Michigan teens accused in '17 fatal rock incident win appeal
Flint — A judge exceeded his authority when he barred a Flint-area prosecutor from making a beneficial deal with four teens charged in a fatal rock-throwing incident above Interstate 75, the Michigan Court of Appeals said.
“The prosecutor’s interest was not in a particular sentence but, rather, in seeking rehabilitation services available only in the juvenile system,” Judge Jane Beckering said. "Each defense counsel agreed with that goal.
“There is no hint in the record of improper motive on the part of the prosecuting attorney,” Beckering said in a concurring opinion that accompanied the 2-1 decision Thursday.
Kenneth White, 32, was killed in 2017 when he was struck by a 6-pound rock thrown from an I-75 overpass. He was a passenger in a van.
Five teens were charged as adults at the time. But as the case progressed, Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton sought to have manslaughter charges dropped against four and transfer them to Juvenile Court.
The move was blocked by Judge Joseph Farah.
“The sad part about all this is they’ve been sitting in the jail all this time and that is never what I intended to happen,” Leyton told MLive.com. “I wanted them in a juvenile facility where they could be going to school, learning some discipline. Because of the judge’s decision, these kids had to sit in jail.”
Leyton said the case will now go to Juvenile Court, though he’s uncertain what charges will be pursued. Three of the four young men now are 19 years old; one is 18.
The teen accused of actually throwing the rock, Kyle Anger, now 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2019 and was sentenced to 39 months in prison. He was released in January with credit for time served in jail before his plea.