Daily Briefs

State Supreme Court backs judge, says probation OK in fire


DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has reinstated a sentence of probation for a Detroit-area landlord who pleaded no contest to setting a fire at his apartment building in 2007.

Giovanni Naccarato’s case began in 2011 but has bounced between Wayne County Circuit Court and higher courts after Judge Margie Braxton declined to send him to prison. He had faced four years or more.

The Supreme Court had the final say Friday, overturning an opinion from the Michigan appeals court and reinstating three years of probation.

Braxton had noted that no one was hurt in the fire. She also said that Naccarato had no prior convictions, appeared remorseful and had a good job at Ford Motor Co. He suffered burns in the fire and was in a hospital for six weeks.

The Supreme Court said the judge adequately explained why probation fit instead of prison. Justices Stephen Markman and Elizabeth Clement disagreed.

“This was a serious crime and, although defendant attempted to ensure that the building was empty before he started the fire, he nevertheless placed a number of people in danger of harm and a firefighter was, in fact, injured,” they said.

“He also lied to the firefighters arriving on the scene and sought to blame the fire on a ‘black man’ he had supposedly seen fleeing from the building,” Markman and Clement said.

 

State adds texting option to sexual  assault hotline


YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Michigan has added a texting option to a hotline that allows victims of sexual assault to seek help and support from trained professionals.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this past week that victims can text 1-866-238-1454. It is an expansion to the 855-VOICES4 hotline, which offers free, confidential and anonymous support 24 hours a day, seven says a week to victims and family and friends.

Whitmer said she wants every survivor to “know that your voice and your story matter, and when you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen.” She made the announcement at Eastern Michigan University during the fifth annual summit to combat sexual assaults on college campuses.

 

Michigan power customers with own solar panels on the rise
 

LANSING (AP) — The number of people installing solar panels or other renewable energy to generate their own electricity continues to rise in Michigan.

The Public Service Commission reported that the installations increased by nearly 57% in 2018. Participation in the state’s net metering program has grown every year since 2006.

There were more than 5,200 customers who participated, up from more than 3,200 in 2017. The projects still represent a tiny portion of Michigan’s total electricity sales.

Solar power is by far the most popular type of what is called distributed energy generation. About 94% of participants installed solar projects.

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