Mich. teen pleads guilty to threatening school violence

A 15-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to charges that he threatened acts of violence at a Michigan middle school.

The teen, who’s charged as an adult, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Lapeer County to one count each of making a false terrorist threat and using a computer to commit a crime.

He’s among three teens who were charged with multiple felonies in April for allegedly exchanging text messages threatening to commit “mass murder” at Mayfield Township’s Zemmer Middle School.

MLive.com reports if a judge accepts the 15-year-old’s plea agreement, charges that include conspiracy to commit first-degree murder would be dismissed. His plea depends on whether the court allows him to be placed on probation for three to five years.

If all court requirements are satisfied, his criminal record would be expunged.

Snyder taps legal counsel for Mich. Supreme CourtSnyder taps legal counsel for Mich. Supreme Court

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Beth Clement, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s chief legal counsel, was picked to become a Michigan Supreme Court justice on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017(Photo: Michigan Governor’s Office)

 

Gov. Rick Snyder didn’t go far to fill an opening on the Michigan Supreme Court, picking his longtime executive office staffer and chief legal counsel Beth Clement for the post.

Clement will replace former Justice Joan Larsen, who was promoted to the U.S. District Court of Appeals by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Snyder said Clement will be an excellent “rule of law” judge on the state’s highest court.

“I’m convinced of that. I’ve seen her legal mind work in a number of ways,” he said in a press conference announcing the appointment.

With the appointment, Republican nominees again hold a 5-2 majority on the court.

Clement has served as Snyder’s chief legal counsel since a staff shakeup in April 2016. She has worked for the governor in various roles since he took office in 2011 and previously worked as his cabinet secretary.

Asked whether she would recuse herself from Flint water crisis cases or other legal matters involving past actions by the governor’s office, Clement said she would consider each case individually.

“There will be conflicts,” she acknowledged, “and I will look at each and every case as they come in. I’m aware of those potentials.”

Clement was joined at the press conference by her husband Tom and their three children.

She vowed a “fair and impartial interpretation of the law as written.”

Snyder holds a personal majority on the state Supreme Court. Clement is his fifth appointment, including the recently departed Larsen. Past appointees Brian Zahra and David Viviano have since won re-election, while Kurtis Wilder was tapped to serve an open seat in May.

Larsen’s departure had temporarily left Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, a Democratic nominee, as the only woman on the court.

Chief Justice Stephen Markman welcomed Clement to the court ahead of oral arguments scheduled for December.

“As a lawyer and counselor to our state’s governor, as well as to legislative branch leaders, Beth brings remarkable legal experience, respect for the rule of law, and a reputation for judiciousness to the court,” Markman said in a statement. “I have no doubt that she will only build upon this reputation, and contribute significantly to the work of the Court from her very first day in her new position.”

More Michigan gov candidates backing pot legalization

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer gives her introduction next to gubernatorial candidate Abdul Al-Sayed, left, at a marijuana legalization forum with the candidates for governor at Sidetrack Bar & Grill in Ypsilanti on Tuesday.

 

Four leading Democrats and one little-known Republican running for Michigan governor are throwing their support behind marijuana legalization ahead of a potential statewide proposal they could share the ballot with in 2018.

“We’ve seen other states do it wrong. In Michigan, we’ve got a chance to do it right,” said former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday night in a candidate forum hosted by MI Legalize.

The activist-led group is a member of and top donor to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a ballot committee preparing to submit petition signatures for a proposal that would regulate and tax commercial marijuana production and retail sales in Michigan.

Abdul El-Sayed, a medical doctor and former Detroit Health Department director, said he has seen first-hand the efficacy of medical marijuana to treat seizures and believes full legalization would open the door to more rigorous research on its effects.

“This has become a civil rights issue,” El-Sayed said, pointing to statistics showing criminal enforcement has had a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and African-Americans. “We have an opportunity here in Michigan to rethink marijuana.”

Evan Space, a long-shot Republican from Lansing and military veteran, said he wants to provide better access to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Shri Thanedar, an Ann Arbor Democrat and scientist, said science supports legalization. Bill Cobbs, a former Detroit police officer, said prohibition has been a failure.

“Most cops don’t want to arrest people for marijuana because we understand what it does to somebody’s life when we give them a criminal record this insignificant,” Cobbs said.

MI Legalize leader Jeff Hank said forum participation by five gubernatorial candidates is evidence of “a cultural change we’re undergoing here” in Michigan and told activists the event made him emotional.

Democrats in particular are increasingly embracing full legalization. The party’s nominee for governor in 2014, Mark Schauer, took a wait-and-see approach to legalization, saying he wanted to see results of the “grand experiment” in Colorado and Washington state but would “not want to lead on that issue” in Michigan.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, the early favorite for the 2018 GOP gubernatorial nomination, led the campaign against Michigan’s medical marijuana law in 2008 but has distanced himself from the more recent legalization debate. Schuette has said he is concerned legalization could increase youth access to marijuana but has repeatedly called it an issue that voters should decide.

Political candidates are taking note of public opinion polling showing growing support for marijuana legalization in Michigan, said MI Legalize political organizer Sam Pernick, predicting the 2018 ballot measure could encourage first-time or rare voters to go to the polls.

“Republicans who were sternly opposed are now neutral, and Democrats who were neutral are now strongly supportive,” he said. “We do have many Republicans with a more libertarian bent who are supportive too.”

Pernick said forum organizers tried to identify candidates supporting legalization but also invited Schuette to the event. While he did not respond, Schuette was repeatedly mentioned, with Whitmer of East Lansing arguing the attorney general has “thrown up barrier after barrier” between medical marijuana patients and their medicine.

“This is an opportunity to go a step further and say, here in Michigan, we’re going to embrace the legalization, but we’re also going to grow our economy,” Whitmer said. “We’re going to create real clear rules so that we can do this so that we don’t leave patients, we don’t leave small business owners to fend for themselves.”

Thanedar, a businessman who is largely self-funding his campaign, argued that Michigan’s next governor needs to make sure “big business doesn’t hijack” the prospective legal marijuana industry.

“We’ve got to make sure we support the small businesses, we support the entrepreneurs and we fight any kind of attempt by the federal government to take away people’s rights,” he said.

While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, voters in eight states have approved recreational use laws. Colorado was the first state to implement legalization, with retail sales beginning in 2014. Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage this month vetoed legislation to regulate and tax the drug despite voters last year approving a legalization measure.

Under the potential Michigan ballot proposal, marijuana retail sales would be taxed at 10 percent, plus sales tax, with the new revenue going to K-12 schools, road repairs and participating cities and counties.

Space noted the proposal would also legalize industrial hemp farming.

“Let’s turn it into an agricultural boom,” he said. “Michigan already grows corn. Why not turn our state greener and improve our environment?”

Michigan Democrats and Republicans will elect their party’s gubernatorial nominees in August. The marijuana legalization proposal could appear on the November general election if organizers submit enough signatures and the measure survives any legal challenges.

“I already know we’re going to legalize. That’s a done deal,” El-Sayed said. “What I want to talk about now is what happens next.”

1 dead in shooting at Water Station in Detroit

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The suspects entered the Water Station in the 18700 block of Woodward at about 7 p.m. with a handgun and in ski masks and approached a man inside, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.

 

Detroit police are working to find two people connected with a robbery and fatal shooting at a popular business on the city’s north side Tuesday.

The pair entered the Water Station in the 18700 block of Woodward at Goldengate at about 7 p.m. with a handgun and in ski masks and approached a man inside, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.

Police Capt. Steve Walton told Fox 2 that the suspects came in through the back door, took the cash register, then marched the three people there outside and forced them to empty their pockets.

“A struggle ensued and one of the suspects fired a shot that struck the victim,” said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.

The suspects fled the store. According to its website, the store offers wellness products and bottled alkaline water.

The victim, identified only as a 26-year-old man, was dead at the scene.

Authorities did not have a description of the suspects. Other details about the incident were not released.

Anyone with information is asked to call (313) 596-2260 or Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

Detroit Zoo getting eagle with amputated wing

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The Detroit Zoo is getting an injured eagle.

 

A bald eagle found badly injured in southern Indiana is getting a new home at the Detroit Zoo.

The eagle has been recovering at the home of Vincennes, Indiana, wildlife rescuer Angel Lange since soon after being spotted in April in nearby Dubois County with a badly broken wing that had to be amputated. The Vincennes Sun-Commercial reports officials believe the bird was hurt by flying into a power line.

Lange says the eagle he’s named Mr. America has recovered well from the surgery and he’ll be sad to see him go.

Federal law allows an eagle to remain in a rescuer’s care only 180 days before it must be released or moved to a permanent home. Federal wildlife officials picked the Detroit Zoo.

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