WEST BLOOMFIELD TWP. (WWJ/AP) – A judge has dismissed ethnic intimidation charges in an attack last year on a 25-year-old black man outside his friend’s home in suburban Detroit.
District Judge Marc Barron on Thursday threw out the felony charges, citing inconsistent testimony. He let misdemeanor assault charges stand.
Twenty-five-year-old Stephen Harris of Farmington Hills says he was beaten with fists and struck with a brick as three men yelled racial slurs. The attack happened April 11, 2011, in Oakland County’s West Bloomfield Township.
The defendants are 21-year-old Savio Yaldo and brothers 21-year-old Fariss and 29-year-old Naseem Shayota.
Naseem Shayota’s lawyer Mitchell Ribitwer told the Detroit Free Press the charges should never have been brought.
“There was no racial bias, and those charges should have never been brought to begin with,” said Ribitwer.
Harris’s lawyer Judith Gracey said she’s saddened and angry at the judge’s decision.
“There were consistent statements throughout that they were using racial slurs while they beat Stephen,” Gracey told the Free Press.
The Shayota brothers and Yaldo, arrested nearly nine months after the incident, were originally charged with aggravated assault, before County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper reviewed the case in February and elevated the charges against the men to felony ethnic intimidation.
Yaldo and the Shayotas will stand trial on misdemeanor charges on July 9. If convicted as charged, they face up to 90 days in jail.
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