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Headlines for Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kansas Senate GOP Considers Expanding Liquor Sales

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — GOP legislators are weighing the political risks of voting on legislation allowing supermarkets to sell stronger alcohol.Republican Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said in a meeting of the GOP Senate caucus this week that the chamber needs to debate the issue as it looks ahead to the 2016 campaign. That's because the topic has been the target major lobbying efforts by both supporters and opponents. Supermarket and convenience store chains like Dillons, Hy-Vee and QuikTrip support the move, saying it will increase consumer choices. But, opponents say that allowing the major chains to sell alcohol would threaten the state's roughly 750 individually-owned liquor stores. Republican Senator Vicki Schmidt from Topeka said that voting on the measure would be risky because it would force lawmakers to publicly pick sides.


Topeka Councilman Accepts Diversion Agreement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka city councilman has reached a diversion agreement that resolves a misdemeanor charge that stemmed from campaign paperwork. The Capital-Journal reports that Chad Manspeaker signed the deal Friday. Assistant District Attorney J. Todd Hiatt said the agreement calls for the charge to be dismissed if Manspeaker successfully completes the diversion program.  Manspeaker acknowledges in the agreement that he failed to include all his substantial interests in a statement he filed last June as part of a failed campaign for a Shawnee County Commission seat. Manspeaker said in a statement issued Friday that in signing the agreement, he acknowledged that he "erroneously omitted my wife's vendor cart business." Manspeaker said the business was only a month old at the time and that the omission was "out of confusion."


School Asks Special-Needs Student to Remove Letter Jacket

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman says she was shocked when her special needs son was asked to remove his letter jacket at school. Michael Kelley has Down syndrome and autism and participates in extracurricular special needs basketball.  Wichita station KSN-TV reports that his family bought him a varsity letter like the other kids wear. But the school says it's an official Wichita East High School varsity letter and Kelley is not supposed to have it.  His mother, Jolinda Kelley, says she put it on the jacket after her son was recognized for participating in the special needs basketball problem. East High Principal Ken Thiessen says the school decided against giving letters to special needs athletes because those sports are not varsity-level competitions.  Wichita has no districtwide policy.


Man Arrested in Death of 31-year-old Liberal Woman

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested a man in the killing of a Liberal woman whose death initially appeared to be a suicide. The High Plains Daily Leader reports the suspect was arrested Friday in the death of 31-year-old Andrea Garrison.  Liberal Police Captain Pat McClurg said in a news release that police responded January 2nd to a possible suicide. Garrison was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy was completed January 5th.  McClurg said there were "suspicious circumstances." He said that after talking to witnesses, conducting search warrants and collecting evidence, investigators determined Garrison was the "victim of foul play." McClurg says the investigation is ongoing. No other details were immediately provided.


$1.5M Lawsuit Filed over Lawrence Beer Bottle Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The father of an Iraq war veteran who died after he was struck over the head with a beer bottle is seeking $1.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a jury trial is scheduled for October 13th in the case filed by Joseph Sardina. He blames 23-year-old Justin Gonzalez and Whitney Beck of negligence in the killing of Nicholas Sardina. The 27-year-old died in February 2012 when a brawl broke out during a house party in Lawrence.  Gonzalez, a 23-year-old Mission man, is free on bond while appealing his involuntary manslaughter conviction in the killing. Gonzalez argues that he was defending himself. Beck was the host of the party. Beck's attorney argued in court documents that getting involved in the brawl was "inherently dangerous."


Topeka Mother Pleads Guilty in Jail Threat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka mother has pleaded guilty to threatening staff at the Kansas jail where her son killed himself more than a decade ago. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 58-year-old Cathy Lynn Thomas admitted Friday to a reduced charge of making a threat to commit violence. The prosecution and defense agreed to ask for supervised probation at her May 1st sentencing. The prosecution said corrections staff wanted Thomas to receive a mental health evaluation and help. Security was beefed up last month at the Shawnee County Jail after Thomas called to say the jail had "brutally murdered" her son and that she was headed there with a rifle. Thomas's son, Anthony Stapleton, was 28 in 2002 when he used a bedsheet to hang himself at the jail. She sued unsuccessfully.


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