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Headlines for Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Kansas Governor Names Prisons Chief, Health Agency Head

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor-elect Laura Kelly plans to put a former corrections secretary back in charge of the state's prison system and have a military doctor run the state health department. The incoming Democratic governor also plans to temporarily retain the state's top emergency management official under her Republican predecessors. Kelly announced Tuesday that Roger Werholtz will be interim secretary of corrections. Werholtz was secretary from 2002 to 2010. She also said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli will remain as adjutant general to ensure a smooth transition in his department. The adjutant oversees the Emergency Management Division and commands the Kansas National Guard. Kelly said Lt. Col. and Dr. Lee Norman will serve as interim secretary of health and environment. He is the Army's medical liaison to the adjutant general. Kelly takes office Monday.

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Kansas State Treasurer Says He's Running for U.S. Senate Seat in 2020

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner is running for the U.S. Senate in 2020. LaTurner declared his candidacy today (TUE) for the Republican nomination, less than a week after four-term GOP Sen. Pat Roberts announced that he will not run for re-election. The 30-year-old LaTurner said Kansas needs both a conservative and generational change in the Senate. He issued a "Contract with Kansas" that includes support for congressional term limits and work requirements for welfare recipients. He is the first candidate to announce, but several other prominent Republicans have said they are considering the race. They include departing Governor Jeff Colyer, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall and American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp. LaTurner has been state treasurer since April 2017 after serving four years in the state Senate. On the Democratic side, one possible contender for the U.S. Senate is Barry Grissom, a former U.S. Attorney for Kansas.

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Police Shoot, Wound Suspect Outside Kansas City Church

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say an officer has shot and wounded a carjacking suspect after he grabbed for another officer's gun outside a Kansas City church while services were happening inside. The Kansas City Star reports that the suspect is hospitalized in stable condition and expected to survive the Sunday morning shooting. Police Officer Darin Snapp says a security officer at the Midtown Baptist Temple began chasing the suspect after he tried to carjack two people. One of the intended victims told church security that the suspect told her he had a gun and tried to get her out of her vehicle. Snapp says that when police tried to arrest the suspect outside the nearby Redeemer Fellowship church, the suspect grabbed for an officer's gun and was shot. No officers were hurt.

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Man Escapes from Lansing Correctional Facility

LANSING, Kan. (AP) - Law enforcement agencies are searching for an inmate who escaped from the Lansing Correctional Facility. Department of Corrections officials say they're looking for 36-year-old Cal Henry Green III. Green is a minimum-security inmate currently imprisoned on an aggravated battery charge out of Wyandotte County. Authorities say Green escaped in a camo-painted state vehicle which was later found abandoned in Kansas City, Kansas. He is described as black, 5-foot-4-inches, about 196 pounds with brown hair. Green has a long criminal record in Wyandotte County, including convictions for theft, burglary, fleeing to avoid arrest and forgery. Schools in Lansing were placed on lockdown yesterday (MON) after the escape was reported.

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2 Charged in Contract Killing of Pregnant Kansas Mother

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two men have been charged with the contract killing of a pregnant Kansas mother who was found dead on Christmas Day. The Wichita Eagle reports that Dion Jamel Green and Mashaun Jay Baker were charged Monday with capital murder in the death of 31-year-old Jenna Schafer and her unborn child. The charge carries a possible death sentence. Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that Green shot Schafer as part of a murder-for-hire plot with Baker. Schafer was found dead in a Junction City apartment. Court documents say the shooting happened on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and was done "intentionally and with premeditation." Court records don't say if or how Green, Baker and Schafer knew one another. An obituary says Schafer had two daughters. Police say they are safe.

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2 More Teens Arrested After Robbery Accomplice is Killed

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested two more teenage suspects in a Wichita gas station robbery in which a customer fatally shot an armed 16-year-old accomplice. According to the Wichita Eagle, police say the suspects -- a 16-year-old boy and 17-year-old boy -- were taken into custody during a weekend traffic stop. A third suspect, who's also 17, was arrested December 30. During an exchange of gunfire with a customer, one of the teenage robbery suspects was shot in the head and later died. Police say the gas station robbery is related to an earlier robbery at a Family Dollar Store. Police haven't released the name of the boy who died, or of the other suspects. The teen's death was found to be justified.

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Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty in Topeka Beating Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A convicted felon has pleaded guilty in a Topeka beating death. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 32-year-old Howard Dale Burchfiel pleaded guilty Monday to reduced felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated burglary. He had faced charges that included first-degree murder. Prosecutors say he beat 66-year-old Allen Wichman in June 2017 during a home invasion. Wichman died the following month from complication from his injuries. Burchfiel has past convictions for crimes that include the 2009 shooting of a Topeka bartender, who survived. Burchfiel had been released on supervised probation just three months before attacking Wichman.  Burchfiel's sentencing is scheduled for March 8.

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Woman Sentenced for Swerving into, Killing 2 Men in Southeast Kansas

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old woman has been sentenced to seven years and four months in prison for swerving into two men as they walked across a southeast Kansas street. The Joplin Globe reports that Shelby Colon received the sentence after pleading guilty previously to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the July 2017 crash that killed 66-year-old Charles Burkybile Jr. and 86-year-old Glen Roosa. Police say Colon stopped at the scene in Galena, Kansas, and showed no signs of impairment. The sentence also includes time for a separate drug-dealing case. District Attorney Jake Conard says the families can "finally receive some closure can move on with their lives."

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Kansas Senator: Shutdown Will Soon Affect Aircraft Plants, Agriculture

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says he wants the government shutdown to come to end, saying it will soon start to affect farmers and aircraft manufacturers. Moran made the remarks after touring three Wichita businesses.  He added that people who are dissatisfied with the government sometimes say, "Shut her down, it doesn't matter." But Moran says "the things that government does are important to many people." He says one effect of a protracted shutdown will be that aircraft manufacturers will be unable to deliver planes because the Federal Aviation Administration office in Oklahoma City that issues aircraft titles is closed. He says farmers hurt by the trade battle with China also will have to wait for federal aid.

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Kansas Congressman Not Taking Salary During Partial Government Shutdown

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Congressman Steve Watkins is not accepting his congressional salary until the federal government fully reopens. A spokesman for Watkins, Jim Joice, says that the freshman Republican congressman began refusing his salary when he was sworn into office last week. Watkins and most members of Congress are paid $174,000 a year. Parts of the federal government have been shut down since December 22 because of a dispute over President Donald Trump's demand for funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Watkins tweeted a 16-second video Friday showing him in the U.S. Capitol, saying he's bothered by the shutdown because federal employees in Kansas aren't getting paid. Watkins represents the 2nd District of eastern Kansas. At the end of the video, Watkins declares, "If you don't get paid, I don't."

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2 Charged in Contract Killing of Pregnant Kansas Mother

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two men have been charged with capital murder for the alleged contract killing of a pregnant Kansas mother who was found dead on Christmas Day, according to investigators. Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint filed Monday that Mashaun Jay Baker hired his co-defendant, Dion Jamel Green, to kill 31-year-old Jenna Schafer. The woman was found dead around 9:30 a.m. in an apartment in Junction City, which is near the Fort Riley military base in central Kansas. Green was arrested later that day, while Baker was arrested on Jan. 2, police said. How either man knew Schafer wasn't detailed in the criminal complaint. Police declined to comment on the case Tuesday, saying no other details would be immediately released. Green and Baker, both 33, are charged with capital murder because Schafer's death was part of an alleged murder-for-hire plot. Green faces an additional capital murder charge because Schafer's unborn child also died. Capital murder carries a possible death sentence in Kansas. Baker is jailed without bond, while bond for Green is set at $2 million. Their public defender Jillian Waesche didn't immediately return a phone message. According to an obituary, Schafer also had two daughters who are both safe. It's unclear whether the girls were with their mother when she was fatally shot. Friends and relatives are raising money for the children. The criminal complaint states that the shooting happened either on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, but provided no information on what led up to the killing, how far along Schafer was in her pregnancy or how Schafer may have known Baker. Junction City Police Capt. Trish Giordano said she wouldn't release details about the case Tuesday. Geary County's prosecutor, Krista Blaisdell, was in court Tuesday and didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

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White Man Accused of Kicking Black Child in Wichita Charged
 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A 31-year-old white man accused of kicking a 1-year-old black boy and shouting racial slurs in a Kansas grocery store has been charged with attempted aggravated battery. Trace Riff made his first court appearance Monday after being charged in the December 23 incident in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports Riff is also charged with interference with law enforcement and disorderly conduct. Witnesses told police the boy was holding his 11-year-old sister's hand when Riff kicked him. The toddler was not injured. Riff was released from jail after the incident but was arrested again Thursday on drug charges. He was charged Monday in that case with possession of methamphetamine, criminal trespassing and abuse of toxic vapors. Riff's family says he has a history of mental health and substance abuse problems.

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Woman Accidently Shoots Herself While Driving in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 39-year-old woman accidentally shot herself while driving in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that police Sgt. Ed Brower says the gun went off Monday as the woman was attempting to holster it. A dispatch supervisor says she was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police say she is stable. No one else was hurt.

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Kansas Legislation Would Crackdown on Robocalls, Fake Number Spoofing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Shady telemarketers would face a tougher time operating in Kansas under a new bill. Incoming Republican Representative Bill Rhiley, of Wellington, says he pre-filed the bill after getting complaints about calls that appear to be from Kansas, but instead are automated sales pitches from telemarketers in other states or overseas. The Wichita Eagle reports that the bill would set limits on the use of robocalling equipment and crack down on "neighbor spoofing," the practice of making distant calls display as local numbers on caller ID. Rhiley says he's recently had telemarketers spoof his own phone number. One provision of the bill would prohibit anyone, including a phone company, from providing local phone numbers to an out-of-state entity unless the number is openly listed. Rhiley wants consumers to share their stories .

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LGBTQ Advocates See Hope for More Non-Discrimination Ordinances in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Advocates for LGBTQ Kansans are pointing to recent successful efforts to pass anti-discrimination ordinances in Johnson County as evidence support of such laws is spreading in the state. Prairie Village and Mission in December approved ordinances barring discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. KCUR reports several other Johnson County cities are considering similar ordinances. Tom Witt, director of the advocacy group Equality Kansas, says he thinks support is growing for non-discrimination ordinances beyond the Kansas City area to other Kansas municipalities. The potential for a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance doesn't appear to be as optimistic. Lenexa Republican state Senator Mary Pilcher Cook expects steep opposition in the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature if lawmakers take up the issue during the upcoming session.

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Pregnant Professor Alleges Wichita State University Retracted Job Offer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An Ohio professor alleges in a lawsuit that Wichita State University retracted an employment offer after she told them she was pregnant. The Wichita Eagle reports that Evangeline Heiliger says that she revealed her pregnancy for the first time and asked about childcare in March when she was offered a tenure-track job as the assistant professor of women's studies. The suit says a dean told her the next day in an email that he "had become aware that she was no longer available for the position" and was removing her from consideration. The suit says Heiliger never indicated she wasn't available. Heiliger is a 41-year-old visiting assistant professor of gender, sexuality and feminist studies at Ohio's Oberlin College. The university says its investigation determined that no laws were broken.

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Kansas City Police Discipline 17 Officers from Troubled Unit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police have disciplined 17 officers who worked for a unit that often failed to properly investigate crimes against children. Police Chief Rick Smith said Tuesday seven of the 17 officers are no longer with the department. The discipline came after a nearly three-year investigation into the former Crimes Against Children unit. The Kansas City Star reports the investigation began in 2015 when police officials learned detectives weren't correctly investigating rapes, child molestations and other crimes against children. Smith said the cases occurred between 2011 and 2016. Smith blamed the failures largely on the division's organizational structure and personal failures of police officials. He said the discipline ranged from letters of reprimand to termination.

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US Government Says Shutdown Shouldn't Stop Keystone Hearing

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Justice Department attorneys and the Canadian company behind the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline say the U.S. government shutdown shouldn't delay a court hearing on a judge's decision to halt construction. Justice Department attorney Bridget McNeil said in a court filing Monday that government lawyers are prohibited from working except in emergencies during the shutdown. But, she adds, federal attorneys' participation in the hearing next Monday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls isn't necessary. TransCanada attorneys previously told U.S. District Judge Brian Morris the company is prepared to hold the hearing without the government being represented. In November, Morris ordered an injunction prohibiting pipeline construction activities. TransCanada plans to argue the order should be stayed while an appeal is pending with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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