Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EST

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan expands vaccine eligibility to those age 50 and up

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan says all people age 50 to 64 can start getting COVID-19 vaccinations on March 22 and that those in that group with certain medical conditions can begin getting immunized next week. It’s the largest expansion of eligibility since January, when state officials allowed vaccinations of seniors 65 and older and front-line workers. The announcement Wednesday came a day after President Joe Biden said the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough vaccine for all adults by the end of May, which is two months earlier than previously expected. As of Monday, more than 1.4 million people in Michigan had received at least one vaccine dose. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AID

Michigan Legislature passes $4.2B in virus aid without deal

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Legislature has approved a $4.2 billion coronavirus relief plan without a deal with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Majority Republicans are pressing the Democratic governor to curtail her pandemic powers. Democrats oppose the GOP’s decision to not allocate all federal aid immediately. It’s unclear if Whitmer will veto the entire package or sign some of it. The legislation includes a provision linking $840 million in school funding to Whitmer ceding authority to prohibit in-person instruction or sports to local officials. The governor is sure to veto that. But she could still bless some or all of $3 billion in spending.

AP-US-DETROIT-RIVER-SMUGGLER

Long US prison stay for Canadian drug mule who used river

DETROIT (AP) — A Canadian man who was found tethered to 185 pounds of marijuana in the Detroit River has been sentenced to about six years in a U.S. prison. Glen Mousseau of Windsor, Ontario, was captured in Michigan waters in the middle of the night last June. Federal Judge Robert Cleland says the case is “more alarming” than a typical drug conspiracy because of the international connection. Mousseau was on a boat before he was found in the Detroit River. But investigators learned that Mousseau also used Seabobs to move money and drugs between the U.S. and Canada. Seabobs are watercraft that can propel people underwater.

SMALL PLANE CRASH

Small plane crashes in western Michigan; pilot hurt

GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The pilot of a small plane has been injured after crashing following takeoff from an airport in western Michigan. The Ottawa County sheriff’s office says a preliminary investigation shows the Cessna experienced engine trouble Tuesday afternoon and was returning to Grand Haven Airport when it went down in a wooded area in Grand Haven Township. The 52-year-old pilot was the only person on the plane. He suffered injuries to his face. The sheriff’s office said his injuries were not considered life-threatening. An investigation into the crash was being conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration. Grand Haven Township is northwest of Grand Rapids.

DATING APP SLAYING

Indianapolis man charged in Detroit dating app slaying

DETROIT (AP) — An Indianapolis man has been charged in a Detroit slaying in which the victim allegedly was targeted as a member of the LGBTQ community through an online dating app. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 34-year-old Diabolique Paris Johnson faces arraignment Thursday in Detroit on first-degree murder and using a firearm during a felony charges. The 39-year-old victim was slain Sept. 5 during an armed robbery. Johnson also is charged in a separate armed robbery on Sept. 1 of a 26-year-old man at a hotel in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb. Prosecutors say that man also is a member of the LGBTQ community. Johnson was arrested in Indianapolis and extradited to Michigan.

AP-US-MICHIGAN-OFFICIALS-SEVERANCE

Whitmer faces criticism over severance deals for officials

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is facing criticism after the disclosure of two additional employment-separation deals for former top officials, a day after a $155,000 payout to Michigan’s ex-health director Robert Gordon came to light. He abruptly resigned Jan. 22. At that time, Whitmer wouldn’t say if she’d sought his exit. Republican lawmakers are vowing to try to prevent Whitmer from entering into future separation deals that “silence” departing officials. Whitmer’s administration confirmed Tuesday that Steve Gray, former director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency, got nearly $86,000 in severance. A deputy health director received about $12,000.

KLAN FLAG

No charges after klan flag hangs next to Black family’s home

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (AP) — No charges will be filed against a suburban Detroit man who displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in his window next to the home of a Black family. Prosecutor Kym Worthy says the incident in Grosse Pointe Park was “horrible” but doesn’t count as ethnic intimidation under Michigan law. Worthy says the law requires physical contact, property damage or threats. JeDonna Dinges says the flag was hanging next door in a window directly across from her dining room. The flag was removed after police with large cloths visited the home and made a switch. The city manager told the Detroit Free Press that the man’s girlfriend claimed they couldn’t afford a curtain.

MICHIGAN ELECTION-AUDITS

Michigan official: Audits show state had a secure election

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says state audits of the 2020 general election show it was secure and reflected the will of voters. She announced the results Tuesday of 250 audits that were conducted by more than 1,300 clerks across the state. She said local clerks checked numbers by comparing the hand-count total of paper ballots to machine-tabulated numbers. She says clerks also examined post-election procedures. She says clerks delivered on providing timely results during an election marked with difficulty due to changes in voting laws and a pandemic. She said clerks then had more work as baseless conspiracy theories were spread by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. 

FLINT WATER

Judge to hear Snyder arguments about indictment next week

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Former Gov. Rick Snyder’s bid to have misdemeanor charges dismissed in the Flint water crisis will get a hearing next Tuesday. Judge William Crawford II had expressed uncertainty about whether he could rule on the legitimacy of an indictment against Snyder. But he says he now feels confident that he can. Snyder faces misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty. Snyder-appointed emergency managers switched Flint’s water supply to the Flint River in 2014, but the water wasn’t properly treated to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Snyder’s lawyers are arguing that the indictment returned by a one-person grand jury was filed in the wrong county because Snyder didn’t work in Genesee County.