Headlines for Wednesday, October 7, 2015
High Court Weighs 3 death Sentences in Kansas Cases
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems inclined to rule against the perpetrators of what one justice called "some of the most horrendous murders" he's ever seen from the bench. The justices on Wednesday were critical of the Kansas Supreme Court, which overturned the death sentences of three men, including two brothers convicted in a murderous crime spree known as the "Wichita massacre." It was the first high-court hearing on death penalty cases since a clash over lethal injection procedures exposed deep divisions among the justices in the court's last term. The debate this time concerned the sentencing process for Jonathan and Reginald Carr and for Sidney Gleason, convicted in another case. The state court ruled that jurors received flawed instructions about mitigating evidence and said the brothers should have been sentenced separately.
Judge to Consider Blocking Kansas Voter Rules in December
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — County election officials in Kansas could have canceled many of the more than 31,000 incomplete voter registrations when a federal judge has the next hearing in a lawsuit challenging the effort. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday set a Dec. 4 hearing on a request from attorneys for two northeast Kansas residents to block the culling of registration records ordered by Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Most incomplete registrations are for people who have failed to comply with a 2013 state law requiring new voters to document their U.S. citizenship. The two northeast Kansas residents also are challenging the law. Robinson set the hearing in December to allow both sides to file written legal arguments. Kobach said during a court teleconference that canceled registrations can be retrieved
Kansas Governor Not Looking at Cuts or Tax Hikes for Balancing Budget
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he's not considering additional spending cuts or new tax increases to keep the state budget balanced in the face of disappointing tax collections. Brownback said Wednesday he's confident the state will get through its short-term budget problems. He said he's working on measures, without being more specific. In July, August and September, the state's tax collections were a total of $67 million less than anticipated, a shortfall of 4.7 percent. The state increased sales and tobacco taxes in July to keep its $15.4 billion budget balanced. Later that month, Brownback's administration made $63 million in budget adjustments. Brownback ruled out further tax increases, saying, "We're not going that route." But he also said he thinks the state can manage without spending cuts.
US Supreme Court to Hear Kansas Capital Cases
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The U.S. Supreme Court will consider reinstating death sentences for two brothers convicted of notorious multiple murders in Wichita in cases that roiled the state's politics. The high court is taking up the cases of Jonathan and Reginald Carr. The Carr brothers were sentenced to lethal injection for four killings in Wichita in December 2000. The justices also plan to hear the case of Sidney Gleason, sentenced to die for the 2004 murder of a Great Bend woman and her boyfriend after she witnessed a robbery. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned death sentences in all three cases last year and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt appealed. The Kansas Supreme Court has yet to uphold a death sentence since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1994.
Brownback Spokeswoman Blasts Medicaid Expansion
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A spokeswoman for Governor Sam Brownback calls Medicaid expansion ``morally reprehensible'' in an email Tuesday, signaling the administration has no plans to expand Medicaid and bring coverage to 150,000 uninsured Kansans. In an email to supporters, Melika Willoughby, Brownback's deputy director of communications, says the governor believes Medicaid expansion creates ``new entitlements for able-bodied adults without dependents.'' The administration has often said it won't expand Medicaid until it removes disabled Kansans already on Medicaid from a home services waiting list. Critics say the waiting lists shouldn't be used as an excuse to not expand Medicaid.
Kansas GOP Leader Demands Davis Exit from Voter Registration Lawsuit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party's chairman is demanding that former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis withdraw as an attorney from a federal lawsuit challenging voter registration policies. State GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold said Tuesday that Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor last year, is violating sate law by representing plaintiffs in the case. Davis represents two northeast Kansas residents seeking to block enforcement of a 2013 law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship to register. They're also challenging Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach's directive to counties to cancel thousands of incomplete registrations. Arnold cited a state law preventing some ex-legislators from participating in such lawsuits unless they voted against the statute being challenged. Davis voted for the proof-of-citizenship law while he served in the Legislature but says that the ethics law Arnold refers to is not applicable in this case.
Evidence of Bedbugs Found at Topeka Library
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A pesticide company has found evidence of bedbugs at a Topeka library. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Schendel Pest Services' bug-sniffing dog, found signs of the bugs in two sections of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Library spokeswoman Diana Friend says no bedbugs were seen, but materials including several books were removed from the library for treatment. The library check comes after a report last week of bedbugs in upholstered chairs at the library. Friend says the company has told her all public buildings can have bedbugs, and that the library will continue to monitor for the pests. Shawnee County health officials also say bedbugs aren't known to carry diseases and should be considered a nuisance instead of a public health risk.
Former Manhattan City Attorney Charged with Distributing Child Porn
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The former city attorney of Manhattan has been charged with distributing and possessing child pornography. Fifty-three-year-old Bill Raymond, of Andover, was arrested Tuesday on four federal charges. Although he was indicted last month, the charges weren't announced until Tuesday when he made his first court appearance in Kansas City, Kansas. Raymond served as the Manhattan city attorney from December 2012 through this August. Before that, he was the chief assistance county counselor for Sedgwick County. Assistant city manager Kiel Mangus says the city won't comment on what he described as a "personnel matter." The U.S. attorney's office says Raymond faces up to 30 years in prison on three counts of possession and distribution of child pornography
EPA Finds Hazardous Waste Violations at UMKC
LENEXA, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Missouri-Kansas City will pay a $23,679 civil penalty for violating federal regulations involving the storage and handling of hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that inspections at UMKC's midtown campus and its School of Dentistry found the university did not manage the waste properly. The EPA says the university allowed hazardous waste to accumulate in open, unlabeled containers, lacked training plans and didn't try to minimize the possibility of fire, explosion or accidental release of hazardous waste. The settlement requires UMKC to upgrade its hazardous material inventory system and improve its ability to track, process and maintain disposal records.
Kansas Judicial Panel Recommends Second Suspension for Judge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state disciplinary panel has recommended a second suspension for a district court judge suspended from the bench earlier this year over allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct. The Commission on Judicial Qualifications found that Sedgwick County Judge Timothy Henderson wasn't credible and candid when he testified last year about sexual-harassment accusations against him. The panel wants the state Supreme Court to suspend Henderson for 30 days and publicly censure him. The high court in February suspended Henderson from the bench without pay for three months over complaints that he made "repeated inappropriate and offensive remarks" to female staff members and prosecutors. Henderson's attorney says he'll file objections to the panel's findings.
Solomon Corporation Filling Rush Order of Transformers for Saipan
SOLOMON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas company is working to fill a rush order from the federal government to help a Pacific island commonwealth hit by a recent typhoon. The Salina Journal reports that more than 100 Solomon Corporation employees are working to fill the rush order from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help 55,000 people in Saipan get their power back on. FEMA hired the central Kansas company to supply 486 transformers to Saipan, a U.S. commonwealth in the western Pacific Ocean hit by Typhoon Soudelor in August. Solomon Corporation bills itself as the nation's leading rebuilder of transformers and other oil-filled electrical equipment. The firm's CEO, says the first 180 rebuilt transformers will be delivered this week.
Water Conference to Focus on Kansas Water Vision Plan
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The Governor's Water Conference next month will focus on implementation of the Kansas water vision plan. The two-day event begins November 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Manhattan. Other major topics slated for discussion include the development of additional water supplies for rural communities and ways to help the public understand water issues and the value of conservation. The Kansas State Water Office says the record breaking drought in recent years is focusing attention on the state's water needs and the role water plays in growing the economy.
Man Sentenced to 10 years in Prison in Kansas Cocaine Case
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Pennsylvania man who was arrested on Interstate 70 in Shawnee County last year with more than 13 pounds of cocaine in his possession has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said 37-year-old Jamal Shareef Williams, of Homestead, Pennsylvania, was sentenced Monday. He had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Kansas Highway Patrol troopers found the cocaine in hidden compartments in the rented pickup truck Williams was driving in July, 2014.
Royals Will Face Astros in ALDS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It will be the Houston Astros against the Kansas City Royals in the American League Division Series. The Astros shut out the New York Yankees 3-0 in the wild card Tuesday night. The Royals' manager Ned Yost announced Tuesday that hard-throwing youngster Yordano Ventura will be the starting pitcher in Game 1 of the series Thursday night in Kansas City. Yost said Johnny Cueto will pitch the second game and Edinson Volquez will start Game 3. The 24-year-old Ventura weathered a roller-coaster year that saw him briefly shipped to Triple-A. But the star of Game 6 of last year's World Series has rebounded down the stretch, going 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA in seven starts in September. Cueto is 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA in three postseason starts, all with Cincinnati. Volquez is 0-2 with a 12.15 ERA in two postseason starts with the Reds and Pirates.