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Headlines for Saturday, June 20, 2020

Kansas City to Drop Charges Against Nonviolent Protesters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials have voted to drop misdemeanor charges against those who took part in street protests to decry racial injustice following the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Kansas City Star reports that the City Council voted 9-2 Thursday to bar the city from prosecuting protesters, as long as they didn’t commit a violent crime or damage property. More than 220 people who took to the streets from May 29th through June 2nd were arrested. Supporters of the move have said police incited unrest by showing up in riot gear, pepper spraying the crowd and deploying tear gas. The police union had opposed dropping the charges against protesters.

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Six Killed in Fiery Crash Near Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say six people were killed and one was seriously injured in a fiery head-on crash on a northeast Kansas highway. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened around 6:40 p.m. Thursday when a Ford Fusion and another vehicle collided on U.S. 40 southwest of Lawrence. Both vehicles were on fire when deputies arrived. Both vehicles were in flames when deputies arrived. The sheriff’s office says the car was completely burned and six people inside had died. The other vehicle was partially burned and its driver, the sole occupant, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Authorities have not said how the collision happened.

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Missouri Couple Accused of Abandoning Handicapped Son

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City couple left their 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy behind for weeks after they moved, returning only periodically to bring him food, according to court records. 30-year-old Janine Allen and 29-year-old Brendon Luke were charged last week with felony abuse or neglect of a child after police learned the boy was left by himself in a Blue Springs home while they monitored him with an in-home video system from their new home a couple of miles away. Their bond is set at $250,000.

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Major Railroad Expansion Tearing up Flint Hills

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — More than a century after the arrival of the railroads to the Flint Hills of Kansas, a large-scale track expansion is tearing up a scenic stretch in the last remaining tallgrass prairie left in the nation. The BNSF Railway is laying nearly 42-miles of track from Ellinor to El Dorado. The railroad says the work is occurring along its right-of-way and 19 parcels of land it is acquiring. Documents show the project involves eight wetland fills, realignment of streams at three locations, seven new bridges and 36 culvert extensions. No environmental impact study was required.

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Some Kansans Eligible for Extended Unemployment Benefits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansans struggling to find work amid the coronavirus pandemic can receive unemployment for 13 more weeks. The Kansas Department of Labor announced Thursday that the state has qualified for a program that provides federal reimbursement for extended benefits during periods of high unemployment, the Wichita Eagle reports. Workers must have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits to qualify. New data released Friday shows Kansas has at least 12,059 coronavirus cases, up 3% or 378 cases from Wednesday. The state health department also said the number of COVID-19 deaths rose by seven to 254.

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Man Killed by Kansas officers Linked to 2 Nebraska Deaths

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Police say man who was shot and killed by Kansas law enforcement earlier this week has now also been tied to a second homicide in Nebraska. Police identified the man killed Monday in Lawrence, Kansas, as 31-year-old Nicholas Hirsh, who faced a first-degree murder arrest warrant for the shooting death of 41-year-old John Miles of Council Bluffs, Iowa. During their homicide investigation, detectives also discovered on Tuesday the body of 68-year-old John Clanton in the Ponca Hills area of Douglas County in Nebraska. Clanton had been reported missing on June 10th.

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Suit Moving Forward against Kansas Officer in Swatting Case

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A judge says a lawsuit can move forward against a Wichita police officer who fatally shot an innocent man in 2017 while responding to a hoax emergency call stemming from a dispute between two online gamers. The death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch drew national attention to “swatting.” That's a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to get authorities to descend on an address. The address the gamers used was old, leading police to Finch, who was not involved in the dispute. U.S. District Judge John W. Broomes on Friday refused to grant Officer Justin Rapp’s request for summary judgment in the federal lawsuit filed by Finch’s family.

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Topeka Woman Seeks to Represent Self in Double Homicide Retrial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A woman charged with killing her ex-husband and his fiancée in 2002 in Topeka has taken over her own defense in her retrial. WIBW-TV reports that 60-year-old Dana Lynn Chandler told Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios on Friday that she didn’t want two attorneys who are experienced in criminal law representing her. But Rios immediately instructed the two to remain on the case as Chandler’s standby counsel. Chandler was convicted in 2012 of the 2002 killings of Michael Sisco and Karen Harkness. But the Kansas Supreme Court overturned her conviction in 2018 because of misconduct by the prosecutor.

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Kansas Regents Approve Tuition Increase at 4 of 6 Public Universities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tuition will remain flat at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University but will increase slightly this fall at the state’s other four public universities. The Kansas Board of Regents approved Wednesday an increase of 2% at Wichita State University, 2.4% at Emporia State University, 2.5% at Pittsburg State University and 3.7% at Fort Hays State. The University of Kansas announced its plans not to raise tuition last month, saying the school needs to stay competitive and that it wasn’t right to raise tuition as students and their families deal with lost jobs and income caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Kansas State offered similar reasons.

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Republicans Attack Transgender Rights in Kansas Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for U.S. Senate in a competitive Kansas primary have launched ads this past week opposing transgender rights. The Kansas City Star reports former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said if elected he would offer legislation to withhold federal funds from institutions that allow transgender students in women’s sports. U.S. Representative Roger Marshall attacked businessman Bob Hamilton over his former company's support of an LGBT business group, and Hamilton released an ad against what he called "transgender bathrooms.” The August 4th primary will determine which Republican vies for the seat being vacated by Senator Pat Roberts.

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