Headlines for Friday, December 5, 2014
Stegall Takes Seat on Kansas Supreme Court
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Caleb Stegall is now a justice of the Kansas Supreme Court after serving as a lower-court judge and as a top aide to Governor Sam Brownback. The Supreme Court had a special session Friday for Stegall's swearing in. Brownback and dozens of other people attended the ceremony. Brownback elevated the 43-year-old Stegall to state's highest court in August after naming him to the Kansas Court of Appeals last year. Previously, Stegall served as Brownback's chief counsel. Before joining the administration in January 2011, Stegall was Jefferson County's elected prosecutor for two years. It is the Republican governor's first appointment to the seven-member Supreme Court. Stegall replaced former Justice Nancy Moritz. She left to for a seat on the federal appeals court for Kansas and five other western and Plains states.
Lawyer Sees Issue with Kansas School Case, New Justice
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for four school districts suing Kansas over education funding says the state Supreme Court's newest justice should remove himself from the case on appeal. Attorney John Robb said Friday that Justice Caleb Stegall participated in two days of mediation over the lawsuit in 2013 and represented Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Stegall was sworn in as a justice Friday and declined to comment afterward. He is a former chief counsel for the governor. Four school districts and the parents of more than 30 students filed the lawsuit in 2010. A three-judge Shawnee County District Court panel is considering whether the state is spending enough money on public schools to provide an adequate education for every child. Attorneys expect an appeal to the Supreme Court regardless.
Trial Delayed in Killing of Lawrence Man
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The trial of a young woman charged with killing her 52-year-old roommate in Lawrence will not be held in January as scheduled. Prosecution and defense attorneys agreed on Thursday to delay the first-degree murder trial of 20-year-old Sarah Gonzales McLinn, which was scheduled to start January 5. McLinn is charged with killing and nearly decapitating 52-year-old Harold M. Sasko in January at his home. McLinn's attorney has said he is seeking a plea deal because his client has a mental illness and has never denied killing Sasko. The court will set a new trial date at her next court appearance on December 18.
Ex-Fort Riley Soldier to Appeal Murder Conviction
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - An ex-Fort Riley soldier will appeal his first-degree murder conviction next week to the Kansas Supreme Court. Daniel Parker was sentenced to life in prison in October 2013 for the death of a 21-year-old Frederick Beverly at a Manhattan clubhouse. Prosecutors say a bullet fired from Parker's M4 rifle ricocheted off a metal fence and hit Beverly at a New Year's party in 2012. Prosecutor Barry Disney said Parker was charged with first-degree murder because Kansas law allows it for a felony act that is inherently dangerous, even there is no intent to kill anyone. Parker said he was intoxicated during the shooting but Riley County District Court Judge David Stutzman said voluntary intoxication was not a defense.
Planned Parenthood Drops Kansas Abortion Lawsuit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood says it has dropped a federal lawsuit challenging a Kansas rule for websites operated by abortion providers. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil issued a one-page order Friday closing the lawsuit filed last year. A trial had been scheduled to begin Monday in Kansas City, Kansas. Vratil's order said the state and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri had settled the case. But Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Elise Higgins said in an email that the group voluntarily dismissed its case. A requirement enacted by legislators in 2013 says abortion providers must have a link on their website home pages to state materials about abortion and fetal development. Planned Parenthood argued its free-speech rights were violated. The state argued the rule was in line with its power to regulate medicine.
KU Hires New Football Coach
LAWRENCE, Kan. – David Beaty, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M, has been hired as the head football coach at the University of Kansas. Beaty arrives in Lawrence with more than 20 years of coaching experience, including two previous stints as an assistant coach with the Jayhawks. KU officials will formally introduce Beaty at a press conference Monday. Beaty is taking over the KU program after spending the three previous seasons as the Aggies’ wide receivers coach. He also served as A&M’s recruiting coordinator during the 2013-14 seasons. Acting head coach Clint Bowen has agreed to stay on as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Prosecutors to Dismiss Case in KC Airport Threat
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal prosecutors plan to dismiss charges against a man who allegedly made a threat at Kansas City International Airport on the 2011 anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Prosecutors say that Anthony Falco Jr. suffers from schizophrenia and is not likely to become competent to stand trial. Federal prison authorities have twice determined Falco is not a danger to society, which prevents him from being committed to a mental institution without his consent. Prosecutors say that forces them to ask a judge to dismiss the indictment. Falco, whose last known address was East Petersburg, Pennsylvania, was taken into custody September 11, 2011, when he was accused of trying to carry bags filled with fake bombs through an airport checkpoint.
Pittsburg State to Open New Performing Arts Center
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — After more than 30 years of waiting, Pittsburg State University plans to officially open its new performing arts center. The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts will open Sunday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the building. The Joplin Globe reports the center will be the university's first specific performance venue since 1978, when Carney Hall was closed and razed because of deterioration. The $33 million performing arts center will include a 1,100-seat performance hall and a 2,000-square-foot art gallery. It also will offer a grand lobby, reception hall, multi-use rehearsal space and a 250-seat theater.
MU Health, Kansas Company to Buy County Hospital
FULTON, Mo. (AP) — University of Missouri Health Care and a Kansas company plan to buy Callaway County Hospital in Fulton, Missouri. MU Health announced Thursday that it will partner with Nueterra, a health care management company based in Leawood, Kansas, to buy the hospital. Nueterra will be majority owner of the acute-care hospital with 37 beds. The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the buyers plan to extensively renovate the hospital and add technology and service lines.
Judge Blocks University of Kansas Records Release
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has temporarily blocked the University of Kansas from releasing emails and other documents to a group seeking to explore potential ties between a research center and the billionaire Koch brothers. Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild issued an order Thursday after Art Hall, executive director of the Center for Applied Economics filed a lawsuit against the university. Hall seeks to block the university from releasing emails and other documents to Students for a Sustainable Future. The group says it wants to examine the relationship between Hall, the center and businessmen and conservative political donors Charles and David Koch. Hall said he's attempting to protect academic freedom. Vice Chancellor Tim Caboni said the university was being careful in what it released while complying with the Kansas Open Records Act.
Driver Charged with Murder in Somali Teen's Death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An SUV driver accused of deliberately running down a Muslim teenager in Kansas City has been charged with murder in a case that's being investigated by federal authorities to determine whether it was a hate crime. Thirty-four-year-old Ahmed H. Aden was charged Friday in Jackson County (Missouri) in the crash outside a Somali community center that killed 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein. Prosecutors are requesting a $250,000 bond. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. A probable cause statement says Aden was driving the sport utility vehicle night that hit the teen as he got into a car Thursday evening. Aden is accused of backing up and running over the teen, whose legs were nearly severed. The teen died in a hospital of his wounds.
New Trial Ordered in 2000 Atchison County Murder
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man convicted of murder in a 2000 death in Atchison County will get a new trial. A Kansas Court of Appeals panel said in an opinion issued Friday that it upheld a county court's decision to order a new trial for Kirk Wilson in the March 2000 shotgun death of 38-year-old Kurt Boldridge. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Wilson is serving a Hard 25 sentence after being convicted in 2001. The Atchison County court ordered a new trial last year, saying Wilson's attorney was ineffective. The state appealed that ruling. Boldridge was shot in the head as he slept at his rural Atchison home in March 2000. Wilson was one of four people, including the victim's ex-wife, who were convicted in the homicide.
Former Debate Coach Released from Prison
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A former debate coach imprisoned for molesting a foreign exchange student will be released from prison. A Reno County judge on Friday granted a plea deal allowing the release of 76-year-old Richard Young, a former debate coach at Buhler High School. The Kansas Court of Appeals recently overturned Young's convictions and the plea deal avoids a new trial. Officials determined Young completed his sentence Nov. 29 and a judge signed an order releasing him for the Reno County jail. Young must register as a sexual offender and be supervised for life. The Hutchinson News reports that Young's alleged crimes involved a 15-year-old South Korean exchange student who lived with Young. The Kansas Court of Appeals reversed Young's convictions in 2012, finding prosecutors improperly introduced evidence at his trial.
Lawyers Reach Settlement in Medical Records Case
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lawyers have asked a Jackson County (Missouri) judge to approve a $400,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed when personal medical records that were put in the trash were blown by winds across a neighborhood. The Kansas City Star reports the settlement is between Midwest Women's Healthcare Specialists and about 1,500 of its clients. The attorney representing the clients says that lawyers currently don't have any evidence anyone used the information from the May incident for illegal or improper purposes. He says he's pleased an agreement was quickly reached between the parties in the case, which was filed in June. Midwest says it's also pleased with the settlement.
Commission Votes to Maintain KCK Ban on Pit Bulls
An effort to lift a ban on pit bulls in Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County failed Thursday night. Residents on both sides of the issue packed the room as United Government commissioners debated the issue. In the end, they voted to maintain the ban instead of replacing it with a more general vicious dog ordinance. Mayor Mark Holland favored keeping the ban, which was enacted after a pit bull killed a 71-year-old woman working in her garden in 2006. "That's still fresh in the minds of many people." Holland said. "People are afraid of pit bulls and I think we neeed to take that fear seriously.” The proposal to lift the ban was part of a proposed comprehensive re-write of the city’s animal control ordinance. The commission is expected to finish its work on the ordinance at a meeting next month.
KS Transportation Secretary: Highway Projects Will Proceed
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top transportation official in Kansas says highway projects scheduled for 2015 and 2016 will proceed, despite a projected multi-million shortfall in the state's budget. In August, the Kansas Department of Transportation announced $1.2 billion in highway projects for the next two years. In November, the state announced it was expecting a $279 million shortfall for this fiscal year and another $436 million shortfall the following fiscal year. Transportation Secretary Mike King said Wednesday the projects for the next two fiscal years will proceed but he wasn't as certain about 2017. The Wichita Eagle reports some conservative legislators have suggested using money from the highway fund for other state needs. Democrats have warned that doing that would stop the planned highway projects.
Ex-School Counselor in Kansas Sentenced for Rape
SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A former Kansas school counselor was sentenced to almost 14 years for the rape of a 13-year-old male student. Brooke Dinkel was sentenced Thursday to 13 years and nine months, followed by lifetime supervision, for two counts of rape. Before sentencing, Dinkel's attorney unsuccessfully argued for an acquittal, saying Dinkel was mentally unstable and not capable of forming criminal intent. Dinkel claimed at the hearing that the boy raped her. Prosecutors noted Dinkel, who worked at Smoky Valley Middle School in Lindsborg, gave the boy gifts and encouraged the relationship. Saline County District Judge Patrick Thompson departed from a state sentencing guideline of 25 years to life, citing Dinkel's significant psychological issues, her minor criminal history and that the rapes were not forcible.
Missouri Couple Sentenced in $1 Million Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City couple will serve nine years in federal prison without parole for a scheme that targeted financially struggling clients. Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that 43-year-old John Lee Norris and 39-year-old Julie Tina Hatcher defrauded 81 clients. They were each ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. Norris and Hatcher pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to defraud debtors, the victims' lenders and the federal government between August 2010 and June 2013. They also each pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and Hatcher pleaded guilty to disability fraud. Norris and Hatcher promised to help homeowners and others keep their homes and resolve their financial difficulties for monthly payments. They instead spent the payments on personal expenses. Victims were from several states including Missouri and Kansas.
Man Shot by U.S Marshal Identified as Suspect
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Overland Park police say a man shot by U.S. Marshals was a suspect in several felonies in multiple jurisdictions. The man was identified Thursday as 44-year-old Keith D. Angell, of Overland Park. He was shot Wednesday as U.S. Marshals were attempting to arrest him. Details of what prompted the shooting have not been released. He remained in critical condition on Thursday. No officers were injured. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City-area court and prison records show Angell has a criminal history dating back more than 20 years. He is currently wanted for failing to appear in court on various charges in Johnson, Wyandotte and Platte counties.
Man Pleads Guilty to Selling False ID Documents
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Mexican national living in Missouri has pleaded guilty in a conspiracy to sell thousands of fake identifications to people who are in the U.S. illegally. The U.S. Attorney's office says 39-year-old Eriberto Moises Medina-Aranda, of Rayville, pleaded guilty Thursday. Prosecutors say Medina-Aranda helped produce false Social Security cards, false Lawful Permanent Resident cards and false driver's licenses from various states in the U.S. as well as Mexican states from September 2013 to February 2014. Several street dealers then sold the fake identification documents. Medina-Aranda also pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm despite being in the U.S. illegally. He faces up to 25 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. Three other men living in the Kansas City area have already pleaded guilty in the conspiracy.
Tanker Overturns in Downtown Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita authorities say there are no major injuries and no environmental damage after a tanker overturned near downtown but didn't spill its contents. Acting Battalion Chief Chad Winton said that the tanker was carrying 5,000 gallons of an oil additive that isn't very toxic. He says none of the substance spilled. Witnesses say the tanker overturned while the driver attempted to make a U-turn. The driver suffered minor injuries. The driver's identity hasn't been released. No charges have been reported.
Wichita State to Study Safety in Neighborhood
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - After a Wichita woman was raped and burned to death in a nearby park, Wichita State University is planning to discuss safety and improvements in its surrounding neighborhoods. University president John Bardo said Thursday he asked the school's chief lawyer to convene a task force to study the issue. The work will start with the Fairmount Neighborhood south of campus, where Letitia Davis was assaulted and mortally wounded on November 14. But Bardo says other crimes such as assaults, car break-ins and other crimes have been reported, especially south of campus. The Wichita Eagle reported that Ted Ayres, the university's general counsel, said he hopes to quickly set up a small task force that includes neighborhood, city and university personnel.
Kansas Tax Agency Hires House Committee Chairman
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The retiring Taxation Committee chairman in the Kansas House has taken a job with the state Department of Revenue. Department spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said Thursday that Republican Representative Richard Carlson began working Monday as the agency's legislative liaison. Carlson is a 70-year-old farmer and rancher from St. Marys. He was first elected to the House in 2004 but opted not to seek re-election this year. His current, two-year term expires January 12. Koranda said the department thought Carlson's expertise would be helpful in dealing with legislators. The $50,000-a-year liaison's job previously was vacant. As Taxation Committee chairman, Carlson helped push personal income tax reductions through the Legislature in 2012 and 2013. GOP Governor Sam Brownback advocated the reductions as a way to stimulate the economy.
Laura Bush to Speak at Pittsburg State in April
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Former first lady Laura Bush is coming to southeast Kansas in the spring to speak during Pittsburg State University's Women in Government Lecture Series. The university says Bush will speak on education, literacy, volunteerism and human rights on April 22 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Ticket prices and their availability will be announced early in the spring semester. Previous participants in the Women in Government series include former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, human rights activist Kerry Kennedy, White House correspondent Helen Thomas and Kansas Supreme Court Justice Kay McFarland. The lecture series at Pittsburg State began in 2001 through a gift to the school from the Helen S. Boylan Foundation, which provided a special grant to bring Bush to the campus.
Chiefs' Charles Available Sunday vs Cardinals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles will be available for Sunday's game at Arizona despite bruising his knee in last weekend's loss to the Broncos. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that Charles did not miss a snap all week in practice and will start against the Cardinals. Charles had just 10 carries for 35 yards against Denver. Reid said that wide receiver Junior Hemingway and defensive lineman Allen Bailey are out after sustaining concussions. Hemingway has struggled to get on the field most of the season, but Bailey has become valuable for a defense that has struggled to stop the run. Vance Walker and Kevin Vickerson are expected to replace Bailey in the lineup.
Royals Announce 2-Year Deal for Hochevar
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals confirmed in an announcement Thursday that the team has completed a $10 million, two-year contract with right-hander Luke Hochevar that includes a mutual option for 2017. The Royals decided to sign the former No. 1 overall draft pick to a multiyear deal in part because he is coming off Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss last season, and it's unclear how quickly he will be back to full strength.
Baylor Battling Kansas State for Big 12 Football Title
WACO, Texas (AP) — The stakes are high for both Kansas State and Baylor heading into tomorrow's showdown in Waco. Fifth-ranked Baylor is again finishing at home with a chance to win another Big 12 title. K-State is also trying to win another Big 12 title. The Wildcats had a miserable night on their last visit to Baylor two years ago, when they lost 52-24. The defending champion, fifth-ranked, Baylor Bears can make a strong case for inclusion in the new four-team national playoff with a win Saturday night over ninth-ranked Kansas State.