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Headlines for Thursday, July 25, 2019

Kansas Governor Requests Small Business Administration Disaster Declaration

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly sent a disaster declaration request to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for damage caused by flooding that occurred from June 22 to July 6, 2019 in Marion County, in central Kansas.  After preliminary damage assessments were conducted last week, it was determined that the destruction potentially met the threshold for a declaration from the SBA.  If a declaration is granted for Marion County, the contiguous counties (Chase, Butler, Morris, Saline, Harvey, McPherson and Dickinson) will be eligible to apply if they also experienced flood damage during the same time frame.  SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses, organizations, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property in a declared disaster, including real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets.


Kansas Senate's Top Republican Running for U.S. Senate Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle has launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate.  The Wichita Republican and 65-year-old lawmaker filed paperwork Tuesday evening with the Federal Election Commission forming a campaign committee.  She is seeking the GOP nomination for the seat held by four-term GOP Senator Pat Roberts. He is not seeking re-election in 2020.  Wagle has served in the Legislature since 1991 and has been the Kansas Senate's top leader since 2013. She's emerged as a vocal opponent of new Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and helped thwart Kelly's push for Medicaid expansion.  Wagle launched her campaign the same month as former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The race already is crowded, with as many as 19 candidates considering it. Wagle is the only GOP woman running.


Kansas Killer to Be Among First 5 Federal Inmates Executed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man who raped, killed and dismembered a 16-year-old girl and beat an 80-year-old woman to death is among the first five federal death-row inmates scheduled for execution when the federal government resumes executions. The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced it planned to resume execution of federal inmates for the first time since 2003. Wesley Ira Purkey is scheduled to be executed Dec. 13. The Kansas City Star reports that Purkey, of Lansing, killed Jennifer Long in January 1998 after picking her up in Kansas City, Missouri. He dumped her dismembered and burned body in a septic pond in Clearwater, Kansas. Nine months later, Purkey beat Mary Ruth Bales to death in her Kansas City, Kansas, home. He was sentenced to death for Long's killing.

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U.S. Government Will Execute Inmates for First Time Since 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government will execute federal death row inmates for the first time since 2003, the Justice Department announced Thursday, bringing back a seldom-used punishment pushed by President Donald Trump and escalating another divisive issue ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Five inmates who have been sentenced to death are scheduled to be executed starting in December — all within a six-week period. By comparison, there have been only three executions since the federal death penalty was restored in 1988 and only 37 overall from 1927 to 2003. In 2014, following a botched state execution in Oklahoma, then-President Barack Obama directed the department to conduct a review of capital punishment and issues surrounding lethal injection drugs. That review has been completed, the department said, and it has cleared the way for executions to resume.


Guard Still Hauling Water to Residents Near Perry Lake

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two months after Perry Lake flooded, the Kansas National Guard continues to deliver water to residents in a nearby village — and the effort could continue until mid-September. The Guard has delivered 1.3 million gallons of water to Lakeside Village because the community's water well pumps are submerged after flooding in May at Perry Lake, about 1 mile from the village. Jane Welch, spokeswoman for the Adjutant General, says six guardsmen, using three trucks, are hauling 40,000 gallons of water every day to about 150 homes.  U.S. Geological Survey data indicates that Perry Lake's level currently stands at 911 feet, down about 10 feet from its record level of 921.15 feet in May of this year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Federal Emergency Management Agency is paying for the water hauling because Jefferson County is part of a federal disaster declaration.


Michigan Man Accused of Blackmailing Kansas Teen on Snapchat

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old Michigan man is charged with using Snapchat to coerce a Kansas teenager to send him sexually explicit videos. Martez Hurst, of suburban Detroit, is charged in Johnson County, Kansas, with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of blackmail. The Kansas City Star reports charging documents say Hurst told police he had tried to commit similar crimes against about 20 other females. Investigators say Hurst began communicating with the 16-year-old Overland Park girl in January 2018, while posing as a 17-year-old boy who attended a nearby high school. The teenager told investigators she sent Hurst about 10 nude photos of herself but refused to send sexually explicit videos. She said in March, Hurst threatened to release the photos if she didn't send a video.


Police Investigate Deadly Shooting in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting in Kansas City, Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting was reported around 7:45 pm Wednesday.  Arriving officers found the man shot inside the home. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name hasn't been released.  Officer Jonathon Westbrook, a police spokesman, says at least a dozen shell casings were found in the street. He says investigators are checking the area for houses that may have cameras on them.


Missouri Mother Guilty of Drowning Infant Son in Bath Tub

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A 29-year-old St. Joseph woman has been convicted of drowning her 6-month-old son in a bathtub.  A Buchanan County jury found Sydney Jones guilty of child abuse in the 2017 death of her son, Keith Lars III, at their home.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports Jones' attorney, Corryn Hall, argued during closing arguments that the boy's drowning was an accident because she was exhausted. The defense didn't call any witnesses.  Prosecutors pointed to the testimony of Anthony Holmes, who said he found Jones holding the baby down in the water, with water up to her forearms.  A forensic pathologist testified during the trial that the baby died of drowning but showed no signs of trauma or abuse.  Jones faces 10 to 30 years when she is sentenced.


Man Pleads No Contest in Crimes Linked to Topeka Girl's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has pleaded no contest to crimes linked to the drive-by shooting death of a 5-year-old girl. Twenty-two-year-old Jessie Dean Deshawn Hughes pleaded Thursday in the July 2015 death of Lily Coats-Nichols. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said Hughes pleaded to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle. Hughes was originally charged with first-degree murder. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the plea deal requires Hughes to spend 25 years in prison. Kagay said the girl's family supported the plea deal. Authorities said Lily was shot in the head while in the back seat of a car driven by her mother. Kagay said prosecutors believe Hughes thought he was shooting at rival gang members in the area.


Authorities Identify Body Pulled from Missouri River

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Atchison police say a body recovered from the Missouri River during the weekend was that of a 53-year-old St. Joseph man. Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson said in a news release Wednesday Donald Spradling's body was found in the river Sunday near Atchison.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports Spradling had lived in St. Joseph for two years and had recently been living at a campsite along the river. Wilson said Spradling also frequented an emergency shelter in St. Joseph.  The chief said acquaintances said they last saw Spradling last week near his campsite.  A pathologist has ruled the preliminary cause of death as drowning.


Kansas City Teen Says School Blames Her for Getting Raped

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A teenager who reported she was raped at a suburban Kansas City middle school is alleging in a lawsuit that the school district blamed her in the attack.  The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit filed this month says an assistant principal at Bernard Campbell Middle School told the girl's mother that her daughter got "herself raped" and accused her of disobeying the school's policy against public displays of affection.  The suit says the assault happened December 2017 in a boy's bathroom, and that the attacker had been suspended after being accused of sexually assaulting another student at school weeks earlier.  Lee's Summit police say officers investigated, but prosecutors declined to file charges.  An attorney for the Lee's Summit R-7 School District says he can't comment on pending litigation.


Man Charged with Robbing Bank After Making Fake Report

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man with a history of making hoax 911 reports has been charged with reporting a fake bank robbery and then actually carrying out the crime less than two hours later.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 20-year-old Jeremy Vos was charged Wednesday in federal court with bank robbery. Wichita police spokesman Officer Kevin Wheeler says Vos made a fake report before approaching a teller Tuesday with a note that said he was armed and wanted cash. Wheeler says Vos then fled with the money.  Vos had been on probation since 2017 in a case where he lied about purported emergencies. A police affidavit shows that Vos reportedly called 911 several times in 2016 and 2017 to report house and building fires, traffic crashes and other events that never happened.


Sprint Sells Kansas Campus for Well Below Market Value

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Wireless carrier Sprint has sold its massive suburban Kansas City campus for well below its appraised value under a deal that allows it to lease back office space at a rate lower than market value.  Investment research firm Moody's released research on the $250.9 million deal just ahead of the Justice Department's final determination of whether Sprint's $26.5 billion merger with T-Mobile presents any antitrust concerns. Sprint and T-Mobile have said the combined company will keep a secondary headquarters on the campus, with its main operations in suburban Seattle.  The report provides the most detailed information so far on the recently completed sale of the 190-acre campus, which was built between 1998 and 2001 at a cost of about $700 million. Local government officials have appraised it at $342.5 million.


Lee's Summit School Head Resigns After Spat over Racial Equity Training

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — A black superintendent of a predominantly white suburban Kansas City school district who received threats while pushing for racial equity training has resigned.  The Lee's Summit school district announced in a news release that it will pay Dennis Carpenter $750,000 under an agreement.  The district's school board rejected his request for equity training before eventually approving it. At one point, the district's school board president had to apologize for equating the treatment of blondes to the racist treatment of black people.  Last week, Carpenter condemned Trump for tweeting that four congresswomen should "go back" where they came from. Carpenter said in a tweet that, "When we normalize and fail to denounce racist @Twitter rants from the leader of the free world, we shouldn't be surprised that similar lines of thinking show up at the local level. #Sad."


Ex-Prison Teacher Says Law Doesn't Apply to Alleged Crimes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A fired Kansas prison dental instructor accused of sexual misconduct claims the charges aren't valid because state law cites consensual touching and he is accused of nonconsensual touching.  Tomas Co is charged with five felony counts of unlawful sexual relations. The crime is defined as "engaging in consensual sexual intercourse, lewd fondling or touching or sodomy" between a corrections employee and an offender.  The Kansas City Star reports that Co's attorney, Christopher Joseph, argues in a brief that the charges don't fit the statute's definition because witnesses testified that the incidents weren't consensual. Joseph adds that he believed that Co would be acquitted at trial regardless of the charge filed.  The Shawnee County District Attorney's Office said the defense's interpretation of the law "would lead to an absurd result."


Black Trans Woman Killed in South Carolina is the 12th in 2019

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The 12th known transgender person to violently die this year in the United States was found fatally shot in South Carolina.  News outlets report 29-year-old Denali Berries Stuckey was found dead Saturday on the shoulder of a North Charleston road. Deputy Chief Scott Deckard said Monday the investigation is ongoing.  The Human Rights Campaign says all the victims in 2019 have been black transgender women.  Chase Glenn, the executive director of the Alliance For Full Acceptance in North Charleston, says Stuckey is the third known black trans woman murdered in South Carolina since 2018. The state is one of five without hate crime laws.  Brooklyn Lindsey was the 11th trans person to die this year. The 32-year-old was found fatally shot last month on her porch in Kansas City.


Tax Breaks for Kansas City Firm Tucked into Missouri GM Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new Missouri law is expanding a tax credit program tailored for a single Kansas City company.  The Kansas City Star reports that an incentives package for General Motors also made additional tax breaks available to Burns & McDonnell.  The law will give the architecture and engineering firm access to tax write-offs for investments in cloud computing services. Legislative researchers estimate that could be worth more than $300 million over 15 years.  State records show Missouri has issued about $39 million in tax credits to the engineering and architecture firm since 2011.  Suburban Kansas City Republican Representative Jeff Coleman sponsored the tax credit and says it represents an update to accommodate business needs.  But Republican Senator Cindy O'Laughlin says taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill for the company to replace software.


Wildlife Officials: Multi-State Cooperation Required to Combat Chronic Wasting Disease

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole is telling wildlife officials attending a multi-state conference on chronic wasting disease that they need to talk to each other and come up with a regional approach to slowing the disease.  Representatives from wildlife agencies from an array of Midwestern states are gathering Wednesday and Thursday in Madison to discuss CWD. Cole began the conference by telling attendees that they've been trying to solve the disease on their own for too long.  He said states need to stop duplicating efforts and show the public that "we are on it."  The conference agenda calls for discussions on the state of CWD research, where to focus research and CWD best management practices.


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