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Weekend Headlines for July 22-23, 2017

Kansas City Police Investigate Three Homicides in Four Hours

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating three shooting deaths that occurred within four hours Friday. The deaths bring the city's homicide count to 84 this year — a 50 percent increase over the same period last year. The Kansas City Star reports officers found a man dead on an eastern Kansas City home's porch about 10 p.m. Friday. About 8:15 p.m., a man reported his son had been shot at a northeast Kansas City home. The son was pronounced dead at a hospital. Witnesses told police the victim was in the front yard when an unknown person shot him. The motive is unclear. A third man was shot and killed shortly before 6:30 p.m. Friday inside a vehicle at Avenue Car Wash in eastern Kansas City.


Man Sentenced to Life in Gun Store Shooting Death

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — One of four men charged in the shooting death of a Kansas gun store owner will have to serve at least 33 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Londro Patterson III was sentenced to life in prison Friday for the January 2015 fatal shooting of Jon Bieker at the She's a Pistol gun store in Shawnee. Bieker and his wife, Becky Bieker, owned the store. He was shot when he exchanged gunfire with suspects during an attempted robbery. The Kansas City Star reports prosecutors say another man fired the shot that killed Bieker but the four men were all charged with murder because they allegedly participated in a robbery that led to the killing. Another defendant is awaiting sentencing, while the other two are awaiting trial.


Basehor Man Sentenced after Crash Kills Two Groomsmen

BASEHOR, Kan. (AP) — A Basehor man has been sentenced to a year in jail and probation for a crash that killed two relatives who were to be groomsmen at a wedding the day they died. Leavenworth County Attorney officials say 22-year-old William Wilson was sentenced Friday for involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol. The charge stemmed from a June 2015 crash near the Kansas River that killed 29-year-old Jesse Aldrich and 34-year-old Justin Wilson. The Leavenworth Times reports prosecutors say William Wilson had a blood-alcohol level of .09 after the accident. He was 20 at the time and the legal limit for a driver under 21 is .02. William Wilson and the two victims were to serve as groomsmen at Wilson's brother's wedding in Basehor the day they died.


Kansas Senator Roberts Pushing to Move GOP Health Plan Forward

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is working with fellow Republicans on legislation to overhaul health care even as fellow Kansas Senator Jerry Moran grabs national headlines for helping to stall the effort. Roberts acknowledged during an Associated Press interview that he's not happy with parts of the latest version of the bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. His staff said he's been working with the plan's drafters on provisions protecting financially stressed hospitals and a home health program for rural states. Roberts said Congress needs to move quickly because delay allows conditions in the health insurance market to worsen. Moran jumped into the spotlight by tweeting early this week that he couldn't support the latest version of the GOP plan, denying it a vote that it needed to pass.


Leavenworth Woman Sentenced in Mother's Beating Death

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth woman has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for beating her mother to death. 60-year-old Victoria Smith was sentenced Friday for intentional second-degree murder in the July 2016 death of Anna Maria Higgins. The Leavenworth Times reports prosecutors say Smith hit Higgins several times with a flashlight and a three-pound mallet at a home where Smith lived. Friday's hearing began with District Judge Gunnar Sundby denying a defense motion to allow Smith to withdraw her no contest plea. Family members said before sentencing that Smith had a history of abusing Higgins. Smith told the court she intended only to scare her mother and then "snapped" but she believed she should be sentenced for manslaughter, rather than second-degree murder.


Ex-Lawrence Para-educator Sentenced for Sex with Student

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former Lawrence school district para-educator has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for having sex with a student. 34-year-old Teri Lynn Johnson, of Baldwin City, was sentenced Friday. She was convicted in March of unlawful sexual relations and sexual exploitation of a child, both felonies, and promoting obscenity to a minor, a misdemeanor. Johnson must also register as a sex offender. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the crimes occurred in fall 2015 when the victim — then 17 — was a student at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center's Day School. Prosecutors say the conduct lasted until December of that year.


Union: Kansas Prison Forcing Officers to Work Overtime

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A union representing Kansas state employees says some officers at the state's maximum-security prison outside El Dorado are being required to work 16-hour shifts. The Kansas Organization of State Employees disclosed Friday that it filed a grievance earlier this month with Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood. KOSE Executive Director Robert Choromanski said the practice is dangerous. He also said it violates a bargaining agreement between the department and prison employees that keeps officers from being required to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period. Choromanski said eight officers have complained to the union and the practice began in early July. An hours-long disturbance occurred at the El Dorado prison June 29th. Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig declined to comment and called the grievance a personnel matter.


Supreme Court Affirms Conviction in Wichita Radio Station Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has affirmed a man's conviction in the 2014 beating death of a Wichita radio station employee. The court on Friday rejected arguments from Antwon Banks that prosecutors presented circumstantial evidence that did not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt during his trial for first-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Daniel Flores. The justices ruled the state presented sufficient evidence to convict Banks. Flores was found beaten to death in the basement of a Steckline Communication office in February 2014. Prosecutors said Banks bludgeoned Flores with a fire extinguisher after Flores found Banks scrawling hateful messages about Banks' former girlfriend on a wall. The girlfriend was a Steckline office manager. Prosecutors said Banks was upset over a recent breakup with the woman.


Kansas Hackers Had Access to Millions of Social Security Numbers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Records show a breach of a Kansas Department of Commerce data system gave hackers access to more than 5.5 million Social Security numbers in 10 states. The Kansas News Service reports records it obtained through an open records request show more than half a million of the 5.5 million Social Security numbers obtained by hackers were from Kansas. The records also show about 805,000 other accounts that didn't include Social Security numbers were exposed. The department will pay for credit monitoring for most of the victims. The suspicious activity was discovered March 12th by America's Job Link Alliance-TS, the commerce department division that operates the system. The FBI was contacted March 15th. A commerce department representative didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.


El Dorado Inmate Stabbed During Prison Fight

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an inmate has been stabbed numerous times during a fight at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig said in a prepared statement that the victim received "several puncture wounds in an inmate-on-inmate altercation" Wednesday evening at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. The prison also was the scene of an hours-long disturbance last month in which emergency log books suggest inmates fought and that there was a fire. Fertig says the inmate who was hurt Wednesday received initial treatment at the prison before being transferred to an outside medical facility for "further evaluation and treatment." No other staff or inmate injuries were reported. The state's prison system has been grappling with significant staffing shortages.


Missouri Cold Case Investigated, Possible KCK Link

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City, Kansas, woman with the first name of Darlene may have been the person whose remains were found 32 years ago in a western Missouri field. Clay County Sheriff's Department Detective Jesse Stoker says the name is being released in the hope of generating more clues to identify the woman who was shot in the head three times. The Kansas City Star reports that a tipster reported the name to a hotline after investigators released a new composite in October. The tipster also said the woman might have had two children. The caller said the two occasionally rode back and forth to work. Authorities initially thought the woman was white but not believe she was black and between the ages of 17 and 23.


Man Resentenced to Life in Killing of Overland Park Teen

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one of three men convicted in the killing of a Kansas woman initially left to die in a car's trunk has been resentenced. The Kansas City Star reports that 29-year-old Joseph Mattox won't be eligible for parole for 50 years under the life sentence imposed Wednesday after he waived his right to a jury trial. The Kansas Supreme Court tossed his original Hard 50 sentence because a judge, not a jury, imposed it. His attorney argues he should be eligible for parole after 25 years. Prosecutors say 18-year-old Keighley Alyea was attacked and thrown into a car's trunk in 2009 before being beaten and stabbed to death when she regained consciousness and began screaming. Her body was found in Missouri's Cass County.


Topeka Man Charged in Killing of 66-year-old Man in Home Invasion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have upgraded charges against a suspect in a Topeka home invasion after the victim died from his injuries. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 31-year-old Howard Burchfiel, of Topeka, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated burglary in the death of 66-year-old Allen Wichman. His attorney, Matthew Works, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press. Topeka police apprehended Burchfiel last month after a standoff. He initially was charged with aggravated battery. The home invasion left Wichman with life-threatening injuries, and he died July 14th. Kansas Department of Corrections records show Burchfiel was released under supervision in March from Lansing Correctional Facility after being convicted in 2009 of aggravated assault, attempted first-degree murder and a third or subsequent conviction of driving under the influence.


Services Set for Pilot Killed in WWII-Era Fighter Crash

CHICAGO (AP) — Funeral services have been set for an Illinois man killed along with a passenger when his World War II-era aircraft crashed in Kansas earlier this week. Visitation for Vlado Lenoch of Burr Ridge will be held Sunday in the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook. His funeral will be held Monday at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church in Western Springs. The 64-year-old Lenoch and 34-year-old Bethany Root were killed last Sunday when their P-51 Mustang fighter crashed in a field about 10 miles from an airport in Atchison, Kansas. The crash occurred one day after the fighter flew in a festival that celebrates famed aviator Amelia Earhart in her Kansas hometown. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the plane crash.


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