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Headlines for Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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

Orman Files Paperwork for Independent Run for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Olathe businessman Greg Orman has appointed a treasurer for an independent campaign for Kansas governor next year. Orman filed the paperwork this (WED) morning, allowing him to legally accept campaign contributions. He also must collect the signatures of 5,000 registered voters before the August primary to get on the November general election ballot. Orman received national attention in 2014 for running as an independent for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts. Orman received 43 percent of the vote after the Democratic nominee withdrew. He is the 20th candidate to emerge to replace term-limited Republican Governor Sam Brownback. GOP candidates include Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer. Democrats include Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward, ex-state Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.

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Awkward Situation Causes Confusion at Kansas Statehouse  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Sam Brownback remains the governor  of Kansas while he awaits U.S. Senate confirmation to take an ambassador post in the administration of President Donald Trump. But he has allowed fellow Republican Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer to make major decisions for the administration, leading to an awkward situation in running the state. Colyer is now overseeing the drafting of budget proposals that will be submitted to lawmakers in January. Brownback has delegated two Cabinet appointments his successor. Colyer was headlining a significant announcement Wednesday in Wichita involving aircraft manufacturer Spirit Aerosystems, while Brownback was lighting the Statehouse Christmas tree. Some legislators said they don't know which one of them to approach about important issues.

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Spirit AeroSystems Announces $1B Expansion, 1,000 New Jobs
   
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit AeroSystems plans a $1 billion expansion of its manufacturing facility in Kansas and the addition of 1,000 new jobs. The project announced Wednesday includes capital investments at its Wichita plant site over the next five years. Spirit Chief Executive Officer Tom Gentile says the company's growth is fueled by higher production rates on existing commercial aircraft as well as the increase in its fabrication and defense business. Plans call for hiring 800 new employees by the end of 2018 and 200 more the following year for jobs. The hourly jobs are estimated to pay around $56,000 annually. The company anticipates to be hiring sheet metal workers, mechanics, composite technicians and machine operators. The project is the culmination of economic development deal involving city, county and state officials.

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Topeka Limits Sale of Tobacco Products to Those 21 and Older

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka officials have voted to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21. The ban approved Tuesday by the city's governing board includes prohibitions against selling cigarettes and other tobacco-related products, including electronic cigarettes, to anyone under 21. Previously, the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Topeka was 18. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports those who voted for the measure cited health concerns and said a majority of people supported the decision. The two council members who voted against the proposal said they don't approve of smoking but wanted to protect personal liberties. The Shawnee County commissioners in August approved a nearly identical measure covering the county's unincorporated areas.

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Judge Removes Contempt Order Against Larned State Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A Wyandotte County judge has removed a contempt of court order against Larned State Hospital over records involving a man charged with the murder of a Kansas police officer. Wyandotte County District Judge Wes Griffin issued the order after saying the hospital had not responded to repeated record requests on Jamaal Lewis. Lewis is charged with capital murder in the July 2016 shooting death of Kansas City, Kansas, Police Captain Robert Melton. The Kansas City Star reports the contempt order was removed Tuesday after officials said the requested records had been supplied. Griffin says mental health experts for the prosecution and defense needed the records to determine if Lewis was competent to stand trial.  A representative from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services disputes the Star's report and says the hospital turned over all of the records related to the case immediately upon receiving the judge's order.
   
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2 People Charged with Murder in Young Wichita Boy's Death 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two people are charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 3-year-old Kansas boy whose body was discovered encased in concrete. The remains of Evan C. Brewer were discovered Sept. 2 inside a Wichita house where his mother once lived. The boy's mother, Miranda Miller, and her boyfriend, Stephen Bodine, were charged Tuesday in his death. Bodine and Miller lived at the home where the boy's body was found. The child had been the subject of a custody battle for months. A landlord cleaning out the home alerted police after finding a suspicious concrete structure emitting an odor. The boy is the grandson of former Wichita mayor and current gubernatorial candidate Carl Brewer. Miller and Bodine are each being held on $500,000 bail.

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Wichita Police to Resume Special Teams Against Violent Crime

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — After a recent spike in homicides, Wichita police will bring back special teams to target problem areas. The Wichita Eagle reports the department used the team concept in a pilot project from May to August. The teams made 375 arrests. Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay announced that the department wants to use the teams in the long term because of the past success. The teams will start work January 1. The first 10-officer team will work on drug complaints in residential neighborhoods and respond to violent crimes throughout the city. The second team of 12 officers will work on investigations of known violent offenders, focusing on street gangs and responding to violent crimes. A third, 16-person team will work with community policing teams.

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'Suspicious Packages' Shut Down Interstate 70 for 4 Hours

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say two people were taken into custody after suspicious devices prompted the closure of a section of Interstate 70 for four hours. Police Lieutenant Chris Heaven says officers noticed the suspicious packages in the cab of a vehicle they stopped for several traffic violations early Tuesday in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports investigators eventually determined the packages were blasting packs used for large homemade rockets. Heaven says the packs look similar to sticks of dynamite. The discovery prompted the shutdown of east- and westbound traffic on Interstate 70 four about four miles in downtown and west-central Topeka. The interstate was reopened by 6:30 a.m. Heaven says the driver and a passenger were taken into custody on drug and weapons charges.

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Autopsy Finds Wichita Woman Was Beaten to Death with Shovel 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Court records indicate a 42-year-old woman who was killed in Wichita in November apparently was beaten to death with a shovel. Perla Rodriguez, outreach director for the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, was found dead in her home November 14. Her boyfriend, 37-year-old Travis Becker Jr., has been charged with first-degree murder. KAKE reports that a probable cause affidavit states when Wichita officers forced their way into Rodriguez's home, they found her with several traumatic injuries to her head and throat. They also found a wooden handle shovel inside the bedroom, with the shovel blade covered in blood and hair. Becker was arrested at his sister's home in Olathe. He remains jailed on $250,000 bond.

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Man Who Ran to Barber Shop After Bank Robbery Pleads Guilty 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities say a man who rushed to get a haircut after holding up a bank has pleaded guilty to bank robbery. Prosecutors say 34-year-old Joshua Aaron Hoover pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking $5,800 from the Arvest Bank in February. Court records show Hoover fled to a nearby barbershop. The barber told authorities Hoover was out of breath and said he ran there from work to get a haircut during his lunch hour. The barber shaved off most of Hoover's beard and hair. Hoover bought a hat and changed his clothes at the barbershop. Hoover was arrested at the Ameristar Casino while he was preparing to enter a poker tournament. He said he wanted to use the bank money at the casino so the serial numbers couldn't be traced.

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Parent Company Exploring Sale of EaglePicher Technologies

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — The parent company of EaglePicher Technologies is planning to sell the longtime Joplin employer but no deal is imminent. Penny Gibson, vice president of human resources at EaglePicher, said St. Louis-based VECTRA has told employees that the process of selling the company is in the early stages. The Joplin Globe reports Gibson said EaglePicher doesn't expect any sale to have an impact on the company's presence or workforce in the area. EaglePicher has several locations in Joplin and one in Pittsburg, Kansas.

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$73K Courthouse Gun Locker in South Central Kansas Sees Little Use

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A county commissioner is questioning the light usage of a $73,000 gun locker at a courthouse in south-central Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that the gun locker's usage was reported at a Sedgwick County staff meeting this week under questioning from County Commission Chairman David Unruh. He was the only commissioner who voted against the gun locker when it was approved in March. County officials say the locker has been used 62 times in the last six months, primarily by a pair of lawyers who regularly check their weapons when they go to court. Unruh says the locker is unnecessary and a waste of money. Commissioner Jim Howell says the gun locker is a matter of principle because "people have a right ... to protect themselves."

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Missouri Couple Charged in Deadly Kansas City Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A couple has been charged in a deadly shooting last month in Kansas City. Twenty-four-year-old Caitlyn Riffle, of Independence, and 29-year-old Patrick Powell, of Greenwood, were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killing of 52-year-old Rodney Thurber, of Independence. No attorneys are listed for them in online court records. Court records say witnesses told police a woman visited Thurber at an apartment to retrieve a handgun he had been holding for her. The records say a man identifying himself as the woman's boyfriend then entered the apartment and shot Thurber. Investigators used video from the scene and surrounding area, cell phone records and a gun trace to track down Powell. He and Riffle were arrested Monday. Bond is set at $500,000 each.

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Assault Charge Against Former KU Football Player Dropped 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Prosecutors have dropped an assault charge against a former University of Kansas football player accused of threatening his girlfriend with a gun. The charge against 20-year-old Maciah Long was dropped Tuesday after he agreed to plead no contest to marijuana possession. Long was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to complete an anger management program. Long was arrested in August after his then-girlfriend reported he threatened her with a gun during an argument. Prosecutors say the woman has moved out of state and didn't want to participate in prosecuting the case. Long was dismissed from the team the day after he was arrested. The native of Houston, Texas, played linebacker and tight end for the Jayhawks in 2016.  

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Teen Sentenced in Killing Outside Topeka Restaurant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - One of three people charged in a fatal shooting outside a fast food restaurant in Topeka has been sentenced. 17-year-old Shayden Byrd was sentenced Tuesday for first-degree murder and two other charges in the death of 18-year-old Justice Mitchell. Mitchell was found suffering from two gunshot wounds June 26 in the parking lot of a Church's Chicken. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Police say another suspect is accused of shooting Mitchell during a botched effort to rob him of drugs and cash. Byrd is accused of plotting the robbery with the suspected gunman. Byrd was 16 years old at the time of the shooting and charged as a juvenile. He was sentenced to 60 months plus six months of aftercare.
 

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