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Headlines for Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Capital Charge Filed in Topeka Officer's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A 30-year-old man has been charged with capital murder in the shooting death of a Topeka police officer. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced Wednesday that he had filed the charge against Ross Preston Lane, who was being held without bond. Kansas law allows the death penalty for the slaying of a law enforcement officer. Police Corporal Jason Harwood was shot to death Sunday after stopping a car in east Topeka. Lane also was charged with possessing a stolen firearm and criminal possession of a firearm as a past felon. Another 30-year-old man, Anthony Allen Ridens Jr., was charged with obstructing apprehension of a felon and possession of a stolen motorcycle.


Kansas Senator's Team Using Romney in Voter Calls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Senator Pat Roberts is trying to bolster his support among GOP and unaffiliated voters in Kansas with a recorded telephone message from former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Roberts's campaign said the call with Romney's endorsement was going to 400,000 voters across the state Wednesday. Roberts is in a tougher-than-expected race for re-election against independent candidate Greg Orman. Orman is running as a centrist, and his campaign says voters are tired of gridlock in Washington. Romney was the 2012 Republican nominee against Democratic President Barack Obama. In the message, Romney calls Roberts a trusted conservative. Romney says Roberts is needed in Washington to block the agenda of Obama and Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Orman has said voters are interested in solving the nation's problems, not partisanship.


Democrat Won't Discuss Kansas Senate Race Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic nominee Chad Taylor is refusing to answer questions about his petition to the Kansas Supreme Court to have his name removed from the ballot as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Taylor told reporters Wednesday that he wouldn't discuss the case for now. Taylor ended his campaign last week. Some fellow Democrats nudged him out of the race in an attempt to give independent Greg Orman a better chance of defeating three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts in the November 4 election. The Democrat sent a letter of withdrawal to Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach. But Kobach said Taylor didn't comply with state election laws and has kept his name on the ballot. Taylor filed a petition Tuesday with the state Supreme Court to force Kobach to relent.


New Move to Keep Democrat in U.S. Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is taking steps to block Democrat Chad Taylor's effort to have the state's highest court remove him from the ballot in the U.S. Senate race. Kobach filed a response with the high court Wednesday to a petition filed Tuesday. Taylor asked the justices to force Kobach to remove his name from the ballot. Kobach is a Republican backing GOP Senator Pat Roberts. Taylor ended his campaign last week, potentially boosting the chances of independent candidate Greg Orman beating Roberts. Kobach's response said the case should be heard in district court because of factual disputes. He said that even if the Supreme Court takes the case and rules in Taylor's favor, it should force Democrats to find another nominee under state election laws.


Washington, DC Attorney Arrives to Aid Taylor in KS Ballot Fight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a national Democratic Party group is part of the effort to get the party's nominee off the ballot in the U.S. Senate race in Kansas against Republican Senator Pat Roberts. A Topeka attorney representing Democratic candidate Chad Taylor filed a request Wednesday with the Kansas Supreme Court, asking it to allow out-of-state attorney Marc Elias to practice before the court. Elias is a partner in a Washington law firm, and his online biography says his clients include the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. Taylor petitioned the court Tuesday to force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to remove him from the ballot after Taylor ended his campaign last week. The move potentially boosted independent candidate Greg Orman.


Independent Walks Tightrope in Senate Bid in Kansas 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Independent candidate Greg Orman is walking a tightrope in Kansas as he campaigns against veteran Republican Senator Pat Roberts. Orman is projecting himself as fresh and authentic while acknowledging that he's been both a Republican and a Democrat. Roberts's new campaign spokesman, Corry Bliss, says the senator is painting the wealthy 45-year-old businessman as a dishonest, flip-flopping liberal Democrat masquerading as an independent. With less than two months before the election, Orman's campaign manager, Jim Jonas, says the narrative for the campaign is simple: Washington is broken and Orman can go there and solve big problems without a lot of finger-pointing. The race shifted dramatically last week when Democratic candidate Chad Taylor — with a nudge from Democrats in Washington — abruptly quit.


Body Found in Lawrence Creek Identified

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A body found in a Lawrence creek last month has been identified as that of a 57-year-old man. Two people walking in Burcham Park discovered the decomposed remains August 31, in a small creek near a bridge over the Kansas River. Police said Wednesday the Douglas County coroner has identified the man as Lawrence resident Mark Kemberling. Officers said there was no sign of foul play, but the cause of death may not be known for several weeks. Investigators also don't know how long Kemberling had been dead. They're asking to hear from anyone with information about the case.


Judge Sets Hearing in Kansas Suicide Bomb Plot

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge will get an update in the case against a Kansas man charged with plotting a suicide bombing at a Wichita airport. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot has scheduled a September 22 status conference for Terry Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician facing terrorism-related charges. Such proceedings are routinely used to keep the judge apprised of progress in the litigation. Loewen was arrested in December and accused of trying to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at the airport, where he worked. His arrest followed a months-long sting operation. He has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use an explosive device to damage property and attempting to give material support to al-Qaida.


Two More Die in Aftermath of Kansas City Attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two people have died after being beaten in their Kansas City home during an attack in which three others were fatally shot. Kansas City police say Ann and George Taylor, both in their 80s, died Tuesday after spending a week on life support. Prosecutors allege that Brandon Howell attacked the couple in the basement of their home on September 2, then fatally shot three neighbors before fleeing in the Taylors' SUV. He's charged with several felonies, including three counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of 88-year-old Alice Hurst, her son, 63-year-old Darrel Hurst, and 69-year-old Susan Choucroun. Howell, a convicted felon with a history of violence, was arrested shortly after the killings. Police found him walking along Interstate 29 with a loaded shotgun in his pants.


Students Criticize KU Response to Sexual Assault

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas students are pressuring the school to improve its response to sexual assault reports. More than 200 people attended a forum on the subject Tuesday, hours after a student group posted a video telling people that the school is not safe. The student group, called September Siblings, also is circulating petitions asking the school to change its response to sexual assault allegations. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the effort is in response to recent reports that a university student who said she was raped in 2013, and her assailant was given a lenient punishment. University officials have declined to comment on the case, which Douglas County District Attorney Charles Bronson is reviewing. Speakers at Tuesday's forum criticized the university's current approach of emphasizing education about sexual-assault awareness.


Kansas Considering Facility for Train Loading

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas transportation officials are considering several cities as possible sites for facilities that would load and unload products between trucks and trains. Transportation officials say the transloading facility would be large enough for entire trains to take products from local and area firms that are brought in by trucks. The Salina Journal reports transportation secretary Mike King was in Salina to talk to city officials about the proposal, which is in only beginning stages of planning. King says the proposal requires six to eight months of further study to determine the size of a facility, which would cost about $5 million. Besides Salina, other cities under consideration are Abilene, Attica, Coffeyville, Colby, Columbus, Concordia, Dodge City, Garden City, Gardner, Hutchinson, McPherson, Marysville, Newton, Pittsburg, Scandia, Wellington, Wichita and Winfield.


Restaurant Manager Pleads Guilty to Harboring Illegal Workers

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The manager of a Chinese restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, has pleaded guilty in Kansas to a charge of conspiring to harbor workers who were in the U.S. illegally. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 26-year-old Quan Liu admitted Tuesday that the crime occurred while he was manager of Wei's Super Buffet in Kansas City. The restaurant is owned by an Olathe, Kansas-based company headed by a co-defendant who is awaiting trial. Prosecutors said officers executing a search warrant at a three-bedroom apartment near the restaurant found six people who are in the country illegally living there. Three others are awaiting trial, one is awaiting sentencing and another is set for a change of plea hearing later this week. Quan Liu faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.


Overland Park Residents Evacuate During Apartment Fire

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Firefighters helped evacuate residents during a fire at an Overland Park apartment complex shortly before a roof collapsed. No residents were injured during the fire early Wednesday at the two-story Aspen Lodge Apartments. The fire was brought under control in less than an hour. The Overland Park fire department said in a news release that residents from 16 units are displaced. The apartment management and Red Cross are working to help find new homes for residents. One Overland Park firefighter was taken to a hospital with minor medical issues. Officials say the fire started after someone discarded a burning cigarette in a planter on a balcony and the blaze quickly spread to the wood roof and the rest of the building.


Salina Man Pleads Not Guilty in Fatal Crash

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A Salina man has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter while under the influence of drugs or alcohol after an accident that killed a 93-year-old man driving a mobility scooter. Fifty-year-old Dennis Campbell entered the plea Monday. He's charged in the September 2013 death of Eugene W. Olson. Police say Campbell's vehicle hit Olson's scooter from behind on a Salina street. The Salina Journal reports that scooters are permitted on the section of the street where the accident occurred because there are no sidewalks. Olson is scheduled to go on trial January 13. His relatives previously settled a civil lawsuit against Campbell.


Oklahoma Attorney General Files Medicaid Fraud Case

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Kansas woman who allegedly billed Oklahoma's Medicaid program for services she did not perform has pleaded not guilty to a Medicaid fraud charge. The Oklahoma attorney general's office filed the charge last month, alleging that 39-year-old Paula Hessen of Wichita, Kansas, billed the Oklahoma Health Care Authority for rehabilitation services allegedly performed while she was on vacation or away from the office. Hessen was a behavioral health rehabilitation specialist for Oklahoma Counseling Services. Her attorney, Kent Hudson of Tulsa, did not immediately return a Wednesday phone call seeking comment. Prosecutors say Hessen's claims cost the Health Care Authority more than $6,000. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison and fines of more than $18,000. She entered the not guilty plea Monday in Oklahoma County District Court.

Marysville Votes to Save Train Depot

MARYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The chances of a historic northeast Kansas train depot avoiding the wrecking ball are looking better. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the Marysville City Council voted this week to approve the purchase of the depot from Union Pacific for $151,000. The railroad company also agreed to pay for the removal of the building's exterior asbestos and lead paint, up to a maximum of $177,000. If those costs aren't too high, the deal will close December 19. The station then will be sold to the Union Pacific Depot Preservation Society for $20,000. The deal allows the city to retain surrounding land, which can be sold to adjacent businesses and used for future development. The depot was built in 1929. Union Pacific had been set to demolish the building.


Police: Wichita Man Kept Women Locked in Apartment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say they've arrested a caregiver who allegedly kept two of his ex-girlfriends locked in an apartment for several days. The Wichita Eagle reports the 56-year old man was arrested this week. He was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of unlawful restraint and two counts of mistreatment of dependent adults. It's unclear if he's been charged. Police didn't say if the 69- and 57-year-old women were injured. It's also unclear how many days they were held. Police say the man had been "neglecting care for several days." They have not released the identities of the man or victims.


Democrat Urges US Congress to Work with Obama

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic congressional candidate Perry Schuckman says he hopes Congress will work with President Barack Obama instead of battling the commander in chief on confronting threats from Islamic State militants. Schuckman is challenging Republican incumbent Mike Pompeo in the Kansas 4th Congressional District. He told a Rotary Club meeting in Wichita Tuesday there are ramifications to going to war. He says the United States must find ways to avoid conflicts whenever possible, but it can't be a pacifist country either. Schuckman says not just the United States but other Middle Eastern countries must fight the brutality of Islamic State militants. However, Schuckman agreed with Republican Senator Rand Paul that the U.S. needs a smaller international footprint of military bases. Pompeo's campaign did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.


Kansas Seeks to Dismiss Gun Lawsuit Challenge

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a national gun control group against a state law that challenges federal authority to regulate firearms. The state contended in a court filing Monday in U.S. District Court that the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has no legal standing to challenge its law. The statute declares the federal government has no authority to regulate guns made, sold and kept only in Kansas, and allows felony charges against any federal employee who tries to enforce federal regulations for Kansas firearms and ammunition. The attorney general's office argues Kansas is enforcing the Second Amendment by punishing violations of the established rights of Kansans. The Brady Center contends the law ignores regulations that protect public safety and help law enforcement.


Dissident GOP Group Backs Democrat in Kansas 1st

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group formed by former moderate Republican legislators is backing the Democratic nominee in the 1st Congressional District of Kansas over conservative GOP incumbent Tim Huelskamp. Democrat Jim Sherow had a Statehouse news conference Tuesday to announce his endorsement by Traditional Republicans for Common Sense in the sprawling central and western Kansas district. The group's founders include dozens of former GOP state legislators. Former state Representative Jim Yonally of Overland Park said the group opposes Huelskamp's re-election partly because his conflicts with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner led to Huelskamp's removal from the Agriculture Committee in 2012. Huelskamp is seeking his third, two-year term. His spokesman, Mark Kelly, dismissed Sherow's news conference as political theater. The 63-year-old Sherow is a Kansas State University history professor and former Manhattan mayor.


Olathe Officer Sustains Broken Leg in Altercation

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Police in Olathe are seeking witnesses to a confrontation that left an officer with a broken leg. The police department in the Kansas City suburb says officers responded to a call around 5 pm Monday about a man and woman involved in a disturbance at a park. Police say the man tried to leave the scene, then got into a fight with the officer who was injured. The suspect was booked into the Johnson County Jail. The officer has been placed on medical leave. Police said Tuesday they want to hear from anyone who saw the altercation.


Kansas Rape Suspect Arrested in Florida

SABETHA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man charged with child rape has been arrested in Florida after a month-long search. KMZA-FM reports that 51-year-old William Lee Vogel was taken into custody Tuesday by police in Fort Lauderdale. He was being held in the Broward County Jail pending extradition to Kansas. Vogel, of Sabetha, is charged in Nemaha County with engaging in sex with a child younger than 14. His Kansas bond has been set at $1 million. Vogel has been sought since he was charged August 11. Sabetha police brought in the U.S. Marshal's Service in late August to help find him.


Topeka Council Delays Public Nudity Ban Discussion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Topeka City Council has delayed taking up a public nudity ban because it cancelled its meeting to honor a slain police officer. A council member suggested the ban after a nude man strolled the streets of south Topeka in August. It's unclear how long the meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday is postponed. It was cancelled after the weekend shooting of police Cpl. Jason Harwood. State law and city ordinances do not ban public nudity, although state law prohibits it in the context of sexual arousal. The much-discussed naked man, Jerry Beyer, said Tuesday he wasn't trying to protest anything. He says he was standing up for his "natural self." The proposed ordinance would make intentional violations a misdemeanor offense.


Report: Kansas Wheat Quality Down

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report shows the quality of this year's Kansas wheat crop down from 2013, with just 73 percent of samples graded by grain inspectors getting the top No. 1 grading. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Tuesday that 85 percent of last year's Kansas crop was graded as No. 1 wheat. Determinations of test weights, protein content, grade and defects were made by the Kansas Grain Inspection Service based on 8,036 samples from 49 counties. The report says about 26 percent of the wheat was graded this year as No. 2 wheat, compared with 14 percent last year. One percent this year was graded No. 3 or below. Average test weight was 60.5 pounds per bushel. Protein content averaged 13.4 percent, an improvement from last year.


Liquor-by-the-Drink Measure Fails in Clay County

CLAY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — A campaign to allow a vote on serving liquor by the drink in a north-central Kansas county has fallen short again. The Clay Center Dispatch reports that Clay County is among 13 of the state's 105 counties that don't allow restaurants to serve liquor by the drink. Proponents have turned in three petitions to put the question to Clay County voters. The first two fell short of the necessary 290 signatures. The third had 316 signatures, but County Clerk Kayla Wang recently rejected it because 147 names had to be rejected for technical reasons. The county commission has the authority to put the question on a future ballot. But Commissioner Jerry Mayo says there's a longstanding policy to allow public votes on liquor by the drink only by petition.


$12.5M to Repair Amtrak Route in Colorado, Kansas

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — A $12.5 million federal grant will pay for urgent repairs on the route of Amtrak's Southwest Chief in western Kansas and eastern Colorado, but funding for upgrades in southern Colorado and New Mexico remains uncertain. U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado announced Tuesday the Transportation Department approved the grant after Kansas and Colorado communities committed $9.3 million. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says the money will pay for repairs allowing passenger trains to maintain 60- and 70-mph speeds. Magliari says BNSF Railway, which owns the tracks, runs only slower-speed freight trains and doesn't need to keep the track up to high-speed standards. Magliari says Amtrak is discussing funding for repairs in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico with state officials and BNSF. A BNSF spokesman had no immediate comment. 


Post Library to Be Named for Ike Skelton

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Officials at Fort Leavenworth are memorializing the late Missouri congressman Ike Skelton by renaming the northeast Kansas post's library in his honor. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno is scheduled to speak Thursday morning at the naming ceremony for the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library. Skelton, a Democrat, was elected 17 times to the U.S. House before losing in 2010 to Republican Vicky Hartzler in Missouri's 4th Congressional District. He chaired the House Armed Services Committee and was considered an astute military historian and a champion of the nation's servicemen and women. Skelton died last October at the age of 81. The 320,000-volume library serves officers and civilians attending the Command and General Staff College and the Army Management Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.


Number 19-Ranked K-State Cleaning Up Mistakes Before Auburn Football Game

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Bill Snyder has changed little since his arrival at Kansas State more than 20 years ago, his focus always on in-house preparation and consistency across the board. He also disdains mental mistakes and penalties. That's why he was so blunt in his assessment of No. 19 Kansas State's come-from-behind win over Iowa State on Saturday, and his feelings hadn't changed a whole lot by midweek. There were 10 penalties, including five illegal procedures, a costly pass interference call in the end zone and a facemask penalty that all conspired to put the Wildcats in a big hole. The Wildcats are spending this week cleaning up those mental mistakes before turning their focus to No. 5 Auburn, which visits next Thursday night.



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