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Headlines for Thursday, December 3, 2015


Kansas Clergy Says Refugee Order Violates Religious Liberty 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A coalition of Kansas clergy has offered a petition to Governor Sam Brownback's administration asking the governor to rescind an executive order attempting to halt the relocation of Syrian refugees in the state. The Wichita Eagle reported Wednesday that the group representing more than 50 Kansas churches says the order impedes their religious liberty to help refugees. Brownback issued the order on Nov. 16 directing that no state agency or organization receiving grant money through the state government to participate or assist "in any way in the relocation of Syrian refugees to Kansas" in the wake of the November attacks in Paris. Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said the state has always welcomed refugees, but the federal government cannot guarantee security checks regarding the resettlement of refugees.


Former Kansas Man Pleads Guilty in Unlawful-Voting Case 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man who illegally voted in both Kansas and Arkansas while moving has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The Kansas City Star reports that Steven Gaedtke entered the plea Wednesday in Johnson County District Court. The case against the Air Force veteran was among the first to be filed under a new state law giving Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach the power to prosecute election fraud allegations. Defense attorney Scott Gyllenborg says his client "made a mistake." Gaedtke and his wife applied for advance voting ballots in Johnson County for the 2010 general election and submitted them while they were traveling back and forth over several months from Olathe to a home in Arkansas. During that time, they also voted in person in Arkansas.


Kansas Voters Temporarily Drop Push to Block Citizenship Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Lawyers for two northeast Kansas voters have temporarily withdrawn a request for a court order blocking the state from enforcing registration restrictions. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson canceled a hearing scheduled Friday in the federal lawsuit after the request was withdrawn Thursday. Alder Cromwell of Lawrence and Cody Keener of Eudora are challenging a 2013 law requiring new voters to document their U.S. citizenship when registering and Secretary of State Kris Kobach's directive to county election officials to cancel registrations remaining incomplete after 90 days. Kobach's office found documents for Cromwell and Kenner and completed their registrations after the lawsuit was filed.  Attorney Will Lawrence said their lawyers will submit a new request on behalf of all voters with incomplete registrations. Kobach said the lawsuit is "shot through with holes.'' 


Kansas Lawmaker Calls for Audit of Child Welfare Agency

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker plans to ask for an audit to determine whether the Kansas Department for Children and Families discriminates against same-sex couples in foster care and adoption cases. Representative Jim Ward, a Democrat from Wichita, said he will ask the audit December 10th when the Legislative Post-Audit Committee meets. The Wichita Eagle reports Ward's request comes after a Topeka city councilman and his wife were granted custody of a child over a lesbian couple from Wichita last year based on a recommendation from the state agency. The lesbian couple had cared for the child for 11 months. The Topeka couple, Jonathan and Allison Schumm, were charged in November with one count each of aggravated battery and four counts of endangering a child.


Car Fleeing from Police Crashes into Apartment Building

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A car fleeing from police has crashed into a Kansas City apartment building and caused an explosion. The Kansas City Star reports that the explosion occurred shortly before 3 pm Tuesday and tore off one side of the building. Kansas City police Captain Dan Graves said officers were investigating a burglary and followed the car to the building. While trying to arrest the occupants, the car then attempted to flee, driving onto the grass and performing a "doughnut" on the lawn before crashing into the building. The crash damaged the gas lines to the building, allowing gas to escape into the air. Police helped to evacuate the apartments, moving people away from the building. Utility workers and fire officials were called to the scene.


Crash Kills Pedestrian in Kansas City Suburb of Olathe


OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A pedestrian has died in a suburban Kansas City crash that shut down southbound lanes of Interstate 35 for nearly four hours. The Kansas City Star reports that a vehicle struck the pedestrian shortly after 3 am Thursday along the interstate in Olathe. The Kansas Department of Transportation said all lanes of the highway were reopened by 7 am.


Man, Child Injured in Single-Engine Kansas Plane Crash


MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Two people have been injured in a single-engine plane crash in Barber County. Barber County Sheriff Justin Rugg says the plane went down east of Medicine Lodge on Wednesday around 4:55 pm. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash occurred as the pilot was trying to land the plane. The pilot attempted to pull back when part of the plane caught a fence. It flipped and came to a rest on its top.KWCH-TV reports that the pilot and passenger on the plane were transported to a hospital. The pilot, 71-year-old Gary Wright of Medicine Lodge, could have sustained serious injuries. The four-year-old passenger received minor injuries. The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified of the crash.


Kansas Police Chief to Resign After Drunken Driving Arrest

ARMA, Kan. (AP) — Arma Mayor Buddy Bualle says the town's police chief is on unpaid leave and plans to resign after his arrest in a single-car accident. Pittsburg police reports say chief Jeremy Allen was arrested after his car hit a cow early Friday. The reports say Allen was arrested and booked into the Crawford County Jail after he failed a field sobriety test. The Pittsburg Morning-Sun reports Bualle said Allen has put himself on unpaid leave and plans to resign. Bualle says he plans to present the resignation to the city council on Monday. Allen became police chief in September 2013. The cow was uninjured.


Junction City Man Sentenced for Murder of Informant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Junction City man was sentenced Wednesday to life in federal prison for killing a woman to stop her from giving information on his drug trafficking to federal law enforcement officers. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says Marcus D. Roberson was convicted in March 2014 of murder, and conspiracy to distribute crack and powder cocaine. Prosecutors say Roberson shot the victim four times in central Junction City. Her body was found in her vehicle and the murder weapon was found in a pond behind a Junction City Walmart. Prosecutors also presented evidence of Roberson's involvement in a ring that distributed powder and crack cocaine in the Junction City area. Seven co-defendants have been sentenced in the case.


Manhattan Pastors Press for Sexual Orientation Protection 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Nine Manhattan pastors are pushing for sexual orientation and gender identity protections. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the pastors want the protections added to an anti-discrimination ordinance. Richard Gehring, co-pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Church, read a letter Tuesday during the Manhattan City Commission meeting to push for employment, housing and public accommodation protections. Gehring says the pastors felt the need to speak because religion is often cited as a justification for discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The pastors' statement came after the Flint Hills Human Rights Project advocated for sexual orientation and gender identity protections during a commission meeting last month. In 2011, the commission passed and then repealed an ordinance that placed sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in areas of employment.


Development of Kansas-Owned Casino Delayed for Second Time 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Lottery has granted an extension to a planned state-owned casino for a second time due to a lawsuit filed by Cherokee County and another casino company that wanted the contract to build and run it. The Joplin Globe reports that the lottery granted a 90-day extension to the Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel Wednesday. The casino was originally supposed to open in July 2016. Cherokee County and casino company Castle Rock filed a lawsuit claiming that the decision by state regulators to award the casino contract to Kansas Crossing in Crawford County was arbitrary. Kansas Crossing got the contract even though its $70 million proposal was dwarfed by Castle Rock's plans for a $145 million development. Developer Bruce Christenson, the lead investor in the project, said the delay is a frivolous legal action.


3 Charged in Deadly Barton County Shooting 

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Three people have been charged in the shooting death of a Great Bend man during a break-in. Twenty-year-old Alejo Villegas, 22-year-old Juventino Villegas and Adam Eugene Suppes were charged last week with first-degree murder in the November 15 shooting of Aron Villegas. The 23-year-old died at a Great Bend hospital. The three Great Bend suspects also face charges that include aggravated burglary and criminal damage to property. Alejo Villegas is jailed in Barton County and Juventino Villegas in Russell County on $1 million bond. Suppes was released after posting a $250,000 bond. Suppes's attorney didn't immediately return a phone call. Barton County attorney Doug Matthews says he hasn't been notified that the other two have attorneys. The Great Bend Police Department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation continue investigating.


Suspect in Salina Girl's Death to Be Tried on Intimidation Charges

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of in the shooting death of a Salina teenager will stand trial on a charge of aggravated intimidation of a witness in the murder case. Andrew M. Woodring will be tried in May on the intimidation charge. His trial for first-degree murder and other charges is scheduled for April. Woodring and four others are accused of shooting 17-year-old Allie Saum to death in May. Saum was a passenger in a truck that police say some of the defendants mistakenly believed belonged to someone from an earlier confrontation. The Salina Journal reports that prosecutors believe Woodring tried to convince an ex-girlfriend to "do something about" a female he thought was going to testify in the murder case. The ex-girlfriend testified Wednesday that she never contacted the woman.


Jogger Dies After Being Struck by Vehicle in Cherokee County 

RIVERTON, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested in a crash that killed a southeast Kansas jogger. The Joplin Globe reports that 26-year-old Marcus Bunce was struck Tuesday night near his Riverton home. He was pronounced dead at the Joplin, Missouri, hospital where he and fiancée worked as nurses. The Cherokee County sheriff's office says a Riverton man was arrested Tuesday night and taken to the Cherokee County Jail on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of an injury crash. The man is being held on $20,000 bond.


Kansas City Responds to Legislation Against Earnings Tax 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City civic and business leaders say a Missouri lawmaker's effort to eliminate the city's earning tax would decimate the city's budget if it succeeds. Missouri state senator Kurt Schaefer pre-filed a bill Tuesday that would eliminate the earnings taxes in Kansas City and St. Louis. He says the tax is outdated and "clearly unconstitutional." In a public statement issued Wednesday, Mayor Sly James and business leaders said Schafer's bill is based on incorrect legal reasoning and is state government interference with local control. The 1 percent earnings and corporate profits tax generated nearly $234 million in the fiscal year that ended April 30. The Kansas City Star reports many Kansas City political leaders don't expect Schaefer's bill to get much traction in the next session.


Missouri Man Gets 15 Years for Armed Bank Robbery in Kansas 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for an armed bank robbery in suburban Kansas City. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 34-year-old Landein Craddock, of Kansas City, Missouri, admitted in his plea that he displayed a revolver when he and another man robbed the Bank of the West in Overland Park, Kansas. Authorities say Craddock shouted at employees and customers to get on the ground and pointed a gun in the face of one of the bank employees. Another man, who is awaiting sentencing, jumped the counter and collected money from tellers. Shortly after the robbery, police spotted the two men and pursued their vehicle until it crashed in Kansas City, Missouri. Craddock was arrested about a block away from the accident scene.


Wichita Woman Given 6 Years in Prison for Daughter's Death 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman was sentenced to six years in prison in the death of her 3-year-old daughter. Monica Krueger was sentenced Thursday for second-degree reckless murder and obstruction of prosecution in the June 2014 death of her daughter, Emma, in Wichita. Prosecutors said Krueger knew her boyfriend, Evan Schuessler, was abusing the girl but continued to leave the child in his care and did not report the abuse. The Wichita Eagle reports that Krueger's attorney argued Schuessler controlled Krueger and she didn't see signs of the abuse until it was too late. The attorney asked for probation or no more than five years in prison. Prosecutors sought 10 years in prison. Schuessler was sentenced last month to more than 16 years in prison for second-degree intentional murder and child abuse.


Topeka Man Sentenced in Death of Innocent Bystander 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man was sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison for his role in the shooting death of a woman who was not the intended target of the shooter. Jermaine Thomas Brown was sentenced Thursday for the 2012 death of Terri Sims, who was shot several times when she answered her front door at her Topeka home. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports prosecutors said Brown, a member of the Gangster Disciples, had ordered a hit on a man who was a boyfriend of Sims' daughter. Brown believed the intended target had vandalized Brown's car. Brown pleaded guilty in October to intentional second-degree murder, solicitation of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Two other counts of solicitation of first-degree murder were dismissed.


TPG Growth Purchases Texas-Based Taco Bueno Tex-Mex Chain 

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (AP) — The parent company of the Taco Bueno Tex-Mex restaurant chain has been sold to TPG Growth, a unit of private investment firm TPG. Terms of the acquisition were not released Wednesday. The seller is Palladium Equity Partners LLC. Palladium in 2005 acquired TB Corporation, based in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch. The company has 177 restaurants, in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Colorado.


Arkansas State University-Beebe Names Next Chancellor 

BEEBE, Ark. (AP) — The vice president of academics at Butler Community College in Kansas has been selected as the next chancellor at Arkansas State University-Beebe. ASU System President Charles Welch on Thursday said Karla Fisher will succeed Eugene McKay as ASU-Beebe chancellor. McKay announced in May that he will retire in January after 21 years as chancellor. Fisher will begin work at ASU-Beebe on January 16 at an annual salary of $183,000. ASU-Beebe has more than 4,500 students and has additional campuses at Heber Springs, Searcy and the Little Rock Air Force Base.


Ex-Dallas RB Randle Makes Casino Arrest Court Appearance 

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle says his future is "to be continued" after making his first court appearance in a Kansas casino altercation case. KAKE-TV reports that the 23-year-old Randle was given a 30-day continuance during Thursday's appearance so he could hire an attorney. He is charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and interference with a law enforcement officer in the November 24 disturbance at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. Randle told the judge he plans to plead not guilty. When he was arrested, he already had been suspended for four games under the NFL's personal conduct policy. He says he's "got to get through this rough phase" and that he will "see how it goes" after the suspension ends Sunday.


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