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Regional Headlines for Monday, July 1, 2013


Kansas High Court to Hear Death Penalty Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments in the capital murder cases of two men on death row. The high court said Monday that the justices will hear oral arguments December 17 in the cases of brothers Jonathan Carr and Reginald Carr, who were sentenced to death in December 2002 after they kidnapped five people from a Wichita home in 2000 and fatally shot four of them in a soccer field. A fifth person also was shot but survived. The Carrs also were convicted of murder in the death of a woman shot four days before the soccer field slayings. The state Supreme Court overturned the state's death penalty law in 2004. That ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Kansas's capital punishment statute and returned the Carrs to death row.


UPDATE: Federal Suit Over Kansas Abortion Regulations Placed on Fast Track 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) --  The chief federal judge for Kansas has set what she considers an aggressive schedule for a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood agains parts of a new state abortion law. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil announced the schedule Monday, as most of the law took effect. It's designed to allow a hearing July 29 on the merits of Planned Parenthood's legal challenge. Under her schedule, the parties must finish filing written legal arguments by July 22. Planned Parenthood is challenging provisions that require patients to receive information before receiving an abortion about the ability of the fetus to feel pain, and other information that states abortion ends the life of a separate human being. There's also a new rule about the content of abortion providers' websites, but that has been blocked by a state judge. 


Analysis: Details Spur Attack on Kansas Abortion Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Anti-abortion leaders who helped push now-challenged restrictions through the Kansas Legislature this session say they're taken aback by an attack on new rules for providers' websites. A provision of a law taking effect today would require providers to link to the state health department's site on abortion and fetal development. Abortion opponents wondered aloud last week why the provision is being challenged in court, given that Kansas's four providers already link to the site. But the law requires a statement with the link that the state's information is "objective" and "scientifically accurate." Providers argue the information is neither and that directing them to vouch for it violates their free-speech rights. The dispute centers on the specifics and demonstrates that details matter greatly to both sides of the abortion debate. 


Feds Sue Kansas for Water Pollution at Road Sites

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Environmental regulators have accused Kansas of polluting water at three road construction sites. The federal government sued the Kansas Department of Transportation on Monday alleging violations of the Clean Water Act over stormwater discharge of pollutants. The sites are located on U.S. 69, U.S. 59 and Kansas 18 near Lawrence, Pleasanton and Manhattan. The Kansas attorney general's office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. At issue are allegations that KDOT failed to prevent erosion from exposed slopes into waterways. The lawsuit contends the state did not properly design or maintain sediment controls such as silt fences, berms and sediment basins. It seeks fines of $32,500 per day for violations dating to 2004, and more than $37,000 per day for those after 2009.


Kansas Juvenile Corrections Merges with Adult System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The administration of the juvenile justice system in Kansas is merging into the adult correctional system. Governor Sam Brownback contends the Juvenile Justice Authority will be better managed under the Department of Corrections and says money going toward administration of the JJA could instead be diverted into programs for offenders. The Department of Corrections says in a release that the merger takes effect Monday. Brownback removed the Juvenile Justice Authority's top two officials last year and put a Department of Corrections official in charge. Legislative audits later questioned the authority's handling of safety issues and suggested its education programs for young offenders aren't up to par. The Corrections Department houses about 9,400 adult offenders. The Juvenile Justice Authority oversees programs for 1,500 young offenders.


Restoration of Power Expected Soon in Sedgwick County

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Crews are nearly done restoring power to customers affected by last week's massive outage in Sedgwick County. Westar Energy says around 400 customers in the county were still without power at mid-afternoon Monday. That's down from a peak of 21,000 in Wichita and the surrounding county after storms with winds topping 70 mph struck the area last Thursday. Westar officials told KAKE-TV that crews still had 285 known repairs to make as of Sunday evening.


Kansas Firm Proposes Oil Pipeline in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Kansas company is seeking shipping commitments from oil producers to use a proposed pipeline that would carry crude from western North Dakota's booming oil patch to Illinois. Wichita-based Koch Pipeline Company said Monday that oil shippers have until August 14 to solicit interest in the Dakota Express Pipeline. Koch says the pipeline could be running in 2016 and would have the capacity to move 250,000 barrels of crude daily from western North Dakota to a hub in Patoka, Illinois, and to the company's terminal in Hartford, Illinois. The cost of the pipeline was not disclosed. The company says it also is exploring a pipeline connection at the Patoka hub that would further move North Dakota crude to Louisiana and the eastern Gulf Coast.


UPDATE: 3 Kansas Regents Cleared to Serve Despite Questions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has approved Governor Sam Brownback's three new appointees to the state Board of Regents, but a Democratic leader questioned whether one nominee can legally serve. Monday's decision by the Confirmation Oversight Committee means the three can serve on the board overseeing the state's higher education system until the full Senate considers their appointments next year. They are Shane Bangerter, of Dodge City; Helen Van Etten, of Topeka; and Ann Murguia, of Kansas City, Kansas. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka, the only Democrat on the six-member Oversight Committee, questioned Bangerter's appointment. Kansas law says only five members of a political party can serve on the nine-member board, which already has five Republicans. Bangerter switched from the GOP to "no affiliation" in February.

Wichita's Recession Job Losses Drag Down Overall Kansas Figures

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Blame Wichita for Kansas's failure to regain all the jobs the state lost in the recession. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Wichita metro remains 16,000 jobs down from 2008. About half of the jobs that disappeared from the Wichita-area economy were for people directly employed in aircraft manufacturing in 2008. Because of that, when the Wichita area is counted, Kansas is down 9,000 jobs from May 2008. Without Wichita, the state is up about 7,000 jobs. The bright spot for job growth in Kansas is in rural areas and small town, driven in part by more oil drilling. But for most of the state's biggest cities, there were fewer jobs or about the same number as in 2008.


Officials Say Overpasses Unsafe During Tornado

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Weather officials in Tornado Alley have raised concerns about a scene in the new Superman movie that incorrectly portrays a highway overpass as a safe place to hide during a tornado. The Wichita Eagle reports that in the film "Man of Steel," Clark Kent's dad sees a tornado approaching as he's driving with his family. He then urges his family and other motorists to seek shelter under a highway overpass. That contradicts the tornado safety information put out by weather officials. The National Weather Service says an overpass may actually be one of the worst places to seek shelter from a tornado because it puts people at risk of being hurt by flying debris. Warner Bros. says the film is fiction and events depicted aren't intended as emergency preparedness advice.

Kansas Inmates Raise Money for Boston Victims

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Inmates at a Kansas prison who are members of a running club have raised money for Boston Marathon bombing victims. Topeka Correctional Facility inmate Konnie Kellogg organized the race at the all-female prison's track this month. It raised $1,500 for the Boston 1 Fund benefiting the survivors of the marathon bombing and their families. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the about 50 women took part in the fundraising run, which was held June 12th. Some inmates who didn't run donated cash or bought race T-shirts. The entry fee was $25; shirts were $15. The running group picks out four charities to help each year. Runs in the past have benefited the Topeka Rescue Mission and breast cancer research.

Junction City Man's Body Found After Drowning at Lake

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Crews have recovered the body of a Kansas man who was the subject of a search over the weekend at a Geary County lake. KJCK-AM reports that Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf has confirmed a body recovered early Monday at Milford Lake is that of a Junction City man, but he didn't immediately have more details. Wolf says the man drowned Friday night in the Nuddie Beach area of the lake, south of the Milford city boat ramp. It's the second drowning this year at the lake.

Kansas, Missouri Men Drown at Ozarks Lakes

PONTIAC, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says two men have drowned this weekend at Ozarks lakes. The first victim was 64-year-old Lindel Mahan of Pontiac, Missouri. He was swimming around 5:45 pm Friday when he drowned on Bull Shoals Lake. The second drowning happened around 11:45 am Saturday at the Lake of the Ozarks. The patrol says 48-year-old Carl Migliazzo of Mission, Kansas fell off a dock and failed to return to the surface. He was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Swimmer Drowns at Cheney Reservoir

CHENEY, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Wichita man has drowned while trying to help a friend at Cheney Reservoir in south-central Kansas. Reno County sheriff's deputy Lee Johnson announced on the agency's Facebook page that the victim was Marcus Hutton. The posting said that the drowning was reported around 5 pm. Saturday near the lake's yacht club. Witnesses told authorities that they were swimming when one of Hutton's friends started yelling for help. Hutton pushed the friend to shallow water before going under water. Hutton's body was found around 8 pm.

Rossville Man Killed in ATV Accident Near Delia

DELIA, Kan. (AP) — A 21-year-old man has been killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident near the northeast Kansas town of Delia. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 21-year-old Adrian Barber of Rossville was injured Saturday morning. Barber then was transported to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center, where he was pronounced dead. Jackson County (Kansas) Sheriff Tim Morse said in a news release that the accident remains under investigation.


'Torture and Rape' Part of Missouri Home Invasion

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) — Police say "torture and rape" were part of an armed home invasion in the Kansas City suburb of Grandview. The Kansas City Star reports that at least three armed suspects broke into a single-family home around 2 am Sunday. Police say a 21-year-old woman was raped and three men — ranging in age from 25 to 57 — were scalded with hot grease. The invasion lasted more than three hours. Afterward, the four victims were taken to a hospital for treatment. Police say one victim suffered ankle injuries when he was assaulted with a power tool. None of the injuries were believed to be life threatening. Police say the suspects fled the neighborhood after stealing a vehicle that later was recovered unoccupied in Kansas City.


KC Bus Passenger Sprays Others with Gas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A woman sprayed Kansas City Metro bus passengers with gasoline and tried to light a fire. The Kansas City Star reports that the incident occurred early Monday on a Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Metro bus. Cindy Baker, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, says the woman pulled a container from her purse and started spraying other passengers with gasoline. Passengers rushed her after she pulled out a match. Baker says it's unclear if the woman was able to light the match. If she had, it went out before she was able to start a fire. Police say there were about a dozen passengers on the bus, and that only minor injuries were reported.

KCK Police Evacuate Apartment Building

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas City, Kansas have evacuated about 20 people from an apartment building after a partial collapse at vacant building next door. KSHB-TV reports that the partial collapse happened late Sunday. Some residents of the evacuated apartment said they didn't know anything had happened until they received an order from authorities to leave. There were no reports of injuries. It wasn't clear how long the residents would be out of their homes.

Topeka Police Lack Funds for New Ticketing Software

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Police Department doesn't have the necessary funding for a safer, more efficient way to hand out citations. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that five law enforcement agencies in Kansas have started to save money by using electronic ticketing software operated on a hand-held device or laptop. The systems replaces handwritten ticket citations. Police departments in Dodge City, Edwardsville, Merriam and Salina, as well as the Saline County Sheriff's Office, have been using the new technology. Topeka police Captain Brian Desch says Topeka Municipal Court and the police department requested funding last year for electronic ticketing software, but the Topeka City Council cut the funding.


SW Kansas Gang Member Pleads Guilty to 2008 Attack

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old southwest Kansas man is facing up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to participating in an attack at the home of a rival gang member. Juan Torres pleaded guilty Monday to one count of aiding and abetting attempted murder in a Dodge City attack nearly five years ago. Prosecutors say Torres was a member of Diablos Viejos and was associated with the Norteno street gang during the October 4, 2008, shooting at a Sureno gang member's home. A co-defendant is accused of firing multiple rounds from an AK-47 style weapon and wounding the home's residents. Torres is the 12th of 23 Dodge City gang members indicted in May 2011 on racketeering charges to plead guilty in the case. He is to be sentenced September 16.


Survey: Midwest, Plains Economy Remains Strong

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey suggests the economy remains strong in nine Midwest and Plains states and business will continue to improve in the months ahead. The overall index for the region declined to 55.6 in June from 56.2 in May, but any score above 50 suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says business leaders expect slower growth in the next few months. Modest job growth is also expected as the hiring index dropped to 53.7 in June from May's 59.3. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below that suggests decline.

California Man Charged in KC Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County (Missouri) authorities have charged a California man in the weekend shooting death of a retired minister. The Kansas City Star reports that 37-year-old David Allen of Vacaville, California was charged Sunday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of 58-year-old Thomas Dean Sr. Dean was shot to death outside a home Saturday. Witnesses told police that Dean had gone to the home to help a friend move. Police arrested Allen a few minutes later, near a park several blocks away. Dean's relatives said that although Dean had retired from regular ministry, he continued to fill in for other ministers. Records provided by the prosecutor's office don't list a lawyer for Allen.

DA: No Charges in Wichita Twin's Fatal Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 59-year-old Wichita man who said he killed his twin in self-defense won't face charges. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Sedgwick County district attorney recently announced the decision. Police said the surviving brother was arrested after calling 911 to report that his twin had pointed a gun at him before the fatal shooting. The shooting happened in May in the west Wichita home where the brothers lived. Police said the brothers had been arguing for several days about issues such as food and animals in the house. Police had been to the house twice over three years to respond to disputes between the brothers.

Topeka Mom Delivers Daughter's Premature Baby

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — When a Topeka woman went into labor three months early, her mother was there to deliver the baby. Forty-two-year-old Dorothy Robinson admits that she thought little of it when her 19-year-old daughter, La'Trese Robinson, complained of pain Thursday morning. After all, she was just 28 weeks along. But The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that everything changed when La'Trese Robinson's water broke. Dorothy Robinson called 911, and a dispatcher walked her through the delivery while an ambulance rushed to the family's home. La'Trese Robinson was released from the hospital Saturday. Her baby, Angelina, is expected to remain in the Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a couple of months. She weighs 2 pounds, 7 ounces and is doing well.


Space Tourist Visits Kansas Cosmosphere

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A computer software executive who's made two flights to the International Space Station as a space tourist, visited the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. The Wichita Eagle reports that Charles Simonyi toured the Cosmosphere Sunday with its chief executive officer, Dick Hollowell, and Jim Remar, president and chief operating officer. Simonyi said he particularly liked the exhibits charting the space race during the 1950s and 1960s between the United States and the Soviet Union. Simonyi led the Microsoft teams that developed Word and Excel and is one of five so-called space tourists. He has paid for two flights into space to live two weeks aboard the International Space Station. His first flight was in 2007, the second in 2009. He says each trip cost between $20 million and $25 million.


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