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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, December 17, 2013



Judge in KS Orders Scientist from China Detained

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Chinese scientist accused of taking seeds taken from a private Kansas research facility and passing them off to a visiting delegation from China will remain in federal custody at least until his next court appearance. Weiqiang Zhang, an agricultural seed breeder at a biopharmaceutical production facility in Junction City, is charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets. He's accused of taking proprietary seeds from the facility and giving them to visiting Chinese agriculture officials this summer. A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas on Tuesday ordered Zhang detained, but said he'd consider substantial bail amounts at Zhang's next court appearance December 30. Zhang and a co-defendant from China who worked at a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility in Arkansas face up to 10 years in prison if convicted in the case.


Federal Panel Suggests Delaying KanCare Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal panel says the KanCare takeover of long-term services for the developmentally disabled should be delayed. KanCare, the state's privatized program for the poor and disabled, is scheduled to begin providing those services Jan. 1. However, it needs a waiver from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Jan. 1. The National Council on Disability is recommending that Medicaid delay the waiver for one year. The panel says the state has not adequately considered concerns raised by clients, guardians and service providers about the expansion. The Wichita Eagle reports the state Department for Aging and Disability Services officials disagreed with the panel's recommendations. They say the panel didn't spend enough time in Kansas to understand the safeguards KanCare has to protect the rights of the disabled.


KS Supreme Court Hears Death Penalty Appeal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a Wichita man sentenced to die for a quadruple homicide in December 2000 tells the Kansas Supreme Court that Reginald Carr didn't receive a fair trial because he was denied the right to testify and was tried with his brother. Debra Wilson, attorney for Reginald Carr, told the justices Tuesday that her client was effectively fighting the state and his brother Jonathan in proving his innocence. The brothers were convicted in the shooting deaths of three men and a woman on December 15, 2000, as the victims knelt in a field. Prosecutors say the four friends and a woman who survived had been abducted from a home by the Carrs, who forced them to engage in sex with each other and withdraw money from ATMs.


Topeka Sewage Spills into Kansas River

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka's water department is monitoring the Kansas River for E. coli after a weekend sewage spill. The city of Topeka says the sanitary sewer bypass pumping station went down over the weekend, discharging waste into the river. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that most of the sewage spilled into the Kansas River overnight Sunday. It's unclear how much sewage spilled or what caused the failure. The city's Water Pollution Control Division is monitoring the Kansas River for E. coli concentrations, and will continue to monitor the water until counts show normal levels. The city says the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Lawrence, Olathe, and WaterOne Utility water treatment plants were notified Monday of the breach.


Topeka Man Sentenced for Possessing Pipe Bomb

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old Topeka man who was caught with a pipe bomb is going to prison for two years and nine months. The U.S. Attorney's office says Kyle Roe was sentenced Tuesday in federal court, where he pleaded guilty in September to receiving and possessing a pipe bomb. He had faced a maximum 10-year term. Roe was arrested on an active felony warrant in November 2012 after Topeka police stopped a car in which he was riding. Roe admitted telling the officers that he had a bomb in his pocket. Investigators said the device could have injured or killed anyone nearby if it exploded. The car's driver, 36-year-old Topeka resident Joseph Rogers, pleaded guilty last month to making the bomb. He also faces up to 10 years at his January sentencing.


Kansas Anchor Fired After On-Air Expletive

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An anchorman for NBC's Wichita affiliate has been fired after accidentally uttering an expletive at the end of a newscast. The Wichita Eagle reports that KSNW weekend anchor Justin Kraemer muttered, "Let's get the (expletive) out of here," after Saturday's 10 pm newscast. The cameras had already cut away from the anchors, who had signed off, and the end-of-broadcast music had played — but viewers heard the comment. Kraemer says he was let go Monday and that he completely understood the station's decision. A YouTube clip posted by a viewer minutes after the broadcast has had more than 1 million viewers. Kraemer says he's "embarrassed" and that the slip-up followed "a very long day." Although he declined to offer details, Kraemer says he's lined up his next job move.


KC Grocery Store Owners Sentenced for Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Kansas City grocery store owners are sentenced in a food stamp fraud scheme that netted $151,000. Prosecutors say Ibrahim Alanabuki was sentenced Monday to 15 months in federal prison without parole. His wife, Mona Jwad, was sentenced to five years' probation. The couple owned the Al-Forat Bakery and Store in Kansas City. Prosecutors say a third defendant, Hani Al-Zaidi, persuaded homeless people to give him their food stamps in exchange for cash. Alanbuki would make it appear he had sold food to the recipients, then distribute the money. Alanabuki also accepted benefits to pay the beneficiary's utility bills, or sell ineligible items. Alanabuki and Jwad also used other people's food stamps to buy their own food. Al-Zaidi was sentenced in October to time already served, about 15 months.


2 Ordered to Stand Trial in Salina Woman's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Two men will stand trial for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of a 27-year-old Salina woman. Twenty-five-year-old Joel Heil and 33-year-old Dane DeWeese, of Abilene, were bound over for trial Monday in the death of Kirstin Tyler. The mother of four was missing two weeks before her body was found May 9 in a ravine off Interstate 135 in rural Saline County. The Salina Journal reports that the men are expected to enter a plea during arraignment Jan. 10.

6-Hour Standoff Ends Peacefully Near Pratt

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — Pratt County officials say a standoff ended peacefully after nearly six hours. The confrontation began about 3:30 pm Monday at a home about two miles east of Isabel in southern Pratt County. Sheriff Vernon Chinn says a man called 911 after his wife made threats to harm herself and fired two shots when he got home. The standoff ended around 9:45 pm. No one was injured. KAKE-TV reports that the wife was taken into custody and will undergo a mental evaluation at Pratt Regional Hospital.

Southeast KS Pipe Factory to Close

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas factory that produces clay pipe will close December 31 after more than a century in operation. The Joplin Globe reports that officials of the Pittsburg plant of Mission Clay confirmed the plan Monday. Office manager Dennis Gatewood says about a dozen of the plant's 15 employees will lose their jobs. Three will stay on to help with the closing. Mission Clay also has plants in California, Arizona and Texas and will continue to make urethane products. The Pittsburg factory was founded in 1899 as Dickey Clay and made hollow tile brick, sewer tiles and other products. The plant was bought by Mission Clay in 1987 to help supply large pipe to the West Coast market.


Woman Dies in Kansas After Being Thrown from Mule

VASSAR, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in east-central Kansas say a woman has died after being thrown from a mule during a weekend ride. The accident happened Sunday night in the Osage County town of Vassar. The rider's name had not been released as of Tuesday, but the sheriff's office says she was not from the county. Investigators said two people were riding the mule when it was spooked by a loud noise from a passing vehicle. The mule bucked, throwing the female rider. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. The other rider was unhurt.


ABC Asks Judge to Toss 'Pink Slime' Lawsuit

ELK POINT, S.D. (AP) — A lawyer for ABC is asking a judge to throw out a defamation suit over its coverage of a meat product called lean, finely textured beef. Beef Products Inc. in South Dakota sued ABC and ABC News last year over the network's reports about the product critics have dubbed "pink slime." The Dakota Dunes-based meat processor claims the network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe. BPI is seeking $1.2 billion in damages. Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering is listening to arguments Tuesday afternoon. ABC attorney Kevin Baine says the network in each of its broadcasts stated that the Food and Drug Administration deemed the product safe to eat. But BPI attorney Eric Connolly says said those statements were coupled with negative context.


Report: Kansas Ranks 4th in US for Volunteering

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report ranks Kansas fourth in the nation when it comes to volunteering. The report was issued Monday by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that helps Americans engage in volunteer activities. The Volunteering and Civic Life in America report says nearly 37 percent of Kansas residents volunteered in 2012. That amounts to nearly 808,000 volunteers giving 82.9 million hours of service. It also estimated the worth of that volunteer work at $1.59 billion. Nationwide, the group found that roughly one in four adults volunteered last year. Altogether, 64.5 million Americans volunteered nearly 7.9 billion hours. The estimated value of the volunteer service was estimated at nearly $175 billion.

KS, MO Join in Annual Bird Count

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Kansas and Missouri residents will be out during the next three weeks counting the birds in their states. It's part of an annual national effort that began more than 100 years ago, called the Christmas Bird Count. The count began December 14 and will continue through January 5. Bird enthusiasts plan gatherings or individuals simply count the number of birds they see in their backyards. The Joplin Globe reports that the bird count began in 1900, with only a few dozen observers in 25 locations. Last year, more than 71,000 people participated in 2,369 locations. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in the count to determine the health of bird populations. If a certain species is declining, conservation measures can be implemented to help that species rebound.


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