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Headlines for Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Here's what we know so far.

Narrow GOP Victory in Kansas Congressional Election Provides Warning for GOP in Georgia

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Republicans have pulled out a victory in Kansas in the first of four U.S. House special elections to replace GOP congressmen named to top jobs in President Donald Trump's administration, but the next contest for a seat in Georgia could be tougher.  The margin of victory Tuesday for Republican Ron Estes in the Kansas 4th District special election slid to only seven percentage points from a 31-point margin in November, when incumbent Mike Pompeo was running before he was appointed Trump's CIA director.  Estes narrowly lost the district's most populous county around the city of Wichita. Trump won that county by 18 points.  The outcome was a shot across the bow of the national Republicans as the party faces an even more difficult contest on April 18 in Georgia.

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Republicans' Narrow Win for Kansas Seat Emboldens Democrats 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans escaped a special House election in Kansas with a single-digit victory in a district where they have won decisively in the past. That's an early warning sign for the GOP at the start of Donald Trump's presidency. The narrow win in Kansas for the seat that had been held by CIA Director Mike Pompeo emboldened Democrats ahead of a more competitive special congressional election in Georgia next week. The race in Atlanta's suburbs could serve as a test of their ability to marshal anti-Trump forces. Trump's job approval ratings have hovered around 40 percent, creating unease among Republicans looking to maintain their congressional majorities. Republicans have had a difficult stretch, with no progress on health care, federal and congressional probes into Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials and contentious GOP town halls.

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Kansas Secretary of State Prosecutes Non-Citizen for Voting 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has announced his first known prosecution of a non-citizen voting illegally since lawmakers in 2015 gave him the authority to prosecute voter fraud. Kobach says in a news release Wednesday that Victor David Garcia Bebek pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of voting unlawfully in 2012 and 2014. The plea deal calls for a $5,000 fine and unsupervised probation for up to three years. Bebek's defense attorney did not immediately return a phone message left at his office seeking comment. The complaint that The Associated Press obtained from Kobach's office lists six felony and misdemeanor counts. The charges were filed under seal in February and the case was not made public until Wednesday. The court clerk's office refused Wednesday to release information on it.

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Army Identifies Person Killed in Missouri Plant Explosion 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A worker who died during an explosion at an ammunition plant in Missouri has been identified as a 55-year-old man from suburban Kansas City. The U.S. Army says Lawrence Bass, of Blue Springs, Missouri, died Tuesday after the blast at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence. Contractor Orbital ATK, which operates the plant, says Bass had worked there 35 years and was an operator in the primer mixing operation. Four other workers were treated at the scene. The explosion occurred in a building where chemicals are mixed. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is leading the investigation. The plant makes and tests small-caliber ammunition for the military and operates the NATO test center. Orbital is the biggest maker of small-caliber ammunition for the U.S. Department of Defense.

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Kansas Hopes to Hire Company This Fall to Build New Prison 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas could sign a contract this fall with a private company to build a new prison to replace its oldest and largest one in Lansing. Documents show that the state is limiting the search for the $155 million project to firms that already have built multiple prisons. The Department of Corrections is telling potential bidders they would handle maintenance at the new prison. The state is seeking proposals under which the company initially would own the prison and the state would lease it for up to 40 years. Corrections officials believe a new prison would be safer and more efficient. A state request posted online last week gives companies until May 12 to express an interest. Proposals are due July 21 and a contract would be finalized by September 29.

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Ex-Payless Workers' Severance Pay Stopped, for Now

TOPEKA, Kan. (Topeka Capl-Journal) - Workers laid off from Payless ShoeSource in Topeka received more bad news this week: their severance pay will be stopped, at least temporarily.  That's according to an article in today's (WED) Topeka Capital-Journal.  The issue of whether the company can keep making severance payments will be heard at the company's next bankruptcy hearing on May 9th.  

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Junction City Apartment Fire Damage Totals Around $3.8 Million

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) - Fire officials estimate that a weekend apartment complex fire in Junction City caused nearly $3.8 million in damage.  The Junction City Fire Department says additional individual property loss for residents will vary.  On Saturday, firefighters dumped more than 1.6 million gallons of water on the blaze at the Bluffs Apartment complex.  The fire damaged 28 units across the three-story building. The cause is under investigation. A fire last April ravaged another building at the Bluffs.

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Sisters Hurt on Kansas Waterslide That Killed Boy Reach Deal 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two sisters injured in a Kansas waterslide accident that killed a state lawmaker's 10-year-old son have reached a settlement with the water park's owner. Attorney Lynn Johnson on Wednesday confirmed the out-of-court deal with the Schlitterbahn park over the "Verruckt" slide accident last summer. Johnson wouldn't reveal details of the settlement. The sisters' names haven't been publicly released. Authorities said Caleb Schwab was killed and the sisters injured last August 7 while riding the Verruckt, which was billed as the world's tallest waterslide. That ride has since been closed, and a Schlitterbahn spokeswoman says it will be demolished as soon as a court rules it's no longer needed for evidentiary purposes. Schwab's family reached a settlement in January with Schlitterbahn and the raft's manufacturer. Caleb was Representative Scott Schwab's son.

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Kansas Woman Charged with Murder in Decapitation Death 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman is accused of decapitating her ex-boyfriend's mother when the victim went to collect her son's belongings. Thirty-five-year-old Rachael Hilyard of Wichita was charged Wednesday with one count of first-degree murder in the death Sunday of 63-year-old Micki Davis. During a brief court appearance, a Sedgwick County judge assigned Hilyard to be represented by a public defender. She's jailed on $200,000 bond. Police say Davis was killed after taking her 9-year-old grandson with her to Hilyard's home. The boy ran away when the assault started and called police on his grandmother's phone. Police say the child wasn't present when his grandmother died. Police found Davis's body in the garage and Hilyard hiding in the home.

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Prison Term Suggested for Man Convicted in Water Park Death 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A jury has recommended a prison sentence of up to 25 years for the last of three men convicted in the shooting death of a 14-year-old girl at a Kansas City water park. A Jackson County (Missouri)  jury made the recommendation late Monday, three days after convicting Ce-Antonyo Kennedy of second-degree murder in the 2015 death of Alexis Kane. Last month, Isaac Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Dominic McDaniel pleaded guilty last year to voluntary manslaughter. All three Kansas City men also were convicted of armed criminal action. They were originally charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say the girl was beaten and shot at The Bay Water Park in south Kansas City. Kennedy is to be sentenced May 31. Sentencing for McDaniel and Carter is scheduled for April 28.

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2 Hurt After Teen Driver Crashes into Lawrence Home

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Police say a 15-year-old drove into a Lawrence duplex, sending two people to the hospital with minor injuries.  The crash happened Monday night when the boy failed to negotiate a turn. The car he was driving hit a curb before crashing through a duplex wall. The vehicle was nearly entirely inside the building when it came to a stop.  The boy fled the scene on foot.  Lawrence police say he was later found and cited on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a valid driver's license.  Both people inside the home were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

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Small Plane Makes Emergency Landing Near Emporia

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say no one was hurt when a small plane made an emergency landing in a pasture near Emporia because of engine problems. The Emporia Gazette reports that the plane landed Tuesday night about three miles west and one mile north of the Emporia Municipal Airport. The Lyon County Sheriff's Office says the pilot was unharmed, and there were no injuries to people on the ground. The sheriff's office didn't say if that is where the plane was headed or from where it had taken off.

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Bond at Issue for Kansas Doctor Accused in Drug Scheme

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are seeking to revoke the bond of a Kansas doctor accused of over-prescribing pain medication, insisting he illegally continued to write prescriptions with a suspended state medical license. Steven Henson's attorney counters that the Wichita doctor's use of his Oklahoma medical license to write prescriptions to his wife and a longstanding patient for non-controlled substances was appropriate. Kurt Kerns adds that prosecutors filed for the bond revocation a day after a deadline for Henson to accept their plea offer. A 31-count indictment against Henson in January 2016 accuses him of writing prescriptions for cash, when there wasn't a medical need and for people other than the ones who came to see him. Prosecutors say the scheme resulted in a patient's 2015 death. Henson has pleaded not guilty.

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Shawnee Police ID Body Found in Lake; Drowning Suspected

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a man whose body was found in a Kansas City-area park's lake had been reported missing for more than a month.  Johnson County authorities say fingerprint analyses confirmed the man's identity as 35-year-old Dawit Tesfaye.  Authorities say the man went missing on March 2. His body was spotted by a kayaker Saturday afternoon in Shawnee Mission Park's lake.  The sheriff's department says there are no indications of foul play related to Tesfaye's death, and that the preliminary investigation suggests that he accidentally drowned.  Investigators say they're awaiting the official coroner's report.

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Deaton to Stand Trial in KS Before Return to Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Multi-state crime spree suspect Alex Deaton's cases in Mississippi's Rankin County will be presented to a grand jury this month.  But District Attorney Michael Guest tells WLBT-TV  that it will be a while before he stands trial in the Magnolia state.  Guest says Kansas authorities have notified his office that they intend to bring Deaton to trial for crimes there before returning him to Mississippi. He says that trial will happen no earlier than six months from now.   Deaton is charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder, theft, armed robbery and personal felony in Kansas.   In Mississippi, he faces murder charges for the deaths of his girlfriend and another woman, and aggravated assault after the shooting of a jogger. He also faces carjacking charges in New Mexico.

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Catholic College to Make Changes to Yoga Classes 

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A Catholic college in northeast Kansas plans to rename its yoga classes and change the content to ensure they focus only on physical exercise and not spiritual or cultural elements. Benedictine College in Atchison says it will rework its yoga classes after this semester is over. The Wichita Eagle reports the changes come after concerns were raised by students, alumni and faculty. Catholic church leaders have cautioned Catholics for years to avoid the spiritual aspects of yoga because they contend the Hindu-based practice conflicts with church teachings. The Reverend John Riley, chancellor of the Archdiocese or Kansas City in Kansas, said Catholics are encouraged to look for exercise routines that don't include a spiritual dimension.

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Deadly Wichita Shootout Claims Police K-9 Along with Suspect

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police in Wichita say a post-mortem examination of a police dog shows that he was fatally shot by a suspect who was later killed by officers.  Police say the March 28 necropsy on the 6-year-old Belgian Malinois named Rooster showed that he was shot in a shoulder by a bullet that hit vital organs and exited the animal on the opposite side.  Police have said officers responding to a domestic disturbance on March 18 at a mobile home park surrounded a residence before 25-year-old Kevin Perry walked out with a gun in his waistband. Rooster was sent after the suspect to stop him from re-entering the home. That's when gunfire was exchanged, striking both the dog and the man.  Perry later died at a hospital.

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Pittsburg School Board to Review Hiring Procedures

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - A school board in the southeastern Kansas is looking for a third party to review its hiring procedures after an inquiry by student journalists had prompted an incoming high school principal to resign.  Pittsburg School Board Vice President John Clark tells the Pittsburg Morning Sun  that the board is seeking assistance in reviewing both the events that led up to Amy Robertson's resignation last week and shoring up their hiring practices to avoid similar incidents in the future.  The student reporters' concerns stemmed from Robertson receiving her master's and doctoral degrees from Corllins University, an unaccredited, online school. Robertson said she received her degrees before the university lost accreditation.  Superintendent Destry Brown says the board will call a special meeting to begin a new search for a high school principal.

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Nebraska's Legal Options Limited in KS Prairie Smoke

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Lincoln attorney says that Nebraska has limited legal options regarding the smoke carried into the state from Kansas ranchers who annually burn tallgrass prairie.  The Lincoln Journal Star  reports that a group of ranchers in the Flint Hills burned upward of 2.3 million acres of North America's largest unplowed stretch of tallgrass prairie Saturday. The burning led to complaints from neighbors in Nebraska due to southerly winds carrying the smoke into the state.  Lincoln lawyer Steve Mossman, who specializes in agricultural and environmental law, doesn't think Nebraska could successfully sue Kansas authorities to regulate prescribed burns because courts are reluctant to force them to regulate against their will. He says a better option is cooperation and better communication between the two states.  Kansas usually burns the Flint Hills acres around March and April every year.

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KU's Jackson Pleads Not Guilty to Property Damage Count 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas star freshman basketball player Josh Jackson has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal property damage alleging he vandalized a woman's car outside a bar. Jackson's attorney, Hatem Chahine, told a judge Wednesday in Lawrence that she plans to file for a diversion for Jackson. Jackson is accused of damaging the driver's door and a taillight of a car belonging to Jayhawks women's basketball player McKenzie Calvert last December. An affidavit filed with the court alleges that confrontation happened after Calvert argued inside the bar with Lagerald Vick, her ex-boyfriend and Jackson's teammate. Jackson is also scheduled to appear Friday in Lawrence Municipal Court to address a February 2 traffic violation.

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Jayhawks' Mykhailiuk to Enter NBA Draft Without Hiring Agent 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas guard Svi Mykhailiuk is entering the NBA draft, but is not hiring an agent and could decide by May 24 to withdraw his name and return for his senior season. The 6-foot-8 Mykhailiuk started 25 games last season, averaging 9.8 points and shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc. The native of Ukraine made at least three 3-pointers in 11 games. KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday that he supports the decision "100 percent," and that Mykhailiuk will "get accurate feedback and make an informed decision" whether to remain in the draft. Jayhawks guard Devonte Graham has already announced that he will return for his senior season, while star freshman Josh Jackson is expected to declare for the draft.

 

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