Headlines for Monday, December 14, 2015
Kansas Officials Protest Possible Guantanamo Closing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have sent President Barack Obama a letter protesting the possible move of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. The letter Monday said moving terrorism suspects to northeast Kansas would jeopardize families, schools and local businesses. All six members of the state's congressional delegation signed the letter, as did Governor Sam Brownback, legislators and local officials. The letter followed a town hall meeting Friday in Leavenworth sponsored by U.S. Representatives Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo. Their signatures appeared first, along with that of Leavenworth Mayor Lisa Weakley. Closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center has been a priority for Obama but continues to inspire congressional opposition. The Defense Department earlier this year surveyed seven potential sites for housing detainees in Kansas, Colorado and South Carolina.
Kansas Governor Wants Lawmakers to Leave Tax Cuts in Place
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback argues that Kansas legislators shouldn't tinker further with the state's tax cuts next year. He maintains the state budget is in good shape despite a projected shortfall because his economic policies are working. The governor spent much of a recent Associated Press interview citing statistics to bolster his argument that deep cuts in personal income taxes he championed in past years are boosting the economy. The state has struggled to balance its $15 billion budget since those tax cuts and still faces a projected deficit of about $160 million for the fiscal year that begins in July. Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka says the state's budget problems show that Brownback's policies have failed.
Number of Tornadoes Rises in Kansas But Most Weaker Than Normal
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Meteorologists say Kansas saw more tornadoes than normal this year, but most were weak and short-lived. The Wichita Eagle reports there were 108 tornadoes in Kansas by the end of August, about 18 more than normal for that period. Only a few days qualified as tornado outbreaks in Kansas, including one that came in November when 15 twisters touched down in the southwest and northwest parts of the state. The National Weather Service says it was the first time tornadoes have touched down in November in northwest Kansas since official tornadoes began being kept more than 50 years ago.
Kansas Supreme Court Hears Kleypas Death-Penalty Appeal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The first prisoner condemned to death in Kansas in more than three decades is again asking the state's highest court to throw out his sentence. The Kansas Supreme Court heard two hours of arguments Monday morning involving 60-year-old Gary Kleypas's appeal. Kleypas was convicted of rape and murder in the death of 20-year-old Pittsburg State University student Carrie Williams in 1996. After the state Supreme Court in 2001 overturned Kleypas's death sentence, another jury restored it in 2008. At the time of Williams's death, Kleypas was on parole for a 1977 murder in Missouri. The Kansas Supreme Court last month upheld a death sentence for the first time since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1994.
Freed Kansas Inmate Faces Challenge Receiving Compensation
OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) — Floyd Bledsoe of Oskaloosa isn't getting any monetary apology from the state's taxpayers is after serving 15 years for a killing his brother admitted to in a suicide note. Floyd Bledsoe was also exonerated by new DNA evidence. But unlike more than half of U.S. states, Kansas has no law setting forth the monetary value of lost time for the wrongly convicted. That leaves 39-year-old Bledsoe with the options of suing the state or filing a claim with the state Legislature. Payouts to the exonerated vary considerably from state to state. Some offer automatic, set amounts regardless of how much time was served. A representative of the Midwest Innocence Project said Bledsoe will consider the options available to him for compensation.
Kansas Woman Accused in Killing of Stepson Hears Charges
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman accused in the death of her missing 7-year-old stepson has briefly appeared before a judge. Heather Jones was charged Friday with first-degree murder and child abuse in the death of a child whom authorities believe to be her stepson. She's in custody on $5 million bond. Her husband, Michael Jones, is in custody on the same charges. Heather Jones appeared Monday via a video feed before a Wyandotte County judge, who read the charges to her and set her next court appearance for December 22. No lawyer is listed to comment on her behalf. Police said the child was reported missing after authorities called to the family's home last month found a juvenile's remains at the property. Tests to identify the remains are expected to take weeks.
Kansas City TV Crew Robbed at Gunpoint
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police have arrested three people after a local television news crew reported they were robbed at gunpoint while working on a story. The Kansas City Star reports that three men, including one armed with a handgun, held up the KCTV news crew late Sunday while the crew members were working in a residential area. A member of the TV crew told police they were in the news van when three men pulled the door to the van open. Police said the thieves took off with cellphones and wallets. Police arrested three people early Monday and recovered the stolen items.
Dodge City Officer Among Suspects Given Hunting Citation
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Dodge City police officer and at least one other suspect have been cited for illegal deer hunting practices. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that members of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks received reports of a possible illegal deer hunt in Spearville Wednesday. The suspects allegedly used a two-way communication device. Dodge City Police Chief Craig Mellecker says wildlife officers cited one of his officers who was allegedly involved in the incident. No disciplinary action has been taken on the officer, but an investigation is possible pending more information. The charges that the suspects could face for using communication devices are misdemeanors if it's their first offense. The penalties are a fine between $500 and $1,000 or up to 6 months in jail and the possibility of hunting licenses revoked for up to one year.
Kansas Clinic Uncertain About Accepting USDA Loan
OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas mental health facility director is uncertain if the facility will accept a $1.1 million federal loan because of concerns about jeopardizing state funding. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it's awarded the $1.1 million loan to The Guidance Center to expand its Oskaloosa clinic. Keith Rickard, executive director of The Guidance Center, says the center's board of directors hasn't decided if it will take the money because of funding concerns. He says the center relies on Medicaid, which provides about $6.5 million of its budget. The state general fund also granted it about $960,000 in past years. A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services said concerns about state grant funding are unfounded.
Kansas School Regents to Mull Notations for Sexual Assault
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Board of Regents is set to discuss a proposal that would require all state universities to add a notation on a student's transcript if the student is expelled for sexual assault. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Regents Council of Presidents, made up of leaders of the six state universities, will take up the issue at next Wednesday's meeting. Regents spokeswoman Breeze Richardson says the presidents have "confidently'' agreed that they want such a requirement. She says the proposal will likely go to the Regents Governance Committee in January, and if approved, will be forwarded to the full Board of Regents for a vote.
Permanently Injured Kansas Child Awarded $109 Million
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas child who suffered permanent brain damage and blindness when he was beaten as an infant was awarded $109 million from the man accused of attacking him. Romeo Whitebird was 7 months old when he was injured by his mother's boyfriend in April 2014 at a Holton apartment complex. The boy is now 2. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a Jackson County (Kansas) District Court ruling last Friday ordered Koylen Corbin McKinney to pay the judgment. McKinney is serving a nine-year prison sentence for the boy's injuries. However, Topeka attorney Dan Lykins says McKinney is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, which entitles him to royalties from oil production for the rest of his life. Lykins says McKinney chose not to respond to the lawsuit.
Kansas Police Department Using Software to Predict Crime
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas police department is trying to utilize analytical software to help its officers patrol more effectively and lower the city's high crime rate. The Wichita Eagle reports that the predictive policing software calculates where crimes are likely to happen after being fed crime reports and other statistics. But Newton Police Department Lieutenant Bryan Hall says it has been difficult for the department to use the fully potential of the technology because it is short-staffed, and most of the officers do not have time to do preventive police work. Hall says only he has access to the program that runs predictions, but the department will likely give courses to its officers on how to use the software in January.
Double Amputee Manages to Crawl Through Fire to Safety
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita double amputee says she didn't have time to panic before managing to crawl to safety after waking up to flames next to her bed. KAKE-TV reports Theresa Williams threw herself off her bed Sunday morning and struggled to get out of her home as it began to burn. She was able to crawl from her bedroom to her front door, but that was the easy part compared to reaching two locks to get the door open. A next-door neighbor called 911 after hearing Williams yelling and falling to the floor. By the time Williams got out of her home neighbors were coming to her aid. She lost her home and all of her possessions in the blaze.
Police Find Body of Man Dead in Car in East Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A person has been found dead in a car in east Topeka after a woman reported finding a bloody phone near her back door. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the body of a white male was found around 4:25 am Sunday. The body was inside a vehicle that was stopped in the middle of the street. Officers responded to the scene following a report of "unknown trouble." Police say the incident is being investigated as a homicide. No arrests have been made in the incident.
Kansas Sampler Festival to End After 2017
INMAN, Kan. (AP) — The popular Kansas Sampler Festival will end nearly three decades of operation after the 2017 event in Winfield. Kansas Sampler Foundation Director Marci Penner said this week that the event is ending because it is time to do something different. The Hutchinson News reports last year's festival in Wamego drew a record attendance of 12,000 and had so many exhibitors that some had to be turned away. The festival is designed to provide the public with information about what to do in Kansas, particularly in rural areas. Penner says the organization wants to start discussing what the next step will be this winter. The emphasis will be on getting people out to Kansas locations, rather than providing information in one place.
Wichita State Considers Restarting Football Program
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University President John Bardo says the school's athletic department is being thoroughly reviewed, including discussions about whether to resume a football program. Bardo and deputy athletic director Darron Boatright are in the early stages of the department review and decisions about its future could take up to a year. The university dropped its football program after the 1986 season. Bardo says he is seeking input from Wichita residents and alumni about what they want in an athletic program and what they will pay to support. Bardo and Boatright say they will likely hire consultants to complete the review.
Kansas High School Team Sets Record with 63 Straight Wins
ST. JOHN, Kan. (AP) — A boys basketball team from St. John is celebrating a state record for consecutive wins. St. John, in Stafford County, won its 63rd straight game Saturday with a 55-43 win over Larned. The previous record was held by Wichita Heights, which won 62 straight from 2009 to 2012. Before that, Moundridge won 59 consecutive games and held the record for 18 years. The Wichita Eagle reports that Coach Clint Kinnamon says the team tried not to talk about the streak and he urged them to concentrate on one game at a time. St. John (4-0) is the two-time defending Class 2A champion and also won the 2013 1A-I title. The Tigers' last loss was at Word of Life on February 12, 2013.
Chiefs' Defense Prevails in 10-3 Win Over Chargers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs kept the San Diego Chargers out of the end zone twice in the final seconds Sunday, preserving a 10-3 victory and their seventh consecutive win. Chiefs' QB Alex Smith threw for 191 yards and a touchdown, along with his first interception after a franchise-record 312 attempts. Kansas City's defense held San Diego without a touchdown for the second time this season and allowed the Chiefs (8-5) to escape a rainy Arrowhead Stadium with another win. The Chargers (3-10) took over at their own 11 with 5 minutes left and quickly moved into Kansas City territory, converting fourth downs three times. But after San Diego was called for delay of game at the Chiefs 1 yard line with 5 seconds left, Chargers QB Philip Rivers threw incomplete into the end zone. The Chiefs spilled onto the field to celebrate another big win in their playoff chase.
Michigan State, KU Remain as Numbers 1 and 2 in AP Top 25 Poll
Michigan State and the University of Kansas remain the top two teams in The Associated Press college basketball poll. The Spartans (11-0) are a runaway number 1, receiving all but one first-place vote from the 65-member national media panel on Monday. Kansas (8-1) was on top of the other ballot. Oklahoma, after its impressive win over Villanova, jumps from seventh to third and is followed by Kentucky, Iowa State, Maryland, Duke, Virginia, Purdue and Xavier.