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Murder trial under way

Santa letters

Dear Kids: Please don’t forget Santa. He wants to hear from you in time for the holidays. He’s expecting so many letters that he has asked the Milford Times to help. Please send your letter and a photo of yourself to the editor at pallmen@hometownlife.com. The Times will publish letters and photos before the holidays. That means we need to receive your letter by noon Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Highland man accused of killing his mother in May 2011 By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

and throwing up, his parents, Jesse and Darcy Stevenson, took him to the emergency room. The ER doctor was surprised when a cat scan revealed a fluid buildup around Michael’s brain. It was a bit extreme, but the doctor had a hunch that an extensive MRI was needed. “I believe that hunch was

“An angry, angry killing.” That’s how Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski described to jurors the violent death of Highland resident Ruth Pyne in his opening statement Nov. 16 in the Oakland County Circuit courtroom of Judge Leo Bowman. Jeffrey Pyne, Ruth Pyne’s 22year-old son, is charged with firstdegree, premeditated HAL GOULD murder for STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER the May 27, Jeffrey Pyne, 22, pic2011, killtured here in Oakland ing. County Circuit Court, Ruth Pyne, could face life in prison who had a if convicted for the 2011 history of murder of his mother, bipolar disRuth Pyne. order and episodes of paranoid behavior and violence during times when she refused to take medication to keep her illness under control, died from repeated blows to the head and multiple stabbings. Her lifeless body was found shortly after 2:30 p.m. by her then-10-yearold daughter and husband Bernie, in a pool of blood in the garage of the Pyne home on Burwood Court. Skrzynski said Jeffrey Pyne was driven to kill after enduring “years and years of living with his mentally ill mother.“ A jury of 11 women and four men — which includes three alternates — will decide the fate of Jeffrey Pyne, a former University of Michigan student and high school valedictorian who friends and family say is quiet and good-natured. Defense attorney Jim Champion maintains the case against Pyne is

Please see THANKS, A2

Please see TRIAL, A13

Fill a truck

Help raise provisions for Community Sharing during the fifth annual Fill a Truck, Feed a Family food drive. The Milford High School Marching Band, Sellers Buick GMC, Carls Family YMCA and Rotary Club of Milford are pushing to put food on the shelves for the local food pantry. Non-perishable food for people or pets can be dropped off at the parade this Saturday. Volunteers will be collecting donations by The Burger Joint. They will be back downtown Dec. 29 for the downtown open house on Main Street. Donations can also be dropped off at the YMCA until everything is delivered Dec. 8. Groups can arrange donation pickups by contacting Sharon Peterson at (248) 505-7954.

Ring bells

The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit is seeking volunteer bell ringers for the 2012 Red Kettle Campaign. Those interested in volunteering can log on to www.ringbell.org, pick a preferred location and choose a shift date and time (through Dec. 24). Volunteers can sign up for one or more shifts, and will receive a confirmation email prior to the selected date.

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Linda Dagenhardt’s commitment to Oak Grove Cemetery, Milford’s history and just about everything else in the community drew the attention of others. She was selected Huron Valley’s Citizen of the Year.

Milford woman focuses on history, community Linda Dagenhardt is Citizen of the Year By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Linda Dagenhardt is a selfdescribed “woman without a plan.” Yet most days, she manages to get plenty done anyway. “If someone calls on me and needs something done, I can always squeeze in an hour or

two here or there,” she said, shrugging. “I just go day to day. I see something that needs to be taken care of, and I take care of it — that’s just how I live my life.” No big deal, she says. Quite the contrary, others say. So much so, in fact, that Dagenhardt has been named

the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce 2012 Citizen of the Year. She was notified recently by phone of the honor — one she never expected. “I just said, ‘Wow.’ I was really surprised, and it’s really nice. Then I got to wondering who did all that creative writPlease see CITIZEN, A10

Family gives thanks after brain tumor removed Michael Stevenson, 11, of Highland is thankful that he was given a second chance at life after a brain tumor was successfully removed.

By Kate Phillips Correspondent

KATE PHILLIPS

While Thanksgiving is typically a time of reflection and gratitude, one Highland family is feeling especially thankful this November. It started back in August. Eleven-year-old Michael Stevenson woke up with a splitting headache. When he started bumping into things

Annual Christmas parade this Saturday Gather up the family and get in the holiday spirit as the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce presents the annual Christmas Parade this Saturday in downtown Milford. Good little boys and girls can watch as the parade makes its way down Main Street starting at 10 a.m. The parade begins at the intersection of Main Street and Commerce and marches

south to Huron Street. A longtime Huron Valley tradition, the parade features local businesses and community organizations, marching bands, floats and more. So whether you’re looking to tap your feet as trumpets, saxophones and tubas play Jingle Bells or get in the swing as one of Milford’s dance companies taps its way through town, the parade should have a little

fun for everyone. And make sure you don’t try to sneak out early, because someone is keeping a list. And he’ll be in the Huron Valley this weekend, rounding out the floats in the parade. This year’s parade is sponsored by Americus Coney & Grill and Tavern 131. LaFontaine Automotive Group is donating the float for Santa Claus and cars for the

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INDEX Business......................B7 Crossword Puzzle .......B10 Education ...................A5 Homes........................B10

Jobs............................B11 Obituaries...................A10 Opinion ......................A12 Public Safety...............A6

Services ......................B10 Sports.........................B1 Wheels .......................B12

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chamber’s community award winners to ride. Organizers of the Milford-Highland Relay for Life are looking at Saturday’s parade as a kickoff to next year’s event, slated for May 4-5. Following the parade, members of that float will be at Starbucks to answer questions and register Relay teams. For more information on the parade, visit www.huronvcc.com.

• News/Advertising: (248) 437-2011 • Classified Advertising: (800) 579-7355 • Delivery: (866) 887-2737 • Mail: 101 N. Lafayette St. South Lyon, MI 48178

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LOCAL NEWS

TRIAL

Continued from page A1

Co-worker Nick Bretti, the first witness called by the prosecution, testified that he tried to replicate the injuries on himself, but was unable to. Spicer Orchards farmer Will Cartwright told the court that he believed the injuries were more consistent with rope burns or swinging a bat repeatedly without wearing batting gloves, but he didn’t give it much thought at the time. Cartwright also testified Pyne “never said anything bad about (his mother), just that she was ill and wouldn’t take her medication.” Bretti and Cartwright both said Pyne appeared upset when he showed up at work the day of the killing, about an hour before his father called him home after Ruth’s body was discovered. “I hoped Jeff didn’t do something terrible at home,” Cartwright said. “We all had that (thought).”

‘Looked like a show’

Bretti and Cartwright also testified they had seen Pyne cry at times — over a breakup with his girlfriend and problems at work — while paramedic Amy McIntosh, who answered the emergency call at the Pyne home, said he fell to the ground and made crying sounds, but shed no tears, after hearing of his moth-

er’s death. “I noticed there was no tears. It didn’t appear he was actually crying,” McIntosh said. “I just thought it was an odd reaction.” On cross-examination, Champion countered McIntosh’s assessment. “That’s not to say there weren’t any (tears),” he said. “You just didn’t see any.” Replied McIntosh, “I didn’t see any.” Paramedic Gary Bonham, who took the stand Nov. 19, said Pyne’s reaction at the scene “kind of looked like a show to me. Like an act. It didn’t look genuine.” Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Chatterson, who also testified Nov. 19, said Pyne showed some emotion when he arrived home and walked toward the ambulance where his father and sister were waiting, but he questioned the authenticity of his reaction later at the Highland substation, where the family had been taken to speak with detectives. Chatter-

Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski is building a case that depicts Jeffrey Pyne as man driven to murder by his mother’s mental illness.

son said at one point Pyne was observed alone in the room when he looked into the room’s two-way glass and said, “Why is this happening?” in a voice that had “no emotion.” “To me, it sounded like it was said for effect,” Chatterson said. Chatterson also said he heard Pyne tell his father that he had been at home at 1:30 p.m. and that his mother had been fine then.

Back Monday

So far, jurors have also heard testimony from Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Saile — the first deputy on the scene — and the frantic 9-

1-1 call from Bernie Pyne. Also taking the stand was neighbor David Gilbert, who recounted rushing to Bernie Pyne’s aid when he heard Bernie’s screams as he found Ruth’s body, and then looking inside the garage when Bernie Pyne asked him to. Gilbert also testified that he contacted the Oakland County Sheriff’s office days later to report that his wife had seen a stranger in the Pyne’s back yard about a week before the killing. Jose Campos, Bernie Pyne’s work supervisor at the General Motors Proving Ground, also testified that Bernie spoke of his wife’s mental illness on occasion and the issues that would arise when she wasn’t taking her medication. “(Bernie) said she thought God was going to help her,” Campos said. Campos added that Bernie Pyne “fought awful hard to keep his family together,” but eventually began to realize it was a fight he likely wouldn’t win. As graphic crime scene photos were introduced in court, some Pyne family members cried silently, while others diverted their gaze. Jeffrey Pyne did not look at the gruesome images as they were displayed. Outside the courtroom, Bernie Pyne — who supports his son’s claim of innocence — said he was “taking it one day at a time.” The trial resumes Monday morning.

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First witnesses

PHOTOS BY HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman instructs a witness during testimony during the murder trial of Jeffrey Pyne of Highland, charged with killing his mother.

AT8790167

circumstantial, the arrest was a “rush to judgment” and that “no one knows who killed Ruth Pyne.” As he builds his case, Skrzynski is challenging Pyne’s explanation that his blister-like hand injuries noted on the day of the murder resulted from tossing a wooden pallet while on the job at Spicer Orchards.

Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, November 22, 2012

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Open house

The holiday season continues when Santa Claus comes to downtown Milford tonight during the Christmas Open House. Enjoy the winter wonderland with strolling entertainment, special promotions at a variety of shops and restaurants, horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday caroling and, of course, a visit with Santa. The evening runs 5:45-9 p.m.

Santa letters

Dear Kids: Please don’t forget Santa. He wants to hear from you in time for the holidays. He’s expecting so many letters that he has asked the Milford Times to help. Please send your letter and a photo of yourself to the editor at pallmen@hometownlife. com. The Times will publish letters and photos before the holidays. That means we need to receive your letter by noon, Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Auditions

Detroit CBS affiliate WWJ-TV (Channel 62) is hosting an open casting call for teams of two people (21 years old and older) to compete on The Amazing Race. The event is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. Friday at Walsh College, 3838 Livernois, in Troy. Each team needs to bring signed video release forms and valid photo IDs. Members should be ready to explain why they should be considered for the series and its $1 million grand prize. For more, contact Melissa Rowe at (248) 355-7045 or go to www.cbsdetroit.com .

PRICE: $1 • THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2012 • hometownlife.com

Township expresses interest in Highland Middle School School board advances sale deadline to next week, seeks proposals to raze sites By Philip Allmen Staff Writer

School officials set a Tuesday deadline for proposals to raze Highland Middle and Baker Elementary schools. Unless the local governments are willing to purchase the vacant buildings by then, the Huron Valley Schools board will level the facilities and sell the property to the highest bidder.

Originally, Highland and Milford village officials had until the end of March to decide whether or not they wanted to buy the sites. That time line was advanced in response to proposed legislation that, if passed, would require school districts to maintain those empty buildings and add them to a statewide registry, among other things. If another educational entity, like a charter school, wanted to buy

or lease the site, the local school district would be compelled to do so. “We have been going down this path before,” school board President Sean Carlson said. “With the legislation, there’s a sense of urgency. This is an infringement of local control from Lansing.”

New school district

The legislation would formally establish the Education Achieve-

Please see SCHOOLS, A13

Road committee meets tonight, public invited

Look who came to town

Members will recommend repairs, maintenance for village streets By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

head before falling to the floor of the garage where the killing took place. “It appears she was probably knocked to the ground, then beaten and stabbed,” he said. Jeffrey Pyne, 22, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the May 27, 2011, death of his mother, Ruth Pyne. Ruth Pyne’s young daughter and husband found her body lying in a pool of blood in the garage of the family home on Burwood Court in Highland the day of the killing.

A capital improvements committee charged with making recommendations for Village of Milford road repairs will hold its first meeting tonight at the Milford police station’s training room. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. Village residents Ron Fowkes, Perry Culham, Larry Betzler and Nancy Weeks have been named to serve with Village Council President Terri Rusas George and council members Jim Kovach and Mike Glagola on the committee. Fowkes is a member of the Road Commission for Oakland County. Culham spent 43 years as a Milford firefighter including 10 years as assistant fire chief and 18 months as interim fire chief. Betzler and Weeks served on the village’s Better Road Committee last summer to get the word out about the 20-year road maintenance millage proposal, which was approved by voters in August. The new tax is a 3.5-mill levy for 10 years, followed by a 1-mill tax for another 10 years. Participating with the committee is Village Manager Brent Morgan, Department of Public Services Director Bob Calley and OHM engineer Matt Parks. According to Village Clerk Debby Frazer, the committee is expected to meet a couple times a month for the first few months until a plan is in place for the initial round of road improvements, and then monthly meetings will likely follow. Road improvements are expected to begin mid-year 2013.

Please see TRIAL, A14

Please see COMMITTEE, A14

Fill a truck

Help raise provisions for Community Sharing during the fifth annual Fill a Truck, Feed a Family food drive. The Milford High School Marching Band, Sellers Buick GMC, Carls Family YMCA and Rotary Club of Milford are pushing to put food on the shelves for the local food pantry. Non-perishable food for people or pets can be dropped off downtown tonight during the open house on Main Street. Donations can also be dropped off at the YMCA until everything is delivered Dec. 8. Groups can arrange donation pickups by contacting Sharon Peterson at (248) 505-7954.

ment Authority. The EAA is a state reform school district for schools that are in the bottom 5 percent academically in Michigan that opened this school year with 15 Detroit schools, with plans to expand statewide for the 2013-14 school year. The district is using a unique approach to learning, eliminating letter grades and grade levels in favor

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Santa waves to all the visitors in downtown Milford Saturday morning during the annual Christmas Parade. He will be back in town tonight for the Christmas Open House, and if you want to let him know what you’d like under the tree on Christmas morning, stop by the Village Center Mall.

Defensive wounds, blood splatter evidence described to jurors By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

As the Jeffrey Pyne murder trial continues in Oakland County Circuit Court, forensic specialist William Foreman told jurors earlier this week that bruises found on homicide victim Ruth Pyne’s hands indicate she tried to defend herself against her attacker before repeated blows to the head and multiple stab wounds led to her death. Foreman, a 27-year veteran with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, also testified that blood spatters surrounding

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Accused murderer Jeffrey Pyne listens to testimony Monday in Oakland County Circuit Court. The trial is in its second week.

Ruth Pyne’s body show she was likely struck at least once in the

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INDEX Business......................A6 Crossword Puzzle .......B8 Education ...................A4 Homes........................B8

Jobs............................B9 Obituaries...................A10 Opinion ......................A14 Public Safety...............A10

Services ......................B8 Sports.........................B1 Wheels .......................B10

• News/Advertising: (248) 437-2011 • Classified Advertising: (800) 579-7355 • Delivery: (866) 887-2737 • Mail: 101 N. Lafayette St. South Lyon, MI 48178

© Hometown Weekly Newspapers

Volume 141 Number 51

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Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, November 29, 2012

TRIAL

Continued from page A1

Foreman told jurors that evidence of Ruth Pyne’s blood was found on a tub handle and drain trap in the laundry room, based on preliminary swab tests. However, when questioned by defense attorney James Champion, Foreman said “false positives” are known to occur in some testing. He also said that if the results were accurate, he couldn’t determine how long the blood had been there. Foreman testified that he used tools from the Pyne garage in his attempt to collect parts of the laundry tub as evidence, which Champion said could have “contaminated the scene.” Damp towels from the laundry room and upstairs bathroom were among the items confiscated as evidence by investigators. Leucocrystal violet — a reagent similar to Luminol — uncovered no blood evidence in the path from the garage entry door into the

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Forensic specialist William Foreman testified Monday about blood splatters and other evidence found at the Pyne home the day of Ruth Pyne’s murder.

home, through the family room and into the laundry room, Foreman said. The reagent was used on and inside Jeffrey Pyne’s car, also yielding

negative results, according to OCSD forensic lab specialist Robert Koteles, whose testimony followed Foreman’s. Koteles, who searched Pyne’s car as part of the investigation, said leucocrystal violet was sprayed on the outside door handle, the driver’s side floor board and in the trunk. Koteles said he saw no blood inside the Pyne home as he photographed each room for documentation. Also taking the stand this week was OCSD Detective John Jacob, testifying that Ruth Pyne was face down when she was repeatedly hit with

COMMITTEE Continued from page A1

ATOE08790705

online at hometownlife.com

LOCAL NEWS

“The goal is to (first) come up with a 5-year plan and to get the drawings and plans in place

Festival of Trees market features local artists

blunt force in the head, and then turned over or was turned over before she was stabbed multiple times in the neck. He also said it was possible for just a small amount of blood to be sprayed on the assailant during the killing, depending on the length of the object used and the distance from the victim. For example, if a three-foot long board was used, Jacob said, he “wouldn’t expect a lot of blood on the person.” Last week, Detective Steve Zdravkovski of the OCSD testified that Bernie Pyne called him several days after the murder to report two boards, a screw driver and a box cutter missing from the garage. None has been recovered. Prosecutors contend that Pyne used at least one of the boards in the killing. Champion insists that the case against Pyne is circumstantial. Family and friends support the former U-M student’s claim of innocence, describing him as quiet, reserved and loving toward his mother. Ruth Pyne was diagnosed several years ago as bipolar with psychotic features, and had a history of violent and bizarre behavior when she didn’t take her prescribed medication. Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski maintains that Pyne was driven to kill after enduring “years and years of living with his mentally ill mother.” Circuit Judge Leo Bowman is presiding over the trial.

Buy unique gifts and simultaneously support local artists during the third annual Festival of Trees Holiday Artist Market. The event, presented by HVCA’s The Art Shop, opens with a gallery reception from 79 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at Huron Valley Council for the Arts, 205 W. Livingston Road in Highland “The market features hundreds of pieces of artwork and gifts from dozens of Michigan artists,” said Leah Ohmer, HVCA executive director. “Visitors can find gifts while browsing the beautiful work displayed on trees in our gallery. The show is a great place to find unique gifts during the holidays. All pieces are locally made in Michigan and are one-of-a-kind pieces of art and fine craft. “There is something for everyone on the list.” Items being sold this year include paintings, purses, quilts, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, glass, photography, books and hand-spun yarn as well as hand-made scarves, socks and sweaters,” she added. Barb Weisenburg, one of the show’s artists, has displayed her work during all three years of the

by spring (for the first round of improvements) so work can start in the summer,” Frazer said. The Milford Village Council will review the committee’s recommendations and have final say

on prioritizing the work. “Ultimately, the decision lands at (the council) table,” said Rusas George. Frazer said the public is encouraged to attend the meetings. “It will be

The Huron Valley Council for the arts is featuring local artists throughout December during the Festival of Trees market.

event. “As an artist, participating in this show kicks off my holiday season in a good way,” she explained. “The setting is so beautiful; the art among the beautiful holiday decorations is so uplifting. And I think the people who come to the show have that same feeling. Another reason I like to participate there is the high quality of the arts and crafts being exhibited. And the opening is always a festive gala.” Gallery hours for Festival of Trees Holiday Artist Market are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Friday, Dec. 21. For more information, call (248) 889-8660.

nice if people can come and see how the decisions are being made and why they are being made,” she said. awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261

MOVE TO WALTONWOOD BY DECEMBER 31ST and we’ll freeze YOUR RENT AT 2012 RATES!

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CLASSIFIED, SECTION B

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PRICE: $1 • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2012 • hometownlife.com

Ticklin’ ivory

A Piano Extravaganza returns to the Huron Valley this Saturday, Dec. 8, with performances at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Lakeland High School. Experience the wonder of the holiday season as four master pianists bring March of the Toys and other holiday favorites to life on four grand pianos. This concert also features eight local pianists, percussionists, the Oak Valley Middle School Choir and an amazing finale with 24 hands on four pianos you won’t want to miss. Tickets run $7 to $20 and are available online at startickets. com, by calling (800) 585-3737 or at Meijer. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Huron Valley Optimists Club, For more information, visit www.4-pianos.com.

Group wants to save Baker school

School board rejects Highland offer; Tuesday was deadline for deal By Philip Allmen Staff Writer

A group of Milford residents expressed their interest in saving Baker Elementary in the village and using it for the community. Members presented their ideas Monday night to the Huron Val-

the buildings, preferring to see the site remain as is. They also said they were intrigued by ideas presented from the community group. Colleen Kilpatrick, one of the organizers trying to save Baker, said a group of residents and business owners want the building to be repurposed for the community. About 15 people met Friday to brainstorm ideas, which were presented to the two governing bodies. “Our goal is to save the school,”

ley Schools Board of Education and Milford Village Council in separate meetings. The village council declined to negotiate with the school board in buying the Baker building. Several council members said they think the school district is jumping the gun in plans to raze

she said. “Taxpayer dollars built and maintained it. Milford deserves to have that building to use for generations to come.” Larry Betzler, another organizer with the group, said members wanted to find a way to use the building without it costing the village or school district any money. “We want to do it in a way that would create a really special place,” he said. Please see SCHOOL, A4

Toy drive: Help area children have a happy holiday season

Just here those sleigh bells jingling ...

New recipes

Community Sharing is selling cookbooks, chock full of favorite recipes from its committed volunteers. The books cost $10 and proceeds benefit the Highland-based outreach center. Purchase books at Community Sharing, After the Rain in Milford or Fragments in Highland.

Santa letters

Dear kids: Please don’t forget Santa. He wants to hear from you in time for the holidays. He’s expecting so many letters that he has asked the Milford Times to help. Please send your letter and a photo of yourself to the editor at pallmen@ hometownlife.com. The Times will publish letters and photos before the holidays. That means we need to receive your letter by noon Wednesday, Dec. 12.

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Milford High School choir sings carols in Center Street Park last Thursday during the downtown Milford Open House, getting shoppers in the holiday spirit. Find more photos celebrating the Christmas season inside.

Witnesses knock Pyne’s alibi Trial continues Monday for man accused of killing mother By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Jeffrey Pyne claims he was transplanting lilac bushes in the early afternoon of Friday, May 27, 2011, the day his mother was bludgeoned and stabbed to death. Diane Needham, the widow who had hired him to do the job at her Highland Township home, believes the work was done days earlier. These conflicting statements — which call into question the validity of Pyne’s alibi — are among the most recent testimony jurors have heard so far in Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman’s courtroom as the 22-year-old Pyne stands trial for the murder of his mother, Ruth Pyne. On Friday, Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski played for jurors a recording of Pyne’s voice mail to Needham, in which he states he had been at her home working

Please see TOY, A6

AILEEN WINGBLAD

Diane Needham of Highland took the stand Friday in Oakland County Circuit Court during the murder trial of Jeffrey Pyne. Needham’s testimony conflicts with Pyne’s alibi.

that day shortly before heading to his job at Spicer’s Orchard. She said she found that odd, since it was the first time in the six years he had worked for her that he left her a voice mail describing what he had done there and where he was going.

Needham said she was also troubled to hear how Pyne accounted for his whereabouts when questioned by detectives. “I knew he had planted the lilacs on Monday, not on Friday,” she said. Please see PYNE, A6

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INDEX Business......................B5 Crossword Puzzle .......B7 Education ...................A4 Homes........................B7

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Scoop the Newshound is asking Huron Valley-area families to join the O&E Media toy drive to benefit youth served by Methodist Children’s Home Society and Orchards Children’s Services. “Both organizations help protect abused and neglected children by providing housing, education and other services,” said Choya Jordan, O&E Media marketing manager and project organizer. “Please consider donating a new unwrapped gift this year. Your gift will help brighten a youth’s holiday season.” Donate a new unwrapped toys, and you will receive a voucher for a free Buddy’s foursquare cheese pizza. This is the second year the Milford Times has sponsored a toy drive to benefit these local organizations and help brighten the holidays for area children. The Methodist Children’s Home Society in Redford has been successfully helping chil-

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A6

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PYNE

Continued from page A1

On cross-examination, however, the white-haired grandmother admitted she has trouble with her memory. “You’re certain you’re right and you’re certain your memory is infallible?” challenged defense attorney James Champion. Answered Needham: “I tend to forget things and remember other things.” Needham’s neighbor, Donald MacKinnon, testified Friday that he never saw Pyne or his car at Needham’s home that day. MacKinnon said he was outside from late morning until mid-afternoon, helping another neighbor reassemble a swimming pool two doors from Needham’s house. He also said he noticed the transplanted lilac bushes on Tuesday, and that Pyne had been there earlier in the week. Also called to testify late last week were DNA experts, who said blood found on a laundry tub faucet in the home matched Ruth’s — but how long it had been there couldn’t be determined — and there was no evidence of blood on the tub drain, various towels and Pyne’s jeans submitted for testing. Earlier in the week, jurors watched a recorded interview of Pyne

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Jeffrey Pyne heads out of the courtroom during a break in the murder trial. He’s accused of killing his mother.

and detectives from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, conducted at the Highland Township substation the day after the murder. Pyne denied hurting his mother, and said he’d last seen her alive when he helped her unload groceries and hugged her. Lat-

online at hometownlife.com

LOCAL NEWS

Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, December 6, 2012

er that day, she was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death in the family’s garage. While he had been told earlier in the day that his mother died, Pyne didn’t ask how on the recording. Eventually, one of the detectives asked, “What do you think happened?”

“I don’t think she would hurt herself; she’s not that kind of person,” Pyne said. The investigators questioned him about his relationship with his mother, who was seriously mentally ill and was sometimes violent toward him and his sister. “I don’t have a problem with my mom; the only issue is I wanted her to take medication,” he said. “That was the only problem I had with her.” One of the detectives said: “Jeffrey, your mom was murdered. Somebody killed your mom.” Pyne put his hand to his face. “I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. When the detectives left the room for several minutes, Pyne put his face in his hands and sometimes wiped his eyes. Skrzynski maintains Pyne was driven to kill his mother after enduring several years of living with her mental illness. Pyne’s family and several in the Highland community support his claim of innocence. The trial is suspended this week and will resume Monday. Bernie Pyne, Ruth’s husband and Jeffrey Pyne’s father, is expected to testify that day.

TOY

Continued from page A1

dren for 95 years, but right now foster children are in dire straits. The cost of caring for these children has increased, but state funding has not. In these hard economic times, these children need help now, more than ever. Last year MCHS served more than 270 children through residential, foster care, adoption and literacy programs. Orchards Children’s Services has been a beacon of hope for children and families for more than 50 years. Orchards seeks to protect and nurture children

and youth by providing shelter, sustenance, life and educational skills and opportunities. Orchards programs and services touch children from birth to young adulthood, and the agency remains committed to them every step of the way. Orchards was also recognized in 2011 as one of three agencies nationwide to receive the highest score in every category of assessment from the Council on Accreditation. This is a national accrediting body that demands the highest standards of service and care. For more information contact Choya Jordan via email at cbjordan@hometownlife.com.

DROPOFF LOCATIONS Drop off gifts at these O&E Media and partner locations: • South Lyon Office, 101 N. Lafayette (corner of Pontiac Trail and Lafayette in downtown South Lyon). • Plymouth Office and Distribution Center, 41304 Concept Drive (east of Haggerty between Schoolcraft and Plymouth roads). • Southfield Chamber of Commerce, 24300 Southfield Road, Suite 101 (248) 557-6661. • The Birmingham Community House, 380 Bates Street, in downtown Birmingham (248) 644-5832. All gifts must be received by 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7.

Gannett News Service contributed to this report.

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Winter paddle

Enjoy nature, friends and neighbors from noon to 6 p.m. New Year’s Day at the Huron River Paddle at Proud Lake Recreation Area. The afternoon includes nature walks, storytelling, bonfire and more. For the adventuresome, hit the river for a paddle at 2 p.m. at the Moss Lake Dam. Canoe rentals available, as well as return transportation from Wixom Road, for a fee. Cocoa and coffee provided. Guests invited to bring a snack to share. The event is free, although a recreational passport is needed for park entry.

PRICE: $1 • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2012 • hometownlife.com

Highland supervisor: 2013 to bring downtown improvements members of Highland’s Downtown Development Authority, business owners and plenty of residents for the past several years. And it’s a vision challenged by basic math: The DDA has accumulated just $700,000 so far by capturing taxes in the downtown district to pay for its proposed project, which has an estimated price tag of $1.2-$1.4 million.

By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Picture a downtown Highland boasting a treelined Milford Road, new and continuous sidewalks, landscaped intersections. Folks are milling about, visiting shops and restaurants housed in historic homes and on freshlydeveloped parcels. That’s the vision shared by Township Supervisor Rick Hamill and other officials,

Please see HIGHLAND, A2

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Sidewalks and streetscape improvements are planned for downtown Highland, which Supervisor Rick Hamill expects will begin in 2013.

Former girlfriend testifies at Pyne trial

Mixed emotions

By Aileen Wingblad

Christmas Cantata

The Milford Presbyterian Church will host its annual Christmas Cantata, “A Light Still Shines,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at the church, 238 N. Main Street in downtown Milford. The ancient Christmas story is presented through vocal movements ranging from traditional (O Come, All Ye Faithful) to modern (Mary, Did You Know?) to exciting and upbeat (We Have Seen The Light!), interspersed with a contemporary drama. A free will offering will be received. Learn more at www. milfordpc.org.

Staff Writer

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Kase Wright, 2, isn’t quite sure how to react while meeting Santa in the Village Center Mall in downtown Milford. Kids — and adults — who want to let the jolly man know what they want for Christmas can do so 6-8 p.m. each Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday until Christmas.

Charity hockey game to benefit fallen police officer’s family By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

If the National Hockey League lockout has you hungering for some action on the ice, mark your calendar for Dec. 21. It’s the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association versus several local police departments for a charity hockey game fundraiser at Compuware Arena, in honor of fallen West Bloomfield police officer Patrick O’Rourke. O’Rourke, 39, was killed in action Sept. 9 after responding to a domestic dispute. Watch retired pros Joe Kocur, Kris Draper, Dino Cic-

carelli, Kirk Maltby and several others show they still got it when they face off that evening against “boys in blue” O’Rourke from Milford, Plymouth, West Bloomfield, Southfield, White Lake, Sterling Heights and Grosse Pointe. The event is presented by the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children and the Detroit Red Wings Association. Along with the game, the evening will include a 50/50 raffle and live auction of

autographed, game-worn NHL alumni jerseys. All proceeds will benefit the Patrick O’Rourke Family Trust. “Pat left behind four young children and a wife. We’re trying to do our best for them, trying to take care of ‘our own,’” said Sgt. Scott Tarasiewicz of the Milford Police Department. Tarasiewicz came up with the idea for the benefit as the legacy project for the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, in which he’s currently enrolled. Tarasiewicz heads the legacy gift committee. Please see BENEFIT, A3

Please see TRIAL, A3

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Holly Freeman, former girlfriend of Jeffrey Pyne, testified Monday in Oakland County Circuit Court. Pyne is on trial for killing his mother, Ruth Pyne, last year.

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As the Jeffrey Pyne murder trial resumed Monday in Oakland County Circuit Court after a week-long recess, jurors heard tearful testimony by Pyne’s ex-girlfriend as she spoke of her discovery in March 2011 that he had been cheating on her for months — leaving her to doubt how well she really knew the young man she had been dating for more than two years. Initially keeping her composure on the stand, Holly Freeman described how Pyne had frequent crying spells early in their relationship as he struggled to come to terms with the mental illness of his mother. Freeman also spoke of his mother’s odd behavior as described by Pyne, including storing knives in the headboard of her bed, as well as her refusal to take prescribed medication.

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Volume 142 Number 1


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LOCAL NEWS

TRIAL

Santa Paws

Continued from page A1

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

At the Powerhouse at Central Park in downtown Milford, pets got their photo taken with Santa as a fundraiser for Community Sharing, a Highland-based outreach center. Organizers are asking a minimum $20 donation, as well as pet-related items to donated to the center’s pet pantry. On Saturday, visitors (from left) Mary Bajcz and her dog Sirius, Carlos Allison’s dog Bear, Olivia Pas and her pet fish, The Captain, and Bev Larson and her dog Lucy were among those getting a photo taken. The fundraiser continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

School board discusses demo bids for vacant Highland, Baker buildings By Philip Allmen Staff Writer

Huron Valley Schools officials were scheduled to approve demolition bids for its two vacant school buildings at a special school board meeting last night. The Dec. 12 meeting was scheduled for Monday in between two superintendent candidate interviews. On Mon-

BENEFIT

Continued from page A1

Opening ceremonies are at 7:15 p.m. with game start at 7:30 p.m.

Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, December 13, 2012

day, school officials said the meeting to discuss the vacant buildings merited its own meeting. A number of people had expressed their intent to attend the meeting, and the Monday meeting would have been limited in time. Public comment will be taken before discussing the demolition bids. School officials said 17 bids were received for

the demolition work, and administrators recommended hiring Adamo Group to raze Baker Elementary for $95,000 and hiring ProDemo to level Highland Middle for $199,000. A 15 percent contingency for the projects was recommended, as well. Money from the voter-approved building and

Tickets are $20, available at each participating police departments. “If we get a sell out, that’s 4,000 tickets — and that’s roughly $80,000 right there that we can

give to the family,” Tarasiewicz said. Compuware Arena is at 14900 Beck in Plymouth.

Please see BUILDINGS, A4

awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261

Freeman said she and Pyne shared concern for his young sister’s safety in the home, and they spoke of moving out together, getting married and having kids. Yet part way through her two-plus hours on the stand, Freeman was overcome by emotion as she described being “completely thrown off” when she learned Pyne concocted a story about a March trip to Grand Rapids with his boss — when he was really spending the time with another woman. The betrayal was completely out of his character “because Jeff, to me, was the perfect guy, the perfect son, the perfect boyfriend,” she said, crying. “This was the first time ever that I ever had a reason to doubt him. I trusted him wholeheartedly — I never had a reason not to. This was the first time I felt I couldn’t anymore. “He lied so effortlessly to my family, to my friends. He had a whole elaborate story to cover his tracks,” Freeman said.

Testimony continues

Pyne, 22, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the killing of his mother, Ruth Pyne. The 51-year-old mother of two was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death in the garage of the family’s Highland Township home May 27, 2011. The former U-M student and high school valedictorian maintains he was at work during the time the murder occurred. His claim of innocence is supported by many in the community, including relatives on both sides of the family.

Prosecutors contend Pyne killed his mother because he was angry over mental illness and the toll it took on the family. Freeman testified that Pyne loved his mother, yet was determined to continue their intimate relationship despite Ruth Pyne condemning it. “It was the first time he ever defied his parents,” she said. In a further attempt to challenge Pyne’s credibility — and his reputation for being gentle and kind, hard-working and upstanding — assistant prosecutor John Skrzynski also called to the stand Tanya Moore, 23, who testified that she went on one date with Pyne in fall 2010, unaware that he and Freeman were in a relationship at the time. She said Pyne wanted a relationship that went beyond the friend stage, but she did not. Also testifying Monday was Renee Ginell, a nowdivorced mother of three who had an affair with Bernie Pyne — Ruth’s husband and Jeffrey Pyne’s father — from 2010 until a few months before Ruth’s death. Ginell said she and Bernie were drawn together because they both had spouses with mental illness. Ginell also spoke of her ex-husband and son being bipolar and having violent pasts, which included sword and knife attacks. During cross-examination by defense attorney James Champion, Ginell testified that police never searched her home, phone records or bank records during their investigation. Champion called it an example of the “rush to judgment” he contends led to Pyne being charged in the murder. “This was another alternative they didn’t pursue,” he said.

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Pathologist details injuries On Tuesday, Dr. Ruben Ortiz-Reyes, forensic pathologist with the Oakland County medical examiner’s office who conducted Ruth Pyne’s autopsy, testified that she sustained at least four blows to the head with an edged, blunt object which cracked her skull in multiple spots and caused brain hemorrhage. Her left arm and right hand were broken, he said, suggesting she had raised her arms to protect her face during the attack. The blows caused her to lose consciousness and fall to the floor, he said. Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman warned jurors of the graphic nature of the autopsy photographs prior to them being shown in court. Several minutes later, a juror suffered what appeared to be a brief seizure, which led to Bowman calling a recess. Bowman said the juror told him she had no medical conditions and wished to continue with the trial. She also said the exhibit photographs, as well as needing a drink of water, could have been a contributing factor. The juror was brought back to the courtroom a short time later and said she was ready to proceed. As Ortiz-Reyes’s testimony continued, he said hemorrhaging noted from multiple stab wounds to Ruth Pyne’s neck show she was still alive when she was stabbed, but died shortly afterward. Her injuries indicate she was the victim of “overkilling,” he added, which indicates the murderer was “really upset ... about what, I don’t know.” awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261

Still need to get some holiday shopping done and want something fun to do? December 15th, 2013 • 11:00-2:00pm

Karen's School of Dance will be having their

First Annual Holiday Bazaar! The Holiday Bazaar is a fundraiser for the DanceSations Booster Club for all the dancers at Karen's School of Dance. There will be many different fun-filled activities going on throughout the day, including free dance classes, many different vendors to shop at, and raffles for prizes! Come and join the fun! Some of the vendors include: Lia Sopia, Thirty One, Mary Kay, Avon, Pampered Chef, Arbonne, Tastefully Simple, Scentsy, and Partylite! Those are just a few! there will be more to come. This will be an excellent opportunity to shop and look for Christmas presents for the whole family.

FREE dance classes for all ages will include: 9:30 - 10:30 Zumba for adults ( please bring a can for the food drive)

11:30-12:15 Hip Hop 12:30-1:15 Jazz 1:15 - 2:00 Zumba for kids Karens is also an official drop off for the community sharing food drive!

Karen’s School of Dance 1185 S. Milford Road Highland, MI 48357

A3


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PRICE: $1 • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2012 • hometownlife.com

Board taking offers for vacant buildings

Photo contest

Enter your favorite holiday photo in our contest for a chance to win a $20 gift card to a department store. Upload a picture of your house in lights, a visit with Santa or anything related to the holidays. Share the link with friends and see if you come out on top. You and your Facebook friends are allowed one vote per day. To find the contest, go to our website, Hometownlife.com and look on the right-hand side in our Don’t Miss module. Clicking on the photo of the Christmas presents will take you to the contest page. The voting ends Dec. 30.

Park permits

Looking for a great gift for someone who loves the outdoors? Get them unlimited access to 13 parks in southeast Michigan by purchasing 2013 Huron-Clinton Metroparks annual vehicle entry or boat launching permits. Vehicle entry permits for 2013 are $25 regular and $15 senior citizen (62 and older). Metroparks annual boat launching permits are $30 regular and $15 senior citizen (62 and older). Permits are available at the park offices at Kensington and Indian Springs metroparks, as well as the administrative offices off Kensington Road in Brighton.

Win tickets

Enter our Facebook contest for a chance to win two tickets to see Jersey Boys Sunday, Dec. 30, at the Fisher Theater. Find the link at hometownlife.com and click on the “don’t miss” module on the right hand side. Share the contest link with a Facebook friend and get an extra five chances to win if they also enter the contest.

Demolition contracts approved; alternatives needed before Jan. 15 By Philip Allmen Staff Writer

PHOTOS BY HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Defense attorney James Champion hugs Jeff Pyne after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his mother, Ruth Pyne.

Jury: Pyne guilty of murdering mom By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Guilty of second-degree murder. It took an Oakland County jury less than two full days of deliberation to decide Jeffrey Pyne did, indeed, kill his mother Ruth Pyne, 51, in the garage of their Highland Township home. The verdict was announced shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday in the packed courtroom of Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman, four days before Pyne’s 23rd birthday. Pyne repeatedly blinked and shook his head as Bowman individually polled the jury’s eight women and four men. Some of Pyne’s supporters, which included both sides of his family, wiped away tears after the verdict was read, but his father, Bernie Pyne, showed little emo-

There’s not much time, but Milford and Highland residents interested in trying to save Baker Elementary and Highland Middle schools from the wrecking ball have a chance to do so. Last week, the Huron Valley Schools board agreed to consider comprehensive proposals for each of the two vacant buildings to convert the buildings to other uses. School officials, however, haven’t committed to maintaining ownerships of the sites. School board President Sean Carlson said the district sent letters to Highland and village of Milford officials to work together on any plan. A deal needs to be finalized by Jan. 15. “We want our team to sit down with their team, perhaps hold joint community hearings,” he said. “If this is a community thing, all the stakeholders have to be at the table, including the government. We’re not going to waste time. We’re going to reach out and see if there’s a genuine offer to be had.”

Clock’s ticking

Jeffrey Pyne is led away in handcuffs following the guilty verdict announcement.

tion in the courtroom. Moments later, however, Bernie Pyne said he was surprised by the verdict, adding that it did nothing to rattle his belief in his son’s innocence — which he has maintained from the start. “I don’t believe my son would ever harm his mother. I believe there are other

suspects out there that were never looked at,” he said. Bernie Pyne said he was anxious to get to his daughter, 12-year-old Julia, to tell her “it’s just her and me now.” He also said he was “holding on” to the fact that his son doesn’t automaticalPlease see PYNE, A5

The school board also approved bids to raze the two buildings. The earliest that would occur is in March, although Assistant Superintendent Donna Welch said abatement of the properties needs to take place before that, as well. Bids for that work are expected back in early January. The abatement process itself takes about 45 days, she said, meaning the work would have to start in mid- to late January to be done in time for the demolition schedule. The school board approved contracts to Adamo Group to raze Baker Elementary for $95,000 and ProDemo to level Highland Middle for $199,000. Please see BUILDINGS, A6

Village sets 2013 policy for in-kind donations By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Organizers of community events in Milford will continue to receive as much as $500 worth of police protection, help from the village’s Department of Public Services and equipment rental in 2013, but the three top parades will get a much larger contribution due to Monday’s decision by the village council. In a 5-1 vote, council OK’d

the expenditure — including as much as $3,500 in support for the downtown’s Memorial Day, Independence Day and Christmas parades. Jim Kovach was the lone dissenting vote; fellow council member Jennifer Frankford didn’t attend the meeting. Council had reviewed its policy for what it had called “in-kind donations” several times during the past couple of years because Please see DONATIONS, A6

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

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• News/Advertising: (248) 437-2011 • Classified Advertising: (800) 579-7355 • Delivery: (866) 887-2737 • Mail: 101 N. Lafayette St. South Lyon, MI 48178

Veterans present the flags at the start of last month’s Christmas parade in downtown Milford. The Village of Milford council approved increased in-kind contributions for the Christmas, Memorial Day and Independence Day parades.

© Hometown Weekly Newspapers

Volume 142 Number 2


online at hometownlife.com

PYNE

Continued from page A1

ly face life in prison, as he would have if the jury had convicted him on the alternate charge of firstdegree premeditated murder. Ruth Pyne, who had a history of mental illness and violent, bizarre behavior when she wasn’t taking her medication, was found dead and lying in a pool of blood May 27, 2011. In a trial that began in mid-November, prosecutors called more than 20 witnesses to build a case that proved Pyne’s frustration with his mother’s illness and the affects it had on the family drove him to murder. In a prepared statement, family member Linda Jarvie said, “My sister Ruth was a victim. She was not the monster the media portrayed her to be. Some justice was served by the verdict today. I’m deeply saddened by my sister Ruth’s senseless death. This was a heinous crime. Ruth Pyne was a victim.” After the verdict, Detective Sgt. Greg Glover of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office — one of the investigators assigned to the case — said he believed the jury sympathized with Jeffrey Pyne’s home life, possibly leading them to convict on the lesser

LOCAL NEWS

charge. Pyne, a former valedictorian of West Highland Christian Academy and University of Michigan student, had said he was doing yard work at the home of a Highland widow, Diane Needham, at around the time his mother was killed. Defense attorney James Champion attempted to portray him as a kind, gentle and upstanding college student who deeply loved his mother. Champion maintained Pyne’s arrest was a “rush to judgment” in a poorly-investigated case. Prosecutors presented two key pieces of evidence against him — Needham’s testimony that the yard work Pyne referred to had been done days earlier, and blister-like injuries on his hands consistent with repeatedly swinging a two-by-four or similar object, which is believed to have caused the massive injuries to Ruth Pyne’s head. Ruth Pyne was also stabbed 16 times in the neck. Investigators found no murder weapon or blood on Pyne nor his clothes or car, but prosecutors said he had time to clean up evidence before leaving the home that afternoon. Pyne will be sentenced by Bowman at 3 p.m. Jan. 29. awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261

Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, December 20, 2012

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HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Bernie Pyne is mobbed by the media after he leaves the courtroom. He has maintained his belief from the start that his son, Jeffrey Pyne, is innocent, despite the jury’s guilty verdict.

PARK

way there’s no infringing on the natural aspect of the park — it actually compliments the way the seating is. And it’s a timeless design, the sort of thing that never wears out or goes out of style.” According to Gordon Muir, Milford Township

Continued from page A3

ing system will automatically close the restrooms overnight. “I think it’s a wonderful plan,” said council member Liz Heer. “I love the

planning commissioner and member of the tri-party joint project committee, the project’s estimated cost is $500,000. Representatives from the Rotary Club and the HVCC said it will be paid by donations and fundraisers. Dale Feigley, DDA

board member, said the completed project will improve “quality of life for the citizenry.” “This is a fantastic idea that has been a long time in the coming,” he said. awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261

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Relay for Life

The 2013 Milford/ Highland Relay for Life kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Bakers of Milford. Everyone is invited to learn more about the event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society in its goal of finding a cure for cancer. Next Thursday’s program starts at 6:15 p.m., with an expo running 6:55-7:30 p.m. The 2013 Relay for Life event is May 4-5 at Milford High School. For more information, contact Mary Kraft at (517) 223-3453 or mary.kraft@cancer.org.

PRICE: $1 • THURSDAY, JANUARY 24, 2013 • hometownlife.com

Residents adjusting to new trash days

In memory of his message

Help wanted

Highland Township seeking a full-time election and FOIA coordinator for the clerk’s office. Millie Lewis, who’s currently serving in that capacity, is retiring. Monday will be her last day in the office. The 37.5-hour-per week job pays $14.99 to $17.27 per hour. The job posting seeks detail-oriented applicants with computer and organizational skills who work well with the public. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31.

By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Coming home

Lt. Col. Scott Hiipakka is set to come home Friday to Milford. He has been serving in Afghanistan since May. The American Legion, Women’s Auxiliary and AmVETS are excited to help welcome him home. The community is invited to help welcome him home. Organizers, however, were not expected to find out when he is scheduled to land in Detroit until late Wednesday or early today. Those interested in the homecoming can call Claudia Schimetz at (248) 685-8437, the American Legion at (248) 684-9919 of visit the Milford Times Facebook page for details once they’re available.

Office hours

State Rep. Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake, will hold office hours 9-10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Colasanti’s Market in Highland. She will also meet with residents 8-9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at Dave and Amy’s in White Lake. County Commissioner Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, will be at the White Lake office hours, as well.

A few weeks after trash day changed in Milford and Highland, residents and route drivers continue to adjust to the new schedule. Village of Milford Clerk Debby Frazer said her office has fielded a few questions — but no complaints — from the community since the Monday/ Tuesday garbage and recycling pickup day changed to Tuesday only for village residents. Milford Township staff, however, said they’ve handled about a dozen extra phone calls each week regarding the township’s new Wednesday trash day. Some stops have been missed, but once the route manager is contacted, he has been responsive in going back to make sure garbage and recycling is picked up from those addresses, said Ruth Tessman, township administrative assistant. “It’s just getting used to the new routine,” Tessman said.

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

About 100 people from the Huron Valley area and beyond braved the 15-degree weather to participate in the annual Huron Valley Martin Luther King Jr. march in downtown Milford. After meeting in the Prospect Hill parking lot, the group processed down to Central Park for a short ceremony. Learn more about the group’s efforts online at www.hvmlkday.org.

Pyne sentencing Tuesday for murder of mother By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

“Beating a square peg until it fit in a round hole.” That’s how Bernie Pyne sums up the prosecution’s case against his son, Jeffrey Pyne, who was convicted last month of killing Ruth Pyne, the 23-year-old’s mother and Bernie Pyne’s wife. “They couldn’t make (their case) fit, so they just kept getting a bigger and bigger hammer, and kept smashing away at that square peg until it fit,” Bernie Pyne said. Jeffrey Pyne, a former University of Michigan student,

faces up to life in prison when he’s sentenced Tuesday by Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman for second-degree Jeffrey Pyne murder. His conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, including an alibi that prosecutors said didn’t hold up and blisters on his hands which could have been caused by repeatedly swinging a two-by-four board or similar object — believed to have caused massive injuries to Ruth Pyne’s head.

Please see TRASH, A8

TO DONATE A fund is set up to raise money for Pyne’s appeal. To donate, visit justiceforjeffpyne.com.

Ruth Pyne had a long history of mental illness and bizarre, sometimes violent behavior when not taking her medication. She was found dead in the garage of the family’s Highland Township home in May 2011 from blunt force trauma to her skull and multiple stab wounds.

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Rizzo trash employees pick up trash in the village of Milford Tuesday morning. The new hauler in the Huron Valley area has switched around garbage days for many in the community.

Please see PYNE, A6

Highland board to discuss gym plan this Wednesday Officials need $150,000 by Feb. 1 to save part of former school By Philip Allmen Staff Writer

The Highland Township board will tour the gym at the former middle school next door on Wednesday, then discuss whether or not the interest and money is available to save it from demolition. It’s expected to cost about $150,000 to save the gym.

Highland Township Supervisor Rick Hamill wants the public to tour the Highland Middle School gym Wednesday. Then, he wants them to stick around to see if

there’s enough support to save that part of the former school before asbestos abatement takes place around the gym and it gets torn down. Those interested will meet at the Highland Adult Activity Center on John Street, next to the

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INDEX Business......................B6 Crossword Puzzle .......B8 Education ...................A4 Homes........................B8

Jobs............................B8 Obituaries...................A8 Opinion ......................A12 Public Safety...............A5

Services ......................B8 Sports.........................B1 Wheels .......................B10

school, at 6:45 p.m. A special board meeting will follow. “I would like to see this structure repurposed for the good of the community and by the community,” Hamill said in a Please see SCHOOL, A6

• News/Advertising: (248) 437-2011 • Classified Advertising: (800) 579-7355 • Delivery: (866) 887-2737 • Mail: 101 N. Lafayette St. South Lyon, MI 48178

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Volume 142 Number 7

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trict would also keep the surrounding land, which could be used for events, as well. But district officials don’t want to incur any upkeep costs, part of the reason it is demolishing the building in the first place. An estimated $150,000 is needed to transform the gym into a standalone structure. In addition to the conversion costs, the building will require annual maintenance. Hamill said the township can’t afford those costs on its own, and he’s hoping the community as a whole will support the project.

Continued from page A1

release. “I believe in this project and will champion the program, but verification of the public’s support needs to be shown by attending this tour and discussion.” Huron Valley Schools Superintendent Jim Baker suggested a partnership between the district and township to save the newer gym while razing the rest of the building. The gym would be operated by Huron Valley Recreation and used for school and community functions. The dis-

online at hometownlife.com

LOCAL NEWS

Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, January 24, 2013

“This needs to be a joint venture of the athletic community, the business community and private individuals with the support of the township government,” he said. “Sharing is a community word and that is how the success of this awesome project will come to fruition.” The Highland Township Board of Trustees has to approve such a venture, as well. Township Clerk Mary McDonell said her understanding is that the township would not get involved financially at all. Hamill has “made it clear to me the township will not be putting any money into it,” McDonell said. “I’d love to see them save that gym. I think it’s a great idea.” The school board set a Feb. 1 deadline for the township to indicate its plans for the old gym, so a decision on what the township plans to do is expected at that Jan. 30 meeting. If the support for saving that part of the structure is absent, Hamill said the gym will fall victim of the wrecking ball. “So bring your positive thinking caps and let’s join together to make this a reality,” Hamill said. “We need people ready to pitch in with all the resources they are willing to donate.” pallmen@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 226 Twitter: @MilfordTimes

Read what others have to say at hometownlife.com

Photo galleries at hometownlife.com

AILEEN WINGBLAD

Along with family members and other supporters, Bernie Pyne sits in court last month during the murder trial of his son Jeffrey Pyne.

PYNE

Continued from page A1

Prosecutors said Jeffrey Pyne’s frustration with his mother’s condition and its effects on the family drove him to murder. Bernie Pyne, however, maintains that his son deeply loved his mother and would never have hurt her. He’s steadfast in his belief that detectives failed to thoroughly and properly investigate the case, and that the killer is still at large. And the jury which returned the guilty verdict “screwed up,” he said.

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“The jury got this wrong,” Bernie Pyne said. “They convicted Jeffrey on no evidence, they filled in the blanks, crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s for the prosecution.” The trial and its outcome have taken unimaginable tolls, he said, draining him financially, emotionally, physically. Once a deeply religious man, Bernie Pyne said his faith has been severely compromised. And the justice system — which he once believed in — failed him, he said, adding, “Every day, I still say ‘This can’t be real.’” Yet Bernie Pyne isn’t seeking sympathy. What he’s seeking is an appeal — and help from the thousands of people who have outwardly expressed their support for Jeffrey. To raise funds to pay anticipated legal bills should an appeal be granted, he set up a website justiceforjeffpyne. com. Asking for financial assistance isn’t easy, Ber-

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nie Pyne said, but he can’t give up on his son. “If all the people who have commented favorably (on blogs, websites, media reports, etc.) that Jeffrey didn’t do this would just give $5, we’d be in pretty good shape,” he said. “We can get this kid a new trial.” He said it’s also possible Jeffrey Pyne could be declared indigent and have an attorney appointed for him by the court if he earns an appeal. Jeffrey Pyne was represented by Grand Rapidsbased attorney and family friend James Champion in the trial that began in mid-November. It was Champion’s first murder trial. Bernie Pyne said Champion “worked as hard as he could on the case.” “He put so much effort into this case,” he said. “He believed in Jeffrey and put on the best case he could.”

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Facebook page

Anyone who likes to keep tabs on the Huron Valley area should check out our local Milford Times Facebook page. We will use the new Facebook page to list links to school, community and municipal news and happenings, too. And we invite our readers to use the page as an easy way to keep in touch. If you have a story idea, news tip or even a suggestion or two, visit us on Facebook and feel free to share what is on your mind. The Milford Times Facebook page can be found at www. facebook.com/MilfordTimes.

PRICE: $1 • THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2013 • hometownlife.com

Just a bite, please Annual Taste of the Valley supports at-risk youth

Snow problem

The Road Commission for Oakland County reminds residents and business owners that it is illegal under Michigan law to shovel or plow snow or ice onto any road or highway, or to deposit snow on a road or road shoulder in such a way that it blocks motorists’ views of traffic. Doing so is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $100 and/or a jail sentence of as long as 90 days.

Eat for Kurtz

Tavern 131 on the south side of the Village of Milford is hosting a fundraiser for Kurtz Elementary today. A portion of the day’s total sales will be donated back to the school. The restaurant is located at 131 S. Milford Road.

Paddle on

Ever wonder how people stand up on a board and paddle through the water? Here’s your chance to try it yourself. Huron Valley Recreation is hosting an introductory stand up paddle board class on Sunday, Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Lakeland High School lap pool. Get the basics and learn the latest techniques while building skills, balance and interval training. Register online at www.huronvalleyrec. com using course No. 2622.

By Philip Allmen Staff Writer

PHOTOS BY HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Jeff Pyne reacts as Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman sentences him to 20-60 years in prison for killing his mother.

Pyne gets 20-60 years for killing his mother By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Maintaining his innocence and asking the court for mercy, leniency and compassion, convicted killer Jeffrey Pyne was sentenced Tuesday to 2060 years in prison for the murder of his mother, Ruth Pyne. As he addressed the court prior to sentencing, a sometimes tearful Pyne said there was “a complete lack of evidence to connect me with this crime,” and said his family needs him home to “heal and move on from this tragedy.” “Hopefully, one day the truth will be made known and I will be acquitted,” he said. Thanking his family and supporters for standing behind him, Pyne said, “I love you all very much and look forward to the day we again are back together.” Oakland County Circuit

Who knew nibbling on pot roast, pizza and doughnuts could make such a positive impact on the community? It can, if you’re at Bakers of Milford next Thursday. The restaurant and banquet center hosts the annual Taste of the Valley, where guests can sample some of the delicacies from as many as 20 area restaurants. The fundraiser benefits Huron Valley Youth Assistance, Don Green, Milford Township supervisor and member of the youth assistance board, said he expects Taste of the Valley to be one of the best ever this year. In addition to the food, there’s plenty of opportunities to walk away with some swag. “We have a lot of donations coming in,” Green said. Area car dealerships have stepped up, offering everything from car detailing to oil changes. Other items include time with a personal trainer, hand-made bracelets from Green’s wife and a fly-fishing trip. Some items will be raffled off and othPlease see TASTE, A3

Bernie Pyne reads his statement to Judge Leo Bowman. He has maintained all along that his son is innocent.

Judge Leo Bowman, however, said there was no cause to throw out the jury’s second-degree conviction — or to hand down a sentence outside established guidelines.

“There is no substantial or compelling reason to deviate from the sentencing range,” Bowman said. Please see PYNE, A11

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Adam Gibb, head cook at the Red Dog Saloon in Milford, shows off a “Frannie” burger and half order of onion rings, one of the more popular items at the eatery. The Red Dog is among the participants in next week’s Taste of the Valley fundraiser, which benefits Huron Valley Youth Assistance.

New medical marijuana rules expected this spring for Milford Township moratorium expires, commissioners to discuss tonight local ordinances governing medical marijuana-related activities in the village and the rest of the township are expected to be ready this spring. “We are very close,” said Randy Sapelak, Village of Milford building official.

By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Milford officials say local guidelines on medical marijuana activities are just months away.

More than four years after voters approved the use of medical marijuana in Michigan — and after twoplus years of extended moratoriums that prohibit it in Milford —

Please see MARIJUANA, A3

CONTACT US

INDEX Business......................A12 Crossword Puzzle .......B7 Education ...................A4 Homes........................B7

Ongoing discussion at the village’s and township’s Planning Commission tables, as well as efforts by Village Attorney Jennifer Elowsky and planning consultant Nick Lomako, will likely result

Jobs............................B7 Obituaries...................A6 Opinion ......................A12 Public Safety...............A6

Services ......................B7 Sports.........................B1 Wheels .......................B10

• News/Advertising: (248) 437-2011 • Classified Advertising: (800) 579-7355 • Delivery: (866) 887-2737 • Mail: 101 N. Lafayette St. South Lyon, MI 48178

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LOCAL NEWS

Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, January 31, 2013

PYNE

Continued from page A1

Pyne, 23, was found guilty in the May 2011 killing. Ruth Pyne, who had a lengthy history of mental illness, was bludgeoned and stabbed in the garage of the family’s Highland Township home. Prosecutors said Pyne’s anger over his mother’s illness and its affects on the family drove him to murder. His conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, including an alibi that prosecutors said didn’t hold up and blisters on his hands which could have been caused by repeatedly swinging a two-by-four board or similar object — believed to have caused massive injuries to Ruth Pyne’s head. A murder weapon was never found. Bowman acknowledged receiving “numerous letters” and cards on Pyne’s behalf, noting “98 percent” of that correspondence questioned whether prosecutors presented enough evidence to warrant a conviction. However, he said he believed the jury returned a just verdict last month in finding the former University of Michigan student guilty. “Twelve jurors in this case heard the evidence presented against Mr. Pyne. They were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Pyne committed the offense

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Jeff Pyne looks toward his family as an Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy gets ready to lead him out of the court room following the sentencing. Defense attorney James Champion stands to the left.

they found him guilty of,” Bowman said. “I can’t say that the jury was wrong,” he added. Bowman noted a short “window of opportunity” to commit the murder and no evidence that anyone else had been in the Pyne house around the time of the killing. He also referenced a letter he received following the verdict from Linda Jarvis, Ruth Pyne’s sister, which he said “caused the court pause.” In the letter, Jarvis said Pyne needs to admit to

the crime and “deal with the anger and rage that caused such a horrible act. It is not safe for him to be free.” Jarvis said what she wants is “for Jeffrey to get the counseling he so seriously needs.” Prior to Bowman’s decision, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski — who tried the case — recommended a sentence of 221⁄2 years to 40 years, noting the “horrible violence” afflicted on Ruth Pyne. “This was his mother he

did it to. It was so enormously violent and heartless,” Skrzynski said. Skrzynski did, however, acknowledge the pain the family has endured. “It’s a sad matter and a terrible matter. A lot of people are grieving. Nevertheless, there’s no question it was a heinous crime. There’s no question it was a violent crime,” he said. Heather Wayne of the Department of Corrections Probation Department had recommended a maximum sentence of 60 years, saying it will

“assure the community safety for an additional 20 years.” Because Pyne takes no responsibility for the killing, she said, “the chances of him being rehabilitated at this point are zero.” Pyne’s father, Bernie Pyne, and his maternal aunt, Susan Showerman, read statements in court from themselves as well as Pyne’s 12-year-old sister and maternal grandmother — Ruth Pyne’s mother. All expressed their belief that he is not a killer.

(MT) A11

Following the sentencing, Bernie Pyne said he is “disheartened and disgusted” with the justice system, and said the investigation — and the trial — were mishandled. “This is a travesty. I’m bewildered, confused,” he said. “I know one thing for sure. My son did not hurt his mother.” The conviction was “by use of a story based on hunches and speculation. Somewhere in the mix, the presumption of innocence and definition of reasonable doubt was lost.” Helen Cudnohufsky, Jeffrey Pyne’s paternal grandmother, agreed. “He wouldn’t hurt anybody. We know he didn’t do it,” she said. Bernie Pyne said “a coward and a monster” — not his son — killed Ruth Pyne. “The judge himself said to expect an appeal because he knows it was a mess in (court),” he said. Efforts are under way to seek an appeal, Bernie Pyne said, and a website is set up to accept donations for legal bills. Donations can be made with credit or debit card accounts through the website www.justiceforjeffpyne.com or by mail to Gail Pyne, P.O. Box 533, Fenton, MI 48430 awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261 Twitter: @awingblad

COMMUNITY CALENDAR Submit calendar items in writing by 5 p.m. Friday to news@milfordtimes.com to be included in our next edition.

RELAY FOR LIFE KICKOFF

Date and time: Thursday, Jan. 31, 5:30 p.m. registration, program starts at 6:15 p.m. Location: Bakers of Milford, 2025 Milford Road in Milford Description: It’s time to start getting organized for the 2013 Milford/Highland Relay for Life. Learn more about the event, American Red Cross and sign up a team. This year’s event is May 4-5 at Milford High School. For more information: Contact Mary Kraft at (517) 223-3453 or mary.kraft@ cancer.org

HVYBSL REGISTRATION

Date and time: As soon as possible Location: Register with Huron Valley Recreation Description: Registration is now open for the 2013 season with Huron Valley Youth Baseball and Softball League. There are

divisions for age 3 through high school. Register online, at the Duck Lake Center or either the Milford or Lakeland Pool and Fitness Center. Coaches needed, as well. For more information: www.hvybsl.com

SPAGHETTI DINNER

Date and time: Friday, Feb. 1, 5-7 p.m. Location: Milford Senior Center, 1150 Atlantic St., Milford Description: Join in for homemade meat or marinara spaghetti sauce, garlic bread, salad, beverage and dessert. $7. Proceeds benefit the Milford Senior Center. For more information: Contact Nancy Hinzmann at (248) 685-9008

TASTE OF THE VALLEY

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TRY STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING

Date and time: Sunday, Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m. to noon Location: Lakeland High School pools and fitness lap pool, Bogie Lake Road in White Lake Description: Huron Valley Recreation introductory class teaches the basics and newest techniques of stand up paddle boarding. Learn skills, balance and interval training. For more information: Register online at www.huronvalleyrec.com, course # 2622

Date and time: Thursday, Feb. 7, 5-8 p.m. Location: Bakers of Milford, S. Milford Road in Milford Description: Taste samples from area restaurants, all under one roof, and help support Huron Valley Youth Assistance. $20 per person in advance or $25 at the door. Cash bar. Silent auction. Raffle. For more information: Tickets at Highland Township or Milford Township offices, or Huron Valley Youth Assistance office in the Apollo Center. (248) 676-8492.

HVCA GALLERY

Date and time: Opening reception Feb. 1, 7-9; gallery through Feb. 23 Location: Huron Valley Council for The Arts, 205 W. Livingston Road, Highland Description: Photographer Amy Lockard is featured with her Upper Peninsula nature shots. For more information: www.huronval-

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ATTENTION ALL VILLAGE RESIDENTS The Village of Milford Planning Commission will hold a PUBLIC HEARING on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 7:30 p.m., in the Milford Civic Center, 1100 Atlantic Street, Milford, Michigan 48381. The purpose of the PUBLIC HEARING is to consider proposed zoning text amendments to Sec. 94-377, Wireless Communication Facilities. The proposed language will address changes required by recent amendments to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (PA 110 of 2006) to ensure the timely review of wireless communication equipment and towers, and to require all new tower applications to be subject to special condition use permit procedures. The proposed amendment will replace the existing language in its entirety. Proposed ordinance language is on file in the Office of the Village Clerk. Public comments, either oral or written, are welcome at the Public Hearing. Physically challenged persons needing assistance or aid should contact the Village Offices during regular working hours seventy-two (72) hours prior to the meeting. Deborah S. Frazer, CMC Milford Village Clerk Publish: January 31, 2013

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SOCIAL SECURITY o l i f e . c t o w n h o m e

Attorneys J.B. Bieske and Jennifer Alfonsi have 42 years combined experience representing only Social Security disability clients. And they personally meet with all clients and appear personally at all court hearings. Many large firms assign inexperienced attorneys to your case. And some of these firms are located thousands of miles away and only fly the attorney in the day of the court hearing. Attorneys Bieske and Alfonsi have vast experience before local Michigan judges.

subject and has been interviewed on various television programs. Both attorney Bieske and Alfonsi have also been interviewed on radio programs and have given speeches to many groups. Attorneys Bieske and Alfonsi can often make a winning difference at the application stage. And, if an appeal is necessary they have won several hundred cases before a court date is even set.

Attorneys Bieske and Alfonsi offer free phone or office consultation. If they represent you, there will be no fee charged until after the case is won. The fee is a percentage of retroactive benefits.

Those denied can appeal on their own but statistics for many years reveal that those represented by attorneys win a much higher percentage of appeals. And attorneys who specialize in Social Security Disability cases win a much higher percentage yet.

Bieske and Alfonsi represent clients from all over the state of Michigan. Their Livonia office is on Six Mile Road just west of I-275. Their Novi office is located on Haggerty Road just north of 12 Mile Road. Call them at 1-800-331-3530 for a free consultation if you have been denied, or if you are thinking of possibly applying for Social Security benefits.

In addition to practicing only Social Security disability law attorney Bieske has written a book for attorneys about the

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Hometown Weeklies | Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ruling on new Pyne trial likely at least a year away By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Facing 20-60 years in prison for the murder of his mother, Jeffrey Pyne will likely wait at least a year — possibly two — for an appellate court to rule whether or not he’ll get a new trial. “It will depend on the panel (of judges), the issues raised,” said Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, a former appellate judge. “I’ve seen it take as much as a year and a half, and it can go even longer than that.” In a case that attracted national media attention, including a 48 Hours piece broadcast a few weeks ago and a to-beaired Court TV production, the 23-year-old Pyne was found guilty in December of seconddegree murder in the bludgeoning and stabbing death of Ruth Pyne. The case also drew some support from the community, including numerous letters received by Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman, prior to last week’s sentencing. The

Investigation continues for Milford break-in

Milford police continue to investigate a Jan. 15 home invasion in the 2000 block of W. Dawson. Items reported stolen from the home include a large screen TV, .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle, jewelry box, cameras, generator and video gaming system. According to reports, one of the homeowners discovered the break-in at around 6 p.m. when she returned from work. Investigators believe the culprits entered the home through an unlocked back door and left through the garage.

Trouble at McD’s

HAL GOULD | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Jeff Pyne (left) stands next to his lawyer James Champion as Judge Leo Bowman sentences him to 20-60 years in prison. It likely will be at least a year before a ruling determines if he will get a new trial.

vast majority of the correspondence, Bowman said, questioned whether prosecutors presented enough evidence — all circumstantial — to warrant a conviction. Yet according to Cooper, a conviction based on circumstantial evidence is more the norm than the exception. Murders most often occur with no eyewitness-

es, she said. “This was a very tight circumstantial case,” said Cooper. For the appellate court to grant Pyne a new trial — or exercise its option to overturn the conviction — requires a “high burden to overcome,” Cooper explained. That burden is demonstrating that errors occurred in the trial that

affected its outcome or were of “constitutional proportion,” she said. Barring a decision in his favor from the appellate court, Pyne must serve the minimum sentence of 20 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole. awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261 Twitter: @awingblad

Accused I-96 shooter competent for trial for Oakland County cases By Aileen Wingblad Staff Writer

Accused I-96 corridor shooter Raulie Casteel is competent to stand trial, a district court judge ruled Jan. 31, but he will be undergoing additional forensic evaluation regarding the question of criminal responsibility for the string of incidents in a four county area last October. Judge Brian MacKenzie of 52-1 District Court in Novi based his decision to deem Casteel competent after reviewing an evaluation from the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry. Results show Casteel

MILFORD POLICE BRIEFS

AILEEN WINGBLAD

Accused I-96 corridor shooter Raulie Casteel appeared in 52-1 District Court Jan. 31 for a competency hearing. Though he has been deemed competent to stand trial, further forensic evaluation regarding criminal responsibility has been ordered.

understands the charges against him and can assist his counsel in his defense. Further evaluation, how-

ever, could show Casteel is not criminally responsible for the shootings because he’s legally insane. Casteel, a 43-year-old Wixom resident, faces 60 felony charges including assault with intent to murder for a string of shootings in Wixom and Commerce Township last October. He also faces terrorism charges and felony weapons charges for shootings in Livingston, Shiawassee and Ingham counties, filed by the state attorney general. On Jan. 30, a Livingston County deemed Casteel competent for trial in those cases, based on the same forensic evaluation. Most of the 24 shootings linked to Casteel and a 9mm handgun were at motorists. One victim was injured.

On Feb. 4, MacKenzie ordered Casteel’s competency reports sealed until the trial concludes. Both Assistant Prosecutor Jeffrey Hall and Casteel’s defense attorney Charles Groh stated in court last week that the report is privileged communication, protected by the mental health code. At that time, MacKenzie had said he wasn’t convinced the record shouldn’t be made public and was “very troubled” by the concept of suppressing information that was already admitted in court. Casteel is in the Oakland County Jail. He’s scheduled for a preliminary exam in 52-1 District Court on March 1 at 9 a.m. awingblad@hometownlife.com (248) 685-1507, ext. 261 Twitter: @awingblad

Milford police were called to the McDonald’s restaurant twice recently to check out drivers in the drivethru suspected to be under the influence. According to reports, one case involved a 17-year-old Milford boy, called in by an employee who was worried about his ability to drive based on his behavior at the drive-thru window. The caller said the teen wasn’t making sense and couldn’t count his change. When police arrived, they noted the driver had bloodshot, glassy eyes and slurred speech. He also was unsteady on his feet, police said. The boy reportedly allowed a vehicle search by police, which turned up marijuana, vodka and two prescription bottles. One bottle had no label and contained green pills with a Batman symbol on them, and the other, prescribed to another person, contained Metaxalone — used as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever. The boy refused a preliminary breath test. A search warrant was obtained for a blood draw, and the boy was later released to his mother’s custody. The case is open pending lab and blood test results. The other case was called in my another McDonald’s employee who reportedly claimed to get a “contact buzz” from marijuana smoke in a vehicle when its driver rolled down the window at the drive-through. The employee also said the driver was acting strangely. She told police she stalled the driver until police arrived by telling him his fries weren’t ready. Police on the scene said the car had a very strong odor of marijuana, and when questioned about it the driver told the officer that it was from a bag that melted on his tailpipe. When asked if he had marijuana, the driver reportedly handed some over. Police confiscated a roach, about 15 grams from a duffle bag, rolling papers and a one-hitter pipe. The driver, a 30-year-old Highland man, reportedly admitted smoking about 15 minutes earlier and passed field sobriety tests. He was arrested and booked, then eventually released from custody after posting a $200 bond.

Teen with drugs

A 17-year-old Commerce boy faces charges for possession of marijuana, paraphernalia and tobacco, speeding and violating conditions of his driver’s license following a traffic stop at around 10:45 p.m. on Saturday. The police officer who pulled over the teen for speeding on N. Milford Road reportedly smelled marijuana when speaking with him. The teen and his passenger denied having any, and the driver admitted smoking earlier. He passed sobriety tests, reports state. A vehicle search turned up marijuana shake and tobacco shake in the center console, and a prescription bottle containing what the teen said was Ritalin, prescribed to him. The teen was eventually released to his parents’ custody.

Drinking, gun violations

A traffic stop in Milford for speeding and ignoring a stop sign and red light led to the arrest of a 49-year-old Commerce man on Friday, just before midnight. Reports state the arresting officer smelled alcohol on the man, who admitted drinking a few beers at a nearby restaurant. After reportedly failing field sobriety tests and registering a blood alcohol content of .10 percent based on results of a preliminary breath test, he was taken into custody on suspicion of drunken driving. A loaded handgun was confiscated from his vehicle, resulting in additional citations for failing to disclose a concealed weapon to an officer, and carrying a concealed weapon while intoxicated. Police said during booking the man told them he drinks close to home so he’s not a danger to others on the roadway.

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STARTS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8 CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS FOR THEATERS AND SHOWTIMES

Specializing in Diseases of the Skin, Hair & Nails Invites you to visit and receive the care you deserve.

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Southeast Michigan Modelers New Location! Players Hall 7160 Highland Rd. (M-59), Waterford, MI 48327

• Model Cars • Promos • Model Kits • Automotive Literature Collector Toys • Die Cast Toys • Slot Cars • Pressed Steel Toys • Resin Model Kits • Door Prizes • Separate Door Prizes for Vendors • Eight and Twelve Foot Table available

Sunday, February 10, 2013

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Check us out on the Web every day at hometownlife.com

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