WGVU Top Story
Michigan Supreme Court to decide fate of 350 juvenile lifers
March 6, 2014 | MPRN Governor Rick Snyder just signed a new law this week to update Michigan’s sentencing policies to reflect that Supreme Court decision. But that doesn’t settle what happens to Matthew Bentley. “I was 15 years old and being in a rush to be a man. I made a mistake and now 14 years later I’m still in prison, missing out on everything I was in a rush to get.” That is Bentley from a podcast provided by the American Civil Liberties Union. He shot and killed a woman during a break-in at her home. He says he would take it all back if he could. “I sometimes think about what could have happened, what could have been different. There’s a possibility I could have went down a different path, had I gotten some better advice, had I been shown a better way, had I actually had a role model.” Because of the US Supreme Court decision, juveniles convicted of murder or aiding and abetting in a murder now must have a hearing that takes into account their circumstances – abuse or neglect, how culpable they were in the crime, things like that. The court said the absence of that made automatic life without parole for juveniles cruel and unusual punishment. Now, the ACLU and three juvenile lifers are suing the state. They say if automatic life without parole is unconstitutional going forward, then that same logic should apply to those earlier 350-plus cases, some of which date back to the early 1960s. Kimberly Thomas is a law professor with the University of Michigan’s Juvenile Justice Clinic. She says we’ve learned a lot in recent years about shortcomings in how the legal system deals with juveniles. She says teenagers are often poor clients. “It’s hard to get them to understand the choices that they’re making. Especially when faced with what might be good plea bargains, they just aren’t making good choices.” Thomas says representing minors is a unique set of skills that most defense attorneys just don’t have. And she says the proof of that is how often juveniles get tougher sentences than adults involved in the same murders, even when the juvenile was only an accessory to the crime. The decision in this case before the state Supreme Court will likely turn on a legal nuance. To win, the juvenile lifers have to show the US Supreme Court decision represents a substantive change in their legal rights. The state, on the other hand, is arguing that it’s not – that this was a procedural decision. It has no bearing on their guilt or innocence, and that means there’s no responsibility to go back and correct their sentences. But this is not a nuance for another group of people closely following this case. “We’re the innocent, and we deserve some kind of closure to this…” Jody Robinson’s brother was murdered by a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old. And she says don’t call that a “mistake.” Robinson gets angry, visibly upset, when she hears that teens are sentenced to –quote- “die” in prison. “They weren’t sentenced to die – period. They were sentenced to live the rest of their life in prison. They’re living. They’re not dead, and there’s a big difference between the two.” Robinson says families like hers will never get their loved ones back -- and changing the rules now would deny them the measure of peace that once came with finality in their cases. For the Michigan Public Radio Network, I’m Rick Pluta in Lansing
Meijer Gardens dedicating 'Iron Tree' sculpture by Ai Weiwei
Grand Rapids MI April 20, 2015 | WGVU A large iron sculpture by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei that's designed to prompt thoughts about how different people and cultures come together is being dedicated at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in western Michigan.
Prosecutor to discuss police beatings with reporters
Detroit, MI April 20, 2015 | WGVU The Wayne County prosecutor has called a news conference to discuss two separate beatings by police in the Detroit area.
Court upholds big drug bust tied to bad light on SUV
Coldwater, MI April 20, 2015 | WGVU A man busted in southern Michigan with 28 pounds of cocaine will stay in prison after an appeals court said a broken light was enough for a trooper to stop him in Branch County.
Korean War veteran receives high school diploma
Norton Shores, MI April 20, 2015 | WGVU A western Michigan man has received his high school diploma 66 years after leaving to join the U.S. Air Force and serving in the Korean War.
AAA Michigan: Gas prices rise 10 cents in past week to $2.42
Dearborn, MI April 20, 2015 | WGVU AAA Michigan reports statewide gas prices have increased by about 10 cents a gallon within the past week.
Snyder has fund to step up national travel
Lansing MI April 20, 2015 | WGVU Governor Rick Snyder has established a not-for-profit fund to finance trips across the country, fueling speculation he has his eye on the White House.
#BlackInGrandRapids hopes to connect community
April 20, 2015 | WGVU Earlier this year, a Forbes.com article ranked Grand Rapids among the worst metropolitan areas for African-Americans to live. A longtime public relations strategist and resident recently launched a campaign to add context to the conversation.
Summer Travel: Tips For Kids Traveling Alone
Grand Rapids MI April 20, 2015 | WGVU With spring break behind us, we now move into the summer travel season. Many families debate about whether to allow their kids to take a flight to visit family and friends. What you should know before your young one flies alone. A local travel agent offers some tips.
Woman gets prison in crash that killed couple on motorcycle
ALLEGAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. April 20, 2015 | AP A Michigan woman who pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana causing death in connection with a crash that killed a Holland couple has been sentenced to prison.
State Capitol to re-open to public on Saturdays
April 20, 2015 | MPRN
After almost two decades, the state Capitol in Lansing will re-open for the public to visit on Saturdays.
Officer contests firing after videotaped beating of motorist
Inkster, MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU A white police officer who was fired following the videotaped beating a black motorist during a suburban Detroit traffic stop says his firing wasn't based on the facts.
Michigan State Police hosting seminar to recruit women
Lansing MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU The Michigan State Police is holding a seminar for women in an effort to increase its number of female recruits.
Michigan's Capitol dome getting overhaul amid $6.4M project
Lansing MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU Michigan's Capitol dome in Lansing is getting an overhaul as part of a $6.4 million project.
Conviction stands for man who found cop's gun in restroom
Kalkaska, MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU The Michigan appeals court has affirmed the conviction of a northern Michigan man who kept a state trooper's gun that was found in a grocery store restroom.
Public's help sought to list Michigan reptiles, amphibians
Lansing MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU Wildlife experts are putting together Michigan's first statewide inventory of reptiles and amphibians and want the public's help.
ArtPrize whale sculpture to leave Bay County this summer
Bay City MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU A 1,000-pound whale sculpture created for the 2014 ArtPrize competition will stay in Bay County for the next few months before heading north.
Police arrest 8 affirmative action protesters at U-M regents
Ann Arbor MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU Police have arrested eight people during a protest at a University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting over the level of minority enrollment.
State Online Testing Started This Week:The Verdict?
Grand Rapids MI April 17, 2015 | WGVU Michigan schools kicked off new, online standardized testing this week. State officials say so far, no widespread failures or network outages have been reported. We talked with a local schools superintendent and found out the new test is not without its challenges.
Michigan House votes to eliminate February elections
LANSING, Mich. April 17, 2015 | WGVU Michigan would no longer hold elections in February under legislation moving forward in Lansing.
Auto suppliers speak against Dieseltec post
April 17, 2015 | WGVU At least two companies have distanced themselves from Grandville-based Dieseltec after the repair shop's comments against homosexuality ignited on social media.
Holland councilman makes bid for mayor
April 17, 2015 | WGVU A longtime Holland City Council member has announced his campaign for Mayor.
GRPD: 64 tickets at Michigan/Fuller intersection
April 17, 2015 | WGVU Grand Rapids police issued 64 traffic tickets this past week near Michigan Street Northeast and Fuller Avenue.
Bill would create GPS pilot to track state government cars
LANSING, Mich. April 17, 2015 | AP A bill advancing in Michigan's Legislature would create a GPS pilot program to track state government vehicles.
AG seeks reveal of prisoner names in prison sex abuse suit
LANSING, Mich. April 17, 2015 | AP Michigan's attorney general is arguing that the names should be revealed of three male prison inmates who say in lawsuits against the state Corrections department that they were sexually assaulted.
Gov. Snyder orders flags lowered for former state Rep. Nitz
LANSING, Mich. April 17, 2015 | AP Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered U.S. flags within the capitol complex to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of former Rep. Neal Nitz. He was 61.
Lawmaker proposes state registry of homeschooled children
LANSING, Mich. April 17, 2015 | AP Michigan legislation is planned to create a registry of homeschooled children following the deaths of two Detroit children found in a freezer.
National Guard training exercise starts this weekend
GRAYLING, Mich. April 17, 2015 | AP A Michigan National Guard training exercise takes place starting this weekend at Camp Grayling, Rockport State Recreation Area and in Mackinaw City.
Governor Snyder says he’s glad to see action on no-fault
April 17, 2015 | MPRN Governor Rick Snyder says he was surprised this week when the state Senate adopted an overhaul of Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law. The governor says he was pleased to see action on the issue.
Frederik Meijer preview: Japanese garden, sculptures and music
April 16, 2015 | WGVU The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park celebrates its 20th season this year, with the addition of a new eight-acre Japanese garden, sculptures and multiple musical acts.
Bill would let Michigan have risk-based bridge inspections
Lansing MI April 16, 2015 | WGVU The Michigan Legislature is preparing to consider legislation responding to a recent audit that found some state bridge inspections weren't always completed on time or thoroughly.
Zombies, Spartans battle in campus game
East Lansing MI April 16, 2015 | WGVU Michigan State University students are competing this week in a zombie apocalypse version of tag.
Statewide tornado drill taking place across Michigan
Lansing MI April 16, 2015 | WGVU Michigan residents are participating in a statewide tornado drill.
Spring turkey hunt licenses still available in Michigan
Lansing MI April 16, 2015 | WGVU State officials say licenses are still available to hunt wild turkeys in Michigan this spring.
Boy found in basement after search could testify in hearing
Detroit, MI April 16, 2015 | WGVU More testimony is expected at a hearing in the case of a Detroit father and stepmother accused of torture and abuse after the man's son was found in their basement following an 11-day search by police.
Grandville shop's pro-gun, anti-gay message traversing social media
April 16, 2015 | WGVU A West Michigan auto repair owner faces backlash - and support - after making his negative stance on same-sex relationships clear on social media this week.
Severe Weather Awareness: Are You Ready?
Grand Rapids MI April 16, 2015 | WGVU This week is severe weather awareness week and Kent County officials want you to be ready. And while “this week” calls attention to being prepared, the potential for severe weather in West Michigan is just beginning.
Auto shop owner stands by controversial social media post
April 16, 2015 | WGVU A West Michigan auto repair owner’s statement on a business social media account against same-sex relationships gains traction, and threats, online.
Michigan Senate OKs STEM endorsement on high school diplomas
LANSING, Mich. April 16, 2015 | AP High school students could be awarded a special endorsement on their diploma if they earn enough credits in science, technology, engineering and math under bills advancing in the Michigan Legislature.
Report: Specialty courts are keeping people out of trouble
DETROIT April 16, 2015 | AP Judges are praising the results of Michigan's specialty courts, which have given thousands of people, especially veterans, a chance to turn their lives around.
Senate adopts no-fault overhaul
LANSING, Mich April 16, 2015 | MPRN Republicans in the Michigan Senate have taken an early step toward overhauling Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system.
Snyder orders flags flown at half-staff in Lincoln's honor
Lansing MI April 15, 2015 | WGVU Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for U.S. flags displayed on state property to be flown at half-staff Wednesday in remembrance of former President Abraham Lincoln.
Agency awards $1.5M in grants to 10 Michigan organizations
Lansing MI April 15, 2015 | WGVU The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded more than $1.5 million in federal grants to 10 Michigan organizations dedicated to helping residents with housing needs.
DeZwaan Windmill celebrates golden anniversary in Holland
Holland MI April 15, 2015 | WGVU A celebration is taking place this weekend for a 200-year-old Dutch windmill that has been in Holland for 50 years.
Bill seeks insurance coverage of hearing aids for children
Lansing MI April 15, 2015 | WGVU A lawmaker and Miss Michigan are teaming up to back legislation requiring health insurers to cover hearing aids for those 21 and younger.
Officials approve $1.5M Grand River grant application
April 15, 2015 | WGVU A $1.5 million grant may help return the rapids to the Grand River.
Pennock Healthcare System merges with Spectrum Health
April 15, 2015 | WGVU Hastings’ Pennock Healthcare System is merging with Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health. Beginning May 1st the deal will be official when the hospital’s name is officially changed to Spectrum Health Pennock.
State’s jobless rate drops to 5.6 percent
April 15, 2015 | MPRN Michigan’s jobless rate has dropped to five-point-six percent, bringing it very close to the national average.