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Headlines for Monday, December 16, 2019

5 Killed in Weather-Related Crashes in Missouri, Kansas

BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say at least five people have died in weather-related crashes in Missouri and Kansas amid a storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow in places and forced schools to close. The National Weather Service says the wintry weather was part of a storm system that hit parts of the Midwest and was expected to extend into the Northeast through Tuesday. In one of the crashes, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said three people were killed Sunday night when a driver lost control and overturned. A motorist who was stranded after a previous crash and two Good Samaritans who were trying to help were struck.

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Winter Storm Closes Kansas Schools, Causes Crashes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A winter storm that dumped up to 11 inches of snow in Kansas has closed schools, snarled traffic and caused a fatality crash. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for northeast and southern Kansas. The Kansas Department of Transportation says multiple roads are partially or completely snow covered. Several crashes were reported. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 21-year-old Jimmy Romero was killed Sunday when a pickup truck in which he was riding overturned on an icy Wichita road. The patrol also worked a five-vehicle wreck Sunday in Riley County involving three tractor-trailers. Multiple school districts called off classes Monday, including several in the Wichita and Kansas City area.  

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Wrecks Close Parts of I-70 After Snow Falls Across Region

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A major winter storm moving across the region is expected to drop roughly 6 inches of snow on parts of Kansas and Missouri, and the storm is already causing travel problems. The Kansas Highway Patrol says a section of westbound Interstate 70 near Manhattan closed Sunday morning after a crash involving three semitrailer trucks and two other vehicles blocked the road. A section of westbound I-70 also closed near O'Fallon, Missouri, after several crashes. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for much of eastern Kansas, Missouri and part of Illinois Sunday. The snow is expected to continue falling throughout Sunday.

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Judge Criticized by Abortion Foes Named to Top Kansas Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has named a veteran trial-court judge opposed by the state's most influential anti-abortion group to the Kansas Supreme Court. Shawnee County District Judge Evelyn Wilson's appointment is likely to intensify a backlash against the court from conservative legislators. Many Republican lawmakers already are seeking to give the GOP-controlled Legislature power it does not have now to block a Supreme Court appointee. Wilson has been a judge since 2004, and the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life opposes her because of past political contributions by her husband to abortion-rights candidates. She replaces former Justice Lee Johnson. He retired in September.

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Kansas Supreme Court Getting New Member, New Chief Justice

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court will have a new member and a new chief justice next week. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly plans to have a Monday news conference to name a replacement for former Justice Lee Johnson, who retired in September. Meanwhile, Justice Marla Luckert is set to become the state court system's top official Tuesday when current Chief Justice Lawton Nuss retires. Kelly's appointment Monday will be her first to the seven-member court, and she'll fill a second spot by mid-March because of Nuss' retirement. Luckert has served on the high court since 2003 and is second in seniority to Nuss.

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Police Investigate Fatal Shooting in Southeast Kansas Town

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a fatal shooting in the small southeastern Kansas town of Independence. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 19-year-old Kimberly Meeks, of Coffeyville, was shot Saturday evening while walking along Main Street around 6 pm.  Independence has about 9,500 residents and it is located about 175 miles southwest of Kansas City, Kansas. Witnesses told police that Meeks and a man were walking when an unknown person fired gunshots from a car and fled. The man who was with Meeks also ran after the shooting. Meeks died at the scene of the shooting.

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Affidavit: Wichita Police Outside House When Woman Stabbed

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A newly released affidavit alleges a Wichita man fatally stabbed his roommate with a knife up to 50 times while police outside his house could hear her begging for him to stop. Jason McCaleb is accused of repeatedly stabbing 28-year-old Devin Andrea Cook with "a folding blade knife" on November 23, moments after officers had walked outside to leave after talking to them. McCaleb had called 911 because he wanted the woman to move out. He is charged with first-degree premeditated murder.

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Kansas Massage Parlor Owner Charged with Allowing Sex Acts

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 61-year-old woman who owns or operates three massage parlors in suburban Kansas City is accused by federal prosecutors of allowing her employees to perform sex acts.  Federal prosecutors announced Monday that Chunqui Wu, of Overland Park, Kansas, is facing a federal charge of transportation with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. She owns or operates two parlors in Olathe and one in Leawood. Authorities say Wu was arrested in November after an undercover investigation at her massage parlors, which revealed she allowed employees to offer sexual services for tips. Wu is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.

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Kansas City Security Guard Convicted in Fatal Shooting near Missouri Bar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A security guard who claimed he was defending himself when he fatally shot a man outside a Kansas City bar has been convicted of second-degree murder. Thirty-seven-year-old Christopher Jones was convicted Thursday in the June 2018 shooting at the Yum Yum Bar & Grill. Prosecutors say Jones and another security guard, 24-year-old Markell Pinkins, shot 45-year-old Kevin Thomas, who was sitting in a car across the street from the bar. Court records say the guards repeatedly asked Thomas to get out of the car and shot at him when he moved the car “not even a foot.” Pinkins case is pending.

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Kansas Congressman Addressing Residence Issue for 2nd Time

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A freshman Kansas congressman might have to correct his voter registration a second time. Republican Rep. Steve Watkins of eastern Kansas changed his registration earlier this month while local authorities investigated him for previously listing a UPS Inc. store as his home. The Kansas City Star reports that Republican Rep. Steve Watkins is facing questions about listing a west Topeka apartment complex as his home because he didn't include an apartment number.  The complex is split between two Kansas Senate districts, and the local election commissioner said Friday that his office needs to know exactly where Watkins lives.

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Millions Spent to Accommodate Overflow in Kansas Prisons

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas prisons have exceeded their operating capacity and it will cost the state millions of dollars to move hundreds of inmates to a privately owned prison in Arizona. KCUR-FM reports a one-year contract with the Kansas Department of Corrections and CoreCivic was announced this month. Acting Corrections Secretary says it's the best option available at this time to accommodate the rise in prison population. CoreCivic plans to fly some inmates to Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, and others will be driven. Plans call for 360 male prisoners to be moved starting this summer, and up to 600 inmates could be moved.

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Clash over Water Continues Between Kansas Farmers, Refuge

ST. JOHN, Kan. (AP) — The clash over water rights between the operators of a federal wildlife refuge in south central Kansas and farmers could potentially wind up in court if the two sides don't reach an agreement on water usage. The Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has been complaining that it's not getting its fair share of the water coming from the Rattlesnake Creek into its marsh. Meanwhile, a farmer says her livelihood depends on the water coming from the creek. Kansas News Service reports that a proposed solution would cut water usage for newer water users that the refuge's establishment predates.

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Missouri Investigating Police Shooting that Injured Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri authorities are investigating a shooting involving Grain Valley police that left a woman injured. The Kansas City Star reports the incident began Friday afternoon when officers received multiple calls regarding an aggravated assault. The suspect was seen leaving the scene. Police pursued the vehicle as it traveled out of the city, eventually stopping at a small lakeside community in Jackson County. Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman says a woman allegedly exited the vehicle with a handgun. Shots were fired. The woman was taken to hospital. The extent of her injuries were unknown. No police officers were injured

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Boeing to Halt Production of 737 Max Airliner in January

Boeing Co. will temporarily stop producing its grounded 737 Max jet starting in January as it struggles to get approval from regulators to put the plane back in the air. The company says it will halt production at its plant with 12,000 employees in Renton, Washington, near Seattle. It says, however, it doesn't immediately expect any layoffs as a result of the production halt. But layoffs could ripple through some of the 900 companies that supply parts for the plane. The Max has been grounded since March after two deadly crashes.

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Hallmark's Flip-Flop on Same-Sex Ads Backfires

NEW YORK (AP) — Hallmark's decision to pull, then reinstate an ad featuring a same-sex couple kissing shows how controversy can generate more publicity than simply ignoring it. Under pressure from a conservative group, Hallmark says it pulled the ad to “not continue to generate controversy.” Instead, Hallmark faced criticism from celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner. Hallmark was also mocked on "Saturday Night Live." Hallmark reversed its decision Sunday, which experts say doesn't help matters. One marketing consultant says companies need to understand the ramifications before making a call one way or another because “you only want to pull the Band-Aid off once.”

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Man Arrested in Shooting Death in Independence

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a man in a deadly drive-by shooting in Independence. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 18-year-old Benjamin Mason, of Coffeyville, was arrested Sunday and is being held on a possible charge of first-degree murder. The KBI says 19-year-old Kimberly Meeks was shot while walking with a man in Independence Saturday evening. Witnesses said someone fired the shots from a passing car. Meeks died at the scene. The man with her ran from the scene. Investigators have not revealed a motive for the shooting.  

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Horse-Trading Iran Hawks Seize on Pompeo's Senate Interest

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers favoring a hard line against Iran have leveraged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's interest in running for the Senate to win a key concession from the Trump administration that could help efforts to kill the nuclear deal with Tehran. The State Department agreed to release a portion of an internal legal opinion that says the U.S. has the right to demand all U.N. sanctions on Iran be reinstated. In exchange, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas lifted his hold on the nominee in line to serve as the State Department's No. 2 official. That's according to an administration official and a congressional aide.

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Kansas Man Whose Granddaughter Died Bonds Out of Jail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man whose 4-year-old granddaughter from Nebraska died is out of jail after a judge reduced his bond. Timothy Funk Sr., of Silver Lake, is charged with first-degree murder in the July death of his granddaughter at his Silver Lake home. WIBW-TV reports a judge on Friday lowered Funk's bond to $75,000 and he was released from jail soon after. Court documents indicate the girl, Brandy Lee Funk, of Beatrice, Nebraska, died in July from carbon monoxide poisoning after a gas-powered generator in a garage was left on all night. 

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Missouri River Flood in Kansas City District Officially Over

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says flooding on the Missouri River in the Kansas City district has officially ended. Col. Bill Hannan, commander of the Kansas City District, announced Monday emergency operations were ending and the district was returning to normal operations. The announcement ends the longest flooding event in the district's history. The Emergency Operations Center had been continuously operating for 279 days. As of Wednesday, all Missouri River stages were below flood stage for the first time since March 13. The Corps said the river's water levels are expected to continue to drop.  

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2nd Suspect in October Bar Shooting Jailed in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man arrested in Mexico last week on four first-degree murder charges following an October shooting at a Kansas City, Kansas, bar is now jailed in Wyandotte County.The Kansas City Star reports that jail records show thirty-year-old Hugo Villanueva-Morales was booked Saturday night into the Wyandotte County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.Villanueva-Morales also faces federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in connection with four deaths at the Tequila KC bar on Oct. 6. Five others were wounded in the shooting. Twenty-three-year-old Javier Alatorre is also charged with four counts of first-degree murder. 

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KU Becomes Latest No. 1 in AP Top 25

The University of Kansas is the new No. 1 atop The Associated Press men's college basketball poll. The Jayhawks are the fifth team to reach the top spot this year. It's the first time the AP poll has had five different No. 1-ranked teams before New Year's Day. Gonzaga, Louisville, Duke and Ohio State round out the top five of the poll. Michigan took the biggest tumble of the week, falling nine spots to No. 14. No. 23 Penn State has its first ranking since March 1996, while North Carolina fell out of the poll for the first time since February 2014.

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