Reactions to Kwame Kilpatrick's commutation, St. Clair Shores minister attacked, a cold Wednesday wind chill

After seven years in prison and almost a years-worth of rumors about a potential early release, Detroit's ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been commuted by President Donald Trump.

The former Detroit leader still had 16 years left of his prison sentence he was serving for corruption and racketeering charges related to a text message scandal that was uncovered while he was still in office.

Kilpatrick's commutation couldn't have come any later, with his release being announced the very last day the president was in office when Trump announced pardons and commutations for more than 140 people.

The decision to release Kilpatrick early has divided the justice community and Detroit, with both parties advocating for differing paths for him. 

Detroit Rep. Karen Whitsett, who had met with the president last year after she contracted COVID-19, was pleased to see the decision, claiming his sentence was too long for the crimes committed. Kilpatrick's sentence was among the severest penalties handed down for related crimes against a public official ever.

"The reason this is one of my main objectives is a 28-year sentence is just simply too long and I work very hard for anyone who has a sentence that's just far-reaching. And this is one of those scenarios," Whitsett said. "To see people incarcerated, especially Black men is extremely important to me. It's something that not only I am working on now, but plan on working on in the future to see those sentences overturned, so this was very important to me."

But U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider was less than pleased, referring to Kilpatrick as a "notorious and unrepentant criminal."

"My position on the disgraced former Mayor of Detroit has not changed. Kwame Kilpatrick has earned every day he served in federal prison for the horrible crimes he committed against the People of Detroit," said Schneider in a statement. "He remains convicted of 24 felonies. Kilpatrick has served only one-quarter of the sentence that was very appropriately imposed. Thankfully, under Michigan law, he cannot hold state or local public office for 20 years after his conviction."

For family of Kilpatrick, they're just happy to see him released. Daniel Ferguson, Kilpatrick's brother in law said the family didn't have much to say at the time, but were relieved to see the news - especially with other family still serving jail time.

In a note from the White House, Trump said Kilpatrick had the support of prominent members of the Detroit community and several public officials.

"President Trump commuted the sentence of the former Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick. This commutation is strongly supported by prominent members of the Detroit community, Alveda King, Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk, Pastor Paula White, Peter Karmanos, Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo of the Michigan House of Representatives, Representative Karen Whitsett of the Michigan House of Representatives, and more than 30 faith leaders."

It added:

"During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates."

Currently held in a federal prison in Louisiana, when he's released Kilpatrick will have other issues to face - mainly the mountain of debt he accrued as a result of his activities while in office.

St. Clair Shores Minister ambushed after offering help

Derek Hill was out for a midnight snack when he saw someone with car trouble on the side of Gratiot, late one night.

Instead, it was a trap and the 51-year-old minister was beaten and carjacked by two men and a woman. They forced Hill from the van, threw him on the ground, and kicked him in the face.

"The side of his ears here you can see is all chewed up," said James Galen, Jr, Hill's attorney. "His face has multiple bruises and contusions, His eyes are black. Bloody nose. His lip is torn up terribly bad so that they couldn't put stitches in it."

If the injury wasn't enough, further insult came when the suspects drove off with his Last Supper Mobile Ministry, which was loaded with food to feed the homeless.

Hill said the van meant a lot to him. He had gone through tough times before six years ago when he found God and became a minister. That way, he could help others in tough times.

"Please return the van, that is all I ask," Hill said. "I'm asking homeless people if they need a blanket. I'm giving myself to them. I'm bringing them off the street, I am finding them shelter, I am bringing them groceries."

More armed protests expected in Lansing during Biden's inauguration

The FBI is expecting armed protests at state capitols across the country, according to tweets from ABC News correspondent Aaron Katersky.

On Monday, Katersky tweeted that ABC had received a bulletin from the FBI stating that the protests are being planned and are expected to begin January 16 and continue through at least January 20 - Inauguration Day.

He also tweeted "The FBI has 'received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January. They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur,' according to a bulletin obtained by @ABC"

The news comes less than a week after violence erupted in the nation's capital on Wednesday as Congress was set to count the Electoral College votes, confirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump.

Online gambling will start in Michigan Friday

Sports betting and gambling was given the green light Tuesday and will likely open for business on Friday, as soon as the Michigan Gaming Control Board approves the license of several organizations to open within the state.

A bill making online sports betting legal was signed in December of 2019, making it the fifth state to allow online gambling and the 20th to legalize sports betting.

"Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos," said Richard S. Kalm, of the MGCB. "Online gaming and sports betting will provide the casinos with new ways to engage with customers while the state and local communities will benefit from taxes and payments on wagering revenue."

The new industry is expected to raise millions each year in state revenue. Michigan expects to tax sport wager receipts at an 8.4% rate. The tax on Internet poker and other online gaming will range between 20% and 28%.

Whitmer unveils $5.6 billion recovery plan

On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled the COVID recovery plan, which targets education, small business, and public health in hopes of bolstering them amid the economic downturn in the state.

With the majority of funds coming from the federal government, as well as unexpected revenue from 2020, the money will be channeled through grants for small businesses, helping schools return to in-person learning, and increasing vaccination rates around the state.

About $90 million will go to boosting vaccine distribution around the state. Another $575 million will expand testing, contact tracing, and lab capacity. About $225 million will be plugged into small business grants through three different programs under the economic development corporation. The bulk of the funds, about $2.3 billion will be sent to schools.

The spending bills still need to be approved by the legislature, which appears ready to deny sending the money through over COVID-19 restrictions.

Driver, 12-year-old daughter killed in crash on Van Dyke

A father and daughter were killed in a fiery crash at an intersection on Van Dyke and 21 Mile, after colliding with a commercial truck.

The driver, a 45-year-old man from Macomb Township and his 12-year-old daughter both died from their injuries. A second 12-year-old child was hospitalized. The driver of the commercial truck was not injured, according to Shelby Township police.

According to investigators, the Dodge Ram truck was northbound Van Dyke, turning left onto 21 Mile. The commercial truck was southbound Van Dyke traveling through the intersection at 21 Mile.

Detectives interviewed the commercial truck driver at the scene and he was released pending the outcome of the investigation which is ongoing. 

Toledo police officer shot dead in standoff

Brandon Stalker, a 24-year-old officer from Toledo, was killed Monday after a confrontation with a 27-year-old suspect who began firing at him.

According to police, multiple officers returned fire and shot the man. Both the suspect and officer were pronounced dead at a hospital.

"The entire Toledo Police family is in shock. Another hero has paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting the residents of Toledo," said Police Chief George Kral.

Stalker leaves behind a fiancée and a child. He had joined the police department in July 2018.

Other Stories

1. Trinity Raine, long-believed to be the victim of child abuse before she died, was honored at a vigil Tuesday. Family and friends gathered to say goodbye to the 3-year-old girl. 
2. West Bloomfield residents are lobbying to change the township's ordinances to better regulate marijuana grow houses.
3.  The theft of a new trailer belonging to a Milford non-profit has left a "deep wound" in Bear Hall, who runs Mi Abilities. The group helps give people with special needs places to work and make money.
4.  Detroit received two-thirds of the expected COVID-19 vaccines it was supposed to receive on Tuesday. While a problem for the city, it isn't isolated to Detroit. 

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Yes, what you are seeing on the ground is a fresh blanket of overnight snow. It's likely to remain there as temperatures will remain below freezing Wednesday. Expect some warmer conditions tomorrow.

It wasn't just Kilpatrick that was granted reprieve. More than 100 people were pardoned or commuted by Trump

President Donald Trump pardoned 143 more people Tuesday, his final full day in office. The latest round of pardons includes rapper Lil Wayne and former Trump associate Steve Bannon.

Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, pleaded guilty in 2020 in federal district court to illegally possessing a loaded, gold-plated .45-caliber handgun while traveling to Florida on a private jet in 2019. The contents of Carter’s bag also included small amounts of cocaine, ecstasy and oxycodone, according to the U.S. attorney.

Bannon, a former adviser to Trump and an architect of his 2016 campaign, was arrested on fraud charges over the summer. Bannon pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan after being indicted with three others who were accused of defrauding donors to the online fundraising campaign known as "We Build the Wall" that raised $25 million.

Bannon, 66, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Bannon was released on a $5 million bond.