Headlines for Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Police: Man with Explosive Device Had No Anti-Abortion Aim
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a Wichita man had no anti-abortion motives when he brought a small homemade explosive device into a women's health clinic while applying for a job. Wichita police spokesman James Espinosa said Tuesday the 19-year-old was homeless and carrying everything he owned in his backpack when he went to the South Wind Women's Center on Monday for an interview. A security officer who searched the pack called police after finding knives and a small bottle with gunpowder inside and a fuse. The man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an explosive device. Espinosa says the police investigation "absolutely ruled out" any intent for anti-abortion violence. The clinic is in the same building where Dr. George Tiller provided abortions until an anti-abortion opponent shot and killed him in 2009.
Kansas School Districts' Requests Outstrip Available Funds
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Thirty-eight Kansas school districts are seeking a total of $14.8 million in additional funding from the state to address local budget issues. The requests were submitted to the state Department of Education before Monday's deadline. The total amount outstrips the available funds by nearly 21 percent. The state has $12.3 million in extra funds available. Governor Sam Brownback and legislative leaders plan to meet next Monday to consider the requests. A majority of districts are asking the state to make up for unexpected drops in property tax revenues. Others have seen enrollment increases since last year. The Wichita district is seeking $980,000 to hire teachers, counselors and classroom assistants to deal with an unexpected influx of refugee children from Burma, Congo and Somalia.
McFarland, Former Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice, Dies
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kay McFarland, the first female chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, has died. She was 80. Leina Cox, administrative assistant at Penwell Gabel funeral home in Topeka, said McFarland died Tuesday morning at home after an illness. McFarland was appointed to the state Supreme Court in September 1977 by Governor Robert Bennett, becoming the first woman appointed to the high court. In September 1995 she became the court's first woman chief justice, a position she held until retiring in 2009. McFarland was also the first woman elected as a Shawnee County district judge in 1972. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports McFarland graduated from Washburn Law School when she was also the only woman attending classes full time. Her 31-year high court tenure is among the longest on record.
Kansas Panel Hears New Case Against Already-Sanctioned Judge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge who's already been disciplined over allegations that include sexual harassment is facing a second complaint that accuses him of not testifying truthfully in a past hearing over his conduct. A panel of the state Commission on Judicial Qualifications finished a two-day hearing Tuesday for Sedgwick County District Judge Timothy Henderson. Henderson was suspended without pay for 90 days earlier this year by the Kansas Supreme Court over allegations that included repeatedly making inappropriate comments to female attorneys and staffers. Another complaint filed last year accuses him of not being candid or truthful in testifying during a hearing last year. But retired District Judges Jean Schmidt of Shawnee County and Robert Schmisseur of Pratt County testified Tuesday that they never doubted his honesty in their past interactions.
Lawrence Man Dies in Mowing Accident Near Lake Perry
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 74-year-old rural Lawrence man has died while mowing trails near Lake Perry. WIBW reports that the accident occurred Monday morning. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig says Andrew Baux was driving a tractor pulling a mowing device when he became pinned under the mower. Herrig says two horseback riders discovered Baux and called for help. He says Baux was a volunteer mower at Lake Perry.
Kansas Regulators Urged to Approve Westar Rate-Hike Deal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys are telling Kansas regulators an agreement that would allow the state's largest electric company to increase its rates about 4 percent is reasonable for customers. The Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates the state's utilities, held a public hearing Monday on the proposed compromise. The deal was struck by Westar Energy Inc., the commission's staff, a state consumer advocacy agency and the utility's largest customers. The company's annual rates would increase by $78 million — about half of what Westar initially requested. Most households would see their monthly bills increase by about $5 to $7 a month. Westar is seeking the increase to pay for power plant upgrades. Attorneys representing the parties urged the three-member commission not to change any of the agreement's terms. State law gives the KCC until October 28 to issue an order.
Reward Increased to $12,000 in Unsolved Kansas City Homicide
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The reward for information in a shooting death in Kansas City's Power & Light District has been increased to $12,000. The Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline is seeking information in the December 2014 death of 27-year-old Nicholas Preuitt of Kearney. The organization announced Monday that the reward had been increased by $5,000. The Kansas City Star reports that police say Preuitt was shot in a parking garage of the entertainment district. Police say a dark-colored sports utility vehicle may have been involved in the shooting.
Jury Selection Begins in Kansas Jewish Site Shootings
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An avowed white supremacist who admitted that he killed three people outside of two eastern Kansas Jewish sites seemed upbeat as jury selection began in his capital murder trial. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. was wheeled into a Johnson County courtroom Monday wearing a jacket and tie and with his hair neatly combed. The 74-year-old Aurora, Missouri, man has chronic emphysema and has been using a wheelchair and oxygen during courtroom proceedings since his April 2014 arrest. Miller has admitted that he gunned down a woman, man and teenager outside of two Jewish centers in Overland Park, Kansas. He said he was targeting Jews, although none of the three victims were Jewish. Miller is representing himself in the trial, which is expected to last several weeks.
Kansas City Area Doctor Charged with Abusing Teen Patient
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City area doctor faces charges accusing him of sexually abusing a teenage patient. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office said Monday that 43-year-old Joseph T. Mackey of Blue Springs is charged with eight counts of second-degree statutory sodomy. Mackey, who surrendered his medical license, was also a leader of a Jackson County Boy Scouts troop and had volunteered as the medical director and a member of the executive board for the Kansas City Area Council of Boy Scouts. The prosecutor's office says the victim told authorities he met Mackey through scouting when he was 11, and that he also became a patient of Mackey's. The charges stem from alleged incidents in 2000 and 2001.
Butler Softball Players Hospitalized After Workouts
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Six Butler County Community College softball players were sent to the hospital with extreme muscle soreness after workouts. The Wichita Eagle reports six players went to the hospital last week apparently suffering from exertional rhabdomyolysis, which is a breakdown of skeletal muscle after engaging in physical activity. Butler said Monday three players were still in the hospital and were expected to be released later this week. Last Monday, the 21-member softball team worked out at the El Dorado Lake Dam, walking up and down an 80-yard incline and then jogging up and walking backward down the dam four times. Three players went to the Butler training staff on Tuesday, complaining of soreness in their calves. Of the seven players tested for rhabdomyolysis, four were hospitalized.
Oklahoma Man, Jailed in Kansas, Charged with Assault for Shooting Wife
WOODWARD, Okla. (AP) — A 43-year-old Woodward County man is facing a felony charge after investigators say he shot his wife and then fled to Kansas with the couple's two young children. Online court records indicate that Chris Leslie Solida was formally charged Monday with assault and battery with a deadly weapon in Woodward County District Court. Solida's bond was set at $500,000, but the records do not indicate whether Solida is represented by an attorney. The Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation says Solida allegedly shot his wife in the head on Friday before fleeing to Kansas with the children. The OSBI says police in Great Bend, Kansas, arrested Solida after a brief standoff Friday night. The OSBI says Solida's wife has been discharged from a hospital and the children are in state custody.
Federal DEA Analyst Sentenced on Child Porn Charges
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old federal analyst in Johnson County has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for possessing child pornography on a government computer. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Kansas says Matthew Barnes of Overland Park pleaded guilty earlier to one count of possessing child pornography. He was sentenced Monday to more than five years in federal prison. Prosecutors say investigators in 2012 found more than a dozen images of child pornography on a federal Drug Enforcement Administration computer assigned to Barnes. Barnes was an analyst for the DEA's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program in Overland Park.
Reno County Monitoring Whooping Cough Cases
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ Reno County authorities continue to monitor the number of suspected cases of whooping cough in the county. The Hutchinson News reports the county has 102 suspected cases of whooping cough and 71 confirmed cases, with the last confirmed case reported August 6. Reno County Health Department Director Nick Baldetti says he's cautiously optimistic the outbreak may be waning before the start of school. Baldetti says officials want teachers and school staff to be vigilant in monitoring students and to contact the department with any suspected cases of whooping cough.
Arkansas Officials: Overland Park Man Drowns in River
MARSHALL, Ark. (AP) - Officials say a Kansas man has drowned in the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. The National Park Service said 25-year-old Ravi Teja Reddy Yemalla of Overland Park, Kansas, died Sunday afternoon. Yemalla disappeared after falling into a deep underwater hole. The service said people traveling with Yemalia and other floaters nearby found him after about 10 minutes of searching. Buffalo National River rangers and Searcy County first responders tried to revive Yemalla for about 45 minutes.
25-Year-Old Man Dies in Hutchinson Shooting
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A man has died after being shot multiple times in Hutchinson. Sergeant Eric Buller with the Hutchinson Police Department says officers found 25-year-old Jose Morales with multiple gunshot wounds just before 4:00 Monday afternoon. The police department says he was transported to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, where he later died. A 31-year-old man has been arrested on one count of first-degree murder in connection to the shooting. He is being held on $100,000 bond.
Mid-August Report Upbeat for Kansas Crop Conditions
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Sunflowers are blooming in Kansas. The fields of soybeans are also doing well. Most of the sorghum crop is now headed, and some of it is beginning to turn color. That's according to the latest snapshot of crop conditions in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service also reported Monday that 58 percent of the Kansas corn crop is in good to excellent condition, with another 32 percent rated as fair. The agency's weekly update also says that 75 percent of the state has adequate to surplus topsoil moisture.
Missouri Appeals Panel Affirms Lower Court on Custody
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri appeals panel has affirmed a lower court decision dismissing a Kansas City woman's lawsuit seeking custody of children she raised with her lesbian partner. But the appeals court also said in its ruling Tuesday that the woman, Melissa McGaw, could seek custody under a state statute. McGaw sought joint custody of the two children in circuit court, but the case was dismissed when that court said she didn't have standing under common law doctrines. McGaw and her partner had not married before they separated several years ago. The appeals panel affirmed the lower court's decision, but also said McGaw "has an available statutory remedy" under a Missouri statute that allows people who are not legal parents to seek custody if it's in the best interest of the children.