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Headlines for Wednesday, August 14, 2019

High Winds,  Heavy Rains Blow Knock over Semis, Power Lines in Western Kansas

HAYS, Kan. (AP) _ High winds and heavy rains blew over semi-trucks and downed power lines in parts of western Kansas.  Officials in Hays and Ellis County say yesterday's (TUE) storms caused flooding and wind damage across the county. The Hays school district has canceled the first day of school today (WED) because of the damage.  Ellis County dispatchers reported about 20 semi-trailer trucks were blown over and numerous power lines knocked down.  Interstate 70 was closed for a few hours yesterday (TUE) between Hays and WaKeeney to clear debris from the road.  Flash flooding was also reported in Oakley, Colby, Ellis, Jennings and near Hill City.

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Kansas Says Aetna Still Not Living Up to Contract Terms

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas health department says insurance company Aetna is still not living up to the terms of its $1 billion contract with the state's Medicaid program.  The state has rejected a corrective action plan Aetna submitted in response to a non-compliance letter Kansas sent it last month.  On Tuesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment released Aetna's proposed plan. The company says it's addressed several concerns and many others are "well on their way to being brought into compliance" under the contract.  But the state says the company's plan doesn't adequately address its concerns. It asked Aetna to submit a new one and plans to negotiate with company officials for a resolution.  (Read more about this story.)

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Wife's Body Found After Police Shoot Husband

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police have found a woman's body in Arkansas after police fatally shot her estranged husband near a popular shopping area in Kansas City, Kansas. Police in Overland Park, Kansas, said Wednesday that the body of 49-year-old Sylvia Ussery-Pearson was found Tuesday night in Arkansas Benton County. The discovery was made hours after 51-year-old Charles Pearson walked into a Country Inn & Suites and told the general manager he killed his wife. The former Army Ranger said he was armed and heading to the nearby Legends Outlet shopping district. Police in Kansas City, Kansas, said that when law enforcement confronted Pearson at a nearby intersection, he fired several shots at officers, who returned fire and killed him. Ussery-Pearson had been missing since Monday. Police say her death is believed to be a homicide but the cause hasn't been released.

(— related —)

Man Shot by Police Near Kansas Shopping District Identified

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police have identified a man they fatally shot near a popular shopping area after he said he had killed his wife. Police on Wednesday said 51-year-old Charles Pearson, of nearby Johnson County, was the man who walked into a Country Inn & Suites Tuesday and told the general manager he killed his wife. He said he was armed and heading to the nearby Legends Outlet shopping district. Kansas City, Kansas, police spokesman Jonathon Westbrook said when law enforcement confronted Pearson at a nearby intersection, he fired several shots at officers, who returned fire and killed him. Overland Park police said Tuesday they were searching for 49-year-old Sylvia Ussery-Pearson, who hasn't been seen since leaving her home Monday. Ussery-Pearson is listed in 2018 property records as Pearson's wife.

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Ruling Holds US Attorney's Office in Kansas in Contempt

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has found prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City, Kansas, improperly listened to recorded communications between inmates and their defense attorneys in a ruling that could upend hundreds of federal convictions and sentences. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in a ruling handed down late Tuesday set up what she called a roadmap for reviewing federal cases for potential violations of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Robinson also found the office in contempt of court for violating her orders to preserve evidence and turn over documents to the court-appointed special master investigating the practice. Robinson said she would impose monetary sanctions against the government as punishment. The ruling also cited internal dysfunction in the U.S. attorney's office, saying prosecutors distrusted current and past management "to the point of insubordination."

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Child Fatally Shot in KCK While Riding in Vehicle

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police say a child shot while riding in the back of a vehicle has died.  A man who was in the backseat was in serious but stable condition after also being shot Tuesday.  Their ages and names have not been released.  The Kansas City Star reports the man told police that people he didn't know fired at their car from another vehicle.  No suspect or vehicle description was released.  

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The Wichita Eagle Announces Digital-Only Saturday Edition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Eagle says it's moving to a digital-only edition on Saturdays as more readers get their news online. The paper said Tuesday in a letter to readers that it will stop publishing a printed newspaper on Saturdays and shift to a Weekend Edition that includes expanded newspapers on Fridays and Sundays. Those papers will include popular fixtures such as comics, puzzles, TV listings and local sports coverage. The change will take effect Nov. 16.

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Missouri Authorities Search Congresswoman's Family Land for Missing Woman

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Authorities are searching property owned by Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler for a missing woman.  The sheriff's office in Cass County, Missouri, says it's working with Overland Park police in the search for Silvia Pearson.  A spokesman for Hartzler, Steve Walsh, confirmed that police are looking for the woman on a rural patch of land owned by the congresswoman's family. The land is outside Harrisonville, Missouri, which is about 40 miles south of Kansas City.  Walsh says the Hartzlers are cooperating completely with law enforcement. He says he's unaware of any connection between the congresswoman's family and the missing woman.  Walsh says he's not sure if law enforcement is searching on the Hartzlers' residential property or on an adjacent tract of land they own. But he says it's in "the middle of nowhere."

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Sheriff Suspected in Felony Case No Longer in US

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas sheriff's deputy who is a suspect in a felony investigation is no longer in the U.S. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that the department is no longer seeking the public's help in locating 29-year-old Derick Chandler, who worked for the department. The post didn't say where he was believed to be located. The department said previously that Chandler disappeared after Wellington police and the Sumner County Sheriff's Office identified him as a suspect in a jointly investigated case. Wellington police Chief Tracy Heath told The Wichita Eagle that Chandler was accused of misconduct by some Sumner County residents, but he declined to give specifics. Chandler had worked for the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office for one year, 10 months. He was assigned as a road patrol deputy.

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Charges Filed in Douglas County Against Tennessee Man Who Fled Traffic Stop with Baby, Guns

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A Tennessee man faces several felonies after allegedly leading sheriff's deputies on a 3.5-mile chase with a baby and loaded guns in his truck.   The Lawrence Journal-World reports 32-year-old Kenneth Jeremy Leedom of Woodbury, Tennessee was charged this week with aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer, aggravated endangering of a child, attempting to elude a police officer and possession of stolen property.  His defense attorney did not immediately return a call to the newspaper which was seeking comment yesterday (TUE).  The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says Leedom was arrested Sunday after driving away from a traffic stop. He allegedly rammed a patrol vehicle as deputies were trying to stop him.  The charges indicate the boy with him was 9 months old. A woman was also in the truck.  No one was injured.

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Missouri and Kansas Officials Pledge to Help Keep Kansas City's "Border War" Truce in Place

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Local officials are helping Kansas and Missouri preserve a truce in an economic "border war" that had seen the states use incentives to lure jobs across their border in the Kansas City area.  The cooperation came ahead of a summit Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas, between Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Missouri Governor Mike Parson.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Port Authority of Kansas City's board agreed Monday to limit incentives to companies relocating to Missouri to 10-years, the existing limit in Kansas. Mayor Quinton Lucas has promised to push for a similar limit in Kansas City, Missouri.  Parson signed a law in June and Kelly issued an executive order earlier this month declaring that their states won't use their incentives to lure existing jobs across the border.
 
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Highway Patrol: 59-Year-Old Kansas Man Killed When his Tractor Collides with Train

SPEARVILLE, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Highway Patrol says a 59-year-old Kansas man died when his tractor collided with a train.  The patrol says Bernard Stegman, of Spearville, died yesterday (TUE) after the collision at a railroad crossing near U.S. Highway 50, about 3 miles southeast of Spearville.  None of the three men on the train were injured.

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Kansas Boy Accused of Shooting Drunk Mom is Now Charged with Murder

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Prosecutors have filed a second-degree murder charge against a boy who was 14 when he shot and killed his drunken mom at a mansion near Wichita.  According to the Wichita Eagle, the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office filed the more severe charge in an amended complaint on Monday.  The boy had initially been charged last month with voluntary manslaughter in the death of his 41-year-old mother on June 20, 2018.  His attorney contends the teen shot his mother to defend himself and his then 12-year-old brother against a drunken attack.  The autopsy found the woman had "acute and chronic alcoholism" and scarring of the liver. Her blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit for driving.

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Police Arrest Teen After 7-Year-Old Wichita Girl Shot

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police say they've arrested a teenager who injured a 7-year-old Wichita girl while firing a handgun in a backyard next door.  KAKE-TV reports that responding officers found the girl had a minor injury to one of her fingers. The girl was playing in her backyard when she heard two loud bangs and a projectile struck her finger.  Police spokesman Charley Davidson says a 16-year-old boy was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated battery, criminal possession of a firearm by a juvenile, obstruction and an outstanding warrant.  Police believe he was shooting at some type of target when the girl was struck.  Davidson says the teen did not live at the home.

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Southwest Kansas Man Drowns in Pond Near Syracuse

SYRACUSE, Kan. (AP) — The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office says a 23-year-old man drowned in a public pond near Syracuse.  The sheriff says the body of Joaquin Vazquez Hernandez, of Syracuse, was recovered from the pond Tuesday evening.  Emergency responders were called about 2 pm Tuesday after a man went underwater in the pond and didn't resurface.
KAKE-TV reports people near the pond tried unsuccessfully to rescue the man. 

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Man Arrested After Shooting Death in Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Barton County officials say a 23-year-old man has been arrested after a man was found shot to death in Great Bend.  The sheriff's office says officers responded Tuesday after shots were fired west of the Great Bend airport. Deputies and the Kansas Highway Patrol found a 34-year-old man dead of several gunshot wounds.  Information about a possible suspect was shared with first responders. Firefighters returning from an accident later Tuesday saw the suspect's vehicle in Great Bend and called police.  The suspect, Nicholas Pethel, was arrested and booked into the Barton County jail on possible murder charges. He is being held on $1 million bond.  The name of the victim has not been released.

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Cattle Producers Concerned About Effects from Tyson Fire

HOLCOMB, Kan. (AP) - Cattle producers are concerned a fire at a Tyson meat processing plant in Holcomb could disrupt already strained processing operations.  The plant is closed indefinitely after Friday's fire. Tyson has said it will reopen the plant but the timeline will depend on the extent of the damage.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports industry experts say the Holcomb plant processes about 6,000 cattle a day - about 6% of all the cattle processed in the U.S.  Finney County commissioner Larry Jones, a partner at J&O Cattle Co., said meat packing plants are already running at capacity because a record number of cattle are going to market.  In the first day of trading since the fire, cattle futures on Monday dropped $3 per hundred pounds, the maximum fluctuation allowed for a single day.

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Silver Dollar City Theme Park Near Branson Plans $30 Million Expansion

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) _ The Silver Dollar City theme park near Branson is planning an expansion that is expected to cost more than $30 million.  Park president Brad Thomas said Tuesday the expansion will include a Mystic River Falls ride to replace the Lost River of the Ozarks ride. The new ride will include a 4.5 story waterfall drop. Also planned is a barbecue restaurant that will seat 450 people and other improvements.  The Springfield News-Leader reports Switzerland-based manufacturer RES is working with Silver Dollar City to create the new Mystic River Falls. It is projected to open next summer.  Thomas said the park has invested $100 million into new rides and improvements since 2010.  Almost 2.2 million people visited the park in 2018.  

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Judge Rules Man Imprisoned Decades for 2 Kansas City Murders Is Innocent

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A judge has ruled that a Missouri man imprisoned more than 20 years for a double murder is innocent and should either be released or retried. Ricky Kidd was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the February 1996 deaths of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges in Kansas City. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Court records show Kidd told authorities he was with his girlfriend at the time of the killings. Eyewitnesses who testified against him later recanted. DeKalb County Judge Daren L. Adkins' ruling on Wednesday cited "clear and convincing'' evidence of Kidd's innocence. Adkins ordered the state to release Kidd unless he is retried within 30 days.  A spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schmitt says the office is reviewing the ruling. 

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