WRITER: Mackenzie Clark

In NAACP forum, candidates for Douglas County district attorney share laws they want to see changed

Candidates for Douglas County district attorney shared what state statutes they would alter if they could during an online forum hosted by the Lawrence branch of the NAACP on Saturday. Ursula Minor, president of the local NAACP branch, moderated the forum. The three Democratic candidates — newcomers Cooper Overstreet and Suzanne Valdez, and incumbent Charles Branson — also answered questions about their ...

Lawrence man facing several felony charges after reported shooting

A Lawrence man arrested late Wednesday after a reported shooting was charged Friday afternoon in Douglas County District Court. Charles Darnell Thomas II, 35, has been charged with two counts of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated assault and three counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. All of the charges are felonies. Lawrence police were ...

In forum, candidates for Douglas County sheriff address systemic racism, issues affecting transgender people

Candidates for Douglas County sheriff and undersheriff participated in an online forum Friday evening that specifically focused on issues of concern to Black people, Indigenous people and people of color as well as the LGBTQIA community. During the forum, two of the Democratic candidates for sheriff, Lt. Jay Armbrister and Capt. Doug Woods, as well as Deputy Dale Flory’s pick for undersheriff, Lt. Clark ...

Candidates for Douglas County district attorney address racial disparities, 'anti-Blackness'

Candidates for Douglas County district attorney participated in an online forum Thursday evening that specifically focused on issues of concern to Black people, Indigenous people and people of color as well as the LGBTQIA community. During the 90-minute forum, the three Democratic candidates — defense attorney Cooper Overstreet, University of Kansas law professor and special prosecutor Suzanne Valdez and ...

Changes to Douglas County District Court dockets aim to increase overall efficiency, chief judge says

Some changes to procedures in Douglas County District Court are expected to increase efficiency for criminal defense attorneys and their clients, according to Chief Judge James McCabria. The changes will also be positive for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies who handle security at the courthouse, the agency’s public information officer said. It’s still not entirely clear when the courts will ...

Lawrence police union told former chief of staffing concerns, poor morale months before vote of no confidence, records show

Just short of four months before an overwhelming majority of the Lawrence police union voted that they had no confidence in their chief, union leaders had given him a letter detailing their pressing concerns, records show. Among them, the union’s executive board listed staffing shortages and vacant supervisor positions, lack of trust, support and buy-in, and poor communication. The letter also indicates ...

Kansas Court of Appeals dismisses murder case against Danny Queen in 2017 Eudora bar shooting

Story updated at 2:53 p.m. Thursday: The Kansas Court of Appeals has dismissed the case against Danny W. Queen, who had been sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison for second-degree murder, because of speedy trial violations. Queen, now 39, of Eudora, fatally shot a man outside a Eudora bar, then tried to kill two others, a jury found on Aug. 1, 2018. In its ruling published Thursday, the court overturned ...

Protesters pack up, vacate Massachusetts Street

Story updated at 6:23 p.m. Thursday: A protest that had occupied Massachusetts Street since Saturday evening had almost entirely cleared out by Thursday afternoon. Around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, roughly 20 people remained in the northern portion of the strip of Massachusetts Street that the City of Lawrence had authorized the protest to occupy, gathering and organizing supplies to be donated. City crews let the ...

Crash report: Ford Fusion crossed center line in K-10 crash that killed all 6 occupants

A Ford Fusion with six people on board crossed the center line in a crash that killed all six occupants, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office’s crash report released to the Journal-World Wednesday morning. The five family members and a longtime family friend had driven close to 20 hours and were within an hour of their destination before they were killed in a head-on crash on Kansas Highway 10, ...

Judge modifies bond to $500K for murder defendant, who is released the same day after 5 years in jail

Story updated at 8 p.m. Wednesday: A judge on Wednesday lowered by $250,000 the $750,000 bond that has kept a man in jail five years as his murder case is pending in Douglas County District Court. By 6:45 p.m., 24-year-old Rontarus Washington Jr. had bonded out of the Douglas County Jail and was on his way to get the ankle monitor he’ll be required to wear while he’s out on bond. The defense team for ...

State argues against bond reduction for long-jailed murder defendant Washington, notes that all 11 delays have been at defendant's request

Prosecutors have asked a judge not to grant a request to lower the bond for a man who has been in jail for more than five years, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic is not as big a concern locally as it is elsewhere, and that after years of hearings and a trial, the court has chosen to maintain bond at its set amount. Rontarus Washington Jr., 24, was arrested in early 2015 and charged with first-degree murder ...

Lawrence police say investigations are ongoing into vehicle incidents at protests, graphic banner

Investigations are ongoing into some incidents of vehicles driving through crowds at protests and of a banner found Saturday near South Park, according to Lawrence police. In a statement to media on Monday, the Lawrence Police Department said officers were investigating two incidents of vehicles driving into crowds of protesters Monday afternoon. Department spokesman Patrick Compton said via email Tuesday ...

‘What’s your badge number?’ Lawrence police technically don’t have them, but they should provide their names upon request

As members of the public nationwide have viewed law enforcement with a higher level of scrutiny in recent weeks, one of many emerging concerns is a fairly simple question: Must officers provide their names and badge numbers when asked? The short answer is “probably,” but not necessarily by law. There’s no Kansas statute or federal law that says law enforcement officers must provide their names and badge ...

Man, teen charged in connection with reported home invasion robbery in Lawrence

Updated to add booking photo at 5:20 p.m. Thursday: A 20-year-old man was charged Wednesday in connection with a reported home invasion-style robbery in Lawrence. Hunter Scott Dickens, of Topeka, has been charged with three midlevel felonies — aggravated burglary and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery. The charging document filed in Dickens’ case alleges that on June 15, Dickens entered an ...

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office: Investigation ongoing after officers shot, killed suspect in Lawrence

The investigation is ongoing into law enforcement's fatal shooting of a homicide suspect in Lawrence on June 15, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Nicholas Hirsh, 31, was linked to two homicides in Omaha, Neb., according to police there, and a warrant had been issued for his arrest. He was killed when a pursuit ended in Lawrence. Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Claire Canaan said ...

Lawrence police: Most calls for law enforcement are being dispatched without addresses because of civilians responding

Over the past several days, most local law enforcement incidents have been dispatched over the emergency radio without addresses. Lawrence police say it’s because of some civilians interfering with calls; however, a few members of the public told the Journal-World they take issue with the lack of transparency. Sgt. Amy Rhoads, public information officer for the Lawrence Police Department, said that on ...

Lawrence police identify man found dead at Naismith Valley Park; no foul play suspected

Lawrence police on Tuesday released the identity of a man found dead 13 days ago at Naismith Valley Park. The man was 40-year-old Kelly Crawford, of Independence, Mo., Sgt. Amy Rhoads, public affairs officer for the Lawrence Police Department, said via email Tuesday. She said that at this time police did not suspect foul play in his death. Officers had been dispatched the afternoon of June 10 to a report ...

Candidates for Douglas County district attorney trade barbs in Democratic party forum

Two challengers for the seat of Douglas County district attorney spoke of their ideas for change and prodded the incumbent about cases his office has handled as he touted his experience and filled in other sides of the stories Tuesday evening. The Douglas County Democrats hosted an online forum with newcomers Cooper Overstreet and Suzanne Valdez and four-term incumbent DA Charles Branson that drew nearly 200 ...

Douglas County district attorney candidates share views on law enforcement misconduct, needed changes

Three Democratic candidates for Douglas County district attorney spoke with the Journal-World recently to share their views on law enforcement misconduct and how they would handle such issues if elected. Two newcomers, Cooper Overstreet, a Lawrence defense attorney, and Suzanne Valdez, a law professor at the University of Kansas, filed on April 15. Incumbent DA Charles Branson, who has not faced an opponent ...

Five family members, friend were close to destination after cross-country drive before fatal crash in Lawrence

Five family members and a longtime family friend had driven close to 20 hours and were within an hour of their destination before they were killed in a head-on crash on Kansas Highway 10. Anico Kirk, 29; her three daughters, Yamel Kirk, 11, Umariel Lee, 9, and Nah’Liyah Cay, 4; Anico’s brother Maurice Ross, 27; and longtime family friend Felecia Harvey, 49, were killed in the crash Thursday evening. Tony ...