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Headlines for Wednesday, December 27, 2017

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

Kansas Delaying Launch of New System for Driver's Licenses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is delaying the launch of a new computer system for issuing driver's licenses. The Department of Revenue announced Wednesday what it called a slight delay for the KanLicense system that was supposed to launch Jan. 2. The announcement came less than two weeks after a state audit raised questions about whether the system would be ready. The new system would replace a decades-old system and initially was to be deployed early in 2012. The department said the latest delay will be "only a matter of days or weeks" and that driver's license offices will remain open. Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said testing showed that the system needed a little more work. He also said launching it as planned would require hundreds of employees to work on New Year's Day.

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DA Won't File Charges Against Officers in Kansas Man's Death 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The local district attorney does not plan to file criminal charges against two Kansas police officers in the fatal shooting of a black man earlier this year. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced his decision Wednesday in connection with the September 28 shooting of 30-year-old Dominique White near a park in Topeka. Kagay released a seven-page legal analysis that said White acted suspiciously after the officers responded to a report of shots being fired in the area. The analysis said White struggled with police and reached for a gun. The analysis said no reasonable judge or jury would find that the actions of the two Topeka officers were unlawful. The officers' names haven't been released. An attorney for White's family did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment.

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Patrol: Fatal Accident Occurred When Truck Fell From Bridge

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Icy conditions on Interstate 70 are being blamed for a Kansas accident that killed a woman, her two daughters and a family friend after the pickup truck they were in fell off a bridge. The accident happened Tuesday morning amid snowfall. The Kansas Highway Patrol's crash report says 47-year-old Lisa Luft was driving a 2001 Dodge Dakota that struck a guardrail due to weather conditions. The truck traveled 230 feet along the guardrail, then another 150 feet on top of the guardrail before falling about 25 feet off a bridge, coming to a rest on its top. The Kansas City Star reports that Luft and her two daughters, 20-year-old Brianna and 14-year-old Aria, were killed, along with Brianna's friend, 18-year-old Saleena Senzee. All four were from Kearney.

The Missouri Highway Patrol also reported a fatal accident in Platte County, north of Kansas City Tuesday morning. 79-year-old Annabelle Kovar of Lincoln, Nebraska was killed after her car slid off the road. Parts of Interstates 70, 435 and 635 along with a number of other major roads were closed due to accidents and hazardous winter conditions. 

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Gubernatorial Uncertainty, Prison Unrest Among Top Kansas Stories of 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The uncertainty surrounding Governor Sam Brownback's departure after his nationally watched tax experiment came to an end was among the top 10 stories in Kansas in 2017.  President Trump nominated Brownback for the post of U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom at the end of July. But the post was in limbo after the U.S. Senate failed to vote on confirming him before finishing its business for year, lengthening an already awkward transition to a new governor.  Also making the list of the top stories of 2017 were prison disturbances, an allegedly racially motivated bar shooting, wildfires, the release of two wrongfully convicted inmates, questions about the state's child welfare agency, a closer-than-expected Congressional race, a small town sexual assault case, the discovery of human remains in a storage unit and a shooting at a state revenue department office.

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Gunfire Outside Kansas City, Kansas, Home Kills 1, Wounds 1

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) —Police have identified a Kansas City, Kansas man fatally shot during a Christmas Day gathering. Police say 71-year-old Ernest Moore Sr. was found about 6 p.m. Monday outside a home. A woman was also wounded by gunfire and was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Investigators say shots fired in an alley penetrated the house and struck the woman. Moore was fatally struck when he went outside the house after the shooting started. He was found dead in a neighbor's yard. Police say there was a family gathering at the house at the time of the shooting. No arrests have been made.

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Homicide Total Unusually High in Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Douglas County has tallied its highest annual homicide total in at least a decade. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the county recorded nine homicides, all in the last six months of the year. The total includes three people killed in October when gunfire erupted around bar-closing time in downtown Lawrence. This year's other multiple-homicide was the result of domestic violence. In August, a mother and her 3-year-old daughter were shot and killed by the child's father, who then killed himself in a rural area south of Lawrence. The city, home to Kansas University, was homicide-free for four of the past ten years. Last year, in 2016, the city had one homicide. 

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Abuse of Boy Found in Concrete Was Recorded, Affidavit Says 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Video images of a 3-year-old Wichita boy being severely abused months before his body was found encased in concrete in the home where he lived with his mother and her boyfriend were described in court documents backing up the mother's and boyfriend's arrests. The images appear to show the abuse occurred while Evan Brewer's father was frantically trying to get authorities to intervene. Miranda Miller and Stephen Bodine are charged with murder in the death of Miller's son, Evan Brewer. The toddler's paternal grandfather is former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer. Evan had been the subject of a custody battle, and his father contacted the Kansas Department for Children and Families and police with concerns. The new DCF leader wants a thorough review of the agency.

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Report: Black Babies at Higher Risk of Death in Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is raising concerns about the mortality rate for African-American babies. The report found that the overall infant mortality rate of 5.9 per 1,000 live births in 2016 was unchanged from the year before and in line with the national average. But the death rate for African-American babies was 15.2 per 1,000 live births, which was nearly three times higher than the mortality rate for white or Hispanic infants, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. KDHE spokesman Jerry Kratochvil said the agency is unable to explain the disparity, but it is consistent with national patterns. "It's not just a Kansas phenomenon," he said. "But it is something that we identify and that we're working towards reducing and one day eliminating." The report, which covered the five-year period from 2012 through 2016, found that the leading causes of infant death in Kansas were congenital anomalies such as heart disease, Down syndrome and spina bifida. Other leading causes of death included prematurity and low birth weight, accidental death or unexplained causes such as sudden infant death syndrome, and maternal factors such as complications during pregnancy or delivery. The report found a correlation between infant mortality and the social and economic status of the mother. Medicaid was the source of payment for 32.4 percent of live births during the five-year period, but that group accounted for 44.5 percent of the infant deaths. Women who reported that they smoked during pregnancy accounted for only 11.9 percent of all live births, but 21.1 percent of infant deaths.

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Johnson County to Get Bike-Sharing in 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Officials in an eastern Kansas county are embracing the concept of a bike-sharing system. The Kansas City Star reports that the Mid-America Regional Council awarded transportation funding in 2014 to BikeWalkKC to expand bike-sharing into Johnson County. The county hopes to begin installing its own system next spring under the BCycle banner. Residents will be able to grab a rental bike from a nearby station and return it to either the same place or another spot closer to their destination. BCycle already operates on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area, with more than 40 stations serving residents. Johnson County hopes to place a total of 70 bikes in several parks and at the new Arts & Heritage Center. County officials say bike-sharing can be a convenient and cheap transportation option.

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Police: Man Wounded After Firing at Officers During Pursuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A suspect is hospitalized but expected to survive after being shot in the jaw by police in Wichita. Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston says a man shot at officers responding to a disturbance call at a business on Wednesday. Police returned fire. Officers were not struck by gunfire and the man took off in a stolen car. Police say he shot at another officer during the chase and swerved the car at an officer deploying stop sticks. The chase ended with a crash and the suspect was apprehended. He is hospitalized in fair but stable condition. A woman who was with the man is in custody. Police say one officer suffered a hand injury, but it isn't yet clear how. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation.

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Hat Worn by Duchess Made in Kansas

TONGANOXIE, Kan. (AP) — The Christmas Day wardrobe for the Duchess of Cambridge included a touch of Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kate Middleton wore a Vallnord alpaca fur hat from Tonganoxie-based Peruvian Connection on Monday to a Christmas service in Sandringham, England. The company has a store in London, and six in the U.S., including one in Kansas City, Missouri. Peruvian Connection has operated in rural Tonganoxie for more than 40 years.

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Actor Eric Stonestreet Buys Kansas State Band a New Truck

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Actor Eric Stonestreet is helping his alma mater make some noise. KMAN-AM reports that the Kansas State graduate donated a new box truck to the Wildcat marching band to transport equipment just before the band left for the Cactus Bowl in Arizona. Stonestreet plays the character Cameron Tucker on "Modern Family." Stonestreet was behind the wheel when the truck arrived Saturday with a police escort in front of All Faiths Chapel on campus. Stonestreet then told band members that the donation is a "little bit of a selfish act" on his part because it makes him "feel good." Stonestreet graduated from Kansas State in 1996 and regularly returns. Last year he joined the marching band as the Wildcat football team played rival Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown. The Wildcats won.

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Self-Defense Ruling Reversed in Western Kansas Killing

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A former correctional employee who claimed self-defense in a fatal western Kansas shooting might not avoid prosecution after all. Earlier this month, the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed a Barton County judge's ruling that Freddie Alec Thomas couldn't be tried for murder in the death of 39-year-old Jeremy Alan Saldana. The case was sent back to a lower court to resolve unanswered questions. Thomas, a former Ellsworth Correctional Facility officer, was dating Saldana's ex-girlfriend at the time of the 2015 shooting. It happened after Thomas went to visit the woman's daughter and her husband, not knowing that Saldana was living with the couple. An unarmed Saldana was shot during a pushing match. Thomas told a detective he'd heard Saldana was known to carry a weapon and could be violent.

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Wichita May Be Involved in Supersonic Jet Development

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Work on a supersonic business airplane could likely be headed to Wichita's aircraft suppliers. Aerion Corp. Executive Chairman Brian Barents said this week that it's probable some of the parts on the company's $120 million AS2 supersonic business jet will be made by Wichita suppliers. Barents says he fully expects Wichita's aviation industry to play a role in the development of the 12-passenger jet. The Wichita Eagle reports that the AS2 likely will be manufactured by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, which last week announced its agreement with Aerion to work together on a plan to engineer, certify and produce the jet. But Barents says there will be ample opportunity for Wichita suppliers to manufacture parts for the airplane. The jet is expected to make its first flight in 2023.

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KCK Firefighter Found Dead in Bed at Station 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An investigation is under way after a suburban Kansas City firefighter was found dead in his bed at the fire station. The Kansas City Star reports that 46-year-old Jason Garrett had been with the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department for more than five years. He was found dead in his bed Tuesday morning at Fire Station 19. The cause of death is not known but authorities believe Garrett died of natural causes. He was paramedic in addition to being a firefighter.

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$3.1 Million Project to Repair Airport in Johnson County

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Five hangars at Johnson County Executive Airport in suburban Kansas City that were severely damaged by wind in March will be rebuilt at a cost of more than $3 million. The Johnson County Commission has approved a $3.1 million contract with Rothwell Construction to rebuild the T-hangars at the airport in Olathe. Straight-line winds reaching 85 mph hit the airport on the evening of March 6, damaging hangars at the airport that serves corporate, business and general aviation clients. Airport officials hope the work can be completed by September.

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Man Convicted in Drive-By Killing in Topeka Gets Life Term 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Topeka man has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in a fatal drive-by shooting, but he'll be eligible for parole after serving 25 years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports  that Christopher Shawn Pattillo was sentenced Tuesday for the 2016 killing of 20-year-old Brian Miller. Pattillo was convicted of felony first-degree murder in July. Pattillo told the judge that he shouldn't be sentenced to more than 40 years in prison for something that he says he "didn't do." Witnesses at Pattillo's trial said another man charged in the crime, De'Angelo Megle Martinez, was the gunman who fired 14 shots from a van driven by Patillo. Jurors in the trial for Martinez deadlocked in September. A second trial is scheduled for February.

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Kansas Bearded Sinners Group Donates Toys to Pediatric Unit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Members of Kansas's Bearded Sinners Beard Club delivered stuffed animals to children in a hospital's pediatric unit two days before Christmas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas chapter of the national organization had collected donations to give Christmas gifts to three families in Topeka and Emmett. The group received so many toy donations that they arranged to bring several of them to the children at Stormont Vail Hospital on Saturday. Nicholas Hines, the Kansas chapter's vice president, says the Bearded Sinners are brought together by their beards and a shared desire to better their communities. He says members want to give back because they've all been in need of help at some point in their lives.

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Kansas State Caps Football Season with 35-17 Win in Cactus Bowl

PHOENIX, Az. (AP) — Kansas State’s football season ended last night with a 35-17 win over UCLA in the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix. The victory gives the Wildcats back-to-back bowl victories for the first time since 2001.The Wildcats got off a poor start falling behind 17-7 at the half. But K-State came alive in the second half to dominate the Bruins. Alex Delton, playing in his first game since November 4, took over for starter Skylar Thompson at quarterback. Deaton threw for a 68 yard touchdown on his first play. He went to rush for 158 yards and pass for three touchdowns on 20 carries, leading the Wildcats to a season-high 344 rushing yards. The final score moved Kansas State up to an 8-5 record while UCLA fell to 6-7.
 

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