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Headlines for Monday, February 17, 2020

 

Fight over Abortion and Medicaid Escalates Between Kansas GOP Leaders

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A political dispute between the Kansas Senate's top two Republicans over abortion and Medicaid expansion has escalated. Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita distributed an editorial to newspapers across the state this weekend defending her moves to block a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan drafted by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Wagle moved after a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution failed in the Kansas House. Abortion opponents argue Medicaid expansion would lead to taxpayer-funded abortions if a Kansas Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights isn't overturned. Denning says there is no link.

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Kansas Secretary of State's Election Security Plan Causes Local Unease

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top elections official in Kansas is pushing to make the state's central voter registration database more secure by changing how counties tap into it. Some local officials are nervous about what they see as a big project in an unusually busy election year. Secretary of State Scott Schwab has told county election officials that he wants them to use dedicated tablets, laptops or computers not linked to their counties' networks to access the state's voter registration database. He is promising to use federal funds to cover the costs. But some county election officials are nervous about such a huge undertaking in an election year.

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Attorney General: Frontenac Violated Open Records Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has found the city of Frontenac violated the state's open records law when it sought to charge a reporter $3,500 to receive public records. The reporter, from KOAM-TV, was seeking public records involving the firing of three city employees in September. Schmidt said the city's fee and a request for $225 per hour for its attorney to work on the request were unreasonable. The attorney general ordered Frontenac officials to undergo training on the Kansas Open Records Act and establish procedures to avoid violating the law in the future. 

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Kansas Authorities Release Identity of Man Killed in I-70 Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a man who was killed when his sport utility vehicle ran into the back of a semitrailer on Interstate 70 in northeast Kansas. The crash occurred around 5:30 am Saturday in Wyandotte County. The man's been identified as 59-year-old Christopher Deason, who lived in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the SUV rear-ended the disabled semitrailer. The crash shut down a portion of the interstate for a time.

Earlier reporting...

Kansas Highway Patrol: 1 Killed in Interstate 70 Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say one person has died in a crash on Interstate 70 just west of Interstate 435. The Kansas Highway Patrol tells the Kansas City Star that the crash happened around 5:30 am Saturday when a sport utility vehicle rear-ended a disabled semitrailer on I-70. Authorities say the crash killed the driver of the SUV. The victim's name has not yet been released. The Kansas Turnpike Authority is investigating the crash, which shut down a portion of the interstate Saturday morning.

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Police Say Man on Foot Killed by Truck in Parking Lot

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A person has been killed in a business parking lot in Olathe.  Police say a truck hit a man who was on foot in the parking lot just before 2 am today (MON).  The names of those involved, and other details about what happened, haven't been released. Olathe police are investigating.

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Missouri Farm Awarded $265 Million in Lawsuit Against BASF and Bayer

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A jury has awarded $265 million in punitive damages to a Missouri peach grower who sued Bayer and BASF over damage to his orchards that he says was caused by the weedkiller dicamba drifting onto his trees. The award Saturday came a day after the jury awarded $15 million in actual damages to Bill Bader, of Campbell. Bader says dicamba drifted onto his peach trees from other farms. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the jury agreed with the lawsuit's contention that Bayer and BASF committed negligence and conspired together. Bayer's attorneys said the company will appeal.

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Kansas Officials Quash Shawnee Mission Teacher Contract

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Labor has ordered the Shawnee Mission School District to stop enforcing its labor contract with teachers after finding the district wrongly imposed a three-year contract that wasn't negotiated. Television station KMBC reports that the state Labor Department issued the ruling Friday, saying the three-year contract was not a good-faith negotiation and was done to interfere with the teachers' rights. The teachers union and school district have typically had year-to-year deals. District officials maintained the contract was a good deal, with district spokesman David Smith saying the average wage and benefit increase to teachers over the three years was about 11%.

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Police Say Man Run Over and Killed Near Topeka Walking Trail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a man was run over and killed in a field near a walking trail. Lt. Manny Munoz said witnesses reported hearing an argument Monday afternoon before seeing a vehicle run over a person and drive away. Munoz says officers found an adult male suffering from injuries near the Soldier Trail. He died at a Topeka hospital. Munoz says the driver was located a short time later and is being questioned. WIBW reports the names of the victim and the driver have not been released. It wasn't immediately clear what the people involved were arguing about. 

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Defense: Convicted Killer Was Victim of "Machiavellian Plot"

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has set a March hearing for presentation of new evidence in the case of a man in prison for murder who says he was framed.  Attorneys for the Project for Innocence and Post Conviction Remedies and the Midwest Innocence Project have taken on the case of sixty-two-year-old Olin "Pete" Coones. He is serving a life sentence in the 2008 death in Kansas City of his late father's caregiver, Kathleen Schroll. The Kansas City Star reports that his defense said Schroll actually killed herself and her husband because financial abuse and fraud investigations involving Coones' father were catching up to her.  

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Wichita Police Investigate Fatal Shooting in Man's Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man was found at his home with multiple gunshot wounds before he died at a hospital. Police say a 45-year-old woman called officers after she found her friend unresponsive at his home shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday. Paramedics took 35-year-old James Winston to a hospital where he died. Police said he had been shot several times. No arrests were reported immediately on Sunday.

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Topeka Man Arrested in Human Trafficking Investigation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says a 54-year-old Topeka man has been arrested after an eight-month investigation into human trafficking. The KBI said  Michael Anderson was arrested Monday morning on suspicion of rape, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery. Formal charges are pending. KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said in a news release the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected. No further details were released.

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Trial Delayed in Washburn Football Player's Fatal Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal) — The trial will be delayed for a man charged with killing a Washburn University player and wounding a player who went on to play in the NFL. Eighteen-year-old Francisco Alejandro Mendez was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday but it was postponed while he is tested to determine if he is competent to stand trial. He is charged with first-degree murder in the April 2019 death of Dwane Simmons. He is also charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Corey Ballentine, who played for the New York Giants this year. Authorities say the shooting occurred in Topeka just hours after Ballentine learned he had been drafted.

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Police: Low Meth Prices Prompt Drop in Wichita Property Crimes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police official says a significant drop in methamphetamine prices led to a nearly a 20% decline in burglary last year. The Wichita Eagle reports that the theft of guns and other items from inside vehicles also was down from 2018 to 2019. Wichita Police Department Deputy Chief Jose Salcido says meth now sells for $2,400 per pound, which is the lowest price in 20 years. A 2018 Kansas Bureau of Investigation report shows that the street value of meth was $13,000 to $15,000 for a pound in 2014. Police also attribute the crime decline to public education campaigns focusing on crime prevention.

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Man Gets 15 Years for Fatally Driving Car into Friend

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A man who killed a friend when crashing a car into a house has been given 15 years in prison. The Kansas City Star reports that Jacob Mustoe was sentenced last week in Clay County Circuit Court in Liberty. He'd pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for the June 2017 death of Jake Wehmeyer. Authorities say both were 17 then. The two got into a fight during a party at Wehmeyer's home. Mustoe told police he was high on psilocybin mushrooms when he left, got into his car, drove it toward Wehmeyer's house and hit him before crashing into a garage door.

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Orangutan Granted "Personhood" Turns 34, Makes New Friend

WAUCHULA, Fla. (AP) — An orangutan who was granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina and later found a new home in Florida, celebrated her 34th birthday on Valentine's Day with a special new friend. The director of the Center for Great Apes says Sandra has adjusted beautifully to her life at the sanctuary. Prior to coming to Florida, Sandra had lived alone in a Buenos Aires zoo.  The animal was quarantined for a month in the Sedgwick County Zoo after she left Buenos Aires and was then sent to Florida.  The center in Florida is home to 22 orangutans and Sandra was a bit shy when she arrived. An Argentine judge's landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person, and thus entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by people.

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Top of AP Poll Steady as Baylor, Kansas Set Collision Course

UNDATED (AP) — Baylor and KU just keep winning. That sets up a monumental showdown Saturday between the top-ranked Bears and No. 3 Jayhawks that could help decide not only the Big 12 title but the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament. The two teams were separated once again by Gonzaga in the latest college basketball poll from The Associated Press on Monday. The Bears (23-1) had 48 first-place votes from the 63-member media panel, while the Bulldogs (26-1) had 14 first-place nods and the Jayhawks (22-3) had the only remaining first-place vote.

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