Headlines for Tuesday, August 25, 2015
South Carolina and Kansas Governors Threaten Lawsuit Over Guantanamo Detainees
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The governors of South Carolina and Kansas are threatening to sue the Obama administration if detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are brought to military installations in either state. In a letter Tuesday, Governors Nikki Haley and Sam Brownback told Defense Secretary Ash Carter they are prepared to take "any action within our power" to stop the transfers. Last week, Haley said Defense Department officials were "wasting their time" in evaluating the Naval Brig near Charleston as a potential site to house detainees. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is also being considered. The closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center has been a top priority for President Barack Obama. But that effort has faced persistent hurdles, including staunch opposition from congressional Republicans and some Democrats.
Kansas Regulator Endorses Westar's $78M Hike
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Corporation Commission has agreed to endorse Westar Energy's $78 million increase in annual electric rates. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the three members of the rate-setting KCC agreed to the plan Tuesday. Once the deal is finalized, households in Westar's territory can expect to see monthly bills rise $5 to $7. Adjustments contained in the plan are expected to take effect in October. Topeka-based Westar, the state's largest utility, has about 690,000 residential, industrial and commercial customers, mostly in eastern Kansas. The Citizens' Utility Ratepayers Board, which advocates for small businesses and residential customers, had wanted the KCC to adopt a $56 million increase.
Defendant in Jewish Site Shootings Trial Seeks Postponement
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A white supremacist charged with killing three people at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City has asked a judge to postpone his murder trial after prosecutors finish presenting their case because evidence he wants mailed to him hasn't arrived. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., who is representing himself, told a Johnson County judge Tuesday the prosecution's case is progressing faster than anticipated and it wouldn't be fair if he doesn't have the evidence to present in his defense. He didn't give details about it. Miller has asked few questions of prosecution witnesses, which has also moved things along. Prosecutors say Miller killed 69-year-old William Corporon and Corporon's 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside a Jewish community center before shooting 53-year-old Terri LaManno outside a nearby Jewish retirement home in April 2014.
Panel Approves Lower Funding Amounts for Kansas School Districts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several dozen school districts in Kansas get less than half the emergency funds they were seeking under measures a state panel approved. Thirty-eight districts, including some of the state's largest, were vying for $12.3 million in emergency funds that had been allotted by lawmakers for emergency funding last March. The districts had submitted requests for aid totaling more than $15 million. The State Finance Council, which includes Governor Sam Brownback and eight legislative leaders, granted a total of about $2 million to 13 school districts experiencing more than 2 percent growth in student enrollment this year. The panel granted another $4 million to 22 districts that lost local tax revenue because of declines in property values. The 2 percent enrollment growth benchmark completely eliminated several districts that had asked for more funding. Bonner Springs will have to educate 40 more students with no extra money. The Olathe school district also went home empty-handed and will have to accommodate more than 100 additional students with no extra aid from the state. Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools were awarded an additional $400,000. The KCK district had requested more than $2 million.
Kansas Seeks to Block Release of Voting Machine Records
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ State of Kansas and Sedgwick County election officials are asking a court to block the release of voting machine records sought by a Wichita State University mathematician. WSU's Beth Clarkson is researching statistical anomalies in the November 2014 general election. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued in a court filing Monday that the records sought by Clarkson are not subject to the Kansas open records act, and that disclosure is prohibited by Kansas statute. Sedgwick County Elections Commissioner Tabitha Lehman told a Sedgwick County District Court judge that releasing the voting machine tapes would be ``unnecessarily burdensome."
Shawnee County Considers Releasing Cremains to Family Members
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shawnee County leaders are weighing if they should release the ashes of people the county paid to cremate to their family. County coroner Charles Glenn says the county cremates the bodies of an estimated 15 people free of charge annually, because they have no family, their family lacks the money to pay for a funeral service or the family doesn't desire to provide a funeral service. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the county keeps the cremains at the coroner's office, with the intent to scatter them later at Westlawn Memorial Gardens. Glenn says some family members are now asking for the ashes, which the county historically hasn't handed over. The commission's chairman directed a county counselor Monday to prepare an analysis of the legalities involved in releasing the cremains.
Kansan Sentenced for Iowa Mail Fraud in Insurance Scam
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A 38-year-old Kansas man has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for mail fraud connected to an insurance commissions scam in Iowa. Brian Henton, of Olathe, was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Des Moines. He must pay more than $23,000 to the Equitable and Cigna insurance companies. Henton had pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud. Kevin VanderSchel of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Des Moines said Tuesday that Henton was licensed to sell policies in Iowa but not in Kansas. Henton admitted using false Iowa addresses, phone numbers and forged signatures on about 120 supplemental Medicare insurance applications from Kansans. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Henton then received commissions to which he wasn't entitled.
2 People Charged in Arkansas City Baby's Death
ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man and woman have been charged in the death of an Arkansas City child. The Arkansas City Traveler reports that 29-year-old Lindsey Abegg and 27-year-old Jacob Brickey, both of Arkansas City, were each charged Monday with first-degree murder during the commission of child abuse, and an alternative count of first-degree murder in the commission of aggravated endangerment of a child. Police say 16-month-old Astra Abegg was found dead last Tuesday at an Arkansas City apartment. The cause of death has not been announced. The next court date for both defendants was scheduled for Thursday.
Police: People Shot to Death at Webster Reservoir Likely Victims of Murder-Suicide
STOCKTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after two missing people were found dead from single gunshot wounds in Rooks County. According to the Rooks County Sheriff's Office, 64-year-old Steven Little and 62-year-old Kathleen Little, both of Hays, were found Friday on the south side of Webster Reservoir. Police say they had been missing since Thursday. In a news release Monday, the sheriff's office said the two died of single gunshot wounds. The release said preliminary findings were consistent with a murder-suicide. Authorities did not say how the two victims were related.
Dodge City Man Not Guilty in 3-Year-Old Girl's Death
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Dodge City man has been found not guilty in the death of a 3-year-old girl. After 10 days of testimony, a Ford County jury on Monday found Brock Cunningham not guilty of child abuse and first-degree murder. He was charged in 2013 in the death of Natalie Pickle, who died in 2008 while in Cunningham's care. At the time, Cunningham was the boyfriend of the girl's mother. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that Cunningham said the girl was jumping on a bed and hit her head when she fell off. She was flown to a Wichita hospital, where she died. An autopsy found the girl died of blunt force trauma and her death was classified as a homicide.
Court Backs Wichita State University in Lawsuit Over Test
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has sided with Wichita State University in a lawsuit over a failed test brought by a student with attention deficit disorder. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the university did not violate Stephen Cunningham's rights when it held a 2011 test in an office located in a busy hallway. Cunningham attended Wichita State's program for physician assistants. He blamed his diabetes and attention deficit disorder for failing exams for pharmacology and neurology. The university allowed him to retake those failed tests. He then passed the one for pharmacology, but failed the neurology test. The court rejected his argument that the university violated his rights under the American with Disabilities Act because he did not ask for an accommodation for his attention deficit disorder.
Closing Arguments Expected in KC Restaurant Explosion Trial
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Closing arguments are expected in the civil trial involving the 2013 fatal explosion at a Kansas City restaurant. The civil lawsuit stems from the February 2013 natural-gas explosion and fire that destroyed JJ's restaurant. The incident killed one restaurant employee and injured 15 others. David Frantze and his brother Jimmy Frantze, who operated the popular restaurant JJ's restaurant Plaza with manager Matt Nichols, have been seeking more than $9 million in damages from Time Warner Cable and USIC Locating Services. The Kansas City Star reports that testimony in the trial began last month, and closing arguments are expected Tuesday. Missouri Gas Energy earlier settled a complaint alleging it failed to take adequate safety measures. In the March settlement, the company denied violating safety rules.
Officer Who Shot and Killed Wichita Driver Released from Hospital
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The police officer who fatally shot a man while being dragged by a vehicle after a traffic stop has been released from the hospital. Interim Wichita Police Chief Nelson Mosley said Monday the officer was talking to 26-year-old Nicholas Garner through the open door of Garner's Toyota after pulling him over Saturday night for a traffic infraction. At some point in the questioning, Garner allegedly attempted to drive away, dragging the officer along the road as he drove the wrong way down a one-way street, hit a patrol car and several other vehicles before colliding with an oncoming car. Police say the injured officer then shot and killed Garner.
Garden City Woman Has Hearing Set in Marijuana Case
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas woman has a November hearing scheduled in a case stemming from accusations that arose after her 11-year-old son said in school his mother smokes marijuana "a lot." Finney County District Attorney Susan Richmeier said in an email that Shona Banda's preliminary hearing is November 16. The Wichita Eagle reports that law enforcement and Kansas Department of Children and Families officials started investigating Banda after her 11-year old son said "my mom smokes ... a lot!" during an anti-drug program at a Garden City school. Banda's lawyer, Sarah Swain, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Banda faces charges accusing her of using marijuana and is the author of a book recounting her use of concentrated cannabis oil to treat Crohn's Disease.
Kansas Project to Focus on Lesser-Known Historical Figures
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Several groups are planning a statewide project that will combine history and art to spotlight lesser known but greatly influential figures and events from Kansas's past. The Kansas People's History Project is a partnership between the Douglas County Historical Society and five arts and education organizations from across the state. The Joplin Globe reports that the project will include the creation of a series of screen-printed broadsides with text narratives, a comprehensive website and a spring 2016 exhibition at the Watkins Museum of History. David Loewenstein, the artist responsible for the "Butterfly Effect" mural in Joplin following a deadly 2011 tornado, will host a Thursday workshop at Pittsburg State University to kick off the project.
Topeka Man Sentenced on Child Pornography Charges
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Topeka man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for possessing child pornography. 55-year-old Mark A. Hastert was sentenced Monday after he pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said an FBI cybercrime task force downloaded child pornography from Hastert's computer in 2011 and investigators followed an electronic trail to his home in Topeka. Investigators say they found 875 images and 58 videos of child pornography on Hastert's home computer.
Salina Teenager Will Be Tried as an Adult in Fatal Shooting
SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A teenager charged in the shooting death of a Salina girl will be tried as an adult. Saline County District Judge Rene Young ordered Monday that 17-year-old Andrew Woodring be tried as an adult in the May 6 shooting death of 17-year-old Allie Saum. The Salina Journal reports a preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 10 for Woodring and his four co-defendants: Macio Palacio Jr., Stephen Gentry, Daniel Sims and Jerome Forbes. The four co-defendants are all charged with first-degree murder. Police say Saum was a passenger in a truck that the defendants mistakenly believed belonged to a person who had been in an earlier altercation with them.
Report: Kansas Corn Crop Maturing Slowly
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report says that 8 percent of the Kansas corn crop is now mature. That's lagging behind the 20 percent average for this late in the season according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service report released Monday. The federal agency was optimistic about the quality of the corn crop with 12 percent rated as excellent and 47 percent as good. About 31 percent was said to be in fair shape, with 10 percent rated in poor condition. Other major Kansas crops including soybeans, sorghum and alfalfa are also making satisfactory progress.
Royals Score 7 Runs in 6th Inning to Beat Orioles, 8-3
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Omar Infante led a seven-run charge in the sixth inning to helping the Kansas City Royals beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 on Monday night. Royals' pitcher Kris Medlen (2-0) lasted six innings in his first start since September 27 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Medlin made seven appearances as part of the Kansas City bullpen before replacing Jeremy Guthrie in the starting rotation. The Royals' four-game series against the Orioles is the first time the two teams have met since last year's American League Championship Series. The series continues this evening at Kauffman Stadium.