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Headlines for Saturday, June 9, 2018

Kansas Teen Sentenced in Death of Transgender Woman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teenager has been sentenced to juvenile corrections in the stabbing death of a transgender woman. Sedgwick County authorities say the boy was sentenced Friday for second-degree murder in the 2016 death of 32-year-old Tyreece Walker. The juvenile, whose name was not released, was sentenced to juvenile corrections until the age of 22½ with aftercare until he's 23. The Sedgwick County District Attorney's office says that was the maximum sentence allowed under Kansas law for juvenile offenders. The teenager, who was 16 when Walker was killed, claimed he acted in self-defense when he stabbed Walker at an apartment complex. If the teen commits a new violation while serving his juvenile sentence or during aftercare, he could be sent to an adult prison for nearly 14 years.


US Bureau's Leader in Topeka, Questions Usefulness of Database

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The acting director of a federal watchdog agency is questioning the usefulness of keeping an online database of complaints against lenders and finance companies. Acting Director Mick Mulvaney of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Friday that he is considering whether the database should remain online. He was asked about the issue during a forum on elder abuse in Topeka. Mulvaney said the database has some weaknesses, such as not containing information about how complaints were resolved. He also said he is not sure having the information online helps consumers resolve complaints. He said the bureau would continue collecting information about complaints even if the database is not online because federal law requires it. But Kansas City attorney Bryce Bell said public access makes companies more receptive to settling complaints.


ACLU Sues Kansas County Prosecutor over Diversion Policies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a southeast Kansas prosecutor over what the group says is his improper failure to offer diversion agreements to enough offenders. The ACLU filed its lawsuit directly with the state Supreme Court asking it to order Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle to revise his office's policies on handling cases involving first-time offenders or others charged with low-level crimes. The ACLU lawyers filed the petition on behalf of a nonprofit group that provides services to the former inmates and an Independence resident who was not offered a diversion agreement after being arrested in 2017 for misdemeanor theft. The lawsuit alleges that Markle is not following the state's law on diversion agreements. Markle did not immediately respond to an email message Friday seeking comment.


Prosecutor: Investigation Continues into Wichita Child's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A prosecuting attorney says law enforcement will continue to work to determine how a 5-year-old Wichita boy died, despite the death of his stepmother, who had been the focus of the investigation. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Friday that Emily Glass' death does not mean authorities plan to wrap up their work in the case of Lucas Hernandez, whose body was found last month after Glass reported him missing in February. Glass was found dead early Friday after Lucas' father reported she had committed suicide. Authorities have not determined the cause of death. Bennett said Glass was the main person of interest in the case and he couldn't say whether other people might have "levels of culpability" in the boy's death.


Kansas City Transit Releases Documents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has released documents pertaining to a legal settlement the agency had previously argued were not public information. The ATA contended it was not subject to open records laws in Missouri or Kansas. But it reversed that policy Wednesday, after some Johnson County, Kansas, officials threatened to end the county's contract with the authority for bus services. The Kansas City Star sought records after the ATA's former human resources officer, Jimmy Fight, sued in 2016 claiming he was fired for pressuring the transportation authority to investigate theft by employees. The documents show Fight was paid a $90,000 settlement and his attorney received $45,000. Fight's lawsuit didn't detail the scope of the theft problem within the agency. Three people left the agency after the theft was investigated. No one was charged.


Boyfriend Charged in 2016 Death of Andover Woman

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — Andover police say the boyfriend of a woman who died nearly two years ago is now charged in her killing. Police announced Friday in a news release that 52-year-old Roger Smith is charged with second-degree murder in the August 2016 death of 40-year-old Sandra Berry. KAKE-TV reports Berry was found dead in her Andover apartment with a deep wound to her throat. Smith was Berry's boyfriend when she died. He was questioned but released at the time. Smith is currently being held at the El Dorado Correctional Facility for a parole violation. He will be served a warrant and is scheduled to appear in Butler County court June 29. He was scheduled to be released July 1st.


Court: Kobach Can be Investigated by Citizen Grand Jury

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals says a citizen grand jury should be convened to investigate whether Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters who had tried unsuccessfully to register to vote through the state's online system. Friday's ruling concerns a petition first filed in 2016 by Steven Davis, a current Democratic candidate for the Kansas House. The Douglas County District Court twice rejected the petition, saying there wasn't enough evidence to support Davis' allegations that Kobach or his subordinates didn't process online voter registrations and prevented qualified voters from casting their ballots. The Kansas City Star reports the appeals court ordered the Douglas County District Court to summon the grand jury. Kansas is one of six states that allow citizens to request grand juries through petitions.


Kobach Pushes Tax Cuts after Rollbacks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican candidate Kris Kobach has made promises to cut taxes a cornerstone of his campaign for Kansas governor. He's chiding other candidates for not joining him in signing a pledge not to raise taxes. His GOP rivals include Governor Jeff Colyer. Kobach says he'll push to lower income and sales tax rates and hold down on local property taxes. He's making those promises a year after Kansas legislators rolled back income tax cuts championed by former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback because of budget woes. Colyer's campaign says the governor will work with lawmakers to ease taxes. His aides also question Kobach's tax-cutting promises by noting a 2000 vote Kobach made as an Overland Park City Council member for raising a tax paid by developers. Kobach called the criticism deceptive.


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