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MICHIGAN KILLINGS

Michigan man charged with murder in fatal beating of 2 women

MASON, Mich. (AP) — A man has been charged in the killings of two women who were found fatally beaten after he showed cellphone photos of their bodies to sheriff’s deputies during a traffic stop in central Michigan.

Kiernan Brown, of Delta Township, was arraigned Tuesday on two counts each of open murder and armed robbery. He entered not guilty pleas and was ordered held without bond.

The 27-year-old is accused in the deaths of 26-year-old Kaylee Ann Brock, of Holt, and 32-year-old Julie Ann Mooney, of Williamston. Police found their bodies Friday in Lansing-area communities.

Authorities say Brown was arrested early Friday on Interstate 69, after an ex-girlfriend reported that he had been violating a personal protection order by banging on her door and sending disturbing texts. She is not among the victims.

ROAD FUNDING

Whitmer: Legislature must ‘get off the dime’ on road fixes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — With her signature priority of fixing the roads stalled in the Legislature, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says it’s time for Republican leaders to ‘get off the dime’ and ‘get moving’ on the issue.

The Democrat said Tuesday that fixing roads is the “No. 1 issue” for people, but she’s hearing “crickets” in the Capitol. She proposed a 45-cents-a-gallon fuel tax increase as part of her budget, but it has been rejected by Republicans who currently are focused on cutting auto insurance premiums.

Whitmer, who unveiled her budget more than two months ago, says the first thing lawmakers should be focused on is passing a budget that includes billions more in road funding. She opposes the car insurance legislation.

Budget bills are moving, but without a major influx of new road funding.

PARKING TICKETS-TIRES

Municipal lawyers urge court to reopen parking dispute

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — Lawyers who work for local governments across the U.S. are urging a federal court to take another look at a controversy over marking tires to enforce parking rules in a Michigan city.

The International Municipal Lawyers Association objects to a recent decision by a three-judge panel at a federal appeals court. The group says the decision “effectively guts” parking enforcement.

The panel said marking tires in Saginaw qualifies as a search under the Fourth Amendment and could be illegal. The decision applies only in Michigan and three other states, but the lawyers group says the “implications … are wide-ranging.”

The group Monday urged the full appeals court to reopen the case. Saginaw city workers mark tires with chalk and return to see if the vehicle still is parked after two hours.

HIGH WATER-SHOREBIRDS

High water in Great Lakes spells trouble for endangered bird

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — High water in the Great Lakes may spell trouble for the piping plover, an endangered bird that builds its nests on shorelines.

Water levels have surged in recent years as the lakes bounced back from record-setting lows. Vincent Cavalieri of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that means narrower beaches and less room for the plover.

The most recent count last year turned up 67 breeding pairs of the sand-colored birds. That’s an improvement from the low point of 12 pairs in 1990 but a slight drop from 76 pairs two years ago.

Cavalieri says when plovers nest farther from the water and closer to trees and bushes, they’re more vulnerable to predators such as skunks and raccoons.

Other beach-nesting species such as terns could be affected as well.

FLINT WATER-WHISTLEBLOWER

Flint mayor wins trial over whistleblower claims by ex-aide

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A jury has rejected claims by a former Flint official who said she was fired for exposing suspicious activity by the mayor during the city’s water crisis.

The verdict on Tuesday was a victory for Mayor Karen Weaver who denied wrongdoing in the dismissal of city administrator Natasha Henderson in 2016.

A federal jury said Henderson in good faith had reported suspected wrongdoing to other officials. But the jury also said that Henderson didn’t prove it was connected to her removal.

Weaver said she fired Henderson for failing to timely inform her about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Henderson alleged that she was dismissed for expressing concern that Weaver might be steering donors to a fund controlled by the mayor instead of a fund for water victims.

Henderson says the verdict is “very disappointing.” Weaver thanked God for the result.

ABORTION-MICHIGAN-THE LATEST

The Latest: Legislature votes to ban abortion procedure

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Republican-backed Legislature has voted to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure, except when necessary to safe a women’s life.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vowed Tuesday to veto the bills once they get to her desk.

Supporters of the legislation say it would restrict the use of a “barbaric” procedure they call “dismemberment” abortion, a nonmedical term for dilation and evacuation. Opponents say the measures are blatantly unconstitutional and interfere with women’s ability to access safe medical care.

Right to Life is preparing to launch an identical citizens’ initiative that could be enacted by lawmakers without Whitmer’s signature.

CHURCH VANDALIZED-PLEA

Man sentenced to time served in church vandalism case

(Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com)

OCEOLA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 77 days in jail for spray-painting graffiti on a Roman Catholic church in southeastern Michigan.

Twenty-nine-year-old Matthew Miller of Brighton Township learned his sentence Tuesday after pleading guilty to two counts of malicious destruction of property in Livingston County District Court earlier this month. The sentence amounted to the time Miller already has served in jail.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus reports the words “white devil” were painted in one spot at St. John Catholic Church in Oceola Township in February and a slur was painted in another.

Miller also has been ordered to pay more than $153 in restitution plus court fees.

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DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT

Arrest warrants issued for defrauding Nassar victims’ fund

(Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for seven people accused of defrauding a victims’ counseling fund Michigan State University established in the wake of a sex abuse scandal involving a former sports doctor.

Ingham County prosecutors issued the warrants Tuesday. The individuals haven’t been named.

They represent 22 felony counts for allegedly fraudulent payments of roughly $527,000 on the Healing Assistance Fund. Authorities say they also found about $52,000 in unpaid claims.

The school last year closed the fund after John Engler, its then-interim president , said nearly half of the $1.1 million distributed had gone to people trying to defraud the school. It established a similar fund earlier this year.

Larry Nassar worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He’s imprisoned for molesting athletes and possessing child pornography.

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WRONGLY CONVICTED-TEEN

Judge: Cops told ‘crucial lies’ to build case against teen

DETROIT (AP) — A young man who spent eight years in prison has cleared a key hurdle in a lawsuit against Detroit police who are accused of creating evidence against him in the murders of four people.

A judge last week declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Davontae Sanford. He was released from prison when a prosecutor said police drew a diagram of the crime scene in 2007, not Sanford, who was 14 years old at the time.

Separately, a hit man said he committed the murders, not the teen.

Sanford, who’s now 26, says his constitutional rights were violated. Federal Judge David Lawson says police told “crucial lies” to build a case against Sanford.

Lawson’s decision means the lawsuit against police will go to trial or be settled. One of the officers, James Tolbert, now is deputy chief in Highland Park.

PROSECUTOR-SPENDING

State police search home of Macomb County prosecutor

MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — State police armed with tools have searched the home of the Macomb County prosecutor in an investigation of how his office spent money.

Investigators on a ladder outside Eric Smith’s home removed a surveillance camera from under a gutter Tuesday. Lt. Darren Green says the four-hour search in Macomb Township is part of learning how Smith spent money from forfeited assets tied to alleged crimes.

Smith, who was home at the time, says he “cooperated fully.” He insists he has nothing to hide.

Many county officials have raised questions about how his office has spent thousands of dollars. Records show the money was used to support certain charities and to pay for credit card bills and other expenses.

The search at Smith’s home occurred a month after police searched his office in Mount Clemens.