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Headlines for Saturday, November 17, 2018

Kansas AG Proposes End to Secretary of State's Prosecution Power

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' attorney general is proposing to strip the secretary of state's office of its power to prosecute election fraud cases. The proposal from Attorney General Derek Schmidt comes less than four years after fellow Republican and Secretary of State Kris Kobach persuaded legislators to grant him prosecutorial power. Kobach became the first secretary of state in the nation to have such power in July 2015. Schmidt announced the proposal Friday, and Secretary of State-elect Scott Schwab said he supports it. The GOP-controlled Legislature would consider the measure after convening its next annual session in January. Kobach will leave the secretary of state's office in January after an unsuccessful run for governor. He had argued that the attorney general and local prosecutors were often too busy to handle election fraud cases.


Lawsuit: Kansas Foster Care System Harms Kids

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal lawsuit says foster children in Kansas are shuffled between homes and facilities so much that they can be essentially rendered homeless while in state custody. The Kansas City Star reported that a class action lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of 10 children by local advocates and two children's rights groups alleges children are treated so poorly in the foster care system that they suffer mentally or run away. It says some have been sexually abused. A 10-year-old spent three months in a series of night-to-night placements during which he never knew where he would be sleeping. Another boy has had more than 130 placements during the six years he has been in state care. Kansas officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Sedgwick County's New GOP Chair Outs Himself after Smear Campaign

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of the Republican organization in Kansas' second-largest county says he decided to come out as gay after a back-channel campaign against him. Dalton Glasscock is a 24-year-old former congressional aide to U.S. Representative Ron Estes who was recently elected chairman of Sedgwick County Republicans. Glasscock told the Wichita Eagle Thursday that he decided to come out after those opposing him circulated texts and emails to precinct committee members identifying him as "homosexual." Glasscock says his decision is worth it if it inspires even one other young person to be honest about their sexual orientation. Glasscock says he looks forward to bringing new energy and unity to the part.


Attorney: US Attorney's Office in Kansas Stalled Investigation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A court-appointed attorney investigating the use of secretly recorded conversations between prisoners and their attorneys says he was stunned and disappointed when he realized the U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas was not cooperating with his investigation. David Cohen, an Ohio attorney who was appointed by a federal judge to investigate the matter, testified Friday that he initially believed federal prosecutors were gathering information to help his investigation. He said it was only after several months that he realized that was not true. Cohen was responding to testimony earlier in the day from Tom Beall, who was acting U.S. attorney in Kansas in the early months of the investigation into whether prosecutors had improperly listened to the recordings. Beall insisted that his office had not tried to delay or circumvent Cohen's investigation. Cohen testified at a hearing on a motion to declare the government in contempt for its conduct during the probe.


Jury Finds Kansas Sheriff Not Guilty of Mistreating Suspect

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas jury took less than 15 minutes to find Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir not guilty of a misdemeanor for allegedly slapping a handcuffed man. The Hutchinson News reported that the verdict Friday followed a three-day trial in a case the sheriff has called a "politically motivated witch hunt" by the county attorney's office. Questions to the county attorney's office were referred to an attorney who was gone for the day. The defense attorney told jurors the sheriff slapped the suspect in a propane theft on the back of the head as someone would do a child. Bellendir says that was a mistake on his part, but did not rise to the level of mistreatment of a confined person. Jurors watched body cam footage of the slap.


Manhattan Man Charged in Infant's Death

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse in the death of a 2-month-old boy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 23-year-old D'Khari Lyons of Manhattan was arrested Thursday. He is jailed on $500,000 bond and does not have a listed attorney. Police in Manhattan responded on Nov. 8 to a call that an infant was not breathing. The child was taken to a Manhattan hospital, then flown to a hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, where he died. The child's name has not been released and authorities have not disclosed if Lyons was related to him.


Chronic Alcohol Abuse Blamed in Death of Topeka Inmate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Complications from chronic alcohol abuse are blamed in the death of a Topeka jail inmate. The Topeka Capital-Journal on Thursday acquired an autopsy report related to the September 19th death of 55-year-old Ruth Spence. The coroner, citing the chronic alcohol abuse, called the manner of death "natural." No alcohol was found in her blood at the time of her death. Spence was arrested and booked into the Shawnee County Jail on September 18th for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and other crimes. She was found unresponsive in her cell the next day and taken to a hospital, where she died.


2 Small Airlines Raise Concerns over KC Airport Project

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two small airlines are protesting the price tag involved in funding the new single terminal project at Kansas City International Airport. The Kansas City Star reports that executives at Spirit and Allegiant airlines outlined their concerns in letters to the Kansas City Council Airport Committee, citing the $1.6 billion project price and cost-sharing issues. The airline executives were not at Thursday's committee meeting. Mayor Sly James says the dispute includes how to pay for a $20 million baggage claim system. But James says the city will "push forward" with the project. Voters approved the project last year, but the cost is supposed to be borne by airlines that use the airport. The project will create a single terminal to replace the three horseshoe-style buildings at Kansas City's main airport.


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