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Headlines for Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Kansas Public Radio
Kansas Public Radio

Former Kansas Attorney General Bob Stephan Dies

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/TCJ) - Former Kansas Attorney General Bob Stephan has died at the age of 89. The Republican was the longest-serving AG in state history, serving 16 years in office, from 1979 to 1995. Outgoing Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued his condolences in a statement today (TUE), praising Stephan for his contributions to crime victims rights and consumer protection. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Stephan, a Wichita native and first-generation college student, earned bachelor and law degrees from Washburn University and became one of the most prominent Lebanese-American figures in the state.


Fort Hays State Football Player Shot and Killed in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY. (AP) _ A football player at Fort Hays State University was shot and killed outside an Oklahoma City bar on New Year's Day. Oklahoma City police say 22-year-old Daniel Howard died and four others were injured in the shooting outside Sunset Patio Lounge. Police say the shooting occurred after a fight broke out inside the bar and several people were kicked out. Shots were fired when the argument continued in a nearby parking lot. Police say some of the injured were bystanders. Howard played two seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M before transferring to Fort Hays State in Kansas in the spring of 2022.


Drivers Identified, Details Released in Fatal Lawrence Crash

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Lawrence police have identified the victims as well as more details into a fatal, early-morning crash. Police say it was just before 2 am Monday when a Nissan Maxima, driven by 39-year-old Katoya Leasa Owens, of Lawrence, collided a Jaguar driven by 36-year-old John Grant Redding, of Lawrence. WIBW TV reports that the collission took place near the intersection of 6th and Iowa. Owens, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials say Redding was wearing a seatbelt and was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.


Woman Found New Year's Day in Miami County Ditch with Life-Threatening Gunshot Wound

MIAMI COUNTY, Kan. (KSHB) — Miami County Sheriff's deputies found a woman in a ditch New Year's day with life-threatening gunshot wounds. KSHB TV reports that the woman was found in rural Paola (in the area of 299th Street and Somerset Road). She was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The victim, said to be in her 40s, has not been identified. The sheriff’s office says there's no known threat to the public.


UPDATE: Missouri Will Carry Out Execution of Transgender Inmate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KPR) – Missouri Governor Mike Parson has confirmed that the state will carry out the execution of a transgender inmate who goes by the name of Amber McLaughlin.

In a statement, Parson said, "McLaughlin’s conviction and sentence remains after multiple, thorough examinations of Missouri law. McLaughlin stalked, raped, and murdered Ms. Beverly Guenther. McLaughlin is a violent criminal." The governor's statement further stated that McLaughlin waited outside Guenther’s workplace, where McLaughlin brutally raped and violently stabbed her as she walked to her vehicle to go home and that McLaughlin had terrorized Guenther for months prior.

(-Earlier reporting-)

Transgender Missouri Inmate Set for Execution

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Nearly 1,600 death row inmates have been put to death in the U.S. since 1977, but an execution scheduled for Tuesday in Missouri would be the first of an openly transgender woman. Officials say 49-year-old Amber McLaughlin is set to die for stalking a former girlfriend and stabbing her to death nearly 20 years ago. With no legal appeals planned, McLaughlin's fate rests with Republican Governor Mike Parson, who is weighing a clemency request.

A database for the anti-execution Death Penalty Information Center shows 1,558 people have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in the mid-1970s. All but 17 of them were men, and the center said there are no known previous cases in which an openly transgender inmate was executed.

A clemency petition cited McLaughlin's traumatic childhood and mental health issues, which the jury never heard at her trial. A foster parent rubbed feces in her face when she was a toddler and her adoptive father used a stun gun on her, according to the petition, which also cited severe depression resulting in multiple suicide attempts, both as a child and as an adult. The petition also included reports citing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a condition causing anguish and other symptoms as a result of a disparity between a person's gender identity and their assigned sex at birth. But McLaughlin's sexual identity is "not the main focus" of the clemency request, said her attorney, Larry Komp.


Kansas City, Kansas, Police Identify Man Killed by Officers

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified the man killed last week after a confrontation with police. The man was identified Monday as 53-year-old Thomas Marshall of Kansas City, Kansas. Police say the incident began around 8 am Friday in Kansas City, Kansas, when a man called police looking for help after his car broke down. An officer arrived and police say a man emerged from the woods pointing a gun before taking the police car, prompting a chase. The man eventually stopped, exited the vehicle and pointed a gun at officer. A police spokesman said multiple officers opened fire, killing the man. The officers who fired shots are on administrative leave pending an investigation.


Ex-Boyfriend Charged in Death of Nebraska Woman

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A man has been charged with murder in the death of a Nebraska woman whose body was found last month in Kansas. Authorities say 47-year-old Aldrick Scott had previously been charged with kidnapping Cari Allen, of Omaha. She disappeared in November. Prosecutors said during a previous court hearing that Scott and Allen dated before she broke up with him about two weeks before she was reported missing on November 20. Officers searched Scott's home in Topeka November 21. He was arrested December 7 in Belize. Allen's body was found in a shallow grave December 21 near Topeka. Officials have not said how she died. In Nebraska, the Douglas County Attorney's Office announced that Scott has been charged with murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony and tampering with evidence.


KCK Police Investigate Death of Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Deputy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) - Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating the death of a Wyandotte County sheriff’s deputy. The Kansas City Star reports that 60-year-old Sonny Johnson died Sunday while he was off duty. He was discovered at home during a welfare check. KCK police say the initial investigation does not indicate foul play. Johnson started at the sheriff’s department in 2008.


The 2023 Kansas Legislative Session Begins Monday

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka next week to begin their annual legislative session. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the session begins Monday at 2 pm and is scheduled to last 90 days. The exact timetable is generally fluid, with a month-long break in April. Last year, the Kansas Legislature adjourned for the year on May 23, though the exact date changes from session to session. Republicans maintain a super-majority in both chambers of the state Legislature, meaning they can theoretically override Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's vetoes, as long as too many members do not defect.

Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, will be back for another session as presiding officer in the Kansas Senate, as will Senate Majority Leader Larry Alley, R-Winfield, and Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa.

The Kansas House will have a set of new legislative leaders. Both parties will have new leaders for the first time in several sessions. The new House speaker is set to be Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, who previously served as majority leader. His replacement will be Majority Leader Chris Croft, R-Overland Park. The new presiding officer will be House Speaker Pro Tempore Blake Carpenter, R-Derby. On the Democrat side, there will also be change after Rep. Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, opted not to seek another term as leader. His replacement will be House Minority Leader Vic Miller, D-Topeka, and his assistant will be Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City.


Many Statewide Issues Remain the Same for the 2023 Kansas Legislative Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - After the November elections, little has changed with state government in Topeka. Governor Laura Kelly will begin her new term in office and many of the same lawmakers will return to the Kansas Statehouse. In addition, the legislative dynamics will remain largely unchanged from the past two years. The GOP retained its super-majority in both legislative chambers and the party is likely to continue clashing with the Democratic governor on a variety of issues. Part of the governor's agenda will include the complete elimination of the state sales on food. That plan is already in the works, but the governor hopes to speed up its implementation. Kelly will also push for increased funding for special education and medicaid expansion. Republican lawmakers will pursue their own goals including school choice expansions and steeper, long-term tax cuts. Though both sides have indicated some appetite for compromise, Kelly has made it clear she plans to use her veto pen if necessary.


Annual Survey Finds Spike in Kansas Drug-Related Deaths in 2021

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) — Last year, Kansans had the highest number of drug-related deaths recorded in the past 20 years. That's according to a recently released summary of the year’s statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Heart disease remained the leading cause of death for Kansans in 2021, followed by cancer.

But the Kansas Reflector reports that in 2021, the state saw the highest number of drug-related deaths recorded in Kansas in the past two decades, with opioid cases almost doubling between 2020 and 2021. Kansas deaths from suicide also rose slightly between 2020 and 2021, rising to 555.


Shawnee County Sheriff's Office Announces Drug Seizures and Arrests for 2022

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Shawnee County Drug Enforcement Task Force seized more than 2,500 fentanyl pills, more than 486 pounds of marijuana and more than 7 pounds of methamphetamine in 2022. WIBW TV reports that the statistics for last year show the county's Drug Enforcement Task Force made a total of 94 arrests and seized more than $130,000 in cash. The task force also confiscated 73 firearms along with heroin, cocaine and LSD.


Kansas City Records Another Violent and Deadly Year in 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - In 2022, Kansas City suffered its second-deadliest year in recorded history with 171 killings. That includes three fatal police shootings. The Kansas City Star reports that 2022 was the third year in a row with staggering rates of violence in the city. The highest number of homicides ever recorded in Kansas City was in 2020, when 182 people were killed.


Kansas Senator Jerry Moran Announces Federal Funding for New Barracks at Fort Riley

FORT RILEY, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Senator Jerry Moran has announced a $15 million federal investment to build new military barracks at Fort Riley. The investment was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations Package. Moran says he worked closely with the Department of Defense to invest in Fort Riley’s infrastructure, including the new barracks as well as new middle grade and elementary schools and renovations to the Irwin Army Hospital. Fort Riley, home of the First Infantry Division, is home to 15,000 active duty service members.


Russell Post Office Renamed to Honor Bob Dole

RUSSELL, Kan. (KPR) – The U.S. Post Office in Russell will soon have a new name. The name will be changed to the Robert J. Dole Memorial Post Office Building. Kansas Republican Congressman Tracey Mann sponsored the legislation to honor one of the state’s favorite sons. Senator Dole was born and raised in Russell. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service in World War II. Dole served in Congress, representing the same "Big First" Congressional District now held by Mann. Dole also served in the U.S. Senate and became the GOP's nominee for President in 1996. Congressman Mann said naming a post office after Dole in his hometown is "small but meaningful way to pay tribute to a Kansas giant and American hero.”


Public Meetings Planned for Proposed Wind Farm in Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW/KPR) - Douglas County residents will have the chance to comment on a proposed revision to the county's existing regulations for wind farms. Douglas County commissioners are hoping to align their wind farm regulations with their recently adopted solar farm regulations. This comes as a Florida-based company is hoping to build a large-scale solar farm in the area. NextEra Energy has proposed a 2,000 acre solar panel installation that would span southern Douglas and Johnson Counties. The Planning Commission is hosting a public meeting about the revised regulations next week. The meeting, planned for January 12, will be the first of six opportunities for the public to comment. A draft of the revised regulations is available on the city’s website. (Read more in the Lawrence Journal World.)


Kansas State Football Running Back Deuce Vaughn Declares for NFL Draft

MANHATTAN, Kan. (TCJ) - Deuce Vaughn, the second-leading rusher in Kansas State football history, has played his last game as a Wildcat. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the two-time consensus All-American is passing up his senior season and entering the 2023 NFL draft. Vaughn announced the news on social media Monday.

Vaughn rushed for 1,558 yards this season, moving into second place on the school career chart with 3,604. Only former All-American and K-State Hall of Famer Darren Sproles had more. Vaughn, who repeatedly brushed aside questions about his future until the end of the season, made his announcement two days after rushing for 133 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown, in K-State's 45-20 Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama.


Kansas Jayhawks Move Up One Spot in AP Poll, Now Ranked #3

UNDATED (AP/KPR) - The Kansas Jayhawks have moved up a spot in the latest AP men's college basketball poll. KU ius now ranked #3 in the nation. Purdue has solidified its No. 1 ranking in the AP poll. The Boilermakers remained No. 1 for the fourth straight week. They received all but one first-place vote from a 61-person media panel in the poll released Monday. No. 2 Houston and No. 3 Kansas each moved up a spot, and No. 4 UConn dropped two spots after losing to Xavier. Arizona rounded out the top five.


Chiefs Keep Stacking Up Wins After Difficult Off-Season Decisions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs keep winning and Patrick Mahomes keeps making history and both are doing so despite some difficult off-season decisions that have prolonged their ability to do so. The biggest, of course, was the decision to trade Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. Rather than lavish on the game-breaking wide receiver a massive contract that would have made it difficult to maneuver financially for years to come, they traded him for a package of draft picks. Those have helped to fortify the roster while giving the Chiefs salary cap flexibility for years to come. The Chiefs not only gained salary cap flexibility with the move, but also five draft picks that helped to fortify other areas of the roster.

That includes the defense, which is vastly improved and has helped the Chiefs squeak out wins — such as their 27-24 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday — even when their high-octane offense starts to sputter. "When you win and you don't play your best ball — you don't feel like you play your best ball — that's always a good thing," Mahomes said afterward. "Fourth quarter, we played well. But at the end of the day we have to find a way that for four quarters we play our best football whenever we get to the playoffs, and I feel like we still haven't done that yet."

Yet, the Chiefs played well enough to start the season 13-3, clinch the AFC West with plenty of time to spare, and head into their regular-season finale Saturday in Las Vegas knowing a win could give them the No. 1 seed and a postseason bye. Not many thought the Chiefs would be in that situation when they traded Hill in the offseason. Nor did many people think Mahomes would put up MVP-caliber numbers again.

He's thrown for 5,048 yards to join Drew Brees and Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks with multiple seasons of at least 5,000 yards. He has 40 touchdown tosses, joining Brees as the only QBs with two seasons of 5,000 yards and 40 TD passes. And he needs 186 yards running and passing to surpass Brees for the most combined in an NFL season.

"He ended up 28 for 41, still over 100.0 passer rating and 322 yards," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the win over the Broncos. "There were some plays that he definitely would like to have back, but that's how picky we are, right? You start nitpicking these things, as he does. But that's what great players do."

The Raiders-Chiefs game was one of two that the NFL moved to Saturday.


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 members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.