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Headlines for Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Gay Marriage Licenses Allowed in Johnson County Kansas 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A judge in northeast Kansas has ordered a county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following actions earlier this week by the U.S. Supreme Court. Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty issued the order Wednesday. He says it was meant to avoid confusion about the legal climate surrounding gay marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans on gay marriage. One of them was Utah, which is in the same federal appeals court circuit as Kansas. The Kansas Constitution has banned gay marriage since 2005.


Brownback: Kansas Should Defend Gay Marriage Ban

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Republican Governor Sam Brownback says Kansas should defend the state constitution's ban on gay marriage in court because the people have spoken on the issue. A spokesman for Brownback's Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, said Tuesday that Davis is focused on issues that unite Kansas residents, including education and the economy. Kansas voters approved the gay marriage ban in 2005. But the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals from five states seeking to retain their gay-marriage bans. One of them was Utah, which is in the same federal appeals court circuit as Kansas. The governor has publicly declared his support for the gay marriage ban. As a Kansas House member, Davis opposed putting the ban on the ballot.


Kansas Women Seek License but Already Feel Married

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Two women who are seeking the first same-sex marriage license in the most populous county in Kansas say they already feel married because they've been together nine years. Angela and Jennifer Schaefer, of Gardner, went to the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe on Wednesday to sign up for a marriage license. They did so shortly after Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered court clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples. They were the only couple to do so. The couple has a 9-month-old son. Angela Schaefer is 31 and Jennifer Schaefer is 28 and took Angela's last name in 2012. Angela Schaefer said she believes getting married will ensure that she has full parental rights to their son.


Gay Marriage Supporters Rally at Court in Denver

DENVER (AP) - Supporters of same-sex marriage in Colorado are celebrating their legal victory but also trying to help advance their cause elsewhere. Elected officials, clergy, and others including representatives of the ACLU and NAACP staged a rally at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday afternoon. The activists say they not only wanted to celebrate marriage equality in Colorado but they also want to see same-sex marriage legalized across the country. Gay marriage is legal in Colorado following 10th Circuit rulings against gay marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah and a federal court's ruling against Colorado's ban. Kansas and Wyoming, also covered by the 10th Circuit, are so far refusing to marry gay couples.


Democrat Promising to Undo Kansas Medicaid Overhaul

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic challenger Paul Davis is proposing to reverse a piece of Republican Governor Sam Brownback's overhaul of the Kansas Medicaid program opposed by some advocates for the mentally disabled. The plan Davis outlined Wednesday during a Statehouse news conference would end three private health insurance companies' management of in-home support services for the mentally disabled. Brownback's administration turned over management of Medicaid to the private insurers in 2013. But it delayed the inclusion of support services for about 8,500 mentally disabled Kansans in the overhaul until February following vocal protests by advocates. The $3 billion-a-year Medicaid program covers medical services for the poor and disabled and services designed to allow the disabled to continue living in their homes. Officials in Brownback's administration rejected Davis' criticism that the overhaul has been harmful.


In Kansas Senate Debate, Orman Defends Independence

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts is insisting that his stronger-than-expected independent opponent is a liberal Democrat in disguise. But Greg Orman has donated to both Democrats, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Republicans, such as former Senator Scott Brown. Orman pitched domestic policy ideas during the debate that both parties have championed, and again refused to say which party he would usually vote with if elected. However, Orman says he contributed to Brown's 2010 Senate campaign to halt the advance of the health care law, which he says he opposed. The race in typically GOP Kansas has become suddenly competitive in the past month as Democrat Chad Taylor has stepped aside and Orman, a wealthy businessman, has pulled ahead of Roberts in recent polls of Kansas voters.


New Kansas Poll Shows Davis and Orman Slightly Ahead

TOPEKA, Kan. _ A new statewide poll released Tuesday shows Democratic candidate for governor Paul Davis and independent U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman both about 5 percentage points ahead of their opponents, Republican Governor Sam Brownback and Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that both Davis and Orman were leading with identical 47 percent to 42 percent margins. The results are based on polling by SurveyUSA conducted for KSN-TV in Wichita. The poll has a 4.3 percentage point margin of error. The same poll shows Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach with a slight lead over his Democratic opponent Jean Schodorf. The new poll has Kobach up 46 percent to 43 percent. The SurveyUSA poll interviewed 775 Kansans last week.


Kansas GOP Candidates Announce Endorsements

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Three Kansas Republicans seeking re-election to statewide office are touting endorsements from other GOP elected officials. U.S. Senator Pat Roberts's re-election campaign announced Tuesday that he has the backing of conservative Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn. Roberts' campaign said earlier that Coburn would participate with Roberts in five events Thursday and Friday as part of a bus tour. Meanwhile, Governor Sam Brownback had a news conference Tuesday outside the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe to tout endorsements from District Attorney Steve Howe and Sheriff Frank Denning. State Treasurer Ron Estes announced an endorsement from U.S Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a former Kansas state treasurer.


U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Republican River Arguments

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for Kansas and Nebraska are scheduled to make their cases before the U.S. Supreme Court next week in a longstanding dispute over water use in the Republican River. A special master appointed by the Supreme Court concluded last year that Nebraska owes Kansas a combined $5.5 million for overusing water in 2005 and 2006. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that William Kayatta Jr., the special master, rejected Kansas's demands for $80 million and an order that would permanently shut off irrigation pumps that service about 300,000 acres in Nebraska. At the heart of the dispute is a 1943 compact that has long divided the use of Republican River water among Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. Kansas farmers and officials contend that Nebraska took more than its share in 2005 and 2006.


Kansas Judge Binds Over Quadruple Homicide Suspect

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A judge has found enough evidence to try a man in the deaths of a woman and her three children last November in southeast Kansas. KOAM reports that 23-year-old David Bennett Jr. was bound over for trial Wednesday. He is charged with threatening, raping and killing 29-year-old Cami Umbarger, along with killing the children. Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents and forensic specialists testified at the preliminary hearing that the body of Umbarger and her 9-year-old daughter were found under different beds in the same bedroom of their Parsons home. The body of Umbarger's 6-year-old son was found beneath clothes in a utility room. Her 4-year-old daughter's body was stuffed into a clothes dryer, buried under clothes. Bennett was arrested in Independence after a massive manhunt.


Kansas Officials Pleased by Federal Agency's Enforcement Delay

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's administration is pleased that the federal government is delaying enforcement of rules extending minimum-wage and overtime protections to home-care workers. The Republican governor publicly opposed the initiative from Democratic President Barack Obama's administration set to take effect in January, saying it could increase costs of in-home services for the disabled and force them into institutions. The U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday that it won't enforce the new rules against employers for the first six months. Also, from June to December 2015, the agency said, it will consider enforcing the rules on a case-by-case basis. Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services spokeswoman Angela DeRocha said the concerns of in-home care consumers in Kansas undoubtedly played a key role in the federal agency's decision.


DA Declines Opinion on Public Suicide Names

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas district attorney's office has declined to issue an opinion on whether a local police department is violating the state's open records law by refusing to release the names of people who kill themselves in public. The Topeka Police Department says the public doesn't need to know the identities of people like a woman who stepped in front of a train last year, or a man who ran in front of a semitrailer on Interstate 70. The Shawnee County District Attorney's Office says that explanation is good enough to exempt the information under the Kansas Open Records Act. Assistant Shawnee County District Attorney Todd Hiatt tells The Topeka Capital-Journal that if media outlets disagree with the policy, they are free to file a lawsuit to challenge it.


Wolf Creek Conducting Testing After Fire

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Workers at an eastern Kansas nuclear power plant are working to repair fire-damaged equipment and avoid a shutdown. The damage occurred Monday when a fire broke out in a room that houses a backup generator. Federal law requires that the generator is operational within 72 hours or the Wolf Creek plant will have to be taken offline. Shutting down the plant would cost the utilities that own it — and eventually their customers — more than $300,000 per day. Plant spokesman Terry Young says workers were spending Wednesday conducting testing on a transformer and cabling that were replaced after the fire. Young says the backup generator is used only when the plant shuts down and stops making its own energy. The plant has other backup energy sources.


Businessman Pleads Guilty to Swindling Churchgoers

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a businessman accused of swindling churchgoers in an investment scheme has pleaded guilty. U.S. District Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said 32-year-old Ephren Taylor II of Overland Park, Kansas, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Prosecutors say Taylor, former chief executive of North Carolina-based City Capital Corporation, convinced members of mostly African-American churches across the country to invest in small businesses and used their money to pay personal expenses. Yates says the scheme was executed between April 2009 and October 2010 and Taylor admitted to netting about $7 million. Yates says Taylor's co-defendant, Wendy Conner of Raleigh, North Carolina, has also pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of money taken by fraud. Prosecutors say Taylor and Connor are scheduled to be sentenced December 18.


Kansas Businessman Gets 18 Months in Theft Case

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A former executive officer of a Manhattan builders association has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing from the organization. The Manhattan Mercury reports 45-year-old Tracy Shane Roberts of Wamego was sentenced on Monday on 30 charges of felony theft. Authorities say Roberts wrote business checks from the Flint Hills Area Builders Association for personal use between 2008 and 2013. It's unclear how much money they believe he stole. Roberts had asked the judge for probation. The association president says he is pleased with the decision and the organization is seeking nearly $137,000 from Roberts in a civil lawsuit.


Judge Rules for Boeing in Whistleblower Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has summarily ruled in favor of Boeing and one of its suppliers in a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the company's planes were unsafe. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot sided with the aircraft maker and one of its California-based suppliers, Ducommun Inc., in the lawsuit filed in 2005 by three former Wichita workers who claimed Boeing defrauded the U.S. government by using "bogus parts" in a $1.6 billion contract for 24 planes. Wednesday's 79-page decision rejected all claims brought by former employees Taylor Smith, Jeannine Prewitt and James Ailes. Their attorney, Corlin Pratt, said in an email that his clients are "extremely disappointed in the ruling" and are continuing to analyze the lengthy court opinion. Boeing was reviewing the decision and its spokesman had no immediate comment.


Psychiatrist Testifies in Catholic Diocese Lawsuit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A psychiatrist has testified in the seventh day of a trial involving a lawsuit against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese. A former altar boy says he was sexually abused by a priest, now dead, when he was a student in the 1980s. He filed the suit in 2011 against the diocese, claiming it was told about the priest being a danger to children but failed to prevent the abuse. The Associated Press doesn't typically name people who say they're victims of sexual abuse. The diocese says there's no credible evidence to prove the man's allegations and argues that claims of his repressed memories are invalid. The Kansas City Star reports that a California psychiatrist explained to jurors how repressed memory works. He says it's a term that refers to someone forgetting a past traumatic event for an extended period of time.


New Charges in Vandalism at Congressman's KC Office

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal grand jury has added more charges against a Kansas City man accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at a congressman's local office. The U.S. Attorney's office says the additional charges are included in an indictment returned Tuesday against 28-year-old Eric King. King is accused of trying to firebomb the Kansas City office of U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver on September 11. Police said a window was broken, but the two alcohol-filled bottles failed to ignite. King was charged last month with using a dangerous instrument to intimidate and interfere with a federal official. The new charges include attempted arson, using explosive materials to commit a felony and illegally possessing an incendiary device. King remains held without bond. 


Former Union Chief Admits Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The former president of the union representing Jackson County (Missouri) Department of Corrections employees has admitted embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union local. U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson says 39-year-old Jesse Morgan pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of wire fraud and could face up to 20 years in prison. Morgan admitted he engaged in a wire fraud scheme during most of his tenure as president the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1707, from November 2008 through October 2012. The government believes he stole more than $120,000 but less than $200,000, while Morgan admitted the loss exceeds $70,000. Morgan must pay restitution to Local 1707 for the total loss, which will be decided by the court if there is no agreement on the amount.


Kansas Woman Pleads Guilty in Marriage Fraud Case

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A Manhattan woman has pleaded guilty to a marriage fraud scheme with a man who prosecutors say was trying to circumvent U.S. immigration laws. 48-year-old Jacqueline Reed pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. A federal prosecutor says Reed submitted fraudulent paperwork to immigration authorities. The prosecutor says paperwork included a marriage license that was never filed with the state of Kansas and a false declaration that they lived together in Lawrence. Reed faces up to five years in federal prison when she is sentenced in January. Prosecutors say Reed's arrangement was part of a conspiracy for immigrants seeking residency. They say the man who led the conspiracy was charged for coaching people how to answer questions during an immigration interview.


Kansas City Area Hiker Airlifted from Mountain in Colorado

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - A hiker from Missouri is recovering after a rare nighttime rescue from the mountains near Aspen. Rescuers reached 28-year-old Christopher Michael Fontaine of the Kansas City suburb of Grain Valley in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness around 9 pm Tuesday. The Pitkin County Sheriff's Office says rescuers called for a helicopter to airlift him immediately because of his condition. He was flown to Aspen Valley Hospital for treatment. Rescuers began searching for Fontaine Tuesday afternoon after getting reports of a hiker in distress near Snowmass Lake and a call from Fontaine's employer after he failed to show up for work. The lake is located at about 11,000 feet. The Aspen Times reports it's a popular midpoint camping spot for hikers climbing Snowmass Mountain.


Kansas City Baby Dies After Television Set Accident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An 8-month-old Kansas City boy has died a day after a television set fell on him. Emergency crews were called at 11:10 am Tuesday in response to the accident and took the baby to a hospital in critical condition. A police spokesman issued a news release Wednesday morning saying the boy later died. Neighbors say they are saddened by the news of the infant's death, and that it should serve as a reminder to other parents to keep a close eye on their children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says a child dies every two weeks when a TV or piece of furniture calls onto him or her. Officials say tip-over accidents are tragic and 100 percent preventable.


Sheriff: More Judges, Court Staffers Needed

SALINA, Kan. (AP) -- A central Kansas sheriff says there wouldn't be so many inmates in his jail if the courts had more judges and staff members to handle their cases. The Salina Journal reports Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski told county commissioners on Monday that more than half of the inmates at the county jail were awaiting trial in district court. The jail holds 192 inmates, with the overflow being housed in jails outside the county. The sheriff says adding judges and staff to the 28th Judicial District would reduce the time the inmates spend in the county jail.


Missouri Man Charged in Stabbing over Missing Pig

TROY, Mo. (AP) - A northeast Missouri man has been charged with felony assault after authorities say he stabbed another man 23 times in a dispute over a missing pig. Twenty-two-year-old Joshua Finke of St. Charles was jailed Tuesday on a $100,000, cash-only bond. Court records don't list an attorney on his behalf. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department says Finke was accused by three roommates Monday night of stealing a 200-pound pig that had been raised for slaughter. The pig went missing two weeks ago from its backyard pen in Winfield. Finke is accused of stabbing a 38-year-old man 22 times in the back and once in the head. No weapon was recovered, but hospital officials suspect a screwdriver was used. The unidentified victim was released from treatment Tuesday morning. The pig remains missing.


Kansas City Enjoying Sports Spotlight

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An improbable playoff run by the Kansas City Royals and a prime-time Chiefs win over the New England Patriots have put the city's sports teams in the national spotlight. That kind of exposure has economic value, but the extent remains to be seen. The Kansas City Star reports that the teams' victories have provided local promoters ample opportunity to show off the region's other attributes. Bob Marcusse is the president of the Kansas City Area Development Council. It promotes the economic interests of 18 counties in Missouri and Kansas. The nonprofit met with business people for the Chiefs' game last week and pitched them ideas, which are usually about moving a headquarters or building a plant near Kansas City. Marcusse says sporting events are chances to showcase Kansas City to prospective businesses.


Missouri Couple Now Dog Owners After Royals Win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man has fulfilled his girlfriend's wish and adopted a 4-year-old corgi named Lucy after the Kansas City Royals' win last week. During the September 30 wild card game, Katie Castan held a sign that said, "If we win, he's buying me a puppy!" with a picture of a corgi. The Kansas City Royals beat Oakland Athletics, and Castan's boyfriend, Joe Onofrio adopted Lucy this past weekend from a family. Castan tells the Kansas City Star that Lucy's middle name is Rally. She says it comes from the Royals rallying to win the game that launched them into the American League Division Series. Castan says Lucy is already loving her walks in Mill Creek Park and is loving, but calm.



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