Local News Archives

Prosecutor Files Sentencing Motions In Ten Juvenile Murder Cases

Sentences of life in prison without parole are being sought for a second time by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office in ten cases that go as far back as 1967. The prosecutor’s office on Thursday announced it has filed motions seeking that sentence in response to a couple of Supreme Court rulings striking down mandatory life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders. Since the 2012 ruling, judges have the option of handing down life without parole to a juvenile, but they can also impose a lesser sentence. The ruling in 2016 was made retroactive. The prosecutor’s office says in all ten local cases affected by the rulings, it’s asking once again for just that sentence. The prosecutor had until the end of this week to file motions with the request. All ten cases involve murder.... [Read Full Story]

Kalamazoo Spill Settlement Renews Calls To Shut Down Line 5

The settlement reached in the Kalamazoo River oil spill is intensifying calls from citizen and environmental groups to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. A $177 million federal oil spill settlement with Enbridge Energy Partners was announced Wednesday for the 2010 pipeline rupture. Deb Hansen, with Concerned Citizens of Cheboygan and Emmet County, contends the settlement is inadequate, and says it shows the risk the state is taking for continuing to allow Enbridge pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.... [Read Full Story]

Straight Party Ticket Ban Struck Down By Judge

A federal judge has blocked Michigan’s new ban on straight-party voting, a law that was passed by Republicans but criticized by Democrats as a
way to discourage turnout among minorities. Judge Gershwin Drain signed an injunction Thursday, a week after hearing arguments. He says the law would place a “disproportionate burden” on the rights of black citizens to vote in the fall election. Lawyers say more than 70 percent of ballots in Detroit and Flint have been cast as straight-party — votes that go for all candidates of one party with just a single mark. The state attorney general’s office, which is defending the law in court, says Michigan joined 40 other states in banning straight-party voting. The judge says that’s irrelevant.... [Read Full Story]

Cotter: Prevailing Wage Repeal Off Table

It was a priority for Michigan Republicans when this legislative session began, but not anymore. Speaker Kevin Cotter says an attempt to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law is off the table for the remaining 20 legislative days in this session. Cotter told Michigan’s Big Show that the Governor opposes the bill because it is contrary to his efforts to promote and encourage skilled trades in Michigan.... [Read Full Story]

Report: Courthouse Shooter Was School Volunteer

New information coming from our reporting partners at WKZO radio in Kalamazoo that Larry Gordon, the man who shot and killed two bailiffs at the Berrien County Courthouse, was also a volunteer at his daughter’s elementary school. Watervliet Public Schools superintendent Kevin Schooley confirms they only do security screens using fingerprints for employees, and did not know of Gordon’s extensive criminal history.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Conference Seeks To Help Combat Human Trafficking

Efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking and combat the problem will be the focus of a fall conference in Ann Arbor. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission on Thursday announced the September 29 event. The commission, the State Court Administrative Office and the Department of Health and Human Services are involved. The conference is open to law enforcement, legal professionals, victim service providers, protective services workers, judiciary staff and other human trafficking-related groups. Details are posted online. Michigan has stepped up efforts in recent years to shield minor victims from prosecution and crack down criminals involved in human trafficking. Notices are being posted at rest stops, airports and bus stations to educate the public and
offer help for victims.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Welcomes Two New City Officials

Some new city officials are in place in South Haven. This month, the city welcomed Travis Sullivan to serve as the new clerk. He comes to South Haven from Kalamazoo, where he worked in several positions in city government, as city records coordinator most recently. Sullivan has a Bachelor of Science degree in History and a Masters of Public Administration in public management from Grand Valley State University. Also welcomed this month was William Hunter, the new department of public works director. He comes from Grand Haven, where he also headed up DPW. He’d previously supervised the water plant there..... [Read Full Story]

National Police Night Out Next Month

The annual police National Night Out is coming up next month. The event is held each year in communities all over the country to help the public get better acquainted with their law enforcement agencies. Locally, the Night Out will be in St. Joseph Township at Riverview Park on August 2. St. Joe Township Police officer Rick Knapp says, in light of recent events, it would be a good thing if there’s a strong showing from the community.... [Read Full Story]

Rock Collectors Flock To Van Buren State Park

Rock collectors have been flocking to a state park in Covert that has seen broad expanses of stone because of high water levels. MLive reports that Van Buren State Park is typically known for its massive dunes and sandy beaches, but now visitors are coming out in force this summer
searching for everything from beach glass to fossils. Albion College geology student Jennifer Nelson, who working at the park this summer, says whether beaches are sandy or rocky is determined by how much sand the lake’s tide consumes. Nelson says fossils, granite and shiny, colorful stones have been particularly popular among young collectors. Adult collectors often look for Petoskey stones, which are somewhat rare but possible to find. She says visitors are allowed to collect 25 pounds of rocks per year from state land.... [Read Full Story]

Judge Blocks Restraining Order In Juvenile Lifer Case

An appeals court has blocked an order that stopped Michigan prosecutors from seeking new no-parole sentences for potentially hundreds of
prisoners. No one has been sentenced yet. But county prosecutors plan to disclose by Friday whether they’ll again pursue the same tough punishment for 350 so-called juvenile lifers, prisoners who were teens when a murder occurred. The appeals court said Wednesday that federal Judge John Corbett O’Meara abused his authority with a restraining order. The court says O’Meara already plans to hold a July 28 hearing on an injunction request. The court also notes that prosecutors actually have until Aug. 24 to signal their resentencing plans, under state law. The U.S. Supreme Court says teens convicted of murder must be treated differently than adults. No-parole sentences require a thorough hearing.... [Read Full Story]

Enbridge To Pay $61 Million For 2010 Spill

Enbridge Energy Partners will pay a $61 million penalty for the costliest inland oil spill in U.S. history under an agreement with federal officials.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced the settlement Wednesday over a 2010 pipeline rupture near Marshall, Michigan, that released an estimated 843,000 gallons of crude oil. A nearly 40-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River was polluted as shoreline residents fled their homes. The deal requires measures to prevent future spills, detect leaks and prepare for emergencies across Enbridge’s Lakehead network, a web of 14 pipelines extending more than 2,000 miles across seven states. Company vice president Brad Shamla says Enbridge has been humbled and will meet the terms.... [Read Full Story]

Former Covert Twp Officer Accused Of Sexual Assault

Michigan State Police are investigating a former Covert Township police officer for an alleged sexual assault. Police Chief Jay Allen tells WWMT-TV the officer resigned yesterday after the case was turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office. The former officer, whose name has not been released, is accused of raping a woman in a hotel a week and a half ago after arresting her boyfriend for drunk driving. He allegedly went to the hotel after his shift was over, and the incident happened while he was off-duty.... [Read Full Story]

MI Delegates Recall Anti-Trump Effort At Convention

Michigan’s delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland have already witnessed plenty this week. Monday brought an ill-fated attempt by anti-Donald Trump elements to open up the convention so he could be denied the presidential nomination. Michigan state Senator Patrick Colbeck, a Ted Cruz delegate, says most Republicans are united around the issues Trump is promoting, but at issue is how he goes about it.... [Read Full Story]

LMC Expanding Search For Next President

Lake Michigan College is starting from scratch in its search for a new president. The board of trustees on Tuesday opted to expand its search, hiring the Pauly Group, out of Illinois, to help. Board President Mary Jo Tomasini says they’re going to make an aggressive recruitment push. She says LMC can continue to function with Dr. Bob Harrison serving as president on an interim basis until they find the right permanent candidate.... [Read Full Story]

United Way Rivalry Run Next Month

Registrations are now being taken for the 3rd annual Rivalry Run. The runs raise money for the United Way of Southwest Michigan, which supports a variety of causes in Berrien and Cass Counties. This year’s run will be August 12, and you can sign up at Rivalry-Run.com. Everyone who takes part is urged to wear the colors of their favorite team and dress as a player, cheerleader, or fan. Participants are also encouraged to show their true colors by painting their faces. This year’s event will take off from the MTEC building on Klock Road in Benton Harbor, and a tailgate party will be held afterward. Registration is $20 for adults.... [Read Full Story]

West MI Lawyer Apologizes For Remarks About Judge

A lawyer running for judge in western Michigan is apologizing after describing a black judge as an 800-pound “silverback” gorilla. Eric Grimm, who is white, says the email about Muskegon County Judge Gregory Pittman was a “lapse of judgment.” He says he plans to perform 100 hours of community service to make up for it. Grimm is one of five candidates running for probate judge in the August 2 primary election. The two top finishers will advance to the fall election.Grimm described Pittman as an 800-pound “silverback alpha male.” He says he was trying to talk about problems in the courthouse. Pittman, who doesn’t face re-election this year, says he won’t comment on what he calls “bigoted remarks.”... [Read Full Story]