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Headlines for Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press.

Donald Trump Jr. Campaigns for Kobach During Johnson County Fundraiser

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. says his father's successful run for president has given conservatives the ability to feel free to speak up on issues. Trump made the remark at a fundraiser last (TUE) night in Overland Park for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor next year in a crowded field. The conversation came during a dinner for about 400 Kobach supporters, with Kobach and the younger Trump at a table. Kobach opened the program with a short speech touching on his main campaign themes. Later, the younger Trump called his father a "blue-collar billionaire" who is very much like the people of Kansas. Trump Jr.'s appearance attracted crowds of demonstrators outside the Overland Park hotel where the fundraiser was being held. The event drew dozens of protesters and a smaller crowd of counter-protesters. Groups opposed to what they call Kobach's “racist voter suppression policies” rallied at a nearby park before marching to the hotel. They held signs with such phrases as, "Liars Club Meeting Here Tonight."  Across the street, about a dozen pro-Trump and pro-Kobach counter-protesters gathered, holding a banner supporting the president.

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Governor Brownback to Meet with Senator Mitch McConnell 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback is traveling to Washington today (WED) to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell's spokesman, David Popp, confirmed the meeting is scheduled for today but would not discuss the reason for the meeting. It comes as Brownback's confirmation to be the next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom has stalled, with no final vote scheduled. Brownback said last week that he is hopes his appointment will be voted on before Christmas. He has already handed over some of his most important duties as governor to Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, including leadership over the state budget. Brownback was nominated in July. A Senate committee narrowly approved the nomination in October, amid Democratic concerns about his record on LBGT issues.  

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Kansas Insists Pension Fund Still Stable Amid Concerns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say retirees won't be affected by eliminated or delayed payments to the pension fund for teachers and other government workers. Officials with the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System sought to reassure members of a legislative oversight committee on Monday. The message was part of the retirement system's annual report to the Legislature about the actuarial value of the pension fund and the estimated difference between its current assets and long-term obligations. Lawmakers eliminated a nearly $100 million payment to the pension fund last year to help balance the state budget. They also delayed a $64 million payment this year and said they plan to delay another $194 million. KPERS officials said those decisions will have little impact on the fund, which is now valued at more than $18 billion.  KPERS is a pension system that manages the retirement accounts of more than 300,000 members, including state, city, county and school district employees. 

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Cargill to Build $90 Million Biodiesel Plant in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Cargill says it will begin construction next month on a $90 million biodiesel plant in Wichita. The company said Wednesday in a news release that the 42,000-square-foot plant will employ 35 full-time workers. It is expected to begin operating in January 2019. Cargill official Pat Woerner said the new plant will allow Wichita to be a competitive supplier of biofuels. The Wichita Eagle reports the plant is separate from the construction of Cargill Protein's new $60 million headquarters in Wichita. The Minneapolis-based company said the plant will replace an oil refinery. Work from the refinery will be transferred to other Cargill facilities. The new biodiesel plant is expected to produce 60 million gallons of biodiesel. Cargill also has biodiesel plants in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and Kansas City, Missouri.

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Authorities: Review Done in Officers' Shooting of Topeka Man 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say they've finished an investigation into the fatal shooting of a black Topeka man by two police officers and have forwarded the case to a local prosecutor. The Lawrence Police Department provided no other details Wednesday about the September 28 death of 30-year-old Dominique White near an east Topeka park. The Lawrence police investigated the shooting for the Topeka police. Lawrence police and the city of Topeka said the case went to Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay for review. Kagay said he does not have a timetable for determining whether someone will be charged over the shooting. The officers involved have not been identified and police body camera footage has not been released despite a demand from White's family that it be made public.

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Online Video Gamers Heard Gunshots in Kansas Killings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Houston man playing video games in an online group said he and others heard the gunshots that hundreds of miles away killed a Kansas man and his mother this past weekend. Three to four players, including one from Canada, were playing online Saturday night when one of them and his mother were shot, The Wichita Eagle reported. The players could hear, but not see, each other. Among the players that evening was 23-year-old Cody Ha, who lived with his 62-year-old mother, Huong Pham, in Wichita. Also online that night from Houston was Ha's friend Ashley Martinez. Around 10 p.m., Martinez said he and the other players heard popping noises so loud it hurt his ears under the headphones — at least two shots from what sounded like a handgun. Martinez said the players thought they might be overreacting, "because you don't expect to hear that." When they called Ha's number, they could hear it ringing. They also listened as Ha's sister she found the bodies: "She was panicking ... she was on the phone. She said she didn't want to touch them. She said she didn't feel safe." Police have said that Ha's sister returned home that evening and found her brother and mother covered in blood and unconscious. The next morning Martinez and a friend had an online chat with a Wichita police detective: "We told him exactly what we heard on our end," Martinez said. Authorities have not disclosed a motive and are seeking tips to help solve the case.

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Woman Settles Suit Against Haskell, US over Alleged Rape

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A woman who sued Haskell Indian Nations University after she said she was raped by two students in a dorm on the Kansas campus has settled her lawsuit. The lawsuit filed in 2016 by the former student, listed in court documents as Jane Doe, closed Tuesday after she and the U.S. government, which runs the university, agreed to the dismissal, according to court documents, The Lawrence Journal-World reported . The woman's attorney, Dan Curry, and Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Kansas, both confirmed the settlement but did not specify the amount. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday. "She is happy to have the case resolved," Curry said. "She wants to get her education back on track, and this resolution will help her do that." With the lawsuit and criminal proceedings against the two men over, the woman plans to return to Haskell this spring, Curry said.

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Ex-KU Student Convicted of Misdemeanor Sexual Battery

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former University of Kansas student convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery for groping a female friend who was in bed with him has been convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery. Twenty-year-old Hanbit Chang of Shawnee was found guilty Tuesday. Although his sentencing was delayed, Chang's attorney, John Frydman, said Chang will be required to register as a sex offender for 15 years. The incident occurred in September 2016 in Chang's dorm room. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the trial revolved around the issue of consent. Frydman argued Chang thought the woman was consenting based on her actions leading up to the touching. But prosecutors argued the women's previous actions were irrelevant and she didn't consent to the touching. Chang is no longer a student at KU.

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Police: Man Killed in Kansas Costco Had No Specific Target

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Lenexa police say a man who was shot to death by an off-duty officer at a Costco in Kansas didn't appear to have specific targets when he walked into the store screaming and waving a gun. Investigators say 58-year-old Ronald Hunt was a long distance truck driver and was living in the cab of his truck. It was parked in the Costco lot in Lenexa before Hunt entered the store Sunday. Lenexa Police spokesman Danny Chavez says investigators have not determined Hunt's motive for terrorizing customers and employees before he was shot. He says Hunt apparently never fired his weapon. Investigators have had a difficult time finding Hunt's relatives. The only address listed for him was the Swift Transportation Kansas Terminal in Edwardsville.

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Court Dismisses Appeal in Fort Riley Bomb Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has refused to hear the appeal of a Kansas man who tried to set off what he thought was a bomb at the Fort Riley Army post. John T. Booker Jr. told authorities he wanted to support the Islamic State. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday dismissed the appeal filed by Booker challenging some conditions of his supervised release. It ruled the Topeka man had waived his appeal rights in his plea deal. Booker was sentenced in July to 30 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to one count each of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to destroy government property with an explosive. He was arrested in 2015 outside Fort Riley.

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Authorities Identify Worker Fatally Injured at Garmin Construction Site

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say the contractor who died at a Garmin construction site near Olathe was 28-year-old Jubal Hubbard from Holden. Investigators say Hubbard died Monday when a pipe ruptured at the site of a Garmin expansion project. Olathe Fire Captain Mike Hall says Hubbard was working on a high-pressure valve near a loading dock of the warehouse when the line ruptured. The cause of the rupture has not been determined. Construction began a year ago on a site for a new warehouse and distribution center for Garmin.

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Man Sentenced for Hacking Former Employer's Computers, Child Porn 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Parkville man has been sentenced for hacking into his former employer's computer system and for viewing thousands of images of child pornography. Thirty-eight-year-old Jacob Raines was sentenced Wednesday to six years in federal prison without parole. Raines was an information technology manager for American Crane & Tractor Parts in Kansas City, Kansas, from July 2004 until March 2014. Investigators found the company's proprietary source code files and file folders were copied to Raines's remote server in May 2014. Prosecutors say it's not clear if Raines transferred the source codes to a third party but he had the connections to provide them to at least one of the firm's largest competitors. Investigators also discovered Raines used his home computers and hard drives to access thousands of images of child pornography.

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Injured Police Officer Brian Arterburn Returns to Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A police officer who was critically injured in February received a rousing welcome home in Wichita. Officer Brian Arterburn was treated in Colorado and Texas since he was run over by suspect fleeing police in a stolen vehicle. He was unconscious for several days and underwent multiple surgeries. When he returned home Wednesday, Arterburn was able to walk off the plane. He told about 100 police officers and other supporters that he missed his home, his children and his family. Captain Jeff Weible said Arterburn will continue rehabilitation in Wichita. A welcome home celebration is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Harvest Community Church. The suspect, Justin Terrazas, is awaiting trial for aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and other charges.

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Police Seek Public's Help in Emporia Death 

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Lyon County authorities are asking the public for help in solving the killing of a 19-year-old from Emporia. Lyon County deputies were called September 6 to investigate a suspicious vehicle on a road about five miles east of Emporia. The deputies found the car on fire, with the body of Jesus Avila-Galvin Jr. inside. The KBI said in a news release Tuesday that several agencies continue to investigate the case and believe even small details could help bring a resolution. Anyone with information is asked to call the KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME or Lyon County Crime Stoppers at 620-342-2273. Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest.

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Kansas Man Dragged to Death by Carjacker Who Took His Truck

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An 86-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man died after he was confronted by a carjacker and was dragged down the street. Kansas City, Kansas, police said Frank Davila died during the confrontation Wednesday. The carjacker fled in Davila's pickup truck. The Kansas City Star reports the victim was known as Frankie D, the name of the bar and grill he owned on Kansas Avenue for more than 40 years. His son, also called Frankie Davila, said his father had just dropped off his sister after they had breakfast when he was attacked.

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$1 Million Boosts Kansas State Family Scholarship Program

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University will use a $1 million gift to create at least 30 matching scholarships as part of the university's Family Scholarship Program. The university announced Tuesday that new gifts of $30,000 will be matched with $30,000 from Mary Vanier's gift. Another $10,000 will go make $2,000 scholarships immediately available to students. And $50,000 will be used by the university's endowment to ensure scholarships are available in the future. The program's goal is to increase philanthropic support for Kansas State while also creating scholarships. Vanier said in a statement that this is a critical time for the university because of decreased state support and lower enrollments and she hopes the gift will bring students to the school. Mary Vanier, a 1989 graduate of Kansas State, is president of Grand Mere Development.

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1 Dead After House Fire in Eastern Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say firefighters have found a body after extinguishing a blaze at a Kansas City home. KMBC-TV reports that police say the victim died from a gunshot wound. The fire swept through the home on the city's east side early Wednesday. The name of the victim wasn't immediately released and the cause of the fire wasn't known. Police are continuing to investigate.

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Kansas Woman Ordered to Stand Trial in Toddler's Death 

GARDNER, Kan. (AP) - A judge has found sufficient evidence for a woman to be tried in the death of her fiance's 2-year-old daughter. The Kansas City Star reports that 25-year-old Lindsey Thomasson entered a not guilty plea after she was bound over for trial Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege that Presley Porting died of child abuse in February in Gardner. A trial date could be set at her next court appearance in January. Thomasson is jailed on $2 million bond.

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Shooting at Topeka Home Appears to Be Murder-Suicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a shooting at a central Topeka home appears to be a murder-suicide. Topeka police said Tuesday that Tabitha Krystofosky's injuries are consistent with homicide and those of her estranged husband, John Krystofosky, with suicide. Both were 27 when they died Monday after officers responded to a domestic disturbance. The officers observed two people inside a home, one with a gun. As they notified dispatch, they heard gunshots and reported that officers were in danger. Crisis negotiators were brought to the home. Ultimately, medical staff entered and found the couple dead. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Tabitha Krystofosky's death brings the city's homicide total to 29 for 2017, making the year the deadliest on record. Topeka's previous homicide record of 28 victims was set in 1994.

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Woman Found Dead Inside Vehicle During Kansas Traffic Stop

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have found a woman dead inside a vehicle after the driver was stopped for speeding in suburban Kansas City while attempting to rush the woman to a hospital. Kansas City, Kansas police said in a news release that police in neighboring Mission stopped the vehicle early Tuesday. Inside officers found a 28-year-old woman dead from an apparent gunshot wound. The release says the investigation determined that the crime happened in Kansas City, Kansas. The name of the slain woman wasn't immediately released.
 

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