Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

State Regional

March 30, 2003


Wichitan gets 50 years for killing girlfriend

Wichita -- A man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for strangling his girlfriend less than two weeks after she canceled a protection of abuse order against him.

Judge Terry Pullman on Friday ordered the maximum prison sentence allowed in Kansas, the so-called "Hard 50," for Tom Drennan, 36, of Wichita.

Jurors found Drennan guilty in January of first-degree murder in the death of Shelbree Wilson, 33. Drennan has insisted he was so drunk he couldn't remember the Aug. 19 killing.

Mike Whalen, Drennan's lawyer, argued for a life sentence with eligibility for parole after 25 years, partly because of his client's substance abuse.

But Pullman said Drennan had plenty of chances to get help because he started getting DUIs the same year he got a driver's license. By the time of his conviction, Drennan had nine previous convictions -- five for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, three for disorderly conduct and one for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cessna engineering leader dies of cancer

Wichita -- Milton D. Sills, who made the first test flight on the original Citation business jet, has died from cancer.

Sills, 69, died Thursday. He was fondly known around Cessna Aircraft Co. as "Mr. Citation."

"He not only made the first test flight on the original Citation, but he provided the vision, leadership and enthusiasm for the development of every Citation model," said Cessna's chairman, Russ Meyer.

Sills graduated from Kansas University in 1955 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

He served a three-year stint as a Navy aviator before becoming a B-52 test pilot for Boeing in Wichita. He also was an F-4 test flight engineer for McDonnell Aircraft before coming to Cessna in 1965 as an engineering test pilot.

Former pastor pleads to attempted theft

Olathe -- The former pastor of an Olathe church who admitted he had a gambling problem has pleaded guilty to attempted theft of more than $44,000 in church funds.

The Rev. Anthony Williams resigned from St. Paul's Catholic Church last fall after telling parishioners about his gambling problem.

Williams, 50, then entered an inpatient gambling treatment program, said defense attorney Tom Bath. He remains in the program.

Bath and Assistant Dist. Atty. Steve Howe said they would recommend probation at sentencing, scheduled for May 23.

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