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State Briefs

by the associated press • Jun 8, 2019 at 7:30 AM

Detroit man charged in deaths of gay men, transgender woman

DETROIT (AP) — A man charged with fatally shooting three people and wounding two others at a Detroit home had targeted them because they were gay or transgender, prosecutors said Friday.

Devon Robinson, 18, of Detroit, was arraigned Friday on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of assault and weapons charges in the May 25 shooting on the city's east side, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said. He pleaded not guilty, and a magistrate remanded him to jail.

Police have said the shooting happened at about 5 a.m. during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The shooting killed 21-year-old Alunte Davis, 20-year-old Paris Cameron and 20-year-old Timothy Blancher, all of Detroit. Davis and Blancher were gay men and Cameron was a transgender woman, the prosecutor's office said.

Family members said they want justice for the killings.

Detroit police seeking homeless man in serial killer case

DETROIT (AP) — Police concerned that a possible serial killer is on the loose in Detroit began inspecting hundreds of vacant homes Friday for more victims and identified a person of interest, two days after the decomposed body of a third woman was discovered.

Mayor Mike Duggan predicted it would take two weeks to check 1,000 properties on Detroit's east side. Other crews then will board up the houses, a job that could last through July, before they're eventually demolished.

The bodies of three women have been found in separate vacant houses since March, the latest one Wednesday. Only one so far has been ruled a homicide, but Duggan said there's a "strong possibility" that one person is responsible for the deaths.

Police Chief James Craig believes the women could have been lured into blighted houses, raped and killed. He suspects two worked in the sex trade.

Plans to enhance Father Marquette National Memorial site

ST. IGNACE (AP) — Plans are in the works to enhance the Father Marquette National Memorial site in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The state Department of Natural Resources says a draft plan for the site in Straits State Park in Mackinac County will be unveiled June 18 at St. Ignace Public Library. The Straits of Mackinac Heritage Center Collaborative is hosting an open house and the public will have opportunities to comment online, as well.

The Meijer Foundation and several individual donors have contributed or pledged funding that will leverage time-limited matching funds from a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. Those involved in the project initially committed to raise $1.5 million.

The site celebrates 17th-century French missionary Father Jacques Marquette, who was among the first Europeans to explore the Great Lakes.

Michigan task force to evaluate UP energy needs

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer established a panel Friday to assess energy needs in Michigan's Upper Peninsula amid a dispute with the company whose pipeline plays a key role in supplying the region with propane.

Among the task force's jobs will be finding ways to get propane for the far-flung peninsula that don't involve Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5, which transports natural gas liquids used in the fuel, in addition to crude oil. The pipeline extends 645 miles between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, crossing a large section of the Upper Peninsula.

About 25 percent of the peninsula's residents use propane for home heating and much of it is delivered through Line 5. Enbridge says Line 5 delivers 65 percent of the U.P.'s propane and 55 percent of the propane used statewide.

The Canadian company has emphasized the pipeline's function as a carrier of the fuel in its battle against environmental groups pushing to shut it down.

Enbridge contends the 66-year-old pipeline is in good condition but has offered to replace the underwater section with a new pipe that would be housed in a tunnel beneath the straits. The company pledges to cover the $500 million cost and complete the project by early 2024.

The company filed a lawsuit Thursday, asking the Michigan Court of Claims to rule on the legality of a tunnel construction deal it struck last year with former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Whitmer, a Democrat, has refused to carry out the agreement since Attorney General Dana Nessel said legislation authorizing it violated the state constitution.

Enbridge said Friday the tunnel "is the best long-term opportunity to secure the energy needs of the state while making an already safe pipeline even safer."

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