Author

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.

Judge admits she made mistake with nonexistent evidence in murder case

By: - December 9, 2020

TOPEKA — Shawnee County District Judge Nancy Parrish took responsibility Wednesday for inappropriate comments Jacqie Spradling made to the jury in a high-profile murder case. Spradling faces ethics charges for her conduct as the prosecutor in the 2012 trial of Dana Chandler in Shawnee County and 2017 trial of Jacob Ewing in Jackson County. Both […]

Shawnee County prosecutor says evidence used to secure murder conviction doesn’t exist

By: - December 7, 2020

TOPEKA — The Shawnee County prosecutor handling the retrial of Dana Chandler in a double murder case says a litany of evidence used to convict Chandler in 2012 doesn’t exist. Deputy district attorney Charles Kitt provided testimony Monday in a disciplinary hearing for his predecessor and former colleague, Jacqie Spradling. She is accused of lying […]

Former Shawnee County prosecutor Jacqie Spradling admitted during a disciplinary hearing in this Topeka office building on charges of ethical misconduct that she denied fair trials to a Shawnee County murder defendant and a Jackson County rape defendant. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Prolonged inquiries into prosecutors’ ‘dirty laundry’ invite claims of bias

By: - December 6, 2020

TOPEKA — Career prosecutor Jacqie Spradling will fight to preserve her reputation and law license this week in a Topeka building nestled among the weeds of a natural bio-system for cleansing the city’s sullied runoff. The hearing will take place in a makeshift pandemic-fitted courtroom with restricted access inside the Kansas Office of the Disciplinary […]

The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System's board of trustees voted to prohibit future investment in Russian securities in response to the invasion of Ukraine. About $35 million of KPERS' $25 billion portfolio is in Russian securities. (Getty Images)

Kansas agency serving 3,100 foster children accused of ‘rampant’ financial mismanagement

By: - December 4, 2020

TOPEKA — Top management at Saint Francis Ministries purchased $80,000 worth of Chicago Cubs tickets and agreed to pay $7 million to the president’s business partner for software development as the organization tumbled into financial chaos, sometimes relying on loans to cover weekly expenses, according to a whistleblower’s report. The chief executive and operating officers […]

Facing financial strain, Saint Francis Ministries shuts down services for refugees

By: - December 3, 2020

TOPEKA — Saint Francis Ministries is eliminating its support network for refugees in Kansas, citing financial strains within the organization and a desire to focus resources on foster care services. Employees learned of the decision on Nov. 20, a day after the organization fired top leadership at the conclusion of an investigation into undisclosed mismanagement […]

Gov. Laura Kelly said initial COVID-19 vaccine shipments will be dedicated to medical personnel working with high-risk coronavirus patients and the vulnerable residents of nursing homes before turning to Phase 2 recipients above the age of 65 and people in lowe-risk health care jobs. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Gov. Kelly to direct December vaccine supply at COVID-19 health workers, nursing home residents

By: and - December 2, 2020

KDHE says number of Kansas who died with COVID-19 grew by 119 since Monday, bringing state's pandemic death toll in November closer to 700.

The Kansas Department of Corrections says a 12th inmate incarcerated in state prison facilities died of COVID-19. The latest was a 62-year-old man at Hutchinson Correctional Facility. (Getty Images)

Detainees say private prison denies COVID-19 tests, treatment while awaiting trial

By: - November 30, 2020

TOPEKA — People awaiting trial at CoreCivic’s Leavenworth prison for federal detainees say the private company has failed to provide adequate testing or medical care amid an “uncontrolled outbreak” of COVID-19. First-person accounts and court documents reveal the facility’s staff hasn’t provided testing for detainees who were exposed to the virus and in some cases […]

Kansas adds 177 deaths in one week; health officials wary of Thanksgiving gatherings

By: - November 25, 2020

TOPEKA — The Kansas Department for Health and Environment said Wednesday that 47 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported since Monday, pushing the pandemic’s death toll in the state above 1,500. Health officials are worried the radical acceleration in deaths and infections across Kansas will be amplified further by Thanksgiving gatherings, exacerbating the strain on […]

One Kansas tradition goes on as usual this year — Bess and Betty do their job

By: - November 24, 2020

CEDAR CREST — Bess and Betty stamped and snorted Tuesday morning in the guest parking lot of the governor’s mansion, where for 40 minutes they waited patiently and sometimes impatiently in fur-ruffling wind under a dapple-gray sky for the show to start. By the time they put the replica 1880 hayrack in motion, they were […]

Kansas Chamber, hospitals make plea for voluntary mask use

By: - November 23, 2020

TOPEKA — Groups representing Kansas businesses and health care providers launched a campaign Monday to convince Kansans to adhere to public health guidelines and mandates by appealing to their sense of personal responsibility. The marketing effort complements the drumbeat of pleadings by Gov. Laura Kelly and her administration on the importance of wearing a face […]

CDC publishes research showing Kansas mask mandates helped drive down COVID-19 infections

By: - November 20, 2020

TOPEKA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published new research with input from Kansas health officials that reaffirms mask mandates helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state’s largest counties. The study separately examines trends in 25 counties that did not oppose Gov. Laura Kelly’s July 3 recommendation to wear masks […]

Foster care provider removes top leaders after investigation into mismanagement

By: - November 19, 2020

TOPEKA — The largest foster care provider for Kansas has removed its top two leaders following an investigation into alleged mismanagement, and the Kansas Department for Children and Families was reviewing the situation to determine whether state resources were properly handled. Saint Francis Ministries informed staff Thursday that the Rev. Robert Smith and CEO Tom Blythe […]