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Drunken driver’s mom jailed for laughing as fatal crash victim’s family speaks in court

Published: Wednesday, March 01, 2017 @ 1:01 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 01, 2017 @ 1:01 PM

A Michigan judge last week jailed the mother of a drunken driver for laughing as the victim’s grieving family spoke about the impact his death has had on their lives.

Amanda Marie Kosal, 26, of Redford Township, cried quietly in Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard’s courtroom on Thursday, as she listened to Jerome Zirker’s sister talk about her brother, who Kosal killed in a drunken driving crash last June.

Kosal’s mother, Donna Kosal, and an unidentified man with her smiled and laughed as they sat in the back of the courtroom, according to WDIV Local 4 News in Detroit. Lillard, who heard their laughter, paused the Zirker family’s victim impact statements to address the behavior.

“It's time for him to go,” Lillard said during the dressing down, which was recorded by the news station and posted to its Facebook page. “And I don't know who he is, but whoever can sit here at a tragic moment like this and laugh and smile when somebody has lost a family member…. In the entire time that Mr. Zirker's sister was speaking, that clown -- and that's what I am going to call him, a clown -- was sitting there smiling and laughing.”

She then addressed Donna Kosal.

“And you can go, too. Because if you don't know how to act, you can go to jail,” Lillard said. “So leave. Anybody that can sit there and laugh and smirk….”

She tells a court officer to “take her, she’s going in the back.”

“Anybody else want to go?” Lillard asked the other people in the courtroom supporting Amanda Kosal. “You can go, too. This is a court of law. And these are very serious matters. I understand that you all are very upset because your loved one is going to prison, but guess what? She's going to prison for the choices that she made. These people are here, grieving, saddened because a senseless act took away their loved one, and you all are sitting around here like it's a joke?”

“Not in courtroom 502. Not today and not any other day.”

 

VIDEO: Judge removes 2 people, calls them clowns during local woman's sentencing for deadly DUI crash: http://bit.ly/2lzukSI

Posted by WDIV Local 4 / ClickOnDetroit on Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lillard told Donna Kosal she was going to jail for 93 days for criminal contempt as a court officer escorted her out.

The judge’s Facebook page was inundated with praise and support after news of her actions went public. She thanked people for visiting the page and expressing their feelings and assured them that, although she could not respond to each person individually, she had read all of their comments.  

“I am honored to have the privilege of serving the citizens of Wayne County,” Lillard wrote.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to visit this page to express your feelings. I am honored to have the...

Posted by Judge Qiana Denise Lillard on Saturday, February 25, 2017

WDIV reported that a tearful Donna Kosal apologized at a hearing before Lillard the following morning.

“I deeply apologize for what I did,” Donna Kosal said, according to the news station. “I was under a lot of stress.”

The judge amended her sentence to one day, with time served, and ordered that she be released from jail.

“What you have to understand is, as hard as this is for you to see your baby going to prison, imagine what that family feels like when their child is dead,” Lillard told Donna Kosal. “I hope that you learned a valuable lesson from this.”

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Amanda Kosal was sentenced on Thursday to three to 15 years in prison for the June 23, 2016, crash that killed Zirker, 31, and seriously injured his fiancée. WDIV reported that Kisal admitted she was drunk when the pickup truck she was driving crossed the center line and struck the SUV carrying Zirker and Brittany Johnson, 31, of Inkster.

Kosal pleaded guilty to operating under the influence causing death.

Johnson, who is now a single mother to the couple’s five children, told the news station that Zirker had just picked her up from her job as a caregiver at a group home when the fatal crash occurred. The children were usually with their father when he picked her up, she said.

“Luckily, they were at grandma’s house, or it would have been all of us,” Johnson told WDIV.

Zirker’s mother, Rathel Fizer, told the news station that she would rather see Amanda Kosal free and working to help support her son’s children, since he no longer can.

“If she goes to prison or jail, I’m taking care of her,” Fizer said. “I don’t want her to mail a check. I want her to hand-deliver it to them so she can see the faces that she destroyed.”

Warren County trial opens in shooting that locked down area

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 10:03 AM


            Warren County trial opens in shooting that locked down area

Prospective jurors are being seated this morning in the trial of Mohammed Laghaoui, the man charged in an active shooter incident last June in Warren County.

RELATED: Accused Warren County deputy shooter faces trial

Laghaoui, now 20, is accused of wounding his father and a sheriff’s deputy and shooting at another resident of the apartment complex and into a neighbor’s apartment before fleeing the scene.

Once the jury is selected, they are to be taken to the scene of the shooting at the Orchards of Landen.

RELATED: Defense suggests use of synthetic drugs triggered shooting

The trial is expected to run all week in Judge Timothy Tepe’s court.

Middletown police chief wants to charge addicts who OD in public

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Residents in one Butler County city who overdose on opioids in public should be arrested immediately, according to its police chief.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said the number of overdoses in the city delays police response times and sometimes induces panic, especially with more drug overdoses happening in fast-food restaurant bathrooms and retail parking lots.

“It’s like they’re getting a free pass,” he told the Journal-News. “The squad arrives on the scene, takes them to the emergency room, they live and they come out and do it again.”

Heroin ‘eating’ Middletown’s public safety services

Earlier this month after a woman was found passed out in the bathroom of a fast-food restaurant, two men were arrested for drug possession just hours later at the same restaurant.

“When someone overdoses in a store parking lot or a restaurant bathroom, it causes alarm to everyone there,” Muterspaw said. “There is no accountability. Jailing drug addicts isn’t the answer. Time to hold people more accountable. We have to force them into treatment.”

He would like to charge those people with inducing panic, then withdraw the charge if they’re treated for the drug addiction.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones agrees with Muterspaw that jail is not the answer for addicts.

“These people are not afraid of death,” Jones said. “The fear of jail will mean nothing to them.”

MORE: Drug overdoses remain leading cause of death in Butler County

While the heroin epidemic is a drain on law enforcement and emergency services, charging those who do not get treatment with a misdemeanor is just going to fill up the county jail with more drug addicts, Jones said.

“I don’t have space for all the violent criminals. I don’t need to fill the jail up with heroin users and people who smoke pot,” he said. “It won’t work. People get out of my jail and shoot up in the parking lot. Getting arrested just isn’t something they care about. I call it ‘happy talk.’ It may make people feel better, but it just doesn’t work.”

The sheriff said he believes catching potential users early and teaching them not to use is a better option.

“But there is no cure right now,” Jones said, adding that with enough people dying, the popularity of the drug and it’s abuse will hopefully wane.

Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins estimated as much as 90 percent of public safety services are connected to fighting heroin and that commitment takes away from police officers and firefighters completing other responsibilities.

“It’s eating our public safety services alive,” he said last week during the city’s ninth Heroin Summit.

MORE: ‘We have a rampant killer in our community,’ coroner says

Elsewhere in Southwest Ohio, residents who overdose on opioids may face drug possession charges if they don’t seek treatment, according to a new policy from the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutor Andy Wilson and local law enforcement officials met last week to discuss how to combat the opioid epidemic, which has caused city and county EMS crews to respond to more than 325 overdoses this year as of March 6.

“It takes a toll on the system,” he said. “… We’ve got to do something to force these folks into treatment.”

The new policy will educate people who overdose on their requirements for immunity as part of the recently passed Good Samaritan Law.

Gov. John Kasich signed the 9-1-1 Good Samaritan law in September, which provides immunity to people seeking medical assistance for a drug overdose, allowing them to report or seek help without charges.

People who experienced a drug overdose or called for help for another person qualify for immunity under the law — if they seek a screening and received a referral for addiction treatment from a local provider.

Currently people who overdose can walk out of the emergency room with no future requirements for treatment, Wilson said.

“It’s just not working, ” he said. “You have people who are signing out against medical advice from the ER and they’re back within a day, two days or three days and they’re overdosing again … We can’t keep doing the same thing with no results.”

Muterspaw agreed a new option is needed and has started to meet with leaders in neighboring communities to discuss how they’re handling drug overdoses and how to reduce the number of repeat offenders.

“It’s like, ‘Groundhog Day’ around here,”Muterspaw said about the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in 185 arrests so far this year and 800 arrests last year in Middletown.

“We just keep doing the same thing over and over. There is a lot of frustration there,” he said.

Police: Gunman shoots 6, including 2 children, in Florida

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 9:13 AM

Police: Gunman shoots 6, including 2 children, in Florida

Six people were shot early Monday in a Florida neighborhood, the Sanford Police Department said.

The shooting was reported shortly before 6:30 a.m. at a home on Hays Drive in Sanford, police said.

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Investigators said a gunman went to the home of someone he knows and shot two adults, an 8-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy.

Posted by Jeff Levkulich WFTV on Monday, March 27, 2017

One adult died. The other adult and the two children were taken to a hospital in critical condition, investigators said.

Detectives said the gunman then fled the home and randomly shot two bystanders in the roadway, critically wounding them both.

An officer who was in the area was able to subdue the gunman, who was arrested, police said.

Authorities did not immediately identify the victims or the suspected gunman.

Investigators said the initial shooting appeared to be domestic in nature.

No other details were given.

Teen who threw newborn baby out window won't serve any jail time

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 6:20 AM

Teen who threw newborn baby out window won't serve any jail time

Antonia Lopez, a Nebraska teen who admitted to throwing her newborn baby out the window, won't be serving any jail timethe Omaha World-Herald reports.

On Friday, Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Christopher Kelly ordered Lopez to be placed on probation, live in a group home, take part in individual and family therapy, delete her Facebook account and perform 50 hours of community service, according to the World-Herald.

In September, Lopez, 16, reportedly gave birth to a baby girl in her apartment, then threw the baby out the window. She then texted her boyfriend, “It was a girl by the way,” and admitted her crime to her mother, the World-Herald reported. She told police that she was unaware that she was pregnant and thought she was just having her period.

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An autopsy revealed that the infant, who later died, was still breathing at the time the blunt-force injuries were sustained. It also showed that Lopez had been pregnant for 25 to 28 weeks. 

“She’s coping the best she can,” Lopez’s defense attorney Rebecca McClung said, adding that her client thought the child was a stillborn. “The mother is coping the best she can. The grandmother is coping the best she can.”

Lopez was initially charged as an adult with felony child abuse resulting in death, which could have meant 20 years in prison. However, in February, her case was transferred to juvenile court after her mental state and lack of criminal record were considered, the World-Herald reported.

She reportedly was ordered to live in a group home because judges were concerned that she didn’t understand the severity of her actions. The Facebook deletion order stemmed from her receiving numerous negative comments on her page following her arrest, the World-Herald reported.