WRITER: Sara Shepherd

Public invited to reception for retiring Douglas County District Court judge

The public is invited to a retirement reception honoring Douglas County District Court Judge Paula Martin. The reception is planned for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 14, in the Douglas County Commission Room at the old courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Martin's announced retirement date is June 15. Martin has been on the bench 25 years, since being appointed by Gov. Joan Finney in 1994. She has presided ...

Man arrested after reportedly hitting neighbor with hatchet

A Lawrence man went to jail overnight after allegedly hitting his neighbor with a hatchet — the blunt side — police said. The two neighbors had an “ongoing dispute,” and the altercation stemmed from that, Officer Shawn Gross said, in an email. After being called by other neighbors, police responded just before 9 p.m. Wednesday to the reported fight in the 2600 block of Winterbrook Drive, Gross said. ...

DA wants attempted murder suspect back in jail, says after-hours bond procedures may need to change

The Douglas County district attorney says he plans to file a motion to get an attempted murder suspect back in jail, after the man was arrested on new lower-severity charges over the weekend and released on a matching low bond. DA Charles Branson said he also wanted to discuss changing procedures that allowed Alfred D. Sanders to post bond and get out of jail before Branson’s office was notified that he was ...

New trial date set for man accused of murder in Lawrence doorstep shooting

A new trial date has been set for a Lawrence man who shot and killed another man on his doorstep. On Tuesday, Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff scheduled the murder trial against Steven A. Drake III, 22, to begin Aug. 19. It’s expected to last a week and a half. The trial has been delayed a number of times over the past year, most recently at Drake’s request after “new developments,” which ...

KU pays $40K to settle mold lawsuit by former student-athlete

The University of Kansas is paying a former student-athlete $40,000 to settle her lawsuit against the school, in which she claimed mold in vents to her dorm room made her sick. Though the university still denies her claims, it will pay Laine R. Evans $20,000 and her attorneys $20,000 to settle the suit without going to trial, according to an agreement obtained by the Journal-World through a Kansas Open Records ...

Kansas Highway Patrol handles 5 fatal crashes in 12-hour period

The Kansas Highway Patrol investigated five fatal crashes in a 12-hour period Friday. Six people died in the five wrecks, which occurred from 12:40 p.m. Friday to midnight. Three of the crashes involved tractor-trailers, and one was a single-vehicle crash of a motorcycle. According to preliminary reports from the highway patrol: • At 12:40 p.m. on U.S. Highway 81 in Ottawa County, north of Minneapolis, a ...

After arrest on new gun charges, Lawrence attempted murder suspect again released on bond

Story updated: 10:47 a.m. Tuesday, June 4, 2019. A man charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting up a moving car with people inside — who’s been out on bond more than a year — was arrested this weekend for allegedly having a stolen gun and illegal drugs. After posting a comparatively low bond in the new case, the suspect was released again, according to jail records. It’s two more weeks ...

Witness, evidence issues addressed at pretrial hearing in Massachusetts Street triple murder case

A number of witnesses subpoenaed for the Massachusetts Street triple murder trial are either former co-defendants in the case or people who are in jail for unrelated charges. None of those witnesses, or other potential witnesses, have been promised anything in exchange for testifying, prosecutors confirmed at a pretrial hearing Friday, after defense attorneys asked that any such deals be disclosed. “There ...

'It was like walking through a nightmare': Eudora woman, 88, survives tornado that wiped out home of over 40 years

Cherry McCabria, 88, didn’t even try to leave her basement until she heard her neighbor yelling. “Cherry! Cherry!” she recalls hearing from above. “In my heart it equated what the shepherds heard on Christmas. It was just so relieving.” McCabria — “scared to death” but otherwise unscathed — had just survived what she would soon realize was the storm of her life. Chris Paxton, who lives about ...

Crews descend on northeast Kansas to restore electricity after tornado

Story updated 7:05 p.m. Thursday, May 30, 2019: Amid twisted, broken-off trees and piles of wood, sheetrock and metal that once were buildings south of Lawrence, a small army was hard at work Thursday. Besides residents lugging branches into heaps and picking through debris on their properties, hundreds of crews from across the state poured into the area to restore electricity. Two days after an EF-4 tornado ...

Governor views 30-plus miles of Kansas tornado damage

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly took a flight tour Thursday over the path of an EF-4 tornado that left nearly 32 miles of destruction in Douglas and Leavenworth counties. Kelly described feeling “incredibly overwhelmed” seeing the devastation in full from the air. “It just keeps going on and on,” she said. “The fact that there was not a fatality is amazing.” Kelly also viewed tornado damage from the ...

Lawrence man convicted in kidnapping, sex assault case

A man with a previous sex crime conviction in Missouri has now been convicted of a kidnapping and sex crime in Douglas County. B.J. Lauri, 44, of Lawrence, pleaded no contest and was convicted of kidnapping and aggravated sexual battery, both felonies, on Thursday in Douglas County District Court. Under the plea agreement, prosecutor Alice Walker and appointed defense attorney Branden Smith said they agreed ...

County's largest tornado in decades injured 17 people, damaged more than 60 homes, officials say

The mile-wide tornado that skirted Lawrence Tuesday night — Douglas County’s largest twister in decades — injured 17 people and left more than 60 damaged homes in its wake, authorities said Wednesday. After touching down south of Lawrence about 6:15 p.m., the destructive tornado stayed on the ground for more than 31 miles, continuing northeast before lifting in Leavenworth County, according to the ...

Lawrence man charged with rape

A Lawrence man has been charged with a rape that allegedly occurred over the weekend. Perry L. Oatis, 54, was arrested early Monday morning in the 2300 block of Ousdahl Road, according to jail records. He was charged Tuesday with rape, a felony, for alleged intercourse with a 34-year-old victim who was unconscious or physically powerless, according to the complaint filed in Douglas County District Court. The ...

Douglas County’s abused and neglected children cases have doubled in past decade; retiring director helped CASA keep pace

Sleepless nights — mulling reports on abused and neglected children she’s tasked with helping — have been part of the job for Diana Frederick. Some of the children have seen their mothers seriously injured by a partner, or seen their pets abused. Some have cigarette burns left on purpose, or marks from being beaten. Some have never even had a birthday cake. But it’s not just the “heartbreaking” ...

Secrets of KU basketball ticket sales at center of lawsuit in Lawrence, prompted by dueling brokers

The University of Kansas says in its ticket broker agreement that it wants every men’s basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse “completely sold out for the highest amount of revenue.” How much money is KU’s exclusive ticket broker paying the university to secure the deal? For how many years? And how many tickets in which sections does the broker get? Only KU and the chosen broker know. But those ...

Panel announces finalists to replace retiring Douglas County judge

After interviewing 10 judge candidates on Thursday, the 7th Judicial District Nominating Commission has announced four finalists it’s recommending to the governor. On the list are two public prosecutors and two public defenders. They are all Lawrence residents. Gov. Laura Kelly has 60 days to decide whom to appoint to replace Douglas County District Court Judge Paula Martin, who’s retiring June 15. The ...

Man sentenced to 3 years in prison after conviction in Lawrence laundromat robbery

A man with multiple previous felony convictions picked up two more in Douglas County — one from an armed robbery at a laundromat — and is being sent back to prison for more than three years. Andre R. Brown, 30, was sentenced to 40 months in prison Friday in Douglas County District Court. Judge Kay Huff said that would be followed by a year of post-release supervision. She said Brown was on parole in a ...

Probation granted for former Douglas County deputy accused of sex acts with inmate

A Douglas County sheriff’s deputy who left the force after being accused of a sexual rendezvous with a female inmate has been granted a two-year probation. At his sentencing hearing Friday, Mario J. Godinez, 47, of Lawrence, apologized to authorities and the community for what his attorney described as “a lapse in judgement” and “a terrible mistake.” “I feel like I failed them all, and failed ...

Woman safely out of water after being swept down Kansas River near downtown Lawrence

Story updated at 12:24 p.m. Thursday A woman is safe after escaping the turbulent and rain-swollen Kansas River near downtown Lawrence and being swept to the opposite bank nearly a mile downriver Thursday morning. The woman initially told law enforcement that she slipped and fell into the water, said Sgt. Kristen Channel of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. However, Channel said that further investigation ...