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Regional Headlines for Thursday, February 13, 2014


Kansas House Bill Would Void Academic Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new proposal before the Kansas Legislature would nullify reading, math and science standards for public schools adopted previously by the State Board of Education. The measure is sponsored by the House Education Committee and was introduced this week. The bill also says that new standards would be drafted "solely" by the Kansas board with help from an advisory committee. Conservative Republican legislators tried unsuccessfully last year to block the board from putting into effect the multistate Common Core standards for reading and math. The board adopted the standards in 2010. Because the federal government has encouraged states to adopt them, critics see them as federal education standards, and costly to implement as well. The bill also would nullify multistate, evolution-friendly science standards adopted by the Kansas board last year.


Testimony Given on KS House Climate Change Resolution

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee is weighing a resolution urging Congress to resist following President Barack Obama's plan for addressing climate change Members of the House Energy and Environment Committee took nearly two hours of testimony Thursday about the measure. It declares that the federal goals for addressing climate change are based on false assumptions about the role of carbon dioxide and human activity. Supporters point to data suggesting warming is occurring naturally and human influence is overstated. Environmentalists argue that the resolution is based on bad science and ignores data that emissions and humans are altering sea levels and weather patterns. The resolution cites Obama's 2013 plan that calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and encourages development of renewable forms of energy.


House Passes 2015 KS Prison Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved the 2015 budget for the Department of Corrections, authorizing more than $390 million for state prisons and programs. The bill passed 79-41 on Thursday, sending the measure to the Senate and restoring the funding that was vetoed last year by Governor Sam Brownback. The spending covers the fiscal year beginning July 1 and includes funding for additional corrections officers and increased health care costs. Lawmakers amended the bill Wednesday to place restrictions on where the Department of Corrections could locate parole offices. The restrictions were prompted by the agency's plan to open a parole office next door to a daycare center in Kansas City, Kansas. Parents and city officials have protested, saying they don't want convicted sex offenders visiting an office so close to children.


KS Senate Approves Death Penalty Appeals Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas senators have approved a measure shortening the time for inmates to appeal death sentences to the state Supreme Court, despite concerns from opponents about the state rushing to judgment. Thursday's 27-13 vote sent the bill to the House. The measure creates a 3½-year time limit for the appeals to be heard and decided by the court. The measure would not affect any subsequent appeals, including those made to the U.S. Supreme Court.It also sets limits on the length of documents that can be filed in death penalty to appeals to the state court, and requires the appeals to be placed ahead of all other cases pending before the justices. Opponents argued the changes weaken the death penalty's integrity and increase the chances an innocent person will be executed.


Leawood Couple Wants KS to Open Records

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County couple who were the focus of a failed marijuana search is supporting proposed legislation making it easier to get police investigative reports. The failed search for marijuana two years ago at the Leawood home of Robert and Adlynn Harte launched the Hartes on a crusade for documents to shed light on what led to the search, which produced no charges or evidence. The Hartes spent $25,000 working to get the records. The Kansas City Star reports the Hartes appeared before lawmakers Wednesday asking them to make public police documents called probable-cause affidavits, which are used to justify arrests or searches. The Hartes support a bill introduced by Shawnee Republican Representative John Rubin, which would require prosecutors to convince a judge that the records should remain private.


Found Body Might Be That of Junction City Woman

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say a body found in rural Geary County matches the description of a missing Junction City woman. Junction City police say in a news release Thursday that the body matches the description of 24-year-old Amanda Clemons, although a positive identification has not been confirmed. Authorities went to the scene late Wednesday after serving a search warrant at Fort Riley and interviewing people throughout the day. A 22-year-old Colorado woman and a 23-year-old man living at Fort Riley were arrested. Formal charges have not been filed. Clemons was last seen on February 7. Witnesses said they saw her being placed into a car at the Budget Host Hotel in Junction City.


Former KBI Official Charged with Child Sex Crime

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas Bureau of Investigation deputy director has been charged with sexual exploitation of a child and trying to destroy evidence. The Shawnee County prosecutor filed the charges Thursday against 57-year-old Kyle G. Smith, of Topeka. County jail officials said he was released around 5:20 pm after posting a $15,000 surety bond. Prosecutors allege Smith possessed a photo of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He's also charged with two counts of interference with law enforcement, alleging he tried to destroy evidence on a telephone and on a computer. Smith's attorney, Thomas Haney, didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment. Smith doesn't have a listed phone number. The KBI said in November that Smith was no longer with the agency but would not say why.


Police: Body Found in KCK Freezer Was Arizona Trucker

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say a body discovered in a freezer at a property in Kansas is an Arizona trucker who was reported missing in October. The body of 53-year-old Lawrence Peter Muirhead was found Sunday inside the freezer in a garage behind a home in Kansas City, Kansas. City police said Thursday Muirhead's death is considered a homicide. They have provided no details on how he died. Muirhead's family reported him missing October 1 when he didn't return home to Tucson after a trip to Pennsylvania. Relatives said their last contact with him was September 28. The truck he was driving was found abandoned October 4 in Merriam, 8 miles southwest of Kansas City. City police spokesman Patrick McCallop declined to say who lived at the home or found the body.


Suspect Arrested in Radio Company Employee's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police have arrested a suspect in the killing of a communications company employee earlier this week. KAKE-TV reports that police arrested the suspect Wednesday night after receiving an anonymous tip in the death of 25-year-old Daniel Flores. His body was found early Monday at Steckline Communications. Police say when they stopped the suspect's car the driver stabbed himself in the stomach. He is currently under police watch at a Wichita hospital. Lieutenant Todd Ojile says the suspect is an ex-boyfriend of someone who works at Steckline. He says Flores didn't know the suspect and apparently was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ojile said that the suspect will be booked for felony murder when he's released from the hospital. No other suspects are being sought.


KC Arts Leader to Be Nominated for NEA Post

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The chairman of Kansas City's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts says President Obama chose wisely in selecting the center's president to lead the National Endowment for the Arts. The White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama intends to nominate Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Chu has been president and CEO of the Kauffman Center since 2006. The Senate will have to confirm Chu's nomination to the NEA, an independent federal agency that supports and helps fund artistic exhibits. Julia Irene Kauffman, chairman of the Kauffman Center, says Obama "has chosen wisely," and Chu's nomination is a validation of the important role the Kauffman Center plays in the performing arts.


Construction Trade Group Releases National Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A national construction trade group has unveiled a new national plan to address looming workforce shortages as firms add jobs after a lengthy downturn. The Arlington, Virginia-based Associated General Contractors of America released the plan Thursday during a visit to the Washburn Institute of Technology in Topeka. Group spokesman Brian Turmail says Kansas was chosen as the release site because of a state-funded program that offers high school juniors and seniors free, college-credit technical training in high-demand fields. Turmail says the association wants to nudge other states to do the same thing. The plan outlines measures to make it easier for schools, construction firms and local construction associations to establish career and technical training programs. It also calls for significant reforms to federal career and technical education programs.


Man Arrested on Bus Admits Robbing Kansas Bank

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man whose getaway vehicle was a city bus has pleaded guilty to robbing a bank. The U.S. Attorney's office says 29-year-old Jamarr Dale faces up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Thursday to one count of bank robbery. The holdup occurred January 2 at a Security Bank branch in Dale's hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. Dale admitted handing a teller a note that said, "I need $3,000 or I will start shooting." He left after the teller gave him a drawerful of cash. Police received a call saying the robber had boarded a city bus outside a nearby WalMart. Officers boarded the bus within minutes and arrested Dale with what was described as a large amount of cash, but no gun.


Man Pleads Guilty in Hit-and-Run Involving Horse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man pleaded guilty to two felonies for a hit-and-run accident that killed a man who was riding a horse. A boy also was injured after a car driven by 26-year-old George Childers hit the horse last July 5 and then fled. The horse had to be euthanized. Childers hit a horse being ridden by 49-year-old Lloyd Ferguson and 6-year-old Eddie Caddell. The Wichita Eagle reports Childers will be sentenced April 2 for leaving the scene of an accident and one count of interference with law enforcement. He was scheduled to go to trial this week.


School in Lawsuit Tries to Shield Criminal Past of Employees

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas military boarding school embroiled in a lawsuit alleging widespread abuse of its cadets is asking a federal judge to keep any mention about prior arrests or criminal convictions of its employees away from jurors at next month's trial. The request comes amid 21 sealed motions filed on Wednesday by St. John's Military School in Salina seeking to restrict evidence when trial begins March 4 in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. The school also seeks to keep out of the trial a police report, findings by a state child welfare agency and certain testimony. Four sealed motions also were filed by the ex-cadets seeking to exclude references about illicit drug use, their own "prior bad acts," and references to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.


Trial Date Set for 3 Accused in Robbery of Dying Woman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County judge has set a trial date for three men accused of stealing a wedding ring and other items from a dying Wichita woman. A preliminary hearing was held Thursday for Daquantrius Johnson, Quanique Thomas-Hameen and Keith Hickles Jr. All three are charged with robbery, theft and aggravated burglary. They're accused of robbing 43-year-old Danielle Zimmerman after she suffered a brain aneurysm at a Wichita Taco Bell on December 29. While she was unconscious, someone took her purse, a cellphone and wedding ring. She died the next day. The Wichita Eagle reports that after a preliminary hearing Thursday, District Judge Christopher Magana bound all three men over for trial and set the case on the April 7 jury trial docket.


Kansan Sentenced to Life for Child Sex Crime

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years for sex crimes involving a child. A Barber County judge on Wednesday sentenced 22-year-old Robert Pruitt of Kiowa under the state's Jessica Law, which imposes longer sentences for sex crimes involving children. Pruitt also was ordered to wear electronic monitoring for life and lifetime registration as a sex offender. The Hutchinson News reports that Pruitt pleaded guilty in October 2013 to one count of rape of a child younger than 14.

Man Convicted of Child Abuse Pleads in Escape

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man serving life in prison for killing his girlfriend's young son was sentenced to nearly two years of additional jail time for escaping from prison while awaiting sentencing in the murder case. Thirty-year-old Antonio Brown Sr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated escape and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. The Salina Journal reports Brown will serve that sentence after completion of his sentences for two counts of child abuse and one count of first-degree murder in the October 2011 death of his girlfriend's 14-month-old son, Clayden Urbanek. Last February, Brown walked out of a Saline County jail holding cell after a door was inadvertently opened. He surrendered in Wichita two days later.


Topeka Debaters to Spar at Brown v. Board Site

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — High school debaters will take on the issue of ongoing public school segregation during a Black History Month event at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. A sixty-minute debate gets under way Friday at the Topeka site that tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legally segregated public schools. Debaters from Topeka High School will spar over whether socio-economic issues must be the focus of polices aimed at ending school segregation.


KC to Host 24-Hour Computer Coding Marathon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City will be the site for a 24-hour coding marathon designed to encourage and inspire youths to learn the language of computer coding. The Kansas City Star reports all high school and college students who like to write computer code can participate in CodeDay KC's event February 15 and 16. The city is one of six that are hosting the marathons. Participants in Kansas City can come to the Sprint Accelerator in groups or as individuals and form teams, participate in workshops and pitch ideas. Tickets purchased before Friday cost $10. Regular tickets will be $20 and include lunch and dinner February 15, a midnight snack and breakfast on February 16. Registration is available online at

TECT Commits $100K for WSU Program

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A company that supplies components for the aircraft industry is committing $100,000 over five years to help Wichita State University develop a mentoring program. The Wichita Eagle reports the university will use the gift from TECT Aerospace to raise interest among public school students in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The mentoring program will be aimed at low-income youth and students of color from kindergarten through 12th grade. Wichita State says the program will recruit professionals in the relevant fields to volunteer with mentoring and other activities. The gift was made with help from The Glass Foundation, which supports philanthropic endeavors on behalf of Kenneth Glass and family, which owns the TECT family of businesses.

Driver Sideswipes Bus Carrying Disabled Students in KCMO

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri education officials say no one was injured when a driver sideswiped a bus carrying six students from a school that serves the severely disabled. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says reports indicate the driver may have run a stop sign before Thursday's crash at a Kansas City intersection. A nurse on board the bus at the time evaluated the students from B.W. Sheperd State School before they were transferred to another bus. When the students arrived at their school, they were evaluated again. B.W. Sheperd is one of 35 schools for the severely disabled in Missouri. It serves kindergarten to 12th-graders.



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