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Headlines for Friday, July 27, 2018

Woman Guilty in Baby's Death at Kansas Home Day Care

EUDORA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas home day care worker has been convicted in the death of a 9-month-old baby.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that jurors deliberated 16 hours before finding 44-year-old Carrody Buchhorn, of Eudora, guilty Thursday of second-degree murder in the September 2016 death of 9-month-old Oliver "Ollie" Ortiz.  He was under Buchhorn's care when he became unresponsive at the Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home. The coroner ruled that he died of blunt force trauma to the head.  At issue was when Oliver sustained a skull fracture. Buchhorn's defense team argued that Oliver's fatal head injury could have been up to a week old. The coroner testified that the skull fracture was forceful enough that it would have rendered him unresponsive right away and, without intervention, dead within minutes.

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Kansas Health Officials Warn of Dangerous Blue-Green Algae

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are warning the public about toxic levels of blue-green algae in more than a dozen lakes. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday that direct water contact through activities such as swimming is strongly discouraged for people and animals in 13 lakes. The lakes currently under a warning are Atchison County Park Lake, Hodgeman County State Fishing Lake, the Slough Creek arm of Perry Lake, the Marais Des Cygnes Wildlife Area Lake, the Carbondale West Lake, the Melvern Outlet Pond and Swim Pond, Webster Lake, Frazier Lake, Rooks County State Fishing Lake, South Park Lake, Lake Wabaunsee and Lake Afton. A less serious watch also was issued for Overbrook City Lake, Shawnee County's Rock Garden Pond and Central Park Lake and Douglas County's Mary's Lake.

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Remains Found Last Year Near Melvern Lake Identified

MELVERN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say remains found last year near Melvern Lake in east-central Kansas were those of a 40-year-old Topeka woman. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Osage County Sheriff's Office announced Friday the victim was Anna Marie Baldwin, whose remains were found on August  25, 2017. Her death is being investigated as a homicide. Authorities have not said how she died. A park ranger found the remains during a routine check on the north side of Melvern Lake in Osage County. The KBI said in a statement that investigators believe Baldwin was killed sometime between April and July of 2017. It asks that anyone who knew Baldwin in late 2016 or in 2017, or who has information related to the crime, contact 1-800-KS-CRIME.

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Possible Bomb Found Amid Investigation into Double Homicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have found a possible bomb while serving a search warrant at the home of one of the three suspects in a double homicide in Topeka. Topeka police Lt. Andrew Beightel says the discovery was made Thursday as officers searched for evidence related to the killings of 28-year-old Lisa Sportsman and her cousin, 17-year-old Jesse Polinskey, in the small Washington County town of Greenleaf. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that details about the suspicious item weren't made available Thursday afternoon. Police say the two victims were pronounced dead Monday at a residence in Topeka's Hi-Crest neighborhood after paramedics arrived. Police say they had been stabbed and beaten to death. Sportsman's estranged husband and two other suspects were arrested Monday afternoon during a traffic stop in Topeka.

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Lawrence Group to Review Ban on Plastic Bags, Straws

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A local advisory board in Lawrence will look at whether the city can participate in reducing the amount of disposable plastics it uses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city's Sustainability Advisory Board voted this month to prioritize the issue of single-use plastics. The board is forming a community work group to study single-use plastics like plastic bags, straw and food containers, and methods to reduce their use. Plastic bags have been scrutinized in some communities because of their difficulty to recycle. Lawrence's curbside recycling program doesn't accept plastic grocery bags. Plastic straws have more recently come under the spotlight, with Seattle banning them starting this month. The work group will include community members who'll bring a recommendation to the board after conducting research. The board will provide a recommendation to the City Commission.

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Kansas Woman Requests Missing Evidence for Retrial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who's representing herself in a double-homicide case says she's missing thousands of pages and more than 100 CDs of evidence. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a status conference was held Thursday to determine scheduling the retrial of Dana Chandler. Chandler faces charges of first-degree murder in the 2002 slayings of her ex-husband, Michael Sisco, and his fiancee, Karen Harkness. Chandler says she wants the missing evidence from the prosecution before moving forward. The Kansas Supreme Court vacated Chandler's 2012 conviction in April on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct by former Shawnee County Deputy District Attorney Jacqie Spradling. District Attorney Mike Kagay inherited the case, and decided in May that he would retry Chandler on the charges. A tentative trial date has been scheduled for October 1.

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DNA Evidence Discovered in Missing Kansas Woman's Case

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — More than a year after a 30-year-old Kansas woman disappeared police say it's likely she drowned in a flooded creek. Maize police Detective Jeff Piper said Friday two new pieces of evidence support a theory that Kendra Nystrom drowned in a flooded Cowskin Creek near her parents' home when she went missing on May 4, 2017. The Wichita Eagle reports the Kansas chapter of Texas EquuSearch found a pair of pants and another small item that had Nystrom's DNA on it entangled in trees earlier this month. They were found near the creek. Piper said the new discoveries, along with other circumstances, led police to believe it's probable that she went into the creek and drowned on May 4. However, he says the case will remain open.

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Affidavit: Toddlers Playing with Gun in Lawrence Led to Fatal Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A newly released police affidavit says two Lawrence toddlers were briefly left alone before one of them was fatally shot.  One-year-old Autumn Grace Smith was killed in September 2017 at her family's home in Lawrence. Her father, 32-year-old Chance Smith, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated endangerment of a child.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Autumn and a 2-year-old were at the home. According to the affidavit, Smith told police he left the toddlers watching TV for 5 to 10 minutes to let his dogs out and smoke a cigarette.  When he returned, he found the boy crying and Autumn in his bedroom injured. He said he usually kept the gun in the closet but the night before had placed it under his bed's mattress.

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ACLU Attacks May Help Kobach Win GOP Nod for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attacks on Kris Kobach by the American Civil Liberties Union in the Kansas governor's race are giving the in-your-face conservative a message to hammer home in the Republican primary.  Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state and has made the ACLU a political foil for years in championing some of the toughest state voter identification policies in the nation.  And in response to a $200,000 campaign against him ahead of the state's August 7 primary, Kobach portrays the ACLU as having endorsed Republican Governor Jeff Colyer.  The group has become more visible in election campaigns nationally but has said it's not endorsing a candidate. Colyer's campaign sees desperation in Kobach's tactics.  But Kobach's campaign is using the ACLU's attacks to rouse its supporters.

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Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill Calls Russian Hacking Attempt "Outrageous"

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Claire McCaskill says Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her Senate computer network, and says she "will not be intimidated."  The Missouri Democrat released the statement after The Daily Beast website reported that Russia's GRU intelligence agency tried to hack the senator's computers in August 2017. The Daily Beast report Thursday, based on the website's forensic analysis, says the attempts were unsuccessful.  McCaskill says: "Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy. I will continue to speak out and press to hold them accountable."  She calls the attack "outrageous" and says Russian President Vladimir Putin "is a thug and a bully."  McCaskill is running for re-election in 2018. Her Senate seat is considered especially vulnerable by Republicans trying to maintain their slim hold on the Senate majority.  (Read more about this story.)

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Vehicle Crashes into Topeka Cafe, Injuring Customer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a woman was injured when a sport-utility vehicle slammed into a cafe.  Shawnee County Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Frey says the woman, 80-year-old Joyce Kasson, was a customer at Banjo's Cafe early Thursday when the vehicle hit the business.  The sheriff's office says 82-year-old Peggy Turner was pulling into a parking space in front of the cafe when her vehicle went over a parking curb and into the restaurant. Investigators say a preliminary investigation indicates Turner hit the gas, rather than the brake, while parking.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the vehicle struck several tables, including one where Kasson was sitting.  Kasson was taken in an ambulance to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.

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3 Suburban Kansas City Officers Resign over Ticket Inquiry

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say three suburban Kansas City police officers have resigned and more than 200 traffic tickets dismissed after an internal investigation into false seat belt citations.  The Kansas City Star reports that Overland Park, Kansas, police Chief Frank Donchez Jr. says the officers overlooked traffic violations like speeding and instead cited motorists for not wearing seat belts when they'd actually been buckled up. He says he doesn't know what motivated the officers, suggesting that perhaps they were "cutting someone a break."  He says the officers turned off their dash camera audio, possibly to hide their actions.  Not all of the 200 citations were false. But Donchez says all of the seat belt tickets by those officers have been dismissed. Some $4,000 has been refunded to motorists who had already paid.

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Man Arrested After 40 Animals Seized from Kansas Home

ELLINWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in central Kansas say a 63-year-old man has been arrested after 40 animals were seized from his property. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said his office assisted the Golden Belt Humane Society and the county health department Thursday at a home north of Ellinwood, 240 miles west of Kansas City, Kansas. Officials removed 20 cats, four dogs and two chickens from inside the home. Another 10 cats, two dogs, a horse and a donkey were found outside. A decaying horse carcass that had been there for months was found in a barn. Bellendir says Cletus Wolford was arrested on charges of cruelty to animals, maintaining a public nuisance and obstruction of officers. All the animals were taken to the Golden Belt Humane Society.

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Kansas Mom Charged in Death of 7-Month-Old Girl

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas mother has been charged in the death of a 7-month-old girl who died of multiple head injuries. The Wichita Eagle reports that 26-year-old Shelby Dawn Johnson, of Oxford, was booked into the Sumner County Jail on Thursday. She is being held on $250,000 bond on a first-degree murder charge in the death of her daughter, Jesslinn Hulett. The girl was taken to a hospital on April 1, Easter Sunday, and died four days later. Court documents say Johnson killed her infant daughter either by "cruelly beating" or "shaking" the baby. The documents say the girl needed immediate medical treatment, but Johnson went back to bed and the baby's father found her not breathing about an hour later. The baby's injuries included three bone fractures to her skull.

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Dog Named Lucifer Saves Man from Burning Kansas Home

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A dog named Lucifer has saved a Kansas man from an early morning house fire.  The Hutchinson News reports that Larry Moore was asleep in his Hutchinson home when his dog woke him about 2:15 am Wednesday. Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Unruh says Moore, Lucifer and another dog, named Angel, made it out safely. But Unruh says Moore returned at least twice to the home to retrieve items and had to be treated for smoke inhalation.  Moore's neighbor, Clarissa Swenson, described Lucifer, whose nickname is Lucy, as an "old mutt" who Moore and his late wife have owned for many years. Swenson says, "Lucy awoke him from a dead sleep." She described Moore as, "so fortunate."  The cause of the fire was ruled as electrical, with "multiple improper extensions cords."

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Kansas Woman Sentenced for Selling Fake Designer Brands

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City woman who sold thousands of counterfeit designer merchandise has been sentenced to a year of probation.  The Kansas City Star reports 64-year-old So Wun Pak, owner of Sue's Accessories in Mission, was sentenced Thursday.  She pleaded no contest in May to counterfeiting merchandise worth from $1,000 to $25,000.  Officers removed and will destroy more than 3,300 items taken from the store. Fake brands sold at the store included Burberry, Chanel, Coach and Ralph Lauren.  Pak will face five months in prison if she violates probation.

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No Charges in Fatal Wichita Crash During Funeral Procession

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Pizza Hut driver in a fatal accident involving a woman waiting for a funeral procession will in Wichita will not face felony charges.  Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says his office found insufficient evidence to file charges in the February crash that killed 59-year-old Karen Capps and injured her 86-year-old mother.  The Wichita Eagle reports the driver, 31-year-old Courtney Clodfelter, could still face traffic-related charges.  Police say Karen Capps and her mother, Jaunita Capps, had just left Resthaven cemetery and were stopped on the side of a road waiting for a funeral procession to pass when they were hit by a Pizza Hut minivan driven by Clodfelter.  The impact pushed the women's vehicle into an electric pole, killing Karen Capps at the site.

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Arkansas Man Convicted in Kansas Man's Death in Missouri

SIKESTON, Mo. (AP) — An Arkansas man has been convicted of participating in the killing of a Kansas man in Missouri.  Ronnie Carl Robinson Sr., of Little Rock, Arkansas, was found guilty this week of second-degree murder in the death of Larry Weaver, of Pittsburg.  The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports Weaver's body was found July 2, 2016, in a field about seven miles from a hotel where he was staying in Sikeston, Missouri.  Surveillance video shows three suspects driving away that night with Weaver's Harley Davidson motorcycle. Investigators said Weaver came out of the hotel room and jumped onto the truck's trailer to try and prevent the theft. Witnesses said Weaver and Robinson later fought and Weaver was left in the field.  Larenzle Coleman and his wife, Elsie Coleman-Hamilton, are awaiting trial on murder charges.

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Funeral Set for 4 of 9 Indiana Relatives Killed in Sinking

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana family that lost nine relatives when a tourist boat sank on a Missouri lake is preparing to say goodbye to four of those loved ones.  Friday's funeral services at Grace Apostolic Church in Indianapolis will honor the husband and three children of Tia Coleman.  The services for 40-year-old Glenn Coleman, 9-year-old Reece, 7-year-old Evan and 1-year-old Arya come eight days after a duck boat capsized and sank during a storm in Branson, killing 17 people.  Tia Coleman and a nephew were the only survivors among 11 Coleman family members who boarded the boat on July 19.  A funeral will be held Saturday for 70-year-old Horace Coleman and his 69-year-old wife, Belinda, 76-year-old Ervin Coleman, 45-year-old Angela Coleman and her 2-year-old son, Maxwell.

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Nebraska Legal Battle Speeds Up on Proposed Pipeline Route

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developer of a proposed oil pipeline through Nebraska has won its bid to speed up the legal battle over its route through the state.  The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the Nebraska Supreme Court granted the motion Tuesday from TransCanada to advance the case to oral arguments and to expedite it. The court could hear arguments as early as October.  The state Public Service Commission voted Nov. 20 to approve a slightly longer, alternative route over the 275-mile preferred route TransCanada had requested for the Keystone XL pipeline.  Landowners fighting the pipeline who took legal action objected to any speedup of the legal process.  The $8 billion, 1,179-mile pipeline would deliver oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would cross parts of Montana, South Dakota and most of Nebraska to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pump station.

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