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Headlines for Friday, December 20, 2019

United Pulls 737 Max Until June, Adding to Boeing Woes

NEW YORK (AP) — United Airlines says it will be pulling the Boeing 737 Max out of its flight schedule until June.  And a company that builds fuselages will end deliveries intended for the Max as damage from the troubled aircraft begins to ripple outward to suppliers. It was the latest in a string of troubling news plaguing the airplane manufacturer, which also saw its new Starliner capsule go off course Friday during its first test flight. Boeing announced on Monday that it would halt Max production in January as it became increasingly clear that it still has many regulatory hurdles to clear.

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Judges Sue Kansas Lawmakers Hoping to Boost Court Funding

TOPEKA,, Kan. (AP) - Six trial-court judges in Kansas have filed a lawsuit against the state Legislature in hopes of forcing it to increase funding for the court system. The judges filed the lawsuit Friday directly with the Kansas Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleges that state lawmakers have chronically underfinanced the judicial branch. The judges asked the state's highest court to force legislators to consider funding “independent of unrelated political agendas." The Supreme Court itself has already proposed an $18 million increase in the court system's budget. Much of the proposed funds would go toward increasing pay for both judges and court staff.

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Kansas Man Sentenced for Molesting 2 Girls for 4 Years

A 51-year-old Maize man has sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years for molesting two girls over four years. Gene Cusick was sentenced today (FRI) for two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He pleaded guilty in October. Prosecutors said Cusick molested the two girls between August 2014 and October 2018. The two girls both told their mothers that Cusick had molested them when he was watching them for the parents. In each case, Cusick connected with the parents by telling them his 10-year-old daughter died in a go-cart crash. Detectives determined that claim was false.

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Man Pleads Guilty in Strangulation Death at Topeka Hotel

TOPEKA, Kan.  (AP) —  A 29-year-old man has admitted strangling an Osawatomie woman at a Topeka hotel. Clarence James Foy, of Paola, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in the July 2016 death of 18-year-old Sarah Cheyenne Crawford. Crawford's body was found wrapped in sheets behind a couch. She had been strangled with a belt and telephone charging cord at a Ramada Inn. Prosecutors said she was killed after an argument with Foy. He was arrested four days later after a police chase in Platte County, Missouri.

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Kansas Bill Aims to Reduce Suicide, Improve Mental Health Care

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR/KNS) - A new bill in the Kansas Statehouse is aimed at reducing suicides by removing barriers to mental health care. A bipartisan group of senators filed the bill after hearing from the families of people who died by suicide. Those families said that insurance rules delayed needed mental health services. Republican state Senator Molly Baumgardner says the bill would prevent prior authorization or other insurance requirements that can delay mental health care.  The bill would require insurance companies to approve immediate mental health services if a health care provider says it’s necessary. Lawmakers will consider the bill after the legislative session starts next month.

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Topeka Man Admits to Killing Girlfriend on Cruise to Bahamas
 
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A 55-year-old Kansas man has admitted that he killed his girlfriend during a fight aboard a cruise ship off the coast of Florida.  Federal prosecutors say Eric Duane Newman, of Topeka, pleaded guilty in federal court to second-degree murder.  Prosecutors say Newman and 50-year-old Tamara Tucker were on a cruise ship heading to the Bahamas in January 2018 when they began fighting inside their cabin. Newman admitted strangling Tucker and pushing her over the cabin room balcony railing. She fell from the 13th deck to the 11th deck. Tucker, of Lawson, Missouri, died from blunt force trauma from the fall.  

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2 Killed, 2 Injured in Kansas City When Bus and Minivan Collide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two people died and two others were injured in Kansas City when a shuttle bus carrying two disabled adults collided head-on with a minivan. Police say the collision occurred yesterday (THUR) in south Kansas City, when the minivan crossed the center line and hit the shuttle bus.  Police say the bus driver honked the horn and tried to avoid the crash. The minivan driver and a passenger sitting behind the bus driver died at a hospital. The bus driver was critically injured. A passenger in a wheel chair in the back of the bus was seriously injured.  

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6 Teens, 3 Adults Hurt in Kansas City Area School Bus Wreck

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say a school bus wreck in the Kansas City area injured six teenagers and three adults as they headed to a wrestling meet. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the wreck happened Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 470 in Lee's Summit when another vehicle merged in front of the bus from the Center School District. The bus then hit the vehicle, causing a chain-reaction crash that involved two other vehicles.  The patrol says the six teens were taken to Children's Mercy, one with moderate injuries and the others with minor injuries. They ranged in age from 14 to 17. The patrol described the injuries of the three adults as minor.

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Washington State Man Saves Family from Burning Car in Northwest Kansas

SELDEN, Kan. (Wichita Eagle and KOIN) - A man from Vancouver, Washington, is being hailed as a hero for saving a family from a burning car while he was traveling through western Kansas.  KOIN reports that just before midnight on December 16, Yevgeniy Lomakin was driving a truck along U.S. Highway 83, north of Selden, Kansas.  Sheridan County authorities say the 29-year-old spotted flames coming from underneath a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am and stopped to check it out.  Lomakin also spotted a woman and 3 young children in the car asleep.  He pounded on the windows of the car to wake them up, then grabbed the 2 youngest kids — ages 3 and 6 — and pulled them to safety. The woman and the oldest child, who is 10, got out safely on their own.  Lomakin brought all 4 of them to his truck to warm up, moved the truck out of the range of the fire and called 911.  When the Sheridan County Fire Department arrived, the Pontiac was fully engulfed.  The woman, identified as Shannon Harris of Colby, had pulled off on the side of the road because she was tired. She and the children escaped injury.  The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time.  Lomakin stayed at the scene and told investigators what he knew. But before getting back in his truck and going on his way, he gave some money to Harris.  “I want you to have this for Christmas,” he said, according to the Sheridan County Sheriff’s office.  “Yevgeniy, there is no way we can thank you enough for your heroism,” they said in a statement.  (Read more in the Wichita Eagle.)

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KC Police: Man May Have Shot Man Suspected in Son's Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say the father of a 3-year-old boy who was shot to death is now accused of shooting a man who is a person of interest in the child's death. Twenty-three-year-old Marcus Donnell Haislip Jr. is charged with two counts of first-degree assault after two men were shot November 29 at a gas station in Kansas City.  In May 2017, Haislip's son was killed and Haislip and another relative were shot while riding in a car.  Prosecutors are studying the boy's shooting to determine if charges should be filed in the boy's death against one of the men wounded at the gas station.

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Lawrence Man Charged with Murder in Fatal DUI Crash

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A Lawrence man has been charged with killing a woman on a scooter while driving drunk. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 43-year-old Eric Spaeth is free on $75,000 bond. He was charged this week with second-degree murder or, in the alternative, involuntary manslaughter, in the death of 24-year-old Elizabeth Allen. He also is charged with driving under the influence, his second offense, and driving while suspended.  The crash report said Allen and her scooter were dragged under the defendant's truck in August. Police said Spaeth's blood alcohol content was more than 2 1/2 times the legal limit.

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Trial Set for Man Accused in Deaths of 2 Women in KC Area

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A man charged in the deaths of two women who disappeared nearly a decade apart is scheduled to go on trial next summer. During a hearing Thursday, a Cass County judge scheduled jury selection in Kylr Yust's trial to begin July 22. Jurors will be brought from St. Charles County outside St. Louis. Opening statements and testimony will begin the following week. Yust is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandoning a corpse in the deaths of 21-year-old Jessica Runions, of Raymore, and 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky, of Belton. Their remains were found in 2017 in rural Cass County.  

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Kansas Supreme Court Takes Up Solar Electric Rate Dispute

The Kansas Supreme Court has been hearing arguments in a case about whether creating a separate rate structure for solar customers is discriminatory. Kansas regulators approved the new rate in 2018. It charges solar customers a usage rate AND a demand charge. No other residential users have to pay a demand charge. Solar advocates say the new rate has increased their bills and discourages installing solar panels.  Zack Pistora is a lobbyist for the Kansas Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group that is challenging the new structure.  Evergy argues that without the new rate, solar customers end up being subsidized by everyone else.

-Related-

Lawrence City Leaders Want City to Go 100% Green

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Leaders in Lawrence want to move the city and its residents toward getting 100% of their energy from renewable resources. The City Commission voted unanimously this week to direct city staff to draft an ordinance to achieve 100% renewable energy use and develop a plan for achieving that goal.  A city advisory board is recommending that Lawrence rely solely on renewable resources for its city government operations by 2025 and for the entire community to use renewable resources for all energy needs by 2050. About 10% of Lawrence residents voluntarily use renewable energy sources.  

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Lawsuit Against KCK Police Alleges Battery, False Imprisonment  

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A federal lawsuit alleges that police in Kansas City, Kansas, broke into a man's home in the middle of the night and beat him before having him charged with battery of a law enforcement officer. The Kansas City Star reports that 43-year-old Joseph Harter claims in the lawsuit filed last week that he was beaten and falsely imprisoned in October 2018. The charge was dropped less than two months later. The police department and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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Democrats Target Southwest Kansas Voters for 2020 Elections

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (HPPR/KNS) - The Kansas Democratic Party has its eye on voters in southwest Kansas for the 2020 elections. For the first time, the party will deploy a full-time organizer in the area to focus on voters in the growing Latinx communities.  Partial funding for the position comes from the Democratic National Committee.  Three congressional Democratic candidates spoke to a crowd of a few dozen people in Garden City this week.  Kali Barnett is the first woman to run as a Democrat in the state's 1st Congressional District.  In the 2016 presidential election, the majority of Kansas counties -- with the exception of two -- overwhelmingly voted for President Trump.

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Girlfriend of Kansas Man Who Wounded 2 Lawmen Sentenced

LYONS, Kan. (AP) - The girlfriend of a Kansas man who fatally shot his father and wounded two Kansas law enforcement officers before killing himself has been sentenced to 60 days in jail. The Wichita Eagle reports that District Judge Mike Keeley told Erin Baker that she had some responsibility for the April 29 shooting in ordering the sentence for aggravated child endangerment and obstruction of law enforcement. She was behind the wheel when Rice County Undersheriff Chad Murphy pulled her over in the town of Sterling. With her child in the backseat, Madden shot Murphy, then got more guns before killing his father, wounding the sheriff and killing himself.

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KC Officer's Account of Shots-Fired Incident Questioned

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police in Kansas City, Missouri, say an off-duty officer who said he had fired shots at an intruder inside his home has left the department amid an investigation that was unable to substantiate the officer's story. According to police, an investigation into "any potential criminal wrong-doing" is ongoing.  Police initially said in a news release that the officer came on his radio around 2:30 am on December 9 and asked for help. The officer said he was alone in his home when he heard sounds, went downstairs, found an unknown man inside and fired multiple shots. There were no reports of injuries.

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Lookout in Wichita Cell Phone Theft Gets 6 Years in Prison

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Prosecutors say a Wichita man served as lookout while another man hog-tied a Sprint store clerk and stole more than 75 cell phones.  That lookout has now been sentenced to nearly six years in prison.  Twenty-six-year-old Xavier Lopez was sentenced yesterday (THUR) after he pleaded guilty in September to robbery. He admitted that he was lookout while 26-year-old Camarin McPherson, of Wichita, robbed the Sprint store on April 25.  McPherson tied up the clerk and brandished a handgun before taking 78 phones. The two men were arrested after their vehicle crashed during a police chase. McPherson was sentenced in November to 13.5 years in prison

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Lawsuit Claims UMB Bank Mismanaged KC Art Collection

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A lawsuit filed by the family of the late Kansas City artist Thomas Hart Benton alleges more than 100 pieces of his art has been lost through mismanagement by UMB Bank. The lawsuit contends the bank lost track of some artwork and didn't adequately care for it. It also claims the bank sold some pieces for less than their market value and engaged in self-dealing. The bank has called the allegations by the family "misguided." The lawsuit seeks removal of UMB Bank as the trustee as well as seeking unspecified damages for the alleged breach of trust.  

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Jury Finds Man Fit for Trial in 1999 Slayings in Oklahoma

VINITA, Okla. (AP) - A Kansas man suspected in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple and the vanishing and presumed deaths of their teenage daughter and her friend two decades ago has been found competent to stand trial. A three-man, three-woman jury deliberated for 45 minutes before returning with that verdict Wednesday in a competency hearing for Ronnie Dean Busick. The Tulsa World reports that Busick showed no emotion as the decision was announced. The defense says Busick is not competent to stand trial because he suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1978. Busick is slated to come back to court on February 7, when his preliminary hearing date will be set.

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U.S. Judge Rejects Bid to Kill Keystone Pipeline Lawsuits

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) —  A U.S. judge says environmentalists and Native Americans can proceed with lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump's approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. In a Friday ruling, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris expressed skepticism over government arguments that Trump has unilateral authority to approve the $8 billion pipeline. But Morris denied a request for a court injunction to prohibit preliminary work on the pipeline, since no such work is planned until spring 2020. Morris had blocked the project last year, prompting Trump to issue a new permit in March in an attempt to circumvent the courts.

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ACLU Sues Jackson County and Assessor over Reassessments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union has claimed in a lawsuit that Jackson County and its assessor favored predominantly white areas over minority neighborhoods during this year's real estate reassessment. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the ACLU contends the director of the county's assessment department violated the federal Fair Housing Act during the reassessments. Assessment director Gail McCann Beatty capped increased assessments at 14.9% in some neighborhoods. The ACLU contends the cap was imposed on mostly white areas, while some minority homes saw their assessments at least double. Jackson County officials haven't returned phone calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.

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Man Given Probation for Theft at Lawrence Islamic Center

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A man convicted of stealing between $1,000 and $2,000 from the Islamic Center of Lawrence has been sentenced to two years of probation. Thirty-two-year-old Amadou Bah was sentenced Wednesday after pleading no contest in September to burglary. As part of his plea, prosecutors dropped a felony theft charge and a misdemeanor charge. The Islamic Center was burglarized Aug. 13. Bah was identified through surveillance video, which showed a man using bolt cutters to remove two cash donation boxes and then taking cash from a third box. Bah's attorney, Julia Butler, said Bah holds a permanent resident card and was aware the conviction could affect his immigration status.

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No. 1 KU, No. 18 Villanova Set to Renew Rivalry in Philly

PHILADELPHIA (AP) —  No. 1 Kansas is set to renew its rivaly with No. 18 Villanova in Philadelphia. The Wildcats and Jayhawks have played many memorable games since the start of the century. Kansas beat Villanova on the way to the 2008 national championship and the Wildcats repaid the favor in the 2016 and 2018 NCAA Tournaments with wins on their way to national titles. Villanova's 2005 win over No. 1 KU was a program-changer for coach Jay Wright. No. 1 Kansas (9-1) heads to Philadelphia on Saturday to play No. 18 Villanova (8-2). They'll compete at the Wells Fargo Center, the home of the 76ers and their All-Star big man and former Jayhawk Joel Embiid.

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