News

8.1.14:  Decision in 2 weeks on murder case in baby death

 

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — A judge says he’ll announce in two weeks whether a northern Michigan man will be tried on a charge of murdering his baby daughter, whose body has never been found.

 

A probable cause hearing for 24-year-old Sean Phillips on an open murder charge wrapped up Thursday in district court in Ludington.

 

Judge Peter Wadel says he’ll weigh the testimony before making his decision on whether to try Phillips.

 

Four-and-a-half-month-old Katherine Phillips disappeared in 2011 in the Ludington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

 

Phillips already is serving at least 10 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of the infant, known as Baby Kate.


8.1.14:  2-pound Michigan baby undergoes heart procedure

 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A 2-pound Michigan newborn dubbed “Mighty Girl” by her parents is one of the smallest babies in the world to undergo a heart procedure to open up a blocked artery caused by a congenital defect.

 

A week later, Alexandra Mae Van Kirk is showing signs that her heart is working as it should, and she’s growing.

 

Matt Van Kirk says his daughter is “doing fantastic.”

 

Dr. Joseph Vettukattil performed the pulmonary balloon valvuloplasty at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

 

He has done 300 such procedures over 20 years, but the smallest patient on which he performed it was 4 pounds. Vettukattil has heard of only one or two other babies smaller than Alexandra who have undergone the procedure.

 

He says “it was very tricky.”


8.2.14:  Repairing burst Los Angeles main could take days

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Crews have begun removing cars trapped by flooding from a broken water line on the University of California, Los Angeles campus.

Repair crews are shoring up a giant hole in the middle of Sunset Boulevard caused by a ruptured pipe, as officials at UCLA continue to assess damage from the 20 million gallons that inundated the campus.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power workers are reinforcing the excavated 56-by-41-foot crater and making the site safe for crews.

UCLA officials said six facilities were damaged in Tuesday’s flooding.

About 960 vehicles were trapped in garages, with many below water left behind by the roiling flood. On Thursday night removal began of about 270 cars that were on upper levels and not damaged by water.


8.1.14:  Death toll rises during Mideast truce

 

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Palestinian official says Israeli shelling has killed at least 27 Palestinians in southern Gaza after a 72-hour truce was to have taken effect today.  The cease-fire that went into effect at 8 a.m. local time, fell apart after only a couple of hours.

 

A Health Ministry official says more than 100 Palestinians also were wounded in Israeli shelling in and around the town of Rafah.

 

The Israeli military says Gaza militants have fired eight rockets and mortars at Israel since the cease-fire began.

 

Israel says one rocket was intercepted.


8.1.14:  Tigers make trade in middle of game

 

DETROIT (AP) — Moises Sierra had four hits to lift the Chicago White Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers yesterday. The game quickly became a secondary concern in the Motor City when the Tigers acquired star left-hander David Price from Tampa Bay in a three-team deal. Joakim Soria hit Paul Konerko with the bases loaded in the seventh to give the White Sox a 5-4 lead.

 

Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers have added another Cy Young Award winner to their star-studded rotation by acquiring Tampa Bay’s David Price in three-team blockbuster yesterday. The Rays received left-hander Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames from the Tigers. Detroit outfielder Austin Jackson is going to the Mariners.


7.31.14:  Sean Phillips back in Ludington Court

 

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — A key court hearing is set to resume for a northern Lower Michigan man accused of killing his baby daughter.

 

Sean Phillips’ preliminary examination on an open murder charge is scheduled for Thursday in district court in Ludington.

 

Baby Kate, as she’s known, disappeared in 2011. Her body hasn’t been found. Katherine Phillips was 4½ months old when last seen in the Ludington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

 

Judge Peter Wadel in April called a time-out in the hearing to allow defense experts to examine a letter authorities say links Sean Phillips to Katherine Phillips’ disappearance.

 

Wadel must decide whether there’s probable cause to put Phillips on trial for murder.

 

Phillips already is serving at least 10 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment in the infant’s disappearance.

 


7.31.14:  Arena Place to house apartments, offices, and retail space

 

A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday  for a new 11-story building in downtown Grand Rapids’ Arena South District.  The building is located at 55 Ottawa and is just behind the VanAndel Arena.

 

Plans for the building will include:  offices, apartment space, parking, a restaurant, and retail space.

 

The Arena Place is scheduled to be finished during the winter of 2015.


7.31.14:  Opponents press Snyder to cancel prison contract

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Opponents are pressing Governor Rick Snyder’s administration to cancel the state’s contract with a company that provides food in the prison system.

 

The liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan says local officials on Thursday will demand cancellation of Aramark’s contract in a call with reporters. They’ll also ask local governments to investigate their own contracts with the company.

 

Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services has come under scrutiny for maggots found in a prison’s food area and infractions such as workers having sex with inmates. Michigan Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan says a decision on the contract remains weeks away.

 

Michigan’s in the first year of a three-year contract with Aramark that’s expected to save $16 million a year. Michigan has fined Aramark $98,000 for violations.

 

Aramark faces similar sanitation complaints in Ohio.


7.31.14:  Chrysler recalls Fiat 500Ls to fix knee air bags

 

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler is recalling just under 30,000 Fiat 500L small cars in the U.S. and Canada to fix a problem with air bags that protect knees in a crash.

 

The company says in a statement Wednesday that the bags may not inflate in the proper position if the driver isn’t wearing a seat belt. Chrysler says it doesn’t know of any injuries from the problem.

 

The recall covers cars from the 2014 and 2015 model years including 25,500 in the U.S. and another 4,000 in Canada.

 

Dealers will replace the driver’s side knee air bags at no cost to owners.

 

Chrysler says it will notify owners when parts are available. In the meantime, they should wear seat belts so the bags work properly.


7.31.14:  Israel vows to destroy Hamas tunnels

 

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the military will dismantle the Hamas tunnel network in the Gaza Strip “with or without a cease-fire.”

 

Netanyahu says he will not accept any truce that won’t allow Israel to complete its mission of destroying the sophisticated tunnel network, which has been used to carry out deadly attacks inside Israel.

 

Israel launched its air campaign on July 8 to stop unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel. It expanded the operation with a ground offensive on July 17 with the primary purpose of blocking Hamas infiltration attempts through the tunnels.