Daily Briefs

Sentencing hearing delayed after photo of defendants in costume 

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (AP) — A sentencing hearing for two women charged in a Michigan animal cruelty case involving 30 emaciated horses has been postponed after the court was given a photo of them dressed up as a judge and prisoner, standing near a person in a horse costume.
Joan and Kathy Khoury were scheduled for sentencing Thursday in Dickinson County District Court in Iron Mountain, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The hearing was postponed to Nov. 12, WLUC-TV reported, and the county prosecutor described the photo as inappropriate.
“It shows in my view of it complete contempt for the matters which were brought before this court as well as for the court proceedings,” said Dickinson County Prosecutor Carl Downing.
The photo was taken the weekend before Halloween, the station reported.
The Associated Press left a message Friday seeking comment from their lawyer, Julie LaCost.
The women pleaded no contest last month to misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes. Including the emaciated horses, authorities said the case also involved more than two dozen neglected cats and dogs.
The animals were taken from two separate properties in June. The horses were brought to an animal rescue organization and another group found homes for the cats and dogs.
Carrie Cramer of Piper’s Rescue Ranch, which helps find homes for rescued animals, said the photo “makes a mockery of the Upper Peninsula’s court system.”

Pastor charged in beating and strangling of fiancee’s daughter

BROOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A central Michigan pastor accused of beating and strangling a neighbor to fulfill a sexual fantasy was engaged to the victim’s mother.
Donna Houghton, a longtime member of Christ Community Fellowship, near Mount Pleasant, says John D. White knew his victim, Rebekah Gay, and regularly babysat her 3-year-old son while she worked.
Houghton says White had planned to marry Gay’s mother. He was arraigned Thursday on first-degree murder charges.
White told investigators he repeatedly struck Gay’s head with a mallet then strangled her with a zip tie at her mobile home. He said he stripped her but does not remember if he carried out his fantasy of having sex with Gay’s dead body.
Houghton says White, an ex-convict, had been pastor of the 14-member church since 2009.

36th District Court to be closed Election Day

The 36th District Court will be closed to the public on Tuesday Nov. 6.  Only felony arraignment hearings will be held. The court will reopen on Wednesday Nov. 7.