Headlines for Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Hutchinson Police Shoot and Kill Suspect in Woman's Death
NICKERSON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say law enforcement officers shot and killed a man suspected in the death of a woman whose body was found in a Reno County creek. Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson and Hutchinson police Captain Troy Hoover say in a statement that the 22-year-old man was shot early today (TUE) at a home in Hutchinson. Officers say the suspect, Jonathan Wilson, was in a home with three small children when he began threatening the officers and breaking windows. The children were safely removed from the home. Authorities say a person at the home said Wilson confessed to killing the woman. Her body was found Monday afternoon in a creek near Nickerson. Her identity has not been released. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation into the man's shooting.
UPDATE: KU Chancellor Donates Pay Increase to School
(LAWRENCE, Kan.) - The chancellor of the University of Kansas is joining the presidents of four other state universities in giving up her annual pay increase. KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson says Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has regularly made gifts to the university in excess of her annual salary increase and plans to do the same again this year. The Kansas Board of Regents recently approved 2% pay hikes for university presidents. The leaders of Wichita State, Kansas State, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State have already said they intend to decline the raise or donate that money back to their schools.
Court Throws Out Some Convictions in Kansas "Pill Mill" Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has thrown out some convictions against a former Kansas doctor and his wife accused of a moneymaking conspiracy at a pain clinic linked to 68 overdose deaths. But the ruling Monday does not end legal troubles for Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, because much of the case remains. The couple was convicted in 2010 of conspiracy to commit health care fraud resulting in those deaths, unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud and money laundering. Schneider was sentenced to 30 years and his wife 33 years. The court also overturned the conspiracy sentence following an unrelated U.S. Supreme Court decision that the victim's drug use had to be the actual cause of death, not merely a contributing factor. At least one remaining count carries a mandatory 20-year sentence.
Topeka Police Search for People Who Fled Crash
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say three people fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident, forcing the evacuation of a Topeka high school. Shawnee County Sheriff's Lieutenant Danny Lotridge told The Topeka Capital-Journal that one person was taken into custody near the scene of the accident, which occurred Tuesday afternoon. Three other people fled. Employees were evacuated from the Topeka High School after a person matching the description of the driver reportedly entered the building. Law enforcement searched the building but didn't find anyone. Employees were allowed back later Tuesday afternoon. The crash occurred when two cars collided in traffic. The driver of one of the cars suffered minor injuries but didn't seek medical treatment. Police said the other car fled the scene before coming to a stop when the three fled.
Education Dept. Extends No Child Left Behind Waivers for Kansas
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia more flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. In addition to the nation's capital, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has renewed waivers for Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, and West Virginia. Current law requires standardized tests in reading and math to measure student progress. With the waivers, schools in those states will be able come up with different ways to demonstrate improvement. The 2002 landmark law required annual testing and put into place consequences for schools that didn't show progress. It led to complaints that teachers were forced to teach to the tests, and that some of the mandates weren't realistic. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have waivers.
Official: Kansas, Missouri Close to Ending Economic War
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State Commerce Secretary Pat George says Kansas is close to reaching an agreement with Missouri that could end poaching of businesses between the two states. Missouri and Kansas have competed for several years by offering incentives to persuade businesses to move across the border. The moves often did not result in many new jobs or investments for either state. George says local and state officials from both states have been meeting to discuss the issue. He says the main hurdle is removing incentives that don't produce economic growth without slowing the states' ability to attract new companies or persuade businesses not to move to another state. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that George says he isn't sure if the negotiators will announce an agreement before he resigns in July.
Kansas Board Mulls Casino Developer for Competitive Market
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas board is preparing to decide which of three proposals for a new casino in the state's southeast corner it believes would best withstand strong competition from tribal gambling operations in Oklahoma. The board expected to decide Tuesday evening among Castle Rock Casino Resort, Frontenac Development and Kansas Crossing. Kansas law allows one casino in either Crawford or Cherokee counties operated for the state lottery. The new venture will have to compete with 12 tribal casinos within 70 miles in northeast Oklahoma. Castle Rock's proposal is the largest at nearly $145 million and would be built near a Quapaw casino just across the Oklahoma line. Frontenac Development is proposing an $84 million project north of Pittsburg. Kansas Crossing is proposing a $70 million project south of Pittsburg.
Third Defendant Pleads No Contest in Kansas Couple's Deaths
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Another defendant has pleaded no contest in the 2013 shooting deaths of a Kansas couple. KSN-TV reports that Andrew Ellington pleaded no contest Tuesday to first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the deaths of Roger and Melissa Bluml. The Blumls, the adoptive parents of Ellington's friend, Anthony Bluml, were shot outside their Valley Center home in November 2013. Melissa Bluml died the next day. Her husband died about five weeks later. Anthony Bluml and his biological mother, Kisha Schaberg, pleaded no contest last week to capital murder. A witness testified that Schaberg and her son devised and executed a plot to rob and kill the Blumls over hatred and for money. Another man, Braden Smith, is also charged with capital murder in the case. Ellington's sentencing is August 27.
2 Men Accused of Staging False Accident in Reno County
SYLVIA, Kan. (AP) — Reno County authorities are considering charges against two men accused of pretending to be car crash victims. District Attorney Keith Schroeder says several Reno County agencies responded to a call Sunday about two accident victims lying on the side of the road near Sylvia. The sheriff's office says when first responders arrived, the two men got up and told them it was a prank and left the scene. Deputies got the suspects' license plate number and are tracking them down. Sergeant Corey Graber says the sheriff's office expects the two men to face a few charges, including reporting a false crime. He says two aren't in custody. The district attorney said he intends to seek jail time to send a message that people can't pull pranks that involve important resources.
Kansas Parole Board Denies Parole for 1984 Murder
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Parole Board has denied parole for a man convicted of killing a Nickerson man in 1984. Pickerill has been denied parole for his conviction in the 1984 death of Nickerson resident Richard Wilson. He was sentenced to two life terms and has spent 30 years in prison for first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. He won't be eligible for parole again until June 2017. Adam Pfannenstiel, communications director for the Kansas Department of Corrections, says parole was denied because of the violent nature of the crime. Pickerill is accused of murdering Wilson, wounding his wife, Peggy, and then kidnapping her daughter and granddaughter. This was Pickerill's first time before the parole board.
Return of Hot, Dry Weather Jump Starts Kansas Wheat Harvest
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The return of mostly dry, hot weather this weekend has jump started the stalled winter wheat harvest. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 8 percent had been harvested as of Sunday. Normally by this late in the season, about 33 percent of the wheat is in the bin. Last year at this time 21 percent had already been cut. About 51 percent of the wheat in Kansas is now mature. Wheat harvest is now in full swing across most of Kansas, with the possible exception of northwest Kansas and the northern tier counties. Aaron Harries, marketing director for the industry group Kansas Wheat, says yields are better that expected relative to the very poor yields that had been expected early this spring. Better-than-expected doesn't mean above average.
Black Bear Sighted in Southeast Kansas
WEIR, Kan. (AP) — Kansas park officials say a black bear has been seen recently in southeast Kansas. David Jenkins, of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, told The Cherokee County News Advocate that a black bear was spotted near the town of Weir on Saturday and on Sunday near Galena. He says it's likely the same bear. Jenkins says black bears aren't typically seen in Kansas, but their numbers have been growing in the Ozarks since Arkansas began a restoration effort 50 years ago. He says every now and then a young male will wander to a nearby state. Kansas doesn't have a hunting season for bears, and they may not be killed without reason. Landowners can destroy wildlife, including bears, found in or near buildings or when destroying property.
Kansas Lawmakers Urge Review of Federal Health Overhaul
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — More than 70 Republican legislators in Kansas are urging GOP leaders in Congress to re-examine the federal health care overhaul after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a key provision. State Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook of Shawnee and Representative Dan Hawkins of Wichita released the letter Monday. They are the leaders of the Legislature's health committees. The letter was dated June 16 and addressed to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Twenty-five other Republican state senators and 44 other GOP Kansas House members signed the letter. It urges Congress to "reconsider or re-examine" the 2010 federal health care law. The nation's highest court is considering the legality of federal subsidies for consumers in states like Kansas that don't have their own online health insurance marketplaces.
Attorney for Suspect in 4 Kansas Deaths Wants Trial Moved
OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — The attorney for a man charged with four deaths at a Kansas farm wants the trial moved to a different county. The attorney for 30-year-old Kyle Flack of Ottawa has filed a motion to move the capital murder trial out of Franklin County. Flack is charged with murder and rape after two men, a woman and her daughter were found dead near Ottawa in 2013. Flack has pleaded not guilty. The motion for a change of venue contends Flack cannot get a fair trial in Franklin County because pretrial publicity has prejudiced potential jurors. The motion doesn't name a preferred new site for the trial. A motion hearing is scheduled June 30 to determine whether court documents sealed by judges should be unsealed.
Wal-Mart Removing Confederate Flag Items from Stores, Online
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart says it is removing any items from its store shelves and website that feature the Confederate flag. The announcement by the world's biggest retailer Monday comes as the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, have reignited the debate over the flag's symbolism. The white suspect in the shooting, Dylann Storm Roof, appeared in photos holding the banner. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Monday that the flag should be removed from the statehouse grounds, acknowledging that to many the flag is a "deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past." In a statement, Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart says its goal is to not offend anyone with the products it offers.
Kansas City Police Say Fake Uber Driver Picked Up Couple
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating a couple's complaint that a man claiming to be an Uber driver picked them up and then took off with the woman in the car. The couple says they were trying to get a taxi early Saturday in the Westport entertainment district when a man saying he was driving for Uber offered them a ride. They told police when they got to their destination, the man got out and the driver sped off with the 23-year-old St. Louis woman, who was asleep. The driver eventually let her out and she was able to walk to her destination. The Kansas City Star reports (http://bit.ly/1vVbKVz ) Uber policy and Kansas City ordinance prohibits ride-sharing drivers from picking up passengers without being called through an app or other device.
Milk Production in Kansas More than Doubled in Past 20 Years
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say milk production in Kansas has more than doubled in the past two decades. Cows in Kansas produced 3.1 billion pounds of milk in 2014, an increase of 181 percent compared to 1994. It's also an increase of 6.1 percent compared to the year before. Milk production has increased by at least 5 percent each year since 2012. The Kansas Department of Agriculture says the state has one of the fastest growth rates in the country. The department says Kansas produced enough milk in 2014 for 350 million one-gallon jugs, with a value of around $746 million. Kansas has about 325 dairies and 143,000 cows.