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Headlines for Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Kansas Senate's Top Republican Running for U.S. Senate Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle has launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate.  The Wichita Republican and 65-year-old lawmaker filed paperwork Tuesday evening with the Federal Election Commission forming a campaign committee. She is seeking the GOP nomination for the seat held by four-term GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. He is not seeking re-election in 2020.  Wagle has served in the Legislature since 1991 and has been the Kansas Senate's top leader since 2013. She's emerged as a vocal opponent of new Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and helped thwart Kelly's push for Medicaid expansion.  Wagle launched her campaign the same month as former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The race already is crowded, with as many as 19 candidates considering it. Wagle is the only GOP woman running.

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Sprint Sells Campus for Well Below Market Value

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Wireless carrier Sprint has sold its massive suburban Kansas City campus for well below its appraised value under a deal that allows it to lease back office space at a rate well below market value.  Investment research firm Moody's released research on the $250.9 million deal just ahead of the Justice Department's final determination of whether Sprint's $26.5 billion merger with T-Mobile presents any antitrust concerns. Sprint and T-Mobile have said the combined company will keep a secondary headquarters on the campus, with its main operations in suburban Seattle.  The report provides the most detailed information so far on the recently completed sale of the 190-acre campus, which was built between 1998 and 2001 at a cost of about $700 million. Local government officials have appraised it at $342.5 million.

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Full-Scale Emergency Exercise Underway at Fort Riley

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KPR) — Fort Riley officials say a full-scale exercise is underway today (WED) at the northeast Kansas army base.  During the day, residents, employees and community members should be aware there may be an increase in emergency response vehicle activity and loudspeaker announcements.  Additionally, certain roads on the army base will be temporarily closed and traffic could be rerouted due to exercise activity. Drivers are asked to be patient and allow extra time when traveling on post.  The exercise is a way to test and improve installation emergency preparedness. The annual exercise involves Fort Riley soldiers, civilian personnel and community partners and helps test, synchronize and evaluate emergency response processes and procedures.

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KBI Opens 74 Clergy Abuse Investigations in 33 Kansas Counties

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says agents have opened 74 investigations in 33 counties into alleged sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.  The KBI said it initiated the investigations after it received 119 reports from people who said they were victims of abuse. The agency announced in February that it had appointed a task force of six agents to begin reviewing allegations of abuse by Catholic clergy.  The KBI's brief update Tuesday did not provide details about the investigations, and KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said no arrests have been made yet.  The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, and the Diocese of Salina reported earlier this year that they had substantiated credible allegations of abuse against 50 clergy dating back as far as 1907.  The KBI's brief update, released today (TUE), did not provide details about the investigations, and KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said no arrests have been made yet.  

The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, and the Diocese of Salina reported earlier this year that they had substantiated credible allegations of abuse against 50 clergy dating back as far as 1907.  The Dodge City Diocese previously published the names of four priests against whom the Diocesan Review Board had received complaints that were substantiated.  Those priests were John Haberthier, Donald Straub, Orestes Huerta, and Mario Islas. None of these priests were engaged in ministry at the time the complaints were received by the Diocesan Review Board.  

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Ex-Prison Worker's Defense: Alleged Touching Not Consensual

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A fired Kansas prison dental instructor accused of sexual misconduct claims the charges aren't valid because state law cites consensual touching and he is accused of nonconsensual touching. Tomas Co is charged with five felony counts of unlawful sexual relations. The crime is defined as "engaging in consensual sexual intercourse, lewd fondling or touching or sodomy'' between a corrections employee and an offender.   The Kansas City Star reports that Co's attorney, Christopher Joseph, argues in a brief that the charges don't fit the statute's definition because witnesses testified that the incidents weren't consensual. Joseph adds that he believed that Co would be acquitted at trial regardless of the charge filed. The Shawnee County District Attorney's Office disagreed with the defense's interpretation of the law, saying it "would lead to an absurd result.'' 

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Questions Raised over Arrest of Mexican National in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri congressman is questioning why immigration officials broke a car window and pulled a Mexican national out of his car while his girlfriend and their children were in the back seat.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Shawn Neudauer say the officers' actions were justified during the arrest of Florencio Millan in Kansas City on Monday. Millan re-entered the U.S. illegally after being deported in 2011.  Millan's girlfriend, Cheyenne Hoyt, posted a video to Facebook showing the couple asking for a warrant before Millan will agree to leave the car.  After about 30 minutes, an ICE officer breaks the window and others help drag Millan out.  Missouri Democratic Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver said on Twitter he's concerned about the use of force and trauma to the children.

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Attorney: 14-Year-Old Boy Legally Justified in Killing Drunk Mom

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney says a boy who was 14 when he shot and killed his drunken mother at a mansion near Wichita was legally defending himself and his then-12-year-old brother.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the defense is seeking the dismissal of a voluntary manslaughter charge in the June 2018 shooting. Attorney Dan Monnat says the older boy "acted bravely and legally" when he shot his mother after she attacked his younger brother. No one else was present. The woman's husband had recently filed for divorce.  Monnat described the death as "another instance of the rampant disease of adult alcohol abuse leading to tragic results."  The Associated Press isn't naming the mother so as not to identify the teen because the case is being handled in juvenile court.

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Pharmacist Convicted in Opioid Prescription Conspiracy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A jury has convicted a Wichita-area pharmacist of illegally filling thousands of prescriptions for opioids to patients of a doctor who is serving a life sentence in the scheme.  Federal prosecutors say 46-year-old Ebube Otuonye, of Bel Aire, was convicted Tuesday of two conspiracy counts and two counts of health care fraud.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Otuonye filled the prescriptions at Neighborhood Pharmacy in Wichita for patients of Dr. Steven Henson, who was convicted in October of unlawful distribution of prescription drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison in March after one of his patients died from an overdose.  McAllistern said Otuony filled prescriptions for more than 21,600 tablets of oxycodone, more than 48,600 tablets of methadone, more than 18,000 tablets of hydromorphone and more than 7,800 tablets of alprazolam.

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Man Pleads Guilty in Girlfriend's Beating Death in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who was angry about his girlfriend's methamphetamine use has pleaded guilty to beating her to death in a Topeka apartment.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 35-year-old Luke Anthony Wabaunsee pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the October 2018 killing of 42-year-old Michelle Stadler. He initially was charged with premeditated first-degree murder.  A detective testified at the preliminary hearing that Wabaunsee's DNA was found on the handle of a bloody glass mug recovered from Stadler's apartment.  Her neighbor, Shawn Cunningham, testified that Wabaunsee wanted her to quit using meth. Another neighbor, Marcia Paden, said she heard a man's voice say he "wasn't going to take it anymore."  He sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 3. He faces 12 to 54 years in prison.

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Authorities Identify Body Pulled from Missouri River

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Atchison police say a body recovered from the Missouri River during the weekend was that of a 53-year-old St. Joseph man. Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson said in a news release Wednesday Donald Spradling's body was found in the river Sunday near Atchison. The St. Joseph News-Press reports Spradling had lived in St. Joseph for two years and had recently been living at a campsite along the river. Wilson said Spradling also frequented an emergency shelter in St. Joseph. The chief said acquaintances said they last saw Spradling last week near his campsite. A pathologist has ruled the preliminary cause of death as drowning.

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Midwest Wildlife Officials Discuss Chronic Wasting Disease

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Midwest wildlife officials gathered Wednesday to discuss how they might better combat chronic wasting disease, which has been spreading among the region's deer herds. Among those at the two-day conference in Madison were wildlife officials from Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and two Native American tribes — the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Forest County Potawatomi.  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole kicked off the meeting by imploring the attendees to collaborate with one another.  "We've all been working trying to stop it on our own. That has to change," Cole said. "It is our region that is at stake. We have a great opportunity to show the public at large that we are on it."  He told reporters that the conference is "unprecedented" and that states need to make sure they're not spending money on the same research.  The agenda calls for group discussions on the state of research on the disease, the creation of a common platform for interstate communication on it and the best management practices.  State conservation officials from Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin were slated to make presentations on Wednesday.

The group is expected to conclude the conference on Thursday by making recommendations on how to improve regional management of the disease, which attacks the brains of deer and causes the animals to grow thin, act abnormally and eventually die. The disease threatens the deer hunting industry throughout the Midwest.  The disease had been found in at least 24 states in the continental U.S. as well as two Canadian provinces as of early June, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's also been reported in reindeer and moose in Norway, Finland and Sweden.  The disease was first detected in Wisconsin in 2002. Infections have since been detected in 35 of the state's 72 counties.

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Kansas City Suburb Accepts School Supplies for Parking Fines

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City suburb is allowing people to pay their parking fines with school supplies.  KMBC-TV reports that the city of Olathe, Kansas, is offering the option through Aug. 16. Items that are being sought include No. 2 pencils, 1 and 3-inch three-ring binders and single-subject spiral notebooks. People who want to take advantage of the offer can bring in the supplies and a receipt.  City officials say the offer isn't valid for commercial parking violations and only up to $50 in school supplies can be donated per person.

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Panel of National Leaders Aims for Bipartisan Justice Reform

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A new criminal justice reform group brings together Democratic and Republican governors, a Black Lives Matter organizer and a Koch Industries vice president in an unlikely collaboration aimed at harnessing momentum following a bipartisan overhaul last year.  The 25 trustees of the Council on Criminal Justice that launches Tuesday include California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who left office in January, and Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel for the Kansas-based energy conglomerate of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who advocate for conservative causes.  The group is an outgrowth of the federal First Steps Act, a major criminal justice overhaul that won bipartisan support in Congress and was signed by President Donald Trump.  The council's goal is to make recommendations that can win bipartisan support.

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KU Football Recruit Jayden Russell "Exploring Different Options"

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — One-time Kansas football signee Jayden Russell says he has been granted a release from his letter of intent and is "exploring different options."  The 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound defensive back made the announcement Tuesday night on Twitter. He explained that Kansas told him that there was a possible chance that his score on the ACT college entrance exam could get flagged because of a 10-point jump between the second and third time he took it. If he arrived during the flagging process, he would have to leave and potentially give back everything he received.  He says the school wanted him to report in January. But he didn't want to wait and decided to look for options to compete this fall.  As a senior, Russell helped lead St. Thomas Aquinas in Overland Park to its first state football title.

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