3 years after deadly I-75 rock throwing incident, 4 cases still pending

A judge sentenced the oldest of those five suspects one year ago. Kyle Anger is believed to be the one who actually threw the rock.
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 5:13 PM EDT
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VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/16/2020) - Sunday marks three years since 32-year-old Kenneth White was killed by a rock smashing through the windshield of the car he was riding in.

Five mid-Michigan teenagers were charged, accused of throwing that rock from the Dodge Road overpass in Vienna Township, onto I-75. It happened October 18, 2017.

A judge sentenced the oldest of those five suspects one year ago. Kyle Anger is believed to be the one who actually threw the rock.

The cases against the other four are still stuck in limbo. Three years later, they have yet to be sentenced.

Kenneth White’s Mom Teresa Simpson has sat front row in the courtroom for every hearing.

Last summer she and her family cheered when hearing the Judge reject the juvenile sentence agreement for the four younger teens. She believed they shouldn’t be treated differently from Kyle Anger, who admitted to throwing the rock that killed her son.

“I’m just really pleased with everything. The outcome - I’m so glad that Kenneth is getting his justice he deserves. My baby is - he’s happy now, he can rest,” she told ABC12 News in July 2019.

The Judge’s decision that day was a shock to the four defense attorneys. They had worked out an agreement with the Prosecutor. Trevor Gray, Alexzander Miller, Mikadyn Payne and Mark Sekelsky would plead guilty to the adult felony charge of manslaughter and would be sentenced as juveniles.

“Sending 14, 15 and 16 year olds to the State Penitentiary was not something that anybody thought would help our community in the long run,” Payne’s defense attorney Mike Manley said. “We thought they would learn bad habits, they could be assaulted, they would come out worse when they came back to our community.”

Because the deal was rejected, the four took back their plea, prompting Prosecutor David Leyton to ask to drop the charge and re-charge them as juveniles. This would guarantee they’d serve their time in a strict juvenile detention center where part of the focus would be rehabilitation.

But, the Judge refused to sign the paperwork allowing that, so the case went to the Court of Appeals.

It was argued this week. Judge Farah said the Michigan Judge’s Association represented him. He added he stands with his decision to refuse to dismiss the case.

Manley argued his side to the appellate court, too. He believes Judge Farah acted like a Prosecutor, not a judge who he says should remain neutral.

“It’s a separation of powers issue,” He explained. "Who has the power to make plea bargains? And it’s our opinion that Judge Farah overstepped his bounds from the bench, deciding what the plea bargain is going to be. That’s up to Mr Leyton.

The Appeals Court decision is expected any day. We’ll let you know when it comes through.

As part of the initial agreement, Manley said they agreed not to ask for bond.

But as we reported earlier this summer, Judge Farah granted Miller a $25,000 bond in June.

He’s currently out of jail on a GPS tether.

It’s not clear yet if he’ll lose out on the agreement for doing so.

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