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State Briefs

By the Associated Press • Nov 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Woman, ex-beau get life in prison for kids' arson deaths

PAW PAW (AP) — A southwestern Michigan woman and her ex-boyfriend both have been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the deaths of her two young children in an apartment fire nearly 25 years ago.

Krysta McFadden and Clint Dunning were sentenced Thursday after being found guilty of two counts each of first-degree murder in the Nov. 29, 1992, deaths of McFadden's children, 5-year old Amber Rainey and 3-year old Robert Rainey.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported a prosecutor argued that McFadden and Dunning set the fire the night before she was expected to lose custody of the children.

McFadden and Dunning were tried together during a nearly monthlong trial before separate juries in Van Buren County Circuit Court.

Defense attorneys said a fire investigator reported there was no proof the fire was arson.

2 die in Kalamazoo murder-suicide; child, 4, critically hurt

KALAMAZOO (AP) — Authorities said a man and woman have died in a murder-suicide and their 4-year-old child is in critical condition.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley said the shootings Thursday morning killed Julina G. Gibson and Nicholas A. Mitchell. He said during a news conference that the couple was estranged.

Gibson's mother, Linda Newkirk, told WOOD-TV the shooting occurred while Mitchell was dropping off the child after an overnight visit. She said her daughter and Mitchell had been arguing about visitation of the boy.

Shoemaker spending millions to deal with toxic dump sites

ROCKFORD (AP) — A shoe manufacturer says it expects to spend about $3 million this year dealing with toxic chemicals at former dump sites in West Michigan.

The update from Rockford-based Wolverine World Wide came in a conference call with analysts Wednesday after the company reported third-quarter earnings. Wolverine has committed to testing wells, providing bottled water to residents and in some cases offering home filtration systems.

Company President and CEO Blake Krueger said the contamination affects "our families, our friends and our neighbors, and we've been as proactive as possible and conservative and transparent."

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing Wolverine's investigation into groundwater contamination by perfluorinated chemicals from a former Rockford tannery that was demolished in 2010. The chemicals were in a substance Wolverine used to waterproof shoes.

Tuesday’s election could lead to long-term water deal for Flint

FLINT (AP) — The election of new Flint City Council members on Tuesday might break an impasse and lead to a long-term deal over drinking water in the city.

The state has been asking a federal judge to allow Flint's mayor to bypass the council and approve a 30-year agreement with the Great Lakes Water Authority. It's part of a strategy to get the city past a lead contamination crisis.

Judge David Lawson said Thursday he'll postpone a hearing until Nov. 20, a week after five new council members take office.

Lawson had ordered the former council to come up with a long-term water source by Oct. 23. Instead, the council asked for more time.

Flint used the Flint River for 18 months until fall 2015. The water wasn't properly treated, causing elevated lead levels.

Bidder backs out of deal to buy historic lodge in Michigan’s UP

COPPER HARBOR (AP) — A bidder has dropped out of the running for an Upper Peninsula lodge that was built during the Great Depression.

The Daily Mining Gazette reported that Adoba Hotels has withdrawn its letter of intent to purchase Keweenaw Mountain Lodge for $1.5 million. The property includes land, rooms, a nine-hole golf course and a string of cabins.

County Board member Jim Vivian said there's "nothing really further to add at this point."

The lodge is in Copper Harbor and is controlled by Keweenaw County. It was built in the 1930s to stimulate the economy during the Depression. The county says it can't afford to subsidize it.

Detroit man arraigned in connection with string of arsons

DETROIT (AP) — A 40-year-old Detroit man has been charged in connection with a string of arsons on the city's east side over the past two months.

Court records show Marzein Porter was arraigned Wednesday on three counts of second-degree arson and three counts of third-degree arson.

For several weeks, Arson Task Force members and representatives of Detroit's Department of Neighborhoods spoke with residents and gave out information about more than two dozen intentionally set fires at vacant and occupied structures.

Police Chief James Craig said tips from residents helped in Porter's arrest on Monday.

Porter was being held on a $50,000 bond. A probable cause conference was set for Nov. 17. Porter's preliminary examination is scheduled for Nov. 22.

Court records did not list a defense attorney.

Snyder approves budget bill that funds rape kit tracking system

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law more than $50 million in additional federal and state spending to implement a sexual assault evidence kit tracking system, fight opioid addiction and boost other budget priorities.

The supplemental budget bill enacted Thursday reimburses costs incurred by the National Guard to aid in hurricane relief. It also restores about $3 million in spending Snyder previously vetoed.

Reinstated spending will fund a study of the potential of genomic testing to identify people with a propensity for addiction to painkillers. There's also money for a new playscape at a state park; a Muskegon charter school; and to train grocers and others to prepare, clean and sanitize equipment used to serve draft beer.

Snyder said having a statewide rape evidence kit tracking system is "long overdue."

Former trash executive pleads guilty to Detroit-area corruption

PORT HURON (AP) — The former head of a Detroit-area trash company has admitted bribing suburban officials and even ripping off the company.

Chuck Rizzo appeared in Port Huron federal court Thursday and pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy. Prosecutors will seek less than seven years in prison, but it depends on his cooperation in a sweeping probe of corruption in Macomb County.

Rizzo has agreed to give up $4 million to the government. He led Rizzo Environmental Services, a trash-hauling company, while it was owned by a private equity firm.

The company was sold and is now known by a different name.

Seventeen people have been charged in the investigation, and 11 have pleaded guilty. Federal authorities disclosed the probe a year ago, calling the corruption "systemic."

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