WRITER: Mackenzie Clark

No serious injury crashes reported Tuesday amid wintry weather

Despite a winter weather advisory and predictions of ice and snow accumulations, road conditions were not bad enough to cause many crashes and slide-offs in Douglas County on Tuesday. Lawrence police responded to one noninjury crash Tuesday morning, Lt. David Ernst said via email, but none that involved injuries. As of 3:15 p.m., officers had not been called to any motorist assists, he said. County roads ...

Paradise Saloon asks judge to reconsider decision and stop Douglas County from enforcing health order, citing San Diego case

A local adult entertainment club has asked a judge to backtrack on her ruling that she would not stop Douglas County from enforcing a health order, and it's now citing a recent San Diego court case. Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the owner of Paradise Saloon in Lawrence filed a lawsuit that, in part, asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order that would have prevented county health officials ...

Criminal cases filed in Douglas County court down almost 50% in 15 years; here's why

The total number of criminal cases filed in Douglas County District Court has dropped by almost 50% in the last 15 years, data from the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration shows. However, many of those cases are still being filed — but in municipal courts rather than the district court. And it's misdemeanor cases, not felonies, that are behind the decrease; the number of felony cases in Douglas County ...

Blue Santa program brings gifts to a record number of Lawrence families

This year, the gifts that children received through the Lawrence Police Department's Blue Santa program were surprises to the grownups, too. The department’s annual charity benefit and toy drive, first organized in 2011, usually allows parents and guardians of Lawrence kids to shop at the Blue Santa toy store and select gifts. The toy store “elves” — volunteers — would then wrap the presents for ...

James Gunn, the ‘Dad of Science Fiction,’ dies at age 97

People around the world were familiar with author and professor James Gunn, who had earned the nickname of the “Dad of Science Fiction.” But by age 97, he had also become the “granddad and the great granddad” of the genre, according to his colleague and close friend. “A lot of people who are writers now took classes from somebody who took classes from somebody who took classes from him,” Kij ...

Prosecutor says Albert Wilson, convicted of rape, hasn’t made case for new trial; decision now in judge’s hands

A prosecutor and a defense attorney this week submitted their final written arguments and now await the judge’s decision on whether a man convicted in a Lawrence rape case will get a new trial. Lawyers for the man, Albert N. Wilson, have argued that their client’s appointed defense attorney was so “constitutionally deficient” that Wilson’s trial was unfair. They introduced evidence that had not ...

Lawrence Police Department rolling out ‘survivor-focused’ Special Victims Unit

Story updated at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday: The Lawrence Police Department is rolling out its Special Victims Unit, or SVU, that will focus primarily on cases of physical abuse — specifically, crimes against children, crimes of a sexual nature and domestic violence, according to a news release. “LKPD has deliberately focused on the development of the SVU for over a year, and its implementation is a testament to ...

Drug Enforcement Unit is no longer operational, Lawrence police say, but a new unit will have a similar focus

After the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office dissolved its Drug Enforcement Unit partnership with the Lawrence Police Department, the DEU is no longer operating within LPD, according to a department spokesperson. However, the department recently assigned personnel — including a supervisor, detectives, officers and a crime analyst — to a new unit called the Directed Investigations Unit that will have a ...

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office dissolves Drug Enforcement Unit; sheriff-elect says his office won't focus on ‘low-level users’

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is no longer running a special drug-focused unit in collaboration with the Lawrence police, a spokesperson said Monday. Jenn Hethcoat, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, said via email that the office thinks the operational structure of the Drug Enforcement Unit is outdated. After much discussion with the Lawrence Police Department, the decision to ...

Douglas County District Court prepares for jury trials at the fairgrounds; here’s what to expect if you’re summoned

For all intents and purposes, the Flory Meeting Hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds was ready on Friday afternoon to hold jury trials, though a few finishing touches aren't yet in place. Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, judges and staff of the Douglas County District Court developed a plan for resuming jury trials safely early next year, and the new location is part of that. Chief Judge James McCabria ...

Girl taken to hospital after reported altercation at Free State High School, police say

Updated at 3:34 p.m. Thursday A girl was taken to a local hospital with unknown injuries after a reported “altercation between two parties” Thursday at Free State High School, police say. Officers were dispatched to the school, 4700 Overland Drive, around 12:35 p.m. Thursday, emergency radio traffic monitored by the Journal-World indicated. The call was initially reported as a child out of control, said ...

Person taken to hospital after 3-vehicle crash on 23rd Street, Lawrence police say

One person was taken to the hospital Thursday after a three-vehicle crash on 23rd Street, according to the Lawrence Police Department. Around 12:25 p.m. Thursday, a red sedan was traveling eastbound on 23rd Street near Learnard Avenue. For an unknown reason, the sedan crossed the center line and headed into oncoming westbound traffic, said Patrick Compton, a spokesperson for LPD. The sedan struck two other ...

Kansas Supreme Court hears arguments in Danny Queen murder case; ruling will determine whether his sentence is vacated

Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court will soon determine whether Danny W. Queen’s convictions in a 2017 Eudora bar shooting should be overturned and his prison sentence vacated because his trial started three days late. The Kansas Court of Appeals ruled in July that it was “obligated” to vacate Queen’s nearly 19-year prison sentence because he was not brought to trial within the 150 days allowed under ...

Lawrence man sentenced to more than 56 years in double shooting that paralyzed man, injured woman

A man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for his convictions in a 2018 double shooting in Lawrence that left a woman injured and a man paralyzed. Tommy J. May, 61, was sentenced Monday to a total of 679 months, or 56 years and 7 months, in prison. A jury found on Dec. 19, 2019, that May had shot a woman in the face, shot a man in the back, fled the scene of the apartment fourplex in the 700 ...

State will argue that Danny Queen’s conviction in Eudora murder shouldn't be overturned for speedy trial issues

The Kansas Court of Appeals ruled in July that it was “obligated” to reverse a Eudora man’s murder conviction and vacate a nearly 19-year prison sentence because his trial started three days late. But on Tuesday, the Douglas County district attorney’s office will ask the Kansas Supreme Court to reverse that decision and keep Danny W. Queen, 39, behind bars. The state also says the circumstances of the ...

Man sentenced to more than 5 years in prison for Lawrence shooting that injured teen

An Overland Park man was sentenced to 67 months in prison Friday for a December 2019 shooting that injured a teenage boy in Lawrence. Lawrence police told the Journal-World at the time that Lawrence Memorial Hospital staff had reported that the boy came to the emergency room with a gunshot wound in the early morning of Dec. 9, 2019. The boy was treated for a minor injury and was released from the hospital, a ...

Kansas AG dismisses case against former KU researcher; charges could be refiled

A year after a University of Kansas researcher was charged with felony theft and other charges, the state has moved to dismiss the case. However, the motion that Assistant Attorney General Paul Brothers filed Tuesday indicates that the case could be refiled. “Recent developments in the case necessitate further investigation,” the motion states. “The State is seeking a dismissal of the case to allow ...

Former KU pharmacy student bound over for trial in rape case

A judge bound a Lawrence man over for trial in a rape case Wednesday in Douglas County District Court, following testimony from a witness and the woman he is accused of raping. Andrew E. Ferguson, 22, was charged last December with rape of a victim who was unconscious or physically powerless. Ferguson faced an alternative charge of rape of a victim who was incapable of consenting because of the effects of drugs ...

Judge denies temporary halt to health order enforcement at Lawrence adult entertainment club

A judge has declined to stop Douglas County from enforcing a health order against Paradise Saloon, an adult entertainment club in Lawrence, while a civil case is pending. Since the case was filed in Douglas County District Court in early October, attorney Robert “Tuck” Duncan has raised several arguments against local health restrictions put in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Though the ...

Federal judge rules that Lawrence police officers have qualified immunity, dismisses inmate's excessive force case

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit in federal court that accused two Lawrence police officers of using excessive force in the plaintiff’s arrest. Donavan R. Hiller, 35, has remained in the custody of the Douglas County Jail on a $50,000 cash or surety bond since he was arrested Aug. 30, 2019, jail records indicate. A woman had told police that Hiller sexually assaulted her and hit her in the head with a ...