Headlines for Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Lawrence Woman Found Dead; Grandson Arrested
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police say a 16-year-old boy is in custody after his grandmother was found dead in her home. Police Sergeant Trent McKinley says officers went to the woman's home Monday night after the boy reported that he found 67-year-old Deborah Bretthauer dead. McKinley says officers found obvious signs of traumatic injuries on the victim when they arrived. The boy was arrested after a police interview. The suspect's name has not been released.
Hospital Says KanCare Contractors Deny Legitimate Claims
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence Memorial Hospital officials say the three insurance companies managing Kansas' Medicaid system routinely turn down legitimate claims to hold down costs. The three contractors for the state's privatized Medicaid system, known as KanCare, deny the accusation. The Lawrence Journal-World reports other hospitals have made such accusations in the past. Taryn Schraad, who deals with insurance claims appeals at the Lawrence hospital, told a state legislative panel Tuesday that the facility frequently gets denial notices, often with no explanation given. Officials from the three companies that manage the system insisted they don't send out such notices without an explanation. The committee encouraged Lawrence hospital officials to return to the next meeting with examples of claim denials they found were unreasonable or unexplained.
Kansas Lawmakers Spar Over Mental Hospital's Safety Issues
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic legislator in Kansas says safety problems at a state mental hospital should prompt employee firings, but a Republican lawmaker argues it's too early to call for such actions. Democratic Representative Jim Ward of Wichita and GOP Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook of Shawnee sparred during a legislative committee hearing Tuesday over safety issues at Osawatomie State Hospital. Federal officials said earlier this month that the Medicare program would stop paying for patient care at the mental hospital in eastern Kansas. Among multiple issues, federal officials cited a report that a patient raped an employee in October. Ward said in the private sector, such problems would prompt firings. Pilcher-Cook said lawmakers should gather all the facts first. Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services Secretary Kari Bruffett declined to discuss personnel issues.
High Water in Southeast Kansas Closes Roadways
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) — Heavy rain has caused flooding in southeast Kansas, where several roadways have been closed because of high water. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Spring River, which on Tuesday was at about 30 feet, or 19 feet above flood stage. The weather service says the river is expected to fall below flood stage by Wednesday afternoon, but water was expected to hit more area highways. A few bridges over the Spring River in southeast and southwest Kansas were closed because of the high water. Cherokee County officials also said Tuesday that several county roads are closed because of the flooding. Earlier, heavy winds and rain late Sunday also caused a passenger plane to run off the taxiway at the Wichita airport. No injuries were reported.
Kansas Considers Stiffer Penalties for Water Violations
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas state officials are considering stiffer penalties for water violations. The Hutchinson News reports that the higher penalties are among four proposed changes that state water officials plan to present to Governor Sam Brownback's office by February 1. The plan is the result of 500 meetings and 15,000 comments over the past couple of years. They're all part of Brownback's effort to develop ideas to preserve and extend the state's water resources. The plan proposes fines for failing to provide water use information, unauthorized diversions, failure to install a flowmeter, tampering with a meter and falsifying a water use report.
Kansas Survey to Study Dropping Groundwater Levels
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Crews are undertaking an annual effort to monitor changes in groundwater levels in western and central Kansas. The University of Kansas says the Kansas Geological Survey will measure nearly 570 wells beginning early next month. The Kansas Department of Agriculture's Division of Water Resources will measure about 830 additional wells. Ninety percent of the wells to be measured draw water from the massive High Plains aquifer system, which consists largely of the Ogallala aquifer. The remaining 10 percent are drilled into the Dakota aquifer and other deeper systems or shallow alluvial aquifers along creeks and rivers. The data are used by landowners, state and federal agencies, local groundwater management districts, private entities and the general public. Water levels in the 1,400-well network as a whole declined an average of 0.87 feet during 2014.
4 of 5 Suspects in Plot Against Hutchinson High School Plead
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Four of five teenagers who were charged in an alleged plot to attack Hutchinson High School entered no contest pleas to felony criminal threat and were placed on probation. The fifth suspect entered a plea in the case on December 15. Prosecutors say the teenagers in April threatened on social media sites to commit mass murder at the high school. They were arrested after a parent discovered the threats and contacted the school. The five were originally charged with solicitation to commit murder but that charge was dropped as part of the plea bargains. All the students must write letters of apology to the Hutchinson school district. The Hutchinson News reports that District Judge Patricia Macke Dick ordered them to serve four months of supervised probation.
Arizona Company Must Pay Fines, Reimburse Kansas Customers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An Arizona company that told customers it was selling products to help a charitable organization has been ordered to pay $10,000 and reimburse customers. A Shawnee County District Court also ordered Phoenix-based American Handicapped and Disabled Workers to stop collecting payments from Kansas customers. The company's owner is Adli Najib Dasuqi of Waterford, Michigan. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release Wednesday the company's telemarketers sold household items such as light bulbs and trash bags. The products were priced above market value but the telemarketers misled consumers into believing that the company was a charity or had a charitable purpose. Kansas residents seeking reimbursement from the company should contact the Consumer Protection Division at (800) 432-2310, or visit its website at InYourCornerKansas.org.
Kansas City Man Sentenced for 2013 Killing During Robbery
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 27-year-old Kansas City man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing another man during an attempted robbery. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors say Willie J. Gibson Jr. was sentenced Wednesday. He was found guilty last month of second-degree murder, attempted robbery and armed criminal action in the death of 29-year-old James Jackson.
University of Kansas Expands Fast-Track Law Degree Program
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is extending its fast-track law degree program to undergraduates at Kansas State University. The Lawrence Journal-Worldsays the Lawrence school will expand the program to Kansas State University then to other Kansas Board of Regents universities. The University of Kansas launched its Legal Education Accelerated Degree program for its undergraduates in 2012. The so-called "3+3" program allows students to earn a bachelor's and a law degree in just six years instead of the usual seven. The University of Kansas is the only regents university with a law school. Steven Freedman, assistant dean for admissions at the KU law school, says the first Kansas State freshmen are to begin the program next fall and would enter the law school at Kansas University three years later.
Man Who Helped Suspect in Topeka Officer's Death Sentenced
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man was sentenced to more than two years in prison for helping the man who killed a Topeka police officer in 2014. 31-year-old Randy Allen Ridens Jr., was sentenced Tuesday to two years and three months in prison for obstructing justice and possession of stolen property. Ridens helped Ross Preston Lane escape after Lane shot Police Corporal Jason Harwood in Topeka during a traffic stop in 2014. Prosecutors say Ridens picked up Lane after the shooting and drove him away from the scene. He was arrested in Lawrence. Lane was sentenced to life in prison without parole for capital murder in Harwood's death. He was found dead in his cell on December 24. The death is being investigated.
Manhattan Staging New Year's Eve Ball Drop
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Up to 10,000 New Year's Eve revelers are expected to turn out in the Kansas town known as "the Little Apple" for a ball-drop event modeled after the one in New York's Times Square. Manhattan is staging its annual New Year's Eve celebration in the Aggieville bar and entertainment district. Thursday's festivities begin at 10:30 pm and include music and fireworks. The event culminates at midnight with the lowering of a ball from atop Varney's bookstore. It's reminiscent of the ball drop in the Big Apple, a Times Square tradition for more than a century.
Body of Drowning Victim Recovered in Southwest Missouri
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. (AP) — The body of a Kansas man who drowned during flooding in southwest Missouri has been recovered. Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant John Lueckenhoff says the body of 30-year-old Christopher William Forman, of Erie, Kansas, was recovered Tuesday from the Spring River. Forman's body was found one-third of a mile downstream from where his truck left a county road early Monday north of Carl Junction in Jasper County. Lueckenhoff says Forman drove into high waters and troopers saw him swept away as they were rescuing another driver. Forman is one of 13 flood-related deaths reported since the weekend. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's office has said 12 of the victims were in vehicles that drove into flooded roadways. Lueckenhoff says searches continue for two other suspected drowning victims in Pulaski and Polk counties.
Police Investigate Fatal Shooting in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating a fatal shooting. The Kansas City Star reports that officers found the victim Tuesday night while responding to a report of an outside disturbance. The victim had suffered a gunshot wound and died at the scene. No other information was immediately available. Police are urging anyone with information to come forward.
5 Arrests Made in Stabbing Death of Wichita Man
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Five people have been arrested in the stabbing death of a Wichita man whose body was found in a sport utility vehicle on Christmas Eve. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Captain Greg Pollock announced the arrests during a news conference Tuesday. The suspects range in age from 20 to 28. The five suspects are jailed in the death of 42-year-old Moises Arias-Aranda. Park City police officer found Arias-Aranda dead in a maroon, 1994 Ford Explorer shortly before 7 pm December 24. Four were arrested Monday in Wichita, while an Oklahoma man was arrested there on Tuesday. Three of the other suspects are from Wichita, while the fifth is from California.
Knicks Player Cleanthony Early Shot in Leg Outside Club
NEW YORK (AP) — New York Knicks player Cleanthony Early has been shot in the leg during a robbery outside a Queens strip club. Two law enforcement officials say Early, who formerly played at Wichita State, was in a cab at around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday outside the club CityScapes when the vehicle was surrounded by at least two other cars. The officials say masked men got out and demanded Early's "gold," took a necklace and other belongings and shot him in the right leg. The officials were not authorized to release the victim's name and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The 24-year-old Early is hospitalized in stable condition. The team said in a statement that it was aware of the incident and relieved it wasn't life-threatening.
No. 2 Kansas Pulls Away for 78-53 Victory over UC Irvine
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Jayhawks' Perry Ellis had 14 points and Frank Mason III added 13 as No. 2 Kansas pulled away in the second half to beat UC Irvine 78-53 Tuesday night in Lawrence. It's the Jayhawks' final game before pursuing a 12th consecutive Big 12 championship. The Jayhawks (11-1) trailed 26-22 late in the first half. But a 22-2 spurt after the break allowed them to seize control, and a couple of big baskets by Ellis and Landen Lucas down the stretch put Irvine (10-5) away. Brannen Greene finished with 10 points, and Devonte Graham had nine for the Jayhawks, who have won 10 straight since blowing a second-half lead in their only loss to No. 1 Michigan State on November 17.
Kansas State Cruises Past Saint Louis for a 75-47 Win
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Wildcats' Wesley Iwundu scored 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists as K-State used a dominant second half to top Saint Louis 75-47 and complete nonconference play with a 10-2 record. Kamau Stokes finished with 11 points and Justin Edwards scored 10 to go along with 6 rebounds. Kansas State had a 54-40 lead as the clock ticked down to five minutes and Saint Louis managed just five points at the end of the match to give the Wildcats a 28-point win.