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Headlines for Saturday, January 4, 2020

Missouri Man Sues Public Defender's Office after Wrongful Conviction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man whose conviction was overturned after he spent more than two years in prison is suing the federal public defender's office. Thirty-year-old Aaron Winters says in his lawsuit that his public defender told him to plead guilty even though he was innocent. Winters was sentenced to 30 months in prison after his arrest in 2012 for being a felon in possession of a firearm. However, Winters later learned that he was not banned from having a gun because he had been sentenced to less than a year on an earlier conviction for possessing marijuana without a tax stamp. Federal prosecutors then recommended Winters conviction be overturned.

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Humboldt Water Plant Reopens after Chemical Spill Scare

HUMBOLDT, Kan. (AP) — Residents of a southeast Kansas town are able to once again use the city water after a water plant that was shut down reopened. Humboldt officials urged residents on Thursday to conserve water because of a chemical spill in the Neosho River. State health officials gave the all-clear and residents were told they could go back to regular water use Friday afternoon. The chemicals were spilled during a fire at Mid-West Fertilizer in Iola.

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Man Admits Shooting Fake Attack Ad in Wichita Mayor's Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The lawyer for a man who shot a false attack ad against Brandon Whipple during the Wichita mayoral race says his client did not act alone. Whipple, who won the mayor's race, is suing unknown people and 21-year-old Matthew Colborn, a video producer who admits shooting an ad that falsely suggested that Whipple had been accused of sexual harassment at the Kansas Statehouse. In court filings on Tuesday, attorney Ross Hollander wrote that Colborn made the video at the direction of others, who are not identified in court records. It’s still unclear whose idea the video was and who financed it.

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Governor Kelly: Psychiatric Hospital Unit Needs Changes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says a troubled unit within a state hospital for the mentally ill is “not a therapeutic environment" and promised changes. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kelly discussed the latest problems at Osawatomie State Hospital on Thursday after federal inspectors again threatened to pull Medicare funding. Kelly says the 60-bed Adair Acute Care unit is “way too small to have 60 people with some serious mental health issues in that one place.” She says state officials are working on improvement plans to lower the number of patients in the unit and provide beds elsewhere.

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Group Resists Naming Donors Sponsoring Pro-Kobach Ads

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group that sponsored ads promoting conservative Republican Kris Kobach during his failed 2018 run for Kansas governor says it isn't legally required to disclose its donors to the public. The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has given Per Aspera Policy until January 15th to file public reports on its activities during the last governor's race. The commission issued a notice to the group this week. But a Washington attorney representing the group told the commission in a letter that it is not required to disclose any information under Kansas law because its ads did not “expressly advocate” Kobach's election.

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Man Charged with KCK Murder of Ex, Two Kids

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged in the deaths of his ex-girlfriend and two of her children whose bodies were found after a house fire in Kansas City, Kansas. Prosecutors say 31-year-old Ismael
Caballero is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson. He is jailed on $1 million bond. The charges stem from the discovery of the bodies of 32-year-old Yazmine Rodriguez-Santilla, 14-year-old Amerikha Rodriguez and 10-year-old Jean Carlos Rodriguez by crews battling a house fire early Monday. Prosecutors allege in charging documents that he set fire to the house as well as to a minvian.

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Kansas Police Apologize for Faked Story of Expletive on Cup

HERINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas police department is apologizing after an officer admitted to making up a story that a McDonald's employee wrote an expletive and the word “pig” on a coffee cup. Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday says in a news release that he is “truly sorry for all unnecessary, negative attention and pain that this incident has brought to every person who was affected.” The apology came after Hornaday announced Monday that the now-former officer “completely and solely fabricated” the allegation that he was handed the coffee cup with the expletive at a McDonald's drive-thru in Junction City.

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Kansas December Taxes Almost $39 Million More than Expected

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected nearly $39 million more in taxes than expected in December. The state Department of Revenue said Thursday that the state took in nearly $757 million in taxes last month. The official prediction for tax collections was $718 million, and the surplus was 5.4%. Tax collections have exceeded expectations for 11 months in a row and in 30 of the 31 months dating back to June 2017. The state has collected nearly $3.6 billion in taxes since the current budget year began July 1st. That's $51 million more than anticipated for a surplus of 1.4%.

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