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Headlines for Wednesday, November 2, 2022



Kansas Suspends Men's Basketball Coach and Assistant Coach for 4 Games Amid NCAA Infractions Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP/KPR) — The University of Kansas has suspended Hall of Fame coach Bill Self and top assistant Kurtis Townsend for the first four games of the basketball season. The Jayhawks also imposed several recruiting restrictions as part of the fallout from a lengthy FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. Norm Roberts will be the acting coach for the defending national champions beginning with their opener Monday night against Omaha. Self and Townsend also will miss games against North Dakota State and Southern Utah, along with a high-profile showdown between the No. 5 Jayhawks and No. 7 Duke in the Champions Classic.

The University of Kansas informed the NCAA’s IRP (Independent Resolution Panel) last week that it was self-imposing several sanctions in response to its ongoing basketball case, which originated in 2017. The sanctions include:

  • Four-game suspension for Head Coach Bill Self and Assistant Coach Kurtis Townsend to be served during the first four regular season games of the 2022-23 season.
  • The absence of Self and Townsend from all off-campus recruiting-related activities for four months (April through July 2022).
  • The reduction of four official visits during this academic year and in 2023-24.
  • The reduction of three total scholarships in Men’s Basketball; to be distributed over the next three years.
  • The implementation of a six-week ban on recruiting communications, a six-week ban on unofficial visits and a thirteen-day reduction in the number of permissible recruiting days during the 2022-23 calendar year.
  • No official visits for the 2022 "Late Night in the Phog" event.

“Throughout this process, we have had ongoing conversations with all the involved parties,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “We believe the actions we are announcing today move us closer to resolving this matter. We look forward to commenting further when this process is fully resolved. Until then, I want to reiterate our unwavering support of Coach Self and our Men’s Basketball program.”

“We are hopeful these difficult self-imposed sanctions will assist in bringing the case to a conclusion,” KU Director of Athletics Travis Goff said. “Until then, we will continue to focus on supporting our outstanding Men’s Basketball student-athletes and coaches. Assistant Coach Norm Roberts will serve as interim head coach during the first four games. Per confidentiality guidelines related to infraction cases, we are unable to comment in depth until there is full resolution of this matter.”

“Coach Townsend and I accept and support KU’s decision to self-impose these sanctions,” Self said. “We are in good hands with Coach Roberts, and I am confident that he will do a great job on the bench leading our team. I am proud of the way our guys have handled this situation and I look forward to returning to the bench for our game against NC State.”


Kansas Governor's Race Likely the Most Expensive in State History

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - The Kansas governor's race is now almost certainly the most expensive in the state's history, as both Governor Laura Kelly and her opponent, Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, reported spending millions heading into the November 8 election. In reports filed this week with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, Kelly's campaign maintained a fundraising advantage in the most recent fundraising cycle, which was between late July and mid-October. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kelly reported raising $3.1 million bringing her to over $7.7 million for the election as a whole, a little under double what she raised during her 2018 campaign. Her campaign spent $3.7 million during that time period. Schmidt, meanwhile, reported raising $1.7 million, bringing his total to around $4 million for the election.

Schmidt spent $2.5 million in the most recent reporting period and also benefited from an additional $480,000 in in-kind contributions, primarily mailers sent by the Kansas Republican Party on his behalf. Both candidates have similar amounts of cash remaining in their campaign coffers. CJ Grover, Schmidt's campaign manager, said Kelly's fundraising totals were an example of "liberal coastal elites pouring money into Democrat campaigns." Combined, the two major party candidates alone have spent more than $10 million so far this election cycle.

The candidate's reports don't include spending from outside groups, which has been voluminous in the race. The Republican Governors' Association raised over $7.8 million and spent $8 million on behalf of Schmidt, dwarfing either candidate's fundraising. The governor's race is expected to be close, with the most recent public polling released last month showing the race to effectively be a tossup.

In the attorney general race, Democrats also registered a fundraising advantage. Democrat Chris Mann raised $952,000 and spent a little over $1 million in the most recent fundraising cycle. That is about twice as much as his Republican opponent, Kris Kobach, who brought in $465,000 and spent $645,000.

In the state treasurer's race between Democrat incumbent Lynn Rogers Republican Steven Johnson, both sides spent and raised similar amounts. Johnson, a state representative from Assaria, reported bringing in a little over $250,000 and spent just shy of $297,000. Rogers, meanwhile, raised a little under $228,000 and spent $286,000.


Kansas City Man Sentenced to 18 Years in Sex Trafficking Case Involving Teenage Girls

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - A Kansas City man who pleaded guilty to selling women and teenage girls through the sex trade has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Corey Lavelle Smith pleaded guilty in March to two felonies for sex trafficking and participating in a sex trafficking conspiracy in the Western District of Missouri. On Tueday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs ordered Smith to spend 18 years in prison without the possibility of parole. The case against Smith as a local sex trafficker began when a 14-year-old girl, identified in court documents as FV1, was treated at Children’s Mercy Hospital in December 2018 after being involved in a traffic crash involving a stolen vehicle. The teenager was treated at the hospital and screened for signs of sexual assault as she reported to staff that she had been “physically forced to have sex” and “had previously had sex for money.”

She told police she was forced into prostitution around the Kansas City area and advertised on the internet. If she was paid $150, she said, Smith would keep all but $10 or $20. She estimated she had performed 10 commercial sex acts within the week before Smith’s arrest. Prosecutors say another person involved in the sex trafficking conspiracy, 29-year-old Kenyashae Monae Roach, of Kansas City, still awaits sentencing. Roach pleaded guilty in March to a felony of transportation for illegal sexual activity.


Kansas Ex-Undersheriff Not Guilty in Fatal Beanbag Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas undersheriff has been found not guilty in the death of a man he shot with a defective beanbag round. Virgil Brewer was charged with reckless involuntary manslaughter in the October 2017 death of Steven Myers in Sun City, 300 miles from Kansas City, Kansas. A Wyandotte County jury deliberated for four hours after a weeklong trial before returning the verdict Wednesday. Investigators say Brewer shot Myers with a defective beanbag round from his personal shotgun. Brewer and two other officers were responding to a call about an armed man on a street after an altercation at a bar. Myers was not armed when he was shot.


Lawrence Judge Gives Convicted Rapist 5 Years' Probation, DA Plans to Appeal Sentence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A Lawrence man convicted of rape in Douglas County District Court was granted probation on Tuesday after a judge suspended his underlying sentence of nearly 13 years. Soon after, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would appeal the judge’s decision. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a jury convicted 23-year-old Ray Charles Atkins Jr. of one felony count of rape in August for an incident in July 2019, in Lawrence. He was 19 at the time and the girl he was convicted of raping was 17. The victim, a Wichita teenager, was visiting her sister, a student at the University of Kansas, at the time of the rape. During the sentencing hearing Tuesday, the victim had called ahead and told the court that she would not be able to attend until 10:45 am but that she did want to address the court. The hearing began at 9 am and senior Judge James Fleetwood declined to delay the proceedings until the victim arrived. The victim did not arrive in time to speak on her own behalf.

Atkins was facing a maximum sentence of more than 13 years. Judge Fleetwood, who presided over the trial, said that he was granting the departure in sentencing because of Atkins’ age, his cognitive ability and Atkins’ family support in the community. Fleetwood sentenced Atkins to 155 months in prison and suspended that to five years of probation. Atkins will be required to register as a sex offender for life.

District Attorney Suzanne Valdez said she was seeking a review of the lenient sentence in the interest of justice and community safety. “As I had announced in July regarding a case involving the court’s granting probation in a child sex conviction, the State is exercising its statutory right to seek a review of the sentencing decision in the interest of justice for sexual assault survivors and community safety.”

In the July case, as the Journal-World reported, 20-year-old Trey L. Gibson, of Lawrence, was convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and making a felony criminal threat. Judge Stacey Donovan sentenced Gibson to 10.5 years in prison, but suspended his sentence to five years of probation. The charges against Gibson stemmed from an incident in which he was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in the back of his car at gunpoint in January 2021.


Kansas Mom Gets 20 Years for Leading Islamic State Battalion

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Kansas native who led an all-female Islamic State battalion when she lived in Syria has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. That's the maximum the judge could have imposed. Allison Fluke-Ekren admitted that she led the Khatiba Nusaybah, a battalion in which roughly 100 women and girls — some as young as 10 years old — learned how to use automatic weapons and detonate grenades and suicide belts. One of Fluke-Ekren’s daughters was among those who said she received such training. The daughter and Fluke-Ekren’s oldest son both urged the judge to impose a maximum sentence. They said they were physically and sexually abused by their mother. Fluke-Ekren denied the abuse and rationalized her actions during a weepy speech at Tuesday's hearing.


Ex-Chiefs Assistant Reid Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid has been sentenced to three years in prison for a drunken driving crash that seriously injured a 5-year-old girl in 2021. Reid's sentencing Tuesday comes after he pleaded guilty in September to driving while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury. Under a plea deal, Reid faced a maximum of four years in prison. His defense lawyer had sought probation. Prosecutors said Reid, the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, had just left Arrowhead Stadium in February 2021, when his speeding pickup truck hit two parked vehicles on a ramp along Interstate 435. A girl in one of the cars, Ariel Young, suffered a traumatic brain injury.


Kansas: What to Expect on Election Night

UNDATED (AP/KPR) - Kansas Democrats hope to reelect Governor Laura Kelly, who faces Republican Derek Schmidt, the state's three-term attorney general. Elsewhere, former Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is trying for a political comeback in the attorney general's race against first-time Democratic candidate and former prosecutor Chris Mann. Kobach lost the governor's race to Kelly in 2018 and a U.S. Senate primary in 2020. Meanwhile, the most visible congressional race pitted Kansas City-area Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids in a rematch of her 2020 race against Republican and former health care tech company executive Amanda Adkins in a newly redrawn 3rd Congressional District.

National and statewide election night coverage will be broadcast on Kansas Public Radio starting at 7 pm, November 8. KPR News Director J. Schafer will anchor the local / Kansas coverage with KPR Statehouse Reporter Jim McLean providing analysis.


1 Dead, 6 Wounded After Halloween Party Shooting in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — One person was killed and six others were wounded after gunfire erupted at a crowded Halloween party in Kansas City, Kansas. Police say the shooting happened Monday night at a home. The victims ranged between ages 15 and 18. The person who died was 17. One person was treated and released and the other five injured teens were hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition. Police say the party was meant for younger teens but was promoted on social media. The suspects were asked to leave because they were older. Police say the suspects left but returned later and opened fire. One person of interest was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon.


Kansas Election Official: Text Messages to Kansas Voters Rile Democrats

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The top elections official in Kansas is warning voters that text messages could provide incorrect information about where to vote. But the national groups Voto Latino and Black Voters Matter said they aren't trying to confuse or mislead people. Democrats began reporting getting the text messages on Sunday. Some text messages sent people to places where they couldn't vote in advance while other text messages sent them to places where they could vote in advance but not on Election Day. Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab said voters should be on high alert for misinformation. Voto Latino and Black Voters Matter said the incorrect information came from a vendor handling the text messages.


Kansas Voters Receive Fraudulent Text Messages

UNDATED (KCUR) - Kansas voters are receiving text messages directing them to the wrong polling location to vote on Election Day. KCUR Radio reports the texts appear to be part of a nationwide campaign to spread misinformation. Voters in several Kansas cities have reported receiving texts from the organization, Voting Futures, containing fraudulent information regarding their listed polling location based on their home address. Sharon Brett, Legal Director of the Kansas ACLU, says that simple misinformation campaigns like this can have a drastic impact on voter turnout on Election Day. “Many voters who don’t know their correct polling location may rely on this information, and if they get turned away from that polling location they may be discouraged from voting in the election," she said. Kansas voters can go to the Kansas Secretary of State’s website to check where their correct polling location will be.


Most Candidates for Top Election Posts Say No to Hand Counts

UNDATED (AP) – The majority of candidates running this year for the state posts that oversee elections oppose the idea of hand counting ballots. The laborious and error-prone process has gained favor among Republicans who have been inundated with unfounded conspiracy theories surrounding voting machines. Notable exceptions are a handful of GOP secretary of state candidates running in some of the nation’s most politically competitive states, including Arizona and New Mexico. In an Associated Press survey of the 46 major party candidates for the office in the 24 states where it oversees voting, only one said he wanted it implemented statewide — the Republican candidate in Vermont.


Powerball Lottery Jackpot Soars to $1.2 Billion for Wednesday Night Drawing

UNDATED (AP) - There were no big treats from the Halloween night Powerball drawing, as none of the tickets sold matched all six numbers to claim the $1 billion jackpot prize. The lack of a winner means tonight's (WED) drawing will be for a massive $1.2 billion jackpot. Massive lottery jackpots have become more common in recent years as lottery officials have adjusted game rules and ticket prices to pump up the top prizes.


Gethro Muscadin, Former KU Basketball Player, Dies

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Former University of Kansas and New Mexico forward Gethro Muscadin, who was involved in a rollover crash last December, died late Monday from the injuries he sustained in the crash. Jayhawks coach Bill Self announced the news in a statement Tuesday. The 6-foot-10 center appeared in 11 games for Kansas during the 2020-21 season, including a loss to Southern California in the NCAA Tournament. Muscadin transferred to New Mexico, where he started nine of 12 games for the Lobos last season before leaving the program in December. He was involved in a single-vehicle crash on the Kansas Turnpike in the early hours of December 30, 2021, and never recovered.


Body Pulled from Kansas River Identified as Missing Missouri Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — Kansas City, Kansas, police have identified the body pulled from the Kansas River over the weekend as a 19-year-old Independence, Missouri, man. Detectives investigating the body, which was discovered around noon Saturday by a kayaker, identified the deceased person as Johnathan Devol. According to KSHB TV, Devol was last seen October 16 below the 12th Street Bridge near the Kansas River. Police say initial autopsy results indicate the death was accidental. The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).


Help Wanted: Kansas Public Radio Seeks New Statehouse Bureau Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is seeking a new  Statehouse Bureau Chief. This position works primarily at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Duties include managing all aspects of KPR’s capital news bureau, which provides broadcast and digital news reports to a number of radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. This position is primarily responsible for reporting on all aspects of state government. The KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief researches, writes, reports and produces spot news, digital stories and long-form audio features for KPR and its reporting partners.  Learn more about this position.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy.


Lawrence High School Hosting Talent Show to Benefit School’s Food Pantry

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Lawrence High School will host a student talent show Thursday to benefit the school's food pantry. The talent show takes place at 7 pm in the LHS auditorium. Entry to the talent show is free, but nonperishable food items and cash donations will be accepted for the benefit of the LHS food pantry. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the event is kid friendly and all are welcome to attend.


Cerner Shutters Two Large Offices in Kansas City Metro

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - Just months after Oracle purchased the company, Cerner is shuttering two of its largest offices in the Kansas City metro. The company will consolidate workers into its Innovations Campus. Oracle told employees they will close the Cerner headquarters in North Kansas City, as well as a campus at the former Bannister Mall site. KCUR Radio reports that it's the latest move by Cerner to downsize its once-sprawling office footprint in the metro. North Kansas City Mayor Bryant DeLong was surprised to find out about the decision on social media. “Now of course, we don’t have any information from them yet. I don’t know what their timeline is. If they plan on selling it, holding it and leasing it. We don’t know," he said. "But I’m optimistic they can do something with it.” Oracle said the move will give workers more flexibility, and better utilize their 2 million square foot campus in south Kansas City.


Widespread Drought Affecting Birds as Kansas Wetlands Dry Up

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KNS) - The drought in Kansas isn’t only affecting farmers and communities. It’s also hurting birds. The Kansas News Service reports that the wetlands the birds usually visit during their annual migration are vanishing. Each fall, millions of birds migrate across Kansas, some traveling thousands of miles from the Arctic Circle to South America. Typically, they rely on stopping at places such as the Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira wetlands in central Kansas to get the food, water and rest they need to finish the journey. But the drought has dried those wetlands up, forcing the birds to turn elsewhere. Alice Boyle, ecologist with Kansas State University, says that means more birds will die on the journey. She compares it to a marathon runner who’s arriving at a rest station to get a cup of water, but nobody’s there. “They're going to try to keep running and go to the next one," she said. "But not all of them are going to make it to that next one.” Some shorebird species that typically depend on these wetlands have already seen their population drop by more than 50% since 1980.

Typically, birds stop at places like Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in central Kansas to get food, water and rest. But the drought has dried up those wetlands, forcing the birds to turn elsewhere. Jason Wagner is the wildlife manager at Cheyenne Bottoms. Historically, he says, these wetlands are a critical stopover point for birds to rest during their long journey south. But not this year. “Right now we are 100% dry," he said. "There's no water on the property. Our bird numbers are nothing. Wagner says it would likely take several inches of rain just to saturate the dry ground before the wetlands can begin refilling again.


Northwest Missouri State Hoops on Verge of Becoming Dynasty

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Ben McCollum was not a popular pick when Northwest Missouri State hired him to lead its men's basketball program 14 years ago. He was 27 and had never been a head coach. Now, his Bearcats are coming off a third straight Division II national championship and their fourth in the last five NCAA Tournaments, and each spring for the past few years, McCollum has gotten calls from Division I schools searching for their next coach. It would take the perfect fit, though, to pry him away from the dynasty he's built in a small town in northwest Missouri.


Pumpkins Can Be Composted, Donated to Farms, Fed to Wildlife

UNDATED (AP) - Halloween pumpkins don't have to end up in the landfill. Before throwing that jack-o'-lantern into the trash, consider ways to make them even more useful. Adding pumpkins to a compost pile can be beneficial to next year's garden. First, any remaining seeds have to be removed, and decorative material such as glitter, paint, stickers and candle wax must be cut off. Pumpkins also can be donated to community gardens' compost piles. Farms, animal sanctuaries and even zoos also accept pumpkins to feed their animals. Backyard wildlife enjoy pumpkins as well. Leftover pumpkin seeds also are a tasty treat for a host of birds.


These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members.  Become one today. And follow  KPR News on Twitter.