State Briefs

Associated Press • May 19, 2017 at 9:00 AM

State Supreme Court interested in Benton Harbor recall case

BENTON HARBOR (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court is looking at the conviction of a Benton Harbor activist who was accused of altering dates on petitions to recall a mayor.

The court will consider whether it was proper to allow evidence of Ed Pinkney's history of activism in Benton Harbor, even if it wasn't directly related to the crime. The court said Wednesday it will hear arguments in the months ahead.

The 2014 recall election against James Hightower wasn't held after local courts said the petitions were spoiled. Hightower was Benton Harbor's mayor at the time.

Pinkney testified that another person made illegal changes to the recall petitions. But investigators couldn't find anyone with the name that was offered.

Pinkney was sentenced to 2½ years in prison and will be released in June.

Partying students prompt West Michigan beach shutdown, police say

SOUTH HAVEN (AP) — Police closed a beach in southwestern Michigan for a few hours after complaints about hundreds of college students partying.

South Haven police said complaints began around midday Wednesday when three busloads of college students showed up at South Beach along Lake Michigan. Chief Natalie Thompson said they brought alcohol and loud music, and there were fights.

Thompson said four arrests were made among the crowd of 300-400 people.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported Kalamazoo College students were at the beach for "Day of Gracious Living," a campus tradition since 1974.

Last summer, South Haven's North Beach was shut down during the Fourth of July weekend because of rowdy people and fights. The crowd for the "Light up the Lake" fireworks got violent and pelted police and spectators who had gathered at the beach with bottles.

At least 5 years in prison for man in snowplow hit-and-run

WYOMING (AP) — A 21-year-old snowplow driver has been sentenced to at least five years in prison for a fatal hit-and-run near Grand Rapids.

Austin Hill was remorseful in court Thursday, a month after pleading no contest to causing a fatal crash but failing to stop.

Chelsea Crawford was hit in January while she walked on a road in Wyoming, a Grand Rapids suburb. Crawford's mother, Christina Fender, told Hill that her daughter would want him to know that he's forgiven.

Hill, who has a criminal record, said he wasn't under the influence of drugs when he struck the 26-year-old Crawford. But he said he was extremely tired after plowing 120 driveways.

Defense attorney Craig Haehnel said Hill didn't stop after hitting Crawford because he "was in a panic."

Lawmaker who killed himself said life was over during arrest

LANSING (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker who killed himself a day after a drunken driving arrest told an officer during the stop that his life was over.

The Detroit Free Press reported the officer stopped Rep. John Kivela from walking into traffic on busy U.S. 127. The newspaper said it obtained records Thursday from the Clinton County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Lawrence Jerue said officers believed Kivela was talking about his political career when he said his life was over last week. He said there wasn't a specific suicide threat to justify keeping him in custody for a mental-health assessment.

Kivela, a Democrat from Marquette, was found dead in his Lansing home on May 9, the day after his arrest. It was his second arrest for drunken driving while a lawmaker.

Ingham County bat has Michigan's 1st case of rabies in 2017

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's first known case of rabies this year has been confirmed.

Authorities say a big brown bat in Ingham County tested positive for the illness, which can be fatal to humans.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says rabies cases start turning up this time of year. The viral disease is transmitted through a bite or scratch from an infected animal.

Bats and skunks are the most common carriers in Michigan, where 41 cases were reported in 2016.

Pets and domestic livestock should be vaccinated. You can protect yourself by avoiding contact with wild animals and seeking medical attention if bitten or scratched by an animal.

If you find a bat in your home, collect or confine it and contact the local health department.

Coast Guard warning boaters of cold lake water risks

DETROIT (AP) — Authorities are warning boaters from Lake Huron to Lake Erie to be mindful of cold water dangers while enjoying warmer weather.

Air temperatures are topping 80 degrees a few days this week, but the Coast Guard says water temperatures only are in the 40s and 50s.

Risks include drowning and hypothermia. The Coast Guard says cold water can cause muscle cramping, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and death.

Sector Detroit Response Chief Cmdr. Robert Berry says boaters "should be prepared for emergencies where they might find themselves unexpectedly in the water."

Life jackets can prevent someone who has fallen into the cold water from being fully submerged.

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