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Headlines for Saturday, December 21, 2019

Judges Sue Kansas Lawmakers over Courts' Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Six trial-court judges in Kansas have filed a lawsuit against the state Legislature in hopes of forcing it to increase funding for the court system. The judges filed the lawsuit Friday directly with the Kansas Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleges that state lawmakers have chronically underfinanced the judicial branch. The judges asked the state's highest court to force legislators to consider funding “independent of unrelated political agendas." The Supreme Court itself has already proposed an $18 million increase in the court system's budget. Much of the proposed funds would go toward increasing pay for both judges and court staff.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Molesting Girls over 4 Years

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 51-year-old Maize man has sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years for molesting two girls over four years. Gene Cusick was sentenced Friday for two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He pleaded guilty in October. Prosecutors said Cusick molested the two girls between August 2014 and October 2018. The two girls both told their mothers that Cusick had molested them when he was watching them for the parents. In each case, Cusick connected with the parents by telling them his 10-year-old daughter died in a go-cart crash. Detectives determined that claim was false.


Man Pleads Guilty in Topeka Motel Strangulation Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old man has admitted strangling an Osawatomie woman at a Topeka hotel. Clarence James Foy, of Paola, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in the July 2016 death of 18-year-old Sarah Cheyenne Crawford. Crawford’s body was found wrapped in sheets behind a couch. She had been strangled with a belt and telephone charging cord at a Ramada Inn. Prosecutors said she was killed after an argument with Foy. He was arrested four days later after a police chase in Platte County, Missouri.


Former Garden City Police Officer Gets Life Senence for Child Sex Crimes

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Garden City police officer has been sentenced to life in prison for sex crimes involving a minor child. The Kansas Attorney General's office said 50-year-old Douglas Heit was sentenced Thursday and won't be eligible for parole for 25 years. Heit pleaded no contest in October to two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14. He will be subject to post-release supervision and sex offender registration for the rest of his life. He was originally charged with six counts, all involving the same child. Heit was a Garden City police officer from July 2003 to March 2017.


Police: Man Injured in Wichita Hit-and-run Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man who was injured in a hit-and-run earlier this month has died. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says 34-year-old Malcolm Showalter died on Wednesday. He was crossing at an intersection on December 5th when he was hit by a light-colored pickup truck that was turning west. The truck, a late 1990s or early 2000s regular cab pickup, did not stop. The truck and its driver have not been found.


Feds: Kansas Mental Hospital at Risk of Losing Medicare Funding

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) — One of Kansas' two state mental hospitals is again at risk of losing Medicare funds. The Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that patient care problems at Adair Acute Care – located inside Osawatomie State Hospital — “substantially limit the hospital’s capacity to render adequate care and services.” CMS has told state officials it will terminate Medicare payments to the 60-bed Adair unit in March 2020 unless Kansas corrects the problems. The Kansas agency that oversees the hospital described the issues found by inspectors as documentary “omissions in patient files.”


Kansas Man Sentenced to Life for Overland Park Murder, Kidnapping

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to life in prison for severely beating a woman in 2016 after she refused to have sex with him and then leaving her to die in a wooded area. The Kansas City Star reports that 26-year-old Korrey Raine White Rinke won't be eligible for parole for 25 years under the sentence ordered Thursday for first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in the death of 46-year-old Julianna Pappas of Overland Park. He also was ordered to register as a sex offender and pay more than $15,000 in restitution. Prosecutors initially planned to seek the death sentence and charged him with capital murder and rape.


Topeka Man Admits Killing Girlfriend on Cruise Ship

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 55-year-old Kansas man has admitted that he killed his girlfriend during a fight aboard a cruise ship off the coast of Florida last year. Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that Eric Duane Newman, of Topeka, pleaded guilty in federal court to second-degree murder. Prosecutors say Newman and 50-year-old Tamara Tucker were on a cruise ship heading to the Bahamas in January 2018 when they began fighting inside their cabin. Newman admitted strangling Tucker and pushing her over the cabin room balcony railing. She fell from the 13th deck to the 11th deck. Tucker, of Lawson, Missouri, died from blunt force trauma from the fall.


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