Headlines for Tuesday, February 11, 2020 – kansaspublicradio.org

Judge Clears Path for T-Mobile’s $26.5 Billion Purchase of Sprint

NEW YORK (AP) —  A federal judge has cleared a major path for T-Mobile to buy Sprint for $26.5 billion. He cites T-Mobile’s track record in promoting competition, even as legal scholars and consumer advocates warn about higher phone bills. T-Mobile says the deal would benefit consumers as it becomes a fiercer competitor to Verizon and AT&T. But a group of state attorneys general tried to block the deal, saying that one fewer phone company will mean higher prices. New York’s attorney general says an appeal is possible. Though the deal still needs a few more approvals, T-Mobile expects to close it as early as April 1.

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Topeka Man Sentenced for Running Away with Young Castmate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 48-year-old man has been sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison for fleeing with and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old cast member in a Topeka community theater play. KSNT reports Michael Fitzgerald, of Topeka, was sentenced Monday to nine years and 10 months for sexually assaulting the girl in 2019. Fitzgerald met the girl when she was 11 and they later performed together in a 2018 play at the Topeka Civic Theater. She went missing in January 2019. The two were found in a hotel in Cortez, Colorado, two days after she was reported missing.

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UPDATE: Woman Dies from Injuries Suffered in Topeka House Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. — Authorities say one of two people who were hurt in a house fire in Topeka has died. Topeka fire officials said Monday that 53-year-old Kristen Edmonston died from injuries she suffered in the fire Saturday. Deputy fire chief Kelly Adams said in a news release that 65-year-old James Edmonston remains hospitalized Monday. He is in stable condition. Adams says the fire was accidental. The likely cause is improper handling of smoking materials.

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2 Injured Kansas Corrections Officers Still Not Back to Work

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A prison official says two of the five correctional officers who were hurt during a disturbance last week at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility remain off work Monday.  No details are being released as to the injuries, but authorities say no weapons were involved. The Feb. 4 incident prompted a prison lockdown at the time and cancellation of last weekend’s visitation to its central unit. The investigation is ongoing as to what sparked the melee that occurred during dinnertime as a group of inmates were leaving the chow hall. About 20 inmates were placed in restrictive housing after the disturbance.

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“Satanist” Kansas Soldier Pleads Guilty to Bomb Plot Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 24-year-old Army infantry soldier has pleaded guilty to distributing information through social media about building a bomb and making napalm. Federal prosecutors have described Jarrett William Smith as a Satanist who hoped to overthrow the U.S. government. Smith was a private first class stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, and admitted during a court hearing Monday to providing information about explosives in September to an FBI undercover agent. He signed a formal plea agreement with prosecutors in court and his sentencing is set for May 18. Each felony count carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

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Wichita Police Investigate Four Overdoses Last Weekend

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating whether four overdose cases last weekend involve Oxycodone that may have contained fentanyl. Police say a 19-year-old man died after ingesting the pills. Three other people, ages 16, 27 and 23, required medical assistance after taking the pills. Police say they are investigating several cases of counterfeit Oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl. KSNW reports  Capt. Jeff Allen says fentanyl can be 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. He says it is possiblesome drug dealers are not aware they are illegally providing counterfeit Oxycodone withs fentanyl.   

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Wichita Police Say Homeless Man Apparently Beaten to Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a homeless man whose body was found under a bridge in Wichita apparently was beaten to death. The body of a black man was found Monday afternoon under a bridge. The man appeared to be in his 60s. Capt. Jason Stephens says the man had blunt force injuries to his body. KSN reports Stephen says the man could have been under the bridge for as long as a day. This is the seventh homicide in Wichita this year.

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Man Accused of Attacking Shawnee County Guard Going to Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  A 56-year-old man who is jailed for a 2012 attack at WIBW-TV will go to trial for allegedly attacking a Shawnee County corrections officer. Ray Anthony Miles’s trial will start June 9 on charges of first-degree attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery against a corrections officer. Prosecutors say Miles attacked a female corrections officer in July 2019 and also tried to stab her several times with a pen. The officer was treated and released for injuries to her face and head. Miles has been in jail since November 2018 serving the remainder of a misdemeanor sentence related to the attack at WIBW-TV. 

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Wichita Considers Banning or Taxing Plastic Bags

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Wichita is considering banning plastic bags or implementing a city-wide tax to curb their use. The Wichita Eagle reports that the City Council voted for a new task force to consider reducing or eliminating single-use plastic bags. Either option would make Wichita the first city in Kansas to pass a plastic bag ordinance. Other cities in the U.S. have banned plastic bags or imposed taxes on them. The task force is scheduled to meet this month to discuss what such a move could end up costing businesses and the city to implement. 

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Men Arrested with 80 Homemade Explosives in Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — South Hutchinson police arrested two 18-year-old men over the weekend who allegedly had about 80 homemade explosive devices in a truck. South Hutchinson Police Chief Dean Harcrow says officers on Saturday found the men driving a truck carrying a plastic tote full of explosive devices and materials for unmade devices. A two-block radius near where the truck was stopped was evacuated for several hours. Harcrow says the men were making the explosives at a Reno County home and selling them to other people. The men, Tyler Bryce Bontrager and Andrew Hoffman, bonded out of jail during the weekend. The Reno County District Attorney’s office is awaiting the police report before filing charges.  

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Lawrence Discussing Limiting Police Work with Immigration

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence City Commission is discussing whether to limit how police cooperate with federal immigration agents. During a meeting Tuesday, the commission will discuss the proposed draft ordinance with city staff, which will then bring a proposed city ordinance back to the commission for a vote. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a local group proposed last year that Lawrence become a sanctuary city, and that police refuse to enforce requests from immigration agents unless they involve a crime. Police Chief Gregory Burns says a draft policy for the department says police won’t help hold a person based solely on if that person has a federal immigration detainer.

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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit over Arrest at Kansas City Library

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit against a former Kansas City police detective who arrested a man during an event at the Kansas City library. Chief judge Beth Phillips ruled the former detective, Brent Parsons, had probable cause to arrest Jeremy Rothe-Kushel, of Lawrence, Kansas, at the library in 2016. Rothe-Kushel contended in the lawsuit that his free speech rights were violated when he was arrested while questioning a speaker, diplomat Dennis Ross. A library employee also was arrested. The judge ruled Rothe-Kushel had a right to ask Ross questions but not to deprive others of asking their questions.

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About 300 Animals Removed from Kansas City Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials are removing about 300 small animals from a Kansas City duplex. A city official says the lab rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles and other animals were in a duplex where two people lived. John Baccala, a spokesman for the Kansas City Neighborhood and Housing Services, says the conditions were deplorable, and the odor was noticeable outside the home. Baccala says officials don’t know why the residents were keeping the animals. A fire department crew was checking ammonia levels at the duplex. KC Pet Project is working with the city to find homes for the animals.

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Missouri Ag Agency Has Backlog of Dicamba Drift Complaints

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Department of Agriculture is trying to address a backlog of about 600 complaints from farmers who say drift of dicamba-based herbicide has damaged their crops. St. Louis Public Radio reports some of the complaints date back to 2016. State lawmakers are considering a budget request from the agriculture department to hire more staff to handle the backlog. The agency wants to add four investigators and two staff members to review the cases. The farmers complain that dicamba drifts from other fields and kills their crops. The state agriculture department has received 755 dicamba-related complaints since 2016.   

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Kansas Farmer Sentenced for Crop Insurance Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 63-year-old Kansas farmer has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for federal crop insurance fraud and bankruptcy fraud. In addition, Kevin Struss, of WaKeeney, must pay $604,303 in restitution. He pleaded guilty in October 2019. Federal prosecutors say Struss under-reported his 2015 corn and sorghum crops by a total of about 54,730 bushels. The crops were insured with a federal subsidy, which mean Struss received crop insurance benefits he was not entitled to. He also lied on his later bankruptcy filing in 2018.

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Ex-Kansas Prison Lab Instructor Wants Conviction Thrown Out

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former prison dental instructor is asking a judge to throw out a conviction for unlawful sexual relations with an inmate. Tomas Co was found guilty last week of one of six counts of alleged sexual abuse of female inmates he was teaching to make dentures. The guilty verdict after an inmate said Co touched her on the insider of her knee and thigh. In a motion filed Friday, Co’s attorney argued that type of touching didn’t constitute “lewd” touching under state law. The motion also argues Co should be acquitted based on insufficient evidence. District Attorney Mike Kagay’s office has not yet filed a response to the defense motion.

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Wichita Woman Charged with Federal Sex Trafficking

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has been charged with sex trafficking in federal court. Prosecutors say Kelly Lee Grounds posted dozens of ads online offering sex acts. The ads were for herself and other people offering to perform sex acts. Grounds was arrested in September and January on suspicion of similar charges. She was initially charged in state court last fall, but those charges were dropped after she was indicted in federal court in late January. Local prosecutors had said that Grounds posted ads on behalf of a 17-year-old who was offering to have sex in exchange for compensation.

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Pit Bull Supporters Want Junction City to Lift Pit Bull Ban

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Pit bull supporters are calling for the military town of Junction City to lift its ban of the breed. The Hays Post reports that Kim Bradney of Legalize Bully JC says the ban forces some people in the community near Fort Riley to choose to live in surrounding communities with friendlier pit bull policies. She said the more than 20-year-old ban has left animal shelters flooded with dogs that aren’t adoptable. She said several other cities in the state already have removed their bans. Commissioner Ronna Larson asked city staff last week to check into different ordinance options.

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Wichita Considers Banning or Taxing Plastic Bags

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Wichita is considering banning plastic bags or implementing a city-wide tax to curb their use. The Wichita Eagle reports that the City Council voted for a new task force to consider reducing or eliminating single-use plastic bags. Either option would make Wichita the first city in Kansas to pass a plastic bag ordinance. Other cities in the U.S. have banned plastic bags or imposed taxes on them. The task force is scheduled to meet this month to discuss what such a move could end up costing businesses and the city to implement.

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Baylor Atop AP Top 25 Basketball Poll; KU at No. 3

UNDATED (AP) — Baylor remains atop The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll in a week that saw preseason No. 1 Michigan State fall out. The Bears received 48 of 64 first-place votes from a media panel to stay at No. 1 for the fourth straight week. No. 2 Gonzaga had 15 first-place votes and No. 3 Kansas got one. San Diego State and Louisville rounded out the top five. Seton Hall was the only change among the top 10 after moving up two spots to No. 10. Michigan State dropped out of the rankings from No. 16 following a three-game losing streak.

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KPR’s daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day.  KPR’s weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

https://kansaspublicradio.org/kpr-news/headlines-tuesday-february-11-2020

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