations. At issue is a Main Street building that has allegedly been used as a church for more than 10 years. The church's lawsuit contends the city is violating its First Amendment rights and seeks a ruling finding the zoning restriction unconstitutional. Assistant City Attorney Jacob Cunningham declined comment on the lawsuit.


Winter Wheat Planting Nearly Complete in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Winter wheat planting in Kansas is almost finished. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 93 percent of the wheat has been planted in the state. About 82 percent has now emerged. Kansas farmers were also busy bringing in fall crops during the past week. About 86 percent of the corn crop has now been harvested. About 52 percent of the sorghum and 72 percent of the soybeans have also been cut. The sunflower harvest is 43 percent complete.


Sentencing Delayed in Salina Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas man convicted of fatally shooting his 9-year-old stepbrother will not be sentenced until December. Eighteen-year-old Ryan Velez was scheduled to be sentenced Monday for second-degree murder in the 2010 death of Kaden Harper at the family's home near Assaria. Sentencing was rescheduled for December 1 after his attorney, Mitch Christians, said he needed more time to review records for Velez from Larned State Hospital. The Salina Journal reports prosecutors say Velez shot his stepbrother while they were arguing about doing chores. He has been housed at Larned for treatment since pleading guilty.


Statements Suppressed in Hutchinson Murder Case

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court will not review a lower court ruling that suppressed statements from a suspect about the death of a Hutchinson woman in what prosecutors say was a case of mistaken identity. The Hutchinson News reports the court's ruling on Friday denying a petition of review by Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder likely means the first-degree murder trial of Billy Joe Craig will go to trial early next year. Prosecutors say Craig and two other men shot 27-year-old Jennifer Heckel to death at her Hutchinson home while her son was in another room. They allege the men intended to rob a drug dealer but went to the wrong house. The high court's ruling means some statements Craig made to police will not be heard at trial.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Filing False Tax Returns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A southeast Kansas man was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison for receiving millions of dollars in false tax refunds. Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Jerold D. Fisher, of Arma, was sentenced Monday to 41 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $4 million. Fisher pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false federal tax return. He admitted that while he worked for Fisher Alfalfa Farms from 2006 to 2009, he prepared false federal tax returns for himself and his mother to receive tax refunds they were not owed. By 2009, he fraudulently claimed withholding of more than $3.8 million on income of more than $8 million.


Nebraska 7-Year-Old Calls 911 to Help Mom

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) — A Kansas man was arrested by officers responding to a 911 call from a 7-year-old southeast Nebraska boy who said his mom was being punched. The incident occurred shortly after 8 pm Saturday in Beatrice, Nebraska. The boy told officers he'd seen his mom's boyfriend punch her several times. The boy and four others his age or younger were in the home at the time. Officers arrested 31-year-old Steven Kling, of Marysville, Kansas. He told them he did not strike the woman. Kling's bail was set at $10,000 on Monday in Gage County (Nebraska) Court. His next hearing is scheduled for November 17. Online court records don't list the name of his attorney.

'Yankee Diva' Live Streams from Carnegie Hall

NEW YORK (AP) — She's the "Yankee Diva" from Prairie Village who sang the national anthem at last week's World Series game. Joyce DiDonato was invited to the ballpark after fans launched a social media campaign that went viral. The Royals lost, but the Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano hit the musical ball out of the park. On Tuesday, for the first time, Carnegie Hall is live streaming a concert to a global audience of tens of thousands — starring DiDonato. In a sort of musical World Series, it's one of four such Carnegie concerts by top artists in partnership with the website The Paris-based digital provider of musical events reaches its audience via the Internet. In her Twitter, Facebook and YouTube appearances, DiDonato jokingly calls herself the "Yankee Diva."



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