Here is the latest Michigan news from The Associated Press at 3:40 p.m. EST
MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed the conviction of a man in the disappearance and death of a gas station clerk in western Michigan. The court says some evidence found at Jeffrey Willis’ home should have been excluded at trial. But the court says it doesn’t outweigh other “strong untainted evidence” that showed Willis was responsible for Jessica Heeringa’s death. Heeringa disappeared in 2013 while working at a gas station in Norton Shores in Muskegon County. Her body hasn’t been found. Willis also is serving a life sentence for the fatal shooting of Rebekah Bletsch, who was killed while jogging.
MESICK, Mich. (AP) — A northern Michigan man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the September death of his 8-week-old son. Wexford County prosecutors charged 24-year-old Tyler Russell of Mesick on Thursday during his arraignment in the 84th District Court in Cadillac. He faces one count each of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse first degree. The charges follow a lengthy investigation into the Sept. 28 death of Xavier Russell. State troopers found the infant unresponsive at a home in Mesick and he died later at a Traverse City hospital. An autopsy found his manner of death to be homicide caused by acute brain and spinal injuries.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A group that promotes bicycling in the Traverse City area is recycling Christmas trees with two wheels. In exchange for a $25 donation, Norte will take trees to Hull Park, Traverse City’s tree drop-off site. Volunteers make door-to-door vists on a bike with a trailer attached to the rear. Norte was started by Ty and Johanna Schmidt, who noticed that many kids were being driven to Traverse City schools. They organized bike rides from their house. Norte has grown to include a bike shop, a mountain bike club and youth empowerment projects.
SIX LAKES, Mich. (AP) — Police say the body of a 5-year-old western Michigan boy has been found in a rural pond, a day after he was reported missing while playing outdoors on Christmas. State and local officers, as well as a swarm of volunteers, had been searching for Beau Belson, who was autistic. He was last seen playing with others Wednesday afternoon in the Six Lakes area, 56 miles northeast of Grand Rapids in Montcalm County. State police First Lt. Kevin Sweeney told an anxious crowd that Beau’s body was in a pond near his grandmother’s house.