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Headlines for Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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

Kansas US Attorney's Office Stops Cooperating in Probe

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas is declining to comment on a court-appointed official's report that the federal office is no longer cooperating with an investigation into the taping of attorney-client meetings at a federal detention center. Jim Cross, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Tom Beall, says the office does not comment on pending litigation. Special Master David R. Cohen said in a report obtained by KCUR Radio that he received a 24-page letter last month from the U.S. attorney's office stating that it will no longer provide him with information and documents as part of his investigation of claims involving covert recordings of attorney-client meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center. The decision may heighten suspicions that the U.S. attorney's office is concealing information about the tapings from criminal defense lawyers, many of whom have filed motions to dismiss cases on the grounds that the Sixth Amendment rights of clients were violated.
 
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BuzzFeed Sues Kris Kobach over Denied Records Requests

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — BuzzFeed Inc. is suing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his office for refusing to release emails containing any of 30 terms that relate to immigration or the election. A reporter for BuzzFeed asked Kobach's office in June for emails sent or received May 1 that include terms such as ICE, immigrant, Trump, voter, fraud and Mexican. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the lawsuit, filed Friday in Shawnee County District Court, says Kobach's office first asked for $1,025 for 13 hours of work and an attorney's review. The office refused to release any records when the reporter challenged the cost. A lawyer for Kobach's office said the records may be unrelated to his official business or policy proposals and are exempt from open records law.

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Kansas GOP Chairman Announces Run for Secretary of State

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party's chairman says he is running for secretary of state next year. Kelly Arnold's announcement Tuesday came months after the Wichita Republican began exploring the race for the state's top elections post and appointed a campaign treasurer so that he could collect campaign contributions legally. Arnold has served as Sedgwick County's elected clerk since 2009 and state GOP chairman since 2013. Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab and House Elections Committee Chairman Keith Esau also are seeking the GOP nomination. Both are from Olathe.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that veteran state Senator Marci Francisco of Lawrence is considering running for the Democratic nomination and plans to announce a decision after local elections November 7. Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is running for governor. Kobach pushed successfully for tough voter identification laws and the power to prosecute alleged election fraud. The GOP candidates to replace him backed those policies.

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Gubernatorial Candidate Refocuses Campaign After Grandson's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic candidate for Kansas governor whose 3-year-old grandson's body was found encased in concrete has joined the push to reform the state's child welfare agency. The Kansas City Star reports that former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer says his family filed multiple requests with the Kansas Department of Children and Families to check on his grandson, Evan Brewer, before the toddler's remains were found last month. Brewer says he decided to remain in the race after hearing from other families and determining nothing would change "unless somebody steps in." Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward, of Wichita, called months ago for the resignation of the agency's chief, Phyllis Gilmore, and former state Rep. Mark Hutton, a GOP candidate, did so recently. The agency didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Fort Riley Soldier Dies on Base; Cause Under Investigation

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley officials say a 1st Infantry Division soldier has died after being found unresponsive at his on-post home. The death of 36-year-old Sgt. 1st Class George Bible III, of Clarksville, Tennessee, is the ninth death of 1st Infantry soldiers connected to the base who have died in the last five months. Fort officials say Bible was found Sunday. His cause of death is under investigation. He joined the Army in March 2002 and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan several times. He was a platoon sergeant who repaired Black Hawk helicopters. Since July, two other 1st Infantry soldiers died on the base and others died in Junction City, Geary County, Topeka, Milford Lake and Fort Hood, Texas. The deaths are under investigation or were ruled suicides.

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City, County Officials Worried About Kansas Saltwater Wells

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Officials with the city of Lawrence and Douglas County are raising concerns about a proposal to allow wastewater injection wells in the area. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Midstates Energy Operating LLC filed permit applications with the state for two wells that would be injected with a saltwater byproduct from oil or gas extraction processes. The wells would be about 5 miles southeast of Lawrence in rural Douglas County. The applications note a maximum injection of 100 barrels per day for each well, totaling 8,400 gallons of wastewater per day. City and county officials sent a letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission last week requesting the delay of the permit review process until they're provided data showing the injections won't endanger underground water resources or increase the risk of earthquakes.

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Kansas Agriculture Community Divided over Livestock Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas agriculture community has been divided over a decision by the Trump administration to block new livestock rules from taking effect. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture had proposed the rules that were scheduled to go into effect Thursday. The new rules were intended to protect poultry producers from unfair commercial practices by food processing giants like Tyson Foods. Republican Senator Pat Roberts praised the decision to block the rules. He says the decision promotes economic prosperity and reduces regulatory burdens in the agricultural community. But some groups disapprove of the decision. An official with the Organization for Competitive Markets says the block favors large agricultural corporations and hurts farmers and ranchers.

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Parents Sue Leavenworth County for Records in Son's Case

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — The parents of a Kansas teenager who vanished nearly 30 years ago hope a trial next month will provide clues about whether their son was murdered after he was last seen at a high school graduation party and if his disappearance was properly investigated. Harold and Alberta Leach of Linwood, Kansas, sued Leavenworth County in civil court after county officials rejected their request through the state's open records act to see documents from the April 1988 through December 1992 investigation of 17-year-old Randy Leach's disappearance. The parents believe Randy is dead but said they filed the lawsuit because they have done everything they can think of to find answers. Their lawyer, Maxwell Kautsch, said the Leavenworth County attorney concluded in April 1990 that Leach saw something he shouldn't have and someone "took care" of the teenager. In September 1990, the same county attorney said he wouldn't hold an inquisition because of "uncertainty about whether a crime had been committed." An inquisition allows prosecutors to question witnesses under oath without calling a grand jury. "The records should be disclosed to determine whether Randy was the victim of foul play, whether the decision not to conduct the inquisition was justified and why the county attorney would have made such contradictory public statements," Kautsch said. In 1991, Gov. Joan Finney issued an executive order declaring the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies believed "a crime may have been perpetrated" in the Leach case and offering a $5,000 reward in the case. Kautsch said the records could show whether Leavenworth County properly investigated the case, which was classified as a homicide in 2002. According to the lawsuit, a 2014 report indicated the FBI and KBI had a suspect in the case in the 1990s but that person died in prison. No one has been charged in the disappearance. David Van Parys, who represents the county, declined Monday to discuss pending litigation, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The trial is scheduled to begin November 21.

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Wrongful Conviction Not Surprising to KCK Black Community

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — People among the African-American community in Kansas City, Kansas, say they are outraged but not surprised by alleged wrongdoing that led to the conviction of a man who spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he didn't commit. Lamonte McIntyre was freed on October 13 after a local district attorney said there had been "manifest injustice" in the case. The white detective who investigated McIntyre for murder in 1994 had sexually harassed McIntyre's mother earlier and she says she spurned his advances. Witnesses who told the prosecutor that McIntyre was not the killer say they were threatened or ignored. The judge at McIntyre's trial had been romantically involved with the prosecutor. None of those officials has been punished. 

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Topeka Man Pleads Guilty in Pedestrian's Death in 2016 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has pleaded guilty in the July 4, 2016 death of a pedestrian. Jason Patterson entered the plea Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence. Patterson was charged in the death of 60-year-old Tara French. She was hit by a truck on the west side of Lake Shawnee. Police determined Patterson had a blood alcohol level of 0.18 percent when he was stopped after the accident. The legal limit in Kansas is 0.08 percent. Sentencing is scheduled for December 19.

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Kansas Game Wardens Investigating Shooting of Antelope 

ELKHART, Kan. (AP) — Kansas game wardens are asking for the public's help to find those who killed two antelope and left them to rot in southwest Kansas. Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism officials say game wardens found the dead animals Saturday in a field in Morton County. The antelope were shot with a rifle out of season and left in the field. The agency says those responsible also drove through a freshly drilled winter wheat field to kill the antelope. Anyone with information should contact Operation Game Thief at 877-426-3843.

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Kansas Drag Racer Dies in Crash at California Track

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a drag racer from Kansas has died following a crash at a California track. The Kern County coroner's office says Brett Henry struck a wall during a race Saturday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway north of Bakersfield. KBAK-TV reports the 50-year-old died the next day at a hospital. The coroner's office hasn't yet determined the cause of death. The National Hot Rod Association released a statement extending condolences to Henry's family. The racing media outlet Dragzine reports Henry, of Wichita, was driving as part of the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion when the crash took place.

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KCK Man Pleads Guilty in Death of 4-Year-Old Daughter

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of his 4-year-old daughter. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Devondre Sanders was scheduled to go to trial Monday but instead entered the guilty pleas. Sentencing is set for December 15. The child, Honesty Sanders, died in May 2016. Officers tried to save her with CPR, but she never regained consciousness and died at a hospital. Sanders' 24-year-old girlfriend, Sierra Mitchell, is also charged in the case and is scheduled for trial in March.

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Shootings Prompt Increased Security at Lawrence Venue

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A large entertainment venue in downtown Lawrence is ramping up security in the wake of recent fatal shootings nearby. The Lawrence Journal World reports that all people attending events at Liberty Hall must now pass by handheld metal detectors to enter. The venue already prohibited guns, large bags and purses. Three people were killed and two others injured in a late night shooting incident on October 1 in the city's downtown entertainment district as people were leaving bars, concerts and other nearby events. Liberty Hall general manager Dean Edington says the venue wants to make sure that everyone there feels welcome and safe. He says the "world that we live in" requires more stringent security measures. Anthony L. Roberts Jr. of Topeka is charged with killing all three victims, and with attempted murder of one of the men who survived.

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Man Admits to Robbing 4 Kansas City Area Banks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A man has pleaded guilty to a series of four Kansas City area bank robberies that netted around $25,000 over five months. The U.S. attorney's office says 57-year-old Tam Henry Holmes entered the plea Monday. Prosecutors say he stole $450 from Kansas City bank last November. In April, he is accused of robbing a Liberty bank of around $8,300, an Independence credit union of around $12,205 and another Kansas City bank of around $4,050. In all the robberies, he is accused of handing notes to the tellers. One note read, "Give me all the money, hurry up, or I will hurt you." Another robbery note read, "Don't pull any dye packs, bail or alarms. I know where you live." He faces a sentence of up to 80 years in prison.

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Laura Hockaday, Longtime Kansas City Star Editor, Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Laura Rollins Hockaday, a longtime writer for The Kansas City Star who worked to add diversity to the newspaper's society pages, died at the age of 79. Her cousin, Irv Hockaday, former CEO of Hallmark Cards, said she died Tuesday at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City from complications of viral pneumonia. Hockaday worked at The Star from 1962 to 2000, spending the final 18 years as the paper's people editor. The newspaper reports that she accepted that job on the condition that she could define what society was, and she was dedicated to including the under-recognized civic contributions of African-Americans and Hispanics. Hockaday, who never married, was preceded in death by her parents and a brother. A private burial is being planned.

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