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Flint water crisis criminal cases moving to the next legal rung

Todd Flood and Mark Kriger men at podiums
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Special Counsel Todd Flood (left) listens while defense attorney Mark Kriger makes a legal point during a motion hearing in 67th district court.

The stage is set for the next step in the Flint water crisis criminal probe.

Today, a judge scheduled preliminary exams for five water crisis defendants for early January. That will give defense attorneys a little less than four months to wade through tens of thousands of pages of evidence recently turned over by prosecutors.

The five defendants (Stephen Busch, Mike Prysby, Liane Shekter-Smith, Patrick Cook, and Adam Rosenthal) were working for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at the time of the Flint water crisis. They face a variety of charges.

Other defendants have preliminary exams scheduled during the next several months. The first of those preliminary hearings is slated to begin later this week.

At a preliminary exam, a prosecutor has to prove a crime has been committed and that there is enough evidence against the defendant to take the case to trial.

On Thursday, a preliminary exam is scheduled for state health department director Nick Lyon, the highest-profile defendant charged in connection with the Flint water crisis. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Special Counsel Todd Flood expects Lyon’s preliminary hearing may take a few days.

A former state epidemiologist Corinne Miller is expected to take the stand during that hearing. Miller pleaded ‘no contest’ to a charge involving the water crisis in exchange for her cooperation with prosecutors. 

Flood expects actual criminal trials will take place sometime next year.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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