UPDATE: Brownback’s Confirmation Hearing for Ambassador Post Begins
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sam Brownback is defending his decision as Kansas governor to scrap an order that barred discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Brownback is in line to be ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The Republican was testifying on Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A 2007 executive order applied to hiring and employment decisions by agencies under the Kansas governor's direct control. Brownback says the Democratic governor at that time, Kathleen Sebelius, acted unilaterally on an issue that state lawmakers should have resolved. LGBT-rights groups have decried Brownback's nomination because of his conservative views on issues such as same-sex marriage. The former senator has made Kansas an economic laboratory for the nation by aggressively cutting taxes.
WASHINGTON (KNS)_ Governor Sam Brownback is taking questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today (WED) as the confirmation hearing begins for Brownback to become ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. President Trump nominated Brownback to the post to promote religious tolerance as part of U.S. foreign policy. Brownback will likely face questions about his commitment to protecting religious beliefs outside of Judeo/Christian tradition. Brownback may also encounter questions about a secretive trip to Israel he took a month ago. The trip was arranged and attended by an Overland Park businesswoman and lobbyist. Brownback’s wife and daughter went along. The state commerce department describes it as a normal trade mission, but the governor’s press office only acknowledged the 32-thousand dollar trip, after the Hutchinson News filed a Freedom of Information Act Request seeking details about it.
Kansas City Area Could See Month's Worth of Rain in Days
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Several bouts of thunderstorms will likely come to the Kansas City area and bring possible flooding by the end of the week. The Kansas City Star reports that storms over the next few days are likely to bring between 2 and 4 inches of rain. Some areas could see higher rainfall totals. The storms are expected to last through Friday night. The National Weather Service says the rainfall could cause flash flooding in some areas as well as flooding along some rivers, creeks and streams.
Kansas Leadership Center CEO Launching Campaign for Governor
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas lawmaker who helped establish a non-profit leadership center is running for the Republican nomination for governor next year. Former state Representative Ed O'Malley announced Wednesday that he will launch his campaign with a seven-city tour. The first stop is in Kansas City, Kansas. O'Malley has been president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita for 10 years. He represented a Johnson County district in the House from 2003 through 2006. He is the 10th announced Republican candidate. The GOP field includes Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer. Republican Governor Sam Brownback is term-limited and has been nominated for an ambassador's post by President Donald Trump. His departure would elevate Colyer to governor.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation Sees Agent Shortage
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies are facing a sharp increase in violent crimes in Kansas, as the state Bureau of Investigation deals with a shortage of agents to support local departments. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the bureau provided data Tuesday on violent-crime rates to the Joint Committee on Kansas Security. The statistics show that the number of reported killings statewide increased by more than 46 percent between 2014 and 2016, the highest level since 2000. The overall violent crime rate climbed more than 15 percent, with increases in rape, robbery and aggravated assault. A bureau official says the number of investigators has dwindled since 2009, leaving agents overwhelmed and forcing the department to shell out more overtime pay to meet demands. Republican Representative Kevin Jones says the bureau needs more resources.
Family of Man Killed by Topeka Police Wants Answers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker is calling for more communication after Topeka police fatally shot a man during what authorities have described as a struggle. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Democratic Representative John Alcala, of Topeka, says the city needs to "have a little empathy" and provide a liaison to the family of Dominique Tyrell White. The 30-year-old was fatally shot Thursday near a park. Police say his gun was recovered. White was months out of prison after being prosecuted for burglary and illegal gun possession. Family spokeswoman Heather Joyce says police in Topeka and Lawrence, which is investigating, aren't providing any information. Police also have denied requests from The Capital-Journal seeking the identity of officers involved and other records. Lawrence police say there's no information to provide while conducting their investigation.
University of Kansas Police Investigate Shell Casings
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas police are investigating after about 20 used shell casings were found outside the university's administrative building. Police say they have found no evidence that a weapon was shot anywhere near Strong Hall before the cases were found Tuesday in bushes. The Lawrence Journal-World reports police believe the person or people who left the shell casings were trying to make a statement but they didn't elaborate on what type of statement. A Kansas law that took effect in July required state universities to allow concealed guns on their campuses. There has been strong opposition to the law on many of the universities' campuses.
Kansas Man Admits Role in $4 Million Meth Distribution Ring
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas City, Kansas, man who called himself rapper C-Los El Gran was sentenced to 14 years in prison for participating in a $4 million drug trafficking ring. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says 30-year-old Carl Sierra pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. As part of his plea, he admitted being a member of a drug trafficking conspiracy led by his half-brother, Edwin Pacheco. Authorities say they distributed methamphetamine throughout the Kansas City area. Investigators used confidential informants and electronic surveillance to monitor Sierra's conversations with Pacheco, during which they discussed the drug distribution.
Catholic Bishop from Salina Appointed Head of Diocese in Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A bishop from Kansas is the new head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson. The Vatican on Tuesday announced that Bishop Edward Joseph Weisenburger will succeed retiring Bishop Gerald Kicanas. Kicanas submitted his letter of retirement last summer as required for all bishops after they reach age 75. Weisenburger has served as bishop in the Diocese of Salina since 2012. He is scheduled to be installed as Tucson's seventh bishop on November 29. Weisenburger was ordained to the priesthood in 1987.
Second Person Dies from Injuries After Central Kansas Crash
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a second victim has died from injuries sustained in a Kansas crash. The Barton County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that 75-year-old Phillip Manka died Monday. The Hutchinson News reports that 48-year-old David Manka was pronounced dead at the scene of Friday's head-on crash. Both were from Pawnee Rock. A news release says Phillip Manka was driving a pickup truck that may have crossed the center line. The driver of the car that was hit was critically injured and said he swerved to avoid a wreck. Both vehicles appeared to be over the center lines when they collided. Deputies are investigating whether Phillip Manka had medical issues while driving. David Manka was a passenger in the truck, along with another man who was treated at a hospital and released.
Man Pleads Guilty in Downtown Topeka Baseball Bat Killing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a man has pleaded guilty to a baseball bat killing in a downtown Topeka apartment. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 37-year-old Arthur Lee Ford IV pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of intentional second-degree murder in the December killing of 52-year-old Mark Everett Johnson. Ford initially was charged with felony first-degree murder. He also admitted to aggravated burglary. The prosecution says Ford entered Johnson's apartment, stole his bank card and his identification, and killed the victim. The coroner testified previously that Johnson died from blunt force injuries to his head. He also was stabbed three times. An ATM security camera showed Ford using the victim's bank debit card after his slaying. Sentencing is set for November 30. He faces more than two decades in prison.
Wichita to Require Signs Warning of Dangerous Dogs
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An increase in dog bite reports has prompted Wichita officials to add a provision to the city's animal control ordinance requiring owners of dangerous dogs to have warning signs on their homes. Police Captain Michael Allred runs the Wichita Animal Control Department. He tells The Wichita Eagle that a dog could be deemed potentially dangerous if it bites someone and leaves a mark, or if it kills a domestic animal. The changes also lower the standards for what qualifies as a dangerous dog. Previously, a dog was deemed dangerous if it bit someone and significant injury. The city had more than 1,080 dog-bite reports in 2016, up from less than 1,000 in 2015. Allred says animal control officers won't classify low-risk canines as potentially dangerous.
Missouri Man Charged with Stabbing Grandson After Doughnut Argument
RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri man has been charged with stabbing his 12-year-old grandson in the arm after an argument over a doughnut. Sixty-seven-year-old Jose Ortega was charged Tuesday with first-degree domestic assault and armed criminal action in the Kansas City suburb of Raytown. Bond is set at $50,000. Ortega told police the boy was disrespectful and that he "snapped" early Tuesday when the boy refused to give him a doughnut. The bleeding boy then ran to get help at a neighbor's house. Hospital staff told police the blade went completely through the boy's forearm, creating a 4-inch long wound. Court records say police found what appeared to be blood on a knife with a 10-inch blade outside the victim's home.
Police: Fatal Shooting of 2 Topeka Brothers Was Murder-Suicide
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a shooting that left two brothers dead was a murder-suicide. The shooting occurred Thursday in a wooded area near the Kansas River. The dead were identified as 29-year-old Shawn Paul Jacobs and 36-year-old Robert Raymond Jacobs Jr., both of Topeka. Police spokeswoman Amy McCarter said in a news release the brothers were fishing when both of their vehicles became stuck in mud. A friend who came to help them also got his vehicle stuck in mud. As the men were trying to get the vehicles free, the brothers began arguing. McCarter says at some point, Shawn shot Robert and then shot himself.
1 Killed, 1 in Critical Condition After Topeka Shooting
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person has been killed and another is in critical condition after a Topeka shooting. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the shooting happened around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Westview Apartments. A statement from police identified the person who died as 30-year-old Joshua Jernagin, of Topeka. The injured person was a woman. Tuesday's shooting death was the 24th homicide in Topeka so far this year. The high of 28 was set in 1994 and tied a year ago in 2016.
Missouri Group Considers KC-to-St. Louis Hyperloop Transportation Route
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri has re-emerged as a potential location for a Hyperloop track despite not earning a spot last month in a top 10 list of possible future routes for the mode of transportation. The Kansas City Star reports that Hyperloop technology comprises a tubular track through which a train-like pod carrying passengers or cargo travels at high speeds. Hyperloop One is a company working to commercialize Hyperloop transportation. The company and the Missouri Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that a public-private coalition has formed to reconsider a route in Missouri. The coalition aims to conduct a feasibility study of a route linking Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis along the Interstate 70 corridor. Hyperloop One estimates a route from Kansas City to St. Louis would take 31 minutes to traverse.
Wichita Man Pleads Not Guilty in Tax Office Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The man accused of walking into a tax office in Wichita and shooting a state tax agent has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree murder. Fifty-two-year-old Ricky Wirths waived his right to a preliminary hearing and entered the plea Tuesday. Investigators say Wirths went to the Kansas Department of Revenue office September 19 and shot Cortney Holloway several times. Wirths, of Wichita, owed nearly $400,000 in outstanding tax warrants and Holloway was working on the case. The day of the shooting, agents had gone to Wirths's home to seize assets. Earlier Tuesday, Holloway's family issued a statement urging prosecutors not to allow Wirths to plead to a lesser charge, saying he should spend the rest of his life in prison. His trial was set for November 13.
4 Life Sentences in Fatal Shooting That Injured 10-Year-Old
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 30-year-old man was sentenced to four life sentences without parole for a shooting that killed a Kansas City man and paralyzed a 10-year-old boy. Jackson County authorities say Dontae Jefferson was sentenced Wednesday for first-degree murder and other charges in the 2014 shooting at a gas station. The shooting killed Ka'Vyea Curry and struck his son, Ka'Vyea Tyson-Curry, in the spine. An unrelated 5-year-old in the car wasn't harmed. The Kansas City Star reports video shows Curry, his son and the other boy buying candy and juice before returning to the car. Prosecutors say Jefferson shot Curry as he got into his car. In September, Jefferson was charged with rape, burglary and two counts of sexual abuse in an August attack inside the Jackson County Detention Center.
Charge Upgraded After Kansas Bicyclist Dies from Injuries
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A driver accused of intentionally hitting a Kansas bicyclist last month and fleeing faces an upgraded charge of first-degree premeditated murder after the victim died. Reno County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Davidson says 19-year-old Taylor Keenan Lukone made his first appearance Tuesday on the new charge. Lukone initially was charged with attempted first-degree murder, but the charge was amended after 51-year-old Jose Lopez died over the weekend. Davidson says he couldn't comment on the motive. The Hutchinson News reports that Lukone's vehicle had front end damage. An affidavit read in court last week said that Lukone initially told officers that his car had been stolen. But he later told investigators he intentionally "sped up" and ran Lopez down.
Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Denounces Player's Profanity Directed at Fans
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid denounced cornerback Marcus Peters's direction of profanities at fans during Monday night's game against Washington, saying "we can't go in that direction." Reid says the situation, which was caught on camera, has "been addressed." But he declined to say Wednesday what kind of punishment, if any, was meted out and refused to take questions. Peters was burned for a pair of touchdowns by the Redskins during the Chiefs' 29-20 victory. After the game, he spoke for about 50 seconds in another profanity-filled exchange with reporters. He called his performance "hella week" before saying he was going to "go get loaded" and leaving the locker room. Peters drew the ire of some fans for sitting during the national anthem again. He stood for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.