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Headlines for Thursday, November 14, 2019

Catholic Dioceses Pin Support of Medicaid Expansion on Abortion Restrictions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Catholic dioceses in Kansas will not support expanding Medicaid unless the state passes a constitutional amendment and new laws restricting abortions. Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, told a House and Senate committee Wednesday the state’s four Catholic dioceses want an amendment to the Kansas Constitution to clarify that it does not include a right to abortion. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last year the constitution does protect the right to abortion. The diocese also is seeking a law allowing medical professionals or health facilities to decline to perform certain procedures for religious reasons. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the committee held two days of hearings on expanding Medicaid health insurance to 130,000 low-income adults and children in Kansas. Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican who leads the committee, said it will not recommend a Medicaid expansion bill to next year’s Legislature.

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Suspect in Lawrence Bar Shooting Dies

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 30-year-old man who was a suspect in a shooting outside at Lawrence bar has died.  Lawrence police say Wednesday that Terry Dean Scearce III, of Lawrence, died from a gunshot wound after a shooting early Sunday in the parking lot of Playerz Sports Bar.  The Lawrence Journal-World reported investigators believed Scearce shot a man and a woman at the bar before he was found in a car suffering from a gunshot wound.  Police spokesman Patrick Compton said the man and woman have been released from the hospital.  He said the case remains under investigation and it is too early to release details of what occurred during the shooting.

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Topeka Police Say 2 Shooting Deaths Were Homicides

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a teenager and a young man were killed in a shooting in Topeka.  Spokeswoman Gretchen Koenen said 15-year-old Owen Hughes and 21-year-old Reginald McKinney Jr., both of Topeka, were shot to death Tuesday in southeast Topeka.  Officers found one victim inside a home and another outside the home.  No arrests or suspect descriptions were released early Wednesday.  Police are looking for three or four men who were seen running from the scene.

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Police: 2 Deaths in Topeka Were Murder-Suicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say the deaths of two people in a southeast Topeka apartment were a murder-suicide. Police spokeswoman Gretchen Koenen said Thursday that 32-year-old Valerie Taylor was found dead Tuesday afternoon by officers responding to a medical call. Taylor died from a single gunshot wound. Koenen said in a news release that police believe Taylor was killed by her boyfriend, 37-year-old James Allen Jr., who was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police are not searching for anyone else in the case.

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Kansas Teacher Gets Probation for Having Sex with Student

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former physical education teacher in Haysville has been sentenced to two years of probation for having sexual contact with a male student.  District Attorney Marc Bennett said 36-year-old Shari Herrs, of Andover, was sentenced Wednesday for an amended charge of attempted unlawful sexual relations.  If Herrs violates her probation, she could receive a 13-month prison sentence.  Prosecutors say Herrs committed the sex acts with an 18-year-old student at Campus High School between April and May of 2018.  Herrs has already registered as a sex offender and surrendered her teaching license.

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Prosecutors to Retry Kansas Priest Accused of Molestation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have announced plans to retry a Kansas priest who was suspended from the ministry after he was accused of inappropriately touching a young girl on two occasions.  Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Jonathan Carter told The Kansas City Star on Wednesday that the Rev. Scott Kallal’s new trial will likely be held in May. The 37-year-old faces two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was accused of inappropriately touching a 10-year-old girl in 2015 at a Kansas City, Kansas, church gymnasium and again at a graduation party in Bonner Springs.  His original trial ended in mistrial in September after the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict.

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Report: Lack of Leadership Led to GCCC Football Player’s Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A scathing report following an independent investigation into the heatstroke death of a 19-year-old football player who collapsed after the first day of conditioning practice at a Kansas community college found “a striking lack of leadership.” Braeden Bradforth, a 315-pound defensive lineman for the Garden City Community College, was found unconscious outside his dorm room after practice on Aug. 1, 2018. The New Jersey teenager died that night at a hospital. No lawsuits have been filed in the case. A serious lack of oversight set off a series of events that led to Bradforth’s death, according to the report by investigators, including sports medicine specialists Walters, Inc. School staff failed to assess athletes prior to the conditioning test and paid little attention to assessing Bradforth’s personal level of fitness, the report said. In particular, coaching staff didn’t consider if he had properly acclimatized to working out in summer temperatures at a higher altitude.

"A cause of death was a poorly designed and administered conditioning test for an unconditioned, non-acclimatized student-athlete at an altitude with 9% less oxygen than he was accustomed to at his home” in Neptune, New Jersey, the report said.

The college was not sufficiently prepared to ensure safety at practice or to deal with exertional heat illness, the report said. No college athletic training or coaching staff member and no emergency medical service or hospital emergency department personnel identified or treated Bradforth’s escalating symptoms of the heat stroke that caused his death, it found. A timeline included in the report detailed the 73 minutes that passed from the moment Bradforth left the stadium to his arrival at the hospital.

"An effective plan likely would have rescued him from what turned out to be his untimely death," the report said. "The response time and significant delays between multiple opportunities for effective treatment were a cause of death."

Teammates found Bradforth collapsed in an alley, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request. Assistant football coach Caleb Young told officials Bradforth was "making a stressful moan" when he arrived on the scene, but rather than immediately dial 911 he called the head coach Jeff Sims "for instruction to see how we wanted to handle the situation." Young wrote in one email to university officials that while he was on the phone with Sims, players were filling jugs and bottles from drinking fountains to pour water on Bradforth and attempt to make him drink. The college hired the investigators to conduct an independent review of the case under pressure from Bradforth’s family and the New Jersey congressional delegation. The University of Maryland also hired Walters, Inc., after the heatstroke death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair after a workout last year.

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Lawyer Threatens Lawsuit After Student Death Report

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for the family of a 19-year-old football player who died of heatstroke after conditioning practice at a Kansas community college say they plan to sue the school, unless it wants to discuss a settlement. Kansas attorney Chris Dove spoke Thursday after the college released a scathing independent report on Garden City Community College’s conduct the day Braeden Bradforth died. Dove calls it a damning investigation. He says it would be in the best interests of the teen’s mother’s mental and psychological state to not drag it out much longer. Bradforth, a 315-pound defensive lineman, was found unconscious outside his dormitory after practice on Aug. 1, 2018. The New Jersey native died that night at a hospital. The mother’s attorney in New Jersey, Jill Greene, says the report is their ammunition.

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Teen Pleads to Lesser Charges in Olathe Shooting Death

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 17-year-old boy originally charged with murder in a high school student’s death in Olathe has pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Rolland Kobelo pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated robbery and distribution of Xanax. The plea deal calls for him to be sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Kansas City Star reports Kobelo was initially charged with felony murder in the death of 17-year-old Rowan Padgett in March. Authorities say Padgett was shot during an unsuccessful drug deal for $8 of Xanax. Prosecutors accuse the would-be buyer, 18-year-old Matthew Lee Bibee Jr. of shooting Padgett. Bibee faces several charges, including capital murder. Jordan Denny, who was 16 at the time, is also charged with felony murder. Kobelo admitted that he helped set up the drug deal.

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Kansas Man Sentenced for Attempted Rape of 4-Year-Old

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 77-year-old northeast Kansas man has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for the attempted rape of a 4-year-old girl. Fox4kc reports Galen Hurt, of Linwood, was sentenced Wednesday to 5.5 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in September in Leavenworth County to attempted rape and aggravated child endangerment. Hurt was originally charged in 2018 with rape of a child after the girl told her mother that he had touched her inappropriately while she was at Hurt's house. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said he offered a plea deal to Hurt in part to prevent the girl, who is now 6, from having to testify in court.

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Amount of Water Released into Missouri River to Be Reduced

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Eight months after flooding began along the lower Missouri River, the amount of water being released from dams upriver will start to be reduced later this month. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the amount of water being released from the Gavins Point dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will start to gradually be reduced on Nov. 23 as part of its plan to cut releases for winter. The amount of water being released into the river has been at 80,000 cubic feet per second — more than twice what is typical — for months. By mid-December, that will be reduced to 22,000 cubic feet per second. The river has remained high ever since the spring flooding because the amount of rain and melting snow flowing into the river was near record levels this year.

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Texas Woman Sentenced to Probation in Kansas Death

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old Texas woman who said she accidentally shot and killed her boyfriend has been sentenced to three years of probation.  Gregoria Baez, of Stamford, Texas, was sentenced Tuesday for involuntary manslaughter. She was convicted in September in the death of 21-year-old Feliz Florez in Manhattan, who died in September 2018.  The Manhattan Mercury reports Baez testified during her trial that she and Florez pointed guns at each other while they were joking around. She said she accidentally disengaged the grip safety and shot Florez.  Before sentencing, Baez apologized and said she still loved Florez.  But Jennifer Florez, Felix’s mother, said the family would get some comfort if Baez was sentenced to prison.  Baez will serve her probation in Texas, where she moved after the shooting.

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Man Released in ‘Doppleganger’ Case Facing Return to Prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 43-year-old Kansas City man previously freed from prison in a case of mistaken identity is facing a possible return to confinement after pleading guilty to illegal possession of a firearm. The Kansas City Star reports Richard Anthony Jones pleaded guilty Thursday. He wasn’t allowed to have weapons because of prior felony convictions for burglary and robbery. Jones was released from prison in 2017 after his conviction for snatching a woman’s purse at a Kansas Walmart in 1999 was overturned, in what became known as the “ doppelganger case.” Supporters said another man, who looked like Jones, was the likely robber. Kansas paid Jones $1 million in 2018 for his wrongful imprisonment. Prosecutors say officers found handguns on Jones during two confrontations in February and March. Jones faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

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NTSB: Coast Guard Ignored Duck Boat Safety Proposals

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says the Coast Guard has repeatedly ignored safety recommendations that could have made tourist duck boats safer and potentially prevented a Missouri accident that killed 17 people.  The NTSB on Wednesday released a “Safety Recommendation Report” on the July 2018 accident, when a Ride the Ducks of Branson boat sank during a sudden and severe storm.  Former World War II amphibious vehicles known as duck boats operate around the country. The NTSB says that since an Arkansas duck boat accident killed 13 people in 1999, it has repeatedly urged the Coast Guard to require them to be better able to remain afloat when flooded, and to remove impediments to escape.  Coast Guard Lt. Amy Midgett says the Coast Guard has previously issued guidance to duck boat operators aimed at ensuring safety and is launching a new review based on the NTSB recommendations.

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Riley County Police: Reported School Hostage Situation Was Fabricated

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man who reported a hostage situation at a Kansas elementary school apparently fabricated the story to gain notoriety.  Riley County police said in a Facebook post that the man called police shortly before 1 am. Wednesday to say he was inside Lee Elementary School in Manhattan with a hostage. Police say the man also called TV news stations stating he had committed several felony crimes and was holding a person in the building at gunpoint.  Police set up a perimeter around the school before officers and Kansas Highway Patrol troopers entered the building around 6:50 am. The school is located less than 1 mile west of the Kansas State University campus.  Police say it appears that the caller wasn’t from the area.

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Ex-Missouri Police Chief Who Rescued Baby Indicted

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a former northwest Missouri police chief accused of striking a handcuffed man after the chief helped rescue the man’s infant daughter from a pond.  Federal prosecutors said 50-year-old Greg Hallgrimson, of Kansas City, was charged Wednesday with violating the man’s civil rights. The indictment identifies the man only as “J.Z.” but Hallgrimson had previously been accused of using excessive force against Jonathon Zicarelli. Hallgrimson resigned in June.  Zicarelli told Greenwood police in December that he had tried to drown his 6-month-old daughter in a nearby pond. Hallgrimson and another officer rushed to the pond and rescued the child.  The indictment alleges Hallgrimson struck J.Z. in the face with his fist while he was restrained in a chair on the same day the child was rescued.  The Kansas City Star reports Hallgrimson’s attorney, Robin Fowler, said he will plead not guilty and go to trial.

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GOP Kansas State School Board Member Running for U.S. Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican member of the Kansas State Board of Education who shares retiring GOP U.S. Senator Pat Roberts' last name is running to replace him in Washington.  Steve Roberts of Overland Park filed paperwork Tuesday with the state to claim a spot on the ballot in the August primary.  Pat Roberts is not seeking re-election after four terms.  Steve Roberts is a math tutor who developed his own online math course who has served on the state school board since 2013. Running for the Senate means he can't seek another term on the board in 2020.  Other Republicans running for the Senate include ex-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall of western Kansas, Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle and former Kansas City Chiefs player David Lindstrom.

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Cerner Corporation Cuts 130 Jobs, Including 60 in Kansas City

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cerner Corporation has cut 130 jobs, including 60 in the Kansas City area.  The layoffs announced Tuesday come after the North Kansas City-based company laid off 255 workers in early September.  The Kansas City Star reports the health care information technology company said the job reductions comes as it looks for ways to diversify its current operations.  Cerner is the Kansas City area's largest private employer, with about 14,000 workers across the metropolitan area.  Cerner says it remains committed to creating jobs in Kansas City and has hired several thousand workers this year.  The company recently notified federal regulators that Chief Operating Office Mike Nill will step down at the beginning of next year. The 23-year veteran is among three top executives to leave in recent months.

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Wichita Approves $35.5 Million in Incentives for Medical School

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has approved a public financing package worth about a $35.5 million to subsidize the creation of a medical school.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the package approved Tuesday will help create a campus for training osteopathic physicians. Called the Kansas Health Science Center, the new school will be built in the former Finney State Office Building. Once the center of state government in Wichita, the building was abandoned in favor of leasing privately owned office space across Wichita.  Plans also call for three other buildings to be transformed — one into student housing, another into a dining hall and culinary center and the third into a boutique hotel.  The bulk of the money for the development will come from tax abatements.

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Missouri Appeals Court Rules in Public Records Request Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A state appeals court ruled that Raytown’s city clerk must pay a penalty for refusing to release public records to a woman whose mother died in a car wreck.  KCUR reports the Missouri Court of Appeals ruling on Tuesday clarifies when public officials can refuse a request for public records in cases when the records might be “related to” litigation.  The clerk, Teresa Henry, was ordered to pay $38,500 in attorney fees and a $4,000 civil penalty to Paula Wyrick, who wanted records about an intersection in Raytown where her mother died on New Year’s Eve 2016.  Henry refused, citing a Sunshine Law exception concerning records “related to” litigation. Wyrick had said she might sue the city over her mother’s death.  The appeals court ruled the threat of litigation is not sufficient to exempt public records from disclosure.

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Kansas City Mayor Seeks Ideas from Public to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is asking people interested in honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to submit ideas to the city’s parks board within 90 days.  Lucas’ announcement on Tuesday comes a week after voters chose to restore The Paseo name to a boulevard named last year for King.  Lucas said the Parks and Recreation Board will hold public meetings to evaluate ideas for a new way to honor the civil rights icon.  The mayor said in a news release that last week’s vote showed that voters were frustrated by the process used to name the street for King.  Tim Smith, a spokesman with the group that led a successful campaign to restore The Paseo, praised Lucas’ effort to gather input from the community on the issue.

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Missouri Dog Rescue Officials: "Unicorn" Puppy Doesn’t Notice "Tail" Growth on Head

JACKSON, Mo. (AP) — A rescued puppy is attracting a lot of attention because of his resemblance to a unicorn.  The nearly 10-week-old puppy, named Narwhal, has a tail-like appendage growing from his forehead.  Narwhal was rescued over the weekend and sent to Mac’s Mission in Jackson, which specializes in fostering animals with special needs.  Mac’s Mission founder Rochelle Steffen says Narwhal doesn’t notice the extra tail and is otherwise a happy, healthy puppy. Although it looks like a tail, Narwhal cannot wag it.  Steffen says the rescue group has been flooded with requests from people wanting to adopt Narwhal since his picture hit social media. But he’ll remain at Mac’s Mission so his caretakers can be sure the tail doesn’t grow out of proportion to his face and cause him problems.

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