Headlines for Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Kansas AG: Judge's Ruling Jeopardizes Funding for Courts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says a judge's ruling striking down an administrative policy for the state's courts could jeopardize their funding. But Schmidt said Wednesday that he'll move to keep the courts open. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks ruled unconstitutional a law changing how chief judges for the trial courts in the state's 31 judicial districts. Hendricks said the law interferes with the Kansas Supreme Court's power to oversee the judiciary. Lawmakers earlier this year tied the judiciary's entire budget to preserving the policy. The law says judges in each judicial district pick their chief judges, taking that power from the Supreme Court. District Judge Larry Solomon of Kingman County challenged the statute. Attorney Pedro Irigonegaray said another lawsuit would be filed to protect funding for the courts.
Kansas Tax Collections $30M Short of Expectations in August
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas collected $30 million less in taxes than anticipated in August, but officials said larger-than-expected income tax refunds were largely the reason. The state Department of Revenue reported Tuesday that tax collections were about $418 million last month, compared with the official projection of $448 million. The shortfall was 6.8 percent. Budget director Shawn Sullivan noted during a news conference that the shortfall was offset by budget adjustments he announced last month. When those adjustments are considered, the state's total revenue shortfall was roughly $6 million. Department of Revenue officials said the state paid out $22 million more than expected in income tax refunds.
Kobach Criticized Over Plan to Purge Kansas Voter Rolls
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An American Civil Liberties Union attorney says Kansas law doesn't give Secretary of State Kris Kobach the authority to remove thousands of names from the state's voter registration rolls. And another critic accused the Republican secretary of state Wednesday of trying to keep potential Democratic voters from casting ballots, which Kobach's spokesman disputed. ACLU of Kansas attorney Doug Bonney and Topeka National Organization for Women leader Sonja Willms said during a hearing that Kobach should drop a proposed administrative rule. The rule would require county election officials to cancel incomplete registrations after 90 days. About 36,000 registrations are now incomplete. Most are because prospective votes have failed to document their U.S. citizenship. Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell said the rule would make administering voting more orderly.
Supremacist's Son Testifies in Penalty Phase of Trial
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The son of a man convicted of killing three people at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City says no one else in their family shares his father's anti-Semitic views. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. was convicted Monday of one count of capital murder, three counts of attempted murder, and assault and weapons charges for the April 2014 shootings. The Kansas City Star reports that Miller's 39-year-old son, Frazier Glenn Miller III, testified Wednesday during the penalty phase of the trial. He said he doesn't know where his father learned about "hating Jews and about hating other races." The jury is hearing testimony to determine if Miller should be sentenced to death. Miller III also said outside the courtroom no one in the family knew of his father's plans to kill.
Kansas Supreme Court Won't Review Abortion Lawsuit for Now
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is refusing for now to review a district court judge's order blocking the nation's first ban on a common second trimester procedure. The high court's 4-3 decision this week means that the state Court of Appeals first will handle a lawsuit filed by two abortion providers against a law that was supposed to take effect in July. The law embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee and bans what abortion opponents call "dismemberment abortion." Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks in June temporarily blocked the law, and the state appealed. Both sides wanted the Supreme Court to take the case immediately, but the court declined Monday without explanation. The Court of Appeals on Wednesday set an expedited schedule for its review.
Trial Delayed for Topeka Man Charged with Raping Child
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An upcoming trial for a Topeka man accused of kidnapping and raping an 8-year-old child has been delayed. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Jeremy James Lindsey faces several charges, including rape, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary stemming from the alleged kidnapping and sexual assault of the child in September 2014. His trial was scheduled to start Monday, but was delayed when Lindsey fired his attorney, who had filed a request to withdraw from the case. His new attorney is Don Hoffman. A new trial date will be scheduled Thursday. A co-defendant, 24-year-old Michelle Harris, is also charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated endangering of a child.
Topeka Man Charged in Car Explosion That Injured Son
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been charged in a car explosion that injured his 4-year-old son. Authorities say Jacob Schell and his 4-year-old son, Roman, were injured in the July 5 explosion near Topeka. They were on their way home from a Fourth of July celebration. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Jacob Daniel Schell was booked into the Shawnee County Jail on Wednesday on charges including aggravated battery, aggravated endangering of a child and criminal use of explosives. He was released on bond.
Feds Charge Kansas Priest with Embezzling
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas priest has been charged with stealing nearly $151,000 from two parishes and the Catholic Diocese to fund his gambling habit. Father Thomas H. Leland is charged in U.S. District Court with bank fraud. Leland was assigned in 2010 as the priest at St. Francis Parish in St. Paul and St. Ambrose Parish in Erie, both located in southeast Kansas. Prosecutors allege that between 2012 and 2014, Leland embezzled funds by taking overpayments of his salary. He also alleged took unauthorized reimbursements for personal expenses.
Texas Court Strips Lesser Prairie Chicken of Protections
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — A federal court in Texas has vacated Endangered Species Act protections for the lesser prairie chicken. The ruling is a victory for Texas oil and gas companies that argued the conservation efforts are working. The Permian Basin Petroleum Association said regulations would impede operations and cost hundreds of millions of dollars in oil and gas development in one of the country's most prolific basins. The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity said Wednesday that the lesser prairie chicken has lost 85 percent of its habitat. But the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies says the population increased by 25 percent this year to 29,000 birds. The U.S. Senate in January rejected an amendment by Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran to remove the lesser prairie chicken from the government's threatened species list.
Kansas Crossing Casino Halts Construction
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) _ Construction has ceased on the state-owned casino project in southeast Kansas. Representatives for Kansas Crossing told ThePittsburg Morning Sun that construction on the casino outside Pittsburg was stopped after the Kansas Lottery Commission issued the company a 90-day extension. Kansas Crossing requested the extension because of lawsuits filed against the project. The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners and Castle Rock, one of the competitors for the state project, have sued, accusing the state of Kansas of failing to follow the law in awarding the bid to Kansas Crossing to build the state-owned casino. The Kansas Lottery told the casino's lawyer the company could request another extension if litigation is still pending at the end of the 90-day period.
Kansas Kickapoo Tribe Expands Legal Complaint
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kickapoo Tribe has expanded a legal complaint against its former chairman to include a former treasurer. The Topeka Capital-Journal reportsthe northeast Kansas tribe has announced that Bobbi Darnell has been added to the lawsuit in tribal court. Darnell was the tribal treasurer from October 2011 through October 2014. The tribe is accusing its former chairman, Steve Cadue, of fraudulently passing an unbalanced budget. Cadue said earlier that the lawsuit is without merit and should have been handled through the tribal council, not in a courtroom
FBI Shooting Investigation Has Been Going on for Months
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities have been investigating the death of a 23-year-old Wichita man who was shot by police. The Wichita Eagle reportsthe FBI said Wednesday it's been investigating the January shooting death of John Paul Quintero "for several months now." Quintero was shot and killed January 3 by a Wichita police officer. Quintero's family and representatives from Sunflower Community Action presented a nearly 3,000-page petition to the local FBI offices Wednesday, calling for a federal investigation into the shooting. They were told at the scene that the bureau has been investigating the shooting. The family is demanding $10 million in damages. Bridget Patton, an FBI spokeswoman in Kansas City, said she had no timeline on the investigation, which is trying to determine if there were a civil rights violation.
Topeka Man Pleads Guilty to Sexual Battery Charges
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 23-year-old Topeka man has pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted aggravated sexual battery and a county of domestic battery. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Ian Jameel Norvell Black pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a plea agreement. Prosecutors say Black and a woman were arguing at the Topeka Rescue Mission when he struck her and attempted to sexually assault her on March 14. Black faces nearly five years in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for October 30.
Great Bend, Garden City Chosen for Transload Sites
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ The state transportation department has chosen Garden City and Great Bend as sites for centers that will move goods from one type of transportation to another. The two cities were chosen from a group of seven that made formal presentations to a transportation department selection committee. The Hutchinson News reports the centers, called transload sites, will move goods between trucks and railcars. The centers are expected to provide more flexible and cost-effective shipping for businesses that do not have access to freight rail service or need more warehouse space. Department officials say the next step is working with the cities to develop plans for the centers.
KDHE Testing Dodge City Water Sites
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The state health department has been testing water wells in Dodge City after previous testing found a toxic contaminant. The Dodge City Globe reports that tests conducted last August found a contaminant called tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, in a well. PCE is a liquid commonly used in dry cleaners. The Environmental Protection Agency says drinking water containing excessive levels of PCE for many years could lead to an increased risk of cancer. Corey Keller, public works superintendent, says the test showed the level was below the federal maximum contaminate level. Keller says the site was tested again, most recently in February when the contaminant was no longer detectable at that site. Keller says more tests are being conducted to determine if the PCE is still there.
Garden City Zoo's Elephants Will Move to Colorado
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Two elephants will be moving from the Garden City zoo to Colorado. The Garden City Commission voted Tuesday to move the elephants, Missy and Kimba, to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A zoo committee recommended that the aging elephants be moved so they can have a better social life and become part of another elephant herd before one of them dies. They will join four other female African elephants in Colorado. The committee said the Colorado zoo also has stable financing and leadership. Missy, who is 46, is among the oldest elephants in an American zoo. Kimba is 33. The two have been together for more than 30 years.
Kansas City Royals Hit by Chickenpox Outbreak
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas City Royals All-Star pitcher Kelvin Herrera and right fielder Alex Rios have been diagnosed with chickenpox, raising concerns that others on the AL Central-leading team may have been exposed. Team officials said Tuesday that Herrera and Rios will likely miss a couple of weeks as the season wraps up. Both players were sent home from Tampa Bay after experiencing symptoms over the weekend. The disease is highly contagious, spread through the air via coughing or sneezing.
Suspect in Wichita State Student Death Headed to Prison
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man suspected in the death of a Wichita State University student is back in prison on a parole violation. Two suspects have been held since Aug. 10 in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Rayan Ibrahim Baba in Wichita State parking lot. Neither suspect has been formally charged in the homicide.Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Adam Pfannenstiel says one of the suspects will spend at least 90 days at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility after admitting to using marijuana on August 7 when he was on parole for a 2010 child abuse conviction.The other suspect is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on probation violations and municipal court cases. Baba, a Saudi undergraduate student majoring in electrical engineering at Wichita State, was found with gunshot wounds August 9.
Police: 4 Teens Arrested After Chase in Stolen Pickup
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested four teenage boys after a pickup was stolen and authorities were led on a chase. The Wichita Eagle reports that a man was told by a family member around 7 am Monday that his pickup and a revolver had been stolen several hours earlier. According to Lieutenant James Espinoza, Wichita police spotted the stolen vehicle around 11:50 am and were in pursuit until the chase ended in Bel Aire. Bel Aire Police Chief Darrell Atteberry said the pickup was spotted again, prompting another chase. Police say one of the boys jumped out of the moving vehicle, but was apprehended by a K-9 unit. The other three boys, ages 14, 15, and 16, were taken into custody. The teens face charges of burglary and theft.
St. Joseph Solar Company Owner Pleads Guilty
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The St. Joseph owner of a solar energy installation company has pleaded guilty to federal charges accusing him of fraudulently claiming about $1.4 million in rebates. The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri says 38-year-old Richard Schonemann pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy and one count of false statements. Schonemann was an owner of St. Joseph-based US Solar, which sold and installed solar-powered panel systems in northwest Missouri. The plea agreement says US Solar and a co-conspirator obtained fraudulent state rebates by overstating the number of solar panels installed on several locations from December 2011 through June 2013. Prosecutors also say US Solar received federal payments it was not eligible for, and made up numbers on the solar systems' reported output.
Tigers Defeat Royals 6-5 in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Detroit's Ian Kinsler homered and drove in three runs as the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 6-5 Tuesday night. The Tigers, who had lost nine of 10 to drop into last place in the AL Central, snapped a four-game losing streak with the win. Tigers' pitcher Justin Verlander (3-6) limited the Royals to seven hits and four runs over 6 2-3 innings. The Royals' Johnny Cueto (2-4) allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings. Cueto has given up 38 hits in his past four starts, the most hits he has allowed in his career over a four-start span.
South Dakota, SDSU Open Season on Road in State of Kansas
BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Division I football fans looking to catch their teams' openers against FBS foes have to hit the road to the state of Kansas. Saturday's cross-state doubleheader begins at 11 am in Lawrence as South Dakota State takes on The University of Kansas. The nightcap is in Manhattan, with South Dakota facing K-State. South Dakota State posted a 9-5 record in 2014. The Jackrabbits are retooling their offense after the graduation of running back Zach Zenner, but coach John Stiegelmeier says Brady Mengarelli, Kyle Paris and Isaac Wallace had good camps and are ready to step up. South Dakota is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2-10 season marred by injuries. Coyotes coach Joe Glenn said he's happy to get off to a healthy start in 2015.