Economist makes anti-gay remark at Michigan trial
DETROIT (AP) - Testimony has ended in a trial over Michigan's ban on gay marriage after a Canadian economist made unflattering remarks about homosexuals.
Doug Allen of Vancouver, British Columbia said Thursday that gays who engage in homosexual acts are bound for hell unless they repent. His comment came during cross-examination Thursday in Detroit federal court.
Allen is a witness for the state of Michigan, which is defending a 2004 state constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage. Judge Bernard Friedman will hear closing arguments Friday.
Allen says the ban should remain in place. He says society is "a long way" from fully understanding how well children grow up with same-sex parents.
Two Detroit-area women are challenging the ban, saying it violates their rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Michigan: Unsecured alarms 'major' role in escape
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Corrections Department says prison guards' failure to reset motion-detection alarms played a "major role" in a convicted quadruple killer's escape last month.
An investigatory report released Thursday says two zones at a prison vehicle entrance weren't secured at the start of a shift at the Ionia Correctional Facility east of Grand Rapids. Inmate Michael Elliot crawled under fences and escaped for 24 hours before being captured in Indiana.
The state says Elliot began to think seriously about an escape due to heavy snow he thought would provide cover. And he ultimately chose Super Bowl Sunday because he thought staff might be distracted. But investigators found no evidence that was the case.
Investigators also found no evidence Elliot had help from other inmates or staff.
TEEN INTRUDER KILLED
Detroit police: Owner fatally shoots burglar, 17
DETROIT (AP) - Detroit police say a man found two people trying to break into his house and fatally shot one of them, a 17-year-old boy.
Police tell the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News that the shooting happened about 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the city's west side.
Deputy Chief Rodney Johnson says the homeowner heard glass shattering and found the 17-year-old trying to enter through a window.
Johnson says the man fired twice with a handgun, hitting the boy in the chest. Police say the second burglar is believed to be in his 20s and remains at large.
An investigation continues.
Millions to be spent at Detroit courthouse
DETROIT (AP) - The government could spend as much as $130 million to upgrade the 80-year-old federal courthouse in downtown Detroit.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen says Congress has approved $31 million for the first phase, and President Barack Obama is seeking about $41 million for the second leg.
Rosen informed employees during a public event Thursday at the courthouse. The government says the first phase of work will focus on air conditioning, stairs and the loading dock.
Rosen says the third phase in a few years could include some "exciting stuff," but he declined to offer details. He says the courthouse is a "citadel of justice" that has suffered from fire, floods and other problems related to age.
SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT
LaughFest organizers claim new sunglasses record
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - There appears to be another arcane world record in Grand Rapids, this time for the most people wearing sunglasses at night.
Gilda's LaughFest organizers in the past three years have overseen record-setting attempts for donning false mustaches, wearing chicken beaks and tossing rubber chickens.
The fourth annual festival of laughter kicked off Thursday with an effort to break the sunglasses record. Participants received official bright yellow LaughFest sunglasses.
Guinness World Records says the current mark was set in July 2012 by 1,642 people at Chicago's Wrigley Field. LaughFest spokesman Tyler Lecceadone says the group's count shows that 1,675 people wore sunglasses Thursday night.
Gilda's LaughFest runs through March 16th. It honors the memory of comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.
May decision on no-parole sentence for teen killer
FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A judge will reveal May 9th whether a boy who was 14 when he murdered a 73-year-old woman in her Flint home will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A sentencing hearing for Mark Jones Junior ended Thursday in Genesee County Circuit Court, with Tiniya Tyler testifying that her now-17-year-old son wasn't responsible for the killing.
She acknowledges he did commit other crimes.
Merlyne Wray was robbed and shot in her home in 2010. A jury convicted the teen of first-degree murder in November.
Michigan law imposes a mandatory sentence of life without parole for first-degree murder, but the U.S. Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional to automatically impose the sentence on underage killers.
Prosecution and defense lawyers now will submit briefs to Judge Archie Hayman.
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP-MICHIGAN STATE
Political Leadership Program hears 2 ex-governors
LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University is hearing from Republican ex-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Democratic ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at its annual fundraising dinner.
The program was underway Thursday evening at Laurel Manor in the Detroit suburb of Livonia.
A number of political figures were to attend, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land. The ex-secretary of state and Democratic U.S. Representative Gary Peters are seeking to replace Carl Levin, who isn't seeking re-election in November.
Fellows in the Michigan Political Leadership Program follow a 10 month curriculum. The main elements covered are personal leadership development, public policy process and analysis, effective governance, and practical politics.
The program says it has graduated 500 fellows since 1992.
Michigan social entrepreneurship contest opens
DETROIT (AP) - People and groups looking for ways to make Michigan a better place to live can apply for $60,000 in prizes to make their dreams come true under the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Michigan Corps and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation say that applications are available starting Thursday and submissions will be accepted until May 30th.
Development corporation chief executive Michael Finney says the goal is "to bring the entrepreneurial mindset to bear on pressing social issue," with particular focus on the needs of Detroit and Flint.
This is the second year for the challenge.
Organizers say finalists will win entry into the Michigan Corps' Impact Investment Fellowship, a four-month training program to prepare them for handling investments of at least $50,000.
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