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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Mar 6, 2019 at 8:00 AM

1 dead in West Michigan amid blowing snow, pileups

KALAMAZOO (AP) — Police said one person has died in a series of crashes and pileups on West Michigan roads amid blowing snow and slick pavement.

State police said 65-year-old Evert-Jan Ohler of Kalamazoo died Tuesday morning after driving into a school bus that was stopped for an earlier crash on U.S. 131 in Allegan County. One student was hospitalized with minor injuries.

The National Weather Service said more than 3 inches of snow was measured in Allegan County on Tuesday morning. It issued a winter weather advisory for several West Michigan counties for periodic snow showers through 9 a.m. today.

State police also said a pileup on I-96 collected as many as 12 vehicles. 

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office said I-94 was closed in both directions near Kalamazoo at one point Tuesday.

Man charged with murder after body found days after stabbing

BENTON HARBOR (AP) — A 60-year-old man has been charged with murder after police in southwestern Michigan said they found his roommate's body in a basement 4-5 days after he was fatally stabbed.

Benton Harbor police located 57-year-old Sylvester Booth's body early Saturday. His roommate was arrested and the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office said Jerry Lee Osler was arraigned Monday on charges of first-degree murder and concealing a death. Osler was jailed on $250,000 bond.

Police said Booth was stabbed during a dispute over money. The prosecutor's office said Booth had a stab wound to the chest, and a knife blade and knife handle were found near his body.

Fires targeted people of Middle Eastern descent, authorities say

DEARBORN HEIGHTS (AP) — Authorities have accused a Detroit-area man of setting fires that targeted people of Middle Eastern descent.

Nicholas Diedo, 35, of Dearborn Heights has been charged with maliciously destroying a building used in interstate commerce by means of fire. Federal investigators allege two of the fires were at a strip mall in Inkster and others involved several vehicles, including one belonging to his neighbor.

Investigators on Monday searched his home, where they say they found bottles filled with accelerants, gas cans, burned sticks and pieces of wood. They add that they found clothing seen in surveillance video from the strip mall fire.

Diedo has been arrested, but no attorney is listed for him in court records.

If convicted, Diedo could serve up to 20 years in federal prison.

New maintenance sensors being tested on Mackinac Bridge

EAST LANSING (AP) — Researchers are preparing for the next phase of an engineering study that uses the Mackinac Bridge to test a new type of sensor that can help identify maintenance needs.

The sensors are powered solely by vibrations from traffic. The first 20 prototypes were installed in 2016 on the nearly 5-mile-long bridge that connects Michigan's lower and upper peninsulas.

Experts with Michigan State University and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, said they have proven their durability and performed as intended.

The next step is adding up to 2,000 of the tiny devices to explore the logistics of large-scale deployment and provide useful data to the Mackinac Bridge Authority. Installation will begin this summer.

Project leaders said the sensing technology will collect data on bridge conditions in a less expensive way.

Judge loses caseload over failure to record proceedings

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit judge has been benched after her boss says she refuses to use courtroom technology.

Judge Kahlilia Davis won't hear any cases. Nancy Blount, the chief judge at 36th District Court, disclosed the move Monday, saying Davis refuses to use video equipment to record proceedings in her courtroom.

Blount says the state court administrator supports the sanction.

Davis hasn't commented. Her attorney, Todd Perkins, says some type of compromise should end the dispute.

Separately, Blount last week ordered Davis to undergo a security screening, like other employees, when she regularly enters the courthouse. Blount says Davis made "threatening" statements on social media.

Davis responded by saying she's not physically able to report to work if she has to go through security screening.

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