Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 12, 2013

Michigan in Brief: 01/12/2013


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4 from Mich. killed while on Haiti trip

GRAND RAPIDS — The Roman Catholic diocese of Grand Rapids says four West Michigan residents have been killed in a car accident during a mission trip to Haiti.

The diocese didn't release the names of the victims nor elaborate on the accident's circumstances. It did say that some of those killed were members of the Holy Spirit Parish in Grand Rapids.

WOOD-TV says the four people killed were part of a group of around 20 who arrived in Haiti earlier in the day. reports the parish has a relationship with the Haitian Parish of Seguin in the diocese of Jacmel and makes regular trips down there.

In a statement, the Grand Rapids diocese says it's "continuing to gather information about this horrible tragedy."

Heroin seized from Metro passenger

ROMULUS — Customs officials say $400,000 worth of heroin was seized from a passenger arriving at Detroit Metropolitan Airport this week.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the person was a Ghana resident flying into Detroit from Amsterdam.

A CBP agent working at the airport seized the four pounds of heroin on Tuesday.

The suspect was arrested, turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office.

DNR prepares for wolf season recommendation

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources expects to make recommendations on a wolf hunting season by May or June.

Furbearer specialist Adam Bump outlined the agency's plans for evaluating a possible wolf hunt during meeting of the Natural Resources Commission on Thursday. The Legislature last month approved a bill authorizing a wolf hunt, but the commission will make the final call.

Bump says the DNR has begun a survey to update the Upper Peninsula wolf population, which is believed to be around 700.

Over the next few months, the DNR will have public meetings, consult with Indian tribes and compile data about livestock and pets killed by wolves. The agency then will prepare recommendations on a hunting season for the Natural Resources Commission.

No jury oath, no conviction, court says

DETROIT — A jury's pledge to justly hear a criminal case is a mandatory part of any trial, the Michigan appeals court said Friday as it threw out a conviction in Jackson County because jurors were not given the oath.

The challenge was raised by an attorney for David Allan, who was charged with conspiring with his daughter to commit extortion. Prosecutors said Allan's daughter met a man at a strip club in 2010, had sex with him months later and threatened to accuse him of rape unless he paid her.

Jurors were sworn-in during the selection process before the 2011 trial, but apparently not before opening statements and the presentation of evidence.

Allan's appellate lawyer, Randy Davidson, said he discovered the problem while reviewing the transcript.

"It's just something we do," he said in an interview. "From my experience and training, I know the general order of things in a trial. I didn't see the (oath) and thought, 'That's unusual.'" The oath typically is read to jurors by a judge or a court clerk, and the jurors then reply in the affirmative.

Jurors are asked to pledge that they will "justly decide the questions submitted" to them and come up with a "verdict only on the evidence introduced and in accordance with the instructions of the court, so help you God." The appeals court said it's important.

"The oath is not mere formality. Rather, it is a long-standing common-law requirement that is necessary to protect defendant's constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury," judges William Whitbeck, E. Thomas Fitzgerald and Jane Beckering said.