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Headlines for Wednesday, July 25, 2018

3 Men Arrested in Double Homicide in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say three men have been arrested in a double homicide in Topeka.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a 19- and 31-year-old were booked into the Shawnee County Jail on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and aggravated burglary. The third suspect, who is 40, was booked on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.  They were each being held on $1 million bond.  Police spokesman Lt. Andrew Beightel said Tuesday morning that the victims had been stabbed and beaten to death. They were pronounced dead Monday at a residence in city's Hi-Crest neighborhood after paramedics arrived.  One of the victims has been identified as 28-year-old Lisa Sportsman. The other victim was 17-year-old Jesse Polinskey.  Police say one of the suspects is Sportsman's estranged husband.

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Farmers Applaud Federal Help but Want Trade Deals Done

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Many farmers are critical of President Donald Trump's tariffs and the damage done to commodity prices and markets, but say they are appreciative that he has offered to provide cash to help make up their losses.  Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday a $12 billion plan to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to pay producers of commodities including soybeans, corn and wheat to compensate for losses due to trade disputes. The USDA also will buy surplus supplies of others including milk, fruit, nuts and rice and distribute them to food banks.  Perdue says the plan is a short-term solution to give Trump time to negotiate trade deals.  Farmers say they'd rather have tariffs ended and trade restarted with China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

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Trump Proposes Zero Tariffs Between U.S. and Europe

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he'll propose to European officials on Wednesday that both sides drop all tariffs, barriers and subsidies.  Trump has floated the idea in the past, but he tweeted Tuesday night that he doubts the Europeans will go for the idea.  The president says on Twitter: "That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready - but they won't!"  Trump tweeted earlier Tuesday that trade partners must either negotiate a fair deal or pay tariffs.  Trump is meeting Wednesday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (zhahn-KLOHD' YUN'-kur). The U.S. and European allies have been at odds over the president's tariffs on steel imports and are meeting as the trade dispute threatens to spread to automobile production.

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Congressional Candidate's Dad Commits $400,000 for Ads

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The political action committee operated by the father of congressional candidate Steve Watkins will spend $400,000 on ads for his campaign as the August primary approaches. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kansans Can Do Anything PAC was formed by Steven Watkins, who is a Topeka physician. Federal records released Wednesday show the super PAC, which isn't limited by campaign contribution limits, has reported total contributions of $587,000 and expenditures of $469,000. The younger Watkins is one of seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 2nd District seat. Other GOP candidates in the 2nd District are Sen. Caryn Tyson, of Parker; former Rep. Doug Mays, of Topeka; Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, of Leavenworth; Rep. Kevin Jones, of Wellsville; Sen. Dennis Pyle, of Hiawatha; and Vernon Fields, a member of the Basehor City Council.

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Guatemalan Boy Reunites with Father After Weeks in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Before 14-year-old Guatemalan Samuel Cazun left a Kansas nonprofit to be reunited with his father, he gave staff members the sketches of their faces he had drawn to help them remember him.  Dozens of migrant children were housed at The Villages in Topeka under a contract with the federal government. Samuel was among as many as nine there who were separated from family members at the southern border under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.  It has been more than a month since immigration agents took Samuel away from his father after the two waded across the Rio Grande into Texas following about 15 days traveling by bus from Guatemala. On Monday afternoon, Samuel and his father, Edvin Cazun, tearfully embraced at the Cincinnati airport.

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Americans in Blended Families Cope with Toll of Deportation

BOCA DEL RÍO, Mexico (AP) — As the United States takes a harder line on immigration, thousands who called the country home are being forced to go. Often, they leave behind spouses and children with American citizenship and must figure out how to go on with families fractured apart.  Studies have found an estimated 8 to 9 million Americans — the majority of them children — live with at least one relative who is in the country illegally. And so each action to deport an immigrant is just as likely to entangle a citizen or legal U.S. resident.  One woman was deported this year from Kansas City to Mexico, leaving behind her American husband and daughter. The family connects now through phone calls and text messages as a lengthy legal process unfolds.

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FBI Investigates Kansas Woman's Death as Possible Hate Crime

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — The FBI is investigating the stabbing death of a Kansas woman as a hate crime.  Ronald Lee Kidwell is charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of 43-year-old MeShon Cooper, who was missing for a week until her body was found July 14 at Kidwell's home in Shawnee.  Kidwell's estranged daughter and a cousin told The Kansas City Star that Cooper's death was likely a hate crime because Kidwell was an avowed white supremacist. Cooper was black.  FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Tuesday the agency is investigating Cooper's death as a possible hate crime.  Kidwell's estranged daughter and a cousin said Kidwell was a white supremacist who had a history of targeting and assaulting black people.  They said he often showed off his swastika tattoo and bragged about belonging to the Ku Klux Klan.

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Trump's Endorsements Signal More Involvement in GOP Politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — When it comes to Republican politics, President Donald Trump is getting more involved in elections by endorsing candidates.  The latest example is Tuesday's Republican runoff for governor of Georgia. Trump tweeted his support last week for Georgia's secretary of state, Brian Kemp, over his opponent, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, surprising Kemp himself.  Such political maneuvering puts the president at risk of being on the losing side of a Republican race. That's where he ended up last year in Alabama's Senate race after he initially endorsed Luther Strange and then the Republican who won the GOP nomination, Roy Moore. A Democrat, Doug Jones, defeated Moore, creating a double loss for Trump.  In recent months, Trump has stitched together a winning streak in Republican races that could benefit him in November's voting.

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Court Overturns 'Stand Your Ground' Defense in Wichita Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man whose murder charge was dismissed under the state's Stand Your Ground law will now face prosecution in the stabbing death of a 22-year-old woman, the Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled. The court overturned a decision by a district judge who dismissed second-degree murder and other charges against Seth Collins, 38, in the April 2016 stabbing death of Kayla Brown, The Wichita Eagle reported . The two had been fighting over a parking space at a Wichita apartment complex. The appeals court ruled Friday that a jury, not a judge, should decide whether Collins's actions were justified. The Stand Your Ground law allows people to use deadly force if they reasonably believe it's necessary to protect themselves from death or great bodily harm. The confrontation began when Collins tried to park at the apartment building but couldn't because a car next to the space had its door open and Shayla Brown, who is Kayla Brown's twin sister, was standing in the space talking to a friend, Luz Toral.

"It was disputed whether Collins politely asked Shayla to move so that he could park his car in that space. What was undisputed was that Collins and Shayla got into a verbal argument that included an exchange of racial and other insults," the appeals court said.

Collins and the three women, their mother and another friend, eventually got into a physical confrontation. Collins returned to his apartment but went back outside to retrieve his eyeglasses, and got into another fight with the twins and their mother. During that dispute, Collins pulled a 4-inch pocketknife on the women, prompting Shayla Brown to grab Collins's shirt, causing all four to tumble down steps. As they fell, Collins lashed out with his knife, injuring Shayla Brown in the arm and inflicting a fatal stab wound on Kayla Brown's neck, according to the court's ruling. The appellate judges ruled that Sedgwick County District Judge John Kisner had incorrectly applied the Stand Your Ground law in dismissing charges against Collins and also gave too much weight to Collins' testimony that he was afraid of suffering great bodily harm.

"In our view, the State met its burden (to justify taking the case to trial) because a reasonable person — given the district court's assessment of the conflicting evidence — could have concluded Collins's acts were not justified," the court ruling said. "Collins's claim of self-defense is, therefore, appropriately left for a jury to decide."

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Kansas City Doctors Donate $11K to Retire Patient Medical Debt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group of Kansas City-area doctors have donated about $11,000 to help pay off medical bills for hundreds of patients in Missouri and Kansas.The Kansas City Star reports that the Midwest Direct Primary Care Alliance's donation announced Monday will buy $1.47 million worth of medical debt on behalf of 784 patients in the two states. The alliance is comprised of 21 medical clinics where doctors don't take health insurance and instead charge patients a monthly membership fee.Allison Edwards owns Kansas City Direct Primary Care in Kansas City, Kansas. She says 19 doctors and nurse practitioners donated the money to RIP Medical Debt, a New York-based nonprofit that buys bundles of unpaid bills from collection agencies and medical providers. The charity buys the debt for pennies on the dollar.

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Program Gives Healthy Options to Kansas City's Food Insecure

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A food program is making a big difference to low-income families seeking healthy options in the Kansas City area. The Kansas City Star reports that the Double Up Food Program matches Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars spent on local produce at Kansas and Missouri farmers markets and grocery stores. Participants receive up to $25 a day in matching Double Up Food Bucks dollars for more local fruits and vegetables. The program did a trial run in 2015 at five Balls Food Price Choppers in the Kansas City area. Double Up Bucks now functions at 14 Price Choppers and 26 farmers markets. Participants earned $385,000 Double Up Food Bucks last year and redeemed more than $295,000. Organizers said Tuesday that more needy families are benefiting from the program.

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Wichita Search Group to Launch Texas EquuSearch Charter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A group of volunteers who helped search for a 5-year-old Wichita boy who was later found dead plans to start a charter of a nationally known Texas-based search organization. Sheila Medlam and Julie La Force spent countless hours leading searches for Lucas Hernandez, who was missing more than three months before his body was found in May. The Texas EquuSearch group came to Wichita to help with the search. It is a mounted search and recovery team with more than 1,000 members available to search worldwide for missing persons. EquuSearch founder Tim Miller says he was impressed with the Kansas volunteers helping to search for Lucas. KAKE-TV reports La Force, Medlam and others will go to Houston on October 13th to receive their EquuSearch training.

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Someone Steals 5-Foot Mighty Mouse Sculpture in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Mighty Mouse is missing in Wichita. Christopher Gulick says someone managed to steal a 200-pound, brightly colored log sculpture of Mighty Mouse from his backyard Tuesday night. The sculpture, which was a gift from another artist, is about 5 feet tall and painted bright yellow, blue, red and black. The Wichita Eagle reports Gulick estimates the sculpture has been on his back porch for about 25 years. It's one of many sculptures that Gulick, known locally for his kinetic mobile sculptures, has in his backyard. Gulick says he would probably be mad about the theft if it wasn't so stupid and funny at the same time. He says he suspects the thieves are suffering from a severe hangover. Anyone with information about Mighty Mouse is asked to call Wichita police.

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Arkansas Man Convicted in Kansas Man's Death in Missouri

SIKESTON, Mo. (AP) — An Arkansas man has been convicted of participating in the killing of a Kansas man in Missouri. Ronnie Carl Robinson Sr., of Little Rock, Arkansas, was found guilty this week of second-degree murder in the death of Larry Weaver, of Pittsburg. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports Weaver's body was found July 2, 2016, in a field about seven miles from a hotel where he was staying in Sikeston, Missouri. Surveillance video shows three suspects driving away that night with Weaver's Harley Davidson motorcycle. Investigators said Weaver came out of the hotel room and jumped onto the truck's trailer to try and prevent the theft. Witnesses said Weaver and Robinson later fought and Weaver was left in the field. Larenzle Coleman and his wife, Elsie Coleman-Hamilton, are awaiting trial on murder charges.

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Topeka Man Sentenced for Driving Getaway Car in Robbery

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for driving a getaway car in an armed robbery.  A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced 30-year-old Jermaine Tyrell Patton for participating in a November 2016 robbery at an Oakmark Convenience Store.  The U.S. Attorney's General office says when Patton pleaded guilty in September, he admitted he drove the car when Christopher Harris robbed the store.  The two men fled after the robbery. Harris and Topeka police detective Brian Hill eventually exchanged gunfire and both were wounded.  Harris is serving a life sentence for attempted capital murder and other charges.

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Missouri Senator Wants Tighter Rules on Duck Boats After Accident

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to enshrine into law federal recommendations to improve duck boat safety such as getting rid of canopies that can trap passengers if the vehicles sink, as happened on a Missouri lake last week.  During a Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, McCaskill said she was working on legislation after a duck boat capsized on Table Rock Lake and 17 people died.  Federal regulators have said the vehicles have trouble staying afloat during flooding and overhead canopies can trap passengers if the vehicles sink. McCaskill said the canopies can turn the duck boats into "sinking coffins" with no way to escape.  McCaskill said she's seeking input from the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board in writing legislation.

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Funerals Set for 5 of 9 Relatives Killed in Boat Sinking

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Funerals have been set for five more members of an Indiana family who lost nine relatives when a tourist boat sank on a Missouri lake last week.  A church spokeswoman says services will be held Saturday at Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis for 70-year-old Horace Coleman; his 69-year-old wife, Belinda Coleman; 76-year-old Ervin Coleman; 45-year-old Angela Coleman; and her 2-year-old son, Maxwell Coleman.  Eleven members of the Coleman family were aboard the duck boat when it sank Thursday in Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. The sinking occurred during a storm and killed 17 people.  Tia Coleman and her 13-year-old nephew were the family's only survivors. Funerals for her husband and three children are scheduled for Friday.  Online fundraisers are raising money for funeral expenses and the family's surviving relatives.

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Wichita Community Gathers on Slain Child's 3rd Birthday

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Community members in a Wichita neighborhood attended a candlelight vigil this week on the birthday of a 2-year-old child who was beaten to death this spring.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Anthony Bunn would have turned 3 on Monday, the day about 150 people gathered in Riverside to remember the child.  His mother Elizabeth Woolheater and her boyfriend Lucas Diel have been charged with murder in Anthony's May 4 death.  Zak Woolheater is the child's maternal grandfather. He says it's important to gather on Anthony's birthday to remind the community of what he calls the country's child abuse epidemic.  The Wichita area has seen several child abuse homicides and a disappearance within the past year. The Kansas Department of Children and Families says it's working to improve child welfare programs.

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KU Ordered to Release Materials About Adidas, Recruit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A grand jury investigating alleged recruiting abuses in college basketball ordered the University of Kansas earlier this year to turn over communications involving its men's team coaches and at least one prospective recruit, newly released records show. The federal grand jury in New York also demanded copies of any agreements with apparel manufacturer Adidas and communications between the basketball coaches and company representatives.

"These documents do not suggest any wrongdoing by the university," spokesman Andy Hyland said in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press, referring to the two subpoenas, which were sent in January and March. "We are cooperating fully with investigators in this matter."

The university released edited copies of the subpoenas Tuesday. Each demands documents and communications regarding "the recruitment and enrollment" of a person whose name is blacked out, so that it is not clear whether both subpoenas refer to a single person or different people, or whether they involved someone who ultimately enrolled at Kansas. The subpoenas were part of a multi-year investigation into the alleged payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks designed to influence recruits in choosing a school, agent or apparel company. Multiple schools are enmeshed in the investigation, including Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina State and Maryland, which earlier this month released copies of subpoenas it received. The fallout has included the ouster of Louisville's Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino, who was not charged criminally.

"Because this is an active investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time," Hyland said in his email.

The first subpoena to KU was issued January 8 and demanded the production of records by January 22. It sought documents, including emails and texts, from January 1, 2016, going forward. It included documents and communications between men's basketball coaching staff or any other athletic department member regarding the recruitment or enrollment of the unnamed person, family or representatives. It also demanded all "application and/or enrollment forms, financial aid forms, eligibility forms including any NCAA student athlete statements, and/or any national letter of intent" submitted by or on behalf of the unnamed person "whether completed or in draft form." The same subpoena also demanded contracts and other agreements between Kansas and Adidas effective after the start of 2016 and any communications between the athletic department and men's basketball coaches with current or former Adidas employees. The second subpoena to Kansas was issued March 14 and demanded the production of documents by March 23. It covered only documents regarding the recruitment and enrollment of an unnamed person.

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