Headlines for Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Severe Weather Could Snarl Holiday Travel
CHICAGO (AP) — Severe weather could snag holiday travel with a strong storm system that's delivering heavy rains in Gulf states and possibly through the East Coast, and threatening snow in the Great Lakes. Snow from another system fell in some Midwestern states Tuesday, including nearly 2 feet in South Dakota's Black Hills. Wind and blowing snow shut down Interstate 70 from eastern Colorado into western Kansas. Severe thunderstorms with the potential of tornadoes developed in Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana. Rain was expected through Wednesday in some Mid-Atlantic and New England states. Philadelphia saw some flight delays. The National Weather Service predicts Christmas Eve snow from Missouri to Michigan. Three inches of snow could fall in Chicago, where O'Hare International Airport expects more than 3 million holiday travelers.
Kansas, Arizona Seek Rehearing in Voter Citizenship Lawsuit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas and Arizona have asked an appeals court for a rehearing of its ruling that their residents can register to vote using a federal form without having proof of citizenship. A petition filed late Monday contends the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overlooked certain issues when it sided against the states in November. The federal appeals court ruled that Kansas and Arizona cannot demand federal election officials to help them enforce state laws requiring new voters to submit a birth certificate, passport or other papers documenting U.S. citizenship. The court overturned an order from a federal judge in Kansas that had required the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to modify its form to require those documents. The federal commission's spokesman did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday seeking comment.
ACLU Sues After Ferguson Protester Gets Detention
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Kansas City school district over its punishment of a student who displayed the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture while Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was giving a speech. Nixon was at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy last month when 14 students held up their hands in protest of the Ferguson police shooting. The ACLU sued Monday on behalf of the mother of one of the students. The suit said the Saturday detention the woman's daughter was ordered to serve violated the girl's First Amendment right to free speech. The Kansas City Star reported that the district has said students faced discipline for refusing to sit down, not for exercising their right to free expression. The district didn't immediately respond to The Associated Press.
KDHE Says New Virus Found After Resident's Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Health officials say a new virus has been discovered following the death of a southeast Kansas resident this summer and they believe it is carried by ticks or other insects. The state Department of Health and Environment said Monday that testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control confirmed the presence of what's now called the Bourbon virus. It's named for Bourbon County, where the victim lived. KDHE spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow said it's the only confirmed case of the virus. Rosenow said it's not clear exactly how the virus contributed to the patient's death. The department declined to identify the Kansas resident who died, saying it wanted to protect the patient and family members. The department said the patient's symptoms resembled those from other tick-carried diseases.
**More information on this story is available from the KHI News Service.
Riley County Ending Most DUI Processing Videos
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police say they've mainly stopped using processing room videos in drunken driving cases because they often are detrimental to their cases. Police Director Brad Schoen says defense attorneys often used the video recordings to poke holes in DUI cases, so his department stopped making them unless there was a problem with recordings from police vehicles. The Manhattan Mercury reports County Commissioner David Lewis asked about the department's recording policy after being contacted by a defense attorney who said the videos were becoming scarcer. Schoen says it doesn't make sense to make the processing room tapes when recordings from police cruisers are enough to establish probable cause. Attorney Jeremy Platt called the department's policy on the recordings "antiquated."
Kansas Senate President Creates Panel, Selects Two New Chairmen
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle has created a new committee to handle criminal justice issues and named new chairmen for two other panels. Wagle announced the changes Monday. She is a Wichita Republican, and all committee leaders are Republicans because of the GOP's 32-to-8 majority. Wagle created a Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. Criminal justice issues have been handled by the Judiciary Committee, but it's long been seen as overburdened. The new committee's chairman is Sen. Greg Smith of Overland Park. Wagle named Sen. Rob Olson of Olathe as Utilities Committee chairman. He replaces former Sen. Pat Apple of Louisburg, who now serves on the state's utility regulatory commission. Olson gave up the chairmanship of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. It went to Sen. Jeff Longbine of Emporia.
Homicide Suspect Says Victim Begged to Die
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Court records say a Lawrence health care attendant who is charged in the killing of man with cerebral palsy told authorities the victim wanted to die. Forty-eight-year-old Ronald Eugene Heskett, of Eudora, is charged with first-degree murder in the asphyxiation death of Vance Moulton. The 65-year-old had a towel around his head when he was found dead in September. The newly released affidavit says Heskett told investigators that Moulton repeatedly begged to be killed. The Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/1CvkTrz ) reports that Heskett said he gave in after Moulton said "he just wanted to walk with his mother again." Heskett says he twisted a towel around Moulton's neck and told him to lay on it. Defense attorney Mike Warner said he didn't want to comment until he finished reviewing the police investigation.
Kansas Agriculture Department to Host Farmers Market Event
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Agriculture Department says the more than 130 farmers markets across the state are economic engines for communities. The agriculture department said in a news release Monday that it is teaming up with the Kansas Department of Health to host a farmers market conference next year that aims to help those community markets succeed. The two-day conference begins February 28 in Manhattan. Stacy Mayo is director of the department's 'From the Land of Kansas' program. She says the conference is designed to strengthen markets by providing information, resources and tools. The conference includes workshops and sessions designed to help farmers market managers, vendors and community stakeholders.
Topeka Man Sentenced to 'Hard 50' in 2012 Killing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been ordered to serve a life sentence with no chance of parole for 50 years in a 2012 killing. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Troy Allen Robinson apologized before he was sentenced Monday for the stabbing death of 43-year-old Oma Bennett. A relative of Bennett yelled out that Robinson wasn't sorry and was ordered to be quiet. The Hard 50 sentence was the first imposed in Shawnee County since the Legislature passed a new version of the sentence. Judge Nancy Parrish called the killing "extremely brutal and senseless." She also sentenced Robinson to consecutive sentences of 34 months for aggravated burglary and 12 months for misdemeanor theft. Bennett's family could have sought restitution, but the prosecution said they didn't want anything from Robinson.
Man Sentenced for Stealing Dying Woman's Ring
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old Kansas man has been sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for stealing the wedding ring from the hand of a dying woman last year in the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant. The Wichita Eagle reports Sedgwick County District Judge Christopher Magana sentenced Keith Byron Hickles Jr. on Monday to 94 months. He was one of three men convicted of stealing items from 43-year-old Danielle Zimmerman after she suffered a brain aneurysm on December 29 in the drive-thru of a Wichita Taco Bell. Zimmerman, who had gone to the restaurant to get dinner for herself, her husband and two teenage sons, crashed her truck into the speaker box. She died the next day. Police recovered her purse December 30, but the ring remains missing.
Koch Industries Completes Purchase of Oplink Communications
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A subsidiary of Koch Industries has completed its acquisition of optical network device company Oplink Communications Incorporated. The companies announced Tuesday that Koch Optics has acquired 14,701,501 shares at a price of $24.25 per share. The deal represents about 83.8 percent of Optlink's outstanding shares. Last month's tender offer for all of Oplink's outstanding shares expired on Monday. The companies subsequently completed the merger, effective Tuesday, without a vote or meeting of Oplink's shareholders. Oplink survives as a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. Its shares ceased trading on the NASDAQ Global Market prior to the Tuesday's opening. Wichita, Kansas,-based Koch Industries owns companies in various industries such as chemicals, refining, forest and consumer products, fertilizers, electronic components, minerals and energy. Oplink is based in Fremont, California.