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State Briefs

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

Governor orders flags lowered to honor victims of bar shooting

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder is joining President Donald Trump's call to lower Michigan and U.S. flags to half-staff through sunset Saturday to honor the victims of the mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.

Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff. Flags should be returned to full-staff Saturday evening.

When flown at half-staff, the U.S. flag should be hoisted first to its peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff. The flag should again be raised to full staff before being lowered for the day.

A Marine combat veteran opened fire Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, authorities said, killing 12 people before apparently taking his own life.

Cavanagh wins Michigan Supreme Court race by very thin margin

LANSING (AP) — Final election results show a Michigan Supreme Court justice lost by less than 1 percentage point.

The difference between Megan Cavanagh and Justice Kurtis Wilder was 54,000 votes. Together they got 3.08 million.

There were six candidates in the race for two Supreme Court seats Tuesday. Cavanagh, a Detroit-area lawyer, finished second, ahead of Wilder. Justice Elizabeth Clement finished first.

Results are posted online by the secretary of state.

Cavanagh had joked that she hoped voters wouldn't confuse her with Brett Kavanaugh, the controversial U.S. Supreme Court justice. However, name recognition likely helped her: Cavanagh's father was a Michigan Supreme Court justice for decades until 2015. An uncle was a Detroit mayor.

It's the third time since 2008 that voters have declined to elect a sitting justice.

Feds say marijuana users not our focus but drug still illegal

DETROIT (AP) — Federal prosecutors say no one should expect immunity under federal law simply because Michigan voters approved the legal use of marijuana.

Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider and Grand Rapids U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge released a statement Thursday. They said they don't prosecute marijuana users unless there are other serious circumstances. But they said crimes involving marijuana "can pose serious risks" to a community.

They cited the roles of gangs, the use of weapons and interstate trafficking.

Schneider and Birge said fighting drug crimes is just one of many priorities that must be considered with their limited resources. They said they are increasingly focused on the excessive distribution of life-threatening opioids.

Brief police chase ends with car in backyard pool

MUSKEGON TWP. (AP) — Authorities said a car that was briefly chased by police in West Michigan ended up in a backyard swimming pool.

Two people were taken into custody shortly after the car plunged into the water in Wednesday night in Muskegon County’s Muskegon Township, MLive reported. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Crews used a wrecker to lift the car from the water.

The chase and crash are under investigation.

University removes frat for hazing, forced alcohol drinking

ANN ARBOR (AP) — A University of Michigan fraternity has been removed from the school and student-run Interfraternity Council for at least five years following allegations of violent hazing and forced alcohol consumption.

The Ann Arbor News reported Thursday that evidence of hazing was found during Alpha Sigma Phi's new member process.

Last year, the council suspended social events following allegations of hazing and sexual misconduct involving fraternity members at the Ann Arbor school. Some social activities have since resumed.

The university declined to answer questions beyond the Interfraternity Council statement announcing the action. The chief executive at the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity headquarters in Carmel, Indiana, was unavailable for comment.

Zeta Beta Tau International Fraternity announced in January that it had revoked its University of Michigan chapter's charter after determining policies prohibiting hazing were violated.

Michigan man's bone mistakenly buried with woman's remains

PONTIAC (AP) — A bone from the remains of a man found dead in 2016 was mistakenly buried with the remains of a teenage girl found dead in 1975, according to Michigan officials.

A bone from Donald Smith's remains was mistakenly released last year with Darlene McKenzie's remains, which were then buried in Pontiac in February 2017, the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office said. The office discovered the error this week while reviewing McKenzie's case.

"We are working to determine how the error occurred," said Dr. Ljubisa J. Dragovic, the county's chief medical examiner. "When we identify that reason, we will implement corrective actions."

McKenzie was 15 when she disappeared from her Detroit home. Her body went unidentified for more than 40 years after being discovered in a Farmington Hills ditch. Police reopened the case in 2015 with the hope of using advanced technology to identify the body.

Smith's mummified remains were found at a Hazel Park home in July 2016. Samples from both bodies were sent to the University of North Texas later that year for testing.

After tests were completed, the medical examiner's office received Smith's bone sample back from the university in February 2017. Two days later, Smith's bone sample was given to Husband Funeral Home in Westland along with McKenzie's remains.

The medical examiner's office then received McKenzie's bone samples from the university in April 2017 and delivered them to the funeral home. McKenzie's family didn't pick up the remains until this week, which prompted the review of the case.

The office is working with the families to place McKenzie's additional remains in her casket and retrieve Smith's remains, said Casimir Miarka, the office's administrator. The county will cover the expenses.

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