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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Mar 7, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Central Michigan U student arraigned in parents' slayings

MOUNT PLEASANT (AP) — A 19-year-old student accused of killing his parents inside a Central Michigan University dorm room was arraigned from his hospital bed on Tuesday.

Dressed in a hospital gown and hooked to machines monitoring his vital signs, James Eric Davis Jr. appeared in Isabella County Trial Court via video.

He is charged with murder in the Friday slayings of James and Diva Davis. The family is from the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, where Davis Sr. was a part-time police officer in Bellwood, Illinois.

Frequently during Tuesday afternoon's hearing, Davis Jr. softly traced an index finger between his nose and upper lip. He also rubbed his chin often while listening to questions from Judge Paul Chamberlain.

When asked by Chamberlain if he understood the charges or was able to hear the judge, Davis Jr. quietly responded "yes."

Davis Jr. did appear confused when asked if he wanted court-appointed defense attorney Joshua Blanchard to represent him. Chamberlain kept Blanchard as his lawyer for the time being.

The judge also lowered Davis Jr.'s initial $3 million bond, setting it at more than $1 million.

Kalamazoo to remove park fountain decried by some as racist

KALAMAZOO (AP) — Officials in a southwestern Michigan city have decided to remove a park fountain featuring a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported the Kalamazoo City Commission voted 5-1 early Tuesday following a meeting that began Monday night on the future of the Fountain of the Pioneers in Bronson Park. A plan will be developed to put something new in its place.

Some residents decried the piece as racist, while others argued it's a work of art that can teach people about history.

Designed by Alfonso Iannelli, the fountain is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's been in the park for nearly 80 years.

The fountain will be dismantled and put into storage later this year, city officials said.

Key ruling keeps lawsuit alive over state’s jobless fraud mess

DETROIT (AP) — A group of Michigan residents wrongly accused of fraud while collecting unemployment benefits has won a key ruling in a lawsuit against companies that designed or managed the automated system.

The lawsuit in Detroit federal court also targets some key state officials who were associated with the state's unemployment agency.

Thousands of people were falsely accused of cheating Michigan's unemployment system. Some had to file for bankruptcy.

Federal Judge David Lawson last week said a lawsuit can go forward on a variety of constitutional claims. He said there was "no conceivable rational basis" for terminating benefits, even after learning that the automated anti-fraud system was a bust.

A lawsuit in state court was dismissed.

Gov. Rick Snyder has talked about creating a fund for victims.

Ex-player sues Flint-area school, coach over concussions

FLINT (AP) — A former high school football player who says he's suffering the side effects of concussions is suing his coach and a Flint-area school district.

Destin Julian, 19, said he still has seizures and struggles to pay attention, more than two years after head injuries at Hamady High School.

Julian said his coach urged him to play through pain. His father, Patrick Julian, told the Detroit Free Press "it was about the wins."

Hamady is in the Westwood Heights school district. Superintendent Peter Toal declined to comment on the allegations, but said coaches are trained in understanding head trauma.

Coach Gary Lee didn't return messages seeking comment. Toal said Lee is "very committed to kids." Earlier in his career, he coached Mark Ingram, who won the Heisman Trophy.

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