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Headlines for Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Dozens Protest Ferguson Decision at Kansas Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Dozens of protesters gathered outside the state Capitol in Topeka to voice their anger after a Missouri grand jury refused to indict a St. Louis-area police officer for shooting an unarmed 18-year-old. About 50 people holding signs turned up at the state Capitol in Topeka on Tuesday evening for a peaceful rally. The group was protesting in response to the grand jury's decision Monday not to charge Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown on August 9. At the University of Kansas in Lawrence, more than 80 students, faculty and community members also protested the decision.


Ferguson Shooting Galvanizes Wichita Protest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Activists in Wichita say the police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, shows the city's black community needs to become radical again. About 40 people gathered in Wichita Tuesday to draw attention to police shootings in the south-central Kansas community. Rueben Eckels, the deputy director of the Sunflower Community Action, told the crowd the government seems to take action only when people use violence. Elisa Allen says she wants the Wichita officer who shot her mentally ill brother, Icarus Randolph, held accountable. Police contend he threatened officers with a knife in July but the family says police did not follow proper procedure when they called for help getting him to a treatment facility.


Kansas City Police Arrest Ferguson Protesters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A photographer for The Kansas City Star was among several people arrested during a march to protest the Ferguson decision. The Kansas City Star reports that four people had been detained. The arrests happened Tuesday night as about 100 protesters marched through the upscale Country Club Plaza restaurant and shopping district to the Westport bar and entertainment area. The Star reported that marchers encountered police barricades at the Plaza. Police blocked many intersections and attempted to keep the marchers out of the street. The march was one of several Ferguson events in Kansas City. Earlier Tuesday, a crowd of 60 protesters led a short and mostly silent march that ended with speakers calling for an end to racial profiling.


Brownback: 'Everything' on Table to Fix Budget Gap

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he is ``looking at everything'' to fill a projected $279 million budget deficit for this fiscal year, including the possibility of tweaking the state's income tax policy. The Wichita Eagle reports the governor spoke briefly to reporters Tuesday while leaving a meeting of the State Finance Council. He said he wasn't aware before this month's election that the state would hit a budget shortfall this fiscal year, which ends in June. On top of this year's projected deficit, the state faces an estimated $436 million hole for the next fiscal year. The state's nonpartisan Legislative Research Department considers Brownback's income tax policies the primary cause of the state's deficit. The governor didn't say when he would unveil a plan to plug the budget hole.


Overland Park Took Brunt of Sprint's Fall Layoffs

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — More than half of the fall layoffs at Sprint Corporation occurred at the Overland Park headquarters. The Kansas City Star reports that 1,700 jobs were slashed companywide this fall. Among them, 910 jobs were cut in October and November in Overland Park. The disclosure came in reports Sprint made to Kansas officials under a federal labor law that requires public notice of mass layoffs. The notice is intended to give employees time to prepare for the job loss and make plans to find other work or seek additional training. The letter says Sprint is eliminating 458 additional positions at its Overland Park campus. Chief executive officer Marcelo Claure has made cost cutting one of his priorities in taking the helm of Sprint.


Missouri Holiday Travel Launch Basically Smooth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Motorists hit a brief snag after up to an inch of snow fell along a section of eastern Missouri, but other than that and some canceled flights, things were going smoothly on one of the year's busiest travel days. Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Paul Reinsch says at least a half-dozen semitrailers slid off Interstate 70 near Montgomery City on Wednesday morning after a small band of snow came through three counties, but no serious injuries were reported. Reinsch says midday temperatures in the lower 40s melted any lingering snow as the Thanksgiving traffic volume began to increase. International airports in St. Louis and Kansas City both reported some flight cancellations because of a winter storm system moving through the Northeast, but traffic through the airports was brisk nonetheless.


ACLU Revises Gay Marriage Suit to Raise New Claims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has revised its lawsuit over gay marriage in Kansas to raise new claims that the state is refusing to recognize the unions performed in Kansas and other states. Their amended complaint, filed Wednesday, seeks to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages for spousal health insurance benefits, tax filing purposes and driver's license name changes. ACLU attorney Doug Bonney says he is disappointed and accused the state of continuing to play an "obstruction game." The attorney general's office didn't immediately return a phone message. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month blocked Kansas from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriages while the lawsuit proceeds in federal court. Same-sex couples in Kansas have since been marrying in some but not all of the state's 105 counties.


4 Directors to Leave Kansas Insurance Department

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four directors will retire from the Kansas Insurance Department on December 5. The retirements announced Tuesday come as Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger prepares to leave office in January. Department spokesman Bob Hanson says the retirements were all planned. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that directors Marlyn Burch, life division; Neil Woerman, information technology; Steve O'Neil, consumer assistance; and Ted Clark, anti-fraud, will retire. The department has 11 directors. Burch has worked for the department for 53 years, beginning in 1961. O'Neil joined the department in 1987, while Woerman and Clark joined the department in 2003. The department will wait to fill the positions until Ken Selzer becomes commissioner in January.


Suspect in Deadly Assault Charged with Murder

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of raping and setting a Kansas woman on fire has been charged in her death. Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office spokesman Dan Dillon says charges against 26-year-old Cornell McNeal were amended Wednesday to include one count of capital murder or an alternative count of first-degree murder. Thirty-six-year-old Letitia "Tish" Davis died Saturday, a day after McNeal was formally charged with attempted capital murder, rape and arson related to the Nov. 14 attack. The mother of four suffered burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head McNeal is being held on a $1.25 million bond in Sedgwick County. His attorney, Mark Rudy, didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. District Attorney Mark Bennett hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty.


State Settles Lawsuit in Death of Former K-State Player

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback have approved a $225,000 settlement of a lawsuit filed on behalf of a former Kansas State University football player who hung himself at Larned State Hospital. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the estate of Michael Lykins sued in Shawnee County District Court alleging staff at the state hospital didn't do enough to prevent the 43-year-old's death in 2011. The suit was brought by Lykins' college-age children in August 2013 against the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, which has jurisdiction over the hospital. Department spokeswoman Angela de Rocha says the death of Lykins was a tragedy and that all claims against the state have now been settled.


Lawrence Credit Union Manager Sentenced for Theft

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former manager of Jayhawk Federal Credit Union has been sentenced to three years of probation for embezzling from the Lawrence institution. Forty-three-year-old Karolyn J. Stattelman, of Topeka, also was ordered Tuesday to pay more than $173,600 in restitution. Federal prosecutors say Stattelman manipulated credit union accounts for money orders, share drafts, ATM and returned checks in order to conceal the thefts. Teller Christi Marie Hout also was allowed to write checks on her personal and business accounts when she did not have sufficient funds to cover them. Hout pleaded guilty to one count of theft of credit union funds. She is set for sentencing January 7.


Person of Interest in Kansas Homicide Arrested

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a person of interest in a northeast Kansas homicide has been arrested in Connecticut. Shawnee County sheriff's Sergeant Todd Stallbaumer says the 26-year-old man is in the custody of the New Britain Police Department in Connecticut. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that he was identified as a person of interest shortly after Dustin C. McKinney's death earlier this month at a home just north of Topeka. Another suspect also is jailed in the killing.


Foster Dad Pleads Guilty in Hot Car Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A foster dad has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for leaving a 10-month-old girl inside a sweltering car outside of his house while he and his partner smoked marijuana. The Wichita Eagle reports that Seth Jackson entered the plea Wednesday. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says Jackson went to a drug dealer's house July 24 before picking up the girl from a baby sitter. After arriving home, he went inside with a 5-year-old child, but left the baby in the vehicle. It was around 90 degrees outside, and police say the girl was inside the car with the windows up for more than two hours. An autopsy showed she died of hyperthermia due to heat exposure. Sentencing is set for January 30th.


Reward in 10-Year-Old Girl's Death Grows to $7K

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The reward has grown to $7,000 for information leading to an arrest in a drive-by shooting that killed a 10-year-old girl in Kansas City, Kansas. Machole J. Stewart died October 26 while she was inside a home that was sprayed by bullets from a passing vehicle. No one else inside the home was hurt. Her death came a little more than a week after a 6-year-old Angel Marie Hooper was shot to death at a convenience store in Kansas City, Missouri. Two men have been charged in Angel's killing. The Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers says that the reward grew after an anonymous donor offered $5,000 for information.


20-Year-Old Charged with Killing Wichita Couple

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man has been charged with killing a Wichita couple during a robbery. Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office spokesman Dan Dillon says 20-year-old Steven Wade Edwards II was charged Wednesday with capital murder in the deaths of 70-year-old Martha Moreno and her husband, 72-year-old Godofredo Moreno. Prosecutors also filed, as an alternative, two counts of first-degree murder, along with charges of burglary, theft and criminal possession of a weapon by a felon. A 17-year-old suspect previously was charged as a juvenile in the killings. The Morenos' son found their bodies October 16 on a bedroom floor of their home. Edwards is being held on $1 million bond. His attorney, Mark Rudy, declined to comment. Dillon says District Attorney Mark Bennett hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty.


Topeka Man Pleads Guilty in Girlfriend's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man pleaded guilty in the death of the mother of his child at their home. Trevor William Adkins entered the plea Tuesday to intentional second-degree murder of 22-year-old Lacie Atchison. Atchison was originally charged with premeditated first-degree murder after Atchison's body was found at the top of a wheelchair ramp outside their home in September. Officers went to the home when neighbors reported seeing a naked man fighting with another man in the neighborhood. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Adkins also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of battery of a neighbor. As part of the plea, a charge of endangering a child was dismissed. The couple's young daughter was inside the home but was not hurt.


Pittsburg Clears Way for Potential Casino Project

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Pittsburg city commissioners have approved an ordinance annexing 130 acres of land near the city's outskirts at the request of a casino development group that wants access to city services. The Crawford County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Crawford County Commission last week approved similar measures at the request of Southeast Kansas Casino Group. The Joplin Globe reports the developers want to build a casino at the junction of U.S. highways 69 and 400 just southeast of Pittsburg. An attorney representing the landowners and developers says he anticipates the group will submit an application to the state Lottery Commission by the Dec. 19 deadline. Two other groups also have indicated they will apply to build and run a state-owned casino in the southeast part of the state.


American Royal Halts Efforts for Events Center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Citing a lack of interest by the city, the American Royal is halting planning and fundraising for a new events center in Kansas City's West Bottoms area. A letter sent to City Councilman Ed Ford by an attorney for the American Royal said the debate over the future of the iconic Kemper Arena had taken a detrimental turn. The Kansas City Star  reports that council members were considering the American Royals proposal for a $50 million events center to replace the aging arena, but said legally they needed to explore other potential options. Attorney Korb Maxwell wrote that the American Royal doesn't believe the city had to consider other options, and will not respond to a request for proposals seeking good future uses of the property.


Higher Prices, Plentiful Feed Buoy US Ranchers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Record high cattle prices and plentiful feed supplies are making life a lot easier for cattle producers as another winter nears. It has been a good year out in farm country as the long drought eased somewhat with summer rains. Fall crops have been good, and hay prices have come down some Market analyst Kevin Good of CattleFax tracks the industry. He says that for 15 of 17 years, the size of the nation's cattle herd has shrunk. Producers are now rebuilding. He says ranchers aren't "gouging" consumers and that people need to understand that it has been "a long haul" for the cattle producer. Calf prices are running 40 percent higher this year. Prices for fed cattle are up 23 percent, while retail beef prices are up 14 percent.


Man Accused in 4 Killings, Rape Appears in Court

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) - Lawyers have argued whether statements made by a Kansas man accused in the shooting deaths of four people, including an 18-month-old girl, can be used against him in an upcoming murder trial. Kyle Flack has been charged with murder and rape after two men, a woman and her daughter were found slain near Ottawa last year. The 28-year-old, who appeared in court Tuesday, has pleaded not guilty. Franklin County prosecutors are seeking to execute Flack for the deaths of 21-year-old Kaylie Bailey and her daughter, Lana-Leigh Bailey. He faces 50 years in prison without parole in the deaths of Bailey's boyfriend, 30-year-old Andrew Stout, and his 31-year-old roommate, Steven White. It wasn't clear when the judge would rule on motions argued on Tuesday. Flack's next court date is in February.


Governor's Christmas Tree Arrives at Cedar Crest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A horse-drawn coach carrying Santa Claus has delivered the governor's Christmas tree to Cedar Crest. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Governor Sam Brownback and his wife, Mary, were on hand Tuesday morning as the 9-foot Scotch pine arrived. The tree was placed on a stand and taken into a living room inside Cedar Crest, where it will be decorated. Mary Brownback says the tree would be available for visitors to view during holiday open houses at Cedar Crest, which will take place from 1 to 3:30 pm each Monday before Christmas. A second horse-drawn carriage delivered an 8-foot Scotch pine that will be placed in the governor's ceremonial office inside the Statehouse after the Thanksgiving holiday. About 25 people showed up to watch the festivities.


Arizona Beats Kansas State 72-68 in Maui

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — No. 3 Arizona won its first close game of the season with a victory over Kansas State 72-68 Tuesday in the Maui Invitational semifinals. Trailing by nine in the second half, Kansas State (3-2) whittled the lead down to a single possession in the final minute but Arizona (5-0) held on to defeat the K-State Wildcats.


Chiefs' Charles Dedicates Game to Drowning Victims

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is dedicating Sunday night's game against Denver to two teenagers who drowned in a Missouri farm pond over the weekend. Charles met one of the boys, Andre Lance, a few years ago at training camp and remembered taking a photo with him. The 17-year-old Lance and his high school classmate, Tyler Brandt, were found in the ice-covered farm pond Sunday night near Savannah in northwest Missouri. Charles said that he learned of the drowning through social media. The Chiefs were already playing with heavy hearts after learning safety Eric Berry has a mass in his chest that could be lymphoma. Berry was still undergoing tests Wednesday but will miss the remainder of the season.


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