More Severe Weather, Including Possible Tornadoes, Expected in Plains
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says more bad weather is headed for the central U.S. for the remainder of the week, including possible tornadoes. Forecasters say unstable air could allow tornadoes to form in southern Nebraska and northern Kansas in the late afternoon and early evening on Thursday. Very large hail could form, too. There's a bit of a tornado threat through the rest of Kansas and into Oklahoma, too. Texas could see large hail. On Friday, the bad weather shifts southward into Oklahoma and Texas, bringing an end to a stormy week that included tornadoes in parts of the Plains on Monday and Tuesday and flooding in Arkansas and Oklahoma on Tuesday.
Crews Evaluate Damage from Western Kansas Tornadoes
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Crews are evaluating damage after a series of tornadoes that destroyed at least two western Kansas homes and left two people with critical injuries. National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew White says a storm dropped multiple tornadoes during a two-hour span Tuesday night in Ford and Hodgeman counties. Preliminary reports indicate that at least one of the twisters was a half-mile wide. White says crews will conduct a survey Wednesday in the counties to determine how many tornadoes touched down, their strength and how long they were on the ground. He says less damaging tornadoes were reported in two other Kansas counties. Besides damaged homes, White says U.S. 50 was temporarily closed because a tractor-trailer was toppled in the storm. He says a large propane tank also tipped over.
1 Person Drowns in Oklahoma Floodwaters
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person drowned when a vehicle was swept off a road in central Oklahoma. Two others in the vehicle escaped serious injury. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the drowning happened early Wednesday near the small town of Davenport, which is about 50 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The highway patrol says the vehicle was swept into a drainage culvert, and one person was pinned in the floodwaters and drowned. The National Weather Service says 3 to 6 inches of rain fell in parts of Oklahoma, and a flood warning is in effect through Wednesday afternoon.
Top Kansas Lawmaker Leads Protest on Federal LGBT Directive
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Kansas legislator is drafting a letter to federal officials promising resistance to a recent directive on accommodating transgender students in public schools. House Speaker Ray Merrick circulated a copy of the letter Wednesday to fellow House members to give them a chance to sign on. Merrick spokeswoman Rachel Whitten said the Stilwell Republican intends to send it June 2, the day after the ceremony formally adjourning the Legislature's annual session. The letter questions whether President Barack Obama's administration has the authority to require public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities associated with their gender identities. Merrick circulated his letter as 11 other states sued over the directive. LGBT-rights advocate Tom Witt said such resistance will lead to transgender students being bullied.
Judge Gives Kansas a Bit More Time to Register Voters
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to put an order requiring Kansas to add to its federal voter rolls on hold while an appeal of the ruling makes its way through the courts. Thousands of Kansans who did not provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote at motor vehicle offices are waiting to have their voting status clarified. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday instead extended for an additional two weeks a temporary stay of her order. The move gives Secretary of State Kris Kobach more time to register more than 18,000 eligible voters or to submit a motion seeking a stay from an appeals court. Robinson cited the "fair amount of administrative effort" by officials to comply in extending her temporary stay to June 14. The previous deadline was May 31. Kobach has filed a notice of appeal of the preliminary injunction with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Suspended Kansas Sheriff's Detective Charged with Perjury
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A suspended Kansas sheriff's detective has been charged with three counts of felony perjury after an investigation into inconsistencies on investigative reports. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Attorney General's Office filed the charges Tuesday against Shawnee County sheriff's Detective Erin Thompson. The 39-year-old is free on bond. Her lawyer, Tom Lemon, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment. She doesn't have a listed phone number. Sheriff Herman Jones said during a news conference that it was "a sad day" for his office and the community. Thompson was placed on paid administrative leave in September. Jones said that Thompson will remain on paid administrative leave pending completion of a professional standards unit investigation or resolution of her criminal case.
Oklahoma, Kansas-Missouri Planned Parenthood Groups to Merge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri plans to merge with the abortion provider's central Oklahoma affiliate in July. The Kansas and Mid-Missouri affiliate announced the merger Wednesday. President and CEO Laura McQuade has been the central Oklahoma affiliate's interim CEO since January. The new, larger affiliate will be called Planned Parenthood Great Plains. It will continue to operate eight existing clinics in the three states and announced plans to open a new one in July in northwest Oklahoma City. The merger comes with all three states looking to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. But McQuade said those actions against Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with the merger. She said the two affiliates have been in merger talks for a year and no staff will be laid off.
Man Dies After Being Struck in Southern Kansas Hit-and-Run
HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in southern Kansas has died from his injuries. The Wichita Eagle reports that 31-year-old Grant Burris died Monday at a Wichita hospital. His brother, Roger Silva, said Burris was a Marine and a Purple Heart recipient. He suffered back, neck, pelvis and leg injuries when he was hit from behind May 13 while checking the mail at his parent's house near Haysville. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said in a crash report that a 26-year-old man was booked into jail the next day on suspicion of aggravated battery and failure to stop at a crash resulting in great bodily harm. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office plans to present the case to the District Attorney's Office this week.
Kansas Man Re-Sentenced for Killing Wife
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man convicted of killing his wife has been resentenced after the Kansas Supreme Court vacated his sentence. The Salina Journal reports that 41-year-old Davin Sprague will be eligible for parole after 25 years under the sentence imposed Tuesday in Saline County Circuit Court for first-degree-murder. Sprague was sentenced in 2012 to at least 50 years in prison for killing 28-year-old Kandi Sprague by hitting her in the head with a pipe and then strangling her. He buried her on their rural property. In December, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld his sentence but vacated his sentence because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled such sentences are unconstitutional unless a jury finds the existence of aggravated factors. Sprague initially was sentenced by a judge, rather than a jury.
Kansas Woman Accused of Huffing Charged in Fatal Wreck
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman has been charged with huffing gas before a fatal wreck. The Kansas City Star reports that 25-year-old Angeline Shelor, of Olathe, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, reckless driving and abusing toxic vapors. She is jailed in Johnson County on $500,000 bond. The charges are tied to a head-on August crash that killed 77-year-old Lelia Roberts. The wreck left Shelor in critical condition. Defense attorney Paul Morrison didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Man Gets More Than 20 Years in Prison in Kansas Double Slaying
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old man has been ordered to spend more than two decades in prison in the shooting deaths of a man and woman at a Topeka, Kansas, apartment. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Nicholas Storm Phillips of Topeka pleaded guilty in March to two counts of reckless second-degree murder. Phillips also pleaded guilty to a felony count of criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling. Prosecutors say he fired multiple shots through an apartment door last December, killing 20-year-old Daquhan Jackson and 29-year-old Mary Thomas. Phillips told a detective he was upset because the victims were stealing his clothes, which had been thrown into a grassy area after he fought with a girlfriend. As part of his plea agreement, two counts of felony first-degree murder were dismissed.
Another Lawsuit - the 7th - Accuses VA Physician Assistant of Sexual Abuse
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A veteran who served in Iraq is the latest person to file a lawsuit accusing a former physician assistant at a Veteran's Administration hospital in Kansas of sexual abuse. The Kansas City Star reports that the suit filed Monday in federal court is the seventh this year against Mark E. Wisner. He is accused of performing unnecessary and improper genital examinations at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center. The hospital has said it stopped Wisner from seeing patients and began an investigation after the allegations surfaced. Wisner surrendered his medical license last year after at least seven patients accused him of abuse. Criminal charges that include sexual battery are pending in Leavenworth County. Wisner is seeking to have the civil proceedings halted until the criminal case is resolved.
Kansas Man Indicted in $7.9 Million Oil and Gas Fraud Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Hillsboro man has been indicted in connection to what prosecutors say was a $7.9 million oil and gas scheme. Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release that 70-year-old David Lawson was indicted on one count of wire fraud Tuesday. Prosecutors say that while Lawson was the owner and director of Sonstone Trading LLC, he made a deal to sell 90 barrels a day of crude oil to Parnon Gathering Inc. Prosecutors say Lawson did not sell the company crude oil, but instead provided raw gas oil. Raw gas oil is a mixture of various refined petroleum products with a lesser commercial value. It was not immediately clear if Lawson has an attorney. Lawson faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Missouri Woman Accused of Embezzling $1.2M from Garmin
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman already accused of embezzling more than $300,000 from engineering firm Black & Veatch is now charged with stealing $1.2 million while on the job at Garmin International. A federal grand jury in Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday indicted 43-year-old Patricia Webb of Lee's Summit on 23 counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Webb already was charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Black & Veatch while working there as a global payroll manager. The new indictment also accuses her of stealing more than $1.2 million while previously working as a senior payroll specialist for the Olathe, Kansas-based Garmin between early 2012 and May 2014. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with her attorney.
Ex-Credit Union Worker Gets Probation for Embezzlement
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former suburban Kansas City credit union employee has been sentenced to three years of supervised probation for embezzling more than $34,000 she now must repay. Twenty-five-year-old Susan Wooten-Robb was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. That's where she pleaded guilty in January to one count of wire fraud. Authorities say that Wooten-Robb was working at the Community America Credit Union branch in Overland Park in February 2014, when two account holders complained about unauthorized debits from their accounts. Prosecutors say that in one instance, Wooten-Robb tried to cover up an unauthorized debit by filing a false currency transaction report. She claimed the account holders took out the money to assist a family member with paying tuition.
Probe: Missteps Factor in 2 Kansas City Firefighters' Deaths
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City Fire Department investigation attributes the deaths of two firefighters at least partly on the department's culture of aggressive fire suppression. The Kansas City Star reports that an internal report released Tuesday also cites a loose management style as possible factors in the October 2015 deaths of firefighter John Mesh and apparatus operator Larry Leggio. The 71-page report says the firefighters were in an alley to protect a fire engine when a wall collapsed, killing the two. Federal investigators are independently looking into the fire. Thu Hong Nguyen operated a nail salon in the building and is charged with arson and two counts of second-degree murder in the case. She has pleaded not guilty.
2 Face Federal Indictment, Alleging Drug-Related Killing
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Kansas City, Missouri, men are accused in federal court of carrying out a killing as part of a drug-related plot. A federal grand jury in Kansas City returned the indictment Tuesday against 25-year-old Marcell Shavers and 24-year-old James P. Roberts. They are charged with using a firearm to commit murder during a drug-trafficking offense. It's punishable by up to life in prison. The indictment alleges that Shavers and Roberts schemed to possess methamphetamine with plans to deal it on New Year's Day 2014. Shavers, with Roberts' help, allegedly fatally shot 40-year-old Jose Medellin that day during the drug-trafficking plot.
Wichita Eagle Editor Leaving for Charlotte Observer Post
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita Eagle editor Sherry Chisenhall is taking a job as managing editor of the Charlotte Observer. The Wichita newspaper announced the move Wednesday. Chisenhall will leave the newsroom she has spent the last 16 years running on June 3. She worked for the Charlotte Observer for 14 years before taking the Wichita newspaper job. Rick Thames, who was editor at the Eagle from 1997 to 2004, hired Chisenhall to come to Wichita in 2000. Thames is now editor of the Charlotte Observer. Eagle publisher Roy Heatherly says he will immediately begin a national search for a new editor.
Cargill Plans to Keep Several Operations in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Agribusiness giant Cargill says it is keeping several of its operations in Wichita, Kansas, and is searching for a new facility to house them. Cargill corporate vice president Brian Sikes made the announcement Tuesday during a news conference with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and other officials. The company is headquartered just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wichita is home to its beef business and its turkey and cooked meat business, which includes deli meats. Its value-added protein services such as its North American egg business and its food distribution also are located in Wichita. The company had been considering moving the operations to another location, citing workflow issues with having people in multiple buildings. Most of the 900 employees that work in its Wichita-based operations are housed in a 10-story building.
Kansas Teacher Who Used Racial Slur in Class Fired
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A white University of Kansas assistant professor who used a racial slur during a class discussion on race will not have her contract renewed after the next academic year. Andrea Quenette, an assistant professor of communication studies, told The Lawrence Journal-World on Monday that the university told her last week that she wouldn't be re-appointed to her position at the end of the spring 2017 semester. Some graduate students complained about Quenette after she used the racial slur in November, a day after the university held a contentious forum on race and discrimination. A school review concluded in mid-March that Quenette didn't violate the university's nondiscrimination or racial and ethnic harassment policies. A university spokesman wouldn't confirm or deny Quenette's employment situation, saying it is a personnel matter.
U.S. House Rejects Cellphone Tracking Measure
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. House has voted down legislation that would require cellphone carriers to provide call location information to law enforcement in dire situations without a search warrant. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the measure rejected Monday is similar to laws enacted in more than 20 states since the 2007 abduction and murder of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith, of Overland Park, Kansas. Cellphone signals helped lead police to her body in a wooded area of Missouri four days after her abduction from a Target store parking lot. Smith's parents have pointed to a delay in getting their daughter's cellphone provider to cooperate with police. The couple has said they don't believe their daughter's life would have been saved had the information been released quicker, but they say it could help others.