Headlines for Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Heavy Storms Hit Kansas City Area
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Storms packing heavy rain hit northeast Kansas and the Kansas City area, spawning at least two tornadoes, but there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries. The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties, here in Kansas, and Clay and Jackson counties in Missouri. A tornado was reported over Eudora, pulling down trees and power lines. A tornado was also reported over Liberty, Missouri. Flash flood warnings were issued for the region, after about 3 inches of rain fell. Much of our listening area remains under a FLASH FLOOD WATCH through tomorrow (WED) night.
Kansas Opens State Workers' Health Plan to Same-Sex Spouses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The health insurance plan for Kansas state government workers is allowing married gay and lesbian couples to obtain coverage for their spouses. Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman Sara Belfry says the health plan began accepting coverage applications Tuesday. The department's policy change follows the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation. Kansas had banned gay marriage. Governor Sam Brownback said last week his administration was reviewing the ruling and studying its implications before extending benefits to same-sex married couples. Belfry says the legal review led the department to open the state employees' health plan to gay and lesbian spouses. The state employees' health plan covers about 104,000 people. Belfry says the state isn't sure how many more will be added.
Kansas Allows Driver's License Changes for Same-Sex Spouses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is allowing married gay and lesbian residents to change their last names on their driver's licenses. Department of Revenue spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said the Division of Vehicles handled its first name change Monday. But the department is not yet allowing married same-sex couples to file joint income tax returns. Koranda said the agency is reviewing all of its policies to make sure that it doesn't miss any changes that need to be made. The policy change for driver's licenses is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation. Kansas had banned gay marriage. Koranda said gay and lesbian couples wishing to change their names on their driver's licenses must present a marriage certificate at a driver's license office.
Kansas Governor Issues Order to Protect Gay Marriage Foes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has issued an executive order aimed at protecting clergy, religious leaders and religious groups from being penalized by the state for opposing same-sex marriage. Brownback issued the order Tuesday. It said the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last month legalizing gay marriage across the nation has the potential to infringe upon religious liberties. The state and U.S. constitutions protect religious liberties, and Kansas enacted a law in 2013 saying that state and local agencies can't substantially limit someone's exercise of religion without a compelling reason. But the order says state agencies can't alter contracts with individuals or religious groups, change their tax status or deny them licenses or tax breaks based on their refusal to perform same-sex marriages or provide services for such marriages.
Tentative Plan to Keep Amtrak Running in Kansas, Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Amtrak officials say a tentative deal has been reached that would keep the passenger train running through Kansas and Missouri. Amtrak had threatened to shut down or reroute the Southwest Chief in Kansas and to stop the River Runner service between Kansas City and St. Louis. The dispute involved funding federally-required safety systems designed to prevent accidents caused by human error. A rail company that routes trains through the Kansas City metro said it could not afford to install the equipment. Federal law requires that the system be installed by the end of the year. Amtrak says a tentative agreement has been reached to keep the trains running but details of the agreement have not been finalized.
Feds: More Conspirators May be Added to Drug Cartel Case in Western Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The government is asking a court for more time to prosecute an alleged conspiracy to launder drug money for a Mexican cartel in Kansas. Prosecutors asked the court on Monday to designate as complex the case against former Plains State Bank President James Kirk Friend and two of his customers, George and Agatha Enns of Meade. The designation would give the parties more time without speedy trial constraints. Two other former bank employees are also charged in the case with failing to report the suspicious financial transactions. Prosecutors contend many unindicted individuals are involved and it is possible others may be charged. They also say their investigation has uncovered additional information about the conduct of the indicted banking officials. Prosecutors want more time to review over $6 million in transactions.
Mitchell Appointed to KS 18th Judicial District
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has appointed a Wichita lawyer to serve as a district judge for Kansas's 18th District Court. Brownback's office said in a release Monday that Deborah Hernandez Mitchell of Wichita will replace Judge Joseph Bribiesca, who retired. The 18th District Court includes Sedgwick County. Mitchell is in private practice and previously served as a prosecutor with the Sedgwick County's District Attorney office. She has an undergraduate, master's and a law degree from the University of Kansas.
Shooting at Overland Park Duplex Kills Woman, Wounds Girl
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A woman was killed and a girl was wounded after someone fired several shots into a suburban Kansas City duplex on the same block where two young men were fatally shot last week. The Kansas City Star reports that police were called just before 6:30 pm Monday to an Overland Park, Kansas, residence where a woman was fatally wounded. Officers also found an 11-year-old girl with nonlife-threatening injuries. Police later identified the dead woman as 36-year-old Quaushey L. Harris. Police say there were nine people inside the duplex at the time of the shooting, including seven children. They say a suspect fled in a gray Pontiac Grand Prix. Police also say the shooting has been linked a double homicide that occurred last week on the same street.
5-Year-Old Wounded in Topeka Drive-By Shooting
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Topeka police say a 5-year-old girl was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after being wounded in a drive-by shooting. The girl was shot Monday night. Authorities are asking for the public's assistance in finding the suspect vehicle.
McPherson Man Sentenced to Life for Murder
MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — A McPherson man will spend at least 25 years in prison for the killing of a former Oregon resident. Thirty-two-year-old Clinton Bascue was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility for parole for 25 years for felony murder. He pleaded no contest in April to first-degree felony murder in the November 2014 death of 39-year-old James Avery Croft. Croft, lived in Portland, Oregon, before moving to McPherson. His body was found in a car in a ditch near Galva, 10 miles east of McPherson. A second defendant, Kamra Kay Farrell, was charged in April with first-degree felony murder in Croft's death. Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 24 in McPherson County District Court.
Ex-KS Soldier Gets 10 Years Prison for Child Sex Crimes
FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) _ A former Fort Riley soldier accused of sexually abusing a girl has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Fifty-two-year-old James Duke was sentenced yesterday (MON). He had pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual abuse. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, the investigation into Duke began in 2013 when the FBI discovered he was trading in child pornography. Some of the photos were taken during the attacks on a girl authorities say Duke sexually abused while stationed at the military base. Authorities said the abuse started when the girl was as young as 4-years-old.
Ex-School Safety Chief 'No Show' for Trial in Child Sex Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita school safety supervisor and police officer accused of molesting boys in Kansas has been found guilty of similar sexual assault charges in Colorado. The Wichita Eagle reports that a judge issued a warrant Monday for Alex Robinson's arrest after he failed to show up for a court appearance on eight child sexual assault charges in Wichita. Prosecutors say a Colorado court reinstated a bond after the Colorado verdict and Robinson will be sent back to Wichita if he posts it. His attorney did not immediately return Tuesday voice and email messages. District Attorney Marc Bennett says Robinson was convicted Thursday in Colorado on two counts of sexual assault of a child by a person in a position of trust, and will be sentenced there Oct. 13.
Hutchinson Veteran's Wheelchair Stolen from Porch
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 350-pound wheelchair belonging to a Vietnam veteran has been stolen from the front porch of his Hutchinson home. The Hutchinson News reports that Jerry Josephson, a Vietnam War veteran, had one leg amputated earlier this year. The $4,000 wheelchair he used to get around was stolen Friday off his porch, where he left it locked. Josephson had recently been given the electric chair by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Josephson, a local barber, says he's waiting to see if the VA will replace the wheelchair or if his homeowners insurance will cover the loss. He also says he'd appreciate it if the thieves just brought the chair back in the same condition they found it.
Independence Police Kill Carjacking Suspect
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police in Independence say an officer has shot and killed an armed carjacking suspect. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting occurred Tuesday afternoon in Sugar Creek east of Kansas City. Police looking for someone who stole a car earlier Tuesday began pursuing the vehicle. Independence police spokesman Tom Gentry says when the car stopped, the driver shot at an officer, who wasn't hit. The officer shot back, killing the suspect. The suspect's name hasn't been released.
Wichita Approves $2.2M Police Body Camera System
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has approved buying a $2.2 million body camera system for the police department. The Wichita Eagle reports that the city council on Tuesday unanimously approved the contract to buy the camera system. The contract includes licensing fees and data storage in the first year for $712,000; and licensing and data storage fees of $360,000 for the following four years. Captain Brian White says the police department is seeking federal grants and plans to also use towing and narcotics seizure funds to help offset costs. The intention is for all patrol officers to have the cameras by the end of the year.
Former Labette County Bank Clerk Pleads Guilty to Stealing
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former bank clerk in Labette County has pleaded guilty to a stealing from several accounts at the bank. Federal prosecutors in Wichita say 41-year-old Angela S. Littlejohn pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of embezzlement. In her plea, Littlejohn of Chetopa admits to stealing at least $82,000 from several bank accounts while she worked as a teller during 2013 and 2014 at the Chetopa State Bank in Chetopa. She's scheduled to be sentenced September 28.
Two Injured After Car Explodes on Kansas Expressway
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a Kansas father and son were injured when their car exploded. Sunday's explosion near Topeka had such force the roof of the car was peeled back. Authorities say Jacob Schell and his 4-year-old son, Roman, were injured in the explosion. Jacob Schell's brother, Alex, says the car exploded because of fireworks inside the vehicle. He said the family had been celebrating the Fourth of July and the two victims were headed home when fireworks they had in the car went off. They were flown to the University of Kansas Hospital, where their conditions were not immediately available. The Kansas Fire Marshal is investigating.
Kansas Man Drowns on Colorado Rafting Trip
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Authorities have identified a 20-year-old Kansas man who died Saturday afternoon while rafting on Clear Creek. Daniel Cheong of Wichita was pulled from the river by authorities responding to reports of a man in the river. The U.S. Geological Survey said Clear Creek was running about 300 cubic feet per second Saturday afternoon, which is 130 percent of its normal median flow. The sheriff's office says Cheong was on a commercial trip operated by Mile-High Rafting.
Businessman Sentenced to Prison over Pollution, Deception
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The owner of a Kansas metal finishing business has been sentenced to four months in prison followed by six months of home detention for discharging untreated wastewater into a city sewer. C&R Plating and its 56-year-old owner, Kevin L. Cline, were also ordered Monday to pay $281,503 in restitution. The company was fined $10,000. They pleaded guilty in December to one count of violating the federal Clean Water Act by introducing pollutants into the water treatment system of the north-central Kansas community of Minneapolis. Cline admitted he submitted fraudulent samples and reports to conceal the dumping, and acknowledged he was responsible for high levels of zinc found in the city's sewer. The city's sewer system discharges into the Solomon River via Lindsey Creek and an unnamed tributary.
Investigators Look for Cause of Kansas Inmate's Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ State and local authorities are investigating the death of a 50-year-old inmate in his cell at the Shawnee County Adult Detention Center. Christopher Alan Clark was arrested at 12:57 am Sunday by Topeka police on drunken driving and other charges. Clark was found dead shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday, 15 minutes after he was seen standing at his cell door. The cause of his death had not been determined early Monday. First responders administered CPR and used a defibrillator for about 16 minutes before Clark was pronounced dead. He was arrested on charges of felony driving under the influence, failure to submit to a drug or alcohol test, refusal of a breathalyzer test, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and a defective tag light.
Wheat Harvest Nears Completion in Parts of Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The 2015 winter wheat harvest is nearing completion in some parts of Kansas, and making good progress everywhere else. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that harvest statewide was 79 percent finished.
Straw Offers Second Paycheck to Growers Near Biomass Plant
HALSTEAD, Kan. (AP) _ A second harvest is now under way over the stubble left in some western Kansas fields after wheat is cut. That straw represents an added income source for farmers. Some farmers burn the stubble after wheat harvest. Some disk it. Some plant the next crop right into it. But Courtney Wilson, harvest manager for Pacific Ag, wants farmers to know they're leaving a paycheck out in the field. Wilson's company can take residue left from harvested field and bale it up. It then hauls it to Abengoa's biomass plant in Hugoton, where it is turned into cellulosic ethanol. Wilson says his company plans to pay out $3 million to southwest Kansas farmers in the 100-mile radius of the facility.
Orlando's Grand Slam in 9th Gives Royals 9-5 Win over Rays
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Paulo Orlando hit his first career grand slam in the ninth inning off All-Star closer Brad Boxberger to give the Kansas City Royals a 9-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday. Boxberger (4-5), added to the AL roster by Royals manager Ned Yost on Monday, gave up one-out singles to Eric Hosmer and Alex Rios before walking Omar Infante to load the bases. Orlando followed by hitting his second career home run into the bullpen in left field. The Rays had just tied the game off Royals closer Greg Holland (3-0), who allowed a leadoff triple to Kevin Kiermaier in the ninth.