State Briefs

Associated Press • Sep 22, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Man pleads guilty to fire that killed 13 horses

LOWELL TWP. (AP) — A man accused of setting a fire that killed 13 horses has pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors say Payton Mellema will spend three years at a mental-health facility under a plea deal reached Thursday in Kent County court. He lived near the Barn for Equine Learning in Lowell Township, where 13 horses died in April.

The horses were used as therapy for children and young adults with a variety of special needs.

Mellema pleaded guilty to arson and animal cruelty charges. He'll return to court on Oct. 31.

Dairy farm operator gets probation for using illegal labor

CASS CITY (AP) — A woman has been placed on probation for not checking the backgrounds of people who were in the U.S. illegally and worked at her Michigan dairy farms.

Madeline Burke was sentenced Thursday, two days after her husband pleaded guilty in federal court.

Burke must pay $187,500 to the government. She and Denis Burke operate Dunganstown Dairy and Parisville Dairy in Michigan's Thumb region.

In seeking probation, Madeline Burke's attorney portrayed her as generous and hard-working. She's on the board at Saginaw Valley State University's sculpture museum.

But in a searing response, federal prosecutor Janet Parker said Burke housed "most of her illegal workers in substandard to deplorable living quarters."

Parker said some living areas were built into a barn with sick cows on the other side of an interior wall.

Fenton man bound over for trial in crash that killed 5

HOWELL (AP) — A Michigan man charged with second-degree murder in a crash that killed five people has been bound over for trial.

Matthew Carrier, 22, of Fenton is charged with five counts of second-degree murder and 14 other charges in connection with the two-car collision May 9 in a rural area about 35 miles northwest of Detroit. It killed probation agent Candice Dunn, who had just been honored at a Corrections Department banquet, and four other people in the two vehicles.

No court dates were set during the probable cause hearing Thursday.

Investigators say Carrier ran a stop sign at 103 miles per hour and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent.

Defense attorney Rolland Sizemore said sending the case to trial was appropriate.

Teacher who liked to gamble accused of stealing from school

SHELBY TWP. (AP) — A teacher who liked to play slot machines has been charged with embezzling thousands of dollars from a suburban Detroit school.

Authorities say ticket sales for the 2016 homecoming dance at Dakota High School should have totaled about $30,000, but only $11,000 was deposited.

Lydia Johnson, a Spanish teacher, was responsible for all money related to student events at Dakota. The prosecutor's office says she should have collected nearly $13,000 in fees for a trip to a camp but only $500 was deposited.

Johnson appeared in court Thursday. It wasn't known if she has a lawyer.

Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith said records at MGM Casino show Johnson spent more than $90,000 last year playing penny slot machines.

The school district placed her on leave in May.

Conviction reversed for woman whose daughter ate pill, died

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has overturned the child abuse conviction of a woman whose 11-month-old daughter died from eating a morphine pill.

The court issued two opinions Wednesday reversing the conviction and prison sentence of Kimberly Murphy in connection with the 2013 death of Trinity Murphy.

One ruling says the verdict wasn't supported by sufficient evidence. Another opinion says the Sterling Heights woman wasn't found to be reckless.

Prosecutors had argued she committed the "reckless act" of maintaining an extremely messy house that allowed the child to ingest the pill that was intended for her recently deceased grandmother.

Murphy's husband Harold Murphy also was convicted of second-degree child abuse and was sentenced last year to a minimum of 2 ½ years in prison. He didn't appeal.

Court affirms 'Master Bob' murder conviction in Michigan

GROSSE POINTE PARK (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed the murder conviction of a former Rotary Club president who was accused of arranging his wife's death so he could devote himself to a life of bondage with other women as "Master Bob."

The court says the case against Bob Bashara was "straightforward," despite twists and turns before and during trial. Bashara attacked the performance of his attorneys, but the court says he was given a vigorous defense.

The 3-0 decision was released Thursday.

Bashara's wife, Jane, was strangled by a handyman in their Grosse Pointe Park garage in 2012. Her body was discovered in her Mercedes-Benz in a Detroit alley.

The trial revealed that Bob Bashara hosted men and women at a sex dungeon under a bar called the Hard Luck Lounge.

'67 Seconds of Peace' event marks Detroit's 1967 riots

DETROIT (AP) — Reflective presentations and quiet contemplation took place on Detroit's Belle Isle to mark the deadly rioting 50 years ago that convulsed the city.

"67 Seconds of Peace" took place Thursday at the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon Tower on the island park. It included 67 seconds of silence — referring to the 1967 unrest that claimed 43 lives — led by Church of the Messiah Pastor Barry Randolph.

The event also included a reading of "Poem for Belle Isle" by author Marsha Music and a presentation by historian Jamon Jordan.

The week of violence began when police arrested black patrons at an after-hours bar.

The program was hosted by the Belle Isle Conservancy and part of "Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward," organized by the Detroit Historical Society.

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