FLINT, Mich. (WJBK) - The Director of Michigan's Health and Human Services testified Thursday that he knew about a spike in Legionnaire's Disease in Genessee County a full year before the public did.
Nick Lyon is the highest ranking state official charged in connection with the Flint Water Crisis. On Thursday, the court wanted to know what he knew and when he knew it. The answer - as provided by Tim Becker, one of his employees - was what we already knew about Legionnaire's: the department knew about it in January 2015.
Lyon is on trial of involuntary manslaughter for the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore. It's the most serious charges filed in relation to the Flint Water Crisis.
Becker says after first learning about the legionnaires cases, he sent an email to fellow employees, asking if anyone was looking into it. It was almost a year until it was brought up again.
"I don't recall hearing it come back up until right around the New Year ," Becker testified.
Prosecutors also entering many emails into evidence, including one that Lyon sent to other employees after a study sounded the alarm about problems in Flint's water.
"Item 1 is 'i need an analysis of the Virginia Tech data and their conclusions. I would like to make a strong statement with demonstration of proof that the lead levels seen are not out of the ordinary and are attributable to seasonal fluctuations," he said, reading from an email.
A total of 12 people died and dozens more became sick with Legionnaire's in 2014 and 2015. Despite the spike lining up with Flint switching water supplies, there is still some debate in the scientific community, about whether the two are directly related.
It could be a big hurdle for prosecutors to climb as the case moves along.
Lyon is also facing a charge of failing to alert the public in a timely manner. He could get 20 years in prison if convicted.