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Headlines for Thursday, June 28, 2018

Lawmakers Want Answers After People Locked Out of Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are demanding answers after protesters were locked out of the Statehouse last week. Top leaders from both parties directed the director of Legislative Administrative Services to prepare a report during a meeting Wednesday, the Lawrence Journal-World . The members of the Legislative Coordinating Council said they want to know when security officials can lock people out of the Statehouse and who has the authority to make such a decision. Issues arose June 18 when officers locked the public entrance doors to the Visitors Center, preventing protesters with the Poor People's Campaign and others from entering. Protesters with the group had been arrested for refusing to disperse during previous demonstrations at the Statehouse. Last week's demonstration began with a rally on the south lawn of the Statehouse. Following that, the protesters marched around to the north side of the building, toward the public entrance, where they were met by law enforcement officers who said the group did not have a permit to stage an event in the building and they would not be allowed to enter.  About a dozen people went around the officers and entered the building anyway. But when they got inside, they found that a second set of doors leading to security stations and the Visitors Center had been locked. Eleven people were arrested for refusing to leave. Meanwhile, other visitors who were not part of the protest were also delayed in being allowed in. "I think we should have a policy or some sort of direction on why that happens," said House Minority Leader Jim Ward, of Wichita. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, said he was in the building that day and didn't know the doors had been locked until he tried to exit and encountered a woman knocking on the door, trying to get in. "I don't know if that woman was part of the Poor People's Campaign or not," Hensley said. "She might have just been a tourist who wanted inside the Capitol building, so I think it'd be very appropriate for us to take a look at what the policy is and really understand when the Capitol Police feel it's necessary to lock up the Visitors Center." House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., R-Olathe, said he wanted answers to those questions as well. "It's obviously the people's house. We also need to see the policies and procedures that also protect the people who are in the people's house," Ryckman said.

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Colyer Says He Wants to End Abortions in Kansas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer says he wants to be the governor who ends abortion in the state, but he'll need help from fellow abortion opponents to do so. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Republican spoke Thursday at the National Right to Life convention that is taking place in Overland Park. Colyer told attendees that there remains a need to stack the courts, Congress and state legislatures with those who oppose abortions. The crowd was upbeat in the wake of recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, and by the announced departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy. George Delgado, medical director for the group Abortion Pill Reversal, told the crowd that Kennedy's retirement will lead to the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision.

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Donald Trump Jr. to Campaign with Kobach Next Month

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One of President Donald Trump's sons will be in Kansas next month to support Republican Kris Kobach's bid for governor. The Wichita Eagle reports that Donald Trump Jr. will attend a fundraiser on July 17 in Wichita in support of Kobach, who is currently secretary of state. Specific details about the location of the event have not been disclosed. One dinner ticket will cost $100, and a ticket for a VIP reception before dinner will cost $500. Trump Jr. also campaigned with Kobach in Overland Park in November. Kobach is seeking the Republican nomination in a race that includes Governor Jeff Colyer, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Senator Jim Barnett.

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Tornado Injures 8 People in Small Kansas Town

EUREKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say a tornado that slammed into an eastern Kansas town damaged 175 structures and injured eight people, two of them critically.  Kansas Adjutant General's Office spokeswoman Jane Welch says the twister touched down Tuesday night in the Greenwood County town of Eureka, about 60 miles east of Wichita. Greenwood County Emergency Management said on Twitter that the community of about 2,400 people took a "direct hit."  Governor Jeff Colyer declared a state of disaster emergency in the county about an hour after the storm. Welch says the damaged structures include the high school, along with homes, businesses and outbuildings.  The storm also downed power lines, leaving more than 5,000 utility customers in the dark. Welch says power has been restored to about half of them.

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Weather Service: Eureka Twister Winds at Least 136 MPH

EUREKA, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service says the tornado that ripped through the Kansas town of Eureka carried winds of at least 136 mph. The weather service on Wednesday determined that the twister was an EF-3. The tornado touched down Tuesday in Eureka, a town of about 2,400 residents in southeastern Kansas. Eight people were injured, two critically. Nearly 80 homes were damaged and at least 10 were destroyed. The high school also was damaged. Governor Jeff Colyer and other state officials visited Eureka Wednesday night. The Republican governor declared a state of disaster for the Eureka area, a move that allows for expedited recovery funding. It was the second tornado to hit Eureka in two years. A tornado that touched down in July 2016 also damaged several homes and businesses.

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Tornado Uproots Trees, Damages Power Lines near Kansas City

LAKE LOTAWANA, Mo. (AP) — Officials say a weak tornado has uprooted trees and damaged power lines in an area east of Kansas City.  The Kansas City Star reports that the National Weather Service says the EF-0 tornado touched down Tuesday afternoon in Lake Lotawana east of Kansas City and was on the ground for 3.4 miles. It stretched 100 yards at its widest, with peak winds of 80 mph.  Lake Lotawana resident Patty Corkran says her family lost about eight trees, some of which are 4 feet in diameter and as tall as 80 feet.  But she says she was "really lucky" that there was no structural damage to her home or her neighbors' homes.  No injuries were reported in the area.

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Douglas County No Longer Using Schools as Polling Places

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas county will no longer use public schools as polling places due to security reasons. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Douglas County Clerk's Office sent letters this week to more than 10,000 affected voters who will now be assigned to different polling places than they've used in the past. County Clerk Jamie Shew said Wednesday he made the change after Lawrence school district officials expressed concerns over allowing people easy access in and out of school buildings while classes were in session. Shew says his office tried working with school officials to keep using school buildings because many neighborhoods don't have alternative sites that could be used as polling places. Kansas primary elections will be held August 7. The general election is November 6.

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Kansas Hotel Developer, Bookkeeper Indicted

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A federal indictment accuses a Lawrence hotel developer and his bookkeeper of a scheme to collect more than $400,000 in fraudulent tax refunds from the city.  The U.S. attorney's office for Kansas on Wednesday announced the indictments of 52-year-old Thomas Fritzel and 46-year-old Keela Lam. Both face charges of conspiracy to defraud the city and interstate transportation of stolen funds.  Fritzel developed the seven-story Oread Hotel in Lawrence. The city established a Tax Increment Financing district and agreed to reimburse Fritzel for development costs.  The indictment alleges that Fritzel and Lam defrauded the city by seeking reimbursements of hundreds of transactions that were not generated within the redevelopment district.  A separate indictment accuses Fritzel and others violated the Clean Air Act in the disposal of asbestos.

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Federal Prosecutors Targeting Crimes in Wichita, Garden City

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A law enforcement initiative is prioritizing federal prosecutions of repeat offenders and convicted criminals who carry firearms in Wichita and Garden City. The Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative is bringing federal prosecutors together with local and state law enforcement agencies in the two cities where the violent crime rate is higher than the state average of 3.7 per 1,000 people. The 2017 report from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations shows that compares to a rate of 5.1 in Garden City and 10.6 in Wichita. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister says both cities have reported increased gang activity that fuels violent crime. McAllister says he recently received authorization from the Justice Department to hire two new federal prosecutors in Kansas to concentrate on violent crime cases, including a surge of them in Topeka.

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Kansas Chiropractor Surrenders License Amid Sex Abuse Inquiry

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City chiropractor has surrendered his medical license as a state board investigates sexual abuse reports. The Kansas City Star reports that the Overland Park, Kansas, chiropractor made the decision to surrender his license last week after it was suspended on an emergency basis in May. The suspension came after a female patient reported abuse and got a protection order from a judge because she said she feared he would retaliate. A subsequent order issued last week said the board had received information from two of the chiropractor's patients "who independently reported similar instances of sexual abuse, misconduct and/or improper sexual contact." The chiropractor admitted no wrongdoing in surrendering his license but agreed that the board had enough evidence to prove he had violated the medical board's rules.

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KC Day Care Operators Accused of Defrauding Government

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The operators of a Kansas City, Missouri, day care center are accused of defrauding the federal government out of more than $500,000. The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City says 40-year-old Sharif Karie of Olathe, Kansas, and 47-year-old Sheri Beamon of Kansas City, Missouri, were indicted Wednesday on several counts. Karie owned the KARIE Day Care Center and Tima Child Care Center. Beamon served as director. The indictment alleges fraud from 2013 through 2016 by billing a federal grant program that funds childcare for low-income families for more hours and children than actually attended. Federal authorities say the government was defrauded of up to $556,000.

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Autopsy Can't Determine How Wichita Boy Died

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An autopsy of a 5-year-old Wichita boy couldn't determine how he died.  The Wichita Eagle reported Wednesday that the autopsy report of Lucas Hernandez released Wednesday lists both the cause and manner of his death as undetermined.  Lucas was missing for more than three months when his father's live-in girlfriend, Emily Glass, led a private investigator on May 24 to his body under a bridge in rural Harvey County.  Glass took her own life two weeks after his body was found, according to her autopsy report that was also released Wednesday.  The report on the boy's body says his body was found "in a state of advanced decomposition under a pile of debris in a culvert." It noted that x-rays showed "no obvious skeletal trauma."  District Attorney Marc Bennett says he will make a formal announcement early next week after reviewing the autopsies.

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Autopsy: Woman Killed Self After Revealing Stepson's Body

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An autopsy on a 5-year-old Wichita boy whose decomposing body was found months after he was reporting missing couldn't determine how he died, leaving behind few answers for a community that had been gripped by his disappearance.  The autopsy report of Lucas Hernandez lists both the cause and manner of his death as undetermined, and another autopsy also released Wednesday found that the Kansas woman who led an investigator to his body subsequently killed herself, The Wichita Eagle reported.   Lucas was missing for more than three months when his father's girlfriend, Emily Glass, led a private investigator on May 24 to his body under a bridge in rural Harvey County.  She committed suicide two weeks after his body was found, according to her autopsy. The autopsies were performed by the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center.

Glass' boyfriend, Jonathan Hernandez, found the 27-year-old woman dead this month of a gunshot wound. Police have said they found three suicide notes with her body. Glass reported Hernandez' son missing on February 17.  The autopsy on the boy said his body was found "in a state of advanced decomposition under a pile of debris in a culvert." It noted that X-rays showed "no obvious skeletal trauma."  After she was acquitted of child endangerment in an unrelated case involving her own daughter, Glass led the private investigator to Lucas' body. She was arrested on suspicion of lying to authorities, but freed. Prosecutors didn't charge her in Lucas' death but described her as a person of interest.  District Attorney Marc Bennett said in an emailed statement that he will make a formal announcement early next month after reviewing the autopsies and meeting with investigators.  A community memorial service for Lucas is planned for Saturday.

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Family of Man Killed by Police File Civil Rights Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The family of a black man fatally shot by two white officers in Kansas as he fled is suing.  The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court alleges that the officers, Michael Cruse and Justin Mackey, fatally shot 30-year-old Dominique White in September near a park in Topeka without legal justification. White was armed and just months out of prison after being prosecuted for burglary and illegal gun possession. The lawsuit says the city provided officers inadequate training.  White's death certificate said he died primarily from gunshots to the back. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay ruled in December that the shooting was justified. He said while White was fleeing from the officers, he moved his hand over a pocket that contained a gun.

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Attorney: 3 Separated Immigrant Children Still in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says three immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the border are still in the care of a Kansas nonprofit working under contract with the federal government.  Grissom said he met Wednesday with the director of the non-profit The Villages Inc. along with Kansas child welfare officials and some legislators. Grissom had assembled a team of lawyers to provide legal services to the children after reports that separated immigrant children had been brought to Kansas.  The group was told 10 or fewer children detained in Kansas had been separated at the border and all but three had been reunited with their families. Those efforts continue for the remaining children.  Grissom says all the children had family contact information and other legal representation.

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Attorney Claims Immigration Agent Pushed her at Deportation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri attorney says she fell and fractured her foot after an immigration agent pushed her while she taking a 3-year-old boy to join his pregnant mother who was being deported to Honduras.  Immigration attorney Andrea Martinez says she had arranged with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to meet in the parking lot of their Kansas City removal office early Tuesday so the boy could be reunited with his mother. A Netflix crew filming a documentary on immigration was at the scene.  A deportation officer instead forced the boy's father, who was holding the child, into the facility. She says the father was detained. Martinez was injured as she tried to enter the building with him.  ICE says it takes any allegations against its personnel "very seriously" and is investigating.

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3 Hurt, 7 Cattle Die in Kansas Livestock Truck Crash

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a tractor-trailer hauling a load of livestock has crashed in northeast Kansas, killing seven head of cattle and sending three people to a hospital with minor injuries.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the crash happened Tuesday on Kansas 10 in Douglas County, just north of Interstate 70. Douglas County sheriff's Sgt. Kristen Channel says the rig's driver ran a stop sign and went off the road before crashing. The driver was taken to a Lawrence hospital, along with a 10- and 12-year-old in the truck with him. The relationship between the man and children weren't known.  Channel says three cattle were killed and a veterinarian was called to the scene to euthanize four others that were injured. The remaining cattle were rounded up and transferred to another truck.

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Man Arrested in Fatal Stabbing of Girlfriend in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been arrested in the stabbing death of his girlfriend in Wichita.  Police said in a news release that the 25-year-old man called 911 around 2 a.m. Tuesday to report that he had harmed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Mackenzie Payne, in an apartment. The man was armed with a knife when authorities arrived and booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. Payne was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police are investigating what led to the stabbing.

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Man Admits to String of Armed Robberies in Kansas City Area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri man is expected to spend 25 years in federal prison for a series of armed robberies that ended when another suspect was fatally shot by police. Federal prosecutors in Kansas City say 23-year-old Deonte Collins-Abbott of Grandview pleaded guilty Thursday to robbery and firearms charges. He'll be sentenced later but a plea agreement spells out terms of his sentence. Collins-Abbott admitted to eight armed robberies in early 2016, though federal investigators believe he was involved in at least 27. The crimes occurred in Kansas City and its suburbs in both Missouri and Kansas. Collins-Abbott and two other men robbed a Blue Springs, Missouri, Walgreens in March 2016. Authorities say Jermon Seals of Shawnee, Kansas, was fatally shot by officers after he pointed gun at them.

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Missouri Museum Denounces Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Change

MANSFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri museum dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder has expressed disappointment at a recent decision to remove the author's name from a national literary award.  The Springfield News-Leader reports the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Association in Mansfield has released a recent statement denouncing the action to rename the award.  The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, decided Saturday to rename the accolade to the Children's Literature Legacy Award. The national association cited concerns about portrayals of blacks and Native Americans in Wilder's works.  The museum says Wilder believed her books were historically accurate and reflected American life. The museum says it should be considered as a different time though it's difficult to agree with the social mores of those years.  Wilder is best known for her "Little House on the Prairie" series.

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Topeka Zoo Still Waiting on Giraffe Birth

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Zoo and eager members of the public are still waiting for the birth of a baby giraffe.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that zoo staff members provided an update Tuesday through Facebook Live on Abi, the pregnant giraffe who went into labor early Sunday morning.  The zoo has closed the giraffe barn to the public to give Abi some peace and quiet during the labor process. Topeka residents and people across the country are tuning into "giraffe cam" livestreams provided by the zoo and KTWU-TV.  Veterinarian Shirley Llizo says there are no concerns with Abi so far, but that the zoo is prepared for any complications that may occur during active labor.  Hope, another pregnant giraffe at the zoo, is expected to give birth about a month after Abi.

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Sex Offender Arrested After Offering Girl Ride from Pool

WAKEENEY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a child sex offender pulled up in his vehicle next to a girl and offered her a ride home from a northwest Kansas swimming pool. The Wichita Eagle reports that the WaKeeney Police Department said in a Facebook post that the girl refused and told a parent, who called the department. The police chief then went to the pool and called the sheriff's office and the Kansas Highway Patrol. The man was arrested Tuesday and booked into jail on suspicion of violating probation. The probation had been ordered after he was convicted of attempted sexual exploitation of a child in a December 2015 incident in another county. WaKeeney is located about 30 miles west of Hays along Interstate 70.

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Woman Found Dead in Kansas Identified; North Carolina Man Charged

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Junction City, Kansas, have identified a woman whose body was found last month, and a North Carolina man has been charged in her killing. Police on Thursday identified the victim as 59-year-old Tamra Ann Gibson of Asheville, North Carolina. She was last seen in Asheville on May 22 and was reported missing on May 24. The body was found May 28 between two buildings in Junction City. Her car was found burned on June 1 in Laramie, Wyoming. Authorities say 58-year-old Donald Mack Gray Jr. of Buxton, North Carolina, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. Gray is in custody in Billings, Montana, on charges related to the death of an 81-year-old Montana man. Police say the two cases are not connected.

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Lawsuit Alleges Hormel, Seaboard, Other Companies Inflated Pork Prices

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Minnesota alleges Hormel Foods Corp. and other companies colluded to inflate consumer pork prices on such popular products as Ball Park Franks, Spam and Nathan's Famous. Defendants in the proposed class-action lawsuit included Hormel , based in Austin, Minnesota, and eight other companies, including Tyson Foods , JBS USA and Smithfield Foods. The law firm bringing the case, Seattle-based Hagens Berman , contends the alleged price-fixing forced consumers to pay high prices for bacon, ham and other pork products. The lawsuit alleges the companies coordinated their output and limited production "with the intent and expected result of increasing pork prices in the United States," and also exchanged "competitively sensitive" and "closely guarded non-public information" about prices, capacity, sales volume and demand. In 2009, Indiana-based Agri Stats , a provider of data services to agricultural industries, approached the pork companies about creating a benchmarking report that would include financial information, slaughter rates and supply levels, according to the lawsuit. While benchmark reports are a legal industry tool for gauging a company's performance, the suit alleges the goal was for the companies to use the information to monitor each other's production and pricing "so as to maintain a reduction of production and an increase of price." Hormel, maker of Spam luncheon meat, called the allegation erroneous. "We are confident that any allegations such as these are completely without merit. We intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit," Hormel said in a statement to the Star Tribune. A spokesman for Tyson told The Associated Press in an email Thursday that the Springdale, Arkansas-based company had not received formal notice of the lawsuit and could not comment. Other defendants include Clemens Food Group , Indiana Packers Corp. , Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods. The lawsuit lists a dozen consumers from Minnesota and several other states as plaintiffs. Affected brands include Ball Park Franks, Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean, Spam and Nathan's Famous.

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