State Roundup

Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo County moves ahead with jail expansion

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) -- Kalamazoo County is moving forward with plans to expand the size of its jail with a more than $20 million project.

WWMT-TV reports Kalamazoo County commissioners voted Tuesday night to move forward with the expansion that's decades in the making.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the project would add about 250 beds to the 327-bed facility. The aim in part is to ease overcrowding concerns.

Traverse City

Deputy's son charged with murder to go on trial

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- A teen accused of killing a Traverse City girl is scheduled to stand trial this week in Grand Traverse County Circuit Court.

Jury selection began Wednesday in the case of 17-year-old Robert Jensen Schwander.

He is charged with murder in the death of 16-year-old Carly Lewis, who disappeared June 2. Her body was found June 14 buried in a sand pile at the city's public works complex.

Schwander is the son of a county sheriff's deputy. Police say he led them to Lewis' body.

During a preliminary hearing, a pathologist testified that Lewis was stabbed 10 times and that a 4?-inch-deep wound in the chest killed her.

An attorney for Schwander described the death as an accident.

Lansing

Michigan Democrats oppose auto insurance changes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Democrats in the Michigan House said Tuesday they would oppose proposed changes to Michigan's auto insurance laws, including a measure seeking to end the state's unique requirements for covering people injured in accidents.

Michigan now is the only state that mandates uncapped medical benefit coverage for people seriously injured in auto accidents. The new proposals that could be considered soon in the GOP-led House would instead let motorists choose among $500,000, $1 million or $5 million in personal injury protection coverage.

Some supporters of the change say that could lead to less expensive insurance than motorists otherwise would have to buy. But opponents of the change say there's no guarantee there would be any rate reductions.

Democrats say that motorists opting for less coverage could wind up underinsured and in financial trouble if they're seriously injured.

Rep. Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford, said the changes "would pad the bottom lines of insurance companies" at the expense of consumer protection.

Many Republicans support the proposed changes, saying it would offer motorists choices and possibly lower premiums. They say the current law has driven up insurance costs and may contribute to the number of people driving without insurance.

Current law mandates that regular auto insurance policies handle coverage up to $500,000 in medical costs, after which all insured motorists are assessed a fee to cover more severe cases reimbursed through the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association. The association, created in the late 1970s, now covers medical bills for roughly 12,800 accident victims across the state.

Those already in the MCCA system would continue to be eligible for their coverage, but there would be no such guaranteed coverage for those injured in future accidents.

Opponents of the proposed legislative changes say some limits would be placed on in-home assistance for accident victims already in the MCCA system.

Jackson

Police await full autopsy in woman's beheading

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) -- Police are awaiting a complete autopsy report in the death of a 59-year-old Jackson woman whose beheaded body was found over the weekend in her apartment.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports Tuesday that 46-year-old Leo Kwaske is charged with felony murder, mutilation of a dead body and first-degree home invasion in Shirley Meeks' slaying.

Meeks' body was found Saturday, about 70 miles west of Detroit. Her head also was found.

Police say Kwaske was Meeks' neighbor.

He was arrested Saturday night in a parking lot at their apartment complex. He is scheduled to be arraigned at a later date.

Police do not believe Weeks and Kwaske shared any relationship outside of being neighbors.

Published: Thu, Oct 20, 2011

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