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


Michigan approves Consumers Energy EV charging program

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Public Service Commission has approved Jackson-based Consumers Energy’s PowerMIDrive electric vehicle charging program.

The three-year, $10 million pilot program supports the state’s growing electric vehicle market through new rates, rebates and customer education.

The program includes a Nighttime Savers Rate to encourage drivers to charge their electric vehicles between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Residential drivers who sign up for the nighttime rate will be offered a $500 rebate for each electric vehicle. Consumers Energy also will offer $5,000 rebates for chargers installed in public areas such as workplaces and multi-unit dwellings.

Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Mark Nabong says the “program can help more people access electric cars as a clean, cheaper alternative to gasoline cars.”


After new look, Detroit prosecutor wants to drop convictions

DETROIT (AP) — The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says it will ask a judge throw out convictions in two cases, including the case of a man who was in prison for 21 years.

Prosecutors say they want to dismiss criminal sexual conduct convictions against Kevin Lackey. Prosecutors now say he was charged based on “profoundly invalid dog tracking evidence.” The case was reopened by the conviction integrity unit.

Records show Lackey was convicted in 1993 and released from prison in 2014.

In another case, prosecutors want to set aside the second-degree murder conviction of Michael Powels. He was sentenced to at least 45 years in prison in 2008. Prosecutors say they’re convinced a key witness gave false testimony.

A judge will hold a hearing in both cases Thursday.


Officials: Human error led to 2016 suburban Detroit sinkhole

FRASER, Mich. (AP) — Officials say a sinkhole north of Detroit that damaged homes and cost $75 million to fix was caused by human error that allowed the quick release of waste and water into a sewer line.

Macomb Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said Wednesday that an assessment determined the surge fractured the pipe in Fraser which drew in sand and created a void in the surrounding soil.

The pipe collapsed and caused the Dec. 24, 2016, sinkhole which grew to football field-size.

But the problem started in 2014 when a gate was closed to hold back sewage for pipe maintenance. Miller said the gate was supposed to be gradually raised to allow the flow’s release over several hours. She said that wasn’t done properly on a number of occasions.

She said an insurance claim will be filed to recover some costs.


Girl, 13, wounds classmate with scissors at Michigan school

BERKLEY, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a seventh-grader wounded a classmate with a pair of scissors at a suburban Detroit middle school.

Berkley Police say the incident Tuesday afternoon in an Anderson Middle School classroom involved a girl stabbing a boy in the back. Both are 13.

Principal Michael Ross said in a message to parents that Berkley Public Safety officers classroom responded within minutes. He says the wounded student was taken to a hospital for treatment and is expected to recover. Ross says the girl was taken into custody.

Details about what may have led to the stabbing weren’t immediately released.

Ross asked parents to remind their children “that if they ever hear or see anything suspicious or unsafe, to immediately report it to a trusted adult.”


Conviction stands after appeal in Halloween party death

MONROE, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed a first-degree murder conviction in the case of a woman who disappeared from a Halloween party, rejecting arguments that DNA was illegally used.

Daniel Clay was convicted of killing a woman in Monroe County in 2014 and stashing her body in woods. Chelsea Bruck’s body was found after six months.

Clay made several arguments on appeal. He said his rights were violated when investigators matched his DNA on Bruck’s clothing to a sample obtained by police in another case in 2016. He says the sample should have been destroyed when the previous charge was dismissed.

But the appeals court says a DNA sample would have been available again when Clay was charged in yet another case.

At trial, Clay claimed Bruck’s death occurred during aggressive sex and wasn’t intentional.


Ford revamps Explorer SUV for 1st time since 2011 model year

DETROIT (AP) — Ford’s aging Explorer SUV is getting a major revamp as it faces growing competition in the market for family haulers with three rows of seats.

The company unveiled the new version Wednesday night at Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. It comes just before next week’s press days at the Detroit auto show, where the SUV will be on display.

The Explorer gets a top-to-bottom update that includes a switch from front- to rear-wheel-drive, as well as upgraded engines and transmissions, some nice standard safety features and even high-performance and gas-electric hybrid versions. The switch to rear drive will boost towing capacity and off-road performance, Ford says.

The Explorer hasn’t been updated since the 2011 model year. Sales dropped 3.5 percent last year to just under 262,000.


House leader, AG get behind bills to limit asset forfeiture

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans and Democrats in the Michigan House want to make it tougher for law enforcement to take ownership of property seized in drug cases that don’t result in convictions.

The first bills introduced in the 100th Legislature Wednesday relate to asset forfeiture. Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield joined Democrats, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, to back the legislation.

One bill would prohibit prosecutors from permanently confiscating assets thought to be associated with criminal activity unless a defendant is convicted of a drug crime, has entered into a plea agreement or no one claims any interest in the assets.

The measure wouldn’t apply in seizures of property and cash worth more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband. The House passed similar legislation last year, but it died in the Senate.


Michigan State U. creating new fund for Nassar victims

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University says it’s creating a new fund to help victims of sports doctor Larry Nassar, months after a similar program was suspended over fraud allegations.

Trustees responded to critics and voted unanimously Wednesday to help victims with the cost of counseling and mental health services. Trustee Dianne Byrum says a dollar amount and other details will be established later.

The previous $10 million fund was announced in 2017. But it was suspended and ultimately shut down by interim President John Engler, who said more than $500,000 was linked to fraud . Campus police said fraudulent claims weren’t made by Nassar’s victims.

Engler said the balance of more than $8 million would be put toward a $500 million lawsuit settlement with hundreds of women and girls. Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison for assaulting them with his hands.


Michigan’s 100th Legislature kicks off 2-year term

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s 100th Legislature has begun its two-year session.

Republicans opened the term Wednesday with smaller majorities in both chambers following the November election. They will have to contend with a Democratic governor for the first time since 2009-10, the last time Michigan had a divided government.

Legislative work is unlikely to progress much until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her first State of the State address on Feb. 5 and proposes her first budget in early March. There are also a lot of new lawmakers who need to learn the ropes.

A record number of women, 53, are serving in the Legislature.

Families joined legislators during ceremonial swearing-in events. Republican Rep. Lee Chatfield of Levering was officially elected as speaker. Eight former speakers joined him to mark the historic 100th session.