Tuesday Morning State News Summary
Tue, 19 Mar 2013 01:50:51 EDT
(Livingston Co-Casteel Trial)
The man accused of several shootings in four counties along the Interstate 96 corridor will stand trial in Livingston County.
43-year-old Raulie (RAW-lee) Casteel of Wixom waived his preliminary examination Monday on 7 counts, including assault with intent to murder and terrorism. The shootings happened in an eleven-day period in October and Casteel was arrested in early November.
Police allege Casteel randomly fired a handgun from his vehicle at other motorists along the I-96 corridor.
Casteel has been found competent to stand trial. However, his attorney has said the forensic psychological exam revealed that Casteel suffers from delusional disorder.
Casteel has already been ordered to stand trial on 60 similar counts in Oakland County, including assault with intent to murder involving nine shootings in Commerce Township and Wixom.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 4 and he remains jailed on a $2 million bond.
If convicted, Casteel faces life in prison.
Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law legislation that overhauls Michigan Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which allows it to convert into a mutual insurance company.
The plan includes a commitment by the company to contribute nearly $1.6 billion worth of investments over the next 18 years to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to promote the overall health and well-being of all Michiganders.
Snyder says the changes ensure that quality health care will remain affordable and accessible.
The package does not include language that prohibited abortion coverage without a special optional rider being purchased. The anti-abortion language was the reason for the Governor's veto last year.
The legislation also guarantees $120 million from 2016 until 2021 to subsidize payments for Medigap coverage. In the future should the Blues be sold or change its corporate structure, it would be required to pay into the fund the greater amount of either the acquisition price or the company’s fair market value as of that time.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has been opposed to the legislation, saying it will have a negative impact on hundreds of thousands of Michigan seniors who rely on Blue Cross for Medigap coverage.
(MI-2012 Traffic Crashes, Fatals)
State Police say while Michigan traffic crashes and injuries were down in 2012, fatalities increased 5 percent over 2011 from 889 to 936.
According to the department's Criminal Justice Information Center, the number of traffic crashes fell 4 percent to 273,891 from 284,049 in 2011. Injuries were down 2 percent to 70,519 from 71,796 in 2011.
Motorcyclist fatalities were up 18 percent over 2011, alcohol-related fatalities were up 3 percent to 281 and drug-involved fatalities increased 6 percent to 135. However, teen fatalities declined 14 percent, from 99 in 2011 to 85 in 2012.
State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue says despite an increase in traffic deaths last year, this is the fifth year in a row Michigan had fewer than 1,000 traffic deaths. Ten years ago there were nearly 1,300 people who died as a result of traffic crashes in the state.
Among other findings in the report, cell phone-involved crashes decreased 9 percent, from 821 in 2011 to 748 in 2012. But cell phone-related fatal crashes increased from six in 2011 to eight in 2012. Bicyclist fatalities were down 17 percent, from 24 in 2011 to 20 in 2012. Pedestrian fatalities decreased 5 percent, from 140 in 2011 to 133 in 2012.
The state has experienced significant decreases in traffic crashes over the past decade, from 395,515 in 2002 to 273,891 in 2012. similarly, alcohol- and/or drug-involved fatalities have dropped from 463 in 2002 to 342 in 2012.
(MI-Pure Michigan Ads)
The 2013 Pure Michigan national cable television advertising campaign kicked off today (Monday).
The campaign, which will run through the end of June, includes five private sector partners - Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Mackinac Island, The Henry Ford in Dearborn and Traverse City - as well as the launch of the Pure Michigan summer video series.
The $13 million budget is the largest ever dedicated to promoting Michigan as a tourism destination nationally. The five national partners contributed $3 million towards the nation-wide campaign with Ann Arbor contributing $1 million.
The Pure Michigan television commercials will air nationally more than 5,000 times combined on nearly 30 cable networks.
George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, says the largest gains in visitors and visitor spending in recent years have come from a growing number of out-of-state visitors and they expect that trend to continue into the future in part because of the national advertising campaign.
The summer video series features six warm weather activities and attractions in Michigan, including biking, golfing, fishing, wineries, lighthouses and sand dunes.
State officials have unveiled a plan to address the needs of Michigan residents living with autism spectrum disorders.
The Michigan Department of Community Health estimates there are 16,000 students with ASD in the public school system and 50,000 individuals and their families living with ASD in the state.
The Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan calls for increased autism screening by primary care and early childhood providers. It also calls for developing ways to increase the number of professionals and health care centers capable of handling crisis intervention for both children and adults related to autism.
The plan calls for a resource center to act as an information clearinghouse for professionals and families. There could be more coordination among university research efforts related to autism. University faculty could help develop ways to make more autism-specific information available in education, medical and social science programs.
Michigan law now mandates that insurance companies provide coverage for autism treatment and diagnosis.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who has a daughter with autism, says part of the issue may be that there are not many behavioral therapists in Michigan doing the work - although those numbers seem to be increasing now with the changes in state law. Calley said it’s also possible that some insurance companies are choosing to provide the autism coverage as part of their normal coverage.
(MI-Public Aid Sweep)
The Michigan departments of State Police and Human Services say nearly 2,000 felony arrest warrants were resolved during a two-month statewide sweep to ensure felons don't receive public assistance.
A total of 1,994 felony arrest warrants were resolved during the joint initiative aimed at increasing compliance with state law prohibiting felons from collecting some types of public aid.
During the effort, conducted during January and February, state police cross-checked the names of individuals collecting public assistance against a database of outstanding felony warrants in order to make sure only those who are eligible are receiving public assistance.
Of the 4,562 matches, troopers cleared 800 felony arrest warrants. The state says 1,194 other felony arrest warrants were cleared by other law enforcement agencies or the wanted individual reported to authorities.
Governor Rick Snyder kicked off his first economic summit yesterday (Monday) with employers, educators and economic development leaders discussing the gap between open jobs and available talent.
Snyder says there’s a mismatch between available jobs in Michigan and the skills and talent in the workforce, noting there are not enough skilled workers to fill more than 60,000 open positions on mitalent-dot-org.
But the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan disagrees with the suggestion that there is a "talent gap"between what employers are demanding and what universities are graduating.
The groups says data compiled by "Business Leaders for Michigan" shows that the state's universities are among the nation's leaders in awarding critical skills degrees, ranking fourth in the nation in number of critical skills degrees offered and is first in degrees awarded per 100,000 residents.
The Presidents Council says this shows that state universities and its graduates are reacting to the job market to meet demand.
(MI-MichCon Rate Increase)
Natural gas rates are going up for customers of Michigan Consolidated Gas Company.
Gongwer News service reports the Public Service Commission on Monday approved a settlement agreement reconciling the MichCon Gas Company's revenue decoupling mechanism and resulting in an increased rate for some natural gas customers.
The PSC says as a result, a residential customer using 100 ccf of natural gas will see an increase of 49 cents on their monthly bill between April 2013 and April 2014.
Jury deliberations are underway in the case of Sandra Layne, the West Bloomfield grandmother accused of shooting her grandson to death last year.
Closing arguments were made yesterday (Monday) in the murder trial.
Layne is accused of shooting her 17-year-old grandson Jonathan Hoffman to death last May.
Layne testified that Hoffman demanded money and her car so he could leave the state after failing a drug test. She claims the teen became violent and she shot him in self-defense.
Prosecutors say this is a case of premeditated murder.
(Help from: WWJ, Detroit and Metro Source)
(Wexford Co-Shooting Suspects)
Four people now face charges in Wexford County in connection with a weekend shooting that sent one man to the hospital.
State police say 24-year olds Robert Smith and Derek White, along with 19-year olds Kari and Sara Ostrander, all from the Manton area, went to the home together on Saturday night.
Troopers say White stayed in the car, but the other three went up to the house and confronted the 55-year old homeowner. A scuffle broke out, and the victim was shot in the leg.
State police Lt. Avid Street says the victim managed to escape to a neighbor's house and call for help. Investigators believe the four suspects and the victim all knew each other.
Robert Smith is charged with attempted murder, and all 4 suspects face felony charges including conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and charges related to home invasion.
The victim is recovering at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.
(Bill Froehlich, WTCM, Traverse City)
(Holland-Woman No Longer Missing)
Holland police say the woman reported missing last month is no longer considered missing.
Emelene VanDyke was at a hotel in Roswell, New Mexico, where a police officer noticed her vehicle and contacted Holland police Saturday. The 36-year old VanDyke also came forward to the officer investigating her vehicle.
A Holland officer then spoke with her on the phone and she said she was there by her own choice and stayed silent for personal reasons despite knowing she had been considered missing.
VanDyke was last seen in Holland on February 14th but told officers she is in no danger.
Meanwhile, the search continues for a 49-year-old Big Rapids attorney who was last seen in Holland on February 12th.
Fred Byrne was reported missing after visiting his mother in Holland Township. His car was spotted the next day more than 550 miles away, in Carter County, Missouri.
(Greg Ghering, WOOD, Grand Rapids)
(Marquette Co-Child Porn)
An elderly Upper Peninsula man has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles, Jr. says 70-year old Roger White of Grand Marais was also ordered to serve five years of supervised release following his release from prison, and to pay a $300 fine and a $100 special assessment. White will also be required to register as a sexual offender.
White pleaded guilty to the charge last October.
An investigation into White's activities stemmed from his brief subscription to a child pornography website in 2008. The investigation ultimately led to a search of White's computer and compact disks. That search revealed that White had downloaded and stored thousands of images, as well as videos, of child pornography via the internet over a period of several years.
The case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.
(Aaron Harper,WJNR/WOBE/WHTO, Iron Mountain)
Tonight's (Tue) Mega Millions lotto game jackpot is worth $13 (M) million dollars.
The winning numbers for the Midday 3 lottery were: 6-6-4.
The winning numbers for the Midday 4 lottery were: 8-5-3-8.
The winning numbers for the Evening 3 lottery were: 1-9-0.
The winning numbers for the Evening 4 lottery were: 3-4-2-8.
The winning numbers for the Fantasy 5 lottery were: 06-09-26-32-38.
The winning numbers for the Keno lottery were: 02, 07, 10, 11, 16, 35, 38, 39, 43, 45, 47, 49, 54, 61, 65, 66, 68, 69, 74, 75, 77, 79.
Wednesday's Powerball jackpot is worth $260 (M) million dollars.
Wednesday's Classic Lotto 47 jackpot is worth one-point-six-five (M) million dollars.