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Lansing State Journal from Lansing, Michigan • Page 10
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Lansing State Journal from Lansing, Michigan • Page 10

Lansing, Michigan
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Lansing State Journal www.lsj. com Metro Editor Betsy Miner 377-1 1 54 E-mail: 21 Michigan Saturday February 9, 2002 Budget pre-show honors 32-year fiscal veteran 1 It was only appropriate that Budget Director Don Gilmer point out that fact. "Harry Gast inspired the 'Dirty Harry' movie and outlasted all sequels," Gilmer said. "With Harry, Make my da took on a whole new meaning." The humble, 82-year-old Gast shook his head and tried to stop the inevitable standing ovation. After the presentation, Gast got Gilmer back by saying: 'Tou did a commendable job as a greenhorn." Stacey Range media. But, "my dancing partner has been James Blanchard ever since the Four Tops made him an official member at the Governors Convention." because of the American flag added to the cover. Surely red costs more. transportation bill that they didn't quite know what was in it. They issued statements announcing $2 million for security fencing and a runway at Troy Municipal Airport. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabamij, issued the same statement. It seems the bill did not specify which state's Troy airport was getting the money. To the dismay of Troy, officials, it turned out to be Alabama's. The ordeal proved humorous to Raczkowski, who prefers to be called "Rocky." "We have real problems here in Michigan and these senators are taking credit for something they haq! nothing to do with," he said. "That is funny. It is the stuff that only hapf pens in movies." Capital Notebook runs on Saturdays. If you have a news tip or comment, contact Stacey Range at Sen. Harry Gast, 82, who is in last year of final term, received standing ovation With the state facing a deficit of more than $1 billion, one would think the main attraction of this week's budget unveiling would have been the budget. But it wasn't. Before the governor's budget was presented, the lawmakers, department heads and special interests that packed into the House Appropriations room were treated to a mini-roasting of perhaps the most respected man at the Capitol: state Sen. Harry Gast. After 32 years, the Republican from St. Joseph is serving his final term. So after this year, the fiscal expertise he has honed in 24 years on the appropriations committee will be gone. It seems Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm isn't dancing in the streets. The attorney general released campaign videos this week that used the famous song by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Reeves ended the dancing the next day, though. "I am indeed honored," Reeves said in a written statement to the State Rep. Andrew Raczkowski, R-Farmington Hills, took advantage of a flub this week to strike out at U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. Raczkowski, who wants to challenge Levin this fall, called a news conference Monday to poke fun at the Democratic senators. Apparently, Levin and Stabenow got so wrapped up in Congress' For those keeping track of how the government spends your money, you might find it interesting to know that the Department of Management and Budget spent $10,538 to print 2,000 copies of the 114-page budget. Each book cost $5.26. Last year's cost was $4.71 per book. Perhaps this year's cost was higher Trial to begin im drowmie case Michigan abolished executions: in 1846 i i Prosecutors seek death penalty in woman's killing By James Prichard Associated Press GRAND RAPIDS The last time somebody was executed in Michigan was in 1938, after a botched bank robbery resulted in the shooting death of an innocent bystander. Now federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a man charged with killing a young, single mother who had accused him of raping her. Michigan outlawed capital punishment in 1846, just nine years I Around Michigan Complaint says police had porn on screens SAGINAW TWP. A sexual harassment complaint filed by an officer here alleges that police had pornographic images on their computers. Saginaw Township Police Officers Association President Doug Nelson filed the complaint with the state Department of Civil Rights and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Nelson's complaint alleges that officers used a lewd screen saver and viewed sexual material on computers. Township officials have confiscated a police computer and begun an internal investigation. Township labor attorney David Masud said the investigation should take 10 to 14 days. Officials protest water rate proposal DETROIT Several suburban officials attended a Detroit City Council public hearing Thursday to protest the city proposed water rate increase. The rate increase would be an average 15.2 percent for suburban customers and 13.5 percent for Detroit residents. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department provides water to about 125 communities in southeastern Michigan. "Whatever are your needs, our residents have needs, too, and their primary need is to keep money in their pockets," Warren City Attorney George Constance told the council. "It is time you looked internally for savings rather than just asking your rate-payers for more money." Gary Fujita, the water depart-ments interim deputy director, said the increase is necessary to pay for state- and federal-mandated improvements and security measures required since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Ruling on 'back lots' may have wide impact WEST BLOOMFIELD A court ruling allowing a developer to grant lakefront access rights to owners of "back lots" could affect other Michigan lake property disputes. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruling on Feb. 1 stated that people who own property that does not connect to water can still have lake access granted by a developer. The ruling stems from a dispute among Pine Lake neighbors in Oakland County's West Bloomfield Township. Previous court rulings have held that full lakefront rights belonged only to owners of land that adjoins a body of water, said Don Winne, executive director of the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association. Robert Little, whose lawsuit prompted the ruling, said the opinion "opens a can of worms" because it will make it easy for non-lakefront landowners to get access to a body of water through easements that never were meant to let people dock boats. Wayne State appoints new assistant VP DETROIT Wayne State University has appointed Gary Dent as its new assistant vice president for human resources. Dent, 50, a native of Virginia, was previously the director of human resources for the city of Detroit. In that job, he was responsible for managing human resources for 40 departments and 17,500 employees. Dent "brings a wealth of experience to the position having served as the director of human resources for the city of Detroit for the past seven years," said Meredith Gibbs, the university's executive vice president and chief of staff. Dent also worked for General Motors Corp. for 20 years. Spirit Airlines expands Metro flights ROMULUS Low-fare carrier Spirit Airlines is expanding its flights to and from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Spirit, the second-largest carrier at Metro after Northwest Airlines, will offer two nonstop flights a day to Denver International Airport starting this spring. It also will offer daily flights to Oakland, Los Angeles and New York's LaGuardia Airport, the airline said Thursday. The discount carrier also will offer seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, S.C. "Detroit is Spirit's hometown, and we continue to expand service and provide more affordable fares to favorite destinations," said Ned Homfeld, chairman and founder of Spirit Airlines, whose headquarters are in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. From wire reports 3 after achieving statehood, for all crimes except treason against the state. But certain federal crimes are punishable by death regardless of the state in which thev occur. Associated Press Twelve states, including Michigan and the District of Columbia do not have the death penalty for murder or lesser crimes. Michigan State University researchers say Michigan was the first government in the English-speaking world to virtually ehminate, capital punishment. In 1846, nine years after achieving statehood, Michigan abolished it for all crimes except treason against the state. There has been one prisoner executed here since then federal inmate named Anthony Chebatoris. Chebatoris, a 38-year-old' Hamtramck man, was hanged on. July 8, 1938, at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan after a jury convicted him of shooting and killing a man during a failed bank robbery. He was the first person executed, under the National Bank Robbery Act of 1934. Chebatoris, who had a long, criminal history, and 28-year-old, cohort Jack Gracey of Detroit tried to rob the Chemical State Savings Bank in Midland on Sept. 29, Their troubles started when they shot and wounded the bank's president and a cashier. Gracey was killed outside the bank by a deputized dentist armed with a hunting rifle. Henry Porter, a 50-year-old truck driver, was shot and killed by Chebatoris when Porter tried to prevent him from approaching a car' with a woman in it. A short time later, the Midland County sheriff arrested ChebatoriSj who was charged in federal court, with killing Porter. When Chebatoris went on triaf before U.S. District Judge Arthur Turtle in Bay City, U.S. District Attorney John Lehr urged jurors toy impose the death penalty. Defense lawyers James Brookec and Dell Thompson, both of Bay City, argued that capital punishment was a holdover from the Middle Ages. On Oct. 28, 1937, the jury of seven men and five women unanimously found Chebatoris guilty of killing Porter. They voted for the death penalty on the seventh ballot. Tuttle said "there won't be any hesitancy on my part in imposing the and I will always, know, as long as I live, that no) injustice has been done by the sentence." Associated Press file photo Death-penalty case: Rachel Timmerman and her 11-month-old daughter, Shannon VerHage, are shown in this undated family photo, from the Newaygo County Prosecutor's Office in White Cloud. Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a man charged with killing the young mother who had accused him of raping her. "She gave me a big hug and kiss, told me she loved me. My last words to her were, 'Yes, I love you, too, and away she went." Tim Timmerman victim's father To that end, the Gabrion U.S. Attorney's Office in Grand Rapids wants the death penalty for Marvin Charles Gabrion II, formerly ofAltona. Gabrion, now 48, has been charged with murder on federal property in the drowning of 19-year-old Rachel Timmerman, who had accused him of raping her in August 1996. She and her 11-month-old daughter, Shannon VerHage, disappeared June 3, 1997, two days before Timmerman was to testify against Gabrion, who was free on bond awaiting trial. Woman's death Federal prosecutors say the young woman, who lived with her father and her baby near Cedar Springs, was alive when she was gagged with tape, bound with handcuffs and chains anchored by cinder blocks and dropped into the mucky, shallow waters of Oxford Lake in west-central Michigan. Her body was found on July 5, 1997. There was no sign of her child. Gabrion is being prosecuted federally because the 20-acre lake is U.S. government-owned property and the U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that the killing happened on the lake. It lies entirely within the Manistee National Forest near Woodville in northeastern Newaygo County, U.S. Forest Service officials say. There was a time when Rachel's father, Tim Timmerman, didn't have much of an opinion about the death penalty. But that was before his daughter was slain and his granddaughter vanished. "This entire case has changed my opinion, and now I support it," he said. Tm so proud to be an American and I'm grateful that America's laws correspond with God's laws." Jury selection in Gabrion's trial in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids is set to begin Monday. Chief Judge Robert Holmes Bell will preside. Building a case Peter Henning, an associate professor of law at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, says in order for the U.S. Attorney's Office to get the conviction and sentence it wants, prosecutors will have to prove that the killing took place on federal property. "They're going to have to establish federal jurisdiction," said Henning, a former federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. "If they don't, the case is out. He could say, 'I killed but if they don't prove it was on federal land, he's then turned over to the state prosecutors." Uppermost on Tim Timmerman's mind at the trial will be any word of Shannon's fate. The 45-year-old electrician says he clearly remembers that June 3 day when he last saw his daughter and granddaughter. He was sitting outside their home as his daughter was leaving with the baby. "She gave me a big hug and kiss, told me she loved me," he recalled. "My last words to her were, Yes, I love you, too, and away she went" Cloud says she believes her son had 'nothing to do with Rachel Timmerman's death or Shannon's disappearance. "I do know that Marvin would never hurt a baby. He loves children, that's one thing," she said. "He used to accept my other boys' children for his take them fishing, go to the library and get books for them to read and get tapes for them to hear so they can learn better at school." But Tim Timmerman says the authorities arrested and charged the right person in the crime. Marvin Gabrion, now serving a five-year prison sentence for Social Security fraud, is believed to be the first person ever charged with a capital offense in the Western District of Michigan federal court system. A partial gag order has been issued in the case, so federal prosecutors, defense lawyers and representatives of the Michigan State Police and the Newaygo County Sheriff's Department all declined to be interviewed for this story. Linked to crime Though Gabrion has not been charged in the Shannon case, prosecutors say in the death-penalty notice filed with the court that they believe he's responsible for her death or disappearance. Police agencies have also linked him to the disappearances of three men who are presumed dead, though he has not been charged in those cases, either. Elaine Gabrion, 75, of White Investigation time line June 29, 1999: A federal grand jury look-ing into Timmerman's death indicts Gab- rion on a charge of murder on federal property. Feb. 11, 2002: Jury selection scheduled to begin in his murder trial in Grand Rapids. Feb. 23, 2002: Federal prosecutors to file notice in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids that they will seek the death pen- alty against Gabrion. Oct 14, 1997: Gabrion is arrested in New York state on a federal charge involving Social Security fraud. He is accused of impersonating a Grand Rapids transient who hasn't been seen for a year and intercepting his Social Security checks. The homeless man, Robert Allen, remains missing. July 1998: Gabrion is sentenced in the fraud case to five years in prison, the maximum prison term. Hage, who was 1 2 days shy of her first birthday. July 5, 1997: Timmerman's body is discovered in Oxford Lake, a small body of water in the Manistee National Forest in rural Newaygo County. Authorities say she was still alive when she was gagged with tape, bound with chains and cinder blocks and dropped into the water, where she drowned. No sign has ever been found of her baby girl. A time line of the investigation into the death of Rachel Timmerman, a 19-year-old Michigan resident whose killing has resulted in a rare state death-penalty case: June 3, 1997: Timmerman, who lives in the Cedar Springs area, disappears two days before she is to testify against Marvin Charles Gabrion II, then a 43-year-old resident ofAltona in Mecosta County, whom she has accused of raping her. Also vanishing is her infant child, Shannon Ver

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