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Headlines for Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Only Kansas Democrat in Congress Supports Impeaching Trump

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The only Kansas Democrat in Congress supports impeaching President Donald Trump. Freshman Rep. Sharice Davids announced Tuesday that she will vote for both articles of impeachment drafted by fellow Democrats over Trump's effort to get Ukraine to investigate political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden. Davids said in a statement that the evidence against Trump is “overwhelming.” The articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abusing his power as president and obstructing the congressional investigation by directing administration officials to defy subpoenas. Kansas's three Republicans in the House have all strongly criticized the impeachment process and suggested it is partisan.  


Wichita Man, Who Wanted Son to be Tough, Sentenced to Prison in Son's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP / KAKE)  —  A 29-year-old Wichita man who said he wanted his 6-month-old son to be tough has been sentenced to nearly 40 years in prison in the boy's death. Dorl Gwyn has been sentenced in Wichita for second-degree murder in the April 2018 death of Jazz Gwyn at their home in Wichita. KAKE-TV reports Dori Gwyn told police he was shadowboxing with his son because he wanted to make him a tough kid.   Jazz Gwyn's mother took him to the emergency room in April because the boy had stopped breathing.  An autopsy showed the boy had several injuries including a laceration to his heart, rib fractures, bruising to his abdomen and head injuries.  Dorl Gwyn admitted to detectives he shadowboxed with his son to "make him...tough."  District Judge Bruce Brown sentenced Gwyn to 467 months in prison. 


Sprint Executive's Messages Suggest T-Mobile Deal May Boost Consumer Prices

NEW YORK (AP) — A Sprint executive's messages revealed in court Monday may undercut one of T-Mobile's arguments supporting its $26.5 billion merger. A coalition of state attorneys general has taken the merger to trial and aims to convince a judge that the deal should be blocked because prices will go up for consumers. T-Mobile has argued its deal benefits Americans. But the Sprint executive, in messages from 2017, had posited that prices could go up for customers because of the deal. The trial in U.S. District Court in New York is expected to last several weeks.


Kansas GOP Lawmaker Faces Probe over His Voter Registration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas congressman being investigated for registering to vote at a UPS store has changed his registration to list a Topeka apartment complex as his residence. Republican Rep. Steve Watkins is still listing the UPS store in southwest Topeka as his mailing address after naming an apartment complex about 2 miles to the north as his residence in a new registration form dated Friday. The local sheriff's department is investigating whether Watkins broke state election laws by listing the UPS store as his residence in late August. A Watkins spokesman has said listing the UPS store as his residence was a mistake.


Multistate Voter Database Suspended in Lawsuit Settlement

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A civil rights group says a database that checks whether voters are registered in multiple states has been suspended until security safeguards are put in place as part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit. The Interstate Crosscheck program was the subject of a class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas on behalf of 945 voters whose partial Social Security numbers were exposed by Florida officials through an open records request.  Kansas has operated the multistate program since 2005. The ACLU says the settlement includes a list of safeguards Kansas has agreed to implement to protect voter's personal information before the program can resume.


2 More False Reporting Cases Dropped in Kansas College Town

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors in Lawrence have dropped false reporting charges against two more women who reported being sexually assaulted in Lawrence, as questions swirl around the handling of such investigations in the college town. The Kansas City Star reports that Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson says he hopes publicity surrounding a third case he dropped in October won't deter victims from coming forward. In that case, he suspected the woman fabricated her rape out of vengeance and regret. University of Kansas law professor Suzanne Valdez says she doesn't believe police and prosecutors in Lawrence are protecting the victims of sexual assault.


82 Veterans Settle Lawsuits Against Leavenworth VA Employee

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Eighty-two veterans who were sexually abused by a former physician assistant at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Leavenworth will divide nearly $7 million after settling their lawsuits against the government. The physician assistant, Mark Wisner, was convicted in 2017 of aggravated sexual battery and aggravated criminal sodomy and sentenced to 15 years and seven months in prison. He was accused of groping and molesting patients at the Dwight D. Eisenhower medical center in Leavenworth between 2012 and 2014, KCUR reported. In dozens of lawsuits, victims contended the U.S. government should have known that Wisner was a danger because he had a history of sexually inappropriate behavior and providing improper medical care. One of the lawsuits cited Wisner's conviction in 1987 for a sex-related crime and complaints from VA patients in 2011, 2012 and 2014. At his trial, jurors heard a recording of Wisner telling investigators in 2015, “I don’t feel good about what happened to these patients.”

Dan Curry, a Kansas City lawyer, said 82 plaintiffs will share the $6.97 million settlement. A former Jackson County judge, Jay Daugherty, determined how much each veteran received. The cases were settled months ago but Curry said the disbursements occurred recently. Curry is asking the Joint Commission, the accrediting body for hospitals, to reopen its investigation into the Leavenworth hospital's handling of Wisner. Several other veterans have sued the government over Wisner's actions. Unless those cases are also settled, they are scheduled to go to trial next year.


University of Kansas Researcher Charged with Theft

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas researcher is charged with receiving illegal discounts and not paying sales taxes. The Kansas Attorney General's office says 37-year-old Liuqi Gu, of Lawrence, was charged Thursday with four felonies and two misdemeanors. Prosecutors allege he claimed purchases he made from Thermo-Fisher Scientific were for the university so he could receive discounts. He also allegedly used confidential information from the university to avoid paying thousands of dollars in sales taxes.


Kansas Lawmakers Seeking Federal Office Can Legally Accept Campaign Money from Lobbyists

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers who are running for federal office are free to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists despite a state rule limiting such contributions during the legislative session. The state limit doesn't apply to federal elections. So state Senate President Susan Wagle, Sen. Barbara Bollier and state Rep. Troy Waymaster are all free to raise money for their Congressional campaigns. Wagle, a Republican, and Bollier, a Democrat, are both running for U.S. Senate. Waymaster is a Republican running for Congress, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said the lawmakers running for federal office should voluntarily refrain from raising lobbyist cash during the session.


KBI Serves Warrants in Cloud County Investigation

CONCORDIA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents are serving several search warrants as part of an investigation into the Cloud County Sheriff's Office. KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said warrants were being served Tuesday at homes in Concordia and the Cloud County Law Enforcement Center. The investigation began in June. KAKE-TV reports Underwood said the investigation involves allegations of criminal misconduct against sheriff's office employees but no other details have been released. No one has been arrested but Underwood said the serving of search warrants is a "significant development'' in the case. The Cloud County Jail is closed to visitors as a result of the investigation. 


Sedgwick County Judge Sides with Ex-Cop in Dog Shooting, Child Injury

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a former Wichita police officer who wounded a 9-year-old girl when he fired at her family's dog is immune from criminal prosecution and can't be sued. The Wichita Eagle reports that Judge Kevin O'Connor issued the ruling last month in Dexter Betts's case, but it wasn't available in public court records until Friday. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office has filed a notice of appeal. Betts had been charged with aggravated battery in the December 30, 2017, shooting in which a bullet fragment ricocheted off the floor and hit the girl.


Influenza Blamed for 3 Deaths in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The cold and flu season is just beginning, but the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says three deaths are already blamed on the flu. The health department on Monday did not release any information about the victims but said the total number of influenza cases in the state has topped 1,500. The department urged people to get vaccinated and to take other precautions, such as avoiding close contact with sick people, washing hands often and thoroughly, and staying home when sick to keep others from getting infected.


Judge Sides with Ex-Officer in Dog Shooting, Child Injury

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a former Wichita police officer who wounded a 9-year-old girl when he fired at her family's dog is immune from criminal prosecution and can't be sued. The Wichita Eagle reports that Judge Kevin O’Connor issued the ruling last month in Dexter Betts's case, but it wasn't available in public court records until Friday. The Sedgwick County district attorney’s office has filed a notice of appeal. Betts had been charged with aggravated battery in the Dec. 30, 2017, shooting in which a bullet fragment ricocheted off the floor and hit the girl. 


Sedgwick County Sheriff's Deputy Accused of Stalking Co-Worker

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office jail deputy has been arrested after being accused of stalking a co-worker. The sheriff's office says in a news release that Shawn McGonnigil was arrested Friday and has been placed on administrative leave. He has been with the department for about six years. The release did not offer details about who McGonnigil is accused of stalking or how he reportedly did so. The sheriff's office says its Professional Standards Unit is also investigating the allegations against McGonnigil. A phone number for McGonnigil could not be found Saturday.


Lansing Inmate, Locked Up Since 1994, Dies in Custody

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — A 44-year-old man who has been in prison for murder since 1994 was found dead Saturday inside the Lansing Correctional Facility. The Kansas Department of Corrections said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of Joshua Kaiser. Kaiser was paroled last year for a 1993 carjacking and killing in Topeka, but was still serving a sentence for another crime. He was expected to be released in 2021. Kaiser and another man robbed 33-year-old Tim Riley of his car, forced him into the trunk at gunpoint. They then drove him to another area, where he was fatally shot,


Wichita Detective Alleges Discrimination in Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An Wichita police detective who is Asian alleges in a lawsuit that she was passed over for promotions in favor of less experienced white men. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kelly Mar claims discrimination and retaliation in the complaint filed last week in federal court. The suit seeks $75,000 in damages.  It says she was wrongfully fired in 2014. She says that since she was rehired in 2015 following a labor arbitration decision, her performance has been more closely scrutinized than that of younger, white men in the department. City of Wichita attorney Jennifer Magana says the city won't comment on pending litigation.


Man Killed in Shooting Outside Wichita Motel

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man died when someone walked up to the vehicle he was in, fired once and ran away. Police Capt. Wendell Nicholson says the man died late Monday at a Countryside Inn in Wichita. He says the shooting was captured on surveillance video. KAKE-TV reports the man was in his 30s but his name has not been released. Nicholson says the suspect was later arrested by police. Police are interviewing several witnesses and the investigation is ongoing. The shooting comes two weeks after a 55-year-old man was killed in a shooting police called drug-related outside of the same motel.


Lawrence District Considers Suing E-Cigarette Maker Juul

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Another Kansas school district is considering suing a leading e-cigarette maker. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the school board will consider Monday whether to join legal action against Juul. The potential litigation would seek to recoup money the district says it has spent on education, enforcement and monitoring to minimize vaping. Several other districts in the Kansas City area already have sued. The lawsuits argue Juul's marketing has targeted teenagers who are not legally allowed to use tobacco products. Juul has said it doesn't market to youth and its products are meant to be an alternative to smoking.  


Some Lawrence Officials Say Bus Service Should be Free

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Some Lawrence leaders say the city should consider eliminating bus fares in the wake of a drop in ridership. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that annual ridership dropped from 3.13 million trips in 2017 to 2.97 million in 2018, or by about 5.3%. Ridership is on pace to drop another 5.6% from 2018 to 2019. That amounts to about 1,000 fewer trips for every day the bus operates. The city and the University of Kansas coordinate their bus service.


8 Macaroni Penguins Hatch at Kansas City Zoo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Zoo says its staff is raising eight fluffy macaroni penguin chicks. It is the first time the zoo has had that species of penguin in its 110-year history. Their eggs were flown in from SeaWorld San Diego and hatched in incubators at their new home. Zoo officials said employees are hand-raising the chicks, and that each of them needs to be fed up to six times a day. Macaroni penguins are native to the subantarctic. The chicks are hidden from the public, for now, but are expected to join the general exhibit in the coming weeks.


Missouri, Planned Parenthood Head to Court over Funding

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Government funding for Planned Parenthood is at stake in a lawsuit before the Missouri Supreme Court. State attorneys today (TUE) will ask Supreme Court judges to back the Republican-led Legislature's decision to block funding from going to Planned Parenthood clinics. A lower court previously ruled that the move was unconstitutional. Planned Parenthood argues that some of its chapters provide preventative health care and not abortion and shouldn't be financially penalized.


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