WBCK News Summary for September 3rd
Autistic Girl's Mom Pleads Guilty
A Battle Creek native in Northern Michigan has pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse. Benzie County prosecutors say 46 year old Kelli Stapleton avoided today’s scheduled trial on charges that she tried to kill her 14 year old autistic daughter. The maximum punishment for the charge is life in prison but the judge has a lot of leeway in sentencing. Stapleton is accused of trying to kill herself and her teenage daughter last year by carbon monoxide poisoning by igniting charcoal grills inside a van. Stapleton’s blog had chronicled the challenges including violent outbursts that her family faced while caring for the girl.
Defendant Could be Restrained
A man charged with murder could be restrained in the courtroom if he tries to make good on threats he's made. 27 year old Drew Stafford Thorngate is charged as a fourth-time habitual offender with open murder in the Nov. 5 death of Francisco Jesus Veloz-Padilla. He is accused of beating Padilla with a bat, putting him in a trash dumpster and pouring bleach on him. During a hearing before Circuit Judge J. Richardson Johnson on Friday, prosecutors described threatening phone calls and letters from Thorngate from jail and asked that Thorngate be restrained during his trial. Judge Johnson denied the request …for now.
Aquinas Lock Down
The search for an assault suspect has prompted a roughly hour-long lockdown at the campus of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. Authorities say the lockdown was issued last night after two men reportedly punched three people on a sidewalk near campus. One suspect was detained by bystanders and others until police arrived. The lockdown was lifted after the other suspect was captured.
Muskegon High School Shooting-Idiot Kid
Muskegon police say a teenage boy shot himself in the foot with a revolver near a football game at Muskegon High School last week. Police say the teen may be charged as a juvenile offender for weapons-related crimes. They say the boy threw the gun near the high school after the shooting.
Five people had minor injuries after a sport utility vehicle crashed into the side of a public transit bus in downtown Kalamazoo. The crash happened about 7:15 a.m. this morning. Police Sgt. Ken Skibbe says that the SUV's driver ran a light and hit the bus. He says four bus passengers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and an occupant of the SUV also was hurt. That driver will be cited. Traffic on Rose Street was shut down for about a half an hour.
Road Altercation Death
A 69 year old Howell man is being held in police custody pending further investigation into the death of a fellow motorist. Police say it happened Tuesday afternoon near Howell, when the man passed a car driven by a 43 year old man. When the two were stopped at a traffic light a short time later that the 43 year-old driver got out of his car and approached the other motorist and the incident turned deadly. The older driver allegedly fired his weapon from inside the car killing the younger man instantly. This, while the victim’s wife watched in horror. Witnesses say the older driver may have felt threatened and fired his weapon in self-defense.
MSU Death Preventable
A breakdown in taking a Washtenaw County man into custody may have led to the death of a Michigan State University student. The Ann Arbor New is reporting that police had the chance to arrest 18 year-old Tyrel Bredernitz on a bench warrant and possible parole violation at his Saline apartment three days before the teen allegedly robbed then beat 19 year-old Dustyn Frolka to death. The teen was found barely alive on the side of I-69 in Clinton County’s Bath Township back in February. Police say he had been beaten with brass knuckles by Bredernitz and two others before being thrown from the moving car. The report indicates that Saline Police notified court officials and the teen’s probation officer after not being able to find Bredernitz to serve the warrant.
Grand Rapids-Debates Postponed
WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids says it has postponed debates it hoped to hold next week in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. WOOD had planned to host a U.S. Senate debate September 8 and a gubernatorial debate September 10, but says Republican Governor Rick Snyder and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Land failed to agree to them. Governor Snyder tells WBCK that they’re open to debates. Snyder-Debates-WBCK
Kalamazoo Board OK’s Missile System
A proposed ballistic missile defense system for Fort Custer received the support of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners Tuesday. Calhoun County commissioners recently voted their support for a similar resolution. Fort Custer straddles Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties and is one of four locations currently undergoing an environmental impact study that will be used to partially determine the area best suited for the project.
Battle Creek city commissioners unanimously approved nearly $1.2 million in costs to redesign Festival Market Square on Tuesday. Hoffman Brothers will do the concrete work and construction is now is expected to begin this yea. Depending on weather, the project could be completed by May 1.
Kalamazoo Killer gets Life in Prison
A Kalamazoo man is headed to prison for life, without the possibility of parole, for a murder in Kalamazoo's Edison neighborhood. A judge sentenced 21-year-old Demarcus Finley Tuesday for the death of Leonel Lopez. A jury convicted Finley of first-degree murder in July. Police say in August of 2013, Finley shot Lopez to death on Race Street, after a series of altercations.
A Battle Creek woman was arrested last week after Battle Creek police said she reported a burglary that didn't happen. The woman was charged with the break-in and making a false police report. Officers were about noon last Thursday to the home of a 24-year-old man in the 1300 block of West Michigan Avenue after the woman said she found the apartment unlocked and a TV and video games gone. She told officers she was watching the apartment for her boyfriend of one week. However police said they learned the woman put the items in a trash container at the home of a former boyfriend and left a note that said "there is a present for you, xoxo."
Todd Back in House Race
Terris Todd is back in the 62nd house race. The Calhoun County commissioner, who fell short of winning the Democratic primary in the 62nd State House District, will run as a write-in candidate. Todd says he decided to continue his bid for the seat after being encouraged by his family and supporters. The Battle Creek Democrat came in second in the August primary behind City Commissioner Andy Helmboldt. Dr. John Bizon won the Republican primary. The winner will replace Rep. Kate Segal who can’t run again because of term limits.
Kellogg NC Layoffs
Kellogg Company will lay off 161 workers at its Charlotte bakery in North Carolina. Reports say the layoffs will take place in November in four phases as the company edges closer to shutting down the operation there. The closure comes as Kellogg looks to consolidate facilities and eliminate excess capacity and save a half-billion dollars by 2018. The plant produces cookies, including Famous Amos and Austin Sandwich Cremes.
Coldwater Man Arrested
A 43-year-old Coldwater man is behind bars in Mason County after he allegedly sexually assaulted two young girls. William Stempien was arrested Saturday and formally arraigned today on a count each of 2nd-degree and 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct. A DNR officer was notified by a 13- and 12-year-old girl of the alleged assault at a campsite near the Pere Marquette River outside of Ludington. Stempien was arrested a short time later at a nearby boat launch by a county deputy. Stempien has been released after posting bail.
MI/OH-Roller Coaster Closing
Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio announced Tuesday that the Mantis roller coaster will be shut down permanently on October 19th. It was billed as the tallest, fastest and steepest stand-up roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1996. According to park officials, in its 18-year history, Mantis has given more than 22 million rides
Kalamazoo Podiatrist Sentenced
A Kalamazoo podiatrist will be spending the next nine months in jail following an embezzlement conviction. Dr. Regina Spears-Everett was sentenced on Tuesday for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from 91 year old Toni Verdries, who passed away in 2011. Court documents showed that Spears-Everett helped Verdries turn over power of attorney before her death, and leaving all of her assets to her in a new will. In addition to jail time, she will spend 5 years on probation and pay nearly 170,000 dollars in restitution.
A 21 year old, Battle Creek man was arraigned on Tuesday, on charges of home invasion. Earl Thomas allegedly broke into a home in the 200 block of Capital Ave NE, early Sunday morning, Officers caught up with Thomas a short time later on Emmett and Calhoun, and he was arrested. Thomas returns to court for a preliminary hearing on September 15th.
Detroit's bankruptcy trial will resume Wednesday morning.Detroitexpects to cut $12 billion in unsecured debt to about $5 billion. Most creditors, including more than 30,000 retirees and city employees, have endorsed the restructuring plan put together by state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr and his team. Bond insurer Syncora Guarantee opposes the plan and saysDetroithas unfairly discriminated against financial creditors.
MI-Pure Michigan Ads Pure Michigan has launched its $1.3 million fall advertising campaign. Comprised of television, radio and billboard ads, the campaign features 13 partners and will air regionally and statewide through October 1. In addition to the ads going on the air, fall will be featured on the michigan.org website and on Pure Michigan social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the Pure Michigan blog. The billboards with new, fall images will also be wrapped aroundChicago tour buses. Locations featured on this year’s fall billboards include Lake Superior, Treetops Golf Resort and Lake Plumbago.
Capitol-More School Funding As kids return to school this week, some state lawmakers are calling for more money for Michigan's K-12 budget. State House Democrats yesterday (Tue) introduced legislation to raise the state's minimum per-pupil funding from $50 to the original amount recommended by Governor Rick Snyder of $83. Bill co-sponsor, Representative Sam Singh ofEast Lansing says with higher costs and rising inflation, to some school districts the $50 increase is actually a cut. Earlier this summer, the state Legislature passed a School Aid budget that gave the lowest-fundedMichigan districts up to $175-per-pupil increase, while higher-funded districts got $50 more per pupil. At least 125 out of the state's more than 800 districts got the smaller amount.