Local News Archives

Judge Ends Challenges To Parole Rules, Sentences For Teens

From the Associated Press — A judge has rejected constitutional challenges to how Michigan sentences teens convicted of first-degree murder, ending seven years of litigation. Since 2010, federal Judge John Corbett O’Meara has made a series of decisions, some favoring so-called juvenile lifers who were given no-parole sentences when they were under 18. But some rulings were stopped by an appeals court. O’Meara closed the case Tuesday, noting that Michigan law has greatly changed because of decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. No-parole sentences for teenagers still are possible but they’re not mandatory. O’Meara says judges can consider the “factors of youth” when they sentence teens. Attorney Deborah LaBelle had urged O’Meara to strike the law as unconstitutional. She says no-parole sentences are supposed to be rare, but prosecutors still are trying to keep more than 200 inmates behind bars for life at new hearings.... [Read Full Story]

Blossomtime Pageant Tickets Go On Sale This Month

Tickets to this year’s Blossomtime Pageants will go on sale this month. The public sale begins on February 14. This year’s theme is “If it starts with B, it must be Blossomtime,” and the pageants will be held next month. Tickets are $20.00 and you can get them by calling the Blossomtime office or stopping there. The big event will be at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center.... [Read Full Story]

Latest Ann Arbor Hunt Results In 96 Deer Killed

From the Associated Press — Ann Arbor officials say 96 deer have been killed this year as part of the city’s deer management efforts. The Ann Arbor News reports that sharpshooting as part of the city’s second-annual deer cull ended this week and all parks and nature areas that were
closed during the hunt that started Jan. 30 are now back to their normal operating hours. The deer were hunted at designated parks and nature areas and University of Michigan properties, including Nichols Arboretum and near North Campus. A state permit allowed killing up to 100 deer, plus sterilizing up to 80. Veterinarians sterilized 54. Sharpshooters killed 63 deer during last year’s hunt. In 2015, city officials decided that the deer culling program would be for four years to help deal with deer overpopulation.... [Read Full Story]

Kids Allegedly Kidnapped By Parents Found Safe

A parental kidnapping in Benton Harbor is under investigation by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies accuse 34-year-old Scottie Hall and 27-year-old Courtney Gibson of taking their two children against a court order, and fleeing to Indiana last evening. The children, 12-year-old Hailey Hall and 8-year-old Scottie Hall, Jr. were found safe today in Indiana. A court order had put them into protective custody and foster care just a few hours before they were taken. The sheriff’s department has not indicated the reasons for that court ruling.... [Read Full Story]

BHAS Sued Over Student’s Sexual Assault

Benton Harbor Area Schools, Superintendent Shelly Walker, and former high school principal Rodger Triplett are being sued in federal court by the family of an autistic teenager over the girl’s sexual assault by a former star football player. 18-year-old Timothy Bell, Jr. is serving a year in the Berrien County Jail for oral sex with the girl, who was 15 at the time, in 2015 just after the Tigers’ football season concluded. Bells was 16 at the time, and recorded part of the incident on his cell phone. Bell entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge in July. The girl’s family filed the suit in federal court in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, alleging the school district protected Bell and created a hostile environment for the victim. In the lawsuit, they say she was forced to face her attacker daily and was taunted for months. Officials with Benton Harbor Area Schools have declined to comment.... [Read Full Story]

Police Looking For Kids Kidnapped From Benton Harbor

Police are investigating a parental kidnapping in Benton Harbor. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Scottie Hall and Courtney Gibson allegedly took their children from a home at 600 Nate Wells Sr. Drive just hours after the court ordered them into protective custody and placed them in foster care yesterday. They are believed to be in Indiana, driving a 2001 Lincoln four door sedan with Indiana plates of XLL-123. Deputies say Hailey Hall is 12, five-feet tall with brown hair and weighs around 100 pounds, while Scottie Hall Jr. is 8, around 4’6″, 65 pounds, and also has brown hair. Anyone who knows where Hall and Gibson went with the kids is urged to call the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.... [Read Full Story]

Hilltop Repaving Work Set For this Year

Coming soon will be a resurfacing project for Hilltop Road in St. Joseph. It’s an effort  being taken on jointly by the city, the township, the road commission, and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. Project Engineer Alan Smaka, with Wightman and Associates, tells us they’re doing a variety of work on the road.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Budget Proposal To Include $260 Million In Savings

From the Associated Press — As Republican lawmakers push for an income tax cut, Governor Rick Snyder instead will propose growing Michigan’s savings account to $1 billion. State budget director Al Pscholka told The Associated Press Tuesday that Snyder wants to add a “sizable” $260 million to the budget stabilization, or rainy day, fund in the next fiscal year. It would be the largest deposit since Snyder’s first year in office. The Republican will unveil his budget plan Wednesday. Pscholka says it’s smart to save money because of “one-time” tax revenues and looming budget pressures. Lawmakers voted to permanently shift general funds to road repairs starting in 2018. Other squeezes include Medicaid expansion costs and the phase-out of business equipment taxes. Snyder also will propose directing $1.2 billion to the Public School Employees Retirement System.... [Read Full Story]

Permanent Memorial Planned For Kalamazoo Massacre Victims

The six people killed in last February’s shootings in the Kalamazoo area will be honored with a permanent memorial. The idea is still in the planning stages, and fundraising is yet to begin. Last February 20, Uber driver Jason Dalton allegedly shot eight people and killed six in three separate shootings while still driving passengers around Kalamazoo in between the incidents. The first shooting injured Tianna Carruthers at an apartment complex northeast of Kalamazoo. In the second incident, Dalton allegedly killed 17-year-old Tyler and 53-year-old Richard Smith of Mattawan at a car dealership, and then gunned down four women in their cars outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texas Township. That shooting injured then-14-year-old Abbie Kopf of Battle Creek and killed Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, and Mary Jo Nye, Barbara Hawthorne, and Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek. Dalton is still awaiting trial on 16 charges.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Republican Condemned For Tweet About Democratic Protesters

From the Associated Press — Democratic and Republican party leaders in Michigan and Kent State University are condemning online comments from a county-level Republican that appeared to suggest shooting protesters. Dan Adamini, secretary of the Marquette County GOP, last week tweeted, “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.” In 1970, the Ohio National Guard fatally shot four Kent State students during Vietnam War protests. Adamini said Monday that he was calling for an end to violence after a demonstration last week at the University of California, Berkeley that stopped a speech by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. Some protesters broke windows and tossed smoke bombs. Kent State officials called Adamini’s posts “abhorrent.” Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman Sarah Anderson says Adamini was speaking for himself.... [Read Full Story]

Sentencing Held For Mother Of Murdered Infant

The mother of an 8-month-old boy who prosecutors say was murdered last year has been sentenced to 270 days in jail for her role in the case. Autumn Atchley was in Berrien County Court Monday for sentencing in the death of little Carter Donovan. Donovan died as a result of trauma to the head while in the care of an Atchley acquaintance, Brandon Beshires, nearly a year ago. Beshires has been sentenced to life in prison in the case. Prosecutors say Atchley initially lied to hospital staff about what had happened when she brought Donovan there. She was charged with being an accessory after the fact. She’ll also get 30 days credit for time served and two years of probation.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Lawmaker Resigns To Resolve Criminal Charges

From the Associated Press — A Michigan lawmaker with a lengthy criminal record has resigned from office as part of a deal to resolve charges alleging he submitted fraudulent pay stubs to secure a $3,000 loan in 2010. Third-term Democratic state Representative Brian Banks of Harper Woods announced his resignation in a Wayne County courtroom Monday. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false financial statements while three felony counts were dropped. He could face up to a year in prison. Sentencing is February 17. The 40-year-old was charged in June by state Attorney General Bill Schuette. Banks was previously convicted of writing bad checks and credit card fraud.... [Read Full Story]