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Regional Headlines for Thursday, April 25, 2013


UPDATE: Kansas GOP Conservatives Balk at More Bonds for NBAF

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republican senators are pushing back at Governor Sam Brownback's request that Kansas issue $202 million more in bonds to help finance construction of a federal biosecurity lab in Manhattan. Members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee heard the pitch Thursday from Landon Fulmer, the governor's chief of staff. He said the bonding request represented the last money that Kansas would have to contribute to building the $1.15 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University. President Barack Obama's proposed federal budget includes $714 million to build the laboratory. But GOP senators express concern that Kansas can't afford to increase its share of funding, asking if there is any way to negotiate a better financial arrangement. Kansas has already issued $105 million in bonds for the project.


Kansas AG: Disputes over New Laws Could Cost $1.2M

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office is warning legislators that some laws they passed this year could lead to litigation costing the state more than $1.2 million over the next two years. One measure taking effect Thursday declares that the federal government has no power to regulate guns manufactured, sold and kept in Kansas. And a sweeping anti-abortion law that takes effect in July declares that life begins "at fertilization." The Senate Ways and Means Committee reviewed requests Thursday from Schmidt to boost his office's budget during the two-year period beginning in July to cover potential litigation costs. GOP lawmakers who backed the new laws said any measures they approve could prompt challenges. Critics of the laws said questions about whether they'd withstand court scrutiny were raised previously.


Federal DOT Orders 4 Kansas Companies to Stop Operating

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered four suburban Kansas City trucking companies to stop operating after determining three of the companies were simply renamed versions of an unsafe company. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in a release Thursday that Olathe-based Royal Transport, Incorporated; Nationwide, Incorporated; Freight, Incorporated; and Midwest A, Incorporated have to stop interstate service immediately. FMCSA says it found Nationwide, Freight and Midwest A were created in order to continue the business of Royal Transport after Royal received a conditional safety rating. A man who answered the phone for Royal Transport, which had the same phone number as both Nationwide and Freight, declined to give his name or comment. A man who answered the phone at Midwest A hung up without answering questions.

Kansas Expects Results of 'In Cold Blood' DNA Tests in May

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas official says the state expects to have results early next month from DNA testing done on remains from two men executed for the 1959 slayings that inspired Truman Capote's classic book, "In Cold Blood." Officials in Florida sought the tests to see whether Perry Smith and Richard Hickock can be linked to decades-old multiple murders of four Walker family members south of Sarasota, Fla. Those killings occurred only weeks after the murders of four Clutter family members in their farmhouse outside the small southwest Kansas town of Holcomb. Deputy Director Kyle Smith said Thursday that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation expects to have results in eight to 10 days. Kansas executed Smith and Hickock for the Clutter murders in 1965. Their remains were exhumed in December.


Judge Delays Trial for Kansas Veteran

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has granted a defense request to delay the trial of a Kansas veteran accused of illegally possessing explosives U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Wednesday rescheduled until July 16 the trial for Alfred Dutton because of a scheduling conflict. The Army and Marine veteran from Eureka had been set to go to trial on May 7. Dutton is charged with unlawful possession of unregistered destructive devices. He is accused of having possessed one or more grenade bodies and the necessary parts to convert them into a destructive device. An appeals court earlier this year ruled evidence should have been suppressed from a storage unit where jars of homemade napalm with fuses attached were found. The appeals court said authorities lacked reason to suspect criminal activity.

Woman Alleges Rape by Wichita State Basketball Player

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating a woman's allegation that she was sexually assaulted by a member of this year's Wichita State men's basketball team. Police Lieutenant Doug Nolte said Thursday the player has not been arrested or charged. Nolte did not name the player but said he has no eligibility remaining, meaning he's technically a former player. The incident allegedly occurred over the weekend at the home of another Shocker basketball player. Police said the 20-year-old woman — who is not a Wichita State student — called 911 to report she woke up Sunday morning while the suspect was raping her. Wichita State athletics director Eric Sexton issued a statement saying the university has been informed of the investigation. Sexton says the school and the athletic department are cooperating with police.


Suspect Wants to Mention Wife's Problems at Trial

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas police instructor charged with killing his wife is seeking to introduce evidence about her personal problems at his trial. Attorneys for Brett T. Seacat asked during a hearing Wednesday to introduce evidence about Vashti Seacat's alleged suicide attempt, depression and multiple affairs. Seacat is charged with first-degree murder in the April 2011 shooting death of his wife. His attorneys argue the evidence would support their argument that 34-year-old Vashti Seacat committed suicide. The Hutchinson News reports that prosecutors argued that Seacat is making "wild accusations" that are based only on his statements. Vashti Seacat died at the couple's Kingman home. Brett Seacat and their two sons escaped the fire. He was a former instructor at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Reno County.


Police: Body Is That of Missing Kansas City Teen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Investigators have confirmed that a body found on Kansas City's south side is that of a 14-year-old who had not been seen since Sunday. Police spokesman Darin Snapp says the body was identified Thursday as that of Montee Ross Jr., who was reported missing Monday. His death is being investigated as a homicide. The Kansas City Star reports that Alicia Temple last saw her son Sunday when he, her daughter and her 12-year-old son walked to a store. The younger son later told her Montee left with a friend. Temple's daughter heard rumors at school that Montee had been accidentally shot inside a townhome and was buried nearby. Police began searching Wednesday morning and found a hand sticking out from a large dirt pile a block from the family's home.


Pipe Bomb Turns Up in Wichita Storage Unit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman had a nasty surprise when she discovered a pipe bomb among items she brought home from a self-storage unit. KSNW-TV reports that the explosive device turned up Thursday while the woman was going through bags of items she retrieved from the storage unit to prepare for a garage sale. The device was described as a length of plastic pipe with a fuse sticking out. The woman called police, who summoned the bomb squad and cleared parts of the neighborhood. The bomb squad detonated the device without incident. Police are trying to figure out who put the pipe bomb in the storage unit, which the woman shared with another person.


Salina Mayor Joins Group Supporting Gay Marriage

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina Mayor Barb Shirley has joined a national group of mayors who support gay marriage. Shirley's announcement Wednesday that she had joined Mayors for Freedom to Marry came six months after Salina voters repealed protections from discrimination for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. The mayor says she has no tolerance for any type of discrimination, and she wants all people to have the same civil rights. Shirley joins more than 350 other mayors across the country in the group. The Salina Journal reports that she is believed to be the first mayor in Kansas to join the group. In November, Salina residents voted to repeal anti-discrimination protections in the city's codes.


Lawrence Library Wins Prestigious National Award

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence Public Library has received a prestigious national award for a marketing campaign that used trading cards to promote banned books. The American Library Association announced this week that the library was one of eight in the country to win a 2013 John Cotton Dana Award. The award includes a $10,000 award and plaque. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that last year, the library asked artists across the country to submit work depicting their favorite banned books. Winning artworks were reproduced on trading cards, which included a reason for banning each book. The cards were sold online to buyers in every state and several foreign countries. The Lawrence library plans to have the banned books trading card project again this year.


Kansas Boy Accused of Throwing Flaming Hand Sanitizer

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A 13-year-old northeast Kansas boy is recovering from minor burns on his face after another boy threw flaming hand sanitizer at him. KSHB-TV reports that the incident happened Wednesday at a middle school in Shawnee. Police say the 12-year-old poured hand sanitizer on his own hand, lit it on fire and flicked it toward the 13-year-old. A school nurse treated the older boy's face before his parents took him to a doctor. The 12-year-old is facing juvenile charges. Investigators say he told officers he learned what he thought was a party trick from an older student. Police said the incident appears to have been meant as a prank but could have caused serious injury.


KCPT Acquires UCM Radio Station

WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Public Television is buying the license to operate the University of Central Missouri's campus radio station for $1.1 million. The university and KCPT said this week that the ownership switch will take effect later this year, pending Federal Communications Commission approval. The announcement came after the Warrensburg school's Board of Governors signed off on the transfer last week. The campus station, KTBG, operates on the 90.9 FM frequency. Besides purchasing the rights to operate on that frequency, KCPT also plans to spend $600,000 for improvements. They'll include tower upgrades so KCPT can reach a larger audience. KCPT has agreed to offer internships to university students and air some programming produced by the university's public television station, KMOS-TV. KCPT says the acquisition marks its first radio endeavor.

Man Convicted in Boy's Death Eligible for Parole in July

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are considering parole for a 51-year-old man convicted of killing a 9-year-old boy and dismembering the body. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Prisoner Review Board is considering parole for John William, who becomes eligible in July. He was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in Douglas County of first-degree murder of 9-year-old Richard Settlemyre, whose torso was found in the Kansas River in July 1988. The boy's head, hands, feet and other parts of his body had been cut off. The board plans to meet in June with William, who's in maximum security at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. The board denied William parole in 2003, citing disciplinary problems in prison.

Judge Says Public Defender Must Attend Petro Trial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A U.S. district judge is requiring a federal public defender to attend a securities fraud trial that could last up to four weeks, even though his former client has decided to represent himself. Isreal Owen Hawkins of Kansas City, Kansas and four others are accused of selling unregistered stocks in Petro America Corporation two years after Missouri regulators ordered them to stop. Prosecutors say the defendants bilked investors out of more than $7 million. Hawkins sought to defend himself because he believed his attorney's caseload was too big for him to concentrate on the Petro case. Judge Brian Wimes on Wednesday ruled public defender Stephen Moss would serve as standby counsel, meaning he must be in the courtroom every day even if he doesn't take part in the trial.


Saberhagen Puts Royals Memorabilia Up for Auction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A two-time Cy Young Award winner and former World Series MVP says he is putting most of his memorabilia up for auction because it's gathering dust in a storage shed and the proceeds will be used to benefit others. Brett Saberhagen spent half of his 16-year major league career as a Kansas City Royal and was MVP of the 1985 World Series championship team. The Kansas City Star reports the auction, conducted at, concludes Sunday and includes 77 items from Saberhagan. Among the more significant items up for bid is his 1985 Cy Young Award, which has a current bid of $19,965, and his 1985 World Series MVP trophy, with a bid of $9,983. The proceeds will go to his foundation and four children.

KSU to Award Honorary Doctorate to Ex-Cargill CEO

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is awarding an honorary doctorate to a former CEO of agribusiness giant Cargill. Warren Staley of Edina, Minnesota will receive the honorary degree during a May 17 commencement ceremony in Bramlage Coliseum. Staley also is the commencement speaker. Staley graduated from Kansas State in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He went on to receive a master's degree in business administration from Cornell University in 1967. Staley joined Cargill in 1969 and became president and chief operating officer in 1998. He was named CEO a year later and chairman of the board in 2000. Staley retired in 2007. Kansas State says Staley and his wife, Mary Lynn, have contributed money for academic programs, scholarships and facility improvements.

Missouri Teacher Gets 15 Years for Fondling Students

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City elementary school teacher has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting 11 of his male students, most of them during class. Former Grain Valley teacher Matthew J. Nelson pleaded guilty last month to several counts of child molestation and statutory sodomy and one count of attempted child molestation. His sentence was part of a plea agreement. Nelson taught second- and third-graders for a decade and was charged in 2012 after students told authorities he fondled them when they came to his desk asking for help with assignments. Some said they were fondled during quiet reading and movie times. The 34-year-old also was accused of openly fondling a student during a trip to a Kansas City Royals baseball game during the 2009-2010 school year.

Missouri Pot Activists Eye KC for Decriminalization

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri marijuana activists have their sights set on Kansas City after a successful campaign to reduce pot possession penalties in St. Louis. The pro-legalization group Show-Me Cannabis recently asked its members to lobby the Kansas City Council in support of decriminalizing possession of less than 35 grams of the drug. The 28-member St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted April 15 to let city police officers treat certain pot possession cases as municipal violations akin to receiving traffic tickets. The law takes effect June 1 but must still be signed by Mayor Francis Slay. Columbia has had a similar law in place since 2004. Show-Me Cannabis says it's considering collecting Kansas City voter signatures for a local initiative in 2014 but would prefer quicker action by the city's elected leaders.


Rain Eases Drought for Some, but Not All

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Rain that moved across the Midwest in the past week has helped ease drought conditions for some farmers. The weekly drought monitor report from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska was released Thursday. It shows the rain that caused flooding in some areas of the Midwest helped decrease the drought area from the upper Midwest into the western corn belt and central portions of the Rockies and Great Plains. But there's a new problem: The heavy rain has left fields muddy in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois. And that means corn planting will be behind schedule. And not all of the country's drought-parched states are out of the woods. The report shows drought is intensifying from western Texas into northern California.

Ag Officials Believe New Law Will Aid Farmers' Markets

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas agriculture officials say a new law will help a growing number of farmers' markets across the state. The measure signed by Governor Sam Brownback earlier this month sets up a central registry for farmers' markets. Registering with the state will limit the legal liability of farmers' markets if accidents occur.

Friends, Relatives of Victims Lobby Board to Deny Killer's Parole

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Friends and relatives of two women are asking Kansas parole officials to keep the man who killed them behind bars. Danny Williams was convicted in Idaho of second-degree murder in the 1970 death of Melba Gray. He was paroled after eight years. He was convicted of stabbing Francis Ellifson at her Wichita home in 1982.

Man Calls Police After Refusing to Pay Prostitute

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Police in northeast Kansas are investigating possible charges after a man who hired a prostitute called police because he feared for his safety. The man told officers he hired a Topeka woman for two hours of sex. The man said he was afraid of retaliation after he said he didn't have money to pay her.

Doctor Accused in Drug Overdose Case Remains in Jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas doctor linked to drug overdoses of active-duty Fort Riley soldiers remains jailed as a possible flight risk. Michael Schuster is charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute drugs. A federal grand jury is expected to consider the case next week.

Kenseth's KS Speedway Victory Tarnished

Matt Kenseth's victory Sunday in the Sprint Cup race at the Kansas Speedway will stand, but it's now tarnished. Kenseth's car failed a NASCAR engine inspection after it was hauled back to North Carolina. Kenseth was docked 50 points, so he dropped from eighth to 14th in the points standings. Jason Ratcliff, the car's crew chief, was fined 200-thousand dollars. The race team is appealing its penalties. 

Kenseth Calls Harsh Penalties 'Grossly Unfair'

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Matt Kenseth says NASCAR's penalties against his team are "grossly unfair" and "borderline shameful." Kenseth's team was hit with some of the harshest penalties NASCAR has handed out Wednesday after his race-winning engine at Kansas Speedway failed the post-race inspection. He says one of eight connecting rods on the engine was too light — by 2.7 grams. Kenseth was docked 50 driver points in the standings — two more than he earned for the victory. But he says he's angrier about the penalties given to Gibbs and crew chief Jason Ratcliff. Both were suspended six weeks. Gibbs also had his owner points frozen, and Ratcliff was fined $200,000. The points penalty dropped Kenseth from eighth to 14th in the standings.

Royals Score 5 in 10th, Beat Tigers 8-3

DETROIT (AP) — Alex Gordon's grand slam highlighted a five-run 10th inning for the Kansas City Royals, who rallied against the Detroit bullpen for an 8-3 win Thursday after Tigers ace Justin Verlander left with a thumb injury. George Kottaras put the Royals ahead 4-3 with a bases-loaded walk off Phil Coke (0-3). Darin Downs came on for Detroit after that, but Gordon broke the game open one out later with his homer over the center-field wall. Verlander is day-to-day with what the team said was cracked skin on his throwing thumb. The right-hander allowed two runs — one earned — in seven innings and left with a 3-2 lead. Bruce Rondon gave up the tying run in the eighth in his major league debut. Tim Collins (1-0) got the win.


Kansas Senate Committee to Consider Bonds for NBAF

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has introduced a bill authorizing an additional $202 million in bonds to help finance construction of a federal biosecurity lab in Manhattan. The Senate Ways and Means Committee scheduled a hearing on the proposal Thursday. The full Legislature reconvenes May 8 to wrap up the year's business. President Barack Obama's proposed federal budget includes $714 million to build the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University. The installation would replace an aging lab on Plum Island, N.Y. The project's total cost is $1.15 billion, and Kansas already has issued $105 million in bonds to help finance the construction of a central utility plant to serve the laboratory. The lab will study animal diseases and develop measures to protect the nation's food supply.

 **this story has been updated. Please see above. 


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