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GOP Blasts Michigan's Governor for Murderer's Release From Prison

A campaign mailing from the Michigan Republican Party blames Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state corrections director for a crime spree that resulted in the deaths of three people.

The brochure has a photo of Patrick Selepak, who pleaded guilty to killing Melissa and Scott Berels of New Baltimore and Winfield Johnson of Genesee County's Vienna Township in February. The headline says: "This violent criminal was mistakenly released into your community."

"Governor Granholm and her state prison director. If they can't do the job, why are they still on the job?" the brochure says.

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Selepak had been mistakenly released on a parole violation shortly before the killings because he had not had a hearing within 45 days. Granholm ordered an investigation; several parole workers were fired, state rules were clarified, and the Corrections Department has started a reorganization.

State Republican spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said several hundred thousand mailers were sent statewide.

"Nobody's saying Granholm did this on purpose," Anderson told The Detroit News for a story Thursday. "Nobody's saying she put this murderer on the street. But as the state's CEO, the buck stops with her."

Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Jason Moon said the mailing shows Republicans are growing desperate as the Nov. 7 election nears. Granholm has a slight lead over her Republican opponent, Dick DeVos , in recent polls.

GOP officials say they didn't consult with DeVos, though his campaign said the mailing is appropriate.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that parole violators do not need to be released even if they do not get a hearing within 45 days. A state review found that the mistake made in Selepak's case had been made 40 other times in the span of a year, including some cases involving inmates accused of committing crimes after their release.

A poll of 600 likely voters released Thursday showed the governor's race remained tight, with 48 percent saying they would vote for Granholm and 43 percent choosing DeVos.

The poll, conducted Sunday through Wednesday for The Detroit News and Michigan television stations by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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