DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge has set bond at $400,000 for a Detroit teen accused of throwing the first punch in a brutal mob beating of a Macomb County man who stopped to help a child he accidentally struck with his pickup truck.
Sixteen-year-old Courtney Robinson was arraigned Saturday at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of assault and ethnic intimidation in the attack that left 54-year-old Steven Utash clinging to life.
Prosecutor Matthew Penney pushed for a $500,000 bond, saying Robinson, who is one month shy of turning 17, threw one of the first punches against Utash and that he also tested positive for marijuana, but Circuit Court Referee Raeigen Woods ultimately decided on $400,000 due to the severity of the charges.
“What actually occurred was the savage beating of an innocent man,” Penney added. “By his own admission, he was one of the first to throw punches.”
Reporting live from the scene, WWJ’s Kathryn Larson said Robinson, clad in gray jail garb, was clearly nervous during the proceedings and even asked for a tissue for his sweaty hands. His parents became visibly upset when they were told they couldn’t hug their son goodbye before he was taken away.
Defense attorney Sterling Coleman called the bond excessive, saying Robinson’s parents turned him in and because of that, the teen is not a flight risk. He also pointed to the fact that Robinson does not have any prior offenses, but Woods was unmoved. Robinson’s mother and father told the court their son is a good kid, but declined to speak to reporters. The teen is due back in court on Thursday.
Four other men — ages 17 to 30 — have already been arraigned on attempted murder and assault charges in the case. Robinson is the only defendant facing hate crime charges; Utash is white, his attackers are black.
“In the case of the four adult defendants that have been charged, the facts and the evidence do not support a charge of ethnic intimidation,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
Utash, a tree-trimmer from Clinton Township, was beaten by at least six people when he stopped to check on 10-year-old David Harris, who stepped into the path of his truck on the city’s east side.
Police said the mob might have killed Utash if not for the actions of Deborah Hughes, a retired nurse who saw the accident from her window and rushed to help the boy before turning her attention to shielding Utash from his attackers.
Utash remains in critical condition, although he is now off the ventilator and able to breathe on his own. Harris was treated for a leg and other injuries.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said their investigation into the beating is widening and more arrests could be forthcoming.
“We’re optimistic,” Craig told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “Detroiters are coming forward and we’re getting it done. You know, it’s been challenging because we don’t have good video but it’s coming together. We’re at five now.”
Ninteen-year-old Latrez Cummings, 17-year-old Bruce Wimbush Jr., 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold and 24-year-old James Davis were arraigned earlier this week on charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and are being held in the county jail on $500,000 bonds. They’ll all be back in court on April 21.
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