KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A prominent Kansas City defense attorney has been hired to represent a northwest Missouri man at the center of a teen sexual assault case that has gained worldwide attention because of the way it was handled.
J.R. Hobbs confirmed Thursday that he will assist the Maryville native who was 17 in January 2012 when a 14-year-old girl claimed he plied her with alcohol and sexually assaulted her.
Daisy Coleman says justice was not served when Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice dismissed felony charges against the boy and a second 17-year-old accused of recording the incident on his cellphone.
Jackson County prosecuting attorney Jean Peters Baker was appointed Monday as special prosecutor in the case and will decide whether evidence supports refiling of charges.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A nearly 2-mile stretch of Interstate 70 in Kansas City is closed after a tanker truck crashed and exploded into flames, injuring the driver.
The single-vehicle accident occurred early Friday when the tanker hit a median and caught fire. The Missouri Department of Transportation says the truck was hauling a flammable solvent, some of which spilled after the crash.
Jesse Skinner, district maintenance engineer for the transportation department, says the driver was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. No other injuries were reported.
He says crews from the fire department, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency were at the scene to ensure the solvent was contained. He says there's no threat to public safety.
The highway department says the highway could be closed until late Friday.
Authorities feared 28-year-old Rachel Koechner had been abducted, but Chariton County Sheriff Chris Hughes says she spent much of that time with her ex and their child in the motel. Koechner has not been charged.
Organizers envision most of the convention taking place at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City. But say other events could be held at venues in the city's Kansas suburbs. The Republican convention was held in Kansas City in 1976.
That major winter storm is threatening to bring blizzard conditions to the north and central portion of Missouri--hitting Kansas City hard and in other parts of the central Plains today.
Kansas City leaders are telling people to move their cars off the street or they'll be towed. This snow plow driver says cars parked haphazardly have made it been difficult to clear the streets. "It's not that we haven't tried or haven't been there. Just a lot of times we get there and we can't get through."
Kansas City - which got a foot of snow last week - could get another 15 inches staring Monday afternoon Jesse Bustamonte was out with a shovel clearing a storm drain in front of his house Sunday. "I had to dig out a friend of mine. Every time he tried to move he was spinning his wheels because of the ice. So it was dig out and move, dig out and move."
The National Weather Service in Dodge City, Kan. says there could be "upward of a foot across south-central Kansas with lesser amounts across west-central and central Kansas." The storm also could bring tornadoes to the South.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cadaver dogs searched through the smoldering rubble of a Kansas City restaurant after a gas explosion sparked a massive blaze Tuesday evening in an upscale shopping district.
More than a dozen people were injured in the blast and resulting fire, which occurred just after 6 p.m. and completely destroyed JJ's restaurant. There were no reports of fatalities by Tuesday night, though authorities cautioned that could change because it was unclear how many people were inside at the time of the blast.
Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said cadaver dogs were called to the scene because of the size of the conflagration.
"I would always fear there are fatalities in a scene like this," Berardi said.
He said results of the search would take hours and that he expected his crews would be working the scene through the night.
City Manager Troy Schulte said it appeared an accident by a utility contractor had caused the blast, and a statement from utility Missouri Gas Energy late Tuesday reiterated that possibility, but Berardi and others cautioned that the cause was still being investigated.
"This investigation is ongoing," Berardi said. "We do have reports that there was an odor of gas earlier. But, again, this investigation needs to be concluded before we want to speculate on any of that."
Indeed, the smell of gas was very strong in the area hours after the blast. Berardi said the utility stopped the flow of gas about 8 p.m., and utility crews could be seen working in the area after the blast.
Witnesses noted street signs indicated utility work was being done in the area, and a JJ's employee said the restaurant was open but undergoing renovations.
Mayor Sly James was at the scene after the blast, praising the work of first responders.
"The first thing we need to be concerned about is the people that are injured," James said.
Police Sgt. Tony Sanders said the manager of JJ's restaurant was unable to account for three people, but it was unclear whether they were caught in the blaze or had left earlier.
The University of Kansas Hospital was treating six people injured in the blast, said spokesman Bob Hallinan. He said one person was in critical condition, two were in serious condition and two others were expected to be released. He said all of those injuries were traumatic, such as broken bones, rather than burns or smoke inhalation. The final patient there was a burn victim who was transferred from Truman Medical Center, Hallinan said.
Dr. Marc Larsen, medical director of the emergency room at St. Luke's Hospital, which is near the scene of the fire, said they had treated eight people, six of whom were walk-ins with minor injuries. He said two males were in critical condition and would be kept overnight. He said one had extensive burns and another had facial trauma.
Jim Ligon, a JJ's bartender, said he wasn't working Tuesday night but started getting texts and calls from co-workers minutes after the explosion. He said the incident happened during the peak of weekday happy hour, when there is typically anywhere from 15 to 45 people in the bar area as well as three to five tables of diners at the restaurant.
"JJ's has a small staff, a family feel," said Ligon, 45, of Kansas City, Mo. "You see the same 100 people all the time — a bar and restaurant for regulars. We're just really hoping we come out of here OK in terms of injuries."
Ligon said he was on his way Tuesday night to meet up with co-workers at another bar in town to talk about the incident.
The shopping area was established in 1922 by J.C. Nichols. Based on the architecture of Seville, Spain, it includes retail, restaurants, apartments and offices.
The bill given initial approval Tuesday night is aimed mainly at the Kansas City School District, which lost its accreditation in January 2012.
Under current law, Missouri officials must wait until at least June 30, 2014, before intervening in the Kansas City district.
The Senate legislation would let the state intervene immediately after a district loses its accreditation. The state Board of Education could prescribe conditions under which the existing local school board could continue to oversee the school, or it could set up an alternative governing structure.
Those alternatives could include creating a special administrative board, merging the district with neighboring ones or splitting the district into several new ones.