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Teen charged with hate crime in beating of driver

April 10, 2014
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit teenager was charged Thursday with assault and a hate crime in the brutal mob beating of a suburban motorist who stopped to help a boy he accidentally struck with his pickup truck.

The 16-year-old boy is the only one of five people charged in the April 2 attack on Steve Utash to face an ethnic intimidation count. Utash, 54, is white. The teen and four adults charged in his beating are black.

"In the case of the 16-year-old charged as a juvenile we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crimes of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation," said Kym Worthy, Wayne County's prosecutor. "In the case of the four adult defendants that have been charged the facts and the evidence does not support a charge of ethnic intimidation."

Black leaders, Detroit's mayor and others across the city have spoken out against the attack.

A prayer vigil and "A Night of Healing" program is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Historic Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit.

"We need to send a crystal clear statement to the world that the violent actions of a few individuals will not cast a cloud of negativity over our city," the Rev. Jim Holley, the church's pastor said Wednesday. "We are inviting everyone to participate to show support that this is a region of hope, peace and renewal."

Utash, a tree trimmer of Macomb County's Clinton Township, suffered severe head injuries when at least six people beat and kicked him when he stopped his truck to help 10-year-old David Harris on Detroit's east side.

Deborah Hughes, a nurse who lives in the neighborhood, rushed to help the boy and stopped the mob from continuing to beat Utash, police said.

Utash remains hospitalized. He was listed earlier this week in critical condition and in a medically induced coma.

The boy was treated for a leg and other injuries.

Worthy said she "would not be surprised" if police submitted more warrant requests stemming from the attack.

"This case is still under investigation," she said. "We are still looking at every avenue and every aspect. We know that there were a number of people involved in this case."

The 16-year-old is in custody and faces a hearing Saturday in the county Juvenile Detention Center.

Latrez Cummings, 19, was charged Thursday with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm.

Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17; Wonzey Saffold, 30; and James Davis, 24, were arraigned this week on the same charges and were being held in the county jail on $500,000 bonds pending preliminary examinations on April 21.

 
 

 

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