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Prosecutor concerned about possible release of teen who killed Flint police captain

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Prosecutor David Leyton says a Genesee County judge barred his office from advocating on behalf of fallen Flint Police Capt. Collin Birnie in legal proceedings for the teen who caused his death.

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Prosecutors are not happy that a judge could release the teen who admitted to killing a beloved Flint Police Department captain at anytime without input from the grieving family.

The teen is being detained, but Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton disagrees with the judge on the length of the detention and his office's ability to continue to advocate in open court for continued detention of the teen.

Flint Police Capt. Collin Birnie was killed in February when his vehicle was hit head-on by a 16-year-old teen from Montrose. The teen was driving at speeds of more than 100 mph before the collision on Elms Road near Mt. Morris Road.

"When we originally charged the case we asked the the court to charge him as an adult that didn't happen he was sent to the juvenile system," Leyton said.

The teen, whose name is not being released because he is a minor, pleaded guilty in August to reckless driving causing death. He remains in custody at a juvenile facility.

"By law the judge in the juvenile system has to review it periodically," Leyton said.

Tuesday, the judge in this case ruled that the teen should remain detained and Leyton agrees. But Leyton takes issue with the judge's follow-up ruling restricting further input from the prosecution on when or if the teen will be released. 

"And when a judge says I'm going to make this decision without further advocacy, when and if I please and I will alert you by an order of the court in writing, I don't think that inspires great confidence," Leyton said.

His office was asking to be able to come back before the court before the judge makes a decision again.

"That request was denied," said Leyton.

In denying that request, Leyton said it tramples on the rights of Birnie's grieving family.

"Collin has been taken from them. The least that we can ask is that this be done in an open courtroom and not by a judge sitting at his desk reviewing reports and not being able to hear from both sides," Leyton said. "My position here is that the victims' family's rights are being trampled upon."

He also said there is a is a constitutional amendment in Michigan that gives victims rights. In this case, Leyton said "the family of Collin Birnie is the victim and they have rights."

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