WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Lawrence man accused of soliciting nude photos from teen convicted after plea deal

A Lawrence man accused of using social media to solicit nude photos from an underage girl was convicted Friday after agreeing to a plea deal with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. Jared C. Spears, 28, pleaded no contest to one count of sexual exploitation of a child, which is a level-five felony. Spears was originally facing charges of electronic solicitation, a level-three felony, and stalking, ...

Lawrence school board to consider ratifying 2021-22 teacher contract with no salary increases

Lawrence teachers are not expected to receive an overall raise during the 2021-22 school year, according to a tentative contract agreement with the school district. The school board on Monday will consider ratifying the agreement between the local teachers union and the district’s administration for the 2021-22 school year. Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the district, said in an email Friday that the two ...

Lawrence police: Loud noises in central Lawrence are from KHP training

Loud booms that residents of central Lawrence heard Friday afternoon were likely part of law enforcement training in the area, Lawrence police said. Lt. David Ernst of the Lawrence Police Department said the Kansas Highway Patrol was conducting training in the area of Ninth Street near the vacant Oldfather Studios. What kind of training the agency was conducting is not clear. Ernst said LPD was not involved in ...

Lawrence streets turning purple from 'prematurely' failing lights

Lawrence residents traveling through town after the sun goes down have most likely noticed an unexpected hue filling the streets. A malfunction with lights along the city’s streets has given many a purple cast. Some of the most noticeable are two street lights along Tennessee Street, just south of Sixth Street near downtown Lawrence. While those purple lights are bright, but maybe less harsh than standard ...

Lawrence school district won't require vaccinated students to wear a mask this coming school year

The Lawrence school district will begin allowing students vaccinated for COVID-19 to attend classes without wearing masks during the 2021-22 school year. However, those who are not vaccinated will be expected to wear masks when indoors or on school property. The district on Wednesday announced the COVID-19 prevention measures it will use for the new school year, which begins in about a month. The district said ...

Lawrence High School student who played on football team charged with felony sex crime

A Lawrence High School student who previously played for the school's football team was charged with a felony sex crime in Douglas County District Court on Wednesday. The teen is a minor who was born in 2005, and he made his first appearance in the court's juvenile division alongside his mother on Wednesday. He was charged with attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child between the ages of 14 and 16, ...

Lawrence man sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for raping a guest in his home

A Lawrence man was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on Tuesday for raping a guest in his home in 2017, despite pleas from several friends and family members who said he was a selfless man who had previously worked to better the community. Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff on Tuesday sentenced Erick Ogwangi, 36, to 147 months in prison, which is the state’s minimum recommended sentence for ...

Lawrence student who almost dropped out of high school finds success through College and Career Academy

With just a few school credits to her name as she entered her senior year of high school, Gracyn Garrett was ready to quit. After bad experiences at Lawrence High School and Lawrence Virtual School, Garrett felt she had no other options. So last summer, she asked the school district for paperwork to officially drop out of high school. “I was at my breaking point,” Garrett recently told the Journal-World. ...

Lawrence skateboarder injured during arrest files federal lawsuit against police department, others

A Lawrence skateboarder who was injured during a police stop has filed a lawsuit against Lawrence and Douglas County law enforcement agencies. Duc M. Tran, 45, filed a federal complaint on Friday that alleges Tran “was unconstitutionally beaten, injured, arrested, prosecuted, and eventually exonerated on charges manufactured” by local law enforcement. The lawsuit alleges excessive force, battery, ...

Crews respond to 2 overnight fires in eastern Lawrence this week

Emergency crews responded to two overnight fires in eastern Lawrence this week. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical said in a news release that it responded to a fire in a salvage yard at the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center, 1006 E. 11th St., around 1:58 a.m. Friday. When firefighters arrived, flames were visible in a storage building that involved a pile of salvage waste, the department said. The ...

Rontarus Washington Jr.'s murder trial pushed to a year from now; judge expresses frustration over continued delays

Rontarus Washington Jr. will no longer face a second jury trial this September in his long-running murder case, as the Douglas County District Court allowed the trial to be delayed another year. During a hearing on Friday, Judge James McCabria approved a request from Washington's new defense counsel to push the trial to July 2022. However, before doing so, he expressed frustration with both the defense and ...

Lawrence man charged with 3 felonies for alleged sex crimes involving a minor

A Lawrence man is facing multiple felony charges for alleged sexual contact with a 14-year-old. Trey L. Gibson, 19, was formally charged Thursday in Douglas County District Court with two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, one for sexual intercourse and the other for lewd fondling. He was also charged with one count of criminal sodomy. All three are felonies. Gibson was arrested around 10:20 ...

Affidavit alleges Eudora man 'leaped across table' to rape woman in her home

A man accused of raping a Eudora woman allegedly leaped across her kitchen table and grabbed her before assaulting her in her living room, according to a affidavit supporting the man’s arrest. The man also allegedly apologized to the woman repeatedly after the incident, the woman told police. “He just kept apologizing,” she said. Griffin D. Oxley, 20, is charged with one count of rape in Douglas County ...

Lawrence man recently sentenced to 18 years in prison charged in 7th case since 2018

A Lawrence man recently sentenced to 18 years in prison, who also recently rejected a “global” plea deal to resolve four other criminal cases, saw another charge added to the list on Wednesday. Michael A. Hormell, 21, was formally charged with aggravated intimidation of a witness in Douglas County District Court. The new charge marks Hormell’s seventh criminal case in Douglas County since 2018. According ...

Lawrence school district names new Virtual School principal

The Lawrence school district has selected a familiar face to become the leader of its Virtual School. The district announced in a news release on Tuesday that Susan Cooper will serve as the principal of Lawrence Virtual School, effective immediately. The school board approved the appointment as part of its personnel report on Monday. Cooper, who previously served as the assistant principal and athletic ...

Missouri brothers charged with aggravated assault for Lawrence incident involving firearms

Two brothers from Missouri were both charged with felony offenses for a Sunday morning incident in Lawrence that allegedly included the use of firearms. Chance Gosewisch, 24, Kansas City, Mo., and Cade Gosewisch, 21, Lee’s Summit, Mo., were formally charged Monday with aggravated assault in Douglas County District Court. Patrick Compton, a spokesman for the Lawrence Police Department, said officers ...

School board approves revised schedule with 2 meetings per month, selects leadership, extends superintendent contract

The Lawrence school board will continue to meet twice a month during the 2021-22 school year, despite recently considering a plan that would have allowed for just one meeting a month. The board unanimously approved a revised meeting schedule during its meeting on Monday, which included the board continuing to meet on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. However, the new schedule outlines the first and ...

Voters Guide: Lawrence school board candidates in their own words on district issues

The last year has been a difficult time for public education. As the pandemic vastly changed the way school could be conducted, many Lawrence families and educators were often at odds on what was best for local school children. But now that the pandemic is receding, leaders for the Lawrence school district will need to keep an eye on the ramifications of COVID-19 while also addressing other issues that have ...

Lawrence school board candidates outline district's biggest challenges, budget priorities

Candidates for the Lawrence school board on Saturday outlined what they think the biggest challenges are for the school district, and many of those challenges related to money. During a candidate forum hosted by the Douglas County Democratic Party, 11 of the 12 candidates running for the three seats gave their takes on the district's budget and how funds are appropriated. Several candidates said the biggest ...

Lawrence school board to consider new leadership, proposed schedule change during reorganization meeting

The Lawrence school board will consider appointing new board leaders and finalizing a new meeting schedule during its next meeting. The board will meet for its annual reorganization meeting on Monday, which includes the board selecting its leadership for the next year. The board's current vice president, Erica Hill, is expected to be appointed as board president, and board member Shannon Kimball is expected ...