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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jun 8, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Court revives lawsuit over wild bus ride with prisoners

IONIA (AP) — A prisoner who says a state corrections department officer gave him a painful and wild ride will get his day in court.

An appeals court says Daryl Becher doesn't have governmental immunity in a lawsuit.

Danielle Scott claims he was injured while being transferred across the state to a prison in Ionia in 2013. Scott says Becher laughed and hit the gas at high speed while transporting handcuffed prisoners. Scott says he hurt his neck and back when the bus hit a bump, sending passengers airborne.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday called it an obvious constitutional violation. The court also says Scott's lawsuit can proceed against a prison nurse.

Federal Magistrate Judge Ray Kent had recommended that the lawsuit be dismissed. Judge Robert Jonker agreed.

Forest tent caterpillars damaging many Michigan trees

LANSING (AP) — Forest tent caterpillars are damaging many trees across Michigan this spring, state officials say.

The Department of Natural Resources said the critters are eating leaves from sugar maple, aspen and oak trees, and leaving small strands of webbing.

The insects are native to Michigan and occur in widespread outbreaks every 10-15 years. They've been spotted across the Lower Peninsula and in the eastern Upper Peninsula.

Outbreaks usually last two or three years. This is the second or third year for outbreaks in some areas.

Scott Lint of the Forest Resources Division said an infestation of forest tent caterpillars rarely is fatal unless a tree has other stresses.

Homeowners with trees that have been heavily defoliated should make sure they get at least 1 inch of water weekly during the growing season.

Peacocks, parrots among 71 animals rescued from home

AUGUSTA TWP. (AP) — Two peacocks are among 71 animals rescued from a southeastern Michigan home.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley said Thursday that the peacocks, 37 cats, nine dogs, 13 chickens and 10 exotic birds were found May 25 in Augusta Township, southwest of Detroit.

The organization said five cockatoos, two macaws and three parrots were being held in a room without light or ventilation. It describes plastic kennels that many of the dogs and cats were locked in as "filthy."

Animal cruelty and rescue supervisor Melinda Szabelski said the animals "were living in extremely unsanitary and cramped conditions" and that many "were sick and in need of immediate medical care."

Authorities say bodies of 2 boaters found in Michigan river

PORT HURON (AP) — Authorities said they've found the bodies of two missing boaters following a search of a Michigan river.

The St. Clair County Sheriff's Office said 32-year-old Sumith Jacob Alex of Clinton Township jumped from a pontoon boat into the Black River in Port Huron on Wednesday afternoon after seeing another man in the water. Both disappeared beneath the surface and other boaters notified authorities.

The Coast Guard said the man who was initially in the water apparently fell from an inflatable dinghy. He's identified by police as 47-year-old Robert John Lewandowski of Port Huron.

The Sheriff's Office said the bodies were found Wednesday night following hours of searching.

Autopsies were planned. The deaths are under investigation.

Feds ask judge to OK cremation at end of body parts probe

DETROIT (AP) — Federal prosecutors are seeking a court order to cremate hundreds of remains that were discovered at a Detroit lab in 2013 during an investigation of a body parts broker.

The remains have been in the government's custody during the investigation, trial and sentencing of Arthur Rathburn. They were seized during a raid nearly five years ago but weren't used as evidence.

In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors said they now want to cremate them and return them to families.

Rathburn was convicted of providing some body parts for medical training without disclosing that they were infected with hepatitis or HIV. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

The government said Rathburn obtained bodies from groups that accepted them for research.

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