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Headlines for Thursday, April 13, 2017

Here's what we know so far.

Kansas Secretary of State Prosecutes Non-Citizen for Voting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has announced the prosecution of a non-citizen who voted illegally.  It's the first such conviction of a non-citizen for illegal voting since lawmakers gave him the power to prosecute voter fraud in 2015.  Kobach says in a news release Wednesday that Victor David Garcia Bebek pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of voting unlawfully in 2012 and 2014. The plea deal calls for a $5,000 fine and unsupervised probation for up to three years.  The complaint that The Associated Press obtained from Kobach's office lists six felony and misdemeanor counts. The charges were filed under seal in February and the case was not made public until yesterday (WED).  The court clerk's office refused to release further information about the case.

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Democrat Paul Davis Considers Run for Congress in Kansas 2nd 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prominent Democrat and former state lawmaker Paul Davis is considering a run for Congress in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas. Davis said Thursday that he expects to make a formal announcement about his plans this summer after spending several months talking to voters. Davis was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, giving Republican Governor Sam Brownback a tougher-than-expected re-election challenge. His Thursday announcement ends speculation that he might seek the governor's office again. Davis is a Lawrence attorney and former Kansas House minority leader. The 2nd District seat will be open because Republican incumbent Lynn Jenkins does not plan to seek re-election. State Senator Steve Fitzgerald of Leavenworth launched a campaign for the GOP nomination earlier this month.

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Feds Blame Human Error for Atchison Chemical Accident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal investigators say human error and labeling and design problems led to the release of a large chemical cloud over Atchison last year. More than 140 people were sent to the hospital.  Preliminary findings released yesterday (WED) by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board show the chemical release from MGP Ingredients last October happened when a delivery truck driver inadvertently unloaded sulfuric acid into a tank that contained sodium hypochlorite.  In addition to sending people to the hospital, last fall's accident caused residents in the area to either stay indoors or evacuate the area for several hours.  

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Family of Boy Killed on Kansas Waterslide Reaches Settlements 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The family of a 10-year-old boy who died while riding a waterslide at a Kansas water park has reached settlements with a general contractor and a consulting company involved in the project. Representative Scott Schwab testified Wednesday that he and his family agreed to the terms of the wrongful-death settlements involving his son, Caleb. The boy died in August on the 17-story Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that the terms of settlements with Henry & Sons Construction and National Aquatics Safety Company were not released. Henry & Sons was the general contractor for Verruckt, a 168-foot waterslide that was promoted as the world's tallest such ride. National Aquatics, based in Dickinson, Texas, and its owner, John Hunsucker, consulted on the project.

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Teenager Critically Hurt After Crash on Smoky Kansas Road 

BROOKVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a teenager has been critically injured in a crash on a smoke-obscured central Kansas road. The Salina Journal reports that 18-year-old Lawson Constable, of Minneapolis, Kansas, was hurt Tuesday north of Brookville. The Kansas Highway Patrol says his car struck an all-terrain vehicle and a utility vehicle before coming to rest in a ditch. Rural Fire District No. 3 Chief Scott Abker says the area was smoky because embers had blown past a mowed perimeter around the edge of a prescribed burn and started an uncontrolled fire near the road. The men whose vehicles were hit had had been attempting to stop the blaze from spreading. They were treated in a Salina hospital's emergency department. Prescribed burns are used to control invasive species and encourage plant growth.

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'Text-to-Give' Campaign to Support Kansas Firefighters 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A phone company is sponsoring a text-to-give campaign to support contributions to the Kansas State Firefighters Association. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the AT&T campaign is meant to give financial aid to rural fire departments struggling with resources and staffing after the wildfires in western Kansas. Customers can make a $10 donation to the association by texting "WILDFIRES" to 80077. Those donations are added to customers' monthly bills. AT&T spokesman Chris Lester says it's not uncommon for text-to-give campaigns to pop up when there's a need for aid after major public safety issue. AT&T Kansas President Mike Scott says it's times like the wildfires "that test our resolve, resilience and strength as individuals and as a community. Kansans come through for each other in times of need."

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Man Fatally Shot After Firing at Authorities During Chase

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a suspect was shot and killed by law enforcers after leading police on a three-county, south-central Kansas chase, firing at deputies and police along the way. Investigators in Wichita say 25-year-old Charles Johnston was shot early Thursday near Udall after a vehicle in which he was riding became disabled after the chase. Authorities say he held a gun to a female passenger's head outside of the car, then fired again at law enforcers as he tried to run away. Law enforcers returned fire, killing Johnston. Neither the woman nor any law enforcers were injured. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said police had sought to arrest Johnston as a parole absconder. Johnston was from prison in January and has prior convictions of aggravated battery, obstruction and fleeing law enforcement.

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Hutchinson Man Convicted in Officer Attack 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A jury has convicted a prison inmate in the beating guilty of a correctional officer in central Kansas. The Hutchinson News reports that 29-year-old Eddie Nunez was convicted by a Reno County jury on Tuesday of felony battery of a correctional officer. County District Judge Tim Chambers says Nunez was serving time for a 2005 second-degree intentional murder conviction when he attacked Officer Holly Seaver on his prison cellblock in January 2015. Seaver suffered a black eye and numerous bruises during the attack in Hutchinson Correctional Facility. Before Tuesday's conviction, Nunez was set to be potentially released on July 28. He now faces at least another 52 months in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for May 26.

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Kansas Woman Charged with Murder in Decapitation Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas woman is accused of decapitating her ex-boyfriend's mother when the victim went to collect her son's belongings.  Thirty-five-year-old Rachael Hilyard of Wichita was charged Wednesday with one count of first-degree murder in the death Sunday of 63-year-old Micki Davis. During a brief court appearance, a Sedgwick County judge assigned Hilyard to be represented by a public defender. She's jailed on $200,000 bond.  Police say Davis was killed after taking her 9-year-old grandson with her to Hilyard's home. The boy ran away when the assault started and called police on his grandmother's phone. Police say the child wasn't present when his grandmother died.  Police found Davis's body in the garage and Hilyard hiding in the home.

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Victim of Missouri Ammo Plant Explosion Identified

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A worker who died during an explosion at an ammunition plant in Missouri has been identified as a 55-year-old man from suburban Kansas City. The U.S. Army says Lawrence Bass, of Blue Springs, Missouri, died Tuesday after the blast at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence. Four other workers were treated at the scene.  The investigation continues into the cause of that blast.

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Sisters Hurt on Kansas Waterslide Reach Legal Settlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two sisters injured in a Kansas waterslide accident that killed a state lawmaker's 10-year-old son have reached a settlement with the water park's owner.  Attorney Lynn Johnson has confirmed the out-of-court deal with the Schlitterbahn park over the "Verruckt" slide accident last summer.  Johnson wouldn't reveal details of the settlement. The sisters' names haven't been publicly released.  Authorities said Caleb Schwab was killed and the sisters injured last August 7 while riding the Verruckt, which was billed as the world's tallest waterslide. That ride has since been closed, and a Schlitterbahn spokeswoman says it will be demolished as soon as a court rules it's no longer needed for evidentiary purposes.  Schwab's family reached a settlement in January with Schlitterbahn and the raft's manufacturer. Caleb was Representative Scott Schwab's son.

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Kansas Hopes to Hire Company this Fall to Build New Prison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas could sign a contract this fall with a private company to build a new prison to replace its oldest and largest one in Lansing. Documents show that the state is limiting the search for the $155 million project to firms that already have built multiple prisons.  The Department of Corrections is telling potential bidders they would handle maintenance at the new prison.  The state is seeking proposals under which the company initially would own the prison and the state would lease it for up to 40 years.  Corrections officials believe a new prison would be safer and more efficient.  A state request posted online last week gives companies until May 12 to express an interest. Proposals are due July 21 and a contract would be finalized by September 29.

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Search Underway for Man Who Leapt into River During Pursuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a man who jumped off a bridge into the Kansas River last week while fleeing from law enforcement. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Pottawatomie County Sheriff Greg Riat said Wednesday that he thinks the man remains in the river. Highway patrol aircraft and sheriff's office and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism watercraft have been used in the search. Law enforcement officers and police dogs also have looked on the ground. Riat says the man jumped from the bridge northeast of Paxico when the pursuit ended with him crashing into a patrol car. The man was being sought in connection with an alleged auto theft in Wamego. Riat says he won't release the missing man's name "until positive identification has been made."

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Trial Set for Kansas Woman Accused of Embezzling $5M 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has set a summer trial date in the case of a southeast Kansas woman of embezzling more than $5 million from a now-defunct credit union. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten scheduled a June 20 jury trial in Wichita for 64-year-old Nita Rae Nirschl on an 81-count federal indictment accusing the Parsons woman of embezzlement and money laundering. The crimes allegedly took place while Nirschl worked for the Parsons Pittsburg Credit Union based in Parsons. Federal prosecutors say that after an audit found the credit union was insolvent, it was placed in conservatorship and ultimately liquidated in March 2014. The audit allegedly revealed that from 2010 to December 2014, Nirschl allegedly embezzled more than $5 million and deposited the money into her personal accounts.

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Topeka Firefighters Rescue Cat Caught in Tree and Its Owner

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Firefighters in Kansas rescued a cat from a tree. They also rescued its owner. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the woman climbed the tree Wednesday trying to get to her cat but she wasn't able to get back down. Topeka Fire Department Shift Commander Todd Williams says the woman and her cat were about 16 feet up in a large tree when they were plucked out. What's more, he says such rescues aren't that uncommon in Topeka. The cat owner's name wasn't released.

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Nebraska Officials Plan to Complain to Kansas About Smoke

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska officials say they'll complain to Kansas about smoke from its agriculture burning that sometimes makes it unhealthy to breathe in some parts of Nebraska. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department issued a health warning Wednesday, warning people to stay indoors. Governor Pete Ricketts's spokesman Taylor Gage says Nebraska officials will follow up with their counterparts in Kansas. On Wednesday he told the Lincoln Journal Star that the "air quality today is unacceptable." Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler's chief of staff, Rick Hoppe, says officials are reviewing all options, "including potential legal action." Officials have said the smoke originates mostly in Kansas's Flint Hills area. A Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokesman says he can't immediately say what Kansas's response might be.

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Search Underway in Southern Kansas for Missing Priest 

PROTECTION, Kan. (AP) — A search is underway in southern Kansas for a 53-year-old priest who went missing from a nursing home. Thursday's search for Marvin Reif near Protection in Comanche County was involving more than 100 people, some on horseback and all-terrain vehicles. Reif went missing 10 days earlier from Protection Valley Manor, a nursing home where he had been living since October. That site says Reif went walking each day around town as part of his treatment. Reif's sister, Karen Winkelman, said her brother had a history of depression, and that their mother's death last month was particularly difficult for him. As a nurse who tended to Reif, Karla Harvey says Reif spent his days reading the Bible and often fed the squirrels outside.

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Missouri Man Gets 25 Years for Causing Deadly Missouri Wreck 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after admitting in court that he drunkenly caused an Interstate 70 wreck that killed two children and left their father paralyzed. Sixty-one-year-old James L. Green was sentenced Thursday in Jackson County (Missouri) after pleading guilty to two counts each of second-degree murder and assault. The Odessa man also pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated. Prosecutors say Green was intoxicated and driving with a suspended driver's license when his sport utility vehicle hit another vehicle from behind on the freeway in Blue Springs. Three other vehicles later were involved in the wreck. The crash killed 7-year-old Chloe Beaird and 13-year-old Gavin Beaird, both of Warrenton. Two injured adults included the children's father, who was left paralyzed from the chest down.

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Man Charged with Killing Outside Kansas City Nightclub 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been charged with a fatal shooting outside a Kansas City nightclub. Court records say a warrant was issued Wednesday for the arrest of 24-year-old Juan Bravo-Leon, of Kansas City. He is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action counts in the killing of 33-year-old Andres Garcia-Jiminez. Court records say police found Garcia-Jiminez dead in October in the parking lot of the Palmeras Disco. Witnesses said Bravo-Leon and Garcia-Jiminez bumped into each other inside the club and argued. Bravo-Leon is accused of following the victim to the parking lot and firing into the ground before shooting the victim in the chest. Court records say Bravo-Leon told police he accidentally shot the victim. Prosecutors have requested a bond of $250,000.

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Benedictine College in Atchison to Make Changes to Yoga Classes

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) - A Catholic college in Atchison plans to rename its yoga classes and change the content to ensure they focus only on physical exercise and not spiritual or cultural elements.  Benedictine College says it will rework its yoga classes after this semester is over.  The Wichita Eagle reports the changes come after concerns were raised by students, alumni and faculty.  Catholic church leaders have cautioned Catholics for years to avoid the spiritual aspects of yoga because they contend the Hindu-based practice conflicts with church teachings.  The Reverend John Riley, chancellor of the Archdiocese or Kansas City in Kansas, said Catholics are encouraged to look for exercise routines that don't include a spiritual dimension.

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California Keeps Travel Ban Despite "Bathroom Bill" Repeal

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - California's attorney general says North Carolina's repeal of a strongly criticized "bathroom bill" doesn't protect LGBT people from discrimination. Consequently, he says the country's most-populous state will continue its ban on taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina.  Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the decision in a statement Wednesday.  A California law went into effect in January barring state-funded travel or other spending in states with laws that discriminate against LGBT people. The law leaves it up to Becerra to keep a list of which states are banned.  Gay-rights groups argue North Carolina's repeal of House Bill 2 is inadequate because it bars local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances covering sexual orientation and gender identity until December 2020.  California also bans taxpayer-funded travel to Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

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KU's Josh Jackson Pleads Not Guilty in Vandalism Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas freshman basketball player Josh Jackson has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal property damage alleging he vandalized a woman's car outside a bar.  Jackson's attorney, Hatem Chahine, told a judge Wednesday in Lawrence that she plans to file for a diversion for Jackson.  Jackson is accused of damaging the driver's door and a taillight of a car belonging to Jayhawks women's basketball player McKenzie Calvert last December. An affidavit filed with the court alleges that confrontation happened after Calvert argued inside the bar with Lagerald Vick, her ex-boyfriend and Jackson's teammate.  Jackson is also scheduled to appear Friday in Lawrence Municipal Court to address a February 2 traffic violation.

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Athletics Defeat Royals 8-3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ It's been a tough start for the Kansas City Royals... and things didn't get any better last (WED) night, as the Oakland Athletics beat the Royals 8-to-3.  The A's have won eight in a row over the Royals, six of those coming at Kauffman Stadium _ and most of them in romps.  The A's must have the Royals' number.  Oakland has outscored the Royals 53-15 in the games played in Kansas City.

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