Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. EDT

ELECTION 2020-AFRICAN AMERICANS

2020 tests if Dems can win enough black voters without Obama

DETROIT (AP) — The upcoming presidential campaign offers a critical test for Democrats of whether they can ever again rely on the multiracial coalition that helped propel Barack Obama to the White House twice.

Young black voters are critical to that effort, especially in states like Michigan, which Democrats lost by just over 10,000 votes in 2016, ceding a state that hadn’t backed a Republican since 1988. Reclaiming it, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, would put Democrats on a firmer path to the presidency.

Nationally, the African American turnout rate dropped 7 percentage points in 2016 from its record high during Obama’s 2012 reelection. Other groups did not see a comparable decrease: White turnout increased slightly while Latinos held steady.

Democrats insist they’ll reverse the decline in 2020.

WRONGFUL CONVICTION-KALKASKA

Court keeps lawsuit alive in ’98 wrongful conviction

KALKASKA, Mich. (AP) — A lawsuit can go forward against two people accused of violating the rights of a northern Michigan man who spent 16 years in prison for murder before he was exonerated.

A federal appeals court says Greg Somers and Mark Uribe don’t have immunity. They worked for the state police and had key roles in the interrogation of Jamie Peterson.

Peterson was convicted in the 1996 rape and slaying of Geraldine Montgomery in Kalkaska County. He was released from prison in 2014 after DNA tests showed he didn’t attack the 68-year-old woman.

The appeals court said Thursday that Kalkaska County and former Sheriff David Israel have immunity in the lawsuit.

Peterson also sued the village of Kalkaska and a police officer. He settled with them for $525,000 last year.

SAULT STE MARIE-REDEVELOPMENT

$1.5M state grant supports Sault Ste. Marie property cleanup

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — A $1.5 million state grant will help convert a contaminated property in Sault Ste. Marie into the home of a research and education center.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy awarded the funding through its Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and Loan program.

The money will pay to restore a former Union Carbide manufacturing site on Salmon Run Way, where metals from industrial use polluted soil and groundwater. The grounds will be cleaned up and a parking lot demolished.

Lake Superior State University will build its new Center for Freshwater Research and Education on the site.

The $13.2 million redevelopment will feature a research facility where students will study topics such as fisheries, invasive species and water quality. Officials say it will support sport fishing and tourism.

FUNERAL HOME-SHUT DOWN

Owner of closed funeral home ordered to pay restitution

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The owner of a now-closed funeral home in Michigan has been ordered to pay at least $75,000 in restitution for failing to put prepaid funeral contract funds into escrow.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says 58-year-old O’Neil Swanson II of West Bloomfield pleaded no contest to two felonies. A no-contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such at sentencing.

The Swanson Funeral Home in Flint was closed in 2017 after maggots were found in a garage where unrefrigerated bodies were being stored. Officials later determined prepaid funeral contracts were sold without a proper license.

Swanson will receive an 11-month delayed sentence. Nessel says one felony will be dismissed and Swanson will be sentenced on the remaining felony if full restitution is paid by the end of the sentence.

LAWMAKER CHARGED-MICHIGAN

Dems launch campaign for resignation of indicted lawmaker

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrats and the mayor of Traverse City are launching a campaign to force the resignation of state Rep. Larry Inman, who was charged in an alleged scheme to trade votes for campaign money.

The Grand Traverse Democratic Party, Mayor Jim Carruthers and others announced Thursday they hope to collect thousands of signatures calling for the Republican lawmaker to resign. Inman was indicted on federal charges in May and has been removed from legislative committees.

Democrats say Inman should be fighting for his constituents, not corruption charges in court. Inman makes nearly $72,000 annually as a legislator and is being treated for an addiction to prescription drugs.

His lawyer, Chris Cooke, says he has no intention to resign at this time and Inman is presumed innocent until a trial is held.

___

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the mayor’s last name. It is Carruthers, not Caruthers.

POWER OUTAGES-CREDIT

Nessel: Customer credits for outages should be automatic

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says utility customers should automatically get a credit on their bill if they go without power for too long.

People can get a $25 credit if their power isn’t restored in five days or in certain other situations. Nessel says the burden shouldn’t be on customers to request the credit, especially now that smart meters have been deployed by DTE Electric and Consumers Energy.

Nessel wrote a letter to the Michigan Public Service Commission Thursday. She also asked the regulatory body to consider boosting the credit above $25 to “more reflect the cost borne by customers.”

The commission’s chairwoman, Sally Talberg, notes staff recently recommended looking at automatic service credits. She says she looks forward to working with Nessel and others to update the rules.

SNAPCHAT BLACKMAIL CHARGES

Michigan man accused of blackmailing Kansas teen on Snapchat

(Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com)

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old Michigan man is charged with using Snapchat to coerce a Kansas teenager to send him sexually explicit videos.

Martez Hurst, of suburban Detroit, is charged in Johnson County, Kansas, with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of blackmail.

The Kansas City Star reports charging documents say Hurst told police he had tried to commit similar crimes against about 20 other females.

Investigators say Hurst began communicating with the 16-year-old Overland Park girl in January 2018, while posing as a 17-year-old boy who attended a nearby high school.

The teenager told investigators she sent Hurst about 10 nude photos of herself but refused to send sexually explicit videos. She said in March, Hurst threatened to release the photos if she didn’t send a video.

___

FUEL ECONOMY DEAL-THE LATEST

The Latest: White House to seek 1 national mileage standard

DETROIT (AP) — A White House spokesman says the Trump administration will move forward with a single national standard for automotive fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

Spokesman Judd Deere says the federal government, and not a single state, should set the standard.

The statement comes after four automakers announced a deal with California on increases in gas mileage requirements from 2022 to 2026. BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen signed on to a plan to increase fuel economy 3.7% per year. At least a dozen other states follow California’s rules.

The Trump administration has proposed freezing the standards at 2021 levels, although it has yet to propose a final regulation. It says freezing the standards will stop auto prices from rising due to the cost of new fuel-saving technology. That will make newer cars more affordable so people can take advantage of safety technology.

Experts dispute the government’s theory that freezing the standards will make roads safer.

RESERVE SOLDIER KILLED

Army IDs soldier who died from falling tree during training

BLACKSTONE, Va. (AP) — A U.S. Army Reserve soldier who died after he was struck by a falling tree during a storm in Virginia has been identified as a 34-year-old from Michigan.

The Army said in a statement Thursday that Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin P. Sullivan was a native of Chesaning, which is about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

Sullivan served as a petroleum systems technician assigned to a command in Livonia, which is outside Detroit. He is survived by his mother, father and sister.

The incident occurred during a training exercise at Fort Pickett, which is about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southwest of Richmond in Blackstone.

Two unnamed soldiers assigned to a battalion in Kinston, North Carolina, were injured. They’ve been released from a hospital and are recovering.

SPEED LIMIT DISPUTE

Court throws out DUI evidence; cop had wrong speed limit

SARANAC, Mich. (AP) — A man convicted of drunken driving in western Michigan has won an appeal after it turned out that he was under the speed limit when stopped by police, not over it.

Anthony Owen was told he was going 43 mph (69 kph) in a 25 mph (40 kph) zone in Saranac in Ionia County. But attorney Ed Sternisha argued that the speed limit actually was 55 mph (88.5 kph) by default because there was no sign on southbound Parsonage Road.

The Michigan appeals court agreed, saying the traffic stop by a sheriff’s deputy in 2015 was illegal. As a result, the court threw out evidence of drunken driving that stemmed from the stop.

The court says a “reasonably competent” officer should have known that he couldn’t stop Owen for speeding.