Lawyers: Don’t tie Wells’ case to manslaughter cases

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Flint — Attorneys for Michigan's chief medical officer charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer in the Flint Water crisis said Tuesday they are opposed to having Dr. Eden Wells’ case consolidated with other defendants facing involuntary manslaughter and other charges.

Jerold Lax and Steven Tramontin, who represent Wells, said in 67th District Court here they don’t want to lump all the cases together and plan to make that point at a probable cause hearing set before Judge William Crawford II.

Five individuals, including Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges, which are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The most severe charge against Wells is obstruction of justice, which is punishable by up to two years in prison.

“It would be our view that the charges are sufficiently different regarding Dr. Wells that both in fairness to her and for efficiency, it would be appropriate for her matter to be handled separately from the others,” Lax said following the brief hearing.

Representatives for Wells, Lyon and other defendants have vowed to fight the charges levied by State Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Lyon's lawyers are due in court Thursday afternoon before a different judge.

They were the two highest ranking members of Gov. Rick Snyder's administration to be charged in the ongoing criminal probe of Flint's lead-contaminated water crisis.

Earley, former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith, state Water Supervisor Stephen Busch and former Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft already have been charged with other crimes but also had involuntary manslaughter added against them by Schuette.


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