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State Briefs

by the associated press • Jul 12, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Supreme Court orders new trials for 2 men in Allegan County

ALLEGAN (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered new trials for two men after finding that Allegan County juries were likely swayed by experts whose testimony went too far.

In a unanimous decision, the court said experts can't tell a jury that children usually don't lie when reporting sexual abuse. The court also said a doctor can't give an opinion about whether an assault occurred if the conclusion simply is an opinion about the alleged victim's truthfulness.

Justice Brian Zahra noted there was a dearth of evidence in the two cases, which made the experts' testimony crucial for prosecutors.

Joshua Thorpe has been in prison for more than three years. Brandon Harbison was sent to prison in 2015.

Body of missing swimmer recovered in southwestern Michigan

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) — Indiana conservation officers said the body of a missing teenager in has been recovered in southwestern Michigan.

They said Chikaming Township Police in Berrien County told them that the body of a male matching the description of 17-year-old Rahem Mason of South Bend, Indiana, was found by a member of the public along a beach at around 12:40 p.m. Thursday.

Conservation officers responded to the scene and positively identified Mason. He's believed to have accidentally drowned.

Mason was last seen in Lake Michigan near Washington Park in Michigan City, Indiana, on Saturday evening. Witnesses reported seeing him go underwater and not resurface. The beach had been closed throughout the day due to dangerous waves and currents.

Chikaming Township is about 15 miles northeast of Michigan City.

About 2 dozen guns stolen from West Michigan shop

CASCADE TWP. (AP) — Authorities said four masked people broke into a gun shop near Grand Rapids and stole about two dozen handguns.

The break-in happened shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday at Barracks 616 in Kent County's Cascade Township. Surveillance video showed the guns being taken.

An alarm alerted sheriff's deputies to the break-in. The suspects fled in a white SUV that also was recorded on video.

Anyone with information on the break-in is asked to contact investigators.

The same gun shop was targeted in a 2017 break-in where 20 weapons were stolen.

Mom who drove girls into river tried poison first, police say

KALAMAZOO (AP) — Authorities said a Michigan woman killed herself and twin daughters by driving into a river after trying to poison the children.

Kalamazoo police released reports saying 44-year-old Ineza McClinton tried to make 9-year-old twins, Angel and Faith, drink juice with added antifreeze in the spring. McClinton's mother told investigators about the plan, which included Ineza McClinton's attempt to die by overdosing on pills.

Relatives told police they intervened in McClinton's suicide attempt and discovered her unsuccessful effort to poison the girls.

Police say information about the attempted poisoning wasn't reported to officers in Grand Rapids, where McClinton and her daughters lived.

McClinton drove into the Kalamazoo River on June 17 after letting out two granddaughters. Relatives said she sought help for depression and took prescription drugs for mental illnesses.

Michigan man gets nearly 4 years for stalking in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Michigan man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for repeatedly stalking a woman in Minnesota.

Federal prosecutors said Shawn Thomason, 39, of Hazel Park devised a plan to digitally stalk, harm and abduct his former girlfriend.

Thomason drove to Mankato, Minnesota, multiple times and surveilled the woman at her workplace. Prosecutors said he attached GPS trackers to her vehicle and recorded her daily travels to and from her home, and he had lists titled "Tactics" and "Preparations" that included items such as cable ties, cuffs, stun guns and a pistol.

He was arrested in December 2018 after he made contact with the woman. He pleaded guilty to interstate stalking in March and was sentenced Wednesday to 45 months in federal prison.

Skeletal remains of 5 in Michigan may be of early settlers

STURGIS (AP) — Officials say skeletal remains of two children and three adults unearthed in southwestern Michigan may be those of early settlers of an area community.

The recently unearthed remains in Sturgis are being evaluated by forensic anthropologists at Western Michigan University.

Geoff Smith, the director of public safety for Sturgis, said research is ongoing to determine whether there's a connection to an old burial site.

Local historians want to know whether the remains may be those of a Revolutionary War veteran who later settled in the area just north of the Indiana state line and died in the 1830s.

The remains were found along with what appeared to be hardware from a coffin during a retention pond excavation. They were found about 6 feet underground.

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