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Headlines for Monday, July 9, 2018

Kobach Follows Order, Registers Thousands to Vote

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has complied with a judge's order by fully registering thousands of voters whose eligibility to cast a ballot had been in limbo because of the state's now-defunct proof-of-citizenship requirement, according to court records. Some 25,000 Kansans will have their voting status solidified ahead of the August 7 primary as a result of the move. Kobach is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in that election, challenging incumbent Jeff Colyer. According to a report the parties in the case jointly filed Sunday, Kobach told U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson that there are no longer any Kansas registrations in suspense or canceled for lack of citizenship documents. He informed Robinson that he is in fully compliance with her order that all registrants receive the same information from county election offices and vote using the same poll books. Robinson ruled last month that Kansas cannot require documentary proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, finding such laws are unconstitutional. The decision struck down the Kansas proof-of-citizenship registration law and made permanent an earlier injunction that had temporarily blocked it. In her ruling, Robinson cited Kobach's "well-documented history" of avoiding the court's orders, noting an earlier opinion finding him in contempt. Her permanent injunction spelled out specific compliance measures he was ordered to follow to implement the decision, such as ensuring all voter notices and websites in all languages make clear voter registration applicants do not need to provide citizenship documents. The judge further ordered that the parties submit a joint status report 30 days before the Aug. 7 primary election to determine if any modification of its final order is needed or whether any additional steps are necessary to ensure "effective relief for voters is not denied or otherwise undermined" by Kobach. Her June 18 ruling was a setback for Kobach, who has championed such laws and led President Donald Trump's now-defunct voter fraud commission . The decision came in two consolidated cases challenging a Kansas voter registration law requiring people to provide documents such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization papers. While the joint report agreed Kobach has now complied with that ruling, the parties' positions diverged on the issue of whether Kobach can continue to track citizenship documentation. Kobach's office has instructed county election officials to continue to record U.S. citizenship documents that are voluntarily provided by applicants. The voters who brought the lawsuit contend Kobach does not appear to have legal authority to do that, and argue that continuing to accept and record such documents will confuse people and perpetuate the impression that the proof-of-citizenship law is still in effect. Kobach countered that his office has instructed county election officials not to ask for documentary proof of citizenship from applicants, but some individuals may still present this information on their own. He argued accepting the documents allows his office to perform an "important prosecutorial and criminal investigative function." The Kansas secretary of state's office has prosecutorial authority over election crimes.


Attorney General Handling Appeal in Kansas Voting Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach won't represent himself during the appeal of a voting rights case in which he was ordered to undergo more legal education and was twice found in contempt of court.  The state's solicitor general, Toby Crouse, has filed Kansas' appeal of a federal judge's ruling that the state can't require documentary proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. The judge found such laws violate the constitutional right to vote. The decision struck down the Kansas voter registration law.  Kobach's office contends it had always been the plan for the attorney general's office to handle the appeal.  Former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says the change in legal representation won't make much difference because appeals courts will only review the facts as laid out at trial.


Kansas GOP Candidates Give Varying Responses to Trump's Imposition of Tariffs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican candidates are offering varying responses to President Donald Trump's imposition of tariffs on other countries. On Friday, the U.S. imposed $34 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. Some Kansas farm groups warn a trade war could hurt the state's economy. Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer said Friday he supports Trump's efforts to improve trade agreements with other countries. The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants to give Trump's efforts a chance to work but said it won't work if the U.S. doesn't support the president. Former state Senator Jim Barnett says a trade war is highly risky and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said the tariffs will damage the state's economy. Democrats generally oppose the tariffs. Candidate Josh Svaty suggested a trade war could make farmers more willing to consider supporting a Democrat.


Records Detail Flaws in 2 Wichita Child Death Investigations

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas child-welfare officials had received reports that a Wichita boy was being abused and neglected from the time he was 7 months old up until the 5-year-old went missing this year before his body was found under a rural bridge, according to newly released records from the state Department for Children and Families. The timeline involving Lucas Hernandez that was released Friday to The Wichita Eagle also show the department was not contacted by the Wichita school district after a school nurse noticed bruises and cuts on Lucas about a month before he disappeared. The school district has said that it followed the law involving Lucas but won't say whether it reported any concerns about Lucas to the DCF or Wichita police. Lucas was reported missing February 17 by his father's girlfriend, Emily Glass. His body was found three months later in Harvey County after Glass led a private investigator to the scene. Two weeks later, Glass killed herself, according to an autopsy. Before Lucas disappeared, the DCF received seven reports of suspected abuse, neglect or lack of supervision involving him, agency spokeswoman Taylor Forrest. The agency's investigations found the allegations were unsubstantiated. The only report of suspected physical abuse came in May 2017, when the agency said the "alleged perpetrator is Emily Glass or unknown." The agency said it couldn't substantiate the physical abuse. Forrest said the agency could provide only a timeline to the newspaper because it hasn't received any official finding that the child died from abuse or neglect. Records in another Wichita child's death show the agency received a report that 2-year-old Tony Bunn likely was being abused seven months before he allegedly was beaten to death, the newspaper reported. Records show that in October, the agency was contacted after Tony's two grandmothers took him to a Wichita emergency room with unexplained bruises on his head and back. The child died in May and his mother and her boyfriend — Elizabeth Woolheater, 23, and Lucas Diel, 25 — are charged with first-degree murder. The state agency released about 400 pages of documents to the Eagle in response to a records request and a court order, although more than 100 pages were redacted and dozens of other pages were blank. In an earlier summary, the agency said a medical exam of Tony did not reveal internal injuries or result in a finding of abuse. Police detectives also investigated, but District Attorney Marc Bennett has said there wasn't enough evidence at that time to file criminal charges.The social worker assigned to Tony's case also investigated child abuse allegations concerning Evan Brewer, a 3-year-old Wichita boy whose body was found encased in concrete in a Wichita rental home in September. The next month, the social worker was assigned to Tony's case. In a statement Saturday, the agency said that Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel visited the Wichita office after Tony's death to determine what happened. It noted that the staff member and supervisor in Tony's case are no longer working for the department and other case reviews were begun.


Court: Kansas Did Not Violate Transgender Inmate's Rights

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court says Kansas prison officials aren't deliberately indifferent to a transgender inmate who says her medical treatment is so poor it violates her constitutional rights. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a lower court ruling in favor of prison officials in a dispute with Michelle Renee Lamb. Lamb was born male but has identified as female since a young age. She receives hormone treatment, testosterone-blocking medication and weekly counseling sessions in prison. But she wants greater doses of hormones and surgery. The court noted a prison doctor testified that Lamb's existing treatment had "proven beneficial" and believed surgery was unnecessary. The court argued that even if the doctor were wrong, prison officials couldn't have been deliberately indifferent by following a medical doctor's advice.


Family's Insurance Pays After Kansas Boy Topples Sculpture

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas city has received $107,000 from a family's insurance company after a 5-year-old boy accidentally knocked over a $132,000 sculpture at a community center. Overland Park spokesman Sean Reilly says the city plans to send $99,000 to the artist of ``Aphrodite di Kansas City,'' which was damaged in May at the city's Tomahawk Ridge Community Center.  He says that's the amount the artist, Bill Lyons, would have received if the sculpture sold at the center's art fair. A video showed the child wrapping his arms around the piece and then struggling to hold it up as it fell to the floor. The Kansas City Star report s the boy's mother, Sarah Goodman, said Saturday she had not been told by her insurance company that the money was paid.  


Kansas State Cuts May Lead to Horticulture Center Closure 

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Staff members are trying to find a way to keep one of Kansas State University's research centers open after the school announced it would close the center south of Wichita. Kansas State announced last month its decision to close the John C. Pair Horticulture Center in Haysville as part of budget cuts. The university cited lower state funding for higher education and declining enrollment as reasons for cutting $3.5 million from the College of Agriculture and Research and Extension's budget this year. The Wichita Eagle reports that university officials said they'd consider keeping the center open if people can find outside funding sources. Jason Griffin is the center's director and tasked with organizing an advisory board to make the center self-sustaining. Griffin says he hopes people understand the valuable information the center provides.


1 Child Dead, 3 Critically Injured in Kansas Apartment Fire

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Officials say a child is dead and at least three other people are critically injured after an apartment fire in Kansas City, Kansas.  Fire Battalion Chief Morris Letcher says two children and two adults were taken to hospitals in critical condition following the blaze late Saturday morning, and that one child later died. Letcher says officials are not yet releasing the names or ages of the victims.  Witnesses tell the Kansas City Star the fire began with an explosion that shook nearby buildings.  Fire officials say the cause of the blaze was not immediately known.  Crews remained late Saturday afternoon on the scene of the fire, which had been extinguished hours earlier. Members of the American Red Cross are also helping those affected by the fire.


Man Dies After Trying to Walk Across I-70 Closed in Kansas

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 21-year-old Kansas man died while trying to walk across Interstate 70 overnight.  The crash, east of the Manhattan exit, forced the closure of I-70 for a couple hours after it happened shortly before 4 am.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says Matthew Bailey of Mayetta, Kansas, died after he was struck by an eastbound Jeep Wrangler driven by a 23-year-old man.  The Jeep's driver and passenger were not hurt.


Former Kansas CPA Pleads Guilty to Filing Fraudulent Returns

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a former Kansas certified public accountant has pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns. U.S. Attorney Stephen McCallister said 70-year-old Robert Purinton, of Fountain Hills, Arizona, was sentenced Monday to one year and one day in jail. He also was ordered to pay the cost of his imprisonment, estimated at $34,000, and restitution of $106,055 for unpaid taxes. Purinton pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement on his 2009 tax return by under-reporting his income. He agreed to make restitution for taxes owed in 2009 and 2010. During those years, he was a CPA with an accounting firm in Overland Park.


Minnesota Man Charged with Kidnapping Kansas Girl

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 23-year-old Minnesota man was charged with kidnapping a 13-year-old Kansas girl he met online. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister announced Dechon White, of St. Paul, was charged Monday in federal court in Kansas. Court documents indicate White and the girl met online in February. White traveled to Lenexa in July to visit the girl. He allegedly told the girl's mother he was 16. Prosecutors say he had sex with the victim in Kansas. On July 4, the girl and White said they were going shopping but instead took a bus to St. Paul. After the girl's mother reported her missing, police found White and the child at his home in St. Paul. If convicted, White faces not less than 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.


Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest Wrapping Up

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas winter wheat harvest is quickly wrapping up for another year. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 92 percent of the wheat in Kansas has now been harvested. That is ahead of the 85 percent harvested for the five-year average for this late in the season. Spring-planted farm crops are also making some progress with nearly half of the state's corn now silking. About 38 percent of soybeans are blooming and about five percent of them are setting pods. The agency also reported that 6 percent of sorghum crops in Kansas have headed.


UMKC Graduate Student Killed in Restaurant Armed Robbery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a 25-year-old University of Missouri-Kansas City student has died after being shot inside the restaurant where he worked.  Police say Sharath Koppu was shot around 7 pm Friday during an armed robbery at J's Fish and Chicken Market.  The Kansas City Star reports that Koppu was a software engineer who came to the United States in January to pursue his master's degree. Police say Koppu's parents in India have been notified of his death.  Police have surveillance video from the restaurant that shows the shooting suspect, but police had not announced an arrest by late Saturday afternoon.  The university released a statement Saturday saying it is reaching out to Koppu's family and friends and making counseling services available to members of the university community.


Missouri Teenager Drowns in a Northeast Kansas Lake

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say the teenager who drowned in a northeast Kansas lake was from Missouri.  The Miami County Sheriff's Office says in a news release that 17-year-old Om Kee, of Kansas City, Missouri, drowned Friday afternoon in Hillsdale Lake. The sheriff's department says his death appears to be a swimming accident.  The release says witnesses reported that Kee was swimming at the lake's swim beach and appeared to be tired before he disappeared under the water. Rescue teams recovered his body about two hours later. The lake is south of the Kansas City area.


Man Killed by Kansas Police Wanted in Missouri for Murder

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man killed by Overland Park police earlier this week was wanted for murder in Missouri.  The Kansas City Star reports that 43-year-old Charles Webb was wanted in the May 3 shooting death of 43-year-old Robert Eugene Jennings, of Columbia, Missouri.  Police in Columbia said a warrant had been issued for Webb charging his with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in that shooting.  Authorities say Webb was shot to death early Friday during a confrontation with police at an apartment complex in Overland Park.  Police were called to the apartment for reports of a man and woman arguing and shots fired. Police say Webb fired several shots at arriving officers, and two officers fired back, hitting him. Webb died later at a hospital.  Man Killed by Kansas Police Wanted in Missouri for Murder


Minnesota Bicyclist Hit in Kansas Last Month Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A bicyclist who was hit on a western Kansas highway last month while competing in a cross country race has died at a Wichita hospital.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 64-year-old John Egbers, of St. Cloud, Minnesota, died Thursday. He was hit by a car from behind June 14 while he was riding eastbound on Kansas Highway 96 west of Scott City.  Egbers suffered multiple broken bones, a collapsed lung and other injuries.  Egbers was competing in the Trans Am Bike Race at the time of the crash. The event is a 4,300-mile bicycle race from Oregon to Virginia that passes through 10 states, including Kansas. Cyclists enter the state near Tribune, riding east to Pittsburg.  No charges had been reported by Saturday in the crash.


Bryan University Closes Branch in Columbia, Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Bryan University, a private, two-year career training and technical school, has closed is branch in Columbia.  The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Gary Glunt, the executive director of the Columbia location, said Thursday the operation has been shifted to an online format after a transition that began several months ago.  He referred all other questions to the corporate office in Springfield, where officials were unavailable because of the holiday.  The institution's web site lists only physical locations in Springfield and Rogers, Arkansas.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reported earlier that the future of the school's location in Topeka was in doubt. A call to the number for the Topeka location prompted a message that the number was no longer valid.


Prosecutors Sponsoring Kansas Human Trafficking Conference

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Federal, state and local prosecutors are sponsoring a two-day conference on human trafficking next week in northeast Kansas.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister plans to open the conference Tuesday morning at the Manhattan Conference Center. His office says about 200 people are registered.  McAllister's office is co-sponsoring the event along with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office, the Riley County attorney's office, the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and the Midwest Criminal Justice Institute at Wichita State University.  Speakers from the Human Trafficking Unit in the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division plan to discuss working with trafficking victims during a presentation on the federal response to human trafficking.


Wichita State Hopes to Impress Prospective Students with Website

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University is preparing to launch a redesigned website that officials hope will ramp up efforts to recruit out-of-state students.  The Wichita Eagle reports the university looks to launch its revamped website sometime in the next week. It will feature a streamlined home page, an interactive campus map, a virtual tour and links to every major, minor and graduate degree offered at the school.  Tim Hart is the director of web and new media for the university's office of strategic communications. He says the goal of the new home page is to reach more directly to prospective students, especially those who are outside Kansas.  Part of the school's new marketing strategy targets Dallas, Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of the "I-135 corridor."


Kansas Man Makes Videos About Car Collection

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is gaining attention on YouTube for his car collection.  The Wichita Eagle reports Tyler Hoover runs the "Hoovie's Garage" YouTube channel. It features videos where he purchases broken or unusual cars and documents what it takes to refurbish them. He frequently resells the cars, though he says he often doesn't make money from the sales.  He has more than a dozen cars in his personal collection, which he calls the "Hooptie Fleet."  Hoover's most watched video has about 4 million views. His channel's popularity has led to Hoover's inclusion in a reality TV show about weird cars by online network RatedRed.  Hoover says the growth of his subscriber base has allowed him to make ad revenue from videos and get sponsorships from various companies.


Train Hits Unoccupied Patrol Car Near Wichita

RIVERSIDE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a train has struck a patrol car that got stuck on railroad tracks near Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says the deputy got out of the patrol car early Saturday before the collision. The train came along minutes after the deputy lost control of the patrol car while responding to a 911 call and got stuck on the tracks. The crash is under investigation.


Deaths of Man, Woman in SE Kansas Considered Murder-Suicide

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a man and woman in south central Kansas as a murder-suicide. Sheriff's Captain Mike Westmoreland says 27-year-old Carrie Ensminger, of Emporia, and 36-year-old Toby Farley, of Wellington, were found dead of gunshot wounds Saturday in rural Sumner County. Investigators say a passing motorist found the bodies in a road. Westmoreland said the deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide. The bodies were taken to the Forensic Science Center in Wichita. Further details have not been released.


Police Investigate Deadly Shooting in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting in Kansas City, Kansas. Police say the shooting happened early Sunday afternoon. Police Chief Terry Zeigler said in a later tweet that the victim had died. The victim's name wasn't immediately released, and police provided no details on a suspect or suspects.


Man Sought in Shooting Death of Girlfriend in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a 25-year-old man for questioning in the death of his girlfriend in Wichita. Police say that a first-degree murder warrant has been issued for 25-year-old Juan Carlos Caballeros-Yescas. He was in a relationship with 41-year-old Lucy Mojica, who died Saturday at a Wichita hospital after being found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Police say Caballeros-Yescas is believed to be driving a black 2010 Volkswagen Beetle with a Minnesota license plate 119TDG. Lt. Jason Stephens says investigator determined Caballeros left Kansas after the shooting but returned to Wichita and robbed a person he knew at gunpoint. Police have received tips that Caballeros may have fled to Texas or Mexico.


Former Missouri High School Football Star Fatally Shot

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have detained a juvenile in the deadly shooting of a former high school football star in Columbia. The Columbia Missourian reports that police say 20-year-old Rovon Blocker, of Columbia, was shot Saturday night. Blocker was a star defensive lineman for Battle High School in 2016 and had signed with Coffeyville Community College in southeast Kansas. Police said in a news release that the juvenile who was detained was "directly linked to the shooting." No other information was immediately released, including the juvenile's age.

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