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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Davis Teaming with Docking in KS Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis has chosen Wichita businesswoman Jill Docking as his running mate in his bid to be the next Kansas governor. Docking was introduced Tuesday in Prairie Village as Davis kicked off a four-city bus tour. Stops were planned in Topeka, Salina and Wichita. Davis is the Kansas House minority leader and is seeking his party's nomination for the right to challenge GOP incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback next November. In 1996, Docking was Brownback's Democratic opponent for the U.S. Senate, garnering 43 percent of the vote to Brownback's 54 percent. Docking's husband was lieutenant governor in the 1980s. Davis announced he was seeking his party's nomination in September. Brownback won his first term as governor in 2010. He hasn't yet formally announced his re-election campaign.


Documents Help Reduce Suspended Voter Count

The Kansas Department of Revenue has submitted 6,000 documents containing citizenship information to local election officials in Kansas. Around 18,000 voters registrations have been put on hold because of a lack of accompanying citizenship documents required by a law that took effect this year in Kansas. The documents were submitted by people applying for a new Kansas driver's license. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the documents were in a database. A spokesperson for the Department of Revenue says the agency is going through the database and transmitting the citizenship info. There have been some reports that documents submitted to the DMV haven't been making it to local elections officials for use in processing voter registrations.

KS Supreme Court: Why Now on Hard 50 Appeal?

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Supreme Court justices are being asked to decide whether revisions made last month by the Legislature in the state's "Hard 50" sentencing law should be applied retroactively. The issue arose Tuesday during the appeal of Johnson County resident Dustin B. Hilt. Hilt was convicted of first-degree murder in 2010 to life in prison without the chance of parole for 50 years for the murder of a 19-year-old woman. Hilt's lawyer argued that the sentence should be reversed in light of revisions passed in September. The amended law requires juries rather than judges to decide whether to impose the sentence. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe says the court needed to rule on the law to provide guidance to lower courts and allow pending cases to proceed.


Judge Mulls Whether to Dismiss Abortion Stalking Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge is mulling over whether a Wichita abortion clinic operator can use the state's stalking laws to force an anti-abortion activist to stay away from her. Sedgwick County Judge James Beasley heard oral arguments Tuesday on a defense request to dismiss the case filed by the woman who opened Wichita's first abortion clinic since abortion provider George Tiller was murdered in church. Julie Burkhart won a temporary protection from stalking order earlier this year against Mark Holick, pastor of Spirit One Ministries. The pastor is accused of distributing "wanted-style" posters with Burkhart's picture and home address. Beasley says he will rule in 5-10 days. He says he realizes the case will have an effect on Burkhart and to the way Sedgwick County handles similar cases in the future.


Former US Ag Secretaries Speak at KSU

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Six former agriculture secretaries have delivered the latest installment of the Landon Lecture series at Kansas State University. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Monday night's panel was made up of Mike Johanns, Ann Veneman, Dan Glickman, Mike Espy, Ed Schafer and John Block. Block served in the administration of President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1986. He says the challenge of doubling food production by 2050 to help nourish an estimated 9 billion people can be met with creative adaptation of technology. The speakers were picked as the school celebrates its 100th anniversary and birth as a land-grant institution. The Landon Lecture is named for Governor Alf Landon, a Republican who was Kansas governor from 1933 to 1937. Landon lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election.

Report: Kansas Winter Wheat 87 Percent Planted

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The first crop condition update released since the partial government shutdown ended shows Kansas farmers well on their way to planting the 2014 winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that 87 percent of the wheat crop has been planted. About 61 percent of it has now emerged. The report says 63 percent of the wheat is in good to excellent condition, with 35 percent rated fair and 2 percent rated poor. Harvest of fall crops also has made significant strides in Kansas since the last official government snapshot. The agency reports that 68 percent of the corn harvest is complete. Sorghum harvest has reached the 36 percent mark, while soybean harvest was at 60 percent. About 34 percent of the sunflowers have also been cut.


KC Superintendent Vows to 'Knuckle Down' in Pursuit of Accreditation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The superintendent of the Kansas City school district is vowing to "knuckle down" after failing to regain partial accreditation. Superintendent R. Stephen Green spoke to reporters Tuesday after the Missouri State Board of Education took no action on the district's request for provisional accreditation. Green says the district will continue its efforts to improve. The accreditation upgrade would have meant the district no longer was subject to a state law allowing students to transfer to accredited districts. A pending legal challenge is preventing transfers for now. Green says the transfer issue "looms large" and that complying would cause a "serious financial challenge."


Discovery of Dead Cat Leads to Arrests

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson police say a couple has killed a kitten by taking turns throwing it against doors and walls. Detective Curtis Black said the suspects were upset that the 5-month-old yellow tabby kept "using the restroom inside." The Hutchinson News reports that authorities found the dead kitten in the couple's home Saturday while responding to a disturbance. The animal's body was taken from the home for a necropsy to be performed. The couple was arrested and released on bond.


UPDATE: Ruling Delayed on Access to KS Teen's Murder Case

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Reno County judge has delayed a decision on a 14-year-old Hutchinson boy's request to bar public access to court proceedings over the arson deaths of his mother and younger sister. The teen is charged with first-degree murder in the two deaths and the attempted murder of his father in the Sept. 26 fire at the family's home. The state is seeking to prosecute him as an adult. Judge Patricia Macke Dick put off her ruling after a hearing Tuesday on a defense motion for an order to close hearings, seal the court record and impose a gag order. Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder says the judge took the matter under advisement after The Hutchinson News intervened with a motion seeking to keep the proceedings open.


KS Mom Arrested After Child Found Wandering

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman has been arrested after her young child was found wandering in southeast Wichita. Lieutenant Doug Nolte said Monday that a neighbor called 911 on Sunday night to report that a 4-year-old boy was walking into the street and crying for his mother. The Wichita Eagle reports that officers found the child's mother passed out on couch in an apartment with an open front door. Nolte says the woman had drunk a large amount of alcohol. Officers took the woman into custody on an outstanding warrant and for suspicion of child endangerment. The boy was placed in the care of other relatives.


KS Restaurant Operators Face Immigration Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The operators of a Wichita restaurant have been indicted on federal charges of employing people who are in the country unlawfully. The U.S. Attorney's office says 33-year-old Yong Lin and his wife, 29-year-old Zhuo Mei Weng, were arrested Tuesday. They were booked into the Sedgwick County Jail and are scheduled to have initial court appearances Wednesday. Prosecutors brought the case after federal agents and Wichita police searched the couple's World Buffet Grill and three west Wichita apartments. The indictment had been sealed since it was filed September 11. Lin and Weng are charged with conspiracy and harboring people who are in the U.S. unlawfully. The indictment alleges they paid the workers in cash and failed to complete employment eligibility forms. The couple did not have lawyers Tuesday.

Parolee Found in KS Pond After Police Chase

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — A parolee suspected in recent burglaries has been found in a south-central Kansas pond days after a police chase. KWCH reports that Nicholas Vampran had recently been paroled after serving four years for several crimes, including burglary. On Wednesday, Derby Police chased the 35-year-old into southern Butler County, where he ditched a stolen pickup truck and ran into a field. His body was discovered Sunday in a pond and was identified Monday. An autopsy determined he drowned. Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet says he suspects Vampran was trying to hide from the tracking dogs in the water and suffered from hypothermia in the cold water. Herzet says friends told authorities that Vampran wasn't going back to prison.


Topeka Police Conduct K2-Related Searches

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have served eight search warrants at Topeka businesses that are suspected of selling synthetic marijuana known as K2. Police said in a news release that the warrants served Tuesday morning are the result of a 10-month investigation involving multiple law enforcement agencies. The searches temporarily shut the businesses down. Police didn't immediately have details about arrests.


MO Town Prepares for Protest over Alleged Teen Sex Assault Case

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri sheriff anticipates up to 2,000 people showing up for a protest organized online on behalf of a girl who says she was sexually assaulted when she was 14. Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White says the county is placing portable toilets on Maryville's courthouse square and taking other measures to accommodate whatever crowd shows up for the 6 pm rally Tuesday. At least two activist groups have called for a protest of the county prosecutor's decision last year to drop charges against a boy accused of plying Daisy Coleman with alcohol in January 2012 and sexually assaulting her. White says he's hoping for a peaceful gathering, but with a possible counter-protest also in the works, he acknowledges there is always the risk of a disturbance.


FBI Getting Tips About Mystery Girl in Greek Camp

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The FBI is looking into whether a child found at a Romany camp in Greece is a Kansas City, Missouri girl, although the children's ages don't appear to match. Romany people are often colloquially referred-to as Gypsies. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Tuesday the October 2011 disappearance of Lisa Irwin from her Kansas City home remains an open investigation and that agents follow up on all tips. Patton says the agency began receiving calls after the image of a girl found with a Roma couple appeared in media reports. A dental examination showed the girl in Greece, known only as "Maria," is older than previously thought — 5 or 6, instead of 4. Lisa would turn 3 in November. Her family's attorney, John Picerno, says he has spoken to authorities about the investigation in Greece.


KC Mother Cited After Teacher Is Assaulted

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City mother has been charged with beating up her child's kindergarten teacher. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors filed a third-degree assault charge Monday against 25-year-old Simone Baker. Police said in a news release that Baker isn't currently in custody. No attorney is listed for her in online court records. Police reports say the mother pulled the teacher out of her chair by the hair, punched her in the face and slammed her head against a file cabinet in September at Truman Elementary School in the Hickman Mills School District. Police reports say the mother was upset because her 6-year-old son had blamed his teacher for a scratch on his neck. But a district official has said that the boy told administrators and police that the teacher hadn't hurt him.


KC Man Pleads Guilty in Bank Robbery with Hatchet

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man has pleaded guilty to robbing a Kansas bank with a hatchet. The U.S. attorney's office announced Tuesday that 35-year-old Derek T. Brownlee, of Kansas City, Missouri, admitted to one count of armed robbery. A criminal complaint alleged Brownlee jumped the teller's counter and demanded money in July at the Metcalf Bank in suburban Overland Park. He took cash from a drawer and some personal items from a teller including a cell phone. He then led police on a chase at speeds up to 90 miles an hour before being stopped in Kansas City, Mo. He was arrested after he fled from the car on foot. Brownlee faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 when he is sentenced January 21.


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