2017 In Review: Upper Michigan crime

(Image Source: MGN)

UPPER MICHIGAN (WLUC) - TV6 is taking a look back at Upper Michigan's major stories from 2017. Part one of this series focuses on crime.

This year brought the conclusion of a murder case that began in October 2014. After a nearly three-week trial in Iron County court this February, a jury convicted Kelly Cochran in the murder of Christopher Regan. She was sentenced to life in prison and still faces a murder charge for the death of her husband. The case was featured in an hour-long episode of Crime Watch Daily last month.

People across Upper Michigan also closely followed the search for Eric Ruska and a female coworker he's accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting. After five days in July, Ruska and the woman were found at a Munising gas station. She was treated and released from the hospital. Ruska has pleaded guilty in federal court and faces life in prison when he's sentenced in February.

In March, Jason Sadowski of Ishpeming was exonerated in Marquette County Circuit Court. He got a new trial after he was accused in a 2013 kidnapping and torture case. This trial lasted 10 days.

An Alpha man was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison in the shooting death of his 29-year-old step daughter Jamie James. An Iron County jury convicted Alfred Saario of second-degree murder.

A Marquette man was sentenced to life in prison for the deadly stabbing of Robin Anne Lampinen at K.I. Sawyer. Darrell Gutzman pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in Marquette County Circuit Court.

A Lower Michigan man died in Lake Superior near Au Train Island, and a Marquette man is facing charges related to the death. Timothy Preston is charged with negligent homicide and operating while intoxicated after investigators say seven people were knocked off Preston's wooden boat. Robert Louis was not able to be rescued and his body was recovered two days later.

The investigation after a three-year-old girl was found naked in a Rapid River field in March ended with the parents losing their parental rights, But attorneys for Tammy Fryer and Michael LaVoie have filed appeals.

The probate case surrounding the suicide of 11-year-old Tysen Benz of Marquette attracted national attention. According to police, Benz took his own life after a girl he had dated faked her own death on social media. The girl was charged in juvenile court with two misdemeanor level offenses. Benz's mother was interviewed on Dr. Phil and says she will fight for new laws to combat cyber bullying to honor her son.

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