WRITER: Sara Shepherd

Man who was initially arrested and released now charged with sex crime on KU campus

A man who was arrested last fall but released at that time has now been charged with a sex crime reported on the University of Kansas campus. Hayden B. Gragg, 19, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., was arrested on the charges this week, released on $500 bond and ordered to appear in court later this month, according to jail records. He’s charged with one count of sexual battery, a misdemeanor, for allegedly touching ...

Crews extinguish house fire in eastern Lawrence; 3 cats missing

No people were injured but some cats were missing after firefighters extinguished a house fire on Tuesday afternoon in eastern Lawrence. The fire was reported just before 2 p.m. at 2714 Ponderosa Drive, Division Chief Tom Fagan of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical said in a news release. Firefighters had the fire under control in 20 minutes. Damage was estimated at $40,000, Fagan said, but the cause of ...

One killed, 4 injured in 3-car crash northwest of Lawrence

One person was killed and four others were taken to hospitals after a three-vehicle crash Sunday northwest of Lawrence. The wreck happened about 4:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 24 near U.S. Highway 59, in Jefferson County, according to a preliminary report from the Kansas Highway Patrol. An eastbound Jeep Wrangler rear-ended an eastbound Dodge Dart that had slowed to turn left onto Oak Road, according to the ...

Date set for U.S. Supreme Court to hear Douglas County traffic case

A date has been set for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments in a Douglas County case, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Monday. On Nov. 4, the high court will hear the state’s appeal in the vehicle-stop case of Kansas v. Charles Glover, according to a news release from the AG’s office. Schmidt previously announced that the case would be among three appeals from Kansas that the Supreme ...

2 lawsuits slam fights, underage drinking at popular Lawrence college bar

Two men hurt in fights at a popular Lawrence college bar are suing, claiming the bar’s negligence created an unsafe environment that caused their injuries. The separate lawsuits against the Jayhawk Cafe at 1340 Ohio St., known as the Hawk, are currently pending in Douglas County District Court. In one case, the plaintiff was injured after fighting with Hawk staff who refused to let him in because he was ...

Lawrence police report 1 bias complaint in past year; no appeal made to new citizen oversight board

The Lawrence Police Department received one racial or other bias-based policing complaint over the past year, the department reported to a citizen oversight board this week. After receiving the complaint in September, the department’s Office of Professional Accountability investigated and closed the matter in May, according to the report. The involved officer, who was not named in the report, was exonerated. ...

Sixth Street reopened after gas leak west of downtown

Story updated: 9:42 a.m. Thursday. Sixth Street has reopened after being shut down because of a gas leak in a construction area Thursday morning. The street was reopened about 9:40 a.m., Lawrence Police Department spokesman Patrick Compton said. He said it had been closed to traffic in both directions between Ohio and Tennessee streets for close to 30 minutes, until Black Hills Energy arrived on scene and ...

KCMO man convicted in Lawrence Motel 6 murder case after plea to lesser crime

Shawn K. Smith — charged with first-degree felony murder from a man’s death in a 2017 hotel room shootout — was going to get a second trial this fall. Instead, Smith entered a plea and was convicted of a less severe crime Thursday in Douglas County District Court. Smith, 20, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded no contest to robbery, with the judge finding the crime was committed with a deadly weapon, said ...

Prosecutors want teens tried as adults in Holcom Park double shooting case

Prosecutors are now asking for two teens charged in a double shooting case to be tried as adults instead of juveniles. Motions to authorize their prosecutions as adults were filed Wednesday in the cases of Benson J. Edwards Jr., 17, and Sahavione K. Caraway, 17, both of Topeka, Douglas County District Court records show. Assistant District Attorney Bryant Barton wrote in his motions that he would present ...

Decision delayed for one-time Lawrence rape suspect who violated probation

The next step for a one-time Lawrence rape suspect who violated his probation won’t be decided this week. A judge on Wednesday bumped a probation violation hearing for Jared L. Wheeler, 24, until July 25. “I want to make sure we have time for a thorough hearing,” Douglas County District Court Judge Amy Hanley said. Wheeler’s appointed attorney, Charles Whitman, wants to present evidence to support ...

Woman arrested on felony charges after reportedly hitting man with bottle, kicking police

A woman was arrested overnight after allegedly hitting a man with a glass bottle, then kicking police officers who subsequently arrested her. Police responded about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday to the 1200 block of Oread Avenue, where the woman had reportedly hit the man with a bottle, Lawrence Police Department spokesman Patrick Compton said. Compton said the woman resisted being arrested and, after being handcuffed, ...

Neither driver ticketed in collision that injured scooter driver

Neither driver was ticketed in a low-speed collision that seriously injured a scooter driver, according to the Lawrence Police Department accident report released this week. The crash happened shortly after 11 a.m. June 20 at the intersection of 21st and Tennessee streets, which is marked with four-way stop signs. Both vehicles had stopped — the scooter was eastbound on 21st and a pickup was northbound on ...

Lawrence man ordered to trial for alleged sexual assault of woman at pool party

A judge found probable cause for a Lawrence man to stand trial in a sex crime case where he allegedly assaulted a woman at a pool party in rural Douglas County. Matthew C. Hart, 40, appeared in Douglas County District Court for a preliminary hearing that took place over the course of three days, according to the district attorney’s office. Following the final day of the hearing, June 17, Judge James McCabria ...

2 arrested after car chase at east edge of Lawrence

Two people in a stolen car were arrested after leading law enforcement on a chase that ended at the east edge of Lawrence Monday, authorities say. At one point the car reportedly was driving the wrong way on 23rd Street. The incident started about 11:10 a.m., when a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputy tried to stop a red car with no license plate near 10th and Tennessee streets, Sgt. Kristen Channel of the ...

Scooter driver still in ICU following collision with truck in Lawrence

A scooter driver who collided with a pickup and ended up pinned under the truck remains in intensive care more than two weeks later, according to family. The crash happened shortly after 11 a.m. June 20 at 21st and Tennessee streets. Max Van Holt, 51, of Springfield, Mo., was in town visiting his brother, Lawrence resident Tom Van Holt, and had borrowed his scooter, Tom Van Holt said. Tom Van Holt told the ...

DA wants one-time Lawrence rape suspect sent to prison for probation violations

A man who was tried for rape in Lawrence and eventually pleaded to a far less severe nonsexual crime has violated his probation. The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office wants him sent to prison, but his attorney hopes he can stay out after showing proof he’s completed substance abuse treatment. Douglas County District Court Judge Amy Hanley is scheduled to decide Wednesday where Jared L. Wheeler, ...

Discarded smoking materials caused Lawrence duplex fire from which 6 pets were rescued

Story updated: 2:28 p.m. Friday. Improperly disposed of smoking materials on the back deck caused a duplex fire earlier this week in Lawrence, fire officials said. The fire, ruled accidental, broke out shortly after 5:30 p.m. Monday at a two-story duplex at 3407 Harvard Road, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief Tom Fagan said in an email. Firefighters, who arrived to find flames coming from ...

Man charged with arson following Lawrence apartment fire

A man has been charged with aggravated arson, a felony, for allegedly setting a fire inside a Lawrence apartment this week. Benjamin C. Roberts, 27, of Lawrence, was arrested early Monday morning at 541 Michigan St., where he lives, according to jail records. An “odor” was reported in an upstairs apartment at that address just before 1 a.m. Monday, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief Tom ...

Lawrence murder suspect enters plea in lower-severity case

Lawrence resident Steven A. Drake III, 22, has three pending criminal cases against him in Douglas County District Court — all involving victims being killed or seriously hurt. Drake has now entered a plea and been convicted in one of those cases, stemming from a fight that injured a teen two years ago. Originally charged with aggravated battery in the case, Drake pleaded no contest to attempted aggravated ...

Fireworks blamed for 2 injuries, dumpster fire over July 4th holiday in Douglas County

Story updated: 4:45 p.m. Friday. Fireworks injured at least two people and also caused a dumpster fire over the Fourth of July holiday this year in Douglas County. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical responded to two fireworks-related injuries in the county, one of which was serious enough the patient was taken by ambulance to a hospital, Division Chief Tom Fagan said in an email. Fagan did not provide ...