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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Apr 24, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Damaged cables, pipelines in Great Lakes waterway inspected

MACKINAW CITY (AP) — Officials said Monday that a remotely operated underwater vehicle is getting a close-up look at electric cables damaged by what Michigan's attorney general has called a tugboat anchor strike in a channel connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Agencies led by the U.S. Coast Guard said the vehicle was first deployed Sunday to get visual imagery of the cables at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. They released two photos Monday, saying an initial assessment shows damage to a steel outer protective layer.

About 600 gallons of insulation fluid leaked from the cables earlier this month.

Enbridge Inc. also has used an underwater vehicle to examine nearby oil pipes believed to have been dented in the incident. A spokesman said the company is analyzing video from the inspection.

Muskegon County man accused of murder, kidnapping gets 2 trials

MUSKEGON (AP) — Jeffrey Willis will face separate trials in the murder of a gas station clerk and kidnapping of a teenager.

A Muskegon judge decided Monday that Willis first will stand trial next month for murder and kidnapping in the 2013 disappearance of the clerk, Jessica Heeringa. That will be followed by a trial in the 2016 case, in which a teenager escaped his van and went to police.

Prosecutors sought to combine the cases because of their similarities. Defense attorneys argued the cases are complex and should be treated individually.

Willis was convicted last year in a third case, the 2014 slaying of jogger Rebekah Bletsch. He's serving a life sentence for shooting her.

Black man admits to painting racist graffiti on EMU campus

YPSILANTI (AP) — A former Eastern Michigan University student has admitted to painting racist graffiti on campus.

The Ypsilanti school said Eddie Curlin pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of malicious destruction of property and no contest to four counts of identity theft.

The graffiti was found on exterior building walls in September and October 2016. A racist message also was found last year in a restroom.

University officials said in a release that Curlin, who is black, vandalized the buildings then acted as a police informant. It was a pretense, officials added, to help solve the case, have previous charges dropped and return to school.

Curlin, who studied at Eastern Michigan from 2014-16, is serving a prison sentence of up to five years for receiving stolen property in December 2015.

Thanedar turns in 30,000 signatures to qualify for ballot

LANSING (AP) — Businessman Shri Thanedar has submitted 30,000 signatures to run for governor, becoming the third Democratic candidate to file.

Thanedar turned in the petitions Monday, before today's deadline. He said he wants to be governor to "make a difference for this state, which has given me so many breaks."

Thanedar is a scientist by training and immigrant from India who last year sold a stake in his chemical-testing company for tens of millions of dollars. The political novice has been airing TV ads to build his name recognition.

Other Democrats running are Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El-Sayed. Retired business executive Bill Cobbs is running, too, but may not have enough voter signatures to qualify.

Man faces trial in Kalamazoo-area crash that killed 5 bicyclists

KALAMAZOO (AP) — A trial is expected to run about two weeks for a man involved in a 2016 crash that killed five bicyclists and injured four others in southwestern Michigan.

Prospective jurors in the case of Charles Pickett appeared Monday in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court and jury selection is expected to take place today.

The Michigan Supreme Court earlier this year decided against hearing an appeal of the second-degree murder charges he faces.

Pickett is accused of driving under the influence of drugs and plowing into a group of bicyclists in Cooper Township on June 7, 2016. His girlfriend told police he downed handfuls of pain pills and muscle relaxers before driving.

Pickett's lawyer has argued the evidence established, at most, the elements of reckless driving causing death.

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