Friday Afternoon State News Summary
Fri, 28 Jun 2013 12:21:11 EDT

A federal court judge in Detroit issued a preliminary injunction today (Friday) against a 2011 state law prohibiting cities, counties and other public employers from offering benefits to same-sex domestic partners. U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson granted the states motion to dismiss the due process claim in the lawsuit, but denied the motion to dismiss the equal protection claim, allowing that piece of the lawsuit brought by several same-sex couples to continue. A group of five same-sex couples had filed suit against Snyder and the state alleging the law violated the U.S. Constitution by violating due process and equal protection rights. Attorneys for the state had argued the couples lacked standing to bring the suit and had not suffered an identifiable injury as a result of the law.

(Oakland Co-Young Trial-UPDATE)

An Oakland County jury today (Friday) convicted a 21-year-old man of first-degree premeditated murder in the brutal attack on a Farmington Hills family in April of 2012. Mitchell Young was also found guilty of assault with intent to murder and armed robbery. Young accused of going with Tucker Cipriano (SIP-ree-ON-oh) to the Cipriano family home and beating Ciprano's 52-year old father, Robert, to death with a baseball bat and seriously injuring his mother and brother. Oakland County prosecutors argued Cipriano and Young were high on synthetic marijuana, known as K2, when they broke into the home to steal money out of a safe. Young faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced on July 16. Tucker Cipriano has pleaded no contest to felony murder in the case and will be sentenced July 9th. Meantime, family members say Rose Cipriano is for the most part recovered, continuing outpatient therapy while 17-year old Salavatore remains hospitalized. (WWJ, Detroit/24/7 News Source)

(MI-Storm Aftermath)

About 110,000 homes and businesses in southeast Michigan lost power during Thursdays storms, and officials say it could be several days before everyone is back in service. DTE Energy says crews made progress through the night, but approximately 68,000 homes and businesses are still without power. A spokesperson said DTE has requested assistance from other utilities throughout the region to help with restoration efforts, but it will take several days before power is restored to every customer affected by the storm. Most of the outages are in Oakland County, with Pontiac among the worst hit areas. In nearby Waterford, police were asking residents to stay inside because of the damage. The storms also caused flooding in several areas, from Ann Arbor to Detroit to Flint and Saginaw. Washtenaw Countys Emergency Management Director Marc Breckenridge said three inches of rain fell in a 30 minute period. Winds up to 65-miles-per-hour were also reported. Five inches of rain was reported in Saginaw, 3.4 inches in Auburn Hills, 2 in Redford Township and 2 inches in Ann Arbor. In Ann Arbor, there were reports of 4 feet of standing water on portions of State Street. Rising waters snarled traffic for part of the evening, while downed trees and power lines prompted officers to close some roadways. (Help from: WWJ, Detroit)

(Capitol-Medicaid Expansion)

The Senate Governments Operations Committee will begin considering Medicaid expansion on Wednesday. Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said after an appearance on Michigan Public Television's Off The Record this morning (Friday) that the hearing on the House-passed bill will be short, and no vote will occur. However, the committee will outline its plan for considering the bill and business groups will testify on the matter. The Senate as a whole is technically scheduled to be back in Lansing on Wednesday, but no votes are expected to be taken. At the same time, Senate Democrats have vowed to show up on Wednesday to raise attention about the pending Medicaid legislation that would expand coverage to more than 300,000 Michiganders under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama-care. The upper chamber left for summer break last week without taking up the bill prompting Governor Rick Snyder, an advocate of Medicaid expansion, to blast the GOP lawmakers and go on a statewide campaign to urge their Republican Senators to take a vote on the measure. Richardville also said today that he plans to add some Democratic lawmakers to the Healthy Michigan Workgroup he announced earlier this week.

(Grand Rapids-Craigslist Catfish)

Police took a Grand Rapids man into custody after he allegedly sold catfish he had caught for sport on the social media website Craigslist. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the sale was made to undercover wildlife officers who say the man sold 14 catfish taken from the Kalamazoo River after placing an ad on the site. The sale of game fish or their parts is a misdemeanor in Michigan. To sell or buy fish in Michigan, fishermen must have a commercial fishing license. The man is set to be arraigned on the charge July 9. If convicted, he faces a fine between $250 and $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail, a stiffer penalty than most of the DNR's other hunting and fishing violations. (24/7 News Source)

(Muskegon Co-Murder For Hire Plea)

A West Michigan woman has admitted trying to hire a hitman to kill her husband. 21-year old Julia Merfeld of Muskegon pleaded guilty Thursday in Muskegon County Circuit to solicitation of murder. Merfeld was arrested after meeting a undercover police officer on April 10, when she allegedly solicited the officer to do the murder. Authorities said Merfeld confessed to police detectives that she wanted her husband murdered so she could collect a $400,000 life insurance policy. Merfeld faces a minimum of six years up to life in prison when she is sentenced July 30 even though her husband asked the judge that she not receive any jail time. She remains lodged in the Muskegon County Jail. (Help from: John Bry, WOOD, Grand Rapids)

(Traverse City-National Cherry Festival)

The 87th National Cherry Festival will kick off tomorrow (Saturday) in Traverse City. About 500,000 people are expected to attend the eight-day event along the shores of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay. Festival organizers say there are 150 events and activities, 85 percent of which are free. This years air shows wont have any military aircraft since all such aircraft are grounded by the federal budget sequester. Even Air Station Traverse City of the U.S. Coast Guard cant participate. But the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are scheduled to return in 2014. Expect more Traverse City police and explosive-detecting dogs at Festival parades and races this year as authorities adjust security measures in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The Festival has been named in USA Today's top ten festivals for the last several years. It runs through July 6.

(Ludington-Missing Baby Search)

Plant experts from Michigan State University and the Chicago Field Museum and a team of trained volunteers fanned out around the Ludington area today (Friday). They hope to find a cluster of 11 specific types of plants which police say may lead to finding the remains of a then four-month old baby who disappeared two years ago this week. Baby Kate Phillips was last seen in the company of her father 23-year-old Sean Phillips on June 29th, 2011. Despite an Amber Alert, the baby was never seen again. Sean Phillips was found guilty of unlawful imprisonment last April and sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. Today's search resulted from detectives finding pieces of those 11 plants on Phillips shoes. Police say the search is being conducted now because it's the same timeframe the child disappeared and similar plant material will be present. Michigan State University forensic biologist Frank Telewski says theyre looking for a place in Mason county where red pine, white cedar, two specific sedges and sphagnum moss all occur relatively close to each other. The Mason County Sheriff's Office, Michigan State Police and the FBI are helping in the case. (Help from: John Bry, WOOD, Grand Rapids)

(Huron Co-Drug Ring Arrests)

Deputies in the Huron County Sheriff's Office are putting pressure on a heroin distribution operation believed to be working throughout Michigan's Thumb. Search warrants executed at two sites in Caseville Township on Wednesday led to the seizure of heroin along with drug paraphernalia, prescription drugs and an unknown white powder. About $4,500 in cash was also confiscated. Sheriff Kelly Hanson said 30-year-old Jeffrey Hatch has been arrested and charged with delivery and sale of heroin, which is a 20-year felony. Hatch is being held in the Huron County Jail on a $100,000 bond following his district court arraignment. Hanson said Tuscola County authorities also arrested 31-year-old Brandon Fabyan of Pigeon. He's being held in Huron County on a $20,000 bond. Fabyan is also charged with sale and delivery of heroin. The Sheriff says the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible. (WSGW, Saginaw)

(Chelsea-Diesel Truck)

Chryslers Ram Brand will become the first to offer a diesel engine in its more mass market light duty Ram 1500 pickup. Diesels have been popular choices in heavy duty pickups for many years, as they last longer and get better fuel economy. But, the concern had been the technology was too expensive for a smaller pickup. The diesel version of the Ram 1500 will cost about $2850 more than the version with a V-8 Hemi. Chryslers Vice President for Sales and Ram Brand CEO Reid Bigland said with fuel savings, that extra cost should pay for itself in about three years. The average pickup now on the road is about 12 years old. Diesels should make up about ten percent of light duty Ram sales, according to Bigland. He says Chrysler can adjust production to meet demand. Chrysler made the announcement at its annual Whats New event, where journalists are allowed to drive the companys vehicles at the Chelsea proving grounds. Chrysler also announced a more powerful 410 horsepower, 6.4 liter V-8 for its heavy duty pickup trucks. (Jeff Gilbert, WWJ, Detroit)

(Holland-Fired City Clerk)

The Holland City Council wants the Michigan Supreme Court to decide a legal battle it has been waging for years with a fired city clerk. The Court of Appeals ruled last week the city unjustly fired Jennifer French in 2006, and ordered her rehired with seven years of back pay. The city council voted unanimously this week to ask the state's highest court to take up the case. French was fired over a dispute about a tax break she received on a house in the city which wasn't her primary home. (24/7 News Source)

(St. Clair Co-Jobbie Nooner Body)

The lifeless body of a 28-year-old man was found on an island in Lake St. Clair ahead of today's (Friday) annual Jobbie Nooner bash. Reports say the man was camping out on the island with friends on Gull Island, getting ready for the big party. When friends went to wake the man up around 4:30 a.m. Police believe alcohol played a factor in the mans death, but have revealed few other details. Foul play is not expected, although police say an investigation is ongoing. The mans identity was not released. Officials say an autopsy will be performed to determine an exact cause of death. The grim discovery hasnt put a damper on the celebration, which is now in full swing. Thousands of people go to Gull Island every year for Jobbie Nooner, which has developed a notorious reputation in recent years as a free-for-all featuring nudity and excessive drinking. Jobbie Nooner started in the 1980?s by a small group of automotive designers, also known as "jobbies, looking for a summer getaway. The workers would typically go out on the Friday following the summer solstice. Its popularity has grown ever since and now, thousands flock to the island to partake in what is often referred to as the Mardi Gras of the Midwest. (WWJ, Detroit)

(Detroit-Corvette Anniversary)

Chevrolet will be marking the 60th anniversary of the beginning of Corvette production this week with the introduction of the Corvette Stingray Premiere Edition. This is a limited-production model that commemorates the launch of the new, seventh-generation Corvette. The Corvette went into production on June 30, 1953. Chevrolet debuted the 2014 Corvette Stingray Premiere Edition at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, where Corvettes have been produced since 1981. Production of the 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe Premiere Edition will be limited to 500. (24/7 News Source)

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