Headlines for Sunday, March 1, 2015
Kansas Legislators Take Break
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are on break until Wednesday. State lawmakers usually take several days off after the "turnaround" deadline that passed Friday. Most bills that have not been approved by their chamber of origin were discarded after the Friday deadline. Lawmakers passed a raft of legislation leading up to the deadline with a total of 97 bills passed by the two chambers last week. Thursday was the Legislature's 46th day out of 90 scheduled. When lawmakers return Wednesday, it will be the 47th day of the schedule. Lawmakers don't get paid while they are on break. They plan to remain in session until April 3rd, known as "drop dead day," then return April 29th after a long spring break to wrap up their business for the year.
Kansas Lawmakers Pass Raft of Bills Prior to Deadline
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have reached the midpoint of their annual session having advanced gun-rights and teacher collective bargaining proposals but having left measures to legalize medical marijuana, expand the Medicaid program and restrict fracking to languish. Most bills had to be passed out of their chamber of origin be automatically discarded after Friday's "turnaround" deadline. House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, said in a statement Thursday that he was pleased with the chamber's work to pass 35 bills over the three day period leading up to the deadline. The Senate passed 60 bills in the two days before the deadline — half of them in a nearly nine hour session that stretched from the Thursday afternoon to just before midnight.
Former Kansas Superintendent and 2 Others Sue over Firings
GARDNER, Kan. (AP) — A superintendent and two of his top administrators who were fired last year are suing the Gardner-Edgerton School district in northeast Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that former superintendent Bill Gilhaus and subordinates Christy Ziegler and Lana Gerber allege in federal court that they were wrongfully discharged. The two women further allege they were victims of sexual discrimination and harassment. Specifically, they allege that they were subjected to demeaning comments and treatment by two school board members. The former administrators are seeking unspecified monetary damages, although Gilhaus said he lost at least $580,000 as a result of the board action. School district spokeswoman Leann Northway didn't return a phone call from The Associated Press on Friday evening.
Topeka Man Pleads No Contest to Capital Murder
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man whose capital murder conviction was overturned has pleaded no contest to killing two women in Topeka in 2003. King Phillip Amman Reu-El, who was known as Phillip Cheatham Junior, avoided the death penalty by pleading no contest Friday to capital murder and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of a third woman. . Amman Reu-El was convicted of capital murder in 2005 and sentenced to death but the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, saying he had ineffective counsel. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor said Friday the time Amman Reu-El has already served will apply to his sentence. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that means Amman Reu-El could be eligible for parole after he serves 25 years. He will be sentenced March 20th.
Suspect in Lawrence Man's Death Rejects Plea Agreement
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A woman charged with killing her housemate in Lawrence last year has rejected two plea agreements and will go to trial in March. Attorney Carl Cornwell said during a hearing Friday that 20-year-old Sarah Gonzalez McLinn was offered plea deals on Wednesday and Friday but rejected them both. She is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the January 2014 death of 52-year-old Harold Sasko. Investigators say they found Sasko bound to a chair and nearly decapitated. Sasko owned Cici's Pizza restaurants in Topeka and Lawrence and McLinn had worked for him. McLinn was found more than a week later in Everglades National Park in Florida. Cornwell plans to use a not guilty by mental disease or defect defense in the trial, which is scheduled to start March 16th.
Stolen Goods from Joyland Park Found with Louie the Clown
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police found several items stolen from the closed Joyland amusement park in the same home where they recovered Louie the Clown. Police last week returned to a home where the iconic clown statue was recovered and found items as ghosts and tombstones from Whacky Shack and Porky the Paper Eater. According to the Wichita Eagle, a police report lists $26,100 in property taken from the amusement park between 2006 and 2008. Wichita police say some of the items have been recovered but others are still missing. Louie the Clown greeted visitors for years before the park closed. The statue had been missing for nearly a decade when it was found Feb. 17 at the home of 39-year-old Damian Mayes, a convicted sex offender who once worked at the park.
Woman Sentenced to Almost 14 Years for Husband's Death
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A Pittsburg woman has been sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison for fatally shooting her husband in 2013. Carla Moutz was sentenced Friday for second-degree murder and aggravated assault for the death of her husband, 49-year-old John Moutz, at her father's home in Pittsburg. She was charged with first-degree murder but accepted a plea deal in January. The Joplin Globe reports prosecutors say Moutz shot her after an alcohol-fueled argument.
Man Dies in Fire at Topeka Home
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka fire officials say a 30-year-old Topeka man died in a fire early Saturday. The man's name has not been released. Topeka Fire Marshal Mike Martin says the man was found just inside the house's front door. He was taken to a hospital but died a short time later. The victim lived alone. No one else was hurt. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Martin estimated the fire caused $20,000 in damage.
KU Forward Alexander to Miss Game vs Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas forward Cliff Alexander was held out of Saturday's win over Texas after questions were raised about the five-star freshman's eligibility. The school announced its decision less than 2 hours before tipoff. KU won the game 69-64. Alexander has started the last five games for the eighth-ranked Jayhawks (22-6, 11-4), who are closing in on their 11th straight Big 12 title. He is averaging 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds while giving Kansas much-needed muscle in the paint. Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger said that the NCAA alerted the school to a potential issue with Alexander, and "as a precautionary measure, Cliff will not take the court until we have resolved this issue." The Jayhawks play Number 20 West Virginia Tuesday night. They wrap up the regular season at Number 16 Oklahoma next weekend.