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Headlines for Monday, January 27, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Lashes Out at NPR Journalist; Network Defends Reporter

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has lashed out in anger at an NPR reporter who accused him of shouting expletives at her after she had asked him in an interview about Ukraine. America's chief diplomat has directed a personal attack against journalist Mary Louise Kelly. He claims she "lied" to him and he called her conduct "shameful."  NPR says it stands by her reporting. In Friday's interview, Pompeo responded testily when Kelly asked him about Ukraine and specifically the U.S. ambassador whose ouster figured in President Donald Trump's impeachment. After the interview, Kelly said she was taken to Pompeo's private living room, where he shouted at her and cursed.

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Bill Would Force State to Let Residents Choose Polling Place

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker is planning legislation that would force Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab to implement a 2019 law that allows residents to vote at polling places most convenient to them. Representative Blake Carpenter of Derby, who is majority whip in the House and vice-chairman of the Elections committee, is having a bill drafted that would give county commissions the authority to put the law into practice without waiting for Schwab's rules. The bill could be introduced as early as next week. Across the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka says he may sue to force Schwab to comply with the law that would replace traditional polling places with “voting centers.” Sedgwick County officials have pushed Schwab to implement the law. He told lawmakers this month that it was unlikely the state would be able to implement the law in time for this year's election.

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18-Year-Old Found Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say an 18-year-old man has died in a shooting there. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting was reported around 7:30 pm Friday in the Victory Hills neighborhood. Arriving officers reported finding the teen dead on the front porch of a home. Police spokesman Officer Thomas Tomasic says it appeared the teen was accosted further down the street and ran back to the house. Police went door to door in search of any witnesses or video capturing the incident. The victim's name had not been released by midday Saturday.

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Kansas Woman Killed When Police SUV Crashes into Her Car

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in southwestern Kansas say a woman has died after a police vehicle responding to a call crashed into her car. Television station KSNW reports the crash happened before dawn Saturday in Dodge City, when officers were dispatched to a report of a break-in in progress. Police say a police sport utility vehicle responding to the call was westbound on a city street when a northbound car entered an intersection ahead of it. The patrol SUV hit the passenger's side of the car. The car's driver and only occupant, Vanessa Guzman of Dodge City, was thrown from the car and pronounced dead at the scene.

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Panel: Kansas Prosecutor Misled Jurors in Sex Crimes Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A panel of attorneys has recommended a former Jackson County special prosecutor in Kansas face ethics charges for allegedly misleading jurors who found a man guilty of sex crimes that were later thrown out on appeal. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the panel reviewed the Kansas Disciplinary Administrators Office’s investigation of attorney Jacqie Spradling. It concluded there was sufficient evidence to believe she violated the state's code of conduct in the 2017 convictions against Jacob Ewing for rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, battery, and other charges. Spradling did not immediately return a call left Monday for comment.

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Former Marshall County Clerk Gets 2.5 Years in Prison for Stealing Public Funds

MARYSVILLE, Kan.  (KPR) — The former Marshall County clerk has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for stealing public funds.  The Kansas Attorney General's office says 44-year-old Sonya L. Stohs, of Marysville, pleaded guilty in November to one count of felony misuse of public funds. Today (MON), a judge sentenced her to 32 months in prison, along with two years of post-release supervision.  She was also ordered to pay more than $372,000 in restitution to Marshall County and $438 in investigative and court costs.  The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service that showed between May 2013 and April 2019, Stohs used funds belonging to Marshall County to pay for various personal items.

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Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Marketing Misbranded Drugs

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas man has pleaded guilty to selling erectile dysfunction drugs he imported from China and marketing them as herbal remedies for men. Sixty-year-old Rick Shepard of Overland Park entered the plea Monday to conspiracy to import misbranded drugs for selling of a product called Euphoric to adult novelty stores in Kansas, Missouri and Colorado. Shepard admitted he marketed the product as an “all natural herbal supplements for male enhancement” when in fact it contained prescription drugs. Prosecutors said he purchased the drugs from a Chinese supplier, then repackaged the capsules using his own labels. Sentencing is April 20.

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Kansas Clerk Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Public Funds

MARYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say the former Marshall County clerk has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for stealing more than $372,000 of public funds. Forty-four-year-old Sonya L. Stohs of Marysville pleaded guilty in November to one count of felony misuse of public funds. She was ordered on Monday to serve 32 months in prison and pay restitution to the county. The Kansas attorney general's office says an investigation found that between May 2013 and April 2019, Strohs used county funds to pay for various personal items. 

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History of Sacred Tribal Rock Turned Monument Rethought

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An effort is underway to more fully tell the story of a boulder that was a sacred prayer rock for a Native American tribe before it was moved to Lawrence and inscribed with the names of the city's founders. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that members of the Kanza tribe went to the 23-ton red quartzite Shunganunga boulder to make offerings and pray before they were forcibly removed to Oklahoma in 1873. No mention was made of the tribe when the boulder was made into a monument for the City of Lawrence. The effort to increase interest in the boulder is called Between the Rock and a Hard Place. 

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Monster Buck Classic Names 67-Point Buck 'King of Kansas'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 67-point whitetail deer shot by a Kansas bow hunter has won “King of Kansas” honors. The nontypical whitetail deer was shot in October by  Brian Butcher of Andover, who earned the title Sunday during the final day of the Kansas Monster Buck Classic in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the rack unofficially measured in at 321 3/8 inches on the Boone and Crockett scale. Official measurements will be taken in 2022 for world-record status, as it would be the fourth-largest nontypical deer ever recorded. 

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Licensing Applications to Grow Industrial Hemp Up in Kansas

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Interest in growing industrial hemp as a commercial crop is up in Kansas where regulators are reporting a 30% rise in licensing applications for the second year of the state's research program. The Salina Journal reported that the Kansas Department of Agriculture received 276 grower applications for the 2020 season, up from just over 200 in the first year of a period devoted to researching production options. There were also 23 applications from seed distributors, 35 from processors and seven by Kansas State University.

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Kansas Officials: Body Found in Burned Out Vermillion Home

VERMILLION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas fire officials are investigating a house explosion and fire in northeastern Kansas where a body was later discovered. Television station WIBW reports the explosion was reported just after 7 am Friday at a house in Vermillion. When firefighters arrived, they found the home fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters were able to bring the fire under control about three hours later. A search of the burned-out home then led to discovery of the body. Authorities have not released the identity of the victim and say they do not yet know what caused the explosion and fire. The Marshall County Sheriff Office says an autopsy has been ordered.

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Bender Family Land Up for Auction in Southeast Kansas Was Site of 1870s Serial Slayings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A piece of land in southeast Kansas, where a Kansas family of four killed at least 11 people in the 1870s, is up for auction. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 162-acre tract of land in Labette County will be sold to the highest bidder next month. Accounts say the "Bloody Benders" family would lure travelers to their home offering a hot meal. Once seated at the dinner table, instead of hospitality, these travelers would get their throats slit or heads bashed in. The Benders were never captured. The auction manager says someone interested in that type of history might want to buy the cropland.  The auction is scheduled for February 11.

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EPA Reaches Deal over Clean Air Violations at Kansas Plants

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Federal environmental regulators said Monday they have reached a settlement with Frontier Ag Inc. to resolve alleged clean air violations at three ammonia fertilizer facilities in Kansas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a news release the alleged violations of the Clean Air Act regulations occurred at the company's two facilities in Bird City and one in Menlo. The company has since returned all three facilities to compliance and agreed to pay a civil penalty of $71,652. 

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University of Kansas Researchers Test Male Contraceptive Gel

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Medical Center is testing a male contraceptive gel that men apply to their shoulders. The school's research institution is conducting a clinical trial for the contraceptive and searching for participating couples. The gel is a mixture of Nestorone and testosterone. Nestorone blocks the male hormone production needed to generate sperm. Testosterone in the gel replaces testosterone usually produced in the male body. Dr. Ajay Nangia is the center's vice chair of urology. He says the study should not lessen a man's sex drive and that sperm count should return to normal within nine months.

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GOP Kansas Congressman Steve Watkins Changes Voter Registration 2nd Time

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A freshman Kansas congressman has changed his voter registration for the second time in six weeks after coming under investigation for potentially violating state election laws. Republican Rep. Steve Watkins has faced scrutiny because he previously listed a UPS Inc. store has his residence. The Kansas secretary of state's office confirmed that Watkins listed a Topeka apartment as his residential address in registration form filed January 17. Watkins listed an address for the same complex's office when he previously changed his registration December 6. Watkins is still using a box at the UPS store as a separate mailing address.

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Missouri House Passes Bill Targeting Wind Energy Line

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican-led state House has voted against the use of eminent domain for a large wind-energy power line. Lawmakers voted 118-42 Monday to prevent using eminent domain to acquire easement rights for the Grain Belt Express power line. The high-voltage power line is to carry wind energy from Kansas across Missouri and Illinois before hooking into a power grid in Indiana that serves eastern states. Missouri utility regulators granted approval for the project, which could let developers pursue condemnation if landowners won't sell easements. The bill to ban eminent domain now heads to the Senate, where it died last year.

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Kansas Man Sentenced in Shooting Death of 72-Year-Old Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced for his role in the murder of a 72-year-old man at an Independence, Missouri home. Jackson County prosecutors say 34-year-old Xavier Otero, of Kansas City, Kansas, was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder and four other charges. He is one of three men charged in the October 2017 death of William Domann at the victim's home. Nathan Hendricks and Onelio Garcia were also charged in Domann’s death. Court records say Domann’s girlfriend said Hendrick had been threatening to “rough” up Domann because he had been asked to hide a car Hendricks had stolen and Hendricks wanted it back.

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4 Missouri River States Unite to Try to Limit Flooding

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Four states along the Missouri River are joining forces to look for ways to avoid the kind of flooding that caused millions of dollars in damage last year. Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas are pooling their money to pay for half of a $400,000 study with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to measure how much water flows down the Missouri River. State officials hope to present a united front to federal officials to gain more influence over how the river is managed after devastating floods in 2011 and 2019.

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University of Missouri Tracks Student Attendance with Phones

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri is tracking all new students on campus this semester through a cellphone app to learn whether they're attending class. It's a test expansion of a program the university has used for four years to track class attendance of freshmen student athletes and athletes in academic trouble. Supporters of the program say it helps attendance, which improves academic performance. Critics worry that the university may one day add uses for the program that could violate student privacy. The Kansas City Star reports that the university will help students who don’t have a phone participate.

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Chiefs, 49ers Arrive in Miami for Super Bowl Week

MIAMI (AP) - Super Bowl week is here. The Kansas City Chiefs were the first team to arrive in Miami on Sunday, a week before they'll take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. The 49ers came into town a couple of hours later. The first media session of the week for the Chiefs and the 49ers is Monday night, when the NFL has Super Bowl Opening Night at Marlins Park.

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