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Weekend Headlines for October 6-7, 2018

Trump Celebrates Kavanaugh Victory at Topeka Rally

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is celebrating the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at a political rally in Kansas and condemning Democrats for what he calls a "shameless campaign of political and personal destruction" against Kavanaugh. To cheers of supporters Saturday night in Topeka, Trump says he called Kavanaugh to congratulate him upon his ascendency to the high court. Trump was in Kansas to campaign for Kris Kobach, secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor, and Steve Watkins, the GOP nominee in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Retiring Republican Representative Lynn Jenkins holds the seat, and Democrats hope to flip it. Both joined him on stage at the Kansas Expocentre to speak. Trump has been holding rallies across the country as he tries to boost Republican turnout in November's midterm elections, which will determine which party will control the House and Senate during the second half of Trump's term.

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Debate in Kansas' 4th House Race Turns Heated

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger for Kansas' 4th Congressional House District exchanged barbs and attacked the character of the other in their first debate of the general election. The Wichita Eagle , which sponsored the debate with television station KPTS, reports that Rep. Ron Estes started Friday by pointing to a 2001 incident in which challenger James Thompson pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct for punching a bar patron while working as a bouncer. Thompson said the man hit him first. Thompson fired back, criticizing Estes for accepting donations from political action committees. Thompson said he doesn't accept PAC money. Thompson painted Estes as part of a "do-nothing Congress." Estes said Thompson wants a "big government with higher taxes."

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Fort Scott Hospital Closure Renews Medicaid Debate

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — The closing of a hospital in Fort Scott is reviving the controversy over whether to expand Medicaid in Kansas. Officials announced this week that Fort Scott Mercy Hospital will close by the end of the year. That announcement follows the closing of Mercy's hospital in Independence in 2015. The Kansas City Star reports the decision in Fort Scott, a town of about 8,000 people in southeast Kansas, has medical experts and politicians arguing again about Kansas' refusal to expand Medicaid. Officials with the Fort Scott hospital said reduced reimbursement from federal programs was one of several factors in the decision to close the hospital. The upcoming election could determine if Kansas expands Medicaid. Democrat Sen. Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman favor expansion. Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach opposes it.

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Military Families Angry about Damage, Thefts during Moves

Military families are complaining that this year's base transfers are the worst in memory as movers are destroying, damaging, losing and stealing their household goods. Numerous service families told The Associated Press stories of theft, carelessness and frustration during 2018 transfers, which are done by private companies hired by the military. Nearly 100,000 military members and supporters have signed an online petition demanding improvement to a system that costs taxpayers $2.2 billion annually. The military has no exact statistics on problem moves but says surveys show a slight drop in service members' satisfaction this year. Pentagon spokeswoman Major Carla Gleason said the problems are caused by a nationwide shortage of truck drivers and a low unemployment rate that has "made it very difficult for providers to find quality labor."

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Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Conviction in Bride's Murder

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld a man's conviction in the drive-by shooting of a woman who had just been married. The court said Friday that the Shawnee County District Attorney's office made three errors in the case against 34-year-old Awnterio Dwan Lowery, but concluded they did not deprive Lowery of a fair trial. Lowery was sentenced to consecutive life terms plus nearly 52 years for the death of 42-year old Tiffany Davenport-Ray, of Wichita. Davenport-Ray was fatally shot during the early hours of May 25, 2014. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 41-year-old Thomas Earl Brown Jr., also was convicted of Davenport-Ray's murder and sentenced to life in prison. A third suspect, 26-year-old Jermel Ramond Robbins Sr., was shot to death in southeast Topeka about three weeks after Davenport-Ray was killed.

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Body Found in Basement of Hutchinson Home

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police say a decomposing body has been found in the basement of a Hutchinson home after the tenant complained about a bad smell. The Hutchinson News reports the body was found Thursday evening. It was determined to be a male, but no identification was found and the tenant does not know who it is. Police Capt. Troy Hoover says investigators found no signs of a break-in or a struggle. He says the man might have been a transient. Either the landlord or the tenant found the body while searching for the source of the smell. Hoover said police are waiting on an autopsy. Police have no active missing person reports that might match the individual.

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Wichita Man Found Guilty of Killing Twin, Sister-in-Law

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old Wichita man has been found guilty of capital murder in the shooting deaths of his twin brother and his sister-in-law. A Sedgwick County jury on Friday deliberated only about 90 minutes before convicting Luis Alvarado-Meraz in the January 2015 deaths of 24-year-old Manuel Alvarado-Meraz and 22-year-old Lucero Rodriquez. The Sedgwick County District Attorney says in a news release that the victims were found in a south Wichita apartment after relatives called police to check on them. Manuel was shot 12 times and Lucero was shot eight times. Police say the three lived together in the same apartment. Under Kansas law, Alvarado-Meraz is facing life in prison with no chance of parole. He will be sentenced at a later date.

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Developer: Investigation in KC Spy Camera Case Set Aside

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City developer Dan Lowe says police have recommended setting aside an investigation of a claim made by a former employee that a spy camera was placed under her desk at Legacy Development. Mary Caffrey, of Leawood, Kansas, sued Lowe, Legacy Development and others in May. She alleged that she was fired after she called police when she found the camera. In response to the lawsuit, Lowe's lawyers submitted a police department report that says a detective recommended deactivating the case because no evidence was found from the spy camera. David Churbuck, a public relations spokesman who sent a statement Friday on Lowe's behalf, said Lowe denies Caffrey's allegations and police found no evidence connecting Lowe to the camera. Caffrey's attorney, Rik Siro, told The Kansas City Star that he would file a response to Lowe's filing soon.

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Kansas Regents Revise University Enrollment Numbers

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents revised enrollment numbers released earlier this week. Regents spokesman Matt Keith says a data team detected some calculation errors and made revisions to the numbers. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the changes show the total number of students enrolled in all six state universities was down 540 students, rather than the 95 originally reported. It also means Kansas, Kansas State and Pittsburg State all recorded declining enrollment. It had been reported that Kansa State was up by 102 students but its enrollment actually declined 601. This was the first time the regents used a full-time equivalency formula to count students, rather than the traditional headcount. Full-time equivalency counts credit hours and converts them with a formula that the average undergraduate takes 15 hours a semester and the average graduate student takes 12 hours.

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Convicted Kansas Rapist Commits Suicide Following Arrest

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Reno County officials say a 58-year-old convicted sex offender has killed himself in jail after he was charged with sexual exploitation of a child. Sheriff Randy Henderson said Gary Robbins was found unresponsive in the county jail Friday. He was pronounced dead after jail staff tried unsuccessfully to revive him. Robbins has been in jail on a parole violation since Sept. 19. He was charged Wednesday with the child sex crime. Henderson says no one was near Robbins when he died and a preliminary KBI investigation suggests his injuries were self-inflicted. KAKE-TV reports Robbins was sentenced in Sedgwick County in 1993 for rape, aggravated sodomy and indecent liberties with a child, and had other convictions. He was last paroled in December of 2017.

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Woman Charged with Theft from Overland Park PTA

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old woman has been charged with stealing money from the PTA at an Overland Park Elementary School. The Kansas City Star reports Kelli Angela Ridgway was booked into the Johnson County Jail Thursday on a charge of felony theft. She was released later after posting bond. The charges in Johnson County District Court allege that Ridgway stole between $1,500 and $25,000 in November 2016 from the PTA at John Diemer  Elementary School. No attorney for Ridgway is listed in court records. Her initial court appearance is scheduled for October 16th.

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KU Chancellor: Higher Ed Needs More Funding

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas' chancellor is asking gubernatorial candidates and lawmakers to provide more funding to higher education. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU Chancellor Douglas Girod has been holding meetings to urge the Legislature to approve the Kansas Board of Regents' $85 million budget request. University of Kansas campuses would receive about $33 million if the budget is approved. Girod says the state's new governor in January will define what this legislative session will look like. He says Kansas education officials are simply asking for the restoration of funding the Legislature cut in 2008. Girod says the university has faced challenges since announcing plans to cut $20 million from its budget by leaving many vacant faculty positions unfilled and implementing a buyout program for older faculty members.

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GOP Hopes Trump's Topeka Visit Will Boost Watkins

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas Republicans say they are hoping President Donald Trump's visit to Topeka Saturday will boost Steve Watkins' campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat. The Kansas City Star reports Watkins' campaign is facing scrutiny over exaggerated claims he has made during his campaign, and because he is a political newcomer who was unknown before he won August's primary. Watkins has tied himself to Trump throughout the campaign in a district Trump won by 17 percentage points in 2016. Watkins' Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, is a former state lawmaker who won the district while running for governor in 2014. Saturday's rally is the first time a president has campaigned for a candidate in the 2nd District since George W. Bush attended a rally for then-Rep. Jim Ryun in 2006.

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Kobach Backs Kavanaugh Ahead of Trump's Kansas Visit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach is voicing support for Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court ahead of President Donald Trump's rally in Topeka to boost Kobach's campaign for governor. Kobach said Friday that Kavanaugh's reputation has been "trashed" during Senate confirmation hearings and the review of Kavanaugh's past as a prep school student is "character assassination." Kobach said he believes Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford was sincere in testifying that Kavanaugh tried to rape her at a high school gathering in 1982, but that she may have "misremembered" the incident. The Senate could vote on Kavanaugh's nomination Saturday, the same day Trump will rally with Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, and GOP congressional candidate Steve Watkins. Kavanaugh has angrily denied the allegation.

 

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