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Regional Headlines for Monday, October 7, 2013



US Supreme Court to Hear Kansas Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear several cases that involve Kansas this month. The Kansas Attorney General's office says Kansas has a role in 11 of 53 cases expected to be heard by the Supreme Court during the upcoming term. Nine of the 11 cases don't involve Kansas as a direct party, but the state filed briefs in the cases. Among the Kansas cases directly affecting Kansas is one regarding a state court decision overturning the conviction of Scott Cheever, who was found guilty in the 2005 slaying of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. The high court will review the 2012 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn Cheever's capital murder conviction on grounds trial prosecutors violated Cheever's right under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.


KS Congressman Pompeo Downplays Debt Ceiling Warnings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo says "this is the moment" to reduce the size of government. The Republican from Wichita made the comments Monday as he tries to shore up support back home for taking a conservative hard-line against reopening government or raising the debt ceiling without spending cuts. Speaking outside a Rotary Club, Pompeo says he would "absolutely not" vote to raise the debt ceiling without any strings attached. He also claims there are not enough votes in the house to pass a clean continuing resolution to fund the government. Pompeo says the fight isn't about what Congress is going to do next week or next year. He says Republicans in the House of Representatives want to change the long-term trajectory of the nation's financial condition.


Most KS National Guard Members Recalled from Shutdown

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — All but five of the 772 Kansas National Guard airmen and soldiers who were furloughed last week because of the partial federal government shutdown are being called back to work. The Kansas adjutant general's office says Monday that the recalls come after the Department of Defense issued guidance over the weekend regarding which employees were covered by the federal furlough orders. Those five National Guard technicians who remain furloughed don't meet the guidance for recalls as stated by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. However, Major General Lee Tafanelli, state adjutant general, says the 263 federally-funded state employees furloughed last week do not fall under the new guidelines and will continue to be furloughed. Tafanelli says he hopes the shutdown ends soon and the department is able to return to normal operations.


Kansas Supreme Court to Hear School Finance Appeal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for parents and school districts are facing off against lawyers for the state in front of the Kansas Supreme Court over the funding of public schools. Tuesday's hearing is the second such court battle in less than a decade. At issue is whether the seven-member court will uphold a lower-court ruling issued in January ordering the state to increase school funding by at least $440 million. The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by attorneys representing several school districts, including Dodge City, Hutchinson, Kansas City and Wichita. They argue the state has failed to comply with a 2006 court order to increase funding. State attorneys argue that legislators have complied with the order and did their best in difficult economic times. A decision is anticipated by early January 2014.


Panel Begins Work on Kansas Court Budget Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is telling a special advisory panel to review the potential consequences to state courts if a funding gap isn't closed. Nuss convened the panel Monday to look at the ramifications of a projected $8.25 million shortfall in the judicial branch budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2015. The shortfall could result in forcing employees to take unpaid leave. Nuss told the panel to prepare for the worst. State Senate Vice President Jeff King has written to the 10-member council attempting to blunt the perception that legislators are shortchanging the courts. King says there are options for savings in the system and that legislators are open to reviewing the judiciary's needs in the 2014 session.

Lack of Manpower Has KS Coroner Falling Behind

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A crushing workload and a lack of funds to hire more help has a Kansas coroner months behind in finishing reports, which is having an impact on the local prosecutor's office. Shawnee County coroner Don Pojman says he's often up until 2 or 3 in the morning finishing reports for District Attorney Chad Taylor's office. That's in addition to his responsibilities to review infant deaths for the state, sign cremation permits and complete reports for other deaths. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that Pojman's office used to have 15 employees. But in his first year, his budget was cut by $450,000, or 53 percent, and his staff eventually dwindled to four. Taylor says getting another pathologist is more important to his office than hiring six more attorneys.


Ex-Soldier Sentenced for Killing KS National Guard Member

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A former Fort Riley soldier has been sentenced to life in prison in the death of a Kansas National Guard member outside a Manhattan motorcycle club. KMAN reports that Daniel Parker, of Junction City, apologized before he was sentenced Monday in Riley County District Court for first-degree murder and criminal discharge of a firearm. Parker was accused of opening fire on the "Assassin Street Rydaz" clubhouse as the victim, 21-year-old Frederick Beverly, manned the gate for a party early on New Year's Day, 2012. Prosecutors said Parker had argued earlier with a club member. The prosecution said it was fortunate more people weren't injured, noting that Parker fired more than 20 rounds. Beverly's sister, Sharlene Beverly, said she had endured sleepless nights and that Parker "took a good person."


Man Dies After Falling Off Vehicle in Central KS

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A 23-year-old man has died after falling off the hood of a moving vehicle in central Kansas. The Ellsworth County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that Roland A. Rummel was run over Sunday in northern Ellis County and died Monday at Hays Medical Center. The Salina Journal reports that Rummel reportedly exited a vehicle and then jumped onto the hood while the vehicle was in motion. When the driver pressed the brakes, Rummel fell off and was run over. The driver was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence and transporting an open container.


Topeka Man Pleads Guilty in Wife's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has pleaded guilty in the shooting death of his wife. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Manuel Alcala pleaded guilty Monday in the death of Ashley Alcala, who was killed at her home last year. He was charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the shooting death. Alcala's mother, Manuela Alcala, also entered guilty pleas Monday to four related felonies in the case, including obstruction of prosecution and interference with law enforcement. Both mother and son were scheduled to stand trial Monday in the death. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 24. Another defendant in the case, Gabino Alcala, is scheduled for a court appearance Tuesday, and a hearing date for a fourth defendant, Benjamin Anaya, hasn't been scheduled.

Emporia Man Pleads No Contest to Stalking

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A 61-year-old Emporia man has pleaded no contest to charges accusing him stalking several area women. The Emporia Gazette reports Thomas Hebb pleaded no contest Friday to 39 counts, including several counts of stalking and promoting obscenity. Hebb could face up to one year in prison on each count. Hebb was arrested January 22 after a 14-month police investigation involving letters he allegedly sent to about 20 area women. He's free on $50,000 bond. A sentencing hearing has been set for December 5. Hebb remains free on $50,000 bond.

KU Athletics Considering Changes to Late Night Event

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas athletic officials are considering changes to Late Night in the Phog after complaints about a lack of crowd control at the event last Friday. The Late Night festivities mark the official beginning of the basketball season and fans typically line up for hours before it starts. Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony says KU Athletics plans to discuss changes that might be needed to control crowds as they wait to be allowed into the free event. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that fans complained about frequent cutting in line and a mob rushing the entrance when the doors opened Friday. Between 3,000 and 5,000 fans were turned away. Others reported fights broke out and no one from the university was providing security or crowd control.


Northeast KS Bridge Demolition Rescheduled

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) _ The start of demolition work on a northeast Kansas bridge has been rescheduled because of high water levels along the Missouri River. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that divers can't safely complete needed work for the first blast of the U.S. 59 Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge because the Missouri River has risen from recent heavy rain and snow in northern states. The first blast of the bridge's demolition had been scheduled for Monday. But the Kansas Department of Transportation says that's now rescheduled for Wednesday. The department says dates for the second and third blasts are under discussion. The bridge spans the Missouri River between Atchison and Winthrop, Missouri.


Hundreds of Bras Line Kansas River Bridge

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Drivers across a Kansas River bridge near Lawrence might have some trouble keeping their eyes on the road. The guardrail on the east side of the bridge has been decorated with hundreds of decorated bras. The display is to publicize Breast Cancer Awareness Month and promote Health Care Access, a clinic that provides health care for poor Douglas County residents. The Bras Across the Kaw exhibit is not a new display. But Shelly Wakeman, director of the Health Care Clinic, says people didn't always know who hung the bras, or the purpose of the display. Two large pink banners hung this year explain those points. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that money raised by the display will go to Health Care Access. The display will be up through October 20.


KU Researchers Win Grant to Improve Foster Care

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas researchers have won a $2.5 million federal grant to develop a system to screen foster children for trauma. The screening tool will be used to create treatment plans to help children when they are young. The goal is to reduce the need for hospitalizations, incarcerations and other more costly expenses as the children grow older. There also will be a tracking mechanism that permits statewide, systems-level progress monitoring. The university says that few states have universal screening and assessment tools to deal with trauma in young children. The researchers hope that the Kansas system could prove to be a national model. Researchers will work with the two foster care contract agencies in Kansas on the project.


KU Gets $4.4M Federal Grant for Chemical Research

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Researchers at the University of Kansas have received a $4.4 million federal grant to help develop sustainable manufacturing processes for chemicals. The university says the four-year grant to its Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis comes from the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency. Center director Bala Subramaniam says one of the major challenges for the chemical industry is to develop sustainable manufacturing processes. A major part of the project will be to identify what part of the manufacturing chain involves toxic materials. The university says the project will support five graduate students, five postdoctoral researchers and several pre-service high school science teachers.

KU Ponders Major Renovation of Football Stadium

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger has revived plans for a major renovation of the University of Kansas football stadium. The Kansas City Star reports that Zenger acknowledges a Memorial Stadium project would require a massive fundraising effort. No budget or timetable for the renovation has been set. But Zenger says Kansas began the design process for an eventual renovation last month. The early work on the project comes as construction continues on a new, $39 million complex in west Lawrence for soccer, softball and track and field. The complex is expected to host the Kansas Relays in the spring, and its opening would allow Kansas to remove the track around the football field at Memorial Stadium, a possible first step in a larger project.

Attorney Hopes to Keep Lid on Client's Confession

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas attorney is asking a judge to suppress statements his client made when he went into Sedgwick County jail in December and asked to be arrested for killing his wife. Guy Wayne Palmer is charged with first-degree murder in the December 16 death of his 61-year-old wife, Debra. The Wichita Eagle reports the woman's body was found at the couple's home after investigators followed up on Palmer's claims. Sheriff's Sergeant Jeremy Wood testified Friday he didn't initially thought Palmer might be a homeless person looking for a place to stay. A suppression hearing that started Friday continues Monday, with jury selection in Palmer's trial to begin Tuesday. His attorney says he wasn't read his Miranda rights before making his statements so they should be suppressed.

Mandela's Civic Organization to Receive Dole Leadership Prize

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Dole Leadership Prize is going to a civic organization started by former South Africa President Nelson Mandela. The Robert Dole Institute of Politics plans to present the 2013 Dole prize to Mandela's great-grandson, Luvuyo Mandela, on October 27th at the University of Kansas. The $25,000 monetary prize is to benefit the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. The prize is awarded annually to an individual or group whose public service leadership inspires others. Mandela, who is 95, was incarcerated for 27 years in South Africa. He was released in 1990 and served as president of the country from 1994 to 1999. Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute, says he can't think of anyone more deserving of the 10th anniversary Dole Leadership Prize than Mandela.


Lower KS Court to Reconsider Ex-Teacher's Case in Sex Abuse Conviction

BUHLER, Kan. (AP) — A lower court will reconsider the case of a former south-central Kansas high school debate coach convicted of sexually molesting a South Korean exchange student. Richard Young, of Buhler, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison after being convicted in 2008 in Reno County District Court. Prosecutors said he fondled the 15-year-old student within days of the boy's arrival to attend Buhler High School. But the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the conviction last year, saying the trial judge improperly allowed evidence that Young had sexually abused his stepsons. Now, the Kansas Supreme Court wants the lower court to reconsider its ruling based on a previous appellate court ruling addressing the admissibility of prior sexual crime evidence. The Hutchinson News reports that Young remains incarcerated.


KC Plaza Jewelry Store Robbed as Owner Attacked

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say two men with hammers robbed a jewelry store on the Country Club Plaza, despite the efforts of the store's owner to stop them. Investigators say the men came into Vinca Jewelry Sunday afternoon and smashed the displays before taking some of the jewelry. Owner Simon Zouein says he fought with one of the men for several minutes and eventually ran out of the store. He suffered minor injuries. Police say the two men escaped in a maroon Dodge Neon with a broken passenger-side window. Vinca Jewelry was the scene of a million-dollar robbery in 2010 when thieves cut into the building during the night. That robbery was never solved.

Police Identify KC Girl Hit by Ice Cream Truck

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police have identified the 8-year-old girl who died after she was hit by an ice cream truck. Police identified the girl Sunday night as Lillian E. Simon of Kansas City. Investigators say Lillian was hit by the truck after she ran in front of it Friday evening in the northern part of the city. She died later of her injuries. Police say the truck had pulled over to serve a customer, and when the driver started moving again, hit the girl as she darted in front of the vehicle. No citations have been issued.

5-Year-Old Girl, Firefighter Burned in House Blaze

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 5-year-old girl has died and a firefighter who tried to save her suffered second-degree burns to the face after a house fire in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports the fire was reported just after 4 am Sunday, and when emergency crews arrived they found heavy flames coming from the rear and center sections of the home. The girl was found in or near a bedroom at the back of the house, which had no smoke detectors. A woman and a 7-year-old girl escaped and were taken to an area hospital for evaluation. The name of the victim and other occupants weren't released pending notification of relatives. The cause remains under investigation.


Missouri Man Gets 14 Years for al-Qaida Support

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City businessman who pleaded guilty more than three years ago to providing financial support to al-Qaida has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. Khalid Ouazzani was sentenced in a Kansas City federal court Monday. The 35-year-old had faced up to 65 years in prison for bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to support a terrorist group. In his plea bargain, Ouazzani admitted making false claims to borrow money for a used auto parts business and wiring the proceeds to a bank in Dubai. That money was used to purchase an apartment that later sold for a $17,000 profit, which was given to al-Qaida. Ouazzani also admitted sending the terror group $6,500 from the sale of his business. Prosecutors say Ouazzani swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida.



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