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Headlines for Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Kobach Running with Ex-Rival Hartman in Kansas Governor Bid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kris Kobach picked a former Republican rival Wednesday to be his running mate in his campaign for Kansas governor, turning to a Wichita businessman whose wealth could help Kobach fix a potential weakness in fundraising. Kobach introduced Wink Hartman as his pick for lieutenant governor as he kicked off a four-city campaign bus tour in Topeka. He said Hartman, the owner of a family of oil industry companies founded by Hartman's father, would serve as the state's chief operating officer and audit government agencies once in office. As Kansas secretary of state, Kobach is nationally known for championing tough immigration and voter identification laws and served as vice chairman of President Donald Trump's now-disbanded commission on election fraud. He has a solid following on the political right. But in seeking the GOP nomination, Kobach raised less in cash contributions last year than two other major rivals, Governor Jeff Colyer and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer. Before Hartman dropped out of the governor's race last month, he and three companies tied to him loaned his campaign nearly $1.7 million. Hartman told reporters after the Topeka announcement that he and Kobach "will do what is necessary" to finance a winning campaign. Hartman said he learned at GOP events that he and Kobach share the same conservative thinking. "It just was kind of a natural match," Hartman said. "We have very much in common, and we had a cup of coffee, and it just progressed from there." Kobach is running on a platform that includes imposing term limits on legislators, enacting tough state laws against illegal immigration and rolling back a $600 million-a-year tax increase legislators enacted last year to help balance the budget and boost spending on public schools. Hartman sounded similar, anti-establishment themes in his own campaign, running under the slogan, "Fed Up!" He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in a Wichita-area district in 2010. Both Kobach and Hartman said they haven't decided how much Hartman might contribute to their ticket. Hartman endorsed Kobach immediately after dropping out, and his selection as Kobach's running mate was widely anticipated in GOP circles.


UPDATE: Body of Missing Kansas Toddler Found; Man Arrested

HOISINGTON, Kan. (AP) — The body of a missing toddler has been found in central Kansas and a man has been arrested.  The Hoisington Police Department said on its Facebook page this (WED) morning that 23-month-old Iviona Lewis was found dead in rural Barton County.  Police also said 25-year-old Chaz Stephens, who knew the girl, was arrested. He has been booked into the Barton County jail on suspicion of second-degree murder.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says in an earlier news release that the girl was reported to be wearing only a diaper when she was last seen around 11 pm Sunday at a Hoisington home. Multiple agencies searched door-to-door for the missing girl. The KBI says formal charges won't be filed until an autopsy is completed.


Jury Selection Starts in Kansas Bomb Plot Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Jury selection has begun for three militia members accused of conspiring to bomb an apartment complex housing Somalis in Kansas.  Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Stein also faces a weapons-related charge and Wright has an additional charge of lying to the FBI.  Questioning on Tuesday sought to flush out views on gun rights, immigration and racial issues.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mattivi asked prospective jurors whether the U.S. should limit the number of refugees.  Defense attorney Jim Pratt, who represents Stein, asked them whether there was anyone who's not offended by defining another human being as a cockroach or defining a group of people as an infestation.


Judge Temporarily Frees Kansas Man Fighting Deportation to Bangladesh

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge is freeing a Kansas father fighting efforts by the U.S. to deport him to Bangladesh pending the outcome of his case.  Fifty-five-year-old Syed Ahmed Jamal was ordered released Tuesday after a hearing in Kansas City.  U.S. immigration officials put Jamal on a plane bound for his native country last month before an immigration panel granted a temporary stay in the case. Jamal, who's worked as an adjunct professor and researcher, was taken off the flight when it stopped to refuel in Honolulu.  Jamal entered the U.S. legally in 1987 to attend the University of Kansas but twice overstayed his visa. He was ordered deported in 2011 but had been allowed to stay in the U.S. and check in regularly with immigration authorities.


Judge Harshly Criticizes Kansas Secretary of State During Contempt Hearing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge blasted Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for ignoring her order to notify thousands of Kansas citizens that they were eligible to vote while litigation over a state voting law is underway.  U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson criticized Kobach Tuesday during a hearing to determine if he will face a contempt order for not notifying certain voters who registered at motor vehicle offices that they could vote in the 2016 general election as Robinson had ordered.  Kobach responded that he told the state's director of elections, Brian Caskey, to inform county election officials to notify the voters. Caskey testified that he verbally told county election officials to follow the judge's instructions, but Kobach acknowledged some counties had not sent notifications required by Robinson's May 2016 preliminary injunction.


Judge: Feds Mostly Complied with Records Request from Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has handed down a mixed ruling in the lawsuit brought by the Kansas attorney general seeking records related to former President Barack Obama's proposal to move detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree concluded Wednesday that the Defense Department fulfilled its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act except for five documents, which the court will privately review to determine if information was improperly withheld. The judge noted the Defense Department did not immediately comply with the state's freedom of information request when the lawsuit was filed. It has since produced more than 2,000 pages of documents about Obama's plan to close the military detention facility center in Guantanamo Bay. Kansas had argued the search was insufficient.


Mother, Daughter Charged in Man's Killing at Kansas Lake

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a woman has been charged with helping to orchestrate the killing of her mother's boyfriend at a northeast Kansas lake. Her mother has also been charged, on suspicion of helping cover up her daughter's actions. Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn Hemmerling is jailed on $1 million bond on a first-degree murder charge in the death of 22-year-old Taylor Sawyer, whose body was found March 14 at Perry Lake. Hemmerling's mother, 37-year-old Sarah Hemmerling, is jailed on $100,000 bond on an obstruction charge. Ashlyn Hemmerling's boyfriend, 22-year-old Jonathan Blevins, also is charged with first-degree murder. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig says authorities believe Blevins pulled the trigger, Ashlyn Hemmerling helped orchestrate the homicide and Sarah Hemmerling helped her daughter disseminate a false story. The suspects' attorneys didn't immediately return phone messages from The Associated Press.


Kansas Weighs Protections for Faith-Based Adoption Agencies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering legislation that would prevent the state from forcing faith-based adoption agencies to place children into homes that violate their religious beliefs. Critics say the bill is designed to discriminate against would-be LGBT parents. Two identical bills dubbed the Adoption Protection Act are under consideration in House and Senate committees, and each panel finished two days of hearings Wednesday. Republican Representative Susan Humphries of Wichita said the legislation would help get Kansas ahead of potential lawsuits that have been filed against faith-based agencies in other states. But Equality Kansas lobbyist Tom Witt opposes the measure and said it would allow private entities to receive taxpayer dollars and discriminate against LBGT Kansans. Supporters said that the measures would help guarantee religious freedom for faith-based agencies.


Husband of Woman Found Dead in Western Kansas Is Arrested

PLAINVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The husband of a woman who was found dead in rural western Kansas has been arrested. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday that 35-year-old Ailfonso Eduardo Garcia was arrested early Monday in Plainville. His wife, 24-year-old Alexis Garcia, was found dead early Monday in Plainvlle, in Rooks County. The KBI says Ailifonso was booked on a first-degree murder charge. The Kansas Attorney General's office will determine formal charges. Garcia is currently being held at the Salina Regional Health Center on $1 million bond. The KBI says it would not release any further information on the case.


Kansas School District Makes Rap Video to Promote Testing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Principals and leadership teams at a Topeka school district have released a rap music video in an attempt to get students excited about upcoming state assessments. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Topeka Unified School District 501 recently posted the video to the district's Facebook and YouTube accounts. The video mimics the theme from the 1990s TV show "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and shows district officials rapping how students can succeed on annual tests. District Senior Communications Specialist Jon DeMeo says he wrote some of the rap and recorded the voice-over for the video, which was shot in about three days. He thinks the video is "a fun way to get people interested and show a little personality." The window for this year's tests is March 13 through April 24.


Wichita Shooting Victim Died Day of Son's Birthday Party

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who was killed in a bar shooting was supposed to celebrate his son's birthday the day he died. The Wichita Eagle reports that 27-year-old Dwayne Brunson was shot early Sunday after an altercation at the Deuces Bar. He died at a hospital. Brunson planned to celebrate 3-year-old Kyvan's birthday with the family that day. His partner Mallory Stein told their children about his death after the party. Brunson's aunt, Kemerlin Richards, says her nephew had big dreams, his biggest being a good father. Family friend Stacy Polkinghorne says Brunson "won't be able to mold the boys and teach them everything he knew," but that he'll live on through his sons. Police don't know what prompted the shooting or whether Brunson was the intended target. No arrests have been made.


Southeast Kansas Arson Fires Under Investigation

GALENA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a string of arson fires in southeast Kansas.  The Joplin Globe reports that three grass fires and a shed fire in Galena last week has marked the 12th fire-related incident in the area since mid-February. Others include fires at vacant homes, the burning of railroad ties and the burning of a boxing gym.  The Galena Police Department and the Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office have launched an investigation into the arson fires.  A 38-year-old Galena man was taken into custody on suspicion of arson last week after being spotted running from a scene of fires. He was released after posting a $5,000 bond.  Cherokee County District Attorney Jake Conard says they're waiting until the investigation has concluded to see if there's any association between the man and the other fires.


Congress Votes to Rename Atchison Post Office After Amelia Earhart
The U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2040, the Amelia Earhart U.S. Post Office Act which renames Amelia Earhart’s hometown post office in Atchison, Kansas, in her honor. This legislation was originally introduced in November 2017 by Kansas Congresswoman Jenkins and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts. “Amelia Earhart was one of the great pioneers of our nation, whose story began at home in Atchison,” said Senator Roberts. “She is an inspiration to all aviators and a role model to women around the world. Renaming this post office is one more way to honor her incredible legacy. I am pleased this bill passed the house.”  Congresswoman Jenkins said, Although she was tragically lost at sea while attempting a flight around the world, Amelia Earhart’s legacy still soars today.  Growing up in Kansas, Amelia Earhart’s courageous actions inspired me, and many others, to dream big and accomplish lofty goals. March is Women’s History Month, and it seems fitting that we are able to rename her hometown post office in her honor, to continue her legacy and inspire future generations.  The legislation now goes to the President to be signed into law.


Officer Shot During Training Released from Hospital

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence police officer who was accidentally shot during a training exercise is out of the hospital. The police department says the officer was shot Monday afternoon at a police lodge southwest of the city. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a preliminary investigation found the shooting occurred when equipment became entangled in a trigger guard, causing the officer's gun to fire. The department did not explain what type of equipment was involved. Officer Drew Fennelly said Tuesday no crime was involved. The department is investigating to determine if any policies were violated. Fennelly would not release the officer's name but said he was a two-year veteran. The shooting occurred during on-duty, state-required firearms training.


KU Health System to Open Mental and Behavioral Center in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Health System plans to open a mental and behavioral health center in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. The health system said in a news release Wednesday that it acquired the former Environmental Protection Agency building, which has been empty for five years. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Health System vice president Chris Rudernt says renovation of the building will take about a year. The total project cost is an estimated $61 million. The new facility will include a 4- to 6-day inpatient adult mental and behavioral health unit with 47 beds. It will consolidate inpatient services currently provided at the system's main campus and at the Prairie Ridge campus in Kansas City, Kansas. The new building also will house some administrative offices.


Kansas Game Wardens Arrest 3 in Antelope Poaching Case

ELKHART, Kan. (AP) — Game wardens say they have solved an antelope poaching case discovered last October in southwest Kansas. Wardens were called in October about two antelope found dead in Morton County. Evidence indicated the animals were shot with a rifle and left to rot in the field. The suspects also drove across a freshly drilled winter wheat field to kill the animals. The Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said Wednesday that three people were arrested and have confessed to the poaching. No charges have been filed. The department said tips from the public helped solve the case.


Car Lot Sued in Crash that Injures Wichita Police Officer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The family of a Wichita police officer who was run over by a suspect in a stolen SUV is suing the car lot that owned the SUV.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the lawsuit filed Monday contends Eddy's Chevrolet Cadillac lot failed to report that the SUV had been stolen almost two months before Brian Arterburn was critically injured in February 2017. Arterburn was unconscious for several days and underwent multiple surgeries.  The suit says Arterburn now requires around-the-clock professional care. It seeks more than $75,000 in damages.  The driver charged with running over Arterburn while fleeing from police is scheduled to go on trial in August. The Eagle reports that Eddy's didn't immediately comment on the case.


Petitioners Hope to End Kansas Town's Pit Bull Ban, Free Dog

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Petitioners are rallying to lift a ban on pit bulls in a north-central Kansas town.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the online petition calling for an end to Salina's ban has more than 85,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.  The petition was created by Joshua Allen, whose pit bull Lyha and her three puppies were taken by Salina Animal Services, a no-kill shelter. Allen also wants the city to free Lyha and the puppies.  Salina has banned possessing pit bulls within city limits since 2004. Owning one is a misdemeanor usually carrying a fine of up to $200.  Allen calls Lyla "a loving dog who has never shown any aggression ever."  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has long opposed breed-specific legislation, saying there's no evidence such laws increase safety.



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