40-year prison term affirmed for man who killed bicyclists

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed a 40-year prison sentence for a man who killed five bicyclists near Kalamazoo while driving a pickup truck under the influence of drugs.

Lawyers for Charles Pickett Jr. argued that the sentence was disproportionate and exceeded the advisory guidelines. But the appeals court on Thursday said the judge gave “principled reasons” to justify a higher minimum term.

Pickett was convicted of second-degree murder. He had taken drugs on the day of a cousin’s funeral in 2016 and was driving erratically through Kalamazoo County before striking a pack of bicyclists known as the “chain gang.”

Pickett apologized in court, but Judge Paul Bridenstine said it was inadequate. The 53-year-old Battle Creek man will be eligible for parole in 2056 if he lives that long.

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