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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, June 20, 2012


CAPTURED! One Winfield Prison Escapee Back in Custody

One of two inmates who escaped from the Winfield Correctional Facility over the weekend is now back in custody.  Between 9:30 and 10:00 o'clock this (WED) morning, 48-year-old Frank Crutchfield was arrested by Wichita Police officers at a residence in Wichita.  According to officials with the Enforcement Apprehension and Investigations (EAI) unit of the Kansas Department of Corrections, a tip to Crimestoppers alerted authorities to Crutchfield’s whereabouts. EAI officers are transporting Crutchfield back to the Winfield Correctional Facility where he will be interviewed. 

Still missing is 52-year-old inmate Robert Cook.  Both men escaped from the Winfield prison Saturday afternoon in a state-owned truck.  The vehicle was found abandoned Sunday morning about 15 miles north of Winfield.  It's believed that the two then stole a City of Douglass vehicle described as a dark blue 2006 GMC Sierra with a Kansas license tag of 74914. The truck also has “City of Douglass” on a door on each side, a brush guard on the front, yellow caution lights on top, and two side mounted tool boxes in the rear.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Robert Cook or the vehicle is encouraged to contact law enforcement officials or to call 911.


UPDATE! Kansas School Finance Trial Continues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas official says school districts are concerned about more than just the resources needed to provide their students with a suitable education.  Deputy Education Commissioner Craig Neuenswander (NOO-ehn-swahn-duhr) finished testifying today (WED) in the trial of a lawsuit over how Kansas funds its public schools. He was called by attorneys for the 54 school districts that are behind the litigation.  He said schools want to make sure students have the knowledge they need to be productive.  The lawsuit claims Kansas has been spending too little to satisfy the state constitution's requirement for providing a "suitable" education.  Lawyers for the state contend the Legislature has done the best it could to fund schools as state revenue declined during the recession that began in December 2007.

Kansas School Finance Trial Continues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A trial over the way Kansas funds public schools continues today (WED) with testimony expected from current and former state officials about cuts in education spending.  The lawsuit by 54 school districts claims Kansas has been spending too little to satisfy the state constitution's requirement for providing a "suitable" education. The trial opened June 4 before a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court.  Lawyers for the state contend the Legislature has done the best it could to fund schools as state revenue declined during the recession that began in December 2007.


SRS: Neglect Found at St. John's Military School in Salina

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kanas child welfare officials have found a lack of supervision at a military school where a 14-year-old California boy allegedly was tormented after suffering two broken legs. However, their investigation has found no proof anyone there caused the injuries or denied the boy medical care.  The report by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services says there was "clear and convincing evidence" to support findings of neglect against a military advisor and two nurses at St. John's Military School in Salina. It cleared another military advisor who called for an ambulance after seeing Jesse Mactagone's injuries.  St. John's said three independent investigations have concluded there was no physical abuse or medical neglect. If the three employees lose their appeals, they could be forbidden from working or volunteering in regulated facilities.


News Summary: KS Board Settles Ballot Challenges

The State Objections Board has settled challenges to decisions by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office to list or not list candidates on the August 7 primary election ballots. The board is made up of Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, all Republicans.  The board upheld Kobach's policy reassigning candidates to new districts if they had filed before the state's political boundaries were redrawn earlier this month and found themselves affected by the changes in lines.

The Kansas Equality Coalition, which supports gay rights, questioned whether state Rep. Jan Pauls, a conservative Hutchinson Democrat, truly lives at the address she claimed in filing for re-election. The Objections Board said she will be on the ballot.


KS House Candidate Can't Overcome Lost Paperwork

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Democrat has lost a bid to get on the primary ballot for a state House seat after his filing form somehow went astray.  Larry Meeker, of Lake Quivira, hoped to seek the Democratic nomination in the 17th House District in the Kansas City area.  But Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office refused to put Meeker on the August 7 primary ballot, saying he never filed.  Democrats contend Kobach's office lost Meeker's form when a party staffer delivered it before the filing deadline. Kobach's office contends it has no record of receiving the form.  Yesterday (TUE), the State Objections Board refused to put Meeker on the ballot. Kobach chairs the board but did not participate, leaving the decision to Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.


KS House Majority Leader Won't Face GOP Primary Challenge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House majority leader has been spared a primary election showdown with a fellow Republican lawmaker who's also a political ally.  This year's political redistricting put Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid (SIHG'-freed) and Rep. Mike Kiegerl (KEE'-gurl) in the same House district. Both are from the Johnson County city of Olathe.  Kiegerl had made clear he didn't want to run against his friend, but he filed before the redistricting was complete and was unable to meet a deadline for quitting the race.  Yesterday (TUE), the State Objections Board took care of the matter by granting Siegfreid's request to remove Kiegerl from the August 7 ballot.


NTSB Issues Preliminary Report on Crash that Killed Bramlage Family

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A preliminary report on a plane crash that killed a Kansas family in Florida says the plane quickly began losing altitude after changing its flight path to avoid bad weather.  The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its preliminary report on the June 7 crash that killed Junction City businessman Ronald Bramlage, his wife, Becky, and their four children.  The report does not discuss a cause of the accident. Instead, it details what three witnesses saw or heard shortly before the crash.  The Kansas City Star reports that one of the witnesses videotaped the plane as it dropped straight down into a swampy area 50 miles southwest of Orlando, Florida.  A final report with a cause of the accident is not expected to be released for several months.


Kansas Man to Stand Trial in Killings of Woman, Baby

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas man has been ordered to stand trial for last year's killings of his 24-year-old girlfriend and the couple's baby daughter.  Thirty-two-year-old Adam C. Davis, of Olathe (oh-LAY'-thuh), is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Amber Searles and 4-month-old Kyra Searles-Davis.  The Kansas City Star reports that a Johnson County District Court judge this week scheduled the trial for September 17 — one year and one day after the victims were found dead at an Olathe home.  Investigators said Amber Searles appeared to have been struck on the head and strangled. Police located the baby's body inside a dog cage in the home's garage. An autopsy found that she appeared to be have been suffocated.  Davis has pleaded not guilty.


KS Jailer Arrested for Allegedly Raping Inmates

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County jailer is under arrest following allegations that the man raped two male inmates in their cells.  Sheriff's detectives arrested the 21-year-old detention deputy yesterday (TUE) on suspicion of several offenses, including aggravated criminal sodomy and mistreatment of confined persons. The case was being presented to the district attorney's office for possible charges.  The sheriff's office in Wichita says it became aware of an initial allegation on June 3 and a second allegation Monday. In both instances, male inmates in their 20s said the deputy entered their cells in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted them.  Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said after the first inmate came forward that the deputy had been reassigned to duties involving no contact with prisoners.


Illinois Investigated Parents of Kids Tied-Up at Lawrence Walmart

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Illinois officials say the parents of two children found tied up and blindfolded at a Lawrence Walmart parking lot were investigated last year for possible neglect.  A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services says the agency opened a case on the family in December after verifying a report of neglect. Kendall Marlowe says the case was closed in April and the children were allowed to remain with the family.  Adolfo Gomez Jr. and his wife, Deborah Gomez, are charged in Kansas with two counts of child abuse and five counts of child endangerment.  Police found a 5-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl bound and blindfolded outside their SUV Wednesday in Lawrence. Three children inside the vehicle were not restrained.  The family was headed from Illinois to Arizona.


Motion Seeks DNA Testing in 1999 Oskaloosa Murder

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys supporting a man convicted in the 1999 murder of an Oskaloosa teenager are asking for a new DNA test.  The Project for Innocence filed a motion this week in Jefferson County seeking the DNA test for Floyd Bledsoe. He is serving a life sentence for the death of his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Zetta Arfmann.  The 35-year-old Bledsoe has always maintained his innocence.  Bledsoe's attorneys argue that new technology could produce a DNA profile of the killer.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Bledsoe's brother, Tom Bledsoe, was initially charged with killing Arfmann and confessed. But he later recanted and implicated his brother.  In 2008, a U.S. District Court ruled that Bledsoe should be freed because of ineffective counsel but an appeals court overturned that decision.


Wichita Officials Find 31 Dead Cats Inside Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita housing officials say they never received a complaint about a house where 31 cats were found dead.  The owner of the home said the woman renting the home always found an excuse not to let him into the house but there were no obvious signs of trouble.  Police found the cats and two flea-infested dogs Saturday after being asked to check on the tenant, who hadn't been seen for more than a month.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the 69-year-old tenant was later found at a friend's house, where she was staying after being hospitalized.  The city has not yet determined whether any charges will be filed.


Mexican Citizen Sentenced in Home Depot Scam

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An illegal immigrant has been sentenced in Kansas to two years in federal prison for taking part in a scam that victimized Home Depot stores across the country.  The U.S. Attorney's office says 40-year-old Manuel Gonzalez Gonzalez faces deportation to Mexico when he finishes the sentence he received yesterday (TUE), although he's also charged with a similar crime in California.    Prosecutors said the scam involved stealing merchandise from Home Depot stores, then returning the goods with counterfeit or discarded receipts and receiving in-store credit cards for the merchandise.  Gonzalez was arrested on Interstate 70 in northwestern Kansas last December. A Highway Patrol trooper reported finding hundreds of the Home Depot cards, worth a total of about $69,000.


Kansas Doesn't Allow Political Signs by Highways

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Transportation is warning candidates and their supporters that the state doesn't allow political signs to be posted alongside highways.  The agency says the rule applies not only to Kansas routes and U.S. highways but to interstates in the state's 9,500-mile system.  KDOT is warning that if its crews find political signs in the right of way for a highway or interstate, they'll confiscate them immediately, without notice. Crews will then take the signs to the nearest KDOT regional office and keep them until they are claimed.  If signs are claimed, the owner will have to agree not to post them alongside highways again. KDOT says it will dispose of signs that aren't claimed after the November elections.


Federal Court Rejects Appeal in KS Nude Servitude Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas social worker convicted of enslaving mentally ill residents of the Newton group home he ran with his wife has lost an appeal of his 30-year sentence.  The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected claims by Arlan Kaufman that his trial attorney was ineffective.  Arlan and Linda Kaufman were convicted in November 2006 of forcing residents to work naked at their farm and perform sexual acts over a 15-year period, while billing their families and the government for "nude therapy" sessions.  A three-judge of the appeals court not only disagreed with Arlan Kaufman's claims of ineffective counsel, but also noted that the evidence against him was overwhelming.


Garden City Waives Ban on Aerial Fireworks

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — For the first time in decades, Garden City residents will be able to legally enjoy aerial fireworks this Fourth of July.  The Garden City Telegram reports that the city has banned the sale and use of fireworks that shoot more than 6 feet into the air since at least 1989.  City commissioners have voted to lift the ban from July 3 to 5. Residents will be able to shoot off fireworks from 10:30am to 10:30pm on those days. Finney County commissioners earlier this month voted to allow fireworks from June 27 to July 5.  Fire Chief Allen Shelton says the ban on aerial fireworks had been difficult to enforce. He says people often bought aerial fireworks outside the county and shot them off inside the county.  Shelton said he is somewhat concerned the fireworks might cause fires because dry weather conditions this summer.


Tougher Entry Rules Set for University of Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas will have tougher admissions standards than the state's other public colleges beginning in 2016. The Kansas Board of Regents approved a proposal Wednesday to boost requirements for incoming freshmen. Admission will be automatic for applicants with at least a "B'' average in high school; others would have their applications reviewed by a committee. The University of Kansas sought the change, saying it should improve graduation rates. Students can now enter any state college by scoring 21 on the ACT, having a 2.0 GPA in a college prep curriculum or graduating in the top third of their high-school classes. The new standards for KU add requirements for grade-point averages.


 Tuition to rise again this fall at Kan. colleges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Students at public universities in Kansas will pay as much as 6.9 percent more for tuition this fall. The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday approved tuition increases proposed by officials of the six public universities and the University of Kansas Medical Center. For undergraduates from Kansas, increases will range from 2.9 percent at Fort Hays State University to 6.2 percent at Emporia State. The biggest increase will be 6.9 percent for newly enrolling out-of-state undergraduates at the University of Kansas. Fort Hays State sought no increase for out-of-state undergraduates. The increases are expected to raise an additional $31 million in the next academic year. Officials of the institutions said the money will cover higher operating costs and extra pay for employees.

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