State Roundup

Frenchtown Twp.

Nuke plant reactor operator fails drug test

FRENCHTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- A reactor operator at the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant failed a random drug test late last week and has been barred from the facility.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the operator's access to the plant in southeastern Michigan's Monroe County was suspended for at least 14 days, in accordance with federal rules for nuclear plants.

During that period, plant operator DTE Energy must decide whether to fire the operator or refer him to a program for substance abuse treatment and evaluation, NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng told The Monroe Evening News.

"Our security inspectors have been following the situation to verify that the plant is taking the appropriate actions," she said. "They will continue to follow the situation until it is resolved."

Federal rules require nuclear plant workers to be tested randomly on the job to determine if they've been using alcohol or drugs.

The employee's access to the plant was immediately revoked, according to DTE spokesman Guy Cerullo, who said he couldn't provide additional details in order "to maintain employee confidentiality."

Mitlyng said failing a drug test is unusual in the industry.

The last time such an incident happened at Fermi was in 2005 when a senior reactor operator flunked a test for alcohol. He later was fired.

The 1,200-megawatt Fermi 2 plant, built over 20 years at a cost of $5 billion, began operating in 1988.


Bay City man, 50, found guilty of 1978 slaying

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- A 50-year-old car salesman from Bay City has been found guilty in the execution-style slaying of a Detroit-area man more than 30 years ago.

An Oakland County jury found Wilbern Cooper guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder in the 1978 killing of Farmington Hills resident David McKillop.

Cooper told McKillop's family and friends he didn't kill or even know the victim.

The Detroit Free Press reports jurors deliberated less than three hours.

Prosecutors say Cooper shoot McKillop in the head seven times. They say McKillop's roommate was the intended target.

The Detroit News reports Cooper was 17 at the time of the killing. He'll be sentenced to life in prison without parole on May 25.

Defense attorney Jerome Sabbota tells The Oakland Press Cooper will pursue an appeal.

Port Huron

Judge ordered to sentence illegal immigrant again

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) -- An eight-year prison sentence for an illegal immigrant has been overturned again after a federal judge ordered the punishment without allowing the man to appear in court and speak.

It's the second time that Judge Lawrence Zatkoff in Port Huron has been reversed in the case of Julio Garcia-Robles, a convicted felon who was in the U.S. illegally. The appeals court said Tuesday that he had a right to be present and have his sentence announced in court.

Zatkoff sentenced him to prison with a written order. It was the same punishment given in 2007, but the stiff sentence was thrown out because the Mexican citizen didn't get a meaningful opportunity to object.

Garcia-Robles wants a different judge, but the appeals court says he's stuck with Zatkoff.


Trial ordered for drug prisoner in 2000 slaying

CORUNNA, Mich. (AP) -- A judge on Tuesday ordered a man serving time in prison on a drug conviction to stand trial in the death of a 20-year-old Shiawassee County woman 11 years ago.

The judge determined there was probable cause to try Laurencio Rodriguez, 33, on an open count of murder in the 2000 killing of Rachel Scott of Venice Township.

The ruling came after Jeremy Seger testified that Scott was visiting his apartment when Rodriguez came to buy marijuana. The three of them got high and Seger left the room, returning to find Rodriguez on top of the motionless victim, Seger said.

"I asked what was going on, basically freaked out," Seger said. He said he left for the kitchen because, "I was afraid I could be next."

Seger said he was able to keep an eye on Rodriguez.

"He wraps her up in a blanket and puts her on his shoulder," Seger said. He said Rodriguez then put Scott's body in the trunk of his car.

Rodriguez's lawyer says he question's Seger's truthfulness.

Rodriguez is serving two years, 10 months to seven years for a 2009 drug conviction in Shiawassee County, state prison records show. He was being held at the Saginaw Correctional Facility.

Bay City

Rescued bald eagle to be treated at Michigan State

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) -- An injured bald eagle rescued on the Saginaw River is to be treated at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Wildlife Recovery Association raptor biologist Joe Rogers tells The Bay City Times the eagle was transported from the Animal Medical Center in Midland on Tuesday.

The bird was found Monday along the river bank by Bay City sailors who noticed it struggling in the water. It later was determined that the eagle suffered a popped joint in one of its wings.

Rogers says veterinarians at Michigan State will try to repair the bald eagle's injured joint and predicts a "50-50" chance of a successful operation.

Published: Thu, May 12, 2011