DETROIT (WWJ) – A judge has set bond at half-of-a-million dollars for a teenager and two men charged in the vicious mob attack of a man on Detroit’s east side.
Seventeen-year-old Bruce Wimbush Jr., 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold and 24-year-old James Davis, all of Detroit, were arraigned Tuesday on charges of assault with intent to murder, and assault intent to do great bodily harm in the mob attack that left 54-year-old Steven Utash, of Clinton Township, clinging to life. Not-guilty pleas were entered on their behalves.
Wimbush’s lawyer Randall Upshaw told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas the bond set by Magistrate Millicent Sherman is outrageous.
“It’s excessive, especially when the young man has no record and he voluntarily surrendered and at the same time, it’s not alleged that he had a weapon or a gun,” he said. “But understand, we all are remorseful that the victim was hurt.”
Upshaw said Wimbush only played a small role in the attack. He’s due back in court for a preliminary exam on April 21.
“It was alleged that he ran,” Upshaw said. “It was alleged that by the time the offense got serious, he was no longer there.”
Wimbush was arrested on Saturday, along with a 16-year-old boy who is being questioned in the case. It’s not yet clear if the younger teen, who is currently being held in the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center, will face charges.
“The Detroit Police Department is making excellent progress with this case,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. “I will not comment further because this investigation is continuing and widening.”
According to police, Utash was driving home from his job as a tree trimmer last Wednesday when he struck a 10-year-old boy who’d stepped out into the roadway near Morang and Balfour. When Utash stopped to check on the child, police said he was attacked and severely beaten by a violent mob of 10 to 12 people.
“You hit my nephew, you’re going to die,” one man said, according to a witness.
Deborah Hughes, a local nurse, said dozens of people stood around and watched as Utash was punched, kicked, and stomped on repeatedly. She’s being hailed as a hero for stepping in to stop the attack.
“About five guys was kicking him, beating him, stomping him in the head with they feet. They were beating him, from his face to his side to his feet,” Hughes told WWJ. “I was willing to get hurt over helping that guy. He was bleeding, he had a big gash on the side of his head and he couldn’t take any more licks and I wasn’t willing to stand there and let them keep beating him.”
Hughes said so many people, about 60 by her estimates, were standing around just watching the attack, she had to do something.
“I got in there. I was very afraid but when you see somebody being abused, if you’ve got a good heart you’re going to step in. Or, you’re going to let it happen and everybody out there was letting it happen and I wasn’t going to do that,” she said.
Police said Utash, who remains hospitalized in critical condition, was not at fault in the accident. The boy who was hit was treated for a broken leg.
Many have speculated that the attack was a hate crime – Utash is white, the mob was described as all black – although police declined to say if investigators thought the attack was racially charged.
Utash has no medical insurance, and his family has set up an online fundraiser to help pay for medical bills. More than $130,000 has been raised.
Police are still searching for additional suspects.
Anyone who witnessed the attack, can identify the assailants, or who has any information about this case is urged to call Detroit police at 313-596-1616. Tips can be made anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.