Stegall Taking Seat on Kansas Court of Appeals
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's former chief legal counsel is set to take a seat on the Kansas Court of Appeals. A swearing-in ceremony for Caleb Stegall was scheduled Friday afternoon, with Court of Appeals Chief Judge Tom Malone presiding. Stegall is filling a new, 14th seat on the state's second-highest court. Stegall's appointment by the Republican governor received an unusual amount of attention, partly because of his position as Brownback's chief lawyer. It was also the first Court of Appeals appointment under a law that took effect in July that has the governor appoint the judges, subject to Senate confirmation. Previously, an attorney-led commission screened applicants and named three finalists, with no role for lawmakers after the governor's appointment.
KS Libertarian Party Convention Set for April
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Libertarian party will pick its candidate for governor at the party's convention in Wichita on April 26. About 150 registered Libertarians will choose between Keen Umbehr and Tresa McAlhaney. Because Libertarians are not considered a major party in Kansas, they are prohibited from picking their candidate by ballot in a primary election in August. Some Libertarians say having a primary election like Democrats and Republicans would improve their candidate's chances for a good showing during the general election in November. The Kansas City Star reports that a political party in Kansas must get 5 percent of the vote in a governor's race to be considered a major party. In 2010, the Libertarian candidate for governor got 2.6 percent of the vote.
Legislators Seek KS Rural Zone Expansions
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group of Kansas House members has filed legislation for the 2014 session that would add three southeast counties to the state's rural opportunity zone program. Governor Sam Brownback established the program in 2011 to help draw new residents and businesses to counties where populations had dropped by 10 percent in the previous decade. People who move to the participating counties are eligible for income tax waivers, as well as tuition repayment for up to five years. Seventy-three counties already participate. The 2014 legislation would add Cherokee, Labette and Montgomery counties, which are located on the Oklahoma border. The bill is sponsored by Republican Representatives Jim Kelly of Independence, Michael Houser of Columbus, Virgil Peck of Tyro and Richard Proehl of Parsons.
Arraignment Set for Kansas Man in Wife's Death
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man accused of killing his ailing wife has waived his right to hear the state's evidence before his arraignment later this month. Sixty-seven-year-old Larry Hopkins is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death 61-year-old Margaret Hopkins on November 5. Investigators said Hopkins told police he committed the act because of his wife's ongoing health problems. 6News Lawrence reports that Hopkins appeared Thursday in Douglas County District Court and waived his right to a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors would have presented evidence they could use at a trial. Judge Michael Malone scheduled a January 31 arraignment, at which Hopkins will enter a plea. Hopkins has been found competent to stand trial and remains held on $150,000 bond.
Topeka Considers Water Purification Upgrades
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka officials are talking about making improvements to the city's water purification process after struggling to comply with strict new guidelines. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that water in Topeka itself is still in compliance. But three suppliers that receive water from the city recently received notice from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that their levels of haloacetic acids were higher than the state allows. Haloacetic acids are byproducts created from chlorine water filtration. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified the possibility that some people who drink water containing high levels of the acids over several decades could have an increased risk of cancer. City officials indicated in a news release that they had seen the problem coming and are considering options.
Man Shot to Death in Pottawatomie County
ST. MARYS, Kan. (AP) — A suspect has been charged with killing a northeast Kansas man who was driven to a police station after being shot. Pottawatomie County authorities said passengers in the car called deputies to the St. Marys police station around 4:30 am Wednesday. The deputies found 24-year-old Levi Bishop, of Rossville, dead with a gunshot wound. Prosecutor Sherri Schuck told WIBW-TV on Thursday that her office has charged 21-year-old Pablo Alberto Gonzalez with second-degree murder. The St. Marys man was being held on $1 million bond and did not have a lawyer. Authorities said Bishop had been a passenger in Gonzalez's car.
School Board President in KS Faces Drug Charges
WAKEENEY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a school board president for a western Kansas district has been arrested on drug-related charges. Trego County Sheriff Richard Hanks tells television stations KAKE and KWCH that John Reeder was taken into custody Thursday at his WaKeeney home. He is charged with possession of marijuana, criminal use of a firearm and two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school. Reeder is listed as president of the Board of Education for Trego County schools. A Trego County jail staffer tells The Associated Press that Reeder remains in custody. No attorney is listed for him in jail records. KWCH reports that Superintendent George Griffith says there is no statement from the school district at this time.
KS Bank Robbery Suspect Nabbed on City Bus
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas man suspected of robbing a bank and trying to flee on a city bus now faces a federal charge. The U.S. Attorney's office filed a criminal complaint within hours of Thursday's holdup charging 29-year-old Jamarr Dale with robbing Security Bank in Kansas City, Kansas. Investigators allege Dale entered the bank around 9:15 am and passed a note saying, "I need $3,000 or I will start shooting." The teller gave the robber a drawerful of cash and the man ran out. Police received a call saying the robber had boarded a bus. Officers boarded the bus within minutes and arrested Dale with what was described as a large amount of cash, but no gun. Dale did not have a lawyer Thursday and does not have a listed phone.
Man Dies After Standoff with Kansas City Police
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man died after a nearly 4-hour standoff with police. The standoff in south Kansas City began at 11 p.m. Thursday when officers were called to the home because a man was firing shots inside his home and threatening to take his life. Police say the man shot at least six times at officers, who were not injured. An officer shot at the suspect when he pointed a gun out of a window. The standoff ended about 3 am Friday when police went into the home and found the man's body. Police Captain Tye Grant says it's not currently known if the man's injury was self-inflicted or if he was shot by police.
Judge Grants Competency Evaluation for Kansas Teen
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A judge has granted a motion to evaluate whether a 14-year-old Hutchinson boy is competent to stand trial after a house fire killed his mother and sister. Reno County Chief District Judge Patricia Macke Dick granted the motion Thursday. She also allowed the defense attorney to have access to the boy's school records. The Hutchinson News reports that attorneys in the case have not yet selected an agency to evaluate the boy, and no future court dates have been scheduled. The teenager has been held in juvenile detention since the fire at his home in September. He's charged as a juvenile with two counts of murder, aggravated arson and attempted first-degree murder of his father, who escaped the fire.
Suspects in U-Haul Van Lead Officers on Chase
COLBY, Kan. (AP) — A man and woman suspected of stealing tried to flee from officers while driving a U-Haul van in western Kansas. The Colby police department says in a statement that a man from Florida and a woman from Colorado are in custody after the chase Thursday in Thomas County. They are accused of stealing from a Wal-Mart in Colby on Wednesday. An officer tried to stop the full-size van Thursday but the drivers fled. The Salina Journal reports that the vehicle fled on Interstate 70 before its tires were spiked about 12 miles west of Colby. The van ran through a fence and eventually stopped. The two suspects were arrested and are being held on theft charges. Officers determined that the man rented the U-Haul Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Clerk: Group Has Enough Signatures for KCI Vote
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group seeking to require voter approval for any new terminal at Kansas City International Airport has gathered enough signatures to place the proposal on a ballot. The Kansas City Star reports City Clerk Marilyn Sanders confirmed Thursday that the Friends of KCI had gathered more than the necessary 3,573 signatures on petitions. The petitioners want to place a question on the April ballot barring the city from advancing any plan to demolish or replace any terminal at KCI without voter approval. The City Council has 60 days to decide whether to adopt the ballot language on its own or place the question before voters. If the council waits the full 60 days, it would be past the deadline to get items on April's municipal ballot.
Wichita Police Say 2 Children Abandoned
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita are investigating an apparent case of child abandonment. KAKE-TV reports a woman left her two girls, both less than 2 years old, with a stranger at a downtown apartment on December 28th. The woman who took them in described the girls as "filthy and thirsty." She cared for them for three days, then called police when the mother failed to return. The girls are in protective custody while police look for the mother, whose identity was still unknown on Thursday.